The Necessity of Grief *Caitlenn Ross* It was not, she thought, because of any great need to be around people that Cait found herself descending into the throngs in New Berlin. In truth, she had no idea why she walked the streets. Damien was off and about, doing whatever Fleetie people do, Si was bopping around with her newest and bluest friend, Colin was sulking in his room back on 'Dancer, which left Cait. "I'm tired of staring at the same Engine Room," she told herself as she wandered through the light mist of a Lunar morning. Being alone didn't always appeal to most people but Cait could never be classed as the social sort and yet, as she wandered the stalls of the market, she found herself actually feeling lonely for the first time in years. If this had been peace time, she'd have gone home to Scotland, to Una and Hamish... but Hamish wasn't there and never would be again. Kids... Christ, she'd forgotten the children. Hamish had two sons, bright, boisterous, charming lads that doted on their strange Aunt whenever she was home. *I don't think I can bare the thought of seeing those joyous eyes filled with grief.* "Grief," came a deep throated voice from the stall next to the one she was perusing, "is a natural process. It hurts but it's needed to clean the spirit." Cait blinked and then scowled. "Bloody Betazoids," she muttered then stomped around to see a very tall, heavily built man with bright white hair and dark, almost black eyes. "Would you mind keeping out of my head?" "I wasn't in your head, I just sensed your preoccupation." Turning around, the old man crossed his hands over his wide chest. "Death, it kind of calls to me." "Nice, I'd say you're the one with the preoccupation then." Cait glared at him, using her anger to mask her slight, tremoring fear. "And it still doesn't stop it being an invasion of my privacy." Tapping the side of her head, she said, "In here is private, no one sees that but me." Reaching out, the old man took her finger and tapped it to the side of his own head. "In here, it is sacred but not private. The Ancients see all, as does the Great Spirit. How can I hide myself from them?" "So because some deity can see in that means everyone can?" Cait snorted as she retracted her hand and clasped it with the other firmly behind her back. "I said sacred, didn't I? There are places in the Universe where only the most privileged can go and that is because they are sacred, not because they are private." He smiled at her as if he was humouring a difficult child. "So you trespassed on sacred ground, isn't that even worse?" "I trespassed nowhere. You grieve but you're fighting it. I can feel that, whether I want to or not." Shrugging his wide shoulders, he started to wander off, still talking to her, his words carrying her forward. "The longer you stretch it out, the more poisoned and twisted your soul will become. And you need it clean, sooner rather than later, or you may not survive what is to come." "What do you mean: what is to come? You some kind of future seeing Betazoid?" Cait sped up to match pace with him. "I'm not Betazoid, I'm Tsitsistas; just as human as you are, Hotohkenestoohe," he told her. "And I don't read the future, just see the paths." "Huh? What did you call me?" She had to walk faster as he picked up the pace, leading her through the winding market and out into a square. People were dashing to work like busy little beavers, but for the most part the whole area was empty. Pausing once he reached the centre of the square, he turned around on the spot, his eyes closed and seemingly lost in thought. Just as Cait was about to ask again, he spoke. "Hotohkenestoohe means Howling Star. That is your name, Caitlenn Ross. But it is also who you are. You batter against the conventions, scream blue murder when you are shoe-horned into what is expected of you and then explode free, spitting blood when you feel smothered. You howl and you blaze like the stars." His dark eyes snapped open and he pinned her to the spot with them. "I am Nightwalker, One Who Walks Through Night. *That* is who I am, my name and my job description." "It's, er, weird to meet you, Nightwalker," Cait stuttered as she drowned in his eyes. Snorting with amusement, he inclined his head to her. "And it is weird to meet you too, Hotohkenestoohe." A sad, tired smile meandered over his face as he tilted his head to the side. "You have to grieve." "I don't know how." "Cry," he told her. "That's weak." "That's human."