V.O.C. of the People

Dinner with Kharrakh

During Which a Gift is Given

Avinnia took her plate of food down to the brig, deciding that she would enjoy spending the evening having conversation with their captive. She set her plate down on the floor and proceeded to sit beside it. She always placed herself in front of the bars, carelessly close, but she was not afraid of her Ker. Though her visits were not as often as she wished, she did find herself spending more of her free time with him.

She did not speak, at first, her thoughts drifting to the crew. While Phillip found her useful and was having her go with him nearly everywhere, Farrah seemed to want less and less to do with her. It was not just her, however, Avi had noticed Farrah’s attitude continue to change the longer they were away from Christmas Island. After what happened in Cairo, Avi did not blame her. She could not imagine seeing Reykjavik burning, her family nowhere to be found. She did not know how that could affect a person. Farrah was only a few years older that her. Perhaps, this form of loss, caused more reckless behavior. Farrah was acting out against the captain, though, as she thought about it, Farrah had never really taken orders or even advice from any of them.

Avi? Kharrakh’s voice broke through her thoughts and she lifted her head from her plate. He had moved to his normal spot on the opposite side of the bars. His eyes, endless like the night sky, were staring at her. He always kept his eyes on her.

Forgive me, I was lost in my thoughts. She looked away from him to check that he had been fed. His plate was empty but there were small traces of the meat he had been given. I am sorry that you are still stuck in there. Captain Phillip is still hesitant to trust you. I think he worries that you will hurt me.

I would not harm my Okraik. Avi thought she heard an offended tone in his voice.

I know, Kharrakh. I trust you. I know you will only protect me. However, after what you and your brothers did, I understand everyone being afraid of you.

Do you fear me, Avinnia?

His question took her by surprise and she looked at him, again, before answering. Her gaze was steady, fearless. Had there ever been fear since she first saw him? No, no, there had not been. If they had not met in battle she would not have even attacked. Her curiosity had been the strongest emotion she had felt. He was so different from those around her, he could understand what it was like to not look human. He had lived in Vandagen. He had seen others like her.

No, she finally answered. I do not fear you. She shoved one of her hands into the pocket of her dress and withdrew a polished aquamarine gem stone. She stared at it for a long, silent, moment. Kharrakh’s eyes, for once, moved from her face down to the stone. He withdrew the shell, that she had previously given him, and looked down at it. It had a similar polish to it. He looked at her as she reached through the bars and stretched out her hand. The stone sat on her palm and her eyes were fixed on him.

A gift, she said.

What is ‘gift’? He asked her. He stretched out his pale hand. His fingertips brushed her warm skin as he lifted the stone.

Humans give gifts to show affection to those they care about. Birds have a similar tradition. Though we prefer objects that shine and shimmer. I polished this myself. She was smiling when he met her gaze once more.

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