New Growth


Rebecca Miller


John Medkeff

Mikala sat in the sun just soaking up its warmth. She sighed and opened her eyes. She was supposed to be pruning the flowers. Sandy's idea of something therapeutic for her to do. She stretched out her right arm and grimaced. Sith, she was stiff, but two days in bed will do that to you. She had really done a number on herself. She started trimming the dead flowers out of the bushy plant beside her and sighed. She could have been in serious trouble if Darien, well, if Goldie hadn't shown Darien where to find her. The big cat still made her nervous, but she wasn't as frightened of her as she had been.

Mikala noticed the servant Sandy has assigned to keep watch over her seemed to have disappeared and she smiled. She sat back in the antigrav chair. She sat beside the edge of the small wall that edged the terraced flowerbed. She fiddled with two small twigs, fashioning them in to a small cross and knotting a blade of grass to hold them in place. It took some concentration to make her right hand cooperate. She smiled to herself as she finally got it. She caught herself humming as she worked. It was a catchy little tune she had heard her father playing on his recorder the night before. She hummed it softly as she pulled a ruby red blossom off the flower she had been pruning. She slit the blossom with her thumbnail and draped it over the little stick doll she had made. She smiled to herself, a lovely ball gown for a fancy lady. She twirled the doll on her fingertips humming as it capered to the soft lilt of the tune.

"May I have the next dance?" a voice asked from behind her.

Mikala jumped, dropping the little doll onto the grass at her feet. She felt her cheeks flush hotly as she saw Darien standing there with a bemused smile on his face. He walked over and stooped to pick up the doll and hand it back to her. Mikala dropped her eyes. "I was just taking a break," she stammered out. Sith, what was wrong with her? She was dithering like an idiot.

"Don't worry. Sandy didn't send me to check up on you." He walked over and sat on the wall.

Mikala felt her face warming unaccustomedly. "What are you doing here?"

"Just enjoying a beautiful day, and the company of a beautiful woman."

Mikala felt her face flame and struggled not to smile. "Oh, do I know her?" Mikala asked, trying to sound casual.

"Now that's an interesting question, very deep. Perhaps one to discuss with your father in one of his more philosophical moods." He laughed. "Can one know oneself."

Mikala chuckled. "That question sounds very Jedi."

"Its is. Though I expect your father could split those hairs as well as any Jedi. Better than most."

"I'm sure he could," she said with a smile. "He and I have had some pretty deep discussions about things since he brought me here."

"I'm sure. You should try some of the classes he teaches at the University."

She nodded. "I might I don't know how long I'll be here yet." She smiled a little "It's been a while since I was in school."

"How is your back today?"

"Okay," she said.

"How much does Sandy expect you to get done here.

She looked back at the flowers and then at him. "I don't know. I really can't reach anything from this chair. I think she put me at this to keep me out of trouble."

"No doubt. She doesn't like to see her work damaged."

Mikala sighed. "I didn't mean to mess anything up. I just wanted to see how much I could move."

"And Sandy was sure she already knew." He picked up a leaf and rolled it in his hand.

Mikala sighed again. "Thank you for helping me."

"Your welcome. It was Goldie who did the most. She found you and kept you warm."

She nodded. "I didn't realize it got that cold here at night."

"It can. Look for snow when winter comes."

She smiled a little. "I haven't seen snow since I was little."

"I'm told they sometimes get two or three feet around here." He said.

Her eyes widened in amazement. "That must be a sight to behold. You've never been here during the winter?"

"No, not yet. But what I know of winter here sounds a lot like home. And they do have some impressive sleds and skis in one of the store rooms."

She smiled. "I bet the kids love it."

"I would guess. All of the girls are tomboys when it suites them. Your family is not timid."

Mikala chuckled.

"Have you ever been sledding, or sking?"

She shook her head. "It was too flat for those things in the part of Ord Mandell I grew up at."

"We'll have to go skiing once your back is up to it. I think its winter at the ski lodge on Zeilar now."

She laughed. "You'll spend most of your time pulling me out of the snow. I get tangled up in things you put on my feet."

"I'm sure your sibs will enjoy teaching you. I will."

Mikala smiled shyly at him. "It sounds nice."

"It is. But not with your back the way it is now."

She grimaced. "My legs still get all tingly if I get up for too long at time. I didn't have this much trouble when I got hurt originally."

"Fixing is always harder than breaking, I guess." He paused. "I suppose Sandy could explain it."

"I do have to say this is much nicer place to get better. I've never been able to take time to just relax before."

"Up to now the world has always been out to get you." He pointed out.

"I didn't help that."

Darien picked up the trimmers and started cutting at the bushes.

Mikala sat back carefully and watched him.

"You've good at that," Mikala said with a smile.

"I grew up on a farm. And I like working with plants. Kieren's even better than I am."

She smiled. "He's a sweet kid."

"Yes, he is. Not what you'd expect to find in a Sith family."

Mikala smiled. "I've given up trying to anticipate anything here."

She brightened. "Oh, I ordered a bush for him. It should come before long. Persistence plant. He said Keri keeps pulling the flowers of his fireblossems. The more you pull the flowers off this plant, the more it blooms."

"She doesn't pull them. She does something with the Force to kill. I haven't figured out what." He moved along the wall.

"Maybe you could stick one of Sandy's ysalamiri in it."

"They won't hold still, and with good reason. Goldie knows what they are."

She chuckled. "Well, it was an idea. I bet Goldie thinks they taste like poultry."

"Goldie doesn't care what they taste like. They make the Force go away. Cats don't suffer in silence. They act."

She smiled.

"She letting you walk at all?" Darien asked?

She sighed. "Not much and not by myself."

"So you're trapped in that chair. What about tomorrow?"

She shrugged as much as she could with the brace on.

"That bad?"

"Frustrating," she said. "I've felt worse and still worked."

"And now you're facing a world class mother hen or better mother cat who won't let her kittens work hurt."

She grimaced and nodded. "I've worked a few times I shouldn't have, but there really wasn't a choice."

"Now there is. And I think Sandy is making it for you."

She nodded and then looked around. "I would like to get up and stretch my legs if just for a minute. I'm stiffening up sitting like this."

"Go ahead. I'll catch you if you fall." Darien walked over and stood next to the grav chair."

She laughed lightly. "Thanks, I think." She looked up at him and held out her hand. "I need some help to get up."

He took her hand and gently pulled.

Mikala gripped his arm as tightly as she could with both hands, struggling stood.

"Easy does it."

She stood up slowly and just stood there a moment on shaky legs.

He held her hand, steadying her.

She flashed him a small smile. "See, on my feet."

"Yes, do you want to take a step?"

She nodded, shifting to grip his arm tightly.

He slowly took a step forward.

Mikala slowly shuffled her feet, leaning against him to keep her balance.

"Once around the chair?" Darien suggested.

She nodded. "Okay."

"Lead on, I'll follow you?" He offered.

"Okay," she said a bit dubiously. She started out slowly. She shook her head. "This was easier a couple days ago."

"You hadn't injured your back again, two days ago." He scolded

"Yeah. I didn't think that a couple lightsaber katas would do so much damage."

"They are harder on the body than this is."

"Obviously," she said. She stumbled against him as her toe caught an uneven place on the ground and her knees threatened to buckle.

Darien wrapped his arms around her and held her up.

She leaned into the comforting circle of his arms and closed her eyes a moment. "I think I need to sit down," she said softly.

"Turn toward us," he commanded the chair.

The chair rotated. Darien carefully lowered Mikala into it. "That better?"

She nodded, biting her lower lip.

"I think you should stay there for the moment."

She nodded squeezing her eyes shut. She took a deep breath trying to will the pins and needles out of her legs.

He checked the monitors on the side of the chair. "The readings look ok to me. How do you fell."

She opened her mouth to answer and then paused. She sighed deeply. "My legs feel all tingly and my back hurts a little."

"I think that will go away in a moment. The instruments think we got you back in the chair in time."

She frowned a little. "'Back in time'?"

"Yes, before we did any damage. Not that I'm sure we would have."

She sighed and her shoulders slumped as much as they could in the brace, tears springing to her eyes. "I just want to walk again," she said softly, radiating fear.

"Patience." He reassured her.

"What if I can't?"

"I believe in you. But you need to let things heal."

"It's hard," she said. "I always just had to push myself to get through things. I feel like-- I'm scared just waiting around like this."

"The impatience of the Darkside. Let me show you a bit of the light."

She looked up into his eyes and then nodded.

"All right. Clear you're mind."

Mikala took a deep breath and let it out slowly, closing her eyes.

"Keep breathing like that."

She focused on keeping her breathing steady and waited.

"You need to empty your head of desire."

She opened an eye at him, but closed it again and sighed, trying to do as he said.

"Keep your eyes closed. Sight is a great distraction to beginners." He commented.

She sighed at that comment.

"Now just lie back and accept things the way they are."

She sighed and leaned back, her eyes still closed.

"Now just hold that lack of thought for a while." He commanded.

Mikala tried very hard not to think about how the brace itched and how stupid this was.

"You're thinking too hard." Darien whispered.

Mikala rolled her still closed eyes.

Darien let her meditate for five minutes. "Feel a little better?"

She sighed deeply and opened her eyes. She gave him a little smiled and nodded. "Yeah."

"You did well for a first try."

"That's a lot like what my Grandmother use to try to get me to do," she said with a sheepish smile. "I always just feel sleep thought."

"You need to empty your mind. I've found that is very hard for the dark to do."

"It seems silly to just not think of anything."

"Kieren finds it easy. Your other siblings are all over the place."

"That doesn't surprise me. Peace is something very hard to find."

"And few children seek peace. Goldie is rather good at it."

Mikala smiled. "Nice warm sunbeam should work for her."

"It does help." He answered.

She nodded wearily, suddenly, very, very tired.

"Then I will take you inside." He walked around the chair and started to push it toward the house."

Mikala leaned back strangely comforted by his presence behind her.

Would you like something to eat or drink?"

"Something hot to drink would be wonderful," she said.

He pushed her into the breakfast room. "Kaf or tea?"

"Tea," she said and then added, "Please."

"Cream or sugar?" He left her at the table and went to the counter.

"Just sugar," she said.

"Ok." He started the water heating. Then he lifted the cover from the pastry holder. Would you like cheese of lemon?"

Mikala raised her eyebrows. "What's that?"

"Pastry. There are cheese and lemon ones."

She laughed. "Lemon."

He picked up two plates, but a cheese pastry on one and a lemon pastry on the other. Then he put them on the table.

Mikala smiled. "Thank you."

The teakettle started to boil. Darien went back to it, pour the tea and brought it to the table. Then he sat down. "Just a minuet to steep."

She nodded and starting picking at the pastry.

Darien poured two cups of tea after a few minutes

Mikala reached for her cup. "Thank you."

"Your welcome." Darien pulled a chair over and sat next to her."

She smiled. "That meditation thing wasn't half bad. I've never had the patience for that before."

"The Darkside has trouble being patient. But it can be patient. I've seen your father be very patient." Darien explained.

"I've waited for days for a mark to move into position, but I've never been able to make my mind still like that before."

"But you are beginning to learn." He smiled.

She smiled a little and ran her finger along the rim of the teacup. "I guess I am. I've learned a lot of things since I got here and unlearned a lot of things."

"I know." Darien hesitated. "You have drifted Lightward since I've known you."

Mikala chewed on her bottom lip. "I don't feel so angry like I did when I first got here."

"No, you are much calmer." He agreed.

She sighed. "I guess I am. I was hurting so badly when I came here, I just stopped thinking and was just reacting for a while."

"Now that you've regained some balance what, are you going to do? More tea?" He held out the pot.

"Please," she said, pushing her cup toward him. She sighed. "Healing is I guess my first priority and then learning to use this, whatever it is I have."

"Meditation will help you answer that question as well." He filled her cup. "Sometimes the Force is best experienced with an empty mind."

Mikala chuckled. "Mine's been anything, but empty lately."

"I can tell. It overflows sometimes."

Mikala grimaced, her cheeks flushing. "Sorry."

"Don't worry. You're getting better." He reassured her.

"How much have you seen?"

"Only bits and pieces. On Yaven, and here you have to learn to filter most of what's thought around you out. Otherwise you can't hear yourself think."

"What kind of bits and pieces have you seen?" Mikala asked, frowning a bit.

"I felt your anger when you arrived. At first you were the loudest noise around and the most erratic." He took a breath. "Now other things come though on occasion. The beauty of a flower, should I have a drink, all kind of thoughts, most of which I've forgotten."

Mikala flushed crimson. "Sith, I didn't realize I was so bad."

"Your control is improving."

Mikala sighed and rubbed her temples. "I've never had this kind of trouble before, but then I've never been around so many Force users either or had people poke around in my head until things blew up."

"Talk to your father, and Polly about that. They are the ones who came here as untrained adults and had to get used to telepathy the hard way."

She nodded. "Polly and I had a talk a while back. She and I knew each other a long time ago."

"Good. She can help you a lot with you filters."

Mikala sighed and nodded, shifting uncomfortably in the antigrav chair.

Darien studied Mikala for a moment. "Are you getting tired?"

She nodded. "Sorry. My back is starting to really hurt now."

"Should I call Sandy?"

"I just need to lie down, I think," she told him.

"Can I take you back to your room?" He offered.

"Please," she said. She gave him a small smile. "Thank you for rescuing me from the garden, again."

"You're welcome." He stood up and started to push her chair toward the elevator.

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