[ussbansheec] Aberdeen Rain

_Aberdeen Rain_
by Nan and Kai Ecitsuj

Nan watched the rain falling from the comfort of the huge overstuffed sofa in the living room. Aberdeen was certainly wetter than any place he'd ever lived even considering that snow covered most of Ninitchik through out its year. That moisture, though, was of the frozen sort. It fell softy or blew through on the Winds' howling. It certainly didn't make the steady drumming noise that this Aberdeen rain made. No matter, he told himself. So long as we're all warm inside and safe, it can rain all it wants.

It was late enough that everyone else was asleep. Or, to be more precise, his Nartok and the two older children were in their regeneration chambers and little Slaine was asleep in her bassinet which stood right in front of her alcove. Aileas and 5 of 12 insisted that they could respond to anything the baby needed right out of their alcove. We will, they assured him, be with her before she can cry more than a second. So he, not being at all sleepy, lay back in the living room, reading an old book while the cheery fire place kept things warm. He certainly didn't expect to hear soft, small foot steps from the door way. He twisted his head without moving but then sat up completely when he saw their eldest standing there.

"Hey, what are you doing up, Kai?" he asked quietly. Even as he said that, he could see the boy was shaking with something that certainly looked like fear in any other child. He held his arm out, inviting the boy to him. "Couldn't sleep or regen?" he asked as the small, black haired child fairly ran to him and held on as if for dear life.

"No, Amaguq," came the soft voice. He and 11 of 13, who was now named Isobel, now understood why the adults had different names. Those special titles separated them from other adults, made it known to one and all that they were their family, their own little Collective. Kai had learned that 'Amaguq' was the word for 'father' in the white haired one's native tongue and decided to use it all the time once he realized how much it pleased the kind man. "The noise is frightening."

"What noise is that, son?" Nan asked as he settled the boy on his lap. "The rain?"

"The loud ones," the boy said, shaking his head. "The ones that result from air superheated by electrical discharges."

Nan blinked for a second. "Thunder and lightning," he finally said. He hmmphed softly to himself. It was odd that the boy could give the scientific reasoning for the phenomena but still be frightened of them. "You know that we're safe in here, don't you? Warm inside and out?"

Kai gave a tiny nod. "It's scary, though. It won't let me ignore it enough to sleep or to go to my alcove."

"Ah, well, I think I can help you with that," Nan said gently. He reclined full length on the sofa then pulled the boy next to him, cuddling him to his side. "You stay here with me until you're not scared any more then. I'll teach you something about the lightning and thunder if you'd like."

"Please, Amaguq?" Kai asked, craning his neck to look up at him. This sort was not known to the Collective and for that Kai was glad. This one was too loving and kind for that. He smiled at him, knowing it would please him. "Please?"

"Silly Qimugkauyar," Nan chuckled as he ruffled the straight black hair. "Of course. Watch the lightning, Kai. When you see it, count the seconds before you hear thunder. For each second you count, that is how far away the center of the storm is."

"Really?" He didn't really doubt Amaguq especially since there was no weather in a Borg cube.

"Yes, really. Look! See, there went a flash so start counting," Nan told him. He counted to himself as well while he watched Kai's mouth counted. Small arms tightened about his neck as he reached the count of six. Patting the little back to soothe any fears, he asked, "How far did you count?"

"Six miles," Kai reported, feeling a warm swell as Nan grinned and nodded. "Can we count more now?"

"Of course, my Qimugkauyar.  Just get comfortable," Nan told him.

Kai reached small hands toward the end of the sofa and pulled the soft woolen blanket up over them, giggling slightly when the fringes tickled his nose. Nan grinned widely as the boy snuggled into his arms then kissed him on the top of his head. "Now," he began in his Storyteller's voice, "I know of a people who lived on the North American continent a long time ago who said that the noise thunder makes comes from dwarves who live in the mountains near them."

Kai's face screwed up in confusion. "Very small people do not make thunder," he stated.

"No, they certainly do not but their legend has it that a man like them wandered into those mountains and happened upon those dwarves playing a game of nine pins. That man, whose name was Rip Van Winkle, realized that the noise that the balls made as they were rolled along the mountains was the noise of thunder," Nan explained.

"That does not make sense," Kai stated. He was about to say more but a flash of lightning interrupted and he made sure to start counting. Soon there was a rumbling of thunder and he looked up at Nan. "Eight."

"Good job, son. Maybe the storm is moving off. Now, I know that whole story sounds preposterous but such stories are a way that many people use to explain things that they don't understand."

"Do they have those kind of stories on Ninitchik?" Kai asked.

Nan bit back a smile. Kai and Izzy were sounding more and more like his Nartok every day. "We do, even though we now know why theses things really happen. We would say that thunder is the sound made by Kajutaijuq, a female giant, as she chases ice bears across the tundra."

"Why tell the stories still if they aren't true?" Kai asked.

"Because they are still a part of who we are as a people today. We remember things by telling stories, even when we remember them simply because the stories are well told," Nan explained. "You know, some day, when you and Izzy are a little older and more acclimated, you might actually enjoy stories that are make believe."

"We like your stories, Amaguq," Kai stated sleepily. It was comfortable there in Amaguq's arms, he told himself. Safe and warm. "Will you tell us more?"

Nan lifted his head. The boy's eyes were closed. Rather than wake him up, he simply made himself comfortable and they both fell asleep to the sound of Aberdeen's rain pattering on the windows.


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