The Unappreciated

Beneath the red scarf and chapeaux
The pearl of my heart locked within a shell
Too afraid to let it go, to let it show…

"You're waiting for him, aren't you?" The voice was so meek and quiet against the pattering rain he would have just otherwise dismissed it as the drops of water that had formed from the condensation of vapor precipitating to the ground. However, he felt a presence there, a form of warmth in the cold.

Looking up, his gaze met an unassuming figure holding up an umbrella over both their heads. Due to the brightness of the sky, it was a rather unusual weather with the sun still peeking in through the clouds while the drizzle continued. His mind was recalling books he had read with regards to the cultures on Earth, the ones that discussed non-scientific mythologies - curious tales crafted before the advent of their technology - to explain unusual phenomena. There was one culture that called this the fox rain.

"I'm sorry, ma'am?"

As she kneeled closer to where he had sat himself down, the gentle face that looked at him became clearer. Blinking his eyes at her curiously, he was trying to find out what she meant to be able to politely answer her expectant expression. Unfortunately his mind was drawing on a blank. He had no idea who she was.

"You're waiting for Ben," her diction suggested something that he hadn't quite understood, so he answered her in the affirmative with a meek nod of his head. She simply smiled, equally polite.

For a moment there was an awkward silence, with only the slight pattering of the rain on her umbrella and on the asphalt filling their surroundings.

Then she spoke again in that ethereal tone - it reminded him of something in his home world when he was much younger, the sounds produced by night creatures that would accompany him, comforting and lulling him to sleep after a difficult day of training. Like being wrapped in something soft. "You shouldn't be out here in the rain."

"I'm supposed to be patrolling for the two of us, ma'am. Ben promised he would be back after getting something to drink. To prevent dehydration," he explained sheepishly, watching the minute changes to her gentle expression.

"Really now," she stated, an edge to her voice that he again seemed to have missed. Even her countenance was different but he found the meanings behind the body language utterly obtuse. He wasn't used to humans and how they communicated, there seemed to be a lot lost in translation.

So he responded politely, "Yes, ma'am. Dehydration is bad."

For a while she stared at him with those liquid eyes, dark and enigmatic and incomprehensible but so ridiculously soft and kind. There was a distinct sense inside his chest of wanting to curl up, to just stay protected under there with the flimsy fabric with wires she held over the two of them. There was something in her eyes that made him strangely miss his homeworld so painfully much - as if staring back into them made him realize how unwelcoming the rest of this universe was.

Unfastening the cloth wrapped around her neck, she drew even closer to him. The distance was enough to make him feel blood rush to his face instinctively and he tried to stare at the ground while she seemed resolved to place the cloth around his neck. Afterwards, he felt rather comfortable with it on, providing enough heat on his neck and chest from the temperature. The fabric smelt sweet and pleasant, like the aroma she mutely emitted when she was much closer for even just a second.

Eyes wide, he looked up at her timidly to find her standing straight again with a far away look in her eyes as she stared into the gray clouds above them. "I guess we're all bound to wait for him in this lifetime." The way she spoke, it felt like she was speaking with the clouds rather than with him.

"I'm sorry?" he asked in sincere confusion.

"Please don't get sick in the meantime," she said tenderly, sharing a smile that gave too many emotions for him to filter through. Before he could truly get a grasp for what she was speaking of, she turned to finally leave.

Quickly, he called out, "Excuse me. Um, wait, ma'am!" He stood from his position hurriedly, as if to move to catch up with her. The curiosity in him was starting to grow particularly bothersome. But she had stopped which meant that he didn't have to pursue her and, most importantly, he didn't have to leave his designated post. "I'm sorry it's just I - I don't actually know who you are."

Without turning, she replied in this quiet tone that was nearly drowned out by the rain that seemed to be continuously getting stronger. Or perhaps her voice was simply becoming mistier. "I'm his girlfriend."

Eyes blinking repeatedly, he watched her retreating back. All the while, his mind seemed to be going through several books and references from his research about Earth. Some of which with regard to simple etiquette, human interaction, how people conducted themselves, courtship. Even basic media that narrated fictional stories. Monogamy, loyalty, commitment. Some abstract terms that were hard to translate. He remembered a previous mission where Ben had asked him whether this girl - what was it, Esther?- would find him suitable to be her boyfriend.

Clutching the warm cloth around his neck, he wondered if he should return it back. It was too cold out here.

A/N: Song lyrics at the top from Un Monstre a Paris by Mathieu Chedid