The Twisted Skein

2007 -- Return Ticket

"So. Here you are again."

Nyx Hyrax, born Nightingale, looked at the young man standing in front of her, trying to swallow the lump in her throat. "Yes," she agreed. "Here we are."

"I honestly didn't think you'd ever come back," the young man said. "Those people who chased you out of here... I didn't think even a Jedi could escape them."

"We've got a few things at our disposal the Jedi don't," Dassie said, laying a hand on his wife's shoulder. "But of course, you know all that."

"I try not to think about it," Treak said with a shrug. "I'm retired now."

"Not that you were ever much for work anyway," Dassie said with a faint smile. "I remember having to chase you down and give you a push, back in the day."

Treak frowned, and then his expression cleared. "That was way back," he agreed. "Must've been... what, fifteen years ago?"

"About that," Dassie agreed. "I did a short stint in Intelligence after I was recruited," he supplied for Nyx's benefit, "and Treak here's a sort of freelance Intel Agent. He wasn't exactly hard-working back then, so the Sub Rosa sent me and what'sherface, Traf, out to tell him to get on with it or quit asking for pay."

Treak laughed. "Oh, those were the days... back before your DIS made everything so messy." He glanced between the two. "You never gave me a straight answer before... those people chasing you, were they...?"

"Yeah," Dassie confirmed. "They're dead now."

"Good." Treak shook his head. "All right, I should stop putting this off, get it over with." He swallowed. "I suppose you want to see her." Nyx nodded slightly, and the young man with the shaggy blond hair sighed. "My wife and I... we've done our best to raise her well. With no kids of our own we haven't exactly had any practice, but... well." He reached back and, before he could change his mind, rapped on the wooden door. "I'll introduce you."

After a few moments - the longest of Nyx's life - the door opened, and a little girl with black hair cut a lot like Treak's peered out. "T'eak?" she asked. "Who'm these people?"

Nyx's heart leapt into her throat, and she felt tears fall down her cheeks. Kneeling down, she looked at the little girl. "Hello, Tia," she said in a thick voice, "I'm Nyx."

Tia tilted her head to one side. "T'eak's told me 'bout you," she said thoughtfully. "He says you'm my mummy, but I don't unnerstand that, 'cause mummies should be here, and you am't."

Nyx wiped her eyes, trying not to break down completely. Dassie knelt down at her side, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "She has your eyes," he murmured.

Nyx nodded slightly, not taking her gaze off her daughter. "I wanted to be here," she said, "but I couldn't. There were bad men who wanted to hurt me, and if they'd gotten hold of you..."

Tia considered this for a moment or two. "Am the bad men gone now?" she asked. Nyx choked up at the seriousness of her tone, and sensing this, Dassie smiled.

"They're gone," he assured the little girl. "We've come to take you home."

Tia frowned. "But this'm my home," she pointed out, "with T'eak and 'Lees. I don't want to leave."

Dassie bit his lip. "We can still come and visit," he offered, but Tia's scowl deepened until Treak stepped past the couple and scooped her up in his arms.

"You can't stay here," he told the girl he had cared for for three years. "Remember what I told you?"

Tia nodded slightly. "You'm not my daddy and 'Lisa'm not my mummy and someday my mummy and daddy will come back for me and take me home. But I don't want to go," she finished, "I like it here."

"You'll like it with Dassie and Nyx, too," Treak cajoled. "Elisa and I are going to have our own little girl soon, and we'd be very busy if we had to look after both of you. Tell you what," he said as if the idea had just occurred to him, "if you go home with your mummy and daddy, maybe you can come and see us later, when our little girl's grown up a bit. Then you two can play together."

Tia scowled, but nodded and scrambled down from Treak's embrace. Walking over to Nyx, she wrapped her little arms around her mother's neck. "Of course I'll come home with you, mummy Nyx," she said seriously. "And then we can come and visit T'eak and 'Lisa and their little girl and I can play with her."

Hugging her daughter to her, Nyx looked up to see Treak's face, to see how sad he looked - how heartbroken. "Yes, Tia," she murmured. "Yes, we can. Now come on... let's go home."

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