Vance approached and knelt by the old man. He gingerly took the pruning clippers and reached for the plant. Still smiling, the old man firmly grasped Vance's free hand and laid it gently on the plant, guiding the hand over the stem and touching his fingers to the leaves. Vance felt the plant, caressing its smooth edges and enjoying the way the leaves gently brushed against his skin. The old man then took Vance's other hand, which held the gardening tool, and slowly moved it toward the plant.
At first Vance was reluctant to use the tool. The plant seemed perfect; it didn't need pruning at all. But after a few seconds his free hand brushed against a leaf that protruded further than the rest. Automatically Vance clipped it at the base and allowed the leaf to fall to the ground. He looked back to the old man, seeking some kind of reassurance that he had done the right thing. The old man merely smiled, but gave him no hint of either approval or disapproval.
Vance turned his attention back to the plant, guiding his hand over its undulating leaves, feeling and testing the stems. He gently pulled each one out, allowing it to bend back of its own accord. Those that did not naturally settle back onto the plant, he clipped. The first few times he looked to the old Minbari gardener, but each time he was given no clue as to whether he had done the right thing, and he soon carried on of his own accord.
'You have never seemed one who would easily take to the horticultural arts.' Vance froze. He recognised the voice immediately. He turned to see Jerklenn's serious face.
'I'm not. I mean: he invited me.' Vance motioned to the old man, then he clumsily handed the pruning tool back to him.
A smile broke across Jerklenn's face. 'I know that, Vance. Do you think you are the only