After a hectic arrival back in Esseles with
Melickielickie, Ewwiekewwieikkie, Callista, and Bruce,
Sierra Rodney had managed to get *everyone* into bed by
a decent hour. She was very happy when she stepped in
blue fur on the way back to her bedroom. It simply
wasn't home without blue fur. As she turned into her
bedroom, she eyed Bruce. He was passed out in his
bassinet. He was so tired from meeting new people that
he had even managed to stay inside of his baby burrito.
Sierra was feeling extra happy. After a trip to Onderon,
everyone would be back. Mug and Iyah's wedding had put
her in a lovey mood...and who better to be lovey with
then her husband? She veered into the refresher to start
a bath for them, programming the water to shut off once
it was full, then she headed out into the balcony off of
their bedroom. The night had settled in some time ago
over Esseles. To her surprise, she noticed that there
were fireflies lingering around the balcony. It looked
*beautiful*. She turned, sitting down on the bench
swing. She waited for her husband to join her in a
pre-bath snuggle session.
As Claudius debarked the shuttle he noticed that
Sierra was back from New Alderaan already, which put a
spring in his step. Not only would that mean Sierra was
back, but it also meant that Ewwiekewwieikkie and
Melickielickie were back also ... not to mention his
son. As he entered the estate he was both glad and sad
to see Sierra had already gotten the girls to bed. It
would take a day for him to discover that Callista was
back as well. He ascended the stairs carefully, before
moving to his bedroom ... only no Sierra. He looked
around carefully until he noticed her out on the
balcony. He quickly made his way out to join her, moving
to sit beside her on the swing. "I missed you. I always
get nervous when you go to that Rebel world," he said,
as he leaned into her. "If the Empire finds out you've
been there they could execute you for treason. If the
Rebels discover you they could charge you as a war
criminal or use you against me," he said, as he worried,
before noticing the fireflies. "Beautiful evening," he
said to her, as he wrapped his arm around hers, trying
to be more positive.
Sierra wore a smile on her face. She had hoped to be
back from New Alderaan before bedtime. The thought of
him sleeping in an empty bed did not please her. She was
glad to be home, and happy that he was home. "I miss you
too, my love." She scooted closer to him. She heard his
worries and she showed she understood with a nod of her
head. "I know, I know the risks. Callista is with us
again, as is El-Nay. When the time comes to return her
to her parents, El-Nay will go, not me." She tried to
monetarily soothe his concerns while nuzzling herself
close to him. "It is. I thought it would be nice to sit
out here with you before we have forced relaxation time
in the bath." She knew how stressed he was with
everything going on. It was her top priority to make
home a sanctuary from that. "I'm sorry I didn't come
back sooner. When I arrived, Mug informed me that he was
getting married and asked if I'd stay. You would have
been so proud, Claudius. Jelena officiated and she did a
beautiful job." She snickered. "I recorded that part so
you can watch it. Don't tell."
"Callista and El-Nay are back too?" Claudius asked,
realizing that once again the estate was positively
overflowing. Suddenly the tea house seemed like a very
good idea. The news that only El-Nay would be returning
Callista did give him some relief. "A bath? What a
lovely thought," he said to her, as he leaned his face
in towards hers and placed a kiss upon her cheek. "Mug
and Iyah got married? And Jelena performed the
ceremony?!" he asked, sounding quite surprised. The
Galactic Civil War had caused him to miss another family
moment. "Who all was there?" he asked, suddenly sounding
quite jealous, while he ... you guessed it ... pouted.
She nodded her head happily. "Yes. Callista even wore
the tiara you gave her. Ewwiekewwieikkie ate some
flowers and was acting strange... We'll need to keep an
eye on her tomorrow." Sierra wondered if she should
check on her during the night or not. "A lot of people
were there. Marcus and Zara came. Doctor Tohan and
Doctor Bailo too...he seems to be doing *much* better,
by the way. I saw Kat, that old Alderaan guard... Ah,
and Gaius and his child made a surprise appearance. He
was blitzed out of his mind." She sighed. She rested her
hand on his leg. "I'm sorry you couldn't be there, my
love. I thought of you. The whole ordeal only made me
want to race home that much more."
The chaotic, fast paced news coming in warmed his
heart and made him smile. "Oh no," he said, but he could
not help but laugh at everyone's plight. "Marcus? Zara?
Pilaq?" he repeated, feeling as if *everyone* had been
there but him. But when the news turned to Gaius he
became utterly incensed. "Gaius is on New Alderaan?
Alive? That monster murdered my father," he reminded
her, as he snorted from his inflamed nostrils like a
nerf. "Something must be done about that," he said, as
his eyes drifted off into space. He wanted to fly there
straight away and execute the fiend, but the Rebellion
would not like that. "I'm glad you did race home," he
finally revealed to her, as her presence helped to sooth
him and calm him down.
"You'll see them all soon, you know? From what I
heard, it seems all of our family will be attending
Marcus and Zara's ball next weekend." She tensed as the
conversation turned to Gaius. She would never forget
what he had done...*all* the things he had done. With
all the babies at Mug and Iyah's wedding, she hadn't
been able to take appropriate action. She became
serious. "I will instruct El-Nay to return to New
Alderaan immediately to find him and bring him here.
Your father deserves justice. Gaius' list of crimes is
incredibly long. I'd like to see him pay." She leaned
into him to kiss his cheek. "I am too. I'm right where I
belong now." She slowly rose from the swing. She could
hear that the bath water had shut off. She offered him
her hands, playfully helping him to stand. "Let me go
order El-Nay around. Go get in the bath." She felt bad
for not retrieving Gaius immediately. She wanted to
right that wrong.
"Do we have to bring a gift?" Claudius asked,
uncertain of the protocol for such an event. "It's
alright. I know you couldn't do more. At least we know
where he is," he said to her, as the fireflies danced
around them. "El-Nay, huh? Maybe Kerrie..." he
suggested, still not having complete competence in the
Mandalorian. He rose from the swing, but not without
uttering a grunt and an old man noise. "Yes, Major," he
said, with a clumsy salute, before he moved towards the
refresher and the waiting bath. As soon as he entered
the refresher he began to strip, sliding his tired old
frame into the luxuriously warm waters of the bath. As
the warmth enveloped his body he let out a sigh of
contentment, closing his eyes and relaxing. "Hurry up
before I fall asleep!" he called to her, before allowing
his body to turn to dead weight as he let go completely.
"Isn't our presence enough of a gift?" Sierra
grinned. "No, no gift. They just want us to be there."
Sending Kerrie along with El-Nay was a good idea. There
was no way of telling how dangerous Gaius was these
days. She snickered. "That's a messy salute, cadet. I
hope I see better later!" She winked, playfully shaking
her hips as she made her way back into their bedroom.
She decided to leave the door to the balcony open.
Several fireflies followed her into their room. Sierra
stopped at her datapad, quickly drafting a message to
both El-Nay and Kerrie about the Gaius situation. When
the message was sent, she didn't waste time in hauling
rear into the refresher. "No! Don't fall asleep!" She
said, quickly stripping out of her civilian clothing.
Sierra sunk into the bathtub. The warm water moved
all around her. "Oh my," she sighed in delight. She
didn't know what it was about baths, but they made her
*very* happy. It was made all the better by Claudius'
presence. Sierra managed to keep to herself for
*minutes* before she made her way towards him, then had
him adjust until she was behind him. She started an
affectionate, loving massage at the back of his neck.
"What did I miss at work today?" She asked him.
"You did not miss a thing," Claudius informed her, as
he watched her enter the tub. "The days tend to blend
into one another up there. We weren't attacked ... so
that's progress," he said to her, as he leaned into her
massage. "Apparently I'm the one who missed everything
today," he said, genuinely feeling left out. "Was Jelena
well?" he asked, as he was still coming to terms with
the fact that both his daughters were out of the house
now. He missed them, particularly since, in their own
way, they were taking great risks.
"Ah. A tidbit of good news. That makes me anticipated
my morning meeting with Lieutenant Meham'ohoroiv'cloca
much less." She could tell he was feeling left out. She
kept him close to her while she considered waking up all
the children to happy him up. In the morning, everyone
would be happy to see him. Callista had been talking
about how excited she was to see him all the way home.
"Yes, she was well. It seems she has officially taken on
her leadership role. Knowing her, I'm sure she'll excel
at it." The massage came to a brief stop so Sierra could
wrap her arms around Claudius tight. She could hardly
wait for Zara and Marcus' ball. She'd specifically asked
Jelena to go so that Claudius could see his daughter
again. However, this was a surprise for her sweet
husband and she wasn't going to tell him. "They miss you
too, you know. When you sent me to New Alderaan to hide,
Jelena was *very* concerned for your well being."
"Well, that's very nice for her then. After this past
week it's beginning to look like she may have backed the
winning side," a defeated Claudius confided to her.
There was nothing better than an embrace from his wife,
other than of course a naked embrace from his wife while
submerged in hot water. "Well I am very concerned about
her well being too," he informed her, before leaning
down to place kisses upon the arms that were wrapped
around him. "Don't tell the girls but a flock of ducks
arrived today. The Stormtroopers nearly used them for
target practice, but I put a stop to it," he said to
her, as he recounted some other parts of his day to her.
The week had been *hard* for them. She saw how
defeated she was. One way or another, she was going to
get him on top again. She placed a kiss to his back
between his shoulder blades. "It'll all work out." She
whispered. She hoped to have better news for him after
she and Meham sat down and devised a plan. Claudius
needed some wins *now*. Sierra perked up as he told her
the story about the flock of ducks. "What?! What
*jerks*! Off with their heads!" She joked. It was so
sweet that he cared about the ducks enough to stop the
Stormtroopers from killing them one by one. "Where are
they? I want to see... I think we still have a loaf of
bread downstairs..." She was just as bad as the girls,
which is exactly why she had a sea cow at her lakehouse,
as well as a family of otters and all the creatures that
already lived there. Sierra locked herself around him,
adjusting until she could wrap her legs around him. He
wasn't going anywhere for now.
Claudius knew the bath would come to a swift ending
once he revealed the arrival of nature's newest critters
to the Rodney estate. "There's an entire flock wandering
the grounds, quacking, and setting off all the alarms to
the consternation of our security forces," he said to
her, as he prepared himself for Sierra's swift
departure. "You might as well feed them now, because
when the girls wake up there won't be a morsel of food
left to share. There'll also probably try to give 'ducky
hugs' and scare them all away," he explained to her,
with another laugh. The estate was returning to chaos
and that was fine by him.
She giggled. "I can wait..." She said, sounding like
she was trying to convince herself more than anyone
else. She laughed. 'Ducky hugs' was right on the money
with the three girls in their home. "I'll look forward
to watching them chase the ducks in the morning. That's
one way to make sure they're getting exercise, right?"
She wanted to go see the ducks, but there was something
else that drew her attention towards it. She could hear
the sounds of Bruce cooing in his bassinet. Sierra began
releasing her husband from the jaws of death. "There's
your little man. He wasn't going to let you go to bed
without saying goodnight ... or maybe he heard our ducky
talk." She inched out behind him. Before she exited the
back, she grasped his face and kissed his lips. "I love
you. Come join us soon, okay?" She slowly made her way
out of the bath and dried off. She slid lazily into a
nightgown and proceeded into their bedroom to pick up
Bruce from his bassinet. "Hi cutie." She nuzzled her
nose against his cute button nose.
"Sure. You say that now, but when the tucks turn
around and bite Melickielickie you'll be singing a
different tune," Claudius teased her, as he allowed
himself to linger in the bath a little longer.
Eventually he relented and moved to unplug the drain
before rising up to his feet. He began drying himself
off whilst Sierra changed and attended their son. With
Jelena and Drusilla both gone he realized he had lost
his family, but as he looked into the bedroom where
Sierra had Bruce he also realized he had new one.
"Coming, dear," he said to her, as he hurried into the
bedroom to join his wife and son.
Oh, she *would* be singing a different story if that
happened! She realized she needed to teach the girls
about 'duck danger' before setting them loose on the
creatures. While she changed Bruce, she sung to him
softly. "Wise men say 'only fools rush in', but I can't
help falling in love with you." She finished buttoning
up Bruce's sleeper and picked him up. Sierra came to
settle with the baby on their bed. She lay him down on
his back. "Who's mommy's cute boy?" She watched Bruce
kicking his legs happily. She looked back at her
husband, waiting for him to join the two of them. Sierra
leaned over, playfully raspberrying Bruce's tummy. The
boy let out a loud, happy shrill and smiled so bright
that they could see he had inherited his mother's
dimples. "Claudius, look what I found. Should I keep
him?" She made a playful face at the boy.
His shrills caused a chain reaction inside of
Ewwiekewwieikkie's room. First Melickielickie woke up,
then Callista, and then both girls awoke
Ewwiekewwieikkie. Melickielickie squeaked. "Daddy
hommmmeeeee!" She declared, running out of bed so
quickly that she face planted on the floor. "Eeeeee!!!"
She resumed her run towards Claudius and Sierra's room.
Melickielickie was the first to arrive on the bed.
"*Daddy*!" She said by way of annoying herself. Callista
was further behind. She was rubbing the sleep from her
eyes and dragging a bantha plushie roughly the same
weight of her body down the hallway. She, too, joined
everyone on the bed. "Uncle! We're gonna have a tea
party tomorrow! Auntie Zara got me a new, pretty dress
Ewwiekewwieikkie came in after everyone else, still
suffering from the effects of the medicinal flowers.
"I'm home!" she announced, as she emerged from the
hallway and burst forth into the bedroom. "Is there pie?
I hope there's pie," she said, as she moved towards the
bed to give hugs and licks to everyone. But then, she
froze, and her pointy ears began to twitch. "Hmm," she
said, as she brought her paw up to her chin. It was then
that she burst forward from the bed and rushed onto the
balcony. As she looked down at the ground. "Wow! Wow!
Everyone!" she cried, as she began leaping up and down,
causing the balcony to shake. She leaned forward over
the balcony so much that she very nearly fell. Despite
being on the second story she attempted to reach to the
ground, but she was about fifteen feet too short.
"Ducks!" she announced, as she wondered how she could
get down to them. Where there were ducks there was food,
"We're definitely keeping him," Claudius told Sierra,
before he heard a commotion down the hall. *Everyone*
was awake denying him a much needed tender moment with
his son, but with them gone so long he was glad to see
everyone. "Thank you for the hugs," he told an out of
sorts Ewwiekewwieikkie, before being bombarded by both
Melickielickie and Callista. "And what a wonderful dress
I'm sure it is," he told Callista, before
Ewwiekewwieikkie went running towards the balcony.
"Don't let her fall!" he cried out, as he tried to catch
up with her. "You see!" he told Sierra, as his adopted
Squib daughter nearly took a header trying to grab a
duck on the ground from the second story. There had been
a return to normalcy in the Rodney estate.