Disclaimer: And now, as an adept of the obvious: Farscape is owned by the grand high Mucky Mucks and the Jim Henson Company, I'm just mangling the characters a bit :) I'm making no money off this. No copyright infringement is intended. Any similarity to any other story is coincidence.
Rating: G I think, but at most it is PG for Farscape swears.
Timeline: Two years after the Peacekeeper Wars
Summary: Chiana is on Hyneria with a small farm that she's built. She's still not really over D'Argo's death, but someone has just arrived to help her heal.
Feedback: I always appreciate constructive criticism. And Hopeful Romantic hands out virtual chocolate, (all the fun; none ofthe fat), for everyone who has read or reviewed my other pieces.
Author's Notes: I so don't know where this story came from, and it took on a life of its own.Hencewhy it's longer than I intended, and it sure isn't the story that I originally set out to write. This is the first story that I've posted that doesn't focus on A&J, though I'm in the process of writing more. I hope this one is okay :)
I've always felt sorry for poor Chi, with her loss getting so overrun with the J&A story, even though you can tell that J&A are probably some of my favorite part of the Farscape saga. :) I'm still not certain that I did justice to our favorite little snurcher, but I hope the effort is appreciated.
Also, since the only thing we know about Hyneria is really only that its natives are amphibious in nature, I have felt free to play as I will with the poor little capital planet. After all, Farscape has never been a place for the sane or shy. :) Also, since Delvians, Delvia, and the Seek are not all really strictly defined, I went with what felt right. :)
Oh, and story breaks are indicated by the first three words in bold and an ellipsis. Italics indicate a dream or vision.
"Frell," she swore violently. "Frell, and double frell. Stupid frelling plant!"
With a frustrated sob, the young Nebari sank to the ground before the spiky purple leaves of the hatha plant before her.
"Stupid plant," she half gasped, half sobbed.
A gentle male voice from behind her almost made Chiana jump. "You have to pierce the center of the root from the top with the urth pole."
Chiana twisted and shielded her eyes from the bright blue Hynerian suns. With her eyes thus shaded, she could see the young lookingDelvian man standing a few feet away. He was dressed in practical loose blue trousers and shirt. He wore a straw-like hat of light brown made from banta reeds. It shaded his face and made it impossible to see the color of his eyes.
"Here, let me show you," he continued as he stepped forward, holding an urth pole before him. With a practiced hand, he thrust deep into the heart of the root with the harvesting tool. The twisted tines at the end of the pole dug into the soft flesh of the root as the young seeming man turned the pole clockwise. The muscles of his arms bulged slightly as he lifted the large plant from the soil with a firm tug. Using his foot, he pushed the root from the end of the urth pole.
"Like that," he said lightly, taking his hat off to nod his head in greeting.
Without the hat, Chiana noticed that the man's eyes were a warm brown, bright with amusement at the world and all he saw.
"My name's Yael, nice to meet you."
Chiana stood slowly, her stance clearly showing how tense she was; how ready to fight or flee. Years of experience on the run were hard to forget, even on the relatively peaceful world of Hyneria; even two cycles after D'Argo's death.
Yael shrugged slightly, not offended in the least by Chiana's distrustfulness.
"I heard that there was a young woman that might need help with her first harvest. I assume that that's you. I'm looking for work, and if you need help, I'm your man."
Yael grinned brightly, and Chiana realized that if she had met him before D'Argo's death, she would have begun to flirt outrageously with him. She smirked slightly to herself, she would have done more than that of course, but nothing was the same since D'Argo. Her smirk turned to a frown and she found herself edging toward tears.
Yael's expression turned concerned. "Did I say something wrong? You are the one that needs help on your farm?"
Chiana nodded slightly.
Yael sighed quietly in relief. "Well, should we start with all this hatha root?"
Chiana nodded once and together with the younglookingDelvian man, began to harvest the first crop of hatha root on her farm…
Chiana placed the last dish of food on the simple wood dining table and sat across from Yael. She noticed that even though he must have been quite hungry, he still waited for her to be settled. Once she was, he waited for her to nod quietly before reaching for the dishes of food and filling up his plate.
Chiana spent a moment just watching the young seeming Delvian. It had been a long time, almost two cycles, since she had shared a meal with anyone else, let along cooked for them. Not since John, Aeryn, and little D had left her here on Hyneria, had she had the opportunity.
They had stayed a short while, concerned for her. And they had only left when Rygel had promised that he would keep an eye on her. Chiana wasn't meant to know that of course, but she supposed that she was grateful all the same.
Now the young Nebari sat across from Yael, and thought back to her days on board Moya. Quietly, she realized that she missed cooking for someone else; eating with them. On board Moya, she had learned that others could love her for herself, and not just for what they could get from her. Cooking had been her way of showing how much she loved her family on board Moya. And she had enjoyed sharing meal time with everyone that she loved, it had always made her feel so safe. After being so long alone, it had been good to feel safe and loved.
"Chiana, Chiana? Are you all right?" The deep male voice brought her back to awareness of her surroundings. She realized that she had been silent for several moments as she had lost herself in her memories. Yael had a worried look on his face as he waited anxiously for the young Nebari to respond.
Chiana shook herself slightly, as if trying to shrug off her quiet musings. "I'm fine," she replied, "just fine."
Yael nodded quickly and turned back to his food. After a few moments spent quietly eating, Yael asked, "So, why are you here on Hyneria? It seems a strange place to find a Nebari."
"The same could be said of you," Chiana replied.
Yael smiled slightly and shrugged, "I suppose so. Fair enough. How about I'll tell you, if you tell me?"
Thegentle man waited for Chiana's response. At her slight nod, he began.
"It's simple enough I suppose. My father was a Peacekeeper and my mother was a highly placed diplomat. A long time ago, before I was even born, they did a favor for the Hynerian royal family. In return, they were promised a favor in return. When my father decided to marry my mother, he had to leave the Peacekeepers. They sought sanctuary on Hyneria. The royal family hid my family and worked to make sure that the Peacekeepers never found us. Now, I don't think that they even know I exist anymore."
Yael shrugged slightly and sighed. He waited patiently for Chiana to speak. After several moments, she finally did. Her voice was quiet, but Yael didn't ask her to speak up, apparently sensing that to do so, would dry up her words as easily as a drought dried up the river.
"It was D'Argo's dream; to have a farm, a quiet life away from war and death. Before he…before he died, he asked me to come to Hyneria with him, to live this life. I didn't want to, not really, but for him, I would have done anything. So…so I said yes. After he died, I had to do it. So I came here to Hyneria and started this farm."
"Besides," she shrugged lightly, "I couldn't keep reminding our friends of…it wasn't fair to…they deserve to be happy," Chiana stumbled over the words. "And I just knew that if I was gone, Aeryn, and John, and Little D could be much happier. After everything that they had done for me, it was the least I could do, even if they would never have asked it of me."
Chiana shrugged again lightly. They finished the rest of the meal in silence until Yael rose.
"Well, it's late and we should get up early to get the rest of the hatha root harvested before we start on your field of w'taeh grain."
With that, thethoughtful Delvian made his way out of the room and down the hallway to the small room that Chiana had provided for his use…
Chiana paused the swing of her scythe to stand still a moment and watch Yael at work. Like herself, he was dressed in loose clothing meant to help the flow of air and thus keep him cool in the warm Hynerian summer breezes. It was also as blue as the Hynerian suns, thus reflecting the heat. And before she could stop the thought, Chiana noted that the clothing was also very attractive on the Delvian's lithe form.
She watched as Yael moved his scythe with smooth practiced strokes so much more effective than her own clumsy attempts. His biceps worked gracefully beneath his skin and his wrists moved the harvesting tool in an elegant dance as he worked his way through the waist high grain stalks.
"Let's take a break," she called over to him.
Yael stopped the graceful swing of his scythe and walked over to where Chiana stood. Once he had reached her, she gestured over to a tall orange tree beneath which a small lunch waited in a banta basket, "Let's have an early lunch."
Yael nodded and followed her into the shade of the orange Mallorean tree. He slid his hat from his head and shrugged out of his loose blue shirt as he settled on the brightly woven blanket that Chiana had laid on the ground.
Chiana absently noted that he had a very nice chest, but quickly thrust the thought aside, feeling a sense of profound guilt for having even thought it, no matter how briefly. An image of D'Argo's beaten and broken body filled her mind's eye and she choked back a deep sob.
Any hope that Yael hadn't noticed was dashed when he asked quietly, "How long?"
Chiana was silent for a moment as she continued to lay out their meal, but Yael's quiet and sympathetic silence finally forced her to answer, "Almost two cycles."
"It's been five cycles for me," he replied.
Chiana looked up and met his brown eyes with her own cat like ones. He nodded. "Yes, I loved her. Her name was Jeska. She was an Interion, here to study the ancient scrolls found in Beju the XVI's Grand Academy. When she got sick, even the best Diagnosans couldn't heal her. She died in my arms, and it took me a long time to even breath again."
"All I can say, is that it gets better. It really does. And for me, knowing that Jeska would want me to be happy and to live on, helps me to enjoy each day. I think, probably, your D'Argo would want that for you too."
"I miss him so much," Chiana whispered. "I never thought that I would miss anyone this much, except maybe Neri, my brother."
Suddenly, she shook her head, trying to loose the melancholy that had settled over her. "Let's eat," she said with a forced brightness.
For a moment, Yael seemed to want to say something more, but for reasons of his own, he held back and they ate their meal with only simple small talk. After they were finished, they went back to work and had almost the whole field of w'taeh harvested by the time that the two suns set in the south and the five moons had begun to rise slowly in the north…
John was dragging her away from D'Argo. She fought, but the human was too strong, even with grief lending her its strength. Aeryn was beside them, cradling her newborn son and running for the rendezvous. John was dragging her away from the sounds of D'Argo as he covered their escape. They were approaching the balcony when the scene shifted…
Chiana was struggling with a hatha root and Yael came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and helping her lift the root from the ground. Only, the root turned into D'Argo's bloody qualta blade and he stood before her in death, asking her how she could even consider betraying him again…
Chiana woke screaming and sweating in the warm Hynerian night. The light of the rainbow moons streamed in through the thin curtains of her bedroom windows that moved gently in the sluggish breeze. Despite the heat of the night, the young Nebari was shivering. And she was so dazed, that it took several moments for her to realize that two strong arms were tenderly cradling her and rocking her gently. A deep male voice was whispering soft soothing words in an attempt to ease her distress.
It had been so long since she had been held and comforted, that at first, Chiana let herself be rocked. She allowed herself the sensation of being safe and cared for. And for a moment, she pushed aside that small guilty voice that said that with D'Argo dead, there should be no peace for her. But it was only a moment, and before she could sink too far into the sense of warm comfort, Chiana shoved Yael away gently, but firmly.
"I'm fine now. It was just a bad dream, that's all."
If Yael had a protest, he didn't say anything, simply nodded and left Chiana to head back to his own room. Once he had left, she allowed herself to sob wet bitter tears into her pillow until she fell back into a dreamless slumber…
The next morning, neither mentioned the events of the previous night, and after a quiet breakfast, they both headed back out to the fields. It took the rest of the day to finish the w'taeh harvest, and by the time that they made their weary way back to Chiana's small cottage, they were both too exhausted to even eat. Each simply stumbled to their respective beds and collapsed without another thought.
It was Chiana's screams that brought Yael to her room once more. This time, he did not allow himself to be driven away and after an arn, Chiana finally began to speak haltingly.
"He died saving us. Without him, we would have all been killed by the Scarrans."
Yael said nothing and kept rocking the young Nebari gently.
"At first, I was too numb to feel anything. And then, all I was, was angry. Then I started to be angry with Crichton. And that felt right and horrible all at once. I wanted to blame him for living when D'argo didn't. I wanted to blame him, but every time I did, I remembered Aeryn crying over him with a sound like her soul shattering."
Chiana's whole body shuddered with a deep sob and Yael held her tighter, whispering soothing words of comfort.
"Then, after the war, all I felt was lost and sad. No matter what anyone did or said, I was so broken that none of it mattered. That's when I really decided to go to Hyneria. Rygel said that I could have a place all my own, and I thought that if I could do this one thing for D'Argo, if I could make his dream come true, it would somehow make everything right."
Her petite frame shuddered with the depth of her emotion once more.
"John and Aeryn helped me to build this cottage and get the fields started, then I sent them away. They deserved to be happy. And I really did want them to be happy, even though it hurt to see them like that when D'Argo was dead. I knew that I could never be anything but sad, and it hurt them to see me so broken. D'Argo would have hated that. He would have hated to see me making them sad. He loved them so much."
Chiana took a deep breath.
"When they were gone, it was easier for me too. I didn't have to try and pretend to be the old Chiana. And I didn't have to see what it might have been like for D'Argo and me, at least a little bit."
"And what would D'Argo have wanted for you?" Yael asked gently.
Chiana pulled out of his arms and faced him.
"This," she answered fiercely. "I betrayed him once before, I won't do it again."
"And you think trapping yourself alone here on this farm, plucking plants that you hate, and growing colder each day in the Hynerian sunshine, is what your D'Argo would want for you? Nightmares every night and pain every day?"
Yael didn't move, and Chiana shoved him off the bed. "I said get out!"
Thecalm Delvian looked at Chiana for a long quiet moment, then walked out of the room, fists clenched as he heard her sob herself to sleep once more…
"It would be easier to harvest the dharmajas fruit if we had some trigga crystals. Sprinkle a few of them on the ground around the base of each tree and let the roots pick it up, and the fruit will fall loose," Yael said the next morning as he tried to not see the dark gray circles under Chiana's eyes.
Yael nodded quietly. "We put some baskets of banta reed beneath the trees, and they'll catch all the fruit. All we have to do after that is gather the baskets. And while we wait for the trigga crystals to work, we can gather in the chiagos fruit."
"Where do we get these trigga crystals?" Chiana asked, trying to suppress a wide yawn.
"I can go to R'utha, it's only about nine helops away," Yael replied, not adding that the time he was gone would also give the Nebari a chance to rest.
Chiana nodded, too tired to protest, even had she wanted to…
"You shouldn't be here Ka D'Argo," Yael protested.
D'Argo said nothing but Crichton spoke as he came around the corner, "You have to try and remember that Big D is just as stubborn as my wife, and almost as determined."
"Ouch!" John smiled and rubbed his shoulder lightly where Aeryn had gently punched him as she came to stand with the others, little D'Argo's small hand in her own as he toddled with her.
"Have you told Chiana about D'Argo yet?" Aeryn asked quietly.
"Not yet, it's too soon," he replied turning to D'Argo. "You have to understand, it's been just as long for her as for you Ka D'Argo, but she hasn't been in a cryo-chamber."
D'Argo nodded quietly, then spoke, his voice deeper than it had once been, "Help her, Yael. Whatever it takes."
"I still don't understand why D'Argo can't just go to Chiana," Rygel said as he rounded the corner in his throne sled. "Get this over with," he continued pompously in his own concerned way.
Before the Delvian priest could answer, Aeryn and John spoke simultaneously, "Sometimes it takes a little time." They smiled at each other tenderly while Rygel harrumphed and Yael nodded in agreement.
"Just a little bit longer, and I believe that she will be ready to begin the process of A'hadis. After that, she will begin to heal and be ready to be told of Ka D'Argo's survival. She blames herself, for everything."
D'Argo nodded. "We'll be here. Tell me when she's ready."
Yael nodded and walked away to get the trigga crystals and make his way back to Chiana's small farm…
Yael spread the last of the garnet colored crystals beneath the purple dharmajas trees. Chiana followed behind him, placing large banta baskets where they would catch the sapphire colored, apple- like fruits as they were released.
"You have some strange crops growing together. Most farmers would plant loitus flowers and neblas root," Yael said, mentioning two of the better cash crops that Hyneria could produce.
For the first time that day, Chiana laughed lightly, "That's just what Rygel said" She puffed herself up and imitated the small Dominar, "I've given you the best farm land on all of Hyneria and you waste it with fruits and vegetables? Why, just a half helop of this land would give you enough loitus flowers to make you rich. Chiana, you've gone fahrbot."
The gray girl smiled.
"So why these crops then?" Yael asked.
Chiana's expression went wistful. "D'Argo mentioned hatha root once as a good crop to grow in the Hynerian soil. And he said just one root could feed a small family because it was so good for you. He used to talk about how he would love growing hatha root for our family, even though we both knew that our family would just be us."
"Jool used to talk about w'taeh fields, bronze and blue in the sun as the grains waved in the wind. She used to talk to me when the visions had taken my sight, and it was one of the images that would calm me."
"Dharmajas fruit is also known as "lovers fruit," because if you split the pips and the flesh between two people, it can enhance sensation between them. The effect is only temporary, but it's fun while it lasts," Chiana grinned wickedly, a glimpse of her old self. "John and Aeryn like this fruit a lot," she giggled, once more giving Yael a glimpse of the girl she used to be.
Her smile turned quietly sad. "And chiagos fruit was Zhaan's favorite."
"A Memory Garden," Yael said quietly. At Chiana's questioning look, he explained, "On Delvia, there are many gardens known as Memory Gardens. They keep the wisdom and the joy of the past close to those that Seek. Many have been able to move up the levels of the Seek while meditating in a Memory Garden."
He gestured around himself, "You have created your own Memory Garden. What is it that you seek Chiana?"
Chiana shrugged and moved to walk away. She stopped when Yael's voice wrapped around her.
"I think that you're trying to bury yourself in memory. You cling to your loss and guilt like a vine on the Mallorean tree, frightened that if you grow without the Mallorean tree, without D'Argo, you will have somehow betrayed his memory and sacrifice."
Chiana turned back to face the Delvian, a closed expression on her face.
"Do you really think that by denying yourself the peace of healing, that you honor D'Argo? Do you really think that pain is what he would have wanted for you?"
Chiana's expression turned sly and cunning, though no less closed off for all of that. She slunk and strutted her way over to where Yael stood. As if she were channeling the gray girl of her past, Chiana reached to stroke the Delvian's face. "So are you going to help me with my pain?"
Chiana asked in a silky voice.
"Are you going to heal me, Yael?" She asked as she gyrated in a blatant manner against him.
Yael took the gray girl's slender arms in his own hands and gently, but firmly, held her away from him so that he could look into her cat's eyes with his own warm brown ones.
"Yes," he replied simply, his kind eyes quite sincere.
Chiana stilled, surprised by the depth of concern and emotion that the Delvian's eyes contained for her well-being. Almost as if it were against her will she gasped, "How?"
"By helping you to see truth, Chiana," he replied simply…
She was drunk; very, very drunk. Empty raslak bottles littered the Terrace. She had rarely been in this place. Somehow, it had always been John and Aeryn's place, theirs alone. Now she wanted to somehow break that.
"It's not fair," she cried out to no one.
"They're not any better than us. They're not more important than us. Frell, the stupid human doesn't even have the frelling wormhole dren in his head anymore," she hiccupped out.
"Unless he's lying about that," she ground out just as Crichton entered the Terrace.
"Hey, Pip. You okay?" John asked, his expression concerned.
Chiana rose unsteadily to her feet to face the human, her own expression hard and murderous.
"You okay?" John asked again, as he noticed all the empty and broken raslak bottles littering the ground. "You really shouldn't be drinking here alone like this kiddo," he said, the concern of an older brother in his voice.
Chiana tossed the empty bottle in her hand in the direction of the human's head. Fortunately, she was too drunk to aim properly, and the bottle went very wide to crash on the floor behind him.
"Whoa, hey, let's talk about this, Pip…"
"I'll get drunk when and where I want," she ground out. "And just because this is your spot with Aeryn, doesn't mean someone else can't be here."
John held his hands up in a placating gesture.
"And just because you name your narl after him, doesn't make it right," she spat.
"Why the frell are you still alive and my D'Argo's dead?"
The scene shifted and she was stabbing John again and again. His blood was flowing over the floor, reflecting starlight from above.
Aeryn entered the Terrace carrying little D'Argo and she was crying out in pain at seeing John murdered. Aeryn screamed…
Chiana burst up from the bed screaming, seeing herself kill John in her dream.
"Shh… shh…" a deep male voice whispered as strong blue arms cradled her.
"See truth; see truth, Chiana…"
"Why the frell are you still alive and my D'Argo's dead?"
John stepped forward and wrapped Chiana in his arms, even though she beat at his chest in pain and frustration.
"Why, why, why?" she sobbed as John rocked her. "He's dead…"
"I know, Pip. I know," John whispered, continuing to rock her.
Chiana didn't notice when Aeryn first entered the Terrace, but now the Sebacean woman was next to them, stroking Chiana's short gray hair gently…
"See truth; see truth, Chiana," Yael whispered in the gray shell of her ear…
Chiana held the little boy up high as one of his chubby pink hands tried to grab at the gray tendrils of her hair that blew in the warm Hynerian spring breezes. She laughed lightly and little D'Argo giggled with her.
In the rich dark soil of the field, John and Aeryn planted the tall purple saplings.
"Trees, it had to be trees," John joked in a mock angry voice.
Aeryn smiled serenely as she planted yet another swaying sapling.
"In a couple of cycles there'll be baskets of lovely dharmajas fruits," Chiana called and watched as John and Aeryn exchanged a quiet and loving look. For a moment, she couldn't stop herself from feeling a stab of jealous anger, but then little D'Argo giggled as he finally managed to capture a lock of her hair in his chubby pink fist.
She carefully released her hair from the small hand and cradled the baby in her arms. She looked at the newly planted fields. For a moment, she felt the weight of her new life settle heavily on her shoulders. But she accepted the weight and pushed her quiet despair away. She was determined to make D'Argo's dream come true. She needed to make it come true…
"Enough for now," the deep voice of Yael whispered in Chiana's ear.
Gently, he lowered her back to rest on the thick pillows and blankets and left her to sleep out the rest of the night peacefully…
Chiana reached down into the dark water for yet another bunch of the pink grape-like fruit. Her thin banta reed net scooped up the floating fruit gently and she placed the bunch in the heavier floating basket by her side.
Already, she and Yael had harvested a third of the chiagos fruitfrom the large pond that took up a good portion of Chiana's small farm. Dozens of baskets lined the shore, glistening in the light of the blue suns. Bunches of chiagos fruit filled each basket, waiting to be stored in the cooling chambers that had been set aside for them in the storehouse.
Yael stood about a yard away from Chiana, up to his waist in the cool water. He had removed his loose blue shirt and the patterning over his skin was vivid in the sunlight. He used his own banta reed net to carefully harvest the wet fruit from the swirling dark waters.
Chiana took another moment to watch Yael, then waded back to the shore, pushing her reed basket over the water before her. She slid the basket up the shore, then fully waded out of the water and sat down. Slowly, she closed her eyes and tilted back her head, soaking in the sunlight…
"You want to leave," D'Argo accused, his voice carrying quiet anger and disappointment.
"D'Argo, I can't do this. It's not that I don't love you, I do, but…"
"I should have expected this," D'Argo continued, his voice still tinged with disappointment.
"D'Argo," she said, reaching out to him in the dream.
"No, you betrayed me once, I should have expected this," the Luxan said coldly, pulling back from her…
Chiana woke, gasping and reaching out, uncertain as to where she was. Then she recognized the bank of the pond and the fruit baskets all around her. Yael was kneeling beside her.
"I've betrayed him, he's so disappointed."
"No, Chiana, see truth," Yael responded, reaching out his fingertips to touch her temples. His fingertips were cool and wet against her face and she focused in on the sensation.
"I can show you truth if you are willing to see," Yael said.
"Why do you want to help me? What do you want from me?" Chiana asked, years of hard life, and a universe that had nearly broken her time after time, echoing in her wary voice.
"I'm Pa'u," Yael replied simply. "Let me help you begin the A'hadis, the healing."
Chiana's head nodded beneath his cool hands. "Show me."
The Delvian priest pressed his forehead lightly to hers, keeping a gentle pressure on the Nebari's temples with his fingertips. He reached into himself, seeking that piece of D'Argo that he had touched when he had shared Unity with the Luxan warrior to bring him back from death. As a thirty third level Pa'u, it was not hard to reach within and then share D'Argo's soul thoughts with the young Nebari…
"Chiana?" The image thought of D'Argo asked the question carefully.
"D'Argo," she whispered, reaching forward irresistibly.
Before she could draw her hand back in, D'Argo stepped forward and took it in one of his own strong hands. "I hate to see you so unhappy, Chiana."
"It's so hard D'Argo, and I miss you so much. I just…I've tried to do what you would have wanted, but it's just not the same without you."
"Chiana, all I ever wanted was for you to be happy."
"Then why did you die? Why did you have to be the hero?" Chiana asked, tears in her voice.
"Oh, Chiana," D'Argo sighed, as he reached over to touch her cheek. "I died to save you. Why did you die with me?"
"D'Argo I haven't…"
"Chiana, if you really love me, you'll live, really live. Be happy Chiana."
The young Nebari nodded quietly as the image of D'Argo faded…
The images faded from Chiana's mind as she came back to herself on the banks on the pond where the chiagos fruit floatedpeacefully. Yael eased his touch from the young gray girl and knelt back on his heels.
"You have begun the A'hadis," the priest said simply.
"A'hadis," Chiana whispered…
Chiana finished setting out the last of the meal that she had prepared for breakfast just as Yael entered the room.
"I need to go to R'utha today. The dharmajas fruit still needs some time, and we could probably take a day for the rest of the chiagos fruit. If that's all right with you?"
Chiana looked up and nodded quietly and then sat down and waited for him to join her at the small wood table. When he did, they ate quietly and Yael helped her to clean up before he left with a simple goodbye…
"How is she, Yael?" D'Argo asked the question carefully, his heart in his voice.
Yael sat at the wooden table in the café where D'Argo, John, Aeryn, and little D'Argo sat waiting for him. The smells of food and the thick coffee-like drink of the Hynerians filled the air and the Delvian priest took a deep breath, inhaling the wonderful aromas. The patrons were all off-worlders; Sebaceans, and Luxans. They filled the warm café with the heady vibrations of life, and this too, the Pa'u drew in happily before he answered quietly.
"She has begun A'hadis. I warn you though, Ka D'Argo, you must be patient. This may take arns, or monens, or it may even take cycles. Each person travels on the path of A'hadis at his or her own pace."
John set a sympathetic hand on D'Argo's shoulder as the Delvian priest mentioned cycles.
"Cycles," the Luxan warrior whispered low.
"But it is begun, Ka D'Argo," Yael said gently…
After Yael left, Chiana made her way out into the fields and trees of her small farm. The bright light of the twin suns glowed down upon her, warming her shoulders and glimmering in her short hair. She wandered aimlessly, her hand occasionally brushing the rough bark of a Mallorean tree, slipping through the long leaves of the dharmajas trees, or plucking one of the sapphire fruits and savoring its sweet juices.
Eventually, she reached the small spring waterfall that feed the pond below. On impulse, she stripped out of her garments and ducked beneath the cool water. For a moment, she simply reveled in the feel of the water sluicing down her gray skin and through her soft hair. Then, again, on impulse, she dove from the waterfall into the dark water of the pond below. When she emerged, she was surrounded in the pink chiagos fruit.
Seeing the fruit floating peaceful on the surface of the waves, Chiana thought about Zhann. And thinking about Zhann, allowed Chiana to remember all that the Pa'u had taught her about seeking enlightenment, compassion, and truth. She popped a small grape sized fruit into her mouth and chewed slowly as she swam and then waded out of the pond.
"Memory Garden," she whispered to herself.
Still unclothed, she wandered to the field of stubble that had been bearded w'taeh. As she brushed her fingers through the soft stalks of blue and bronze, she thought of Jool. She remembered the annoying and vibrant Interion and smiled. She may not have always gotten along with Jool, but she had become family nonetheless. And there were definitely times when Jool had given Chiana a run for her money in the wild and crazy department. Chiana smiled and wandered next through a grove of Mallorean trees on her way to the dharmajas grove.
She thought of Rygel, and her memories of His Royal Frogginess made her snicker. Rygel had shown her how to always snurch the best out of life. And he certainly knew how to not only just survive, but to survive for a purpose.
"And maybe there's more to life than surviving day to day just because you can," Chiana whispered. "Enjoy where you're at, and enjoy where you're going."
As she reached the purple fruit trees, her mind wandered to John and Aeryn. She smirked when she saw the bright fruit. She had been the one to introduce the couple to the fruit. She had done it without their consent of course, but afterwards, she knew that they were more than happy to pick some up on every commerce planet that they could.
John had been a big brother to her when she needed it, even when she didn't want it. He had been the first to give her a chance, and never gave up on her, no matter what. And Aeryn, even at her most prickly, had always looked after her. And together, they had shown her that love could overcome an amazing amount dren.
Finally, Chiana wandered over to the field of rich soil where the hatha root had been harvested. The dark soil was warm and soft beneath her bare feet. There were so many memories and conflicting emotions connected with D'Argo, that Chiana's mind simply skipped about in a giddy whirl. She was almost surprised when her mind didn't settle on grief, but on a sense of well-being and love.
Yael was right, D'Argo wouldn't want Chiana to be mired in pain, guilt, and grief. He had always loved the girl that was bright and alive and free. For the longest time, she had thought that living D'Argo's dream would take all that away, only now was she beginning to see that it was no longer just D'Argo's dream. Maybe it wasn't the life that she had imagined for herself, but no one had ever said that dreams couldn't change; people couldn't change.
"Besides," she smirked quietly, "it's not like I can't snurch the best out of life wherever I am…"
Chiana sat beneaththe purple dharmajas trees and watched the long beautiful leaves as they danced in the breeze of the cooling afternoon.
"D'Argo would've loved this," Chiana whispered to no one.
Her mind flashed back to the images that Yael had shown her. She knew that they had been more than just visions. Chiana knew in her heart, that the images had been a piece of D'Argo; the real D'Argo. She didn't know how that could be possible, but she couldn't shake the certainty.
"I'm sorry D'Argo. I did die when you did. But, I'm alive now," Chiana whispered into the warm breezes…
The next day, Chiana waded through the deepest part of the pond, gathering the last of the chiagos fruit. A couple of yards away, Yael did the same. Chiana watched him carefully beneath lidded eyes.
Ever since the Pa'u had shown her the truth with images of D'Argo, Chiana had felt something shift inside. She hadn't realized just how much pain and guilt she had been carrying around, so used to the weight had she become. Now, she had begun to feel that weight lift. It was happening slowly, but it was happening.
Chiana shook her head and turned back to her work, reaching quickly for the banta basket that was trying to float away from her. She swept her thin reed net through the swirling waters and scooped up more pink grape-like fruit.
"We should be done by the end of the day I think," Yael offered from where he was harvesting.
Chiana nodded and made an sound of agreement.
For at least an hour then, they worked in simple silence. Finally, Chiana called for a break and they both waded to the shore. Next to baskets full of fruit, they laid out a small lunch. After several moments, the young girl finally spoke.
"You said that you were helping me because you are a Pa'u, but how did you know that I needed help?"
"The Goddess moves me," Yael replied.
"Hmm, the Goddess, right. Are you sure that a certain froggy little Dominar didn't say anything to you?" Chiana asked perceptively.
"He may have told me where to find you, but other forces lead me," the Pa'u answered.
The gray girl considered the Delvian carefully but said nothing further as they continues their lunch. Once they were finished and everything was packed back away, they got back to work. Yael had been right, and they were indeed done with the harvest by the end of the day. Exhausted, they stumbled back to Chiana's stone cottage and to their respective beds…
Yael stood next to the small bed where Chiana slept peacefully. Gently, hecoaxed the piece of D'Argo that he carriedwithin to the surface, andreached out to Chiana'sthoughts and into her dreams. Happily and carefully, hesent D'Argo to her…
Chiana stood in a space between the dharmajas trees, surrounded by the falling sapphire colored fruit. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back as it began to rain lightly. She opened her mouth to catch the sweet raindrops, something that she hadn't done since she was a kid so long ago with Neri. Slowly, she began to twirl, arms wide.
That's when she heard his voice.
She stopped twirling and opened her eyes, looking for the proud Luxan warrior that had called her name. And there, walking towards her through the trees, was D'Argo.
She didn't stop herself. Chiana ran through the alley of trees and launched herself through the air and into D'Argo's arms. He caught her with a small "oomph" and spun her around, laughing with her.
"You're alive," she said firmly to something beyond this manifestation of D'Argo. "You're alive…"
Chiana stood staring at the purple fruit trees, watching their long graceful leaves blow in the light breezes of the early morning. She had an expression of absolute wonder and surprise on her face. Before Yael had even stepped up even with her, she spoke, her voice tinged with the same wonder of her expression. "I like this life."
"I like this life," she repeated, as if surprised that the words had come from her mouth.
For a few moments, the two stood watching the dharmajas fruit fall lightly into the carefully placed baskets. They fell with quiet sounds into the padded baskets, and Chiana smiled freely for the first time in what seemed like a hundred cycles.
Then she turned to Yael. "I'm going to find D'Argo now. Can you start on the harvest?"