Sal glanced quickly at the curled up form in the chair beside her. It hadn’t taken long for the stress of the day to overcome poor Tai, and the boy had slipped into an uneasy sleep in the second pilot’s chair. She kept an eye on him, worried as he flinched and moaned softly. It wasn’t a nice dream by any means. She wondered if she should risk quick look into his mind, but dismissed the idea. The Captain would be back any minute and she didn’t want to get caught using her gift in a way that Charles Pryce found unsavoury. Not that she generally did, but the Captain had odd ideas about those with mind-gifts. Another soft moan broke from Tai’s lips and Sal had to do something. She carded her fingers through Tai’s soft dark hair and let a tiny bit of power sink into the sleeping boy, sending him to a more peaceful rest. It was the only thing she could think of doing that would help at all.
The long-range scanner beeped, showing an incoming ship and she smiled when the friendly comm signal came through. The Captain was back. They could finally get on with their trip and hopefully the nagging feeling of something going wrong would fade.
“Yes,” Cilla said again. “Things are clearer now,” she reminded him.
“Who are we here for?”
“Our lost brother, the one who hurts so much, and our not-forgotten father.”
“It’s time, then?” William’s eyes lit up with happiness.
“It won’t be easy,” she cautioned him, “but yes. Or did you not recognize the boy?”
He blinked at her. “Really? Talk about an age difference.”
“Really, Spike, that’s what you get stuck on?!” Cilla’s blue eyes snapped with anger. “Forget the fact that Xander has spent all these years alone.”
“Sorry, luv,” William murmured, taking his wife into his arms. “Just trying to lighten the mood.”
“The mood will always be heavy,” Cilla sighed, “like old world silk. We’re watching the fabric of the universe being woven in front of us, and just maybe we’ll have a chance to alter the pattern.”
“Bad things are coming,” she whispered, huddling in his arms as the remembered horror of insanity brushed across her mind. “The stars scream like they did so long ago. It hurts.”
“Shh, luv,” the blond man crooned, rocking her gently. “We’ll get through this, you’ll see.”
“Captain just sent the docking codes,” Sal told him.
Nodding,Tai took several deep breaths and sat up. With quick hands, he sent back the correct docking sequence and sat back. “I’ll go down and meet them.”
“Sure, tell Captain that everything went according to plan.”
“Even the spoilt brat down in the guest quarters?” Tai asked teasingly.
“Of course,” the violet-hued woman laughed. “We always plan for spoilt brats, especially after we got you.”
He mimed a smack at her, glad she was ignoring the latest episode. He jogged down the ‘Hawk corridors on quiet feet, reaching the far side docking bay in short time. The shuttle had just finished slotting into its spot and the bulkhead doors had just opened as he reached them. Moments later, the Captain and Erna were exiting the shuttle with a dark haired man walking not far behind them. Curious, Tai moved to get a closer look at the man and gasped as he met the single dark eye. It was worse than any of his episodes and he was grateful when his mind overloaded and consciousness left him.
The First Mate was at the boy’s side almost as he hit the ground, checking vitals. “He’s out, Captain.”
“I’m not sure,” Erna said, sliding a glance over to Xander. “I think it might be something else.”
“Get him to the med lab, I’ll meet you there after I get Harris sorted.”
“I’ll let Sal know.”
“Tell her to set the heading. She knows where we’re going.”
Erna nodded and easily lifted the small man, heading off. Xander looked over at Captain Pryce, seeing the worry in the dark eyes. “My room?”
If his lack of concern for the boy bothered Pryce, the man didn’t let it show. His eyes went back to the hard look that Xander had come to associate with the man in the short hours he had known him.
“This way,” Pryce said, leading him through the ship’s halls. “I’ll put you with the rest of the paying transports.”
“Doesn’t matter to me,” Xander admitted. “As long as it has a bed.”
Pryce snorted. “A bed and food if you want it. Dinner will be soon. The mess is one deck up and to the left. If you don’t eat with us, then you have to fend for yourself later. Just clean up any messes you make.”
Xander nodded as he walked into the room that Pryce had pointed at. “Sure thing.”