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The Botantist

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Almost as soon as they move into their new house in San Francisco, Keiko removes her plants from their botanic travel units and introduces them to their new home. She is careful and cautious, dividing them up according to their needs and preferences. She takes time to ensure that those who prefer reflected light in which to grow will get it and that those incapable of tolerating a chilly breeze are well insulated from such things. She meticulously fluffs leaves and takes soil samples, remembering all the while an offhand comment that her husband had made as they were packing up to leave Deep Space Nine.

"I swear Keiko, you spend more time and energy on those plants than most people do on their families."

Miles had sounded jovial, as much as she can judge these things. Still, the comment had jarred Keiko in a way that she hadn't expected, and there had been an edge in her voice when she asked what he meant by that. But Yoshi had called out from his bedroom and then Julian and Ezri had come by with a leaving gift and by the time dinner was finished it had seemed silly to bring it up again.

Other people might have mentioned it again. Keiko has never been good at knowing what other people will do. Or caring about it, really.

She places a European fan palm against a side wall, not quite in the corner. They do better with a little more space for their luxurious fronds to spread out. She strokes those long, green tendrils a bit, enjoying the way the light smooth leaves feel between her fingers.

The truth was, it had seemed more than silly to return to Miles's thoughtless remark; it had seemed foolish, like Keiko was unnecessarily creating a conflict that she may very well not win. She wonders if she has, perhaps, squandered her capital in agreeing to move back to Earth. So much of the dynamic of her marriage in recent years has been based on her sacrifice of her career so that Miles could have his exciting frontier position on the Bajoran station. His desire to appease her, to be a husband worth giving things up for, has become as much a part of her life as waking and eating. With their relocation back home, it seems like that advantage she had held in every argument is gone now and she isn't sure if she's comfortable with that.

She also isn't sure if it's normal to think about marriages in terms of edges, capitals and advantages.

Her Chinese evergreen needs warmth and shade. It takes her a while, but she finds a high shelf in a dark corner of the kitchen where it can make its home. It probably won't need repotting until the spring, but just to be safe she'll order a new pot for it in the next size up. Something in semi-porous terra cotta. She can just put it in storage until she needs it.

Miles is late, Keiko notices. She wonders if that means that he is making friends with some of the other instructors at Starfleet Academy. She wishes he would. Miles is someone who needs friends in his life and he's been missing Julian. He thrives on socialization, the regular rotation of dinner and drinks and darts, on Holosuite programs that take multiple visits to finish, on inside jokes that no one else understands.

Keiko has never been like that, but she has never resented Miles for his needs anymore than she resents her Devil's Ivy for thriving best under florescent lights. These are simply the way things are. She wonders, though, if the Devil's Ivy ever resents her, for those times when she is unable to provide the light it loves best.

She hopes so much that it doesn't.

She lays out her indoor herb garden, checking the drainage in each of the little earthenware pots. The warm breezes and partial light in the parlor will be ideal for all of them and their nourishing fragrances will perfume the room for everyone to enjoy.

There's another possibility for why her husband is late, of course. Keiko is a scientist, and she knows about statistics. But the truth is that she believes in Miles's faithfulness the same way she believes in photosynthesis. It simply is, part of the natural workings of the world. She had done an experiment once, like one of the earliest botantists, and tried to send Miles away with a woman whom she knew he wanted. She had sat, silent and quiet and still, in her quarters for nearly half an hour, wondering if Miles was touching Kira Nerys, or kissing her, or sliding himself inside her. And then he had come home with a silly apology about confusing the shuttle schedule, as if Keiko hadn't been constantly checking with the computer for their locations.

They had stood close together in a shuttle for several minutes. And then Kira had gone and Miles had stayed and Keiko still feels tightly furled buds opening in her chest whenever she remembers it. She had trimmed petals from several of her favorite roses that night, to sprinkle on their sheets. She hadn't even regretted it.

It had occurred to her that a good scientist would probably do additional tests to prove the accuracy of her results but Keiko had felt, and still feels, that the conclusions spoke for themselves.

She opens the storage unit on her Meyer lemon tree, pleased to see that the temporal stasis was effective and the tree is still in the same state it was when she packed it. Flowers and fruit together – it's rare, but when it happens it is entirely magical.

The Meyer lemon needs a warm safe place, bathed in healthy natural light in order to continue to thrive. Keiko tenderly carries it into her bedroom and lays it in the most perfect spot she knows, right besides Miles's side of the bed.

Gently, using a special brush, she carefully hand-pollinates the blossoms. It is just an imitation of nature, of what bees would do if the tree were growing in its natural outdoor environment. Still, it will suffice. The tree is pollinated.