Gaignun's eyes were still blurry from sleep as he leaned against the rooftop railing. Around him, tiny lights began flicking off while, farther out and below, a golden glimmer began to build.

As Gaignun waited, there was a warmth that settled into the back of his mind. This was a better morning than most.

The Kukai Foundation had no proper sky, but a clear dome supported by a radiating framework of beams. There was some mimicry of blue sky from the big tapered mirrors that ringed the dome, but straight up there was mostly space and stars, even at midday. There were bright emergency lamps in the center, but the colony got most of its daylight from the lights installed along one of the support arches.

The glimmer brightened to a glow: one of the mirrors reflecting the soft light from the first of the sunlamps. Soon the glow broadened as the light hit the edge of the artificial lake and began spreading out. Beyond the dome the blue of the mirrors began to deepen.

The colony was waking up.

Gaignun felt his body relax as he watched the water sparkle. Every gleam was a restorative after a restless night. It was like seeing it through new eyes.

Behind him there was a muted clattering as breakfast (for four, today) was set at the wrought iron table behind him. Gaignun turned away from the dawn.

He liked these days when breakfast took place in the rooftop garden of the highrise. Seated comfortably, surrounded by flowering trees and shrubbery—and the people he loved most—for a little while he could pretend that was all there was in the world.

He'd had his breakfasts alone for the last few weeks, usually at his desk, and he didn't prefer it. But the Durandal had made port yesterday, putting an end to his solitude. It was good to have them all back for a while.

The pleasant white noise in his head began to clear and refine itself into a thread of conscious thought, but not his own.

You missed us that much? Jr. asked him over the link.

Gaignun knew Jr. was only teasing. Jr. was as glad to be back as Gaignun was to have him there. You'll have to get moving if you don't want your food to get cold.

There was a fuzziness to the connection as Jr. wrestled between seeing his brother and getting a bit more sleep.

Gaignun sent thoughts of steaming cups of coffee, warm syrups, fresh herbs—

All right, all right, I'm up.

The others would still be a few minutes before arriving, so Gaignun returned his attention to the lake. The sparkle was softer now, and he watched small fishing and tourist boats bobbing on the waves.

For a while he fantasized about taking a boat out himself, one of these days. When had he last been on the water, instead of looking at it? Months, he realized. He intended to do something about that. Behind him, the roof door opened.

Shelley and Mary bypassed the table in order to give him a hug, a peck on the cheek and a quick "Good morning!" before settling down.

The three of them chatted lightly until the door opened again.

The girls had been dressed and ready for the day when they arrived, but Jr. was still wearing the shorts and tank top he'd slept in. He slid into his place at the table, and Gaignun was amused to notice that the red of his hair exactly matched the peonies on the table.

"Good morning, you."