Monday, January 28, 2013
September 13 (later)
Ooookay. Not sure what’s going on with the P.T. I went to the rec room and picked up Mom, as planned. We went into the main dining room after I peeked in the Kalquor-friendly one and didn’t see Dusa and Esak. I figured I could claim curiosity if anyone saw me do so.
Maybe not. I followed Mom towards her regular table with the three Fabulous Ones. They looked to be only halfway through their meal, but at our approach they all got up and left. The looks they gave me were pretty scathing too. Well. Guess nosiness when it comes to the Kalquorians is greatly frowned upon.
I noted glares coming from other Earthers at nearby tables. I was really persona non grata. Me being me, I almost ordered Kalquorian food just to spite them all. But I reconsidered. After all, I don’t want my poor mother to catch any flak just because I’m not bigoted against the aliens. So I ordered meatloaf for us both, the highest rated item on tonight’s menu. It wasn’t bad at all. The Kalquorians are getting the hang of Earther food.
When we stepped off the shuttle that took us back to our room, Dusa and Esak were waiting. I invited them in. Delightfully, they’d brought refreshments; a sweet juice for Mom, a bottle of cab for me, and something of theirs called dlas. Mom settled down with her cup and knitting after checking her latest project against the circumference of Esak’s head. Looks like my favorite Nobek is getting a warm cap for the winter. In soft lilac.
I thought about telling the guys how I’d been snubbed at dinner, but they looked pretty tired and out of sorts. No wonder they’d brought alcohol to relax with. Dusa discovered one of the women he’d been keeping tabs on had committed suicide. He thinks if he hadn’t had a rest day yesterday, he might have saved her life. He was taking it particularly hard, and Esak was obviously worried about his Dramok.
The agony in Dusa’s eyes couldn’t have been more obvious. “She took too much medication on purpose. Why would she do such a thing, Shalia? I left a message telling her what I told you. About how we wanted to make her safe.”
“It goes back to what I told Nang yesterday,” I told him quietly. “We’re terrified of you. Of what will happen under your rule.” I lowered my head. “A lot is my fault. I made those vids telling everyone how Kalquorians wanted to rape us. Enslave us.”
Esak clenched a fist around his glass. “Neither of you is at fault. Dusa, you do your best to calm Mataras, but they are too frightened to hear. Shalia, you only made the vids you were told to make. What could either of you have done different? Nothing.”
We were a pretty morose group except for Mom, humming and knitting. Dusa and Esak didn’t hang around for very long since they had to go back on duty in the morning. Especially Esak. With those two gangs requiring so much guarding, security has become an issue here at the academy. He’ll be pulling double shifts for a little while.
As I walked them the three steps to the door, I dared to take Dusa’s hand. “Please don’t blame yourself. It could be you’ll have to see this happen again and again. I’m afraid it will affect you emotionally.”
He grimaced. “I hope not, Shalia. It hurts to know there might be nothing I can do to stop Mataras from hurting themselves.” He found a hint of a smile for me and squeezed my hand. “Thank you for being concerned about me. It helps.”
He shot a glance at Mom, and I turned to see why. She was deep in her own little world, not paying the slightest attention to us. When I looked back at Dusa, his face was right there. I had an instant to register his breath on my lips before his mouth found mine.
The kiss was barely half a second in duration, just a quick brush, really. Yet heat zapped through me at that sweet instant of contact. I forgot how to breathe.
“Good night, Shalia,” Dusa whispered. With a slight smile, Esak bowed to me and followed his Dramok out into the night.
It’s crazy. It really is. But my lips are still tingling from that kiss, as innocent as it was. And I’m a ticklish, aching mess inside. How I’m supposed to get to sleep now is beyond me.