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[sD 2387.173]



The warmth of the night air reminded Nijil of nights on Romulus. The lights were carefully controlled to be just this time somewhere on Trill’s temperate regions. The computer had all of the answers, since other than the planet name, he knew little of Trill. Any city names she threw out held no meaning. He did not mind. Now, had she been Andorian, none of this would have worked. The thought of those temperatures reminded him of the Breen.


The engineer minutes before had drug a large case of items with him for this occasion. “The transporter,” he thought to himself. Lugging around that large case must have made him the laugh of the evening. Anyhow, the largest item in the case was a very nice blanket. Supposedly it was woven by a Bajoran Vedik some years ago, but the Ferengi who sold it guaranteed its origin. Soft at least, he lied on it for a few minutes and nearly drifted off to sleep. Lucky for him some mental process jerked him back.


“She’ll be here soon,” he said aloud to an empty room. He settled minutes ago at a clearing close to the large willow tree. With the blanket laid flat he started to unload the rest of the case. The items had scattered along the inside due to his bumping as he carried. Nothing appeared broken. One by one he laid the contents along the outer edge of the blanket. He got a fire going. Well, not a real one. The gardener would have never let him in again if a flammable heater burned down the entire garden. The heater took no time to warm. He continued preparing for her arrival.


At the entrance to the arboretum the gardener quietly told passersby the place would be closed for the evening. No woman matching the Romulan’s description had yet passed by. “Maintenance tonight, the Arboretum is closed. Come again tomorrow,” he said. Over and over, at least half a dozen times. In a break he looked both ways down the long hall stretching from the entrance. He shook his head. Perhaps that young man’s friend would not show. Still, a deal’s a deal, and the garden would be getting a new Romulan section. He waited for others to ask if it was closed.


Jylliene hurried down the corridor and slowed as she neared the entrance to the Arboretum. It didn’t look open - she saw someone at the entrance turning away a couple of other visitors. She nearly turned back herself, until the gardener caught sight of her and waved her over.


“Miss, come here a moment, let me get a look at you,” said the old man.


She approached the gardener. “I was supposed to meet someone here - is the Arboretum closed?”


“Why yes it is, young lady. What brings you here?” he asked her.


“A friend - a Romulan engineer here - asked me to meet him here at 2000.” She frowned.


He smiled. “I don’t know of any engineer, but you are welcome to take a look around inside. Go on in.” The old gardener turned and logged into the panel. The large doors hissed open.


Jylliene smiled and nodded to the man. “Thank you,” she said, then walked inside. Starting down the main pathway, she looked around, wondering where Nijil might be - or if he were inside at all. In the background, she heard the doors close. After glancing back for a moment, she continued on her way.


“Nijil? Are you in here?” Looking around, she happened to catch a glimpse of a star on the horizon of the dome. Jylliene gazed upward, immediately recognizing constellations from home. A smile spread over her face. Engineers, she thought. When they get it right, they get it *right*. “Nijil?”


Nijil had been in his own thoughts; it took a moment to realize someone was calling out. “Jolan tru?” Not the best choice. He should have paid attention to more of the Trill language. He stood up and waited for another response.


Hearing his greeting, she turned along a side path and hurried toward his voice. “Jolan tru - where are you, e’lev?” She turned a corner and saw the willow tree ahead, a familiar figure beside it. Jylliene grinned at Nijil as she approached.


“I’m glad you made it. Things were busy all of the sudden in the Control Tower today. Welcome.”


“That they were. And thank you,” she replied, looking around again. “It’s perfect. What do you have planned?” she continued, smiling.


“A few things here and there for one stressed out operations officer aboard the busiest station in the sector. Come sit, I think the fondue is warmed up enough.” Nijil sat in front of the warm pot of chocolate. One of the midway restaurants got this for him, not that Ferengi. Beside the pot was an assortment of fruits. All colors and even more varieties. He speared one he thought was made of straw. Turned out just to be the name. “Here,” handing over a speared fruit. Nijil speared one of his own.


Jylliene accepted, dipped the red fruit into the chocolate and tried it. “Wonderful,” she said, licking the chocolate from her lips. “Oh, you have to try that one,” she added, as she speared a bright yellow star-shaped slice. “One of the ones I recall having during my time at the Academy,” Jylliene explained as she dipped the fruit, then ate it. “And just as good as I remember. Better, perhaps.”


“To be honest I don’t know what any of these are,” he said spearing the star-shaped fruit. One dip and a bite. “Oh,” his face twisted at the flavors. “Romulan food is decidedly less tart. This is...mmm very good. Mmm.” He looked her over, wondering if she translated the note fully. “You look very nice,” he complimented, his grin widening.


Blushing, she replied, “Thank you. Hann’yyo, ie? You’re a very welcome sight. Not likely to be many more moments like this before we move to the Aegean.”


“No, I think not,” he said undeterred. “Seems we’ll be on the same ship. Unless the Captain wants me to wait in the shuttle the duration of the trip.” He grabbed a long blue fruit and peeled its sides. “Denobulan banana, so they say.” He handed a section to her. “Very sweet. Oh - I almost forgot, the tea.” Nijil turned to the other heat source where the teapot sat. He poured some into each cup.


Jylliene tried the banana section. Very sweet, indeed. But very good. She gazed at him as he poured the tea, trying to lock away each motion, recall every moment. She wanted them both back safely from the upcoming mission, but if that wasn’t to be, she was determined to try to recall every moment of a night he went to so much trouble to make for her. She took a sip of her tea and tried to remember. What was that phrase...? Arhem rruieh...something. Come on, Jylliene, one more word, what was it...


“Hope you like the tea. It’s something new.” Nijil took more than a sip in of the tea. It made him a little light-headed. He told himself to take smaller drinks. “How is your wrist? I was concerned, but did not want to bother you.”


She snapped out of her reverie. “Oh, it’s improving well. Barely a concern working at a console. I wouldn’t want to be trying to do anything too intricate, but I’m no surgeon,” Jylliene replied with a grin. Hwaveyiir? No, that’s not it...


He looked down into his cup. “Actually I tried to see you the other night. It was too early in the morning, and I hope I did not wake you.” Another piece of chocolate-dipped fruit reached his mouth. This one popped in his mouth, the seeds bursting with flavor. The tastes should have been vetted, perhaps.


“I’m sorry I missed you. You didn’t wake me. Obviously,” she replied with a grin.



Their picnic complete, Jylliene helped Nijil pack the blanket, warmers and utensils back into the case. “It was a beautiful night, Nijil. Thank you,” she said, smiling warmly at him. Inside, she still struggled to remember that one word. “Shall I help you get this back to your quarters?”


“Please, if you would. I could have had this beamed earlier, but like a madman I dragged it all over the station.”


Jylliene smiled. “Gladly. It’ll give me a few more minutes walking back with you.” She picked up the case.


Nijil grabbed the other end, the one without the handle. “I’ll get this end. Oh, I could have gotten an anti-grav one from cargo bay three. I do not think these things through.”


Hwav...hwav..hwavhel - that was it. Jylliene smiled and helped him out with the case.




They stopped outside of Nijil’s quarters.


“I hope you liked everything. I owe the gardener,” Nijil said, smiling as much as ever.


“Absolutely,” Jylliene replied. “It was all wonderful.” She gazed at him. Arhem rruieh hwavhel. Say it.


He stood there simply staring at her dark green eyes and realized the wonderful scent earlier was her. He smiled again, but said nothing about it. Moments passed. “Busy day tomorrow?”


She nodded. “It will be. Oh - one thing, e’lev...” Arhem rruieh hwavhel. It’s not that difficult to say. Just say it.


Before she completed her sentence, he took another chance, held her and kissed her. After some time, he let go.


“Thank you and good night.” Nijil smiled the biggest smile then dragged the case into his quarters


“Good night,” she replied quietly, then walked to hers and entered. As the doors closed, she collapsed onto the couch.


Arhem rruieh hwavhel. Please gods, elements, prophets, fate, fortune, and everything else, we see each other safe again afterward and I get another chance to tell you.

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