_You're Fired _by Tapu Io, Rini Midorikawa, and Ariki, Pania, & Airini Ngata /"You're fired."--Donald Trump or Mr. Slate /If he stayed away from windows, Tapu Io was fine. He knew a lot of people loved to watch the stars go by but it made him sick. He let Pania's father have the windowed cabin on the way over. He didn't care if Pania said it wasn't flying. His brain told him it was and that just made him spend more time throwing up than he cared to. That aside, the trip was interesting. It was perversely amusing to see people's reactions, especially fellow Humans, at their tattoos. Even if he was looking forward to the giving the surprise he had, he was also looking forward to getting back home where it was comfortable, full of fresh air, and full of people who didn't start every time they saw him.
Ariki loved the stars, couldn't get enough of them really. His jet black hair was pulled back from a round face decorated heavily with tattoos and barely showing his age. Not that he was old, he was approaching his 45th year, and yet his baby girl had given him a granddaughter, now that really did make a man feel old. He grinned to himself as he padded over to see Tapu. The poor man looked practically grey every time he even glanced a view port.
"You even awake in there, mate?" he laughed through the door."Dead and buried from the start, pa" Tapu snorted from the sofa where he'd laid back with his feet up. "We 'bout there yet?"
"You should see the planet we just passed," Ariki grinned, padding in. "It has green seas. And that station. Crikey it's creepy."
"Tell the bloody ship to quit moving and I'll be glad to look," Tapu grumbled as he sat up slowly. "Don't have this trouble on boats you know."
"But this is a boat," Ariki told the man with a smirk. "That's what they call them. You'll be alright once we dock, the station she's on doesn't move. Well, unless you count the fact that it revolves." To emphasise, he turned his finger around and around. "Like a spinning top."
"You're a mean joker, you know that?" Tapu asked with a friendly glare. "And I don't care what this thing is, boats got water, right?"
Ariki let out a bright, deep laugh. "Just don't chunder on my when we go over, okay? Just take lots of deep breaths and remember how happy my daughter's going t'be when we tell her, right?"
"Yeah yeah, don't worry, right? Suppose I ought to have told her, though?" he asked.
"Nope. I reckon this way is much more fun," the Chief grinned, barely holding back from a giggle. "I love surprising her, she hates it, it's funny as hell."
"Yeah but I reckon this is going to be one surprise she'll be glad of," Tapu said with a smile, the first he could manage since sitting up. "That bloody bastard's dad was so helpful and then so was her ship's captain. Set me up with her aide so I could take depositions from the two Pania mentioned."
"Mason's a good guy," Ariki nodded, still grinning. "That shit threw away a toy I gave Airini so Mason got her a new one almost exactly the same. He's a really nice guy. Never did figure how he produced that stupid prick."
"Dropped on his head as a kid I say," Tapu snorted. "I was okay with him til he called us all savages in front of the little one. Wrong, just wrong."
"Pania told me," the older man growled. "I swear if I ever see that bloke again, I'll swing for him."
"I'll give you the spear I made, pa. Though I may use it if he shows up at my office again. You ought to have heard what he said," Tapu snorted.
"I've got my own spear, thanks mate," Ariki grinned, looking suddenly like a wolf. "But don't tell me what he said, I'd only end up doing something my daughter would regret."
Tapu grinned, actually feeling better by then. Pania's father was like his own: a good man who knew how to raise children. It rankled to think that Airini's father had just used Pania and was now using Airini as a pawn. Ah, no, mate, best make that past tense. "Wish there was a way to keep him off the whole country so he wouldn't foul our soil."
"We'll see what we can do," Ariki said, his eyes glittering. "You coming to see the docking? C'mon, I promise not to wind you up again."
"Aye, let's go, pa," Tapu said as he stood up very carefully. "Suppose we ought to take everything with us?"
"Sure, we can just head right over when we're docked." Then he gave the younger man a bright grin. "I'm so stoked, I can't wait! This is so much fun. I haven't been offworld in almost twenty years."
To anyone who wasn't Maori or at least Kiwi, the glee on the older man's face probably looked out of place. To Tapu, though, it was wonderful. He was glad, however, that he'd kept his mouth shut on certain matters. Just the shift of a few muscles and that laughing face could turn into the warrior's expression that said he was going to eat you. "Good that means you won't mind carrying a thing or three. I've got a bag here from the grandpa."
"I can carry more than you, boy," Ariki snorted, offering out his hand. "I'm barely middle aged you know. I swear Pania only gave me a grandchild to shock me into my first grey hair."
Tapu handed over the one satchel to him. "Just means more wisdom, mate," he said with both a smile and a respectful nod. "My own tipuna tane is still kicking strong and he's going on eighty I think. C'mon, then, let's go. We'll be that much closer to kicking that bastard out of her life."
Ariki hiked the bag up on his shoulder, his own held at his side. "I got the little putiputi a new rabbit, y'know. Daft, but I want her to have stuff from me too. The bitter part of my wonders if that bastard only threw her first one away because it came from me."
"I don't doubt the truth in that at all," Tapu said with a shake of his head. "Dopey bastard didn't have to be so mean. A person doesn't have to believe the same as everyone else but a little respect would have gone a far way. It isn't daft at all, pa, and she'll be glad t'have another."
"I was so angry when Pania told me," Ariki sighed. The view port outside the transport exit showed the station and Bajor bright and clear so he cheered up a little. "Crikey! That's beautiful. Told you it has green seas."
It wasn't spinning fast enough that Tapu could discern motion so he chanced a look. "Fantastic! Now that water I'd stick my feet in."
"Go paddling like an anklebiter," Ariki teased. "Maybe you should take Pania and Airini down for the day."
"More like the maki or terehu," Tapu said dryly. "I can swim just fine, thanks. " He completely ignored the rest of the statement even if doing so made the corner of his jaw twitch.
Ariki saw the twitch and shrugged. "Hey, you don't wanna spend time with a client, I get it. It's cool, mate. I might do it myself. I'm sure my putiputi would love the seaside, even an alien one."
Oh, very smart, Tapu, very smart, he berated himself. Make the ariki taungaroa think this isn't as personal as it really is. "Well, yeah, most of them do like the shore," he said easily enough.
"I remember Pania the first time she saw the sea," the older man said with a fond smile. "She squealed and ran out into it so fast I swear I almost had a heart attack."
"See now if people would think of that before the prisoners or those damned sheep, home would sound a nicer place to visit," Tapu said with a smirk. "As it is, I may just move office close enough to look out on the ocean."
"I like it out in the wop-wops, with the mountains and the sky," Ariki told him, watching the ship dock. "I'll stay there a while, until my daughter comes home to civilise me. She always was a city girl."
I already asked her to come home, Tapu thought with a sigh. "There's good too but don't be so civilized, pa. It isn't any fun."
"You know Re Te Tai was one of our ancestors. Now they were seriously civilising influences," he grinned. "The old man and his daughter, it's no wonder my girl's such a strong woman."
"If more of us and them would realize we could coexist without losing that, it'd be a better world. If I had a kid, I'd let him or her be what they want but hope to hell they'd keep teh ways of us," Tapu said with a shrug.
"You will." Ariki put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Just have to find you the right woman is all. She'll be out there, not all of us are lucky enough to marry the first woman we fall in love with."
Tapu nodded. He met a lot of people in the course of school and then work but the right woman, at the time, was spoken for. Now? Out of reach for the moment.
"Pania teases me for trying to set people up," Ariki chuckled. "I promise not to. Well, until we're back home." He winked just as a voice over the comm declared that they'd docked and they were free to depart. "C'mon, let's find my two ladies."
Now Tapu was curious. He quite wondered who it was that was going to greet them and not tell Pania they were there. "Yeah, let's, tipuna tane. I think the little one's going to bust a sea when she sees you."
"Do we just descend on the ship or we got ourselves an escort?" Ariki asked as they were fairly herded out by the flow of people.
"I think they're a bit too uptight to let a pair of strange blokes wander about," Tapu snorted with some amusement.
"So how we getting onboard?" Ariki peered about then suddenly spied a little oriental girl with a sign saying 'Tapu Io and Guest'. "Well I just answered that one. They make these 'Fleeters younger and younger, bloody hell."
At that, Tapu laughed out loud. "Lighten up, pa," he said brightly as he headed for the girl. "That's Ensign Midorikawa, one of the witnesses who gave me a deposition." Reaching her, he held out a hand. "Kia ora, ma'am. Ity's good to see you in person."
"Hi! Wow, you're a lot taller in person," she chimed as she shook the hand firmly. Both men looked very impressive with their facial tattoos and wide beaming smiles. It could have been quite disconcerting but she knew Tapu was a really nice man. "The Captain sends her regrets that she couldn't come in person. She's still trying to get ready for departure. We've been in dock for a few months now, what with all the refits and all. I think everyone's feeling a bit caged in. Oh hey, maybe when you're free, I can give you all a tour of the ship! I know Ms Ngata hasn't seen much, what with being a civilian and all."
Ariki couldn't stop himself, he laughed brightly and loudly. "You talk a lot, don't ya, sheila?"
Rini gave the older man a bright smile. "Only when I meet new people. Which actually happens a lot in this job, so I guess I do talk a lot all the time."
"Aye she talks a fair bit but it's all sharp. Gave a huge help you know. Ma'am, this Ariki Ngata, Ms. Ngata's dad, and our ariki taungaroa," Tapu said, giving proper deference to the man.
Rini gave the man a deep bow then straightened with a grin. "I'd say I can see the family resemblance but she might take offence."
Ariki grinned. "Yeah, she might at that. C'mon, show us the way then, can't wait to see the look on her face when she hears what Tapu here's got to say."
"Big ship," Tapu mused as he looked around. "Lot of people?""This is the station," Rini told him as she led him along the docking ring to where Tempest was docked. "It houses thousands but Tempest's just small really, not as big as the last ship I was on. Tempest really only has room for Starfleet personnel but the Captain made special arrangements for some family members and Ms Ngata."
"Don't mind me, I spent half the trip here trying not to make a bloody chundering mess," Tapu said with a smirk. "Last time I talked to Pania, she said she had other students and her daughter mentioned two friends."
"That's Jack and Lianjie. They're both really cute," Rini told him as she led them onto the ship, smiling at the Security officer on duty. "Jack's newly adopted by the Chief Nurse and Lianjie's the son of one of our Engineers."
"Jack's also the son of the Marine sergeant I told you about, pa-," Tapu said to Ariki. "True warrior sort like us."
"Pania told me about him," Ariki nodded. "He's the reason she won't come home."
"I want to meet them before we go," Tapu mused. "It'd be nice to see people in person."
"I'm sure that won't be a problem," Rini told him. "Jack's a very nice boy, very chatty. He's always fun." The pointed ahead then smiled. "Here we are. I can trust you to not run off and sabotage the ship if I just leave you here. She's in the third cabin along."
"Thanks," Tapu said with a grin before turning to look at Ariki. "After you, sir."
"No no, I insist," Ariki grinned. "After all, you're the one with the bonza news. Go on, make her day."
"Alright then," Tapu said, trying to reign in his smile without success. It was things like this, being able to make things right, that made his job so worth the aggravation. He pressed the chime then waited, hands held easily behind his back.
"Can I get it Mummy?"Pania glanced up from where she'd been planning lessons and smirked. "Sure thing, just remember to be polite."
"Promise!" The little blonde girl skipped up to the door and opened it manually. "Uncle Tapu!"
"Don't be ridiculous, Airini, he'd have told me if he was..." Pania lifted her eyes and actually gaped. "Tapu. Pa-pa-! Come on, oh my god!" She practically flew over, wrapping her arms around both men. "It's so good to see you, you have no idea."
"Te-na- ko-rua to you, too, then," Tapu said with a laugh as he returned the embrace. "I come bearing grandparents and information."
She pulled them in, not once letting either man go. "Must be good news if you're both smiling and I haven't heard about any murders."
"I'm an attorney, Pania. I know how to hide evidence," Tapu said deadpan. Pania punched him in the arm. "No kidding. Now tell."Rather than actually talk, Tapu reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a PADD. He held it out to her saying, "Read and then sign way on teh bottom." She took the PADD and walked away, frowning as she did. It told her exactly what she'd wanted for so long but... "What's the catch?"
"No catch," Tapu said gravely. "All yours, no strings, no catches, no nothing."
She read it all through again just to be sure then signed it quickly. Placing it carefully on the table, she put her arms around him and kissed him soundly. "That's for getting me my baby, helping me keep her."
Tapu gave a stifled yelp but then shut up as soon as she touched him. He was sure he was blushing underneath his complexion and tattoos but he hoped nobody noticed. "Um...yeah, no problem," he finally said.
Laughing as she patted him on the arm and let him go, she rolled her eyes. "And there I thought that's what you'd want," she chuckled despite how awkward she felt inside for embarrassing him. "So, Pa-pa-, how long you staying for?"
Ariki was chuckling at the boy's discomfort as he cuddled his granddaughter. "Oh, as long as an old man can get away with."
"Get out of it, you're barely 45," Pania snorted. "Didn't say I didn't either," Tapu snorted with a half smile."No, the yelp kinda gave it away." She shrugged. "It's fine, sorry for freaking you out."
"Why did Mummy freak you out, Uncle Tapu?" Airini asked as she cuddled her grandpa.
"She didn't, doll," Tapu said. "She startled me is all. Seriously, Pania.""The nice Marine man calls me doll too," Airini informed him. "He has pretty blue eyes."
"Well now, he sounds like a really nice guy," Ariki said as he settled both himself and his girl on the sofa. "I'll have to say thank you for sure."
"Why?" "Because he helped your Mummy protect," the older man told her.Pania smiled as she watched her daughter interrogate her father then she turned back to Tapu and touched his still warm cheek. In a soft voice so they wouldn't be overheard, she asked, "I'm really sorry, Tapu. I didn't mean to put you on edge, I'm just so happy I've finally got her."
"S'okay but all you have to do is say two words and we can talk all you want about things," he said just as softly.
"Which two are that?" she asked carefully."You're fired'," he said plainly. "I have ethics and they won't let me get involved with a client."
She sighed then kissed his cheek. "Now that's a shame. How air tight is this contract? If I fire you, is it gonna bite me on the arse?"
"You know what? That arsehole's own father sold him up teh bloody river. He hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of shaking this paperwork," Tapu stated. "I even got some Starfleet judiciary to look it over. Nice old Vulcan bloke."
"Then you, sir, are fired," she grinned.Tapu's response was simple: he kissed her rather soundly. Then he let her go, a grin on his face. "I been wanting to do that for months."
Her cheeks flushed and she couldn't stop grinning. "Huh... Really?""Yeah, really but I couldn't take the chance of botching this case by even a hair," he explained.
"Thanks," she whispered. "You've no idea how good it is to know she's my little girl and he can't touch her ever again."
"Never," Tapu said soundly. "Call me over confident and self important but I know I have it all air tight."
"Well then you just get to stay the night," she teased, her eyes glittering."What're you two yacking about over there?" Ariki called. "Look very comfy, don't they, Rini?"
"Yeah, they should come here and keep us company!" Airini yelled."We're talking 'bout alibis and where the bodies are buried, pa-," Tapu said with a wink.
"Mmmm, did she fire you yet?" the older man teased. "I want a proper son in law, y'know."
Tapu kept his arm around Pania's waist as he walked her back over to them. "Knew about that did you, pa-?"
"Despite this little one here," Ariki cuddled his granddaughter, "my Pania doesn't tend to kiss any old po-hauhau. She's got taste and just a little bit of her mother's style."
"Not much, Pa-pa-," she snorted. "But yeah, a little.""So when my girl kisses a bloke, it's not just a thank you, it means more." He beamed at them. "It's a good thing. Nice to see her with a traditional man."
"Nah, I'm a special kind of po-hauhau," Tapu said with a chuckle. "What d'you think, Rini?"
Airini stared at how her Uncle held her Mummy, it looked like how her Daddy held that mean girlfriend he had. Did this mean Uncle Tapu was suddenly going to turn mean? Was he going to throw her toys away? Her bottom lip quivered and one fat tear trickled out of her eye. "No! Don't turn mean and throw my toys away! You can't have them!"
"Ah, no, no, ko-," Tapu said, releasing Pania so that he could sit on the floor in front of her. "I don't chuck anyone's toys and I especially wouldn't take yours. In fact, I know your grandpa has more for you at home and maybe, just maybe, so does tipuna ta-ne."
"You're going to be Mummy's boyfriend and you're going to turn mean," the girl cried.
Ariki cuddled her, kissing the side of her head. "Aww, putiputi, he won't turn mean. He's a very nice man, I like him and I only like really nice people, you know that."
"And I have a great deal of respect for your tipuna ta-ne and our people, doll," Tapu added. "Good men help children, protect them and bring them up right."
She sniffed a few more times. "Gunny Muse calls me doll," she said softly, "and Jack thinks he's a really nice man. Jack's really nice so I guess you are too." She gave him a sort of frowning smile then added for good measure, "Don't throw my toys away."
"I promise, Rini," Tapu said gravely. He looekd her in the eye just the same as he would any adult. "I have my own toys so I would never harm yours."
"You have toys? But you're all grown up and stuff. I thought old people didn't have toys any more," the girl said.
"Oh sure, I have stuff but it's big kid stuff y'know? I make spears and boats when I can," Tapu explained. "The spears are too dangerous for little hands."
"Mummy says spears aren't toys," the girl told him solemnly. "And neither are boats."
Pania nodded as she sat down next to her father. "That's right, little girl. But Uncle Tapu's big enough to play with things that aren't toys. Maybe when you're older, he'll teach you."
"It's not usually girl stuff but yeah, why not? My great auntie is a wicked good fisherm-woman..." Tapu said with a fond smile. "Thats one fierce lady."
"Typical gender roles has no place in this cabin," Pania told him as she reached over and poked his shoulder. "Think of this family as a place where stereotypes don't apply."
"Sure thing but give a bloke a chance, eh? I was raised that way but I'm not stuck in amber," Tapu laughed.
"What d'you think, Rini, think we should?" Pania asked, her eyes still on Tapu.
Airini swiped at her tears then settled bright blue eyes on her Uncle. "I think... If he promises to teach me how to fish when I'm grown up, then he can stay. So long as he takes care of us."
"That I can definitely promise, Airini. And when you come home, I'll introduce you to my auntie and she can show you her secret fishing spot. It's just for ladies it seems. Can you imagine that?" Tapu said with a glint in his eyes.
"Yes, because ladies are smarter than men," the little girl told him in absolute seriousness.
"Well, I have to agree with you there because the ones I know are pretty sharp," Tapu said with a nod.
"Not mean like my Daddy's mean girlfriend?""No. You seem like a smart girl, Airini, so I'll tell you what I think. The person gives a bad name to good women and doesn't deserve to be called the same thing as your mum," Tapu stated.
"Smart guy," Pania opined.Airini nodded then she slipped from her grandfather's lap and held out her hand to Tapu. "Take care of my Mummy and me. Deal?"
"Deal," Tapu said, folding his hand around hers.
-- "I like to write when I feel spiteful; it's like having a good sneeze"---D.H. Lawrence