(Crossposted on AO3.)


Rosha was surprised to see someone new in the tunnels. A young man sitting at a table. There was charcoal in his hand and papers in front of him.

Who is he? She asked her symbiote. The vibrations in her blood told her that he was someone's host.

I have no idea, Jolinar answered. A new host.

Rosha approached the man. "Hello."

He looked up, but didn't really reply.

"My name is Rosha."

"I know."

She was about to apologize when-

"Did you want to talk to Delek?"

Delek. That surprised her. "No. I… I didn't know…" Is Delek a he now? The previous host had been female.

I think so. They'll correct you if you are wrong.

"I didn't know he was back."

"Failed mission," the man muttered. "He rescued me though." He gestured to the papers. "He's suggested I keep drawing."

"May I see?"

The man pushed a paper towards her.

Rosha could smell the charcoal. Though the man had a variety of colors, this particular drawing used only black. The detail amazed her.

"This is beautiful," she said in awe. "The birds look like they are going to fly off the page."

"Thank you." He smiled a bit. "I prefer nature. I was usually hired to draw people, but this…" He showed her another one. "This is what I enjoy."

Rosha just stared at it with a smile. This one was intense with color, a sunset over the lapping ocean. A beach was in the foreground while clouds and a rainbow were in the sky.

"I embellished that one…a little. There wasn't a rainbow in the real view."

"Embellish all you want, this is wonderful."

He smiled. "I'm uh…Toma, by the way. My name is Toma."

"Hello Toma." She looked to the drawing. "I wish I could draw like this."

"Do you draw?"


He laughed. "Then how are you supposed to improve?"

Rosha grinned. "I was never good at it."

"Oh, you must try. It's very relaxing." He offered her paper, then moved to sit by her. "Here." He gave her a long piece of charcoal with a smile. "Pick something in the room. Anything."

Don't we have charcoal pencils? Rosha wondered.

This is probably what he is used to.

Rosha looked around the room.

The crystals? Jolinar suggested.

The wall? You want me to draw the wall?

Or the table or the chairs or… The only thing not made of crystals is his art supplies and us.

Rosha gestured to the fountain, made of crystal, of course. Water ran down the wall into it.

"Wonderful, now…"

Rosha spent the next half hour listening to instructions. Toma was patient, much more than Delek usually was. He gave her all sorts of tricks to help her visualize, to get the right shapes. In the end, it still looked like a child's drawing, but Rosha liked it anyway.

"That's a good start."

"Thank you."

He had her draw again, and this time, she drew the edge of the table with one of the chairs behind it. She found that to be more complicated than she had expected, but it still looked better than the first one.

He draw as well, having her imitate him. They were sketched compared to his usual work, kept simple for her sake. They also still looked better than hers.

Next she draw a section of the wall, one where a variety of sharp and smooth crystals jutted out.

Rosha was quite enjoying herself, but he had to go.

"Councilor Per'sus has requested to speak with us," he informed. "Is he…nice?"

"He is kind. Very stern, but he is also very understanding."

"Delek says so, but all of Delek's memories of him are very serious."

"Per'sus is stoic, very professional." She smiled. "He is like Delek in that he only really opens up to certain people. I was nervous the first time I met him too."

"Thank you." He bowed his head, and his eyes briefly glowed pale gold.

Jolinar wiggled. Look, Delek can smile.

Rosha did her best to not laugh. The man was always so serious around her.

"Thank you for helping Toma. He is still adjusting to his new life. It has been stressful for both of us."

"You're welcome. I'm sorry about Amália."

"Thank you." Fresh pain clouded his eyes. "I will cherish her memories for as long as I live."

Rosha gave a nod as he took his supplies and left. She gathered her drawings, then soon headed to her quarters.

What should we do with them?

Jolinar took control and hung them on the wall.

Rosha gave an internal laugh. Wall worthy drawings that look like that are done by children, hung by their parents.

Jolinar smiled though. I like them, and you are wrong. Many cultures cherish all forms of art from any age. A few even think there is something mystic about a children's first drawing. My second host… Her people thought the first drawings foretold the child's future.

Really? Rosha dug into the memory.

Jolinar smiled and helped her gain access. Parents would pay fortune tellers to read the drawings.

What was her fortune? Rosha could just mentally reach in and see it for herself, but she knew Jolinar enjoyed talking about previous hosts.

"Lots of water, lizards, and worms," Jolinar thought in a mysterious tone to convey the mood.

Rosha laughed.

I never said it wasn't…extremely vague.

She thought you were the foretold worm, didn't she?

Yes. Jolinar smiled. Worms are a sign of death on that world, so she was happy that I was the "worm." As were her parents. Jolinar closed her eyes, remembering.

Rosha was quiet, letting Jolinar have the moment to herself.

Thank you. Jolinar retreated.

Rosha focused on her art again. I think I'm going to keep drawing, at least when our husbands are on an assignment.

That sounds fun.