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Favored Son

Favored Son--The Beginning
D'Alaire — 5 Oct 1998, 2:05 PM

This takes place before the Cattle Drive and after Testosterone & Estrogen

"Hey B'Elanna! You going to town?"

B'Elanna whipped around and jumped a little inside, for more reasons than one. First was that she still wasn't used to seeing him. Over four months had passed since his half-brother had brought Harry to the old Provencal, the day of the race, the fire, she and Tom claimed each other...."Yeah, Sourdough, I am. Need anything?"

"Actually," Harry said, "I, uh...Can I come with?" He begged a little with his eyes, an old trick that had somehow lost it potency during his years missing.

Reason number two for B'Elanna's jumping at his call was that, aside from Tom, who was busy on the range, she didn't need--want--company, from anyone. However, she couldn't help but sigh a little at his reaction to her glare. She knew nothing there was his fault.

She jerked her head towards the stable. "Get Libby saddled up and be quick about it." And she couldn't help but grin at Harry's happy smile. Like a kid at Christmas who'd expected coal and onions in his stocking. And then, Hurry up, hurry up...I gotta be back by supper--if not before...

Thankfully for her, the excited Harry had Libby, his favorite pony, all saddled up within mere minutes, and soon was riding by B'Elanna side at a steady pace towards town. He was grinning and he knew it, but it turned down a bit when he looked to B'Elanna only to see her profile, her dark eyes set straight ahead, looking either distracted or angry--he couldn't tell which.

He swallowed before speaking. "So, Magpie," he said, trying to be light and failing, "what are you going to town for?"

"Does everybody have to know my personal business?" she snapped, darting a stare at him. "First Pa, then Kes, now you. Can't I go to town anymore without someone thinking something about it?"

Harry pulled back. "Sorry I asked. I was...just trying to talk."

B'Elanna growled, more to herself, and shook her head. "No, Harry, I'm the one who's sorry. Really. I'm just not going to be very good company today. I'm feeling a bit...touchy." She saw him nod, and directed her eyes ahead again. "I just have to pick up a coat I had tailored."

"A new coat, huh? Where'd you buy it?"

"Annie gave it to me, but it needed some work, so I took it to Mister Carey."

"Oh." And suddenly, the conversation died as quickly as it started. B'Elanna just wasn't in the mood for small talk--as if she ever had been one for it.

It'd been hard for Harry since he'd gotten back. His brother and the foreman's daughter, both his best friends, were obviously pleased and happy to have him home again, but they didn't seem to have time for him like they did before.

It was easier way back when, when Tom was in trouble and B'Elanna...well, when B'Elanna simply was trouble. He had played the councellor to them both, spent lots of time with them. But they'd grown up a lot since he'd gone away, and though they had both made time for him in their spare time, Harry of late felt more like a pest.

Well he admitted to himself, I have been a pest, following them around when I'm working with them and walking in on their dinners together when they're just trying to get away for a while. Tom's really trying not to hit me with the door, though he seemed pretty irked last week--but that dinner just smelled so good, I had to ask...And then there was the time I followed them into the stable at just the wrong time--Lucky B'Elanna didn't kill me. That saber she threw came pretty close.

Needless to say, Harry felt out of place, and wondered what he could do to correct that. What I need is my own life, he knew. Playing clarinet at the opera house just isn't doing it...If only I were more like Tom, or Mister Torres. They certainly have a lot more fun than I do.

RE: Favored Son--The Beginning, part 2
D'Alaire — 5 Oct 1998, 2:11 PM

B'Elanna pointed only her eyes Harry's way when the younger man sighed, and she took a slow breath. She didn't want to hurt his feelings, but she really didn't want to talk to him, either. She knew Tom had effectively clammed up, too. Harry had a way of drilling out information once he got a sniff of blood, and couldn't keep a secret to save his life.

Since she and Tom had agreed for her plan's sake that Annie was going to be their only confidant for as long as they could manage that, B'Elanna knew she'd have to stay careful with Tom's little brother for a while longer.

So, for that reason alone, B'Elanna held her tongue, cursing herself for feeling guilty about it all the way into town. However, when they did cross through the mainway, dismounted Liberty and gave her a pat, she did manage a smile for Harry's benefit.

"You want to come in, Soudough? Or are you going to wait?"

Harry, seemingly refreshed by her effort, nodded. "Yeah, sure. I'll come with."

B'Elanna kept her smile frozen in place. That was not the answer she'd expected--or wanted. "Well, c'mon, then."

Harry followed her into the shop, grinning politely as Mister Carey fetched the tailored coat, which, once presented, drew a strange look to his face. A pleasing enough shade, like burnished gold, with black trim, prodigious pockets and pleats in the back, it was yet...huge.

"Gee, B'Elanna," he said, clearing his throat, "it almost looks like a smock."

She whipped a stare around to him. "So what if it does? I happen to like it."

Harry gulped. "I never said it was ugly it's just...uh..."

"Just what, Soudough?" Her use of his nickname was not pleasant that time.


Her glare turned to a squint. "I'll have you know that lots of ladies back east are wearing their coats like this right now," she said bluntly. "Annie says so, and so does Mister Carey. Ain't that right, Mister Carey?"

The tailor turned a little grin and nod to Harry. "I'm afraid she's right, Mister Janeway. I read it in the Daystrom Horselady's Journal. A-cut is in this winter."

Thank the mercies he's such a twerp, B'Elanna thought, rolling her eyes.

"Please, Miss Torres, try the fit...What do you think?"

B'Elanna looked in the mirror as she hooked up the front, turning in the view. Her eyes roamed up and down, she turned again, then met Carey's again. "Perfect. How much do I owe you?"

"Four bits."

Harry slumped and waited outside the door while B'Elanna got out her money. Sighing, he let his eyes drift across the street and in them he found the Provencal. A thought passed through his head, and stuck there once B'Elanna came out, wearing her new...coat, adjusting the belt hooks as she approached.

RE: Favored Son--The Beginning, part 3
D'Alaire — 5 Oct 1998, 2:14 PM

"Ready, Sourdough?" she asked, somewhat cheerier now that her errand was done with. He didn't answer at first, and after hooking her mek'leth on her belt loop, she tapped his arm. "Yoo-hoo? You ready to go home?"

"Why don't you go ahead?" Harry said. "I think I'm going to visit Qwai-chang for a while." He caught her reaction and added, "It's been a time since we've been able to visit, too long really, and--"

"Harry," B'Elanna grinned, "you're going there to look at the girlies."

"I am not! I wanna visit my brother!"

His indignation didn't faze her smile, even as she stepped down from the walkway and mounted Liberty again. "If you say so, Sourdough. But if you're not back by suppertime, I'm telling your mama on you."

Seeing his mama's "death glare" in the recesses of his memory, Harry shot a desperate look up at B'Elanna. But she was still amused, and he finally understood she was joking. He let out his breath, laughing a little. "I'll be good," he said. "I promise."

She looked down at him, a knowing look in her eyes. She and Tom had discussed that very thing the other night after supper, when they witnessed Harry all but laying prostrate before Miss Kathryn when he spilt his cordial on her dinner dress. Or regressing into stutters when he suggested to her father a pretty decent idea about regrouping the herd. She could think of a half a dozen other examples, too. Though cute sometimes, it was also annoying, if not pitiful. As Tom had put it, he had a sign on him that said, 'have gun, shoot me with it.'

She moved Liberty, up closer so she could look down at him. "Maybe being so good's your problem, Harry," she said and turned off to the path they'd come in on.

Once he was sure she was gone, Harry steeled a breath and crossed the road. He had to stop a couple times to tip his hat to a few ladies, then to pick up a rutabaga Widow Wildman had dropped, kindly greeting her as he did.

In those few exchanges, Harry's lip had found its way between his teeth, and thinking about Madame Maxine--always at the door and not too keen on him--he finally decided to go in the back way.

There, he found his brother, faithfully enough. The man had chosen to stay in Voyager City, working for the Provencal until all his debts were paid. Harry had told him he would pay the rest, but Qwai-chang politely refused. For his honor and responsibility to his younger brother, he would accept no money.

Qwai-chang was taking a break, meditating in the back court just outside the kitchen. His arms and legs were crossed into pretzels, and Harry had to wonder how Qwai-chang stayed balanced on his head for all that time without it really hurting, but shrugged it off. "Hey, Grasshopper."

Qwai-chang opened his eyes as a flicker of a grin crossed his mouth. Lowering himself from the headstand, he moved to his feet to regard his brother. "Gadfly. You are, troubled."

Harry shrugged. "Nah, I'm doing just fine. I just came by to visit, see how you're doing." Qwai-chang only nodded. "Max treating you okay?"

"Max is a, good man." He moved to sit on the ground and motioned for Harry to join him. "Tell me, brother, how things are at the, Delta Q."

Harry shrugged again. "They're great. Couldn't be better."

"Then why are you here?"

RE: Favored Son--The Beginning, part 4
D'Alaire — 5 Oct 1998, 2:16 PM

Harry opened his mouth to protest, but catching Qwai-chang's wise little look, he finally sighed. "I guess I don't know what I can do there anymore. I mean, Mama's busy with the money and running the place, Tom's got B'Elanna and who knows where they are most the time when they're not working with the herd or the horses, Mister Chakotay's got the herd and a woman, too...." Again he sighed. "I mean, I'm happy they're happy, but..."

Qwai-nodded. "They have built a life without you. They love you, are happy for you, being home. But they are, independent."

Harry nodded. "I guess I don't feel like I fit in anymore. I guess I need to find something to do with myself."

"You must find your own path," Qwai-chang agreed. He stared at his little brother a full minute, watching Harry squirm a little at the examination. Finally, he took a breath. "It has been a long time, Gadfly. But I would like to, teach you again, some of the ways you have forgotten."

Harry seemed to brighten a bit at the idea. "Really? I'd like that, Qwai-chang." He swallowed, trying to lower his voice so he'd sound more sure of himself. "I mean, I would be honored."

Qwai-chang smiled. "Then we shall start, brother. Come." He moved to his feet with a grace that proved his training, and went back into the kitchen. He went to the sink and picked up a dish from the pile sitting in the water. "Remove your coat and hat," he ordered with quiet certainty, and when the young man had obeyed, he placed the dish in his hands. "Wash them."

Harry furrowed his brow. "Huh?"

"Wash the dishes," Qwai-chang repeated, and moved his brother to stand before the sink. With his quietly guiding hands, he gave Harry the dishrag and guided his hand over the fine, French china. "Soap on, soap off....Soap on, soap off."

Harry reeled a little at that. "Uh, Grasshopper, I don't--"

"Gadfly, I am sensai now. Trust. Soap on, soap off. Three times, each side, twenty dishes, then switch hands."

Harry sighed and went to work, repeating his washing strokes aloud and a little grudgingly. Pleased, Qwai-chang returned to the court and resumed his meditation, concentrating again on the sound of migrating birds.