Bird in the Cage

By Lady Rainbow

Rating: PG-13

Genres: drama family general missing scene

Keywords:

This story has been read by 1421 people.
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Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

  

Notes: The title for this story comes from a Japanese song and game called "Kagome, Kagome."

  

Kagome, Kagome                                         Kagome, kagome

Kago no nako no tori wa                              The bird in the cage.

Itsu, itsu deyaru?                                          When will you come out?

Yoake no ban ni                                             In the evening of the dawn,

Tsuru to kame ga subetta                             The crane and the turtle slipped.

Ushiro no shoumen dare?                             Who stands right behind you now?

  

A ring of children with one child in the middle, like a reverse "Duck, Duck Goose." The "bird"  has his/her eyes closed, and the children go around him/her as they sing the song. At the end, they stop, and the "bird" has to guess who's standing behind him/her. If he/she's right, then the one behind takes the "bird"'s place in the middle and the game goes on.

 

I thought "the bird in the cage" described Hoshi's childhood, since she said she was mostly alone with tutors for her language talent, and this sparked an idea. Translations for Japanese and Swahili phrases are in bold. The suffixes -san is "Mr./Mrs.",  -sama is honorfic for a Very Important Person, -chan is an affectionate name suffix, -sensei is "Professor or teacher".

Please R&R


 


July 9, 2139

 

Soft light filtered through the paper shoji and rested on Hoshi's eyelids. She opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling of her room. Blank white panels stared back at her. Then she sighed and burrowed deeper within the futon quilt. The sounds of the morning came through the rice paper door: her mother's steady stream of orders, her brother's howls of protest, and the cat's loud snuffling as it ate from its dish.

 

"Hoshi-chan, samaru ka?" (Are you awake?) Her mother's sweet voice floated from behind the shoji.

 

She groaned, but replied demurely, "Ā, samaru desu yo." (Yes, I'm awake.)

"Ii, isoguku ne!" (Good, hurry now!)

Hoshi groaned again and threw off the quilt. She sighed and padded across the tatami room to her closet. Casual clothes wouldn't do, not today of all days. She winced as she considered the set of formal kimonos hanging at eye level. Blue? Red with the cherry blossoms? White---no, not white, that was for funerals, but Hoshi was tempted to select it anyway.

The shoji door whispered open and Cousin Yuika poked her head into the room. "Hoshi, I'm here to help you with your kimono. Have you decided which one you'll wear?"

"The blue and white one," she replied in perfect English. "I think that'll do."

Yuika nodded in sympathy. At fourteen, she was Hoshi's elder cousin and her favorite by far. Usually, she was at a symposium or a laboratory with her chemistry tutor, but today, she had offered to go with Hoshi. And as usual, Cousin Yuika's kimono flowed off her body like graceful water, her hair and makeup immaculate.

"Let me help you. That obi can be such a pain to do by yourself. Besides, your mother can't complain about your appearance if we make sure there isn't anything to complain about."

"That's true," Hoshi admitted. She sighed and allowed Cousin Yuika to help her out of her nightgown and into the kimono, with all its accoutrements. Fifteen minutes later, Yuika proudly coaxed her in front of the mirror. Hoshi blinked at the stranger that stared back at her.

"Let's go. Not good to keep your mother waiting." Yuika squeezed her shoulder tenderly.

Hoshi nodded, but she worried anyway. She couldn't afford to make a bad impression today, of all days.

She forgot her nervousness as she greeted the other attendees as they arrived, took their coats and led them into the Sato-Yamazuki family compound. Hoshi spoke in French to Monsieur LeVeran, her father's number one import director. Herr Becker received the same speech in his native German, while Mwemina Fakumwe heard it in Swahili. Fakumwe nodded gravely at the ten-year old hostess.

"Asante sana, msichana mzuri."" Madame Fakumwe replied. "Thank you, my dear girl." She peered down at Hoshi through thick spectacles. "How old are you now?"

"Ten," Hoshi answered proudly.

"Shouldn't you be enjoying your own birthday party instead of being the greeter at the door?"

She smiled and said, "I am enjoying myself, Fakumwe-sama. I get to be the first one to meet and welcome everyone as they arrive."

"And where in the world did you learn Swahili? It's not the easiest language to learn."

"My tutor lent me a computer game that helped me understand the words. I made sure to study it over and over until I got them right. When I mastered that, I moved to the next level, and the next."

Fakumwe smiled, her white teeth gleaming within her dark face. "I see. You enjoy learning new languages and meeting new people. Those skills are very important."

"That's what Mama says. She wants me to study hard and make the family proud."

"I see that." A shadow passed over Fakumwe's face, then she slowly knelt down to Hoshi's level, mindful of her arthritic knees. "Hoshi-chan, I would be honored if you called me Mwemina. Just for today."

Hoshi's face colored in embarrassment. "I couldn't do that, Fakumwe-sama! That would be rude!"

"Just between us. I wouldn't take offense, all right? Please, honor an old woman by doing this."

She hesitated only a moment, then gave Fakumwe---Mwemina---a deep bow. "Very well. Just for today...Mwemina."

"Good." Fakumwe extended her a gnarled hand. "Will you please escort me to your honored mother? I have yet to give her my regards."

Hoshi nodded and slipped her hand within Fakumwe's. She walked by the grand lady with her eyes shining and her entire body glowing with pride at the honor given her. Mwemina, now her friend.

As the evening went on, she circulated around the room and introduced herself to her parents' colleagues and acquaintances. They all commented on how mature, how grown-up she acted for a ten-year-old girl. No one paused at the fact that other ten-year-olds might have invited her friends for a sleepover or had a party with cake and ice cream. Hoshi herself had never considered it.

Cousin Yuika and Mwemina Fakumwe watched her as she floated from guest to guest. Yuika and Mwemina exchanged veiled glances as Kitsune Sato beckoned her daughter to her. Hoshi caught a glimpse of her friends' concern as she approached Mama, and as she drew closer, she saw the cause of that concern.

"Hoshi-chan, this is Hatayama-sensei, a professor at Tokyo University," Mama introduced, her normally warm smile frozen on her face. "She would like to speak with you."

Hoshi immediately gave Hatayama-sensei a deep bow, as was proper. "Hatayama-sensei, I am honored that you took the time to visit my humble house."

Doctor Nita Hatayama only nodded and replied, "Raise your head, child, and let me take a good         look at you."

Hoshi did as requested, and she stared directly into a pair of glittering black eyes as they weighed her and evaluated her, all in one fell swoop. Hatayama-sensei towered over her like a tall, thin crane, with a razor-sharp beak. She tried to maintain her serene expression in the face of such judgment.

When Hatayama-sensei finally glanced back at Kitsune, Hoshi felt able to breathe again. "Bring her to me at Tokyo University in two days time, Sato-san. We will see if she is ready."

Kitsune bowed deeply. "Thank you, Sensei. We will be there at the appointed time."

"Good. I am doing you a grand favor by allowing this, Sato-san. I normally do not break rules, but I am willing to make this exception."

Kitsune bowed even more deeply; any more and she would have ended up on her face. "We are grateful for your consideration."

Hoshi had no idea what was going on, but she dutifully copied her mother's bow. Hatayama-sensei nodded in response, then said, "I look forward to seeing you." The professor turned and walked away.

"Mama, what was that all about?"

Kitsune straightened, but her face was as pale as milk. "Your future, Hoshi-chan."

"My future?"

Her mother took a deep breath to steady herself, then managed a smile. "Do not worry, Daughter. Everything will turn out for the best. Now, go and enjoy your party. There are many people you haven't greeted yet."

"Yes, Mama." Hoshi wanted to ask about the wistful, uncertain expression, but she held her peace. Instead, she bowed her head and went back out into the crowd. Quickly, she lost herself again in the excitement of meeting new people and practicing her skills, and she put the encounter with the strange professor out of her mind.

"Hoshi-chan, will you please come here?" Hiroshi Sato beckoned her to him. "I would like to introduce one of my friends from San Francisco."

It was getting quite late, and she was tired, but she summoned up yet another smile. Hoshi took a deep breath and set herself in the proper state of mind; San Francisco meant America, which meant English, one of her favorite languages. She was thrilled, but oh, was she tired!

The exhaustion lifted when she saw the new visitor. He was not one of Hiroshi Sato's business associates, that much was certain by the Starfleet uniform. The man was tall, so tall that she had to crane her neck to see him. His dark brown hair was cut short in a neat hairstyle, and his dark green eyes sparkled in humor. There were two squares at the collar of his uniform, but no name tag.

Hiroshi turned and smiled at his daughter. "Hoshi-chan, this is Lieutenant Jonathan Archer. His father is Henry Archer, the designer of the warp engine."

Her eyes widened at the words. This was Henry Archer's son? She had translated a scientific article  about the new engine from English to Japanese for Cousin Yuika. His father was a great man, indeed. She bowed her head and said, "I am pleased to meet you, sir."

"I'm also pleased to meet you, Hoshi." The warmth of his voice washed over her like a gentle river. "Happy tenth birthday. Are you enjoying your party?"

"Thank you." She inclined her head, for no one had asked her whether or not she enjoyed herself. It seemed that everyone was more interested in her ability to converse in their native tongues. "Yes, I'm enjoying myself. I've met many interesting people."

Archer's mouth quirked in a smile. He had a very nice smile, Hoshi decided. "I'm sure you have. I've been listening to you during the festivities. Here, I have a present for you." He handed her a gift wrapped in silver paper with a golden ribbon. "Happy birthday."

"Thank you, Archer-sama."

He laughed again and shook his head. "No need to address me so formally, Hoshi. Jonathan is fine."

She wondered if he realized the significance of his allowing her to use his given name. Probably not; Americans were so informal compared to the Japanese; almost sloppily so, according to some of her relatives. Mwemina Fakumwe understood it, but she doubted Jonathan Archer did. Still, it would be prudent to go by the social rules, especially under her parents' scrutiny.

Prudence seemed to be the watchword. Hoshi bowed her head. "Thank you."

A bell chimed, indicating one of the guests was about to take his leave. Hoshi nearly sighed in relief. "I must go. May I take my leave, Father?"

"Go, Daughter. I believe Fakumwe-sama wishes to speak with you before she leaves."

Hoshi nodded and walked quickly across the room. Indeed, Mwemina stood at the door, waiting for her. The older woman smiled as she approached.

"I had a wonderful time, Hoshi-chan. I look forward to seeing you again. Perhaps it would do us well if it wasn't another year before we meet?"

"I would like that," Hoshi said with a grin. "Very much."

"Good. It's settled then." Fakumwe glanced over where Hiroshi Sato and Jonathan Archer stood talking. A odd little smile passed over the old woman's face; Hoshi wondered at it, but it was gone before she could be sure.

"Mwemina?"

"Ah, if I was sixty years younger!" She shook her head. "I have a feeling about that man. He is destined for great things, Hoshi-chan. Keep an eye on that one."

Hoshi blinked, then blushed. "Mwemina-san! He is much too old for me!"

Fakumwe laughed and shook her head. "I did not mean in that way, Hoshi-chan. Lieutenant Archer's destiny is entwined with yours nevertheless. Mark my words, you will see him again."

Hoshi tried to change the subject. "And I will see you again?"

"If I can. For now, enjoy your innocent life while you can, my dear." Fakumwe's smile was bittersweet. "I will keep in touch. Be a good girl for your mother, all right?"

"Yes, Mwemina."

Fakumwe smiled and shuffled out the door, heading for the guest building at the end of the pavilion. Hoshi watched her go and thought, This is a strange night. I wonder what she meant by that. I should ask her tomorrow, before she leaves.

She never did, for Mwemina Fakumwe had already left for Ghana by the time she woke up the next morning.


Comments:

panyasan

This is a wonderful insight story of Hoshi. Very well done. Ii des yo!

Linda

I really love calm and lovely scenes that take you into a different culture.  This gave me a dignified and warm feeling.  Thanks!

crystalswolf

The imagery is beautiful and I could definitely picture Hoshi's childhood this way.

Asso

Really interesting. I think here there are lots of things able to explain the future Hoshi.

Distracted

I love this.  I'd like to see a sequel about how precocious young Hoshi Sato handles college life.  Could this be how she got so good at poker?  I'll bet her classmates had a good time corrupting her.  :p 

JadziaKathryn

*sigh* I'd like to think Hoshi's childhood was happier than this, poor girl, but you might be right. It's interesting, because this can explain why she dropped Brazil so easily in the pilot.

Aquarius

Nice! I think I would like to know ore about Mwemina Fakumwe and if she continued to play a crucial role in Hoshi's life.  She seems like a pretty cool character!

JustTrip'n

Interesting. Does Mwemina mean friend? Nice character study. I can see Hoshi having a background like this. I liked the surprise appearance of Jonathan Archer. We never did learn how they were connected prior to Enterprise, did we?

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