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Jalana

LtCmdr D'Sena & Tabitha Gard - Sleepover

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(( USS Constitution - Daycare / School ))

:: The time had finally came for school to be over. Not that there was much in the way of schooling after the ship jostled everyone like a martini. The adults were solome, milling around constantly asking if they were alright. Worry etched in their features as they offered comforting words and coo’s. ::

:: The children, on the other hand, were wound up tighter than a fresh ball of string and bounced around like a spring that had been sent down a flight of steps. Even though they had gotten their fill of bumps and bruises, and the classrooms looked like a massacre of school supplies, energy seemed never ending. In fact it might have grown with the new experience and once the shock wore off. ::

:: Tabitha was one of those children, giggling and creating mayhem in her own little way. But the fun she was having with the other children, as the day came to an end, and one by one the others left. She had kept up her bright and cheerful smile until the last student left, leaving her alone with a few teachers still trying to pick up the pieces. But the day had been long on them as well. Quietly they moved around, mumbling slightly to one another, with worn expressions and exhausted bodies. ::

:: Tabitha needed to see others smile and be cheerful for her own happiness. Her father, Jack, saying it was because she had such a big heart for someone so young. Seeing the dreary faces pulled the corners of her mouth down, hanging her head as she sat quietly at a desk, closest to the door. ::

:: Would Akeelah ever come? She wondered, wrapping her little arms around her chest and pouting. She was hungry by this time, and her father always came to pick her up with a snack to tide her over till dinner. But it wouldn’t be him picking her up, he was too busy. Despite understanding, as much as a 5 year old could, it still hurt. ::

:: But at long last, the doors opened and in walked Akeelah. Tabitha jumped up with such glee, a spring under her butt that made her nearly fly towards the woman, and arms thrown out wide that worked quickly to wrap themselves around Akeelah’s legs. Both in happy embrace and to make sure she couldn’t pull away easily from Tabitha. She rested her head on Akeelah’s upper thigh and looked up to her with large eyes and smile. ::

Tabitha: You’re here! :: She said as if it had been years since she last saw the woman. ::

:: Akeelah had felt guilty for leaving work while they still were in this situation, caught in the past, but at this point there was no direct threat towards ship or crew. There were no alien ships around, no weapons from the planet that could hit them, no criminals who could beam up and enter the ship, so after a short discussion with a colleague, she had been convinced it to be safe enough to go off duty after her shift had ended. Of course under the premise to be called in case she was needed. So Akeelah had made her way directly to the Daycare Center, knowing that Tabitha would already be waiting for her. When she entered she did not have to look around to find the girl, as she had jumped up and run right into her so fast she was merely a blur in Akeelah’s vision. ::

D’Sena: Of course I am. Have you thought I go back on my promise?

Tabitha: :: Pause. :: Well no, but school let out almost 15 minutes ago! :: It was just so inconceivable to Tabitha. Time, that is. ::

D’Sena: I did mention it would take a bit longer than when school is out. ::She reminded the girl and looked down to her, the way she wrapped herself around her legs, as if she wanted to make sure that Akeelah didn’t leave. She could feel that so clear from the girl. :: I won’t be able to walk like that.

:: Reluctantly, Tabitha released the trapped legs, with a frown. A spark flared along with another way to ensure her company, quickly snatching up Akeelah’s fingertips and holding them tightly. ::

Tabitha: Are you ready?

D’Sena: I indeed am. ::She looked at the wrapped up finger. At least Tabby wouldn’t get lost like this. As she raised her eyes she saw that the teacher was looking over, he smiled and nodded to her instead of trying to get her out again, so she assumed Jack had informed him just as he had promised.:: Let us go, Tabitha.

:: She turned and headed to the door, careful not to go too fast for the short legs of the girl. ::

:: Tabby nodded, her rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes gave away all the excitement she kept bottled up. She glanced around and waved at her teacher ‘goodbye’ before stepping out into the corridor. The lights seemed dimmer than in the classrooms and the air more chilled. ::

D’Sena: Are you hungry?

Tabitha: :: Perking up even more.:: Yes! Are you?

D’Sena: I have not had dinner yet, we can eat together in my quarters. Do you need something from home first for your stay?

Tabitha: Um… :: She tapped her free hand on her chin. :: Yes. :: Shhe looked up at Akeelah. :: I need clothes… Toothbrush… *My* b* blankie and…

D’Sena: You can have a toothbrush from me.

Tabitha: But I can’t sleep without my blankie

:: Akeehal was not sure if that was true. A blanket was only an object and objects did not influence how someone would sleep, right? Either way this seemed to be important for Tabby, and it was cold thanks to the reduced life support activity, even in the living quarters. So she nodded.::

D’Sena: Then we will get your blankie.

:: Tabby picked up a slight skip in her walk as she and Akeelah stepped into the nearest turbolift. She stepped off to one side, still clinging to the woman’s fingers. Her tummy rumbled and she patted it, looking down then back up too Akeelah.::

Tabitha: What will we have for a snack?

D’Sena: I thought we could have something from my home planet.

Tabitha: Really? :: She perked up.:: that sounds most yummy. Does the computer make it taste good?

:: With the energy level so low they had to bring down life support, replicating was out of the question. Which was good, Akeelah did not like replicated as much anyway. It wasn’t supposed to taste any different, and pretty sure it was all in her head that it still did. ::

D’Sena: I will cook. If you like and promise to be careful you can help me.


Tabitha: I promise! :: Her voice raised an octave or two.::

:: Akeelah nodded and with the girl at her finger she stepped into the lift to get whatever Tabitha would be needing for the night. ::


(( Quarters D’Sena ))

:: After the quick trip to the Gards’ quarters Akeelah and Tabitha arrived at the Rodulan’s quarters. They were smaller than the family quarters but quite adequate and pleasant in size for her. There were not many personal things around. It looked like standard quarters, with a couple of books, two pictures and a few small basotile statues. ::

:: Tabby smiled in wonder as she glanced around the living quarters. It was just perfect. So clean and neat, everything seemed to have its place. Tabby tried to keep her smile from growing. No wonder her papa liked Akeelah. They were both neat people... Unlike she, herself who preferred things laid out. It made it easy to get or find things. Though her papa would just smile and shake his head at her reasoning.::

D’Sena: You can put your things over there. ::She pointed to an empty spot next to the door.::

Tabitha: O-Tay!

:: Tabby nodded, with blanket and dolls in tow, turning to see where she was directed to leave her things. She laid the blanket down first, then her dolls on top. With a smile and a firm nod she turned back to Akeelah, who had already made her way to the kitchen.::

:: Since they both were hungry, or to quote Tabby ‘starving’, Akeelah headed to the kitchen corner and retrieved the tools and checked on which ingredients she had, while she allowed Tabby to take a look around the quarters. She did not have all she needed right now, but she’d adjust and improvise a little. It would still be like home, but with her own spin.::

D’Sena: I hope you like vegetables.

Tabitha: I love veggies!

:: Tabby clapped her hands together in joy and giddiness. She walked towards where Akeelah stood, stopped for a second and began dragging a chair over to the counter top. ::

Tabitha: And fruits.

:: Tabby pulled the chair as close as she could to the counter top, sticking her tongue out in concentration. She slide her flats off, using the chair to keep her stable.::

Tabitha: Tomatoes I like mosted. :: She smiled as she stood up on the chair.::

:: Akeelah had noticed, that the girl was pulling a chair closer and she let her. In this cold the ship was in - and unfortunately her quarters as well - she preferred to be near a heat source, which the small stove could provide. It had an internal power source, so she wouldn’t strain the ship’s resources. ::

D'Sena: Do you now? Good, because we will have … veggies.

Tabitha: What kind of veg-i-ta-bles are these?

D'Sena: These are vegetables from my home planet, Rodul. And these here… ::She raised a small cone shaped piece in a nightblue shimmering shade.:: … are the closest that we have to tomatoes.


Tabitha: I love to-ma-toes!

:: Akeelah smiled slightly and extended her hand to the girl, so she could take it. ::

:: Tabby took the tomatoes similar food and popped it into her mouth gladly. She smiled and she chewed, very much pleased with the flavor. It was slightly different. But to her it was just a different type of tomato.::

D’Sena: And?

Tabitha: Yummy! :: She threw her hands up.:: Are they real?

D’Sena: Yes, they are fresh. I am not very fond of replicators. I receive fresh ingredients during shore leaves or with the help of the botanist.

Tabitha: Someone grows these? On the ship?

:: It was awe in Tabby's eyes. She had never stopped to consider someone might actually grow real food on a star ship. She was always tickled to learn knew things.::

D’Sena: She grows fresh vegetables as per request, if she has room for it.

Tabitha: ::Giggled.:: that is am-a-zing! ::Paused.:: What can I do? :: She looked down at the counter top.::

:: Akeelah made sure to be between Tabby and the stove, so the girl could not burn herself and wondered how she could help. ::

D’Sena: Have you cut vegetables before?

Tabitha: Yes! :: She clapped her hands together.::

D'Sena: Good then you know, that you need to pay close attention to the blade, so you won’t cut yourself. Keep your fingers away from the sharp edge and cut on a steady surface, like this here. ::She patted the counter::

:: Tabby bit down on her bottom lip in concentration. Listening closely to Akeelah. Her papa often reminded her of safety first.::

Tabitha: What is this?

:: Tabby held up a soft green veggie that was long and narrow. It resembled a green bean but with blueish spots all over it. ::

D'Sena: This is called a Taruk. It is slightly bitter, but when you bite on the blue spots, it becomes sweet.

Tabitha: Can I cut it?

D'Sena: ::Thinking about that for a moment she finally nodded.:: Alright. You cut them once along the long side so you have two halves and then once in the middle of the short side to make it 4 pieces. Got it?

Tabitha: Okay! I can do that. :: She giggled.::

:: Akeelah smiled and for a moment she watched Tabby. Not only to make sure that she didn’t hurt herself but also because the enthusiasm about helping during cooking preparation reminded her so much about herself and her little sister. Before she could dive too far into the memories she pulled a piece of poultry from the cooling unit and cut it into small pieces. She then mixed spices and herbs with some oil and began to pour the mix over the meat, digging with her hands into the bowl to cover the pieces evenly. ::

:: Tabby’s little tongue stuck out of her mouth and her eyes fixated on cutting the veggie. Her determination to cut everything as exactly as she could caused her to be slow. Down the middle and then again. One down! Tabby set the four pieces aside, lining them up side by side. The lengths were close but not exact and Tabby frowned. Grabbing a second one, she focused even harder but much to her dismay they two were uneven, and longer than the first one she cut. She looked to Akeelah.::

Tabitha: Am I do-ing o-kay?

D’Sena: You are doing very well. I still have some dough left from last time, so I will be doing some pasta for us and we are going to put everything together with a lovely sauce.

:: Tabby beamed, despite the uneven cuts she was still doing good. She thought for minute about what they might be making. Something with pasta? She frowned slightly, thinking. ::

Tabitha: Pasta? That is not from your home, right? :: It was half statement and half question. ::

D’Sena: ::smiling:: .oO Smart kid Oo. No, pasta is not from Rodul, but I do not have the ingredients for original Rodulan noodles, so these will have to do.

Tabitha: :: Smiling.:: O-tay!

D’Sena: When you are done with these, you can set the table. This won’t take long.

:: Tabby reached for the sixth veggie and continued to cut length ways and then width ways. She nodded pleasantly. Oh how she very much enjoyed having helpful things to do. It made her feel like she was useful and right in the middle of things. ::

Tabitha: I can do that… ::Paused.:: Just for two? :: There was slight hope in the undertones of her voice, hope that the answer would be three.::

:: The hope didn’t get past Akeelah and she could understand the girl. Of course she hoped her father would be here. But with the state the ship was in, that wasn’t likely. ::

D’Sena: Yes, two.

:: Tabby set down the knife delicately, on the opposite side from her, and hopped down off her chair. She snatched a Taruk that was uncut and bit into it as she followed where Akeelah pointed for the dishes. The veggie was indeed bitter and yet almost bland until the sweet stepped in, making the veggie taste more like a sweet pea. She smiled. She retrieved two of everything. Two plates, bowls, cups, knives, little forks and big, little spoons and big, tea cups and tea plates and carried them out to the table two by two. ::

:: Akeelah showed her where to find the cutlery and dishes, before returning to the pasta. That went rather quick as she tore small pieces off the dough and as she was done with enough of that, she poured them in boiling water. While that cooked she began to stir-fry the meat and the scent of spices and oil combined with the meat began to fill the whole room. The vegetables were steaming in another pot and the Rodulan was pleased when everything came together and finished at the same time. Quickly she gave everything into a big bowl and from the juices she made a quick sauce with some lovely cream and put that into another vessel. Carefully she brought both into the dining part of the quarters, noticing that Tabby had set the table nicely and was now looking around a bit. ::

:: Tabby filled the table with dishes, much like what she does with her dolls’ tea parties. It was fancy like to her. But with the table set, she took the chance to look around the room. ::

D’Sena: Dinner is ready.

Tabitha: Are you married? :: She turned asking innocently enough. ::

:: Akeelah’s eyebrow raised slightly at the question, taken off guard by it. Her people didn’t marry, they did not believe in the artificial binding together of people. They followed the natural flow, things began, things ended, it was not assumed that relationships held forever, especially not with their prolonged lifespan. ::

D’Sena: No, I am not. Why do you ask?

Tabitha: :: Shrugged.:: Well, :: She spoke walking back to the table. :: Some of the ol-der kids talked a-bout people with lots of love-rs.

D’Sena: Ah, but not all lovers get married. ::Just as she said that, she wondered if that might be a wrong subject for a chat with a child.::

Tabitha: :: Thoughtfully.:: Papa says that people that love, get marr-ied.

D’Sena: You father is correct. On Earth or in other cultures many people who love each other get married. But not everyone does. Come on sit down.

:: Tabby sat down at the table and smiled. The food smelled very good and she was excited to try something new, even though some of it was familiar. She watched intently as Akeelah served the food. ::

:: The Rodulan began to fill the plates with the pasta, covering it with the sauce and topping it with a piece of meat. As she put the tool down again she looked over the table and then realized something was missing.::

D’Sena: What would you like to drink?

Tabitha: Milk please!

:: Tabby sat quietly waiting for Akeelah before tasting the food. She nodded her thanks when the woman placed a glass of milk in front of her. After Akeelah sat down Tabby asked something. She was sure she knew the answer but truly wished to know for sure. ::

Tabitha: Do you love Papa?

:: Akeelah had just sat down and was in the progress of taking a sip from her glass when Tabby asked her question. The water got stuck in her throat as her heart skipped a beat, just like in those moments when you thought someone caught you in the act of doing something naughty. She coughed and patted her hand on her chest. ::

D’Sena: What? ::some more coughing::

Tabitha: :: Giggled. :: Do. You. Love… Papa?!?

:: Tabby giggled as she dove into the food. It was very yummy! Tabby enjoyed working with Akeelah to make the food. It would make sense that she would be able to do so if Akeelah and Papa lived together. It was an exciting thought!. ::

D’Sena: How do you get that idea? .oO You are evading the answer Oo.

:: Tabby covered her mouth as she giggled, curling up into half a ball. Why wouldn’t she think that? Her innocent view of love, she loved Papa and Akeelah and she knew Papa loved her. So, to Tabby, it just seemed to complete the circle. ::

Tabitha: :: Bit her lower lip. Shrugged.:: Be-cause, you spend time to-geth-er and seem happy. You smile when you are with us. So? Do you?

:: Akeelah stared at the young girl. What was she supposed to say? Love? Did she? No that couldn’t be, they didn’t know each other well enough for that. She believed that love developed over time the more people got to know each other. But granted, she had spent quite some time with Jack and Tabitha. Her cheeks began to warm up, still trying to give an answer, realising that she tried to answer with her head, with logic and rules, instead of her heart. ::

D’Sena: I… I ddon’t know, Tabitha. I… .oO You coward. - I’m not a coward I just don’t know. - You keep telling yourself that. Oo. ... like him. Very much. But love takes time.

Tabitha: Nuh uh! :: She lightly protested.:: The stories Papa tells, says love is like a shooting star. Happens all the time and all in a blink of an eye.

D’Sena: ::tilting her head:: That easy, huh?

Tabitha: Yes! :: she threw her arms up. Her face dropped.:: Does that mean…

D’Sena: ::She sensed the vulnerability of the little girl, a glimpse of fear and she softened her voice. :: Mean what?

Tabitha: Well… :: She tapped her toes together and looked at the flloor.:: I-I love you. Does that mean you do-not love me?

:: Akeelah stared at the young girl, who had looked behind her exterior from the first moment they had met. She had looked past the rules, the stern face, the fully black eyes others found so creepy, and had given her unconditional love. And here she said afraid that Akeelah didn’t love her back. ::

:: It wasn’t that Akeelah didn’t. But it was true that she held back. The last time she had loved, really really loved someone had been such a long time ago... ::


(( Flashback ))

:: It was one of those nights, when the starry sky was lit brightly, twinkling and whispering promises of far-away worlds. Akeelah loved sitting on the small hill behind the house and look up, dream of what would be out there. Not many of her people left Rodul, but she kept thinking about it. Not only because of the beauty of it, but to help fight back against those who had tortured her people. But tonight was not the time to think of that. Tonight she was not alone here. ::

Jenia: Do you think we can travel the stars, Keelah?

:: With a smile she wrapped her arm around her little sister’s shoulder and pulled her closer. Jenia was almost 10, Akeelah almost 25, mere children compared to their lifespan. ::

Akeelah: Of course. We can do anything we want.

Jenia: ::grinning:: Anything? Even grow wings and fly?

Akeelah: ::laughing:: If you work hard on figuring out how to do that, I’m sure you will.

:: The little girl wrapped her arms around her sister’s waist and squeezed her tightly. ::

Jenia: I love you Keelah.

Akeelah: ::She tilt her head and placed a kiss on the curly dark hair:: I love you too, Nia.

(( /Flashback ))


:: Tabby took notice of the sudden quietness of the room. She had the feeling that it was her fault. Pushing the chair back from the table and shoveling one more, big bite into her mouth, Tabby walked over to Akeelah and pushed her way onto the woman’s lap. Different cultures, her Papa had taught her where different, plain and simple. Some ways they were similar, but you should never pressure another into agreement with your own ways. ::

Tabitha: I sorry… :: She wwrapped her arms around Akeelah’s neck.:: I am.. :: She thought of a good neutral word.:: happy we are friends.

D’Sena: ::Without thinking, she wrapped her arms around the little girl and kissed the side of her head, right on top of the dark hair as she whispered.:: Me too, sweetie.

Tabitha: So! :; Her enthusiasm returned.:: What are we going to do after dinner?

D’Sena: :: Akeelah was not sure if she could keep up with the sudden changes Tabby went through, but she tried.:: What do you want to do?

Tabitha: Could we build a fort!

D’Sena: A fort?

Tabitha: Oh please! :: She clapped her hands together.:: We can build it and play with dolls and tell stories.. :: She inhaled sharply. ::

D’Sena: Mhmmm, and then?

Tabitha: We could sleep in it!

:: Tabby jumped down and bounced on her toes in front of Akeelah, her hands folded in front of her. A wide smile upon her face and the conversation from second ago long gone. ::

:: Seeing the girl so excited, feeling the dark thoughts that had been hanging around in her head vanish in smoke pleased her. She didn’t want her to doubt and feel this pain at such a young age. How could she not give in when Tabby was reacting to the mere thought of this fort. ::

D’Sena: Well then, a fort it is. But now eat up.

Tabitha: Oh-Kay. :: Tabby went back to her own chair and gladly became eating again.::

:: After they had devoured their dinner, and just in case left something for Jack - because who knew he might be hungry after all the work he had to do - Akeelah and Tabby began to collect blankets, pillows and other materials they could turn into their magical fort. They had taken apart the bed and half the couch, pushed together the single seaters and this fort was slowly turning into a castle. Both of them stood in front of it, Akeelah had her hands on her hips. ::

D’Sena: What do you think?

:: Tabby smiled, folding her hand up to her mouth as her dazzling gaze and vivid imagine nation took over. It was an enormous castle, with tall towers to see across the land. A towering door that opened up at the end of a bridge. The bridge went across a moat that surrounded the castle to keep the princess and queen safe. It was one of the biggest castle Tabby had ever built. ::

Tabitha: I love it! :: Paused. She spoke seriously:: We should name it.

D’Sena: Good idea, would you do the honors?

:: Tabby nodded and thought. What would be a good name? She usually just called her castles, Castle Gard. But with Akeelah she wanted it to be something else, something special. Castle… Girl power. oO No Oo Casstle… She smiled ::

Tabitha: I dub thee, :: She tapped the entrance of the “castle.”:: Castle Friend-ship :: She turned and smiled at Akeelah. ::

D’Sena: ::clapping into her hands:: A lovely name. All that is missing now, is getting into our pajamas.

Tabitha: Oh tay!

:: Tabby ran over to grab all of her things. Her dolls, blanket, jammies and cloths for tomorrow, and her tooth brush. She pushed her dolls under the canopy they were using for the roof of the castle and held up her onesie pick princess jammies. ::

Tabitha: Do you have jammies like these?

D’Sena: Not like these, but they are still pretty.

Tabitha: :: She giggled.:: Where should I change?

D’Sena: ::She had not thought about that and considered the options for a moment.:: Come with me.

:: She went with the girl to the bathroom, she’d have the chance to wash and change in privacy here. ::

D’Sena: You can prepare here. I’ll be in my bedroom.

:: Tabby followed Akeelah into the washroom, setting her toothbrush on the sink’s edge. She nodded to her and once alone changed quickly. She didn’t want to lose any time playing in the fort they had just built. When she emerged she ran to the castle and crawled in. ::

Tabitha: :: Poking her head out.:: Come on Ah-key-la!

:: Akeelah was just finishing to change. She did not really have pajamas like Tabitha wore, she preferred nightgowns. But with their castle, she could pretend to be a princess in it. The thought made her giggle, something she hadn’t done in ages. ::

D’Sena: I’m coming, I’m coming. ::She called out and left the bedroom in direction of the castle, but before she could crawl in Tabitha seemed to have remembered something. ::

Tabitha: Oh wait!

D’Sena: What is it?

Tabitha: We need pop-corn! :: She threw her hands into the air.:: To eat while telling stories of course.

D’Sena: ::blinking:: Of course, your highness.

::She smirked as she turned on her heels. She didn’t have popcorn, so since they had been good in saving energy, she allowed herself to replicate some popcorn for them. With the bowl she finally crawled into the fort which was surprisingly big. She didn’t have to crouch and could sit up straight. ::

:: Tabby giggled at being called ‘your highness’. She crawled back under the fort and sat on the far side, leaving plenty of room for Akeelah. She closed her eyes and smelled the buttery scent of popcorn filling the air. ::

Tabitha: Yay! :: She threw her hands up.::

:: While building the fort they had also put some light-cubes with their own light source inside, so it was not dark, and the confined space with two bodies would also not be too cold. The walls out of pillows and parts of the bed and sofa were thick enough to block the chill out. That was all she cared about: making sure that Tabby was alright. ::

D’Sena: So what kind of stories do you want to tell?

Tabitha: Princess ones!. :: Giggle.:: Of course.

D’Sena: ::sinking a hand into the popcorn she took a good portion out:: Well then, I would love to hear one of your stories. Will you tell me one?

:: Tabby leaned over and took a small handful of popcorn and set it in her lap. She loved listening to stories as much as she loved telling them. Though hers usually came from books filled with old fables. ::

Tabitha: Have you ev-r heard the story of re-pun-zle?

D’Sena: ::Shaking her head:: No, I have not. ::She did not really know stories. She had heard of princesses of course, but she did not recall the details, having heard them over 50 years ago. But she did not know of Terran princesses. ::

Tabitha: :: Clapping her hands.:: It is one of my fav-or-ites.

D’Sena: Well then, I can’t wait to hear it.

:: Tabby ate a few pieces while she thought. She wanted to tell the best story. It was one she knew well, but something about *how* she was going to tell it was important. Her papa would create such awe with just his voice. It was important that she did well for Akeelah. ::

Tabitha: :: In a slower voice.:: Once upon a time. :: Dramatic pause.:: There was a pretty princess. With the prettiest-es of hair. :: She reached over and rub Akeelah’s curly hair. :: Every-one in the world wanted to look at her hair. :: She sat back down.:: Her name was Re-pun-zle. :: She finished excitedly.::

D’Sena: What a lovely name.

Tabitha: I am not done yet.

D’Sena: Well then, continue with the story of Re… what was it again?

Tabitha: :: Giggling.:: Re-pun-zle, ::She continued in her best story teller voice.:: had a mean guard-i-an, who did not want any-one to look at the pretty hair. So she built a biggest-es of towers and locked the poor princess away. For a long time, ::She waved her hands for effect.:: She stayed up there. :: Perking up.:: Untill! :: She paused.::

:: It was adorable how Tabby went deep into the story, changed her voice, gesticulated and mimicked. It was a joy to watch and listen to and Akeelah tried to follow the example, feeling a little silly, but at least she wasn’t alone doing it. She widened her fully black eyes and stared at the girl, holding her breath.::

D’Sena: Until what?

:: In Tabby's little mind, and big heart, all of Akeelahs actions only encouraged her more. She beamed, believing she told stories as well as her papa and had the woman enthralled in her skills. Of course it was one of her favorite stories and her own happiness blinded her of anything else around. There were no problems with the ship, no sadness of those not present. Simply pure childish joy.::

Tabitha: A prince a-rrived!

D’Sena: Nooooooo, a prince?

Tabitha: Oh yes! Had he fell in love at first sight.

D’Sena: Oh my, how did he get up into the biggest of towers?

Tabitha: Well. :: Dramatic pause.:: He yelled up to re-pun-zle, ::she created a hand mega phone but kept her voice down... Slightly... As well as she could.::, "Re-pun-zle, re-pun-zle! :: Yawn.:: Throw down your long hair!" And she did. He climbed all the way up.

D’Sena: ::Forming an O with her mouth she placed a hand in front of it, as if in shock.:: Oh no, did the guardian see him?

Tabitha: Oh no, but Re-pun-zle had to cut off her long locks ::yawn.:: so they both could climb down and live happily ever after. :: she smile sleepily.::

:: Tabby had finished her story, all the way up until her eyes were heavy and the yawning never ceased. She laid her head down on Akeelah's legs, pulling her blanket in close. Her eyelids closed in mere seconds and sleep was upon her.::

:: Akeelah had known that she’d fall asleep really soon, once the yawning had started. Now that Tabby’s head rested on her lap, she gently brushed through the girl’s hair, smiling at how sweet and peaceful she looked, still a light smile on her lips from telling her most favourite story. ::

Rajel: =/\= Rajel to the Crew. =/\=

:: Akeelah winced and placed her hand gently over Tabby’s ear, so she wouldn’t wake. But to her surprise the girl didn’t even stir. ::

Rajel: =/\= We will have the night to get everything ready for departure. As soon as we see that things are in order on Earth, I want us to be ready to head home. So everyone help where they can, even if it is not your department. Those don't matter if we are stuck here. Great work on keeping the ship together so far, let's keep it up! Rajel out. =/\=

:: A brief red alert sounded but was silenced immediately. Usually that meant that Akeelah would have to leave and get to Security, ready for anything. But tonight her duty consisted of taking care of Tabitha. She wouldn’t leave even for a minute, but she would have to make a few preparations. Carefully she placed Tabby’s head on a pillow and climbed out of the fort. ::

:: She grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and placed the paper on the big table, before she thought about what to write as a note for Jack. Her first thought was to write ‘Dear Jack’ but it sounded so intimate and she didn’t even know if he felt anything like that. To simply write ‘Jack’ sounded impersonal. She sighed and shook her head about her thoughts and finally wrote. ‘Leftovers are in the kitchen, enjoy. Akeelah’. Then she told the computer to add Jack to the access list, so he could simply enter, without having to wake them. ::

:: A smile danced over her lips as she did that, though the moment she caught it it vanished again. Tabby’s question ghosted her mind, and again she pushed away the answer, a pang of fear crawling up her neck. Pushing the thought away she went back to the fort. It had started to become warmer, so she removed the ‘roof’ of it, otherwise it would have been too stuffy inside. ::

:: Carefully she stepped over the pillows and blankets and laid down in the fort, using a cushion under her head and slipped an arm under Tabitha, pulling her a bit closer. Before she knew it the girl cuddled herself into her. Akeelah relaxed, holding the girl carefully in her arm until she drifted into sleep herself. ::


((Timeskip - Outside Akeelah’s Personal Quarters))

:: No one knew the exact time, only that it was late. No one knew how long they had burned the lamps, only that it had been too long. With the return of the engineering chief something, rather than bits here and there, were finally put into motion. A goal and white light blinked in the distance. And finally engineers were sent away to get what little rest they could. ::

:: Jack was one of the last to leave. He felt responsible for getting done all that he could, but the lack of food and rest impaired him greatly. So with last call, he left engineering and now stood just outside Akeelah’s room, leaning against the back wall. They had such little time to work out a plan and it gnawed at him. The last thing he wanted to do was wake them. ::

:: Rubbing his burning eyes, Jack walked up to the door. He would have jumped if not so tired, when the door opened automatically. A little smile, almost knowing. Of course she would be prepared and think ahead. The room was darker, but the light from the stars made it easy to see around. ::

:: His heart warmed at the sight. Two girls, tucked together in the makeshift fort. Popcorn and Tabby’s dolls scattered around. He wasn’t going to move them now, having planned to take Tabby back to their own quarters. He stepped in far enough to let the door close and looked around. With the exception of the current state, Jack was sure the room was kept cleaned and organized. The second thing he noticed was a picture frame, sitting all alone. Instinctively, he wouldn’t have looked. But a bit of curiosity of the woman he was spending a great deal of time with, made him look. It was of two girls, one undoubtedly Akeelah and the other… Looked similar. He moved quietly around the room, stumbling across the handwritten note. ::

:: She really did think ahead. It was welcomed to someone who also thought and planned and organized. He had enough troubles with Rustyy to know he could breath and not be as uptight when around her. He grabbed his plate and ate it in a hurry, not realizing just how hungry he was. ::

:: Afterwards, he moved back to the girls and the fort. Kneeling down, he kissed Tabby on the forehead. And of course no movement came. She slept like the dead. He moved to Akeelah, bringing his face close to hers. Then pulled back. The last thing he wanted to do was wake her. He moved to the only bit of the couch still left intact and half laid half sat up. Wrapping his arms across his chest and falling asleep quickly to one of the happiest moments he’s had for a long time. ::

----

Tabitha & Lieutenant Jack Gard
Child & Engineer

Simmed by

Lt JG Rustyy Hael
Chief Engineer
USS Constitution-B
A239202RH0

&

LtCmdr Akeelah D'Sena
Security Officer
USS Constitution-B

simmed by

Captain Jalana Rajel
Commanding Officer
USS Constitution B
Image Team Facilitator
A238906JL0

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