You Here with Me


John Medkeff


Rebecca Miller

Darien drifted slowly toward consciousness. He was sure there was no hurry, even if he couldn't quite remember why. When he reached the halfway point he began to be aware that something was weighing the covers down behind him. It was also a bit warmer than it should be. When he was able to open his eyes he rolled over and discovered a human sized and shaped object under an extra blanket on the other side of the bed.

The lump shifted slightly, snuggling in against him.

Mikala he told himself. He wasn't sure how he knew but he did. He rolled the rest of the way over and stuck his top arm out of the covers and wrapped it around her.

The blanket shifted and revealed a face veiled by long black hair. She sighed softly in her sleep and shifted into his arms.

He drifted back to sleep.

There was a loud thump outside the door and Darien felt something jerk against him sometime later.

He opened his eyes, and turned his head toward the door.

Mikala stirred in his arms. "Force, what was that? A thermo detonator?" she said sleepily.

"I'm not sure. I don't think the kids are allowed to keep explosives in their rooms." Darien answered. He sat up.

Mikala sat up beside him and ran a hand through her hair to push it back out of her eyes. She smiled at him. "Hi."

"Hi. Any idea what that noise was?" He asked.

She shook her head. "No idea."

He pushed his perception though the door.

Mikala pulled her blanket up around her shoulders, watching him.

Darien relaxed and let go the part of his mind that was reaching for his lightsaber and pulled her closer. "I think our breakfast will be delayed. There's a servant outside just starting to pick up what he dropped.

She smiled and relaxed into his arms. "Oops," she said. She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. "You know, Sandy's not going to be happy with me if she finds me in here."

"Probably not. And the servants are notorious for not being able to keep secrets form her." He observed.

"We're both supposed to be resting," she said. Mikala sighed deeply. "I couldn't though. Every time I close my eyes, the nightmares start, except when I'm with you."

"You can only avoid the nightmares with me. That will be a hard sell to any mother. Every four year old in history has used that line to get to sleep with their parents." He pointed out.

Mikala gave him a sad smile. "Never worked for me."

"Me either. You think it'll work with Sandy with all her maternal experience."

She nodded and started to pull away. "I better go before I get us both into trouble."

"I guess so. What time is it anyway?" He summoned his chrono from the night table. "Almost noon. Shall we meet outside your room in 15 minutes and go see what's for lunch?"

She nodded and moved to get up. "I hope you didn't mind me coming in here unannounced," she said softly, gathering up her blanket.

"No. But make sure you bring that blanket back. Its blue and every thing in your room is green." He suggested.

She smiled. "How about I just leave it then?"

"And leaving it would be interesting." He said. "Better scan the hall first. The servant might still be out there."

Mikala raised an eyebrow at him and glanced down at her light sleep pants and tunic. "I'm clothed and I'll be quick."

"Then go."

She walked to the door and put her hand on it, closing her eyes tightly in concentration. She chewed on her lower lip, her brow creasing in confusion.

Darien went to his dressing room and started to get dressed. He heard the door open and then close quietly in the other room.

When he was dressed Darien left his room, walked down the hall to Mikala's door, and waited for her.

Mikala came out a few minutes later, dressed in a glimmersilk tunic of a deep chocolate brown and a pair of tan slacks. She looked a little uncomfortable, but smiled. She glanced down at what she was wearing. "One of the outfits Melody talked me into getting."

"I see, very nice. Shall head down." He offered her his arm.

She nodded and slid her arm through his. "How are you feeling?" she asked him.

"Better. How are you?"

"Better as well, but I didn't get as ill as the rest of you did. Sandy said that was most likely because of the medications she gave me before the surgery to prevent infection."

"That would make sense. I suppose Alidar was in the worst shape."

She nodded. "He's still asleep yet."

"Should be."

"Sandy said he's going to be alright," Mikala said, glancing back over her shoulder toward his room.

Darien took a step toward the stairs. "Let him sleep. I'm starving. I suspect you are too."

She looked back at him and smiled. "Sure."

They walked slowly down the hall and then down the two flights of stairs to the ground floor. They moved on to the breakfast room.

A waiter appeared and pulled out a chair for Mikala. "What shall I get you this morning?"

"Juice and kaff with be fine for me," she said.

"Lady Cassandra left orders that you were all to have real food when you arose." The servant protested.

Mikala groaned. "Fine, whatever then." She looked over at Darien and made a face.

"We'll have some soup," Darien, ordered.

Mikala sighed and leaned back in her chair once the waiter had left.

"Did I miss anything while I was out of it?"

She shook her head. "Not much. Everyone one else was asleep as well." She smiled. "It was pretty dull."

"I guess you were often the only one awake in the iso ward." He asked.

She nodded. "I kept busy though. I could help with things they couldn't do in those bulky iso suits and I spent some time sitting with each of you until I started coming down with it as well."

"So now you're ready for a career in nursing?"

She laughed. "Not quite. I'll leave that up to Sandy. I fret too much when people get ill."

"Not one I seem to have the talent for," she said. "I was really worried about you and the others." She sighed. "I should have gone by myself and then you wouldn't have gotten ill."

"'No way to know. And you were not strong enough." He answered.

She chewed on her lower lip, playing with the napkin at her place setting. "Thank you for going with me," she said, glancing over at him.

"You're quite welcome."

Mikala pulled at a loose thread on the edge of the napkin. "So, are you upset with me for telling them?"

"Telling who what?"

"Telling Father and Sandy," she said, looking over at him. ""

"I didn't know you had. I think it likely that Sandy at least knows. Tal and Polly do. But if you did I'm not upset." He finished.

She bit her lip a moment. "I guess you don't remember," she said finally. "I had told you before, but you were pretty sick." She swallowed, looking down at her plate. "I was afraid I'd lose you," she said softly.

"Do you mean lose me to death?"

She nodded, not looking back up him.

"A reasonable fear under the circumstances." He answered. "I would have felt the same about you if I'd been awake enough."

He leaned over and kissed her nose.

Mikala blushed and looked up at him. "I do love you."

"I know you do." He kissed her. "And I love you."

Mikala smiled warmly at him, her dark eyes sparkling. "I've never felt like this before."

"Nor have I."

"I like this feeling," she told him. Her smiled faded a bit. "I never felt anything even close to this when I was with Xanatos," she said softly. "This all feels like some kind of wonderful dream and I'm afraid that at any minute I could wake up and I'd be back in that nightmare."

"It is a nice feeling. I don't think anyone understands it." He laughed. "But that's a job for a poet."

"I don't think I've ever understood poets until now," she said chuckle.

"I don't think you're really supposed to understand them, just experience their words." He paused. "Of course your father would disagree with me there."

The waiter appeared and set the soup on the table.

"I think we'd better eat before Sandy decides to treat us as children."

Mikala gave him a questioning look. "And just what would she do?"

"I don't know, but just had a vision of my own mother making me eat when I was four or five."

Mikala laughed.

"I suspect your stepmother pulls that one on her father occasionally."

She chuckled. "Oh?"

"Yes. It'd be like her to try to run her father's life."

"She is rather formidable."

"That she is." He started eating his soup.

Mikala picked at hers. "Darien, I want to go back to Yavin with Master Alidar."

He stopped eating. "To Yaven, why? You've hinted that they have good reason to dislike you."

Mikala put down her spoon. "I need to fix something I did. Something I should have never done in the first place." She dropped her eyes. "You say you love me, Darien, but I don't think you still will when you find out what I've done."

"I know you've changed." He looked her in the eye. You are a much better person than you were when you arrived here. I don't need to know exactly what you did to Kaliandra and Medenna."

Mikala closed her eyes a moment. "But I have to tell you," she said. "You deserve to know and I want to do what I can to make right what I did."

"I do not need to know. So tell me if you need to." He took another spoonful. "Maybe we should finish our lunch first."

"Go head. I can't eat."

"We definitely should eat first. And do try."

Mikala sighed and the picked her spoon up again. She pushed the soup around for a while. She finally managed to eat a few bites before she gave up. She nursed her glass of juice until Darien finished eating.

"Are you sure that's all you're going to eat. You know Sandy will blame me."

"I'll tell her it's my fault, not yours," she said softly.

"All right." He sighed. "What did you do?"

Mikala looked around at the servants milling around the room and then back him. "Do you want to go outside?"

The servants vanished.

She gave him a very small smile and pushed her bowl away. She sighed deeply and started to tell him everything that had happened from her first getting involved in business with Xanatos and then later how they joined causes and he joined her bed. She told him of her limited involvement in Daroa's kidnapping and then of how she had used the conditioning chamber on the girls and her mistreatment of them. She spoke quietly, but clearly as she told him, never once meeting his eyes. Once she finished, she closed her eyes, unconsciously flinching as she waited for his reaction.

Darien considered her revelation. "I knew you played some role in the Daroa, Lorose kidnappings. Most of what you've just told me reasonably matches my estimate of the details. Your guilt level was too high for you not to have abused them.

"The one new thing there is the programming. I assume that is what you need to fix?"

She nodded. "I should never had done that. Xanatos wanted to hurt the Jedi as much as possible. I had the means to do it. I wanted to please him. I know it's not an excuse. I need to undo this before it destroys Larose. I know there's nothing I can do for Daroa, but I can help Medenna."

"Can you give me the key and let me undo it?" He asked. "Or Alidar."

She shook her head. "I need to do this."

"We should first talk to Alidar, he is a master, I am not."

She nodded and then looked up at him. "That kind of ruins things for us, doesn't it?"

He stood up, walked over behind her chair and hugged her. "No, the only new thing you want to fix. What you said today took courage. I will not abandon you for being brave."

She leaned back into his arms, a tear slipping down her cheek. "I do love you, Darien," she said softly.

"I love you too." He answered.

She turned and wrapped her arms around him, pressing her face against his chest.

"About you're affair with Xanatos, is that the best scandal you can manage. You will have to do much better than that to keep up with your stepmother."

"I'm not really interested in getting involved in another sordid affair," she said softly.

"Nor am I. My point was that I expect some kind of history. I am not going to let it make decisions for me." He kissed her ear.

She leaned into his kiss. "I know I can trust you," she said softly.

He kissed her again.

Mikala stood, slipping her arms around his neck, returning the kiss.

"Are you two going to go all mushy on me?"

Mikala pulled away, her cheek flaming in a dark blush.

Darien let her go and turned to the voice. "Where did you come from, Kieren?"

Mikala shook her head and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

"I asked one of the servants to tell me when you got up, Darien. Good morning Mikala."

"Good morning, Kieren," Mikala said to him and glanced at Darien. "Well, I guess everyone is going to know now."

"I think so." Darien replied.

"Know what?" Kieren asked. "Oh. You mean the mushy stuff. That must be what the girls are talking about. They are all up in Tiri's room. Except they threw Keri out."

Mikala groaned and rested her forehead against the back of Darien's shoulder.

"No secrets around here." Darien added.

She sighed. "Obviously. Back to center ring," she said softly.

"No escaping it."

"What are you two talking about?" Kieren asked.

"Nothing," she told the boy. She looked over at him. "Do you mind Darien and I getting 'all mushy'?" she asked the boy.

"No, I guess not. Mother and father get really mushy sometimes. I don't really understand it." The boy answered.

Mikala smiled a little. "You will when you get older."

"I will?" The boy questioned.

Mikala looked up at Darien and smiled. "Yeah."

"Yes, Kieren, you'll understand when your older."

"How much older?" Kieren asked.

"I'm not sure. But it'll be easy to tell when you are old enough." Darien answered.

"How will I tell?"

"When you're old enough you won't need to ask, you'll know." Darien said.

Mikala chuckled a little. *Good answer,* she told Darien across their bond.

Kieren stopped and thought about the answer.

Mikala sighed and leaned against Darien, resting her head against his shoulder.

Kieren looked up at them. "I still don't think I understand."

"Don't worry. When the time comes you will."

*That's true about a lot of things,* Mikala told Darien.

"Yes it is." Darien answered.

She smiled up at him.

"My dragon flowers are blooming. Do you want to see them?" Kieren changed the subject.

"Sure," Mikala said, moving to reach for Kieren's hand.

Darien took Mikala's other hand and they let Kieren lead them to his garden.

*I wonder what the girls are saying about us?* Mikala asked Darien as they headed outside.

*You'd know better than I would.* Darien answered.

Mikala chewed her lower lip pensively. *Not really. I've never had much time to give these kind of things real thought before.*

*But at least you're a girl.*

*I am that, but romance is something I'm not well versed in.*

They walked slowly though the gardens.

*They are never going to tell me, or any male what they're saying.*

Mikala sighed and squeezed his hand. *I don't know why I feel so nervous about this. It's never bothered me what other people thought before.*

*Lets stop worrying about this and enjoy Kieren's flowers.* Darien suggested.

She sighed and nodded. *Okay.*

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