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Favors And Visions

Favors and Visions, part one
D'Alaire — 17 Sep 1998, 12:21 AM

Madame D'Alaireux led her horse, slowly but surely, around the back of the town buildings, B'Elanna by her side still shucking away the hay, and back to her wagon at the end of the row.

Timmy was still selling, and doing very well with his "two years in the jungle, traveling via vines" story, and the crowd couldn't get enough of his inspired delivery. Madame D'Alaireux looked then spotted what she was really looking for, leaning against a tree and playing cat's cradle.

"Baktag!" she whispered loudly as she tied off her horse.

"Mmm?" looking, he gimped over, expectant.

"Provide a diversion," she told him and slipped a little bisquit from her pocket into his hand.

Gobbling it up -- "Mrmm! Ruby Snacks!" -- he hobbled away to delight the croud with some antics the other way.

B'Elanna drew her head back at the sight. "Look, this is really kind of you, Ma'am, but you don't need to go through all this fuss. Really, I'm--"

"Madamoiselle, your blowse is missing three buttons and you have hickeys all over your neck." B'Elanna's eyes shot wide as her hand flew to her throat. "Now come, before Baktag wears off. He's really high-maintenance, you know."

Allowing the strange woman to take her hand, B'Elanna followed her into the back of the trailer, and stared when she crawled up inside. It was not what she'd expected from a fortune teller's...home. Oh sure, there were lots of strange oraments on the wallm but a nice victrola sat in the corner on an ornate table, royal-looking chairs in one corner, and a gothic candleabra between them. A long cushion layed in the back, presumably a bed; her dark green bedcurtains were held back by fancy rope with long tassles. On one wall, there was nothing but books.

"Very nice," B'Elanna said, watching the woman disarm herself then pour two glasses of water. At the lady's gesture, she sat, accepted the water, then a hand mirror. B'Elanna gasped. "Oh, daddy's gonna kill me!"

"They can be covered up, dear. I have balms that will hide them, herbs that will heal them. Now, slip off your blowse and I'll get some buttons. You do have a race to ride later, no? We should not dally too long."

Nodding, B'Elanna put aside her water and did as the lady suggested.

Outside, they could hear Timmy going into his final pitch as Madame D'Alaireux sewed and B'Elanna dabbed. "All things in this life are meant to flow past," the lady suddenly said, catching the other woman's dark eyes. "It is the way, B'Elanna. There will always be turmoil in the water of life, while at the same time the great expanse, like the sea, is ever-connected, the past, the present, the future. You lover faces turmoil today from all those directions, but all water flows, as will that."

"It's because of my father, isn't it?" B'Elanna said. "He never could forgive Tom, said no matter what he did, Tom would always go back to bad, 'cause that's just his sort. I dunno...I don't believe that anymore, but I know daddy thinks he's doing right."

Madame D'Alaireux smiled. "You father protects you. The spring of his life was poisoned, causing his bite to be bitter. He is a good man, of course, though too much of the river that bore him. Your Tom is a good man too, who, I see, in his father's shadow was poisoned. I see him bearing the cross of his shame, stepping heavily in heart with his head held high. Yes, I have seen this...I have felt it."

Favors and Visions, part 2
D'Alaire — 17 Sep 1998, 12:35 AM

Madame D'Alaireux turned a knowing look to B'Elanna as she cut a piece of thread with her teeth. "I see a noble purpose in his aura, a dignity many do not see. But you do, don't you?...He will never betray you. Still, it is a precarious post you try to walk upon."

B'Elanna looked back into the mirror, applied more balm Mercy! I look like Intrepid's bit, all right! But I don't remember Tom biting me that much! she thought, but said, "I don't know what you're talking about. If Daddy and Tom want to fight like a couple of cocks in a pen, that's their business."

"But you love them both. You cannot tell me it is not a strain upon your happiness to see them ill at ease with each other." Trying off the last button, she gave the blowse a shake. "There, now let's see about the back of your neck."

B'Elanna rolled her eyes as the lady sat behind her. "Thanks."

Madame D'Alaireux began to deftly apply the balm to the young lady's skin, peering around at her. "Tell me, have you accepted Tom's offer yet?"


"To go to the Leolo Root Ball."

B'Elanna swung around and stared hard at her. "How did you--? Has Tom been talking to you?"

She smiled. "Ah, so he did ask and you haven't accepted. No, dear, I have never spoken with him before. B'Elanna, go. You need to be there. -- Don't ask why, as I don't know myself. But I have seen you there, felt your presence, your need to go, for all of those you love and care about, and for yourself."

B'Elanna shurgged, turning back around. "Well, I can't go. I've got nothing to wear, and there's nothing left in the shops by now except those horrible dresses Miss Jenny flaunts around in."

Again, the lady smiled, smoothing out the balm. "So you went shopping?"

B'Elanna flushed, grit her teeth, sighing impatiently. "I was only passing by while going with Tom to the jail."

Madame D'Alaireux was not convinced. "Then perhaps I might lend you one of mine? You are much shorter than I, but this dress has always been too small on me." She stood and moved to the back of the wagon. Lifting the cushion, she pulled from a compartment a deep blue dress, and it up to display its high collar and cutaway sleeves. "Well?"

B'Elanna couldn't help but grin. Unlike many of the flouncy dresses the other ladies wore, the simple chintz gown was sleekly cut, tailored very handsomely -- she might even ride in such a well-styled dress -- and, in an unusual way, classic.

And in truth, she knew she wanted to go, to dress up pretty and be among people for a while. Only her lack of sucess with those ladylike things had ever made her feel awkward at such events. She'd been embarrassed before, years ago, trying to be like them, and never submitted herself to it again.

But Tom's invitation was tempting, not only because she really did want to be there with him, to feel his strong hands on her waist, guiding her in the dance, but knowing the other ladies would be clawing all over him if she wasn't there. Nothing would give B'Elanna more satisfaction than to stand by his side and watch those gossips chew their cud.

Those thoughts making her smile grow, B'Elanna gave her a nod. "I'm much obliged, Madame D'Alaireux."

"Please, call me D'A. And if you like it so much, it's yours --no, no, dear, it will never fit me. You should have it."

Favors and Visions, part 3
D'Alaire — 17 Sep 1998, 12:48 AM

Gently laying the dress on the young lady's lap, she turned her stare once more. "Now on another note, I have one last piece of advice for you."

"What's that?"

Madame D'Alaireux's grin turned down a bit. "I have seen some strange forces at work here today. This race will be fraught with hazzard."

"That's no surprise when the Kazon are in town," B'Elanna sneered. "They're always up to dirty tricks."

The Madame nodded. "If for any reason your lover cannot race today, B'Elanna, you must ride Intrepid."

B'Elanna jumped up, a surge of protectiveness dashing through her. "What?! But we worked so hard with Liberty...Nothing's going to happen to Tom, is there? Don't just look at me like that! Tell me!"

"Everything that is to gravely injure him already has happened." Madame D'Alaireux placed her soft hand on B'Elanna's arm. "I do not know what is to come. But if Tom does not race today, Intrepid will keep you safe. Liberty is a fine horse -- I saw you walking her -- but she will not be safe in this race if Tom does not ride. You do understand?"

B'Elanna took a difficult calming breath. "I wouldn't let anything happen to Liberty. And even if I don't really believe in soothsaying, I'm not about to take the chance of either of them gettin' hurt."

"Then you will ride Tom's stallion, yes? If it comes to that? And then you will go to the ball? Will you do only this, at not cost of your own....I'll even throw in a fortune telling for you both -- free of charge."

B'Elanna met the lady's kind but steady stare, and almost was mesmerized by it, and she couldn't help but think that maybe Tom was a little right about those fortune tellers. She'd already seen and done so much -- just happened by when B'Elanna was mussed up, sneaking her away from the town's eyes to get repaired, then all the things she said about Tom and her daddy...and the dress...and her horse...

"Okay," she said, wavering only a little. "I'll do it."

Madame D'Alaireux kissed B'Elanna's cheek and moved to fetch her blowse from the chair. "Then perhaps you would like to get dressed, Miss B'Elanna," she said, handing the shirt to her.

B'Elanna nodded and started getting her blowse on, turning away from the door hastily when she heard someone knocking.

Madame D'Alaireux opened the door slightly, leaned her head out.

It was Timmy. "I'm off for the tavern now, Madame, if you don't need me."

Madame D'Alaireux, feeling generous all the sudden, sighed and smiled. Have fun, Timmy. And tell Baktag on your way to make me some Java. I feel I'd like a sip just now."

"Right. And what a conicedence you said that! I saw that Qwai-chang guy coming this way just a few minutes ago."

A pause.

"Send him to me," Madame D'Alaireux said quietly, and shut the door. Looking at B'Elanna again, she gestured to the chair. "I believe you will want to stay a moment longer, Madamoiselle. I feel his adventures will weigh well on your being, and that of others...the ropes tied too tightly, like a noose, will unravel with his words."

B'Elanna scowled, but seeing the lady's kind smile reappear, and maybe more for her own curiosity, she did sit. There was plenty of time left 'till the race, and she hadn't heard anyone calling for her yet.

Besides, she thought, there's something about this woman that's awfully familiar. Might as well stick around while I can, maybe figure it out.

"May I have another glass of water...D'A?"