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Nijil tr'Korjata

When You're Here, You're Family (long)

When You're Here, You're Family

Jylliene, Annisha, and Nijil


Dinner. It was good now and then to do something a little different, get a chance to be out as a family. A family thing. Mom, Dad, and the kid going out. Her parents had done the same with some frequency - mostly because of the numerous times when the last thing either of her parents felt like doing after a day’s work was cooking. So, out they went. Dress up? Hm. No, stay casual, Jylliene figured, but still, get out of the uniform, at least.


The kid. The young girl was more than ecstatic to be going out to eat with her still new family. Her real parents were rare to go out in public to grab a meal. Either her mother cooked something quick or her father grabbed dinner in a bag. She never really understood why this was until her now father explained a few things. She was quite interested in her biological parent's choice of jobs compared to an engineer and operation officer. Her life before compared nothing to life on a space station.


"Oh, oh, this one. Can I get this one?" Annisha prodded Jylliene.


Jylliene glanced at the selection, then nodded. “Of course,” she replied with a smile.


What Annisha asked for her father could not see. He'd been busy for several minutes looking over the selections. Most of the food from his childhood was made fresh from home and some of the choices were unfamiliar to him. "Is it spicy?" He asked without looking up.


“Not from what I can make of the description,” Jylliene replied.


"Yes, welcome to Rihan script. It's not obvious to those new to the language. Which one?" She kept a finger pointed to the item and showed him the choice. Nijil nodded. "Are you sure Annisha? You never liked that before."


"Oh yes, I'm a big girl now and I have refined taste." Her eyes gazed over large menu obscuring all but her two hands holding it.


Jylliene smiled to herself, remembering trying to prove her growing maturity to her parents at a fairly similar age. The struggle to try to act more mature, to prove to her parents she was worthy of more independence - but moreover, to prove to herself. If her parents believed it, then it must be true, after all. It was a strange dance, the back-and-forth desire for independence and the equal desire not to get too much.


"I'm getting the...salad and soup." Nijil said, sounding like he gave up from all of the choices, but he thought it would be the least objectionable to his stirring gut. The composition looked intriguing and nothing like it was in the replicator database. "E'lev, what about you?"


“Hm. This, I think. Poultry, right? With root vegetables?” she asked, checking her limited understanding of the Romulan menu.


He chuckled. "Yes, amoung many choices. We eat as much as we revere birds." He waved over the waiter from the far end of the restaurant. The tea in front of him was getting cold, so he lifted the cup to his mouth and took a first sip. He flinched as he forgot how spicy it was. Not to mention still hot. The waiter arrived moments later.


"Ready to order?" the soft spoken Rihan man asked. Each of them, starting with Annisha, gave him their choice. He nodded at each of them, but appeared not to write anything down. He repeated each choice verbatim then left some bird-of-prey shaped bread in the center of the table.


"This takes me back, my mother had a set of cutters to get them shaped just right." Nijil gave Jylliene one in the shape of the bird most saw on their Galea emblem. He took one shaped like the real Nei'rrh bird, and he picked one at random for Annisha. As she grabbed for it he held it fast, looking at her then the bread."


"Daddy, can I have the bread?" He would not let go. His mouth quivered slightly. He looked worried.


"Oh, yes, sorry. I-I.. the shape of that bread looked familiar." He let go, and his daughter used her knife to spread some sweet cream on it. She did not notice, but Nijil looked as if a spirit walked over him.


Jylliene glanced at him briefly, a quizzical expression on her face. What was that about? she wondered, then as Nijil returned his attention to his own bread, she did similar. Something to ask about later, perhaps. He had already mentioned the bread reminding him of home; this may not be the last moment that would trigger some memory, perhaps unexpected or strong ones.


Minutes passed as they ate their bread and drank their tea. Annisha insisted she have the same as her father, but she seemed to not like it as much. His gut complained as the news from Chirakis swam in his head. One thing obvious as he entered the Rihan military was keeping secrets was his weakest trait. If the information revolved around tactical and political issues, he had few issues. When the item was more personal his body let him know how hard keeping silent was for him.


"Did you see how the bread is shaped like the birds in my amulet? Pretty neat don't you think?" she asked cheerfully as she bit the bird's head off.


Nijil swallowed his tea then spoke. "Um-" he began, then was cut off.


“Not now it doesn’t,” Jylliene chuckled, seeing the girl devour it. “That was always what I did with any animal-shaped treats. Bite the head off first,” she added with a grin.


Both Jylliene and Annisha grinned at each other as they took alternating bites of their bread. Pretty soon Annisha had more in her mouth than she could swallow, looking like a Denobulan chipmunk with her puffy cheeks. It took some doing, but she slowly got the mass of bread in her before the entrees arrived.


First Nijil's soup and salad. The garden greens were crisp and the soup steaming. Annisha's meat pastry stuffed with spicy sauces created wisps of hot vapors as well. Jylliene's choice spread across the table the most, the portions larger than she had anticipated. The vegetables looked cooked in the ground and the poultry only freshly prepared. Somewhere on the station must lay a secret room full of a variety of Rihan-only food for carnivore and herbivore appetites alike. The other restaurants on the commerce level were just stabbed in the back by the arrival of this Rihan establishment.


No one spoke as each of them dug into their choices. The waiter came back minutes later to refill teas and restock the bird-shaped bread. After a few minutes it became clear Jylliene, Annisha, and Nijil were having their first true family moment. Each content in their food, each smiling at each other bite after bite, sharing moments together while the universe outside their table churned on. The worries each of them had before they ate melted away. If they thought about it they'd know this feeling was fleeting, but no one let their thoughts drift out of the moment. Until...


"Father, this is just like home, only better." Annisha wiped the mess of red sauce covering her face. "Can you see if they can get food like this to go? They could put it in a bag and you could bring it him like my real father did on ch'Rihan."


Nijil took a moment to process what she was saying and did not answer, but the worry buried in his gut bubbled up to his face. He looked suddenly cold. He wiped his own mouth searching for an answer among the twisting emotions her question spawned.


Jylliene glanced to Nijil, gathering that something was bothering him. “We’ll need to ask. It’s certainly excellent food. I wouldn’t mind having it at home,” she replied, figuring that she would ask him later what the issue was. Perhaps it was her references to her ‘real’ parents?


He found it fortunate his e'lev answered rather than he because the emotions he felt were not abating. The food was so good tonight there would be no doggy bags, but Annisha's plea for Rihan food was genuine. She got up out of her chair to look at the large bird cage perched at the front entrance of the restaurant. Nijil got out of his chair next, but looked like a food poison victim. Following them, Jylliene admired the bird in the cage with Annisha.


"Look! It's a nei'rrh, just like your Rihan shuttle," Annisha exclaimed with delight. Her new parents gave her space to watch the bird, but Nijil moved closer to Jylliene. As they held onto the railing he put a hand over hers and grasped tightly. He leaned into her ear and whispered. "Jylliene...they're alive."

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