by Suz

Disclaimer - Yeah, Paramount.


"What do you think of them, father?"

What do I think of them?

They're a little bizarre. Not only do they have some kind of fur on their head, but it seems to be all over their bodies! Not that I've seen that much of their bodies, but if you study their hands close enough you can see the faint traces of fur growing from their skin.

I have no idea how much of their bodies it really covers. I wonder if I refuse to let my thoughts even go in that direction.

It must be dreadfully uncomfortable.

Of course, the one with the dark eyes and the marking - Cha-ko-tay - must have thought *I* was a little bizarre for staring at his fingers so intently. He said nothing, no doubt because we were in the middle of negotiations.

I can only really comment on the two of them I've spent the most time with - not a particularly large cross-section of their crew. The other member of their party - Nee-lix, was it? - is currently bartering with my Head of Technology elsewhere.

It is these two that I have been talking with and studying for the last few sections.

Jane-way and Cha-ko-tay.

Strange names, too.

It is difficult not to judge, but when you encounter something so different it is almost impossible not to.

They are good negotiators, but so is my daughter. A gift she received from her mother that she has since transformed into one of her own. I let her do the talking, or, if I were more honest, she does most of the talking with or without my consent.

Also a gift from her mother.

And she pulls me aside, part-way through negotiations to ask me a question purely out of respect:

"What do you think of them, father?"

I know her question has actually more to do with trading; can we trust them? Will they be reliable? Will they honour their agreements?

But that's not quite the course my thoughts take.

I glance over at them. I have been watching them since they walked into the room. There is something about them, together. I have spoken to Jane-way alone, briefly, and whatever it is wasn't present.

It is...a humming.

I continue looking at them. There are murmuring, probably discussing the same subjects I am supposed to be discussing with my daughter. They look over at us occasionally but their eyes almost never leave each other. They are sitting close enough so that they can whisper and understand each other perfectly. She touches his wrist, often.

The room is definitely humming.

And I realise then: they are not together. They are together as 'friends' - as Jane-way described their relationship when I asked her earlier - but that is all.

It is a puzzle, to me. Here, it is considered that attached couples work better together. They understand each other quicker, can communicate faster, work well as a team because of their familiarity.

I know - even though no one would dare to say it - that since my partner passed I have not been as sharp as I once was. Not as...clever. Quick-witted.

I do not understand how they would not be together. It has so many advantages.

"What do you think of them, father?"

I think I admire them.

I think I respect them.

Would I choose to ever be them, if I could?


I had a few scant terms with my partner, but I would never want to have to suffer through what might have been when I could actually have known.

"We will trade with them. We can trust them."

If only they could trust themselves.


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