So I stare out at the pastoral scenery, feeling very alone despite the fact that I'm on a planet full of other humans.
The next day, as I'm recounting the story of my visit out to the odious female's farm, both Ainar and Sinath chuckle and shake their heads at the appropriate spots in the story. Rektar just frowns at me from his desk, his expression thoughtful.
I glance over at him, my mood cheerful once more. The sun is shining, Rektar's wife Lucy brought snacks in for us, and my desk is clean of paperwork. It's going to be a good day, and I won't let Rektar bring me down. "And you," I tease. "What's with that glare? What's eating at you?"
He just shakes his head, and I can tell he's thinking hard. "You know these are traumatized humans."
"So? That one is a pain in the tail is what she is, traumatized or not." I keep smiling, but I'm already deflating at the gentle rebuke in Rektar's voice. Ainar and Sinath grab cookies and make themselves scarce, heading back to their desks to pretend to work. "It's not like I showed up determined to scare her. I was helping her, remember?"
Rektar shrugs his thick shoulders. "Maybe her reactions are a trauma response. The guidebooks say that trauma can present itself in many different ways and we should consider all of them when dealing with humans that prove themselves difficult. Perhaps this human has trained herself to survive on ignorance and she's finding it a hard habit to break. I would question what sort of environment she must have experienced to bring about such a reaction, and perhaps strive for sympathy instead of getting angry at her."
"You weren't there," I say lightly. "She would try anyone's patience."
"I'm sure she would. It's just surprising to me that it's you, Khex. Everyone likes you." Rektar blinks at me, his gaze contemplative. "What is it about her that brings out the worst in you?"
"The worst," I huff, pretending to still be cheerful. "That's not my worst. Not by a long shot." I pick up a piece of documentation and pretend like I'm going to enter the notes into my data-pad, all so Rektar will stop lecturing me. In truth, he's making me feel guilty. I am the easygoing one here in the office. Rektar is enormous and quiet, and Ainar and Sinath are both reckless with youth. My wild younger years are behind me at this point and I just want to enjoy my job on a quiet, peaceful, pastoral planet. I get along great with pretty much everyone here at Port…so why can't I get along with one stubborn human?
There's something about her obstinate manner that just climbs under my skin like an insect and makes me scratch back.
And of course, now Rektar's guilting me. Maybe she is a traumatized human who plays dumb. Maybe I've been approaching her all wrong and I should apologize. Maybe I've been bullying her when I should have been practicing kindness. I chew on that thought for a while, and I hate it. I also don't know that it's wrong. For all that Rektar is shy and clueless when it comes to a lot of things, he's very gentle with the humans. I'm sure a lot of that is his friendly, outgoing human mate, Lucy, but Rektar is very gentle with them, even when they cry and cringe and panic at the sight of another blue face. He's never impatient and tries to make sure that they all feel welcome here. It's clear why he's in charge and not me.
Perhaps I need to go and apologize to the wretched creature. Make sure she hasn't gone on to burn down someone else’s property since I saw her yesterday. Try to be a good custodian. I laugh to myself at the thought. This is the job that you get when no other branch of the military wants you around. Rektar's here because he's a bastard with no familial connections. I'm here because, well, I was a bastard of a different kind when I was younger, and that reputation has followed me. Thank kef I actually like it here or I'd be miserable. I think of my younger days, when I was full of myself, not wanting to listen to anyone, lashing out at anyone that extended a friendly hand in my direction.
It makes me think of the human female. Of how small and defeated she seemed as she sat on her step and didn't get up. She'd scowled at me, sure, but her body language wasn't that of defiance. It was of fatigue. Like she was tired of everything in the universe dumping on her. I remember feeling like that, once upon a time.
Ah, kef. I'm going to have to go out and apologize.