Responsibility? We're ducked now.
Mission 2: Heaven On Earth
Timeline: after the birthday party
The party had wrapped up and Kara, Charles, and the others save for Great Aunt Mary had taken Tayalas and her mighty haul of gifts back to their room; Tayalas sweetly sleeping in her uncle’s arms, her little blue ones wrapped around her stuffed ducky like the tentacles of a mighty kraken. She saw Estelle and Liorga ahead and called to them, “Ach! Bestie! I need ya!”
“Sounds like the Red Menace is calling, love.” Liorga laughed, “Better see what she wants now or we might wake up to her telling us.”
Estelle snickered. She didn’t remember what it was that had made Gallia storm her cabin at night, but she remembered her pouncing the wrong side of the bed and waking Liorga. “What can I do for you, my not-so-freakishly tall friend?”
“Ah need one hell of a favor, one that requires ye both.” Gallia began.
“Oh, this can’t be good.” Liorga smiled with just a hint of terror, what had Gallia gotten herself into this time?
“Are ye sure about them two, Gallia?” Great Aunt Mary asked, she could think of dozens of better candidates than a demoted Master Chief who almost got a dishonorable and the Doctor who seemed to live for pranks and defying authority, but this was Gallia’s child and she was in charge.
“Aye.” Gallia nodded, “That ah am. Ah consider these people family.”
“Very well then.” The matriarch nodded, turning to Estelle and Liorga, “Lady Lovat has spoken an’ Ah bid ye welcome, Kinsmen.”
Estelle blinked, looking from Gallia to Mary to Liorga and back to Gallia. “Are we being offered clan membership here?” This was a big deal where Estelle was from but she didn’t know enough about Gallia’s background to comprehend what was happening.
“I get the feeling with her…” Liorga said as she pointed to Mary, “that it’s a cross between that and being drafted. And what the Hell is a Lady Lovat?”
“That’s a long story.” Gallia sighed.
“It’s a saga, centuries of honor and glory to this clan.” Mary boasted, placing a hand on her grandniece’s shoulder, “An’ Ah’ll leave it ta Gallia ta tell ye. Old bones need a restin’ place. Good night, dears.” With that she turned to leave, she had already been up later than she wanted and was looking forward to a nice warm bath, she had plenty of time with them.
“Aye, so, anyway, as Ah was sayin’, Ah need ya both.” Gallia continued, producing two necklaces with a medallion of Clan Fraser’s Coat of Arms on them and presenting them to Liorga and Estelle, “Ah was hopin’ ye two mott be willin’ ta be Tayalas’ godmothers. Ya know, if’n something was ta happen ta me an’ Kara an’ mah brother Charles coudlnae step up. Mah girl, she loves ye both so much, an’ Ah know ye love ‘er just as much and wouldnae let no harm come to ‘er after Ah was gone.”
Estelle felt a lump in her throat. Taking care of a baby? Her? She wasn’t at all certain she could do this long term. Being an adult responsible for another being’s upbringing wasn’t something Estelle considered one of her best qualifications. But Gallia was right, emotional connection was probably more important than ability. Besides, if all went well, it would never happen. She looked at Liorga, hoping for an indication of what she thought about this, before responding.
“Usually that’s a one woman job.” Liorga said, “Why choose two this time?”
“Oh, that’s for Bestie’s comfort.” Gallia laughed, “We all know she cannae be trusted completely unsupervised with a baby. Shay’d go noots.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence”, Estelle laughed. “Tayalas is delightful to have around, so how can I say no?”
“You know I’m in.” Liorga smiled broadly, “I mean, I’m already planning to teach her how to be an engineer. Won’t learn that from an ops officer…”
“Oh, ya’re joost hilarious.” Gallia rolled her eyes, “Thank God shale have Estelle ta larn comedy from.”
“She’ll know how to dissect roast duck before she’ll be able to eat with a knife and fork”, Estelle grinned.
“An’ Ah know mah kid’ll be well fed.” Gallia added with a laugh, though there was legitimate comfort in that knowledge.
“Oh yeah she will.” Liorga co-signed, rubbing her own now larger waist, she’d gained several kilos since Estelle had taken over the cooking chores for her.
“And of course I’ll help you fight your custody battle, too”, Estelle said. “I’ve already prepared a statement.”
“And there’s damn near a hundred others.” Liorga chimed in, “Nobody on this ship is going to just stand down and let him take our Blueberry from you or from us.”
“An’ that’s why Ah chose ye two.” Gallia replied, tears welling up in her eyes.
Estelle gave Gallia a hug. “We’ll win this together.”
“Ah know.” Gallia nodded, wiping her eyes and remembering what Charles had said earlier; a bonny bunch of friends, indeed.
“Fights go easier when you’ve got people at your side.” Liorga added, knowing that Gallia had played a big part in getting her home on Cortic, back to Estelle.
“It’s not easy to keep a family together”, Estelle said. Recent events had proved that. “But it doesn’t stop us from trying.”
“Aye.” Gallia agreed, “Just promise we never stop fightin’ far this one.”
“Never.” Liorga reassured her, “Not until after the last breath.”
“I can be tenacious if necessary”, Estelle assured her.
“I know that better than anyone, love.” Liorga quipped, “But we should save that until our very last resort.”
“You’re a much better tactician than I am”, Estelle admitted.
Gallia sighed and laughed at Liorga’s naughty joke, glad to have these two with her until the end.
“So, when are you planning on taking Kara for that long hike across the Highlands?” Estelle asked. “You know you can leave Tayalas with us and she’ll be fine for a day or two, right?”
“We got that planned soon actually.” Gallia smiled, “An’ Ah know Tay’s gonna be rale happy ta spend time with ye.”
“I’ll try to teach her a few new words, too”, Estelle promised. “Now that she’s finally used the one you’ve been waiting for.” She smiled at Gallia. She knew why it meant so much to her friend.
“Aye, two new words nah less.” Gallia nodded proudly, “An’ neither with an ess! Mah garl’s raley comin’ ‘long.”
“Oh, what’s the other one?” Estelle asked. “I heard ‘silly mama’, but silly has an s, so…?”
“She means when she called Miran Lalor pretty.” Liorga interjected.
“Yah, that.” Gallia rolled her eyes, “Ah still cannae stond it.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Estelle wondered.
“Kara called the Captain Gorgeous, Gallia got her kilt in a bunch, that old chestnut.” Liorga laughed.
“Oh, Gallia, dear”, Estelle said. “Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re blind. And seeing other people as beautiful doesn’t mean that’s a threat to that relationship.” She put her arm around Liorga’s waist. “Just look at us, we don’t sweat it either.”
“Not me.” Liorga shrugged, “Once a girl goes bald, she never goes back.”
“Aye, so Ah’ve heard,.” Gallia snickered, Liorga was never lacking in confidence, something she wished she could say about herself.
“That’s relationship advice, in case you didn’t catch that”, Estelle winked. “Though we’d have to find something else to call you besides rowdy redhead.”
“Aye.” Gallia laughed, “Besides, not shar how Kara’d take it.”
“Well, Estelle takes it slowly.” Liorga joked, “So, there’s that approach…”
“Just be careful around any of the drinks she’ll serve”, Estelle said. “She’s recommended one to me that’s supposed to spice up my love life, which apparently she thinks I need, that’s not exactly something I’d want to put into my body.”
“Ah’ll stick ta Scotch.” Gallia said cautiously, discretion was definitely the better part of valor here.
“That’s safe enough, in moderate quantities”, Estelle agreed.
“Mod-er-ate quan-ti-ties?” Gallia sounded the words out, as though she’d never heard that phrase before, “I dinnae think Scotch comes in them.”
Estelle laughed. “Oh, we’re ducked now.”
“Speaking of ducked.” Liorga said, wrapping her arm around Estelle’s waist, “I think me and my lady are due for a private party. Wouldn’t you agree, my love?”
“Excuse us, Gallia”, Estelle said. “I need to find out more about these private party plans right away.”
“Aye, g’night.” Gallia smiled, turning to leave and spend some private time with her family, too.