570: Then and Now: One

by Fleur Le Marc
Days after Checking In


-=Takesian Plains, Bajor=-

Her eyes opened slowly, and she realized quickly that she had overslept.

She didn’t know how this was possible, since she set the portable chronometer to wake her up long before dawn each day. Perhaps the power cell had finally died?

She reached over and grasped the device, checking to be certain it was still working. Indeed it was and she had set it, she was sure of it. That meant that someone else must have turned it off.

Immediately, she worried for Tress.

She looked around, quickly finding a piece of paper that had been left beside her sleeping bag.

Good morning, Fleur. Don’t worry, Pace and I have the baby. I hope that you slept well. ~Jariel

Fleur folded the paper into a small square and tucked it inside of her duffel bag. As simple and everyday as it was he had written it himself, and that alone made it a keepsake worth holding onto.

She straightened up her blankets and sought out a clean pair of socks.

She had taken to sleeping in her clothes after learning at the beginning that you never knew what could happen here during the middle of the night, necessitating that you be prepared to move on a moment’s notice.

She pulled on her shoes and headed for the kitchen, where she found Pace scrubbing pots from the day’s first meal and Jariel sitting at the counter, balancing Tress on his knee as he tried to get her to eat from a bowl containing hot cereal.

“Mmmm,” he said, pretending to take a bite of the concoction himself before offering the spoon to her. The baby, however, would not be taken in by such obvious tactics.

“I’m telling you, Vedek Jariel, you have to put more kava in it or she won’t touch it.” Pace laughed.

He sighed, and frowned in an exaggerated fashion at Tress. “More kava? I don’t knooow,”

Fleur lingered in the doorway, watching with great interest as she tried to keep from laughing aloud at how adorable the pair of them were, sitting together, staring at each other with wide eyes.

At the same time she felt a lingering ache, somewhere deep inside. *He will make a wonderful father someday,* she thought. *If only. *

“All right, just a little more, young lady.” He took the kava bowl and measured a half a spoon out, sprinkling it onto the top of the cereal. The moment he finished, Tress grabbed at the spoon, scooped up a sloppy shovel full and tried, mostly successfully, to get it into her mouth.

“Mmm,” she mimicked his earlier sound, and Jariel and Pace both laughed.

“That’s one thing you have to know about women, Pace,” Jariel teased, thinking that the two of them were the only ones here with Tress. “They usually know exactly what they want.”

“Is that so?” Fleur had a mischievous smirk upon her face as she made her presence known.

Jariel turned beet red, his mouth agape.

Pace nearly doubled over with laughter as he continued washing the dishes. “I’ll remember that, sir.”

Before Jariel could recover and say good morning to Fleur, Tress once again stole the spotlight by looking at her, stretching out her tiny arms and softly uttering one simple word.


Shocked as she was, Fleur immediately directed her eyes toward Pace to see what his reaction would be. She began speaking as quickly as she moved.

“Non, Tress, non ta maman,” Stunned by the feelings that that the baby’s innocent reaction had prompted in her, Fleur slipped into her first language. She hurried over to accept the hug that the baby was offering, lifting Tress from Camen’s lap and hoisting her onto her hip. “Je m'appelle Fleur.

“Flooorr.” The baby repeated, looking at the woman with concern and shaking her head quickly from side to side like a curious puppy. “No no,” she touched small fingertips to Fleur’s cheek, which was wet with sudden tears. “Mama.”

Pace simply stared into the sink.

He knew it wasn’t Fleur’s fault that Tress felt that way.

It wasn’t anyone’s fault.

After all the love and care the woman had shown to her since arriving, it was little wonder she thought that Le Marc was her mother.

She was far too young, Pace knew, to remember anything of their parents. He had known that from the day the storm had taken them, and the life he had always known along with them.

Still, hearing her use that title for anyone else injured him purely in that it was another stark reminder of just how much, and how permanently, things really had changed.

It was an undeniable symbol of finality, forcing him to face the fact that he would not see his own mother again until the afterlife, if such a thing really did exist.

“It’s okay, Fleur,” he said at last. “She loves you. We,” he shuffled his feet. “We all love you.”

“I love you too,” Fleur whispered, having entirely forgotten for a moment that Camen was in the room. She rushed up to Pace and put her empty left arm around him, gathering him into a hug with her and his sister.

Camen was awestruck, on multiple counts.

Hearing Tress call Fleur ‘mother’ was the first thing that had knocked him senseless.

Second, he had seen Fleur weep only once before, in all the years he’d known her. That first time had happened only recently, and under much different circumstances.

That time, he’d been the reason.

He hated thinking about that now and made a promise to himself that somehow he would find a way to keep from ever being a reason for her to cry again.

As Pace tried to hug Fleur back, he realized his hands were dripping sudsy dishwater onto the floor and stepped back.

“I’m sorry, look at the mess I’m making in your kitchen.”

“Our kitchen. And look, eh? Now the floor will also be clean.” Fleur reassured him affectionately, before standing up upon tiptoes to kiss the boy on the cheek.

“You must have your breakfast, little woman,” Jariel interrupted finally, a smile forming on his lips as he watched Tress play with a strand of Fleur’s hair. “You too, Tress.”

Fleur laughed softly, quickly brushing away the remnants of her tears and trying to lighten the moment, as he had.

“The Vedek has spoken, mon petit chou. We both must eat.” She handed the baby back to him. “Merci.”

“De rien.” Camen responded without thinking, as he began to feed Tress once again.

Fleur puzzled over his use of the proper French response to her expression of thanks.

She dismissed it, thinking that surely he had heard her use that phrase often enough over the years, it was no remarkable thing that he would use it so casually in speaking to her now.

“Did you sleep well?” Pace asked as he finished up the last of the dishes and then turned his attention to cleaning up the water on the floor.

“Yes, we should have a talk about that. Who decided it was a good decision to sneak into my tent and turn off the alarm, eh? Could have caused a catastrophe.”

“It was decided like all things on Bajor,” Camen replied, feigning pride and seriousness knowing that she of all people would appreciate the joke he was about to make. “In committee.”

“Pffffffft. Spoken like a true diplomat. So who made up this ‘committee’?”

“Me, and the Vedek, and Prylar Delle.” Pace replied. “Your alarm rang and you didn’t even hear it. I poked my head into the tent to make sure that you were all right and Tress was already up. The Vedek and the Prylar were talking just outside, and we all decided that you have had quite a busy week and needed the sleep.”

“What if I’d had important plans to see to besides making breakfast?”

“I happened to know that your morning was pretty much clear,” Camen answered now. He observed that Tress had emptied her bowl and now offered her a sip of juice.

"And how did you happen to know this?"

“I have ways.” Camen widened his eyes purposefully for dramatic effect, and Fleur’s cheeks filled in with color.

Knowing there was no point in trying to convince them that they’d done anything wrong, Fleur gave up. “You win.”

“Victory will not be within grasp until you eat something,” Camen urged, pointing toward the pantry.

“You have to watch these men of the cloth, Pace,” Fleur lowered her voice conspiratorially, in mock warning. “They look like angels, but they have propensity to be very sneaky.”

She moved to the cupboard, withdrew a container of energy bars and prepared to open one so she could eat it.

“Non, non, non! Pas ça! Manges-toi un petit dejeuner qui est bonne pour toi.!” ("No, no, no! Not that! Eat a breakfast that`s good for you!” Camen blurted without thinking.

Fleur stared at him, astonished. There was just no way he could have picked up that much French just by visiting her café’s over the years…was there?

“All right, all right.” She took a piece of fruit from the refrigeration unit and washed it off , holding it up for his inspection before taking a bite.


“For a start,” he agreed. Tress was babbling happily, playing with her empty bowl and spoon and watching Fleur as she moved around the kitchen.

“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Camen smiled at her, before patting her gently on the top of the head.

-=After evening meal=-

Fleur watched as Pace cleared up the last of the dishes from dinner and brought them back into the kitchen.

She had just finished scrubbing out the pots that were too large to fit in the newly installed dish sanitizing unit, and so the rest of the clean up would be easy.

“Thank you, Pace,” she knew the boy had been hard at work all day and wanted him to get some rest. “Why don’t you go on? I’m sure that you can find something to do with your evening…as long as your schoolwork is done,” Fleur tried to be stern about it, but he was such a good kid she knew that there was no reason to worry.

“Actually, I would like to attend evening prayers,” Pace said softly. “If it’s all right with you?”

“Go on, and get to bed early eh? I will see you in the morning.”

He leaned down and kissed her cheek softly. “Thanks, Fleur. Goodnight.”

As he exited the small building, Pace saw Jariel approaching.

The Vedek had just taken Tress to Prylar Delle, asking that she keep an eye on the baby for the night so he could have a chance to “help Fleur finish up some work around the kitchen and set up for tomorrow.”

Delle could tell easily enough, though, that more than kitchen duty was on his mind. She had politely accepted his reason as he had offered it, however, and taken Tress back to her tent for the night.

“Good evening, Esteemed Vedek,” Pace bowed slightly, lowering his eyes respectfully.

“I’ve told you ten times, Pace. I’m not wearing a robe, you must call me Camen.”

“I just couldn’t.” Pace shook his head as if Jariel had asked him to commit a mortal sin. “I was wondering, if you have time tomorrow, could we talk for awhile about something?”

“Sure,” Camen grew concerned. “Is anything wrong?”

“No, I’ve just been thinking a lot. About what I want to do with the rest of my life,” Pace answered softly, “And I believe that the Prophets have sent you here to give me the answers I’m seeking.”

Camen’s gentle smile faded, and he shifted his weight uneasily.

“I’ve learned, Pace, that the answers we seek are most often found within ourselves. They don’t come from outside of us.”

Pace pondered this. “Perhaps. But still, if you wouldn’t mind,”

“Of course.”

As reluctant as Jariel felt to give anyone advice on the subject of faith or the Prophets at the moment, he was still a secularly trained counselor and as such was certainly capable, and willing, to give the boy a listening ear.

“In the morning after breakfast?”

“Thank you, Vedek. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Pace.”

Fleur Le Marc
Civilian Crew
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
Currently on Bajor

NRPG: Thanks again to Vol for the French lesson--Le Marc