Now you understand, you will be the first Alarian to do this. There are skeptics from both races, and you will be scrutinized over everything. Janice, the human social worker paced along the giant table. Sitting next to, but easily manging to loom over the table was a very large alaerin, quite tall even among her own people. With one hand, she twirled her silvery blue hair, with the other, she flipped through pictures of smiling human children on an appropriately sized terminal, her bright green eyes affectionately gazing at each digital image.
I'm aware of the people that are worried, but don't, I'll be the best faster mother possible. Ronoon replied. She couldn't help but smile and adore each child as she glanced at their likes and dislikes, she wished she could simply adopt all of them, but the terms were one child until he or she reached adulthood.
Foster mother. Janice corrected, You're adopting a child...A human child. I can respect that orphans are rare among Alarians, and admire that you want to give one of these children a home, but it's a very big step since the end of the war The human woman flipped her curly brown hair, looking up uncertainly to the smiling blue-skinned woman. She was less than comfortable about the situation, placing her trust, not to mention the life of a child, in the hands of a giant alien. Pun not intended in the slightest.
Ronoon simply continued to smile, feeling for each child. Well...the bigger the step, the closer the goal-- she gasped suddenly, drawing the social worker's attention to the terminal. The alaerin had stopped on the image of a boy; green eyes, blond hair, would turn 9 in less than two months. He...He's the one, I know it. There's just...something calling to me about him. Ronoon said breathlessly, her finger stroking the screen along the digitized cheek.
Skimming through his file, Janice noticed something, Danial Pallen. An interesting choice...both of his parents died in the war. The human woman clenched her jaw, conflicted with what to take from this whole thing. Their races had been at war just over 4 years ago, and yet Ronoon was willing to undergo the daunting task of being the first alarian to care for a human child. While Janice was absolutely terrified of what this giant was capable of, she couldn't help but admire her adamant view that things could only get better between their people.
The Fathers must have led me to him. Is it possible for me to meet Danial soon? she turned her head towards Janice, but her eyes were the last thing to face the human. Looking over Danial's file, she noted that the colony he was on wasn't far, Of course. The sooner the better. the brunette said to the forty-five foot tall woman.
The very next day, Janice had gone planet-side and picked up young Danial. She drove ten under the speed limit, giving him the same talk she had given at least a dozen other children, but she knew she had to address the potential issue.
Now Danial, I'm sure you've heard of alarians? Janice asked, watching his response through her rear view mirror as he didn't seem to be a talker. After he replied with a timid nod, she continued, They're very big, Danial, much bigger than me. Much bigger than this car, in fact. I don't want to scare you, Miss Tuffoi is very kind, and she truly wants to take good care of you, but this is a very big thing for everyone involved. she watched him squeeze his bag of personal belongings hard, though she wasn't going to blame him, the brief moments when she had been in Ronoon's hands were easily some of the scariest situations she had experienced.
Promise me, Danial, that if anything happens, you call me, okay? With Miss Tuffoi's permission, we've put camera's all over her house to keep an eye on how she takes care of you. If anything doesn't look right, we'll come and pick you up right away, okay? again, the boy just nodded timidly, giving Janice the idea that this wasn't going to get past the introductions.
Janice drove up behind a private hangar at the starport that had been cleared for the occasion. They ascended the stairs and entered through the upper platform, 'barely two flights up' Janice found herself thinking. She stood next to Danial, who looked around curiously, but still hadn't said a word, Danial, this might be a bit scary, but I assure you no one is going to hurt you. she rested a hand on his shoulder and tried her best to look confidant.
The hangar doors started to part, and the first thing they both saw was Ronoon kneeling just beyond the entrance, looking inward. She spotted them and Janice swallowed when she felt Danial wrap his arm around her leg tightly. Ronoon ducked under the entrance and slowly stood, keeping her hands where they both could see them.
Reaching her full height in the meekest way possible, Ronoon found her head close to the rafters. The moment was both exciting and frightening for her, and judging from how Danial was hiding behind Ms. DeCouv, it was mostly the latter from his perspective. She only took a single step forward and stopped, wanting to let Danial adjust.
Janice tried speaking to the boy in the most comforting way she could, It's okay, Danial. This is Miss Tuffoi, she wants to adopt you. She's come a long way and is sacrificing a lot to give you a home, at least give her a chance. she knelt down and patted him on the shoulder, Alarians are very nice people, she's promised not to let anything happen to you.
He gave a light whimper, illustrating how frightened he was. Ronoon kept her hands visible and took another small step forward, registering the boy's reaction. The process repeated a number of times, Ronoon drawing closer and Janice reassuring the boy until she sat down in front of the walkway.
She gazed at Danial, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible, her hands in her lap and not saying a word. The boy just stared back at her, in both awe and fear, which saddened her a bit. Janice patted him and steered him in front of her, keeping her hands on his shoulders for morale support, It's okay to be a bit scared, Danial, but she only wants to do good. You can trust her, she's picked me up a few times and I'm just fine.
Danial looked up to Ronoon with puppy dog eyes, then nodded after a minute. The Alaerin returned a gentle smile, but keeping it slight as not to discourage him. When he took no action after a moment, Janice suggested, Miss Tuffoi, would it be alright for Danial to touch you? To feel you out, so to speak.
Yes, I'm completely fine with that. Ronoon whispered, but to them, her volume was still rather audible. She slowly leaned closer, turning her head to the side and offered her cheek, at first looking from the corner of her eye, but looked away when he hesitated. From her peripheral, she could see him eventually ease his arms from around his bag and lower it some before sticking out a hand as far as he could reach, taking a step every so many seconds until he reached past under the guard rail, his minute fingers brushing her skin for a second before he yanked them back.
Ronoon stifled a laugh, but the corners of her mouth turned into a small smile. She didn't react, letting him take all the time he wanted to get comfortable. The little human reached out once more, a bit less tentative than before and stroked her cheek with his fingers, a mix of wonder and timidity on his face.
After a moment of silence where Danial did little more than then press his hands and fingers against Ronoon's cheek, Ms. DeCouv spoke up, Danial...Would it be alright if Miss Tuffoi picked you up? she asked hesitantly. That caused the boy to immediately retract his hand from the alaerin's cheek and back away, again looking rather scared. It was another quiet moment until it was Ronoon's turn to break the ice, Maybe we could show him that it's alright? she asked Janice.
The human woman straightened some, but relaxed quickly, giving an understanding nod. She turned to the boy, Okay, Danial, I want you to watch. Ronoon is going to pick me up, and we're going to show you it's completely safe. after she took two steps back, she looked to the alaerin, I'm ready, Miss Tuffoi. and with that, she carefully raised a hand up and just over the guardrails. Danial recoiled and backed against the wall, but Janice held her ground as the large blue hand cupped behind her and she eased into it.
Trying to be as calm as she could manage, Janice looked to Danial as she was lifted from the platform closer to Ronoon, See Danial? I'm perfectly fine. Miss Tuffoi wouldn't...do anything to hurt you or me. The human woman hesitated as she was settled on the alaerin's shoulder. They both patiently waited and watched Danial, hoping that he would become more comfortable with the alaerin.
At length, Danial did ease from the wall, but he was still visibly uncertain. Janice felt that maybe the whole set up wasn't going to work, even though deep down she really wanted it to, Okay, Miss Tuffoi, you may put me down now. The prospective foster mother obliged, settling her gently on the platform a distance from the little boy so he wouldn't recoil from her hand again.
Janice approached him, kneeling to speak at eye-level, That didn't look bad, did it Danial? She was as gentle and careful as could be, and I'm not hurt at all. she turned her arms over as if to show there were no bruises, Now...will you let Miss Tuffoi pick you up? she asked warmly but pointedly.
She could see him shaking, apparently terrified at the prospect. Janice finally gave a crestfallen sigh, turning to the alaerin, I apologize, Miss Tuffoi, I just don't think Danial is up for this. she felt even sympathetic than she appeared.
Ronoon's face wilted and her shoulders fell. She looked down to the floor with a long defeated exhale as a tear rolled down her cheek, she looked back up to the two humans, Well, thank you for your time, Danial. You seem like such a sweet boy, I hope someone can give you a happy home soon. I really appreciate your efforts, Ms. DeCouv, I hope we can still work together. after that, she slowly rose and minded her head of the rafters and made for the entrance.
She started to duck down when Janice called to her, Miss Tuffoi! Wait! to which the alaerin turned back, seeing that Danial was turned to her, as though he had just whispered something, Danial here...says he'll go with you. the social worker smiled to her.
It was sheer force of will that kept Ronoon at a slow pace as she returned to them, kneeling down once more with tearful and excited smile. She looked at Danial hopefully, gulping nervously, Will...will you let me hold you? she asked calmly, to which he nodded very slowly.
Ronoon's hands trembled ever so slightly as they rose and positioned on either side of him. They began to cup behind, easing under him and gently scooping his shivering form off the platform until he was level with the base of her neck, but a respectful distance away. She smiled assuringly, resisting her urges to stroke him fondly with her thumb, her eyes glistening with happy tears.
With the utmost care, she adjusted his position so he was sitting on her cupped fingers of one hand, and from there she cautiously moved him onto her shoulder, where he quickly wrapped his arms around the side of her neck. Her hand remained there, sheltering him and being sure that he wouldn't fall. Her head was straight, but her eyes looked in his direction, smiling happily, then they looked to Janice, and Ronoon gave a quiet Thank you.
After a mostly uneventful flight back to her home on the alareen border colony, Vayaninu, Ronoon held her hand palm up, at level with her stomach where Danial sat huddled and gripping his bag. She was using her other hand to shield him from the all too curious eyes of her people. She knew no would ever want to hurt him, but the child seemed terrified from just her. She feared it would put him over the edge to be surrounded by alaerin so soon.
She thought to herself, Danial is the first human to live on my colony, not the first to visit, as that went to the crew of social workers that had set up the mikes and cameras in the designated areas of her home. Ronoon herself had spoken with the city council about the circumstance, as had people from the agency speaking of the delicacy and importance of this occasion. An agreement had been made between herself, the agency, and the local law enforcement were anything to happen to Danial while in her care.
After arriving at her apartment, she showed Danial around; the comfortably set up living room having a modest television, but a very impressive sound system that was spread out like a home theater, shelves stocked with pictures, statuettes, doll-like figures, and numerous knick-knacks. The kitchen was quaint but well organized, a number of interesting appliance abound.
She showed him her workshop where she seamed clothes. Since Vayaninu had pretty chilly winters, her specialty in hoods provided for her very well, but she had plenty of practice in all kinds of clothing. Afterwards, Ronoon took them to her room, where she showed him his own room in a prefabricated module, payed for by an anonymous benefactor who was very interested and supportive of her case.
To a human, it was three stories tall, but it was just under chest level to her, and a little less than that wide and long. She wasn't sure how to convert human measurements to alaerin, but the agency informed her that each story was about '18x15x9 feet. Offering Danial over 7000 square feet that he could personalize and have to himself.' Ronoon had commented that it seemed almost like a multi-level cage that the child could just seal themselves up in. The social worker laughed dismissively at first, but stopped short, the thought likely dawning on him as well. Afterwards, he assured her that it was so the child could have a place of familiarity, where he or she could interact with 'appropriately sized' comforts.
Ronoon let the boy off on top of the structure so he could enter on his own. Danial found the top floor to be the bedroom, with all manner of creature comforts such as the only television locked onto interstellar human broadcasts on the planet, the latest Video Game system from Ravana, dozens of models and toys, and stacks of human movies and music. The second floor had display cases and shelves for whatever he decided to put up, and a wall that separated that from the bathroom that had been connected to the apartment's system. The bottom floor was a game room, with a number of activities for him to entertain himself for hours at a time.
Danial was terribly excited that all of this was his; three whole rooms that he could call his own. He was starting to like having been adopted by the alaryun, she was very nice, but he was still a bit scared of her. After all, she could easily pick up a car and throw it, so what was to stop her from doing something to him?
He found his way to his bed and lay down on top of the comforter, curling up in it and resting for a while, testing out the television and finding some familiar cartoons. After about half an hour, he decided to go back out and wait for Miss Ronoon. He opened the door over the ladder and looked around, spotting the giant lady sitting on the bed exactly where she had been when she set him down.
Ronoon straightened up immediately when she saw the little trap door open up and Danial crawled out. She offered a warm and welcoming smile, I hope your room is comfortable? You have everything you need? The little boy glanced away and nodded timidly, her smile wavering a little but she bounced right back, Are you hungry? I have a container provided by the agency with a whole lot of food just for you, and they also gave me a list of your favorites.
The new alaerin foster mother held out her hands so he could climb on of his own accord, which after a moments hesitation, he did. Ronoon slowly and calmly made her way to the kitchen, depositing the child on the dining room table, near a smaller, human-sized table and chair for Danial. He took a seat while she strode to the counter and followed the instructions on the terminal so the mechanisms in the container would make him his 'Chicken nuggets and applesauce' and something humans called a 'soft drink'.
It was only moments before a tray slid out with a plate and a can of drink. Ronoon awkwardly grabbed it with a finger and thumb, carefully bringing it to Danial and sliding it onto the table for him, a set of utensils provided with his plate. She didn't linger, the alaerin didn't want to impose on the boy as he ate, so she busied herself with making her own meal; slicing fruit, pouring tea, and cooking a serving of meat. She kept an eye out for him, watching if he ever needed anything.
She set her plate on the table, but didn't start, If you're done, would you like to go back to your room while I eat? Danial lowered his head head a little guiltily, Don't worry, it's your first day here, you don't need to try and be nice. she gave a heartfelt smile, If you'd rather spend some time alone until you're comfortable with me, that's fine.
Danial lifted his head up to look at her, his anxious face relaxing some before glancing off and nodding. Ronoon offered her hand and took him to his compartment, gently setting him on top. As she started to back away, If you need anything, just call for me. I have very good hearing, she stated with a smile, turning her head and tapping her long ear.
He sat down on top the three story structure, watching her step back into the hall until he could no longer see her. Danial shifted a bit, looking around the massive room. He was in awe at just how big everything looked, but he also felt small and vulnerable, out of place like he didn't belong there. He curled up a bit, glancing around the room and feeling alone.
It was some time later that a peculiar sound caught his attention. He looked around but didn't see anything. It continued and eventually Danial heard it coming from the opposite side of the compartment, getting louder. It was a bristling noise that had a very odd rhythm, but also vaguely familiar. He took a step closer but froze in terror as something started to climb over the edge.
It was a long, spindly leg, covered in red and purple hairs, and soon enough, several more appeared as a massive bulb of a body rose from beneath the edge. The central mass was covered in the red and purple hairs, the front covered with beady black eyes and a pair of scissor-like mandibles. Each leg was longer that he was tall, but it wouldn't have been as tall as him if he stood up.
However, Danial was too scared to even breathe for a second or two, but the thing started to move again, towards him. His voice rattled and words didn't form as he fell to his side, covering his head. He tried again and again to call Miss Ronoon, M-m-mi...Ra-roo-rara...m-m-mmra....M-MOMMY!!!
At the time, Ronoon was washing her plate, the faucet running, but through that she heard Danial screaming. She stiffened for a split-second, a whole knot of emotions hitting her at the fright in his voice. She released the plate in mid-air, already in the hall by the time it hit the ground, knocking into the wall and dropping a picture or two as she gunned for the bedroom. She skidded to a halt and locked onto a shape on the compartment, slowly encroaching on Danial.
Her first thought was to swat it away, but as she approached, she identified it as a harmless fruit bug. They were big, and a little poisonous, but only to its predators, and otherwise perfectly docile. How she'd get one in the house once a month was beyond her, but from that moment on Ronoon had a reason to look for whatever hole it had come from and keep them out.
It was almost right on top of the terrified child when she reached down and wrapped her fingers around its soft, hairy body mass. She strode quickly to the window and opened it, setting it on the sill outside and closing the window behind it. Ronoon brushed her hand on her shirt and returned to Danial as he whimpered and sobbed in fear.
Sh-sh-sh...It's okay...it can't hurt you. Calm down, Danial, it's gone now. she held him against her cheek, shushing him calmly and rocking back and forth. He held himself against her, sobbing and shaking, pressing his face into her cheek as he tried to hide from the skittering monster.
Ronoon continued to rock back and forth, starting to hum a light tune she didn't remember at first, but she soon realized it was the same tune her parents hummed when she was frightened. She shed a tear, overwhelmed by this moment that she became a true mother, and willing to go any length for her child.