I hesitate to post this as the story is still ongoing, but man, did I get goose bumps at the end of this installment! Very relatable and familiar, just superb writing from @Etan Iljor and @Meidra Sirin! If your heart doesn't pick up it's pace, you're not really reading it!
((Etan Family Homestead, Muscilla Province, Bajor))
((Time Skip: That Evening))
Dinner was a subdued affair, awkwardly so once more. Iljor didn't feel hungry nor in the mood to converse. He didn't know how to bring the purpose of his visit up. It seemed almost rude to just come out with it. He exchanged several glances with Meidra, who returned them with a hint of encouragement.
He had hoped to do it earlier in the day, however Pa had spent much of the day in Talmulna on business and Ma had joined him for… reasons. Now they were together as a family and Ma was wittering on about her day as if she didn't have a care in the world.
Etan Oona: You are wasting away, my son - don’t they feed you on that ship of yours? Meidra, does he not eat?
Sirin: ::smiling:: I know he eats lunch at least once a week, we have a standing lunch date every week to discuss our research on various projects. He’s helped me immensely in my quest to understand Bajoran language and culture. I find myself quite fascinated by it.
Etan Oona: ::to Iljor:: All the more reason for you to eat! That mind of yours needs nourishment.
Meidra saw the tension grown on Iljor’s face, and wished that she could take some of it away from him. He seemed to become more agitated with every comment from his parents. She thought of sending him calming thoughts, but in his state, they would most likely be seen as obtrusive. She would watch him closely though, and be ready to step in if needed.
Etan Rehr: What's wrong Iljor, you've hardly touched your broth?
Etan Iljor: Oh? Er, it's nothing. Just not hungry. ::beat:: I had a big lunch.
It was a clumsy lie. Yes, he didn't feel like he had the stomach for a meal- but he was ravenous. He didn’t have an appetite at lunch, either. He was certain that if supped his hasperat broth, he would vomit. Not because it was disgusting (quite the opposite)- but because of what he knew needed to be done.
Oona looked at her son through narrowed eyes. If this did not have something to do with the guest he had brought into their home, it was something else. They had never kept secrets from each other. A little voice inside of her scoffed, but she silenced it as she had been doing for decades. There were some things a child did not need to know of their parents.
Sirin: Oo This is not good. oO
Etan Oona: I can tell that something is weighing upon you, za’dana. Tell your mother what is wrong. We do not keep secrets in this house.
Now it was Ma’s turn to lie. Iljor drew in a breath and bit his lip.
Meidra looked anywhere but at her friend. She could hear his sharp intake of breath at his mother’s comment, and knew it was just a matter of time before words were going to be spoken that would change this small family forever. She felt an immense pain within her chest, and realized that she could feel Iljor’s struggle. Swallowing tears that were only partly hers, she tried to sip her broth so that she would not say something that would set a spark to this kindling.
Beside Oona, Rehr reached out and placed his hand on hers hoping that the gesture would calm her rising anxiety.
Etan Iljor: Honestly, ::he said a little harsher than he intended.:: I'm fine. I'm just not hungry!
Oona stood up and crossed her arms over her chest. Something was very wrong, and she was beginning to think that the officer that her son had brought was more than just a potential wife, or a best friend. There was something more to this, and she had a sick feeling that she was not going to like it when it was revealed. She tried to get the truth out of her son anyway. She could not rest until she could set things right with him. She sat down again, taking a long sip of springwine.
Etan Oona: A mother knows these things, Iljor. You are hiding something and I want to know what has you so upset. ::puts down her glass:: I could tell from the moment you arrived that there was something wrong. Is this because Meidra won’t go out with you?
Meidra choked on her wine. How was this conversation going so wrong when no one was actually saying anything to each other? Iljor’s face twisted as though he was trying not to cry, and she wanted to reach out and hold his hand. She paused though as Oona did not need any more ideas in her head.
Etan Iljor: Ma, please. I'm okay. ::he wasn't, but he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of being right.:: And no, I don't want to date Meidra- she's my friend. ::the exasperation in his voice was beginning to dominate.::
Etan Oona: I have seen you when you are happy, and when you are not. You are not happy, and I will have my answers. ::looks between Meidra and Iljor:: There is something going on, and you both are hiding it from us. I was patient last night because you had just arrived, but now I can see that this has been growing inside of you. Tell me.
He could feel his irritation transmogrifying into anger. The gnarled black knot in his stomach grew, twisting ever tighter as it choked his abdomen. Blood rushed and thundered in his ears as an eerie quiet settled upon the room, he could feel ice coursing through his fingers. And in his throat, the words he had longed to say threatened to spew forth- like an uncontrollable tide of bitter bile. Like spoken vomit. Words desperate to escape him.
Etan Rehr: Iljor, your mother is just worried about you.
The truth was, so was he. Rehr had been so happy to see his only soon and it had not been until Oona raised the possibility of something untoward that he had begun to consider it. He hated that his mind went to that place, but then again he hated much about himself. It was why he rarely slept more than three hours a night.
The blood was rushing so loudly in her head that Oona could not hear anything else. The silence crushed her hope that this was an easily resolved misunderstanding, and each breath fed into her rising panic.
Etan Oona: Your father is too. We have been discussing this and both agree that you are keeping something from us. You are being a willful child and disrespectful to the people who have given you life, who have given you everything of themselves. I want to hear from your lips whatever this is about! I will not sit here and watch you mutter and twist our love around to be a burden to you. ::her words grow harsh, but she can’t seem to control them:: You have done something and wish to tell us, is that it? Have you done something wrong, Iljor?
Etan: I- ::his voice crackled and trembled. His breathing started to become ragged. He closed his eyes and looked down at his broth.:: I- don't want to talk about it. Not now. I jus-
Oona wasn’t sure where this overwhelming fear in her belly was coming from, only that it would not be quelled. She’d been more than patient, had given Iljor time to come to her last night, the way that he always would as a child when something disturbed him. For him to not do that, and now, not even look her in the eyes? It was unbearable, and she found it hard to maintain her composure.
Etan Oona: Answer me, Iljor. I will not have this fester one moment longer in my home. What have you done that you cannot tell us? We are your parents, we deserve to know what is wrong. Are you running from something? Is this why you come to us with special permission from your captain? Do they even know you are gone?
Etan Iljor: It's nothing like that, I'm not in trouble or on the run. It's just- it's just-.... ::he could feel the word vomit rising. He was determined not to crack.::
Sirin: Perhaps this isn’t the best time. ::turns to Iljor:: You may have to just say it now.
Etan Iljor: oO No! Not now, not this way! Not like this! Oo
He balled both hands into fists so tight that it hurt.
Etan Rehr: Iljor, what's wrong? ::his voice was as calm and serene as ever, full of love and full of concern.:: Oona, why don't you-
Iljor shot to his feet and swatted his bowl off of the table where its bowl shattered on the cobblestone floor. He didn't care.
Etan Iljor: You what to know what's wrong with me?! ::he bellowed, eyes ablaze with unrestrained fury.:: You really want to know?! ::the words were unstoppable now and he didn't much care.:: How about discovering that your parents, the man and woman who raised you- were involved in a massacre of religious refugees during the Occupation and have been covering it up for thirty years?! ::his lips were pursed together and his chest heaved and fell as he glared at the ashen faces of his parents.:: How's that for "what's on your mind, son?"? ::he added, scornful.::
To Be Continued…