Disclaimer: The series characters appearing or mentioned in this story all belong to Roddenberry-Kirschner, among others. (Miranda, the school nurse, and the principal do belong to me, but that's about it.)

Author's Notes: This is set second season, some point after the episode "Redemption" (episode 8). A slight bit of swearing occurs (PG rating). Miranda's plight is somewhat based on my own, but she is not me.

by Estirose
Copyright 1998

Liam followed Da'an as the Companion walked down yet another hallway. Da'an was on yet another publicity visit for the Taelons, and since Liam was his protector, he had to go with the Companion. Today, they were at a school, and as usual, everyone seemed happy to see him. Da'an had gone from room to room, listening as the school principal talked about all the great achievements that the school had made thanks to the Taelons.

He had to admit that he felt very... odd being at the school. He was the youngest person there, being only a few weeks old, and yet everybody looked at his form and presumed he was an adult. Officially, he was Major Liam Kincaid, SI Veteran, and of those present, only Da'an knew that he wasn't what he seemed. Of course, that meant he'd never been at school, not that he'd need to, of course. The memories from his two Human parents gave him all the information he needed to live and blend in with humanity.

Not for the first time, however, he wondered what it would have been like for all of his parents to be alive. He'd seen the tapes of Ha'gel's last few minutes before joining the void, and wondered what would have happened if the police hadn't come in, and Boone had had a chance to persuade Ha'gel to join the Liberation. As it was, he'd been raised by people not at all related to him, with Da'an trying his best to fill the gaps left by Ha'gel. Not that Da'an wasn't a good teacher in his own way, but he wasn't Kimera, and no matter how much he loved people like Augur and Dr. Park, they weren't his parents. He'd much rather be with Ha'gel and possibly his mother, with Boone fulfilling this role as he always had, instead of mourning the loss of two of his parents within the last few months.

Da'an stopped suddenly, and Liam looked to see what had caught his attention. A little girl, about six or seven, was sitting in a chair by a door labeled "Nurse's Office", her tear-streaked face and scraped knees giving indication to why she was there. Da'an started kneeling, and she looked up, her silent crying interrupted by a look of surprise and awe on her face. Da'an smiled gently at her, and she smiled back, beaming at the Companion as if nothing had happened to her.

At that point, the noisy clatter of shoes indicated the arrival of the Nurse, and the little girl was bundled into the nurse's office. Da'an turned to the principal and asked, "Why is she injured?"

The principal, who had been smiling all morning, looked saddened. "We still have a few discipline problems here, and she seems to be a favorite target for them. I think it's because she's never learned to defend herself in any way."

"And why do these... children target her?" Da'an asked. Liam wondered if Da'an was truly being naive, despite several years on this planet, or if he was trying to make a point.

"Race, Looks, Intelligence. It really doesn't matter. If race wasn't a problem, they'd target her for wearing glasses, or being smart, or whatever. No matter what your people have done to help us put hate behind us, not all of us have learned."

Da'an smiled gently, and the principal looked suddenly less nervous. "We are aware of your problems with hate," the Companion said. "It is my hope that a situation that has occurred today will someday cease to exist."

The principal nodded. Liam couldn't help but marvel at the way Da'an put her at ease, since sometimes it seemed that he couldn't say anything without annoying everyone within earshot. Of course, the words didn't ring entirely true to him, even if it was Da'an saying them. Despite Da'an's desire to genuinely help humanity with their problems, there were far too many Taelons out there whose only interest in helping humanity to stop killing itself was to make sure that humans could fight the Jaridians for them.

Da'an and the principal were beginning to walk away again, and Liam found himself torn between protecting his mentor and his desire to maybe help this little girl if he could. At least he could do *something* right that way. He grinned as Agent Lassiter, part of the security force, came out of the bathroom. It seemed luck was with him. He caught the Agent's eye, and Lassiter came towards him, a questioning look on his face. "Yes, sir?" he asked.

"Keep an eye on Da'an for me. I'll be right back."

The Agent nodded, hurrying off towards the Companion and the principal, as Liam looked at the open door. It seemed that the conversation had lasted longer than he thought, for the little girl was coming out of the nurses' office, followed by the nurse. The little girl looked around, disappointed, as if expecting someone to be there who wasn't. "Did I miss?" she asked.

Liam nodded. "Are you okay?"

"Just Matt being stupid again and calling me a freak 'cause he doesn't like mom n' dad. I told him not to be stupid and he did this to me."

"Oh. You know what?" Liam asked.

"What?" the little girl asked back, clearly wondering where this was going.

"I think he's afraid of you."

The little girl smiled a little at this, but soon went back to frowning. "That's what mom n' dad say, but it doesn't seem to help when he pushes me."

"Trust me, I know," Liam said. "People are afraid of difference. My parents are very different from each other, and when they got together, people got scared. But I'm okay, and you will be too. Matt and others will learn not to be so stupid about differences. But you already know how stupid it is, and not to be scared, so you're stronger than they are. You just have to keep that in mind."

"You're sure?" the little girl asked.

"I'm sure," Liam said, and she smiled.

Just then, the nurse spoke up. "Miranda, time to go back to class."

"'Kay. Gotta go!" Miranda said. She skipped off.

Liam found the nurse watching him quietly. "Thanks. That may have all been BS, but I think it helped."

"It's true," he insisted. "I know what it's like. It was the least I could do."

The nurse nodded. "I think she'll remember it now."

"I hope so," Liam said. He realized that Da'an was probably wondering where he was. "I'd better go now."

The nurse gave him a small smile. "Yes, I'd guess they're wondering where you went to. Have a good day."

"You, too," he said, and really meant it.


Earth: Final Conflict fanfic