Author's Note: I would love any and all feedback on this story! Cochise fascinates me, especially after listening to Doug Jones explain how he views his character. As normal, I couldn't resist attempting some character development-with a bit of a twist, of course. I have a short outline of what I want to accomplish here, so this story shouldn't be too long (I'm thinking 4, maybe 5, chapters, probably less, and they will be small chapters) but reviews influence me quite a bit and so depending on the response I may take it other places.

Also, this might be a little bit AU because we don't yet know a whole lot about volm society, and so in places I have speculated a tiny bit, based on what we have seen in the show thus far. If we learn contradictory information later I will come back and edit this.

Disclaimer: I don't own Falling Skies, but I sure wish I did!


Catharsis

In the seven months since his advance ship had landed on Earth, Cochise had discovered that he actually liked humans. Even if their technology wasn't, he found their fierce loyalty, protectiveness, and determination to admirable. Even more so their resilience and endurance. Yet at times the pale-skinned natives were unerringly frustrating—not to mention just plain confusing. They were full of emotion and heat, very different from his own race, and it often took all of his patience and tact to successfully work with them.

But it was the humans' continual distrust and even open hatred at times wore him down. He never let it be known that he noticed the hostile stares or the whispering behind his back, always projecting confidence and nonchalance—and he largely worked with Tom Mason, who was anything but unfriendly towards him, amiable, even. Working with such a people nearly constantly would affect even the strongest soul. Not that he blamed the people of Charleston. Aliens such as himself were responsible for the destruction of their way of life.

But a more emotional part of him insisted that it was different aliens. He simply wasn't accustomed to dealing with the negative feelings; every other culture the volm had encountered viewed the volm as saviors, and some nearly worshipped them. It made the humans refreshingly different, yet at the same time, the routine-loving volm was thrown off-guard and forced to adapt—something volm were not good at.

It was a delicate balance.

It was an exhausting balance.

He knew his peoples' history quite well. As a member of a high ranking clan and a candidate for a command position his education had been complete: theories and mechanics of physics, mathematics, biology, and sociology; military tactics and armaments, how to command effectively, the history of their war with the espheni and an overview of the cultures they had encountered while liberating planets from espheni control. The humans were like nothing his people had ever encountered before. Their passion ensured that they spoke what was on their minds, and hence Cochise never had trouble trying to figure out what they were thinking because they just said it. But their vehemence in wanting to be involved in any plans and determination to fight meant he increasingly found that the standard volm tactics did not work as well with them—something that was not easy for the volm, who had it extensively hammered into their skulls that this was how things were done and they had better follow these specific procedures—there was no room in the volm military for deviating from the set plan of action.

He always felt especially drained after meetings with the head military personnel. In charge of the defense of their families and friends, they weren't afraid to ask the tough questions—and their training in combat gave them confidence. Cochise paused as he stepped out into the open air above ground, the sight of the ruined buildings that had once been the city of Charleston greeting him; now the population largely resided underground. As it always seemed to do on this planet (though he had been told that other areas were very different), it was raining again, a light mist that was nevertheless effective at drenching everything and would have chilled him to the bone had his suit not moderated his body temperature. How some of the smaller humans survived, he took as another example of their resilience. His home planet had been much warmer than this one, and hence Cochise found the weather the most difficult part of landing on any planet. But he never let his discomfort show. He took a deep breath of the cool, fresh air and steadfastly ignored the furtive glances of the humans working nearby or walking past.

One of the nearby natives caught his attention, a human female across the open space before him who was working to secure a tarp over supplies to prevent the ambient moisture from reaching them. One corner of his mouth pulled up in the slightest smile. After all, not all of the humans had proved aggressive towards his kind; like with Tom Mason, Cochise had discovered speaking with Mara Schrader to be forthcoming, friendly and heartening, and with that thought in mind he stepped into the rain and started across the open space.

Mara was average for a human, as far as Cochise could tell. She certainly was not young, at least nowhere near as young as any of Tom Mason's children. But she clearly wasn't old, her movements deft and quick, her body strong and her mind sharp, nothing like those of some of the more elderly members of Charleston. Her hair—human hair still fascinated him, as very few species in the galaxy possessed anything like it—was much lighter than Tom Mason's as well, a color she called "blonde" when he had asked. And he discovered that its length was deceptive; even though she wore it tightly wound against her skull, when she took it out it ran halfway down her back. Her height was average as well. A bit shorter than the generals or Professor Mason, her head rose to about the height of his shoulder. As with everyone in Charleston, her wardrobe rarely changed, although Mara tried to keep herself clean, and she wore dark jeans with a thick sweatshirt and hooded jacket to keep her warm. The first time he had seen her shed the thick clothes down to her shirt on a warm day he had been greeted to a pleasantly slim body beneath the clothes.

The volm leader had met Mara approximately two months after their landing, and had initially been encouraged by her friendly reaction to his presence: a smile when he had turned and found her watching him, instead of the hurried glance away he usually received. A few days later an opportunity to speak to her had arisen, and he had seized it: partly out of curiosity, and mostly because her warmth and how she made him feel welcome were a pleasant break from the antagonism directed at him from the other humans.

Since then, they spoke almost daily when he ventured into Charleston, and he would admit to having become fairly fond of her. He found their conversations stimulating because she wasn't nearly as reserved as the military personnel he mostly interacted with, not afraid to laugh loudly or jump up and act out something she was trying to explain with abandon. She was quite willing to explain points of human culture that had thus far stumped him. And she was never offended, laughing off any perceived insults, which had slowly coaxed him to be more comfortable in asking her tough questions he avoided with anyone else. Despite all that aliens had done to her planet, she didn't fear him. Some days he was convinced that she viewed him more as a person than a member of an alien race, and he was immensely grateful for it.

In return, Mara was immensely curious about volm society. She had admitted, with a strange reddening of her face, that she had always been a bit of a science fiction lover (a statement which had sprung into a two hour conversation about literary genres and a history of film, culminating in her rendition of several human stories she called classics about humans flying in ships "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away"; and later she had produced one of her only keepsakes, a hard bound book full of short stories) and that physics had always interested her, as well as the idea of various cultures developing across the universe. He gathered that she had been extremely disappointed when the espheni and skitter invaders turned out to be hostile when they arrived.

Eventually, their conversations had gone deeper over the months, more personal, and he had learned about her upbringing as she learned about his personal history. The woman had not been with Tom Mason and the Second Massachusetts—instead, she had traveled to Charleston with Colonel Porter and his group of refugees, along with her dear friend Sarah, whom she had known since childhood and also now resided in Charleston. She had been married once but had divorced—a subject they had talked about extensively as Cochise was eager to understand the different relationships between humans. In return, she had then asked him to teach her the same aspects of volm culture: she wanted to learn how to speak some of his language, and how to properly greet him, and to his great surprise, she had asked if she could touch him.

The gesture created mixed feelings in him. It was hardly a surprise, because he had observed for himself that physical contact was common among humans, and was especially frequent between those whom were friendly and liked each other—and he was relieved that she had been polite and asked him first. But among volm, physical contact was not always well received, and only done with family or those of equal rank. She had been very understanding when he had explained this to her. Nonetheless, he had chosen to hesitantly accept her proposal, not wanting to unknowingly insult her or damage their relationship—and he would admit that he enjoyed it, and had been just as curious to touch as she had been, but his instincts had held him back from curious exploration until she had brought up. It pleased him, to know that she considered him close enough for touch—more so because he had finally been able to sate his desire to explore the human peculiarity called hair, which made her laugh to no end.

But Mara always used tact, understanding his reservations, and that not only made him all the more relieved for her patience, but made their arrangement all the more pleasant. Cochise was accepting of physical contact, but not public displays of emotion—and she was never sudden when approaching him, making sure he knew she was going to touch him before she did so.

He found he enjoyed having a relationship with a human that was not based in trying to destroy the espheni or any other reason than simply enjoying one another's company. Still, by unspoken agreement they kept their relationship rather quiet. Of course other humans saw them talking, but they left the more intimate conversations and any physical contact for when they were alone—which in Charleston was rare, and relative. Some humans were very aggressive towards him, as well as the children who had been with the rebel skitters, and he did not want to cause her stress with her relationship to her own people, or get her in any trouble. And she seemed to embrace discretion and decorum.

Halfway across the space between them, she turned and, gaze attracted by his movement, glanced up and spotted him. She immediately offered the volm a smile, even as one hand reached up to pull her hood over her head more firmly. In a few more strides he reached the other side of the pile supplies she was securing and quickly grabbed the nearest loose corner of the tarp, holding it tightly in place until she came around beside him and lashed it down.

"Good morning," the volm rumbled in his deep voice, concentrating on offering her a smile. For the volm, facial expressions were considered undignified, but he found that the natives responded to him emulating their culture, and so he tried, though it took some thought to shape his face into the desired reaction.

She smiled back at once, much wider than his, and tipped her head back, squinting against the rain as she looked at the sky. "I think it's afternoon now," she said lightly, subtly correcting him. "But hello nonetheless. How are you, Cochise?" He gave a light sigh; the humans possessed so many greetings, telling of an open and social culture, all based on the time of day and on the familiarity one had with whomever they were speaking to, that he was never quite sure which applied when. He preferred the standard volm greeting, which applied to everyone he came across equally. He was no stranger to using body language as part of communication, but her subtle facial expressions did confuse him sometimes.

"I am fine, Mara, thank you for inquiring," he answered, releasing the tarp as she straightened from tying it down, and she tilted her head and gave him a look she called "friendly exasperation".

"I've told you before, Cochise, there's no reason for you to be so formal with me," she said, reaching a hand up to tug her hood over her head again. "I'm no one important, and I consider you a friend."

"I am afraid I still do not entirely understand the inner workings of your species' communication," he said apologetically.

She gave a light laugh and motioned for him to follow her. "Come on, let's get out of the rain—or do you have to go soon?" She paused, her face hopeful—at least, he hoped he was reading her expression correctly—that he would have time to speak to her but understanding if he was busy.

He shook his head, following her around the pile of covered supplies and through a narrow door into one of the surviving buildings—though the term "surviving" was relative, this was simply one of the buildings that was more easily repaired. "In a few minutes I must return to the bunker to see if any situations have arisen which require my attention, but for the moment I should like to continue talking with you."

"Well, as long as you don't mind me keeping my hands busy while we talk, you're welcome to continue," Mara said over her shoulder as she walked up to a table laden with clean linens and separated out a part of the pile to fold.

He shook his head, standing across the table from her, and watched as she threw back her hood and removed her jacket before her hands deftly began to straighten and fold the cloth into neat piles. This was why he enjoyed being in her presence: Mara treated him exactly the same way she treated everyone else. "I would offer to assist, but I am afraid my skills in this department would be lacking," he said, resting his hands on the table, and she chuckled again.

"So how is the President?" she asked, glancing up for a moment before returning her attention to her hands. He admired human hands. With more fingers and joints than his own they were much faster and much more flexible, fascinating to watch.

"You always ask me that. Is it not odd to hear about him from me and not one of your own?" he asked, cocking his head to the side curiously, and in doing so noting that several other humans at the table were watching them.

She shrugged—he had missed that movement as part of the conversation the first few times he had seen it. She had explained it to him after he had stared at her blankly one time. "You're the only one I know who talks with the President on a regular basis." She scrunched her face into a strange, wrinkled expression she had once explained meant distaste. "I never really cared to be noticed by authority figures. I try to stay out of politics."

"You do not want to be part of shaping your new government?" he asked, smoothly ignoring the gazes he had noticed. He was used to being stared at.

"Well, it seems to me that there are plenty of other people with better ideas than me already doing that, and not enough who want to fold clean laundry," she explained nonchalantly, stacking the linens she had folded and selecting a few more from the pile. "It tends to breed adversity between people. Besides, I could never sleep at night knowing I had made a decision which sent someone to their death." She shivered involuntarily.

"You do not believe in fighting?" he asked curiously, leaning closer. This was not something they had spoken of before. This was another reason he enjoyed speaking to Mara: she had a different view on their conflict with the espheni than Tom or the other military personnel he spoke with more commonly. The wide differences in human opinion fascinated him: the volm were always rather like-minded .

She shook her head, a few loose tendrils of hair flying about her head. "I didn't say that. I completely support defending out planet, and I'll lift a gun and fight with the rest of you. But I'm not cut out to command people, like you and President Mason. I'm perfectly happy being responsible for my own actions, but I don't want to be the one to tell other people what to do." She was acutely aware of the sideways glances the other workers present were giving her, but astutely ignored them. Who she chose to spend her time with was her own business.

"Ah, I understand," Cochise answered, nodding his head slowly. "There are times when I wish I did not have the responsibilities of leadership on my shoulders. Oftentimes I must make decisions which could effect everyone under my command. I take it very seriously, and I assure you Professor Mason, along with the rest of Charlestons' leadership, does too." He watched her fold a few more linens and then he straightened from leaning on the table. "And I'm afraid I must get back to those duties now," he said, firmly but inwardly reluctantly to leave.

Mara looked up from her work. "So soon? Well I guess I should feel lucky I got any of your time at all." She wanted to move around the table and hug him, but with the other six people in the room talking quietly while they worked she decided it probably wasn't wise. "Come talk to me whenever you can," she offered instead, smiling warmly. He returned her smile with a deep nod, then turned and walked back to the door. She watched as he filled the doorway, briefly silhouetted, until the light from outside flooded back in.


Thank you for reading! I will be counting on reviews to tell me where this story should go.