((Starbase 118 Ops - Chief Surgeon’s Office))
Alora canted her head while her hand kept a steady, quick rhythm of scritches on the tribblecat. Why was he so grumpy? His mood seemed to match the face of Triberius.
DeVeau: And trust me, we all appreciate that Doctor. More than you know. However, I’m still looking for something more tangible.
Foster: I like popcorn and french fries. People watching.
Family. Friends. Sleeping in without having nightmares. Things he missed, and probably went hand in hand with lacking them was why he felt disconnected from everything else he did like. But he kept quiet on all that and preferred to come off as boring, to hide the tender and unpleasant truth beneath.
DeVeau: Popcorn and french fries?
Amusement tickled at her lips and she allowed them to skip upward a little more.
DeVeau: An interesting combination. Do you have any hobbies besides...let me list what I know so far...tribbles and tribble hybrids, surgery, eating popcorn and french fries, and watching people?
Well, when you said it like that it sounded… worse actually.
Foster: Not really. ::he punctuated it with a shrug,::
DeVeau: Come now, there must be something. Another passion that you have that isn’t quite so obvious. Some sort of guilty pleasure.
The little Andorian frowned, thinking that any guilty pleasures he might have would be more than enough to get him reprimanded and transferred. Again. What did he do before he stopped trusting Commanding Officers?
He used to go to parties. To meet friends for breakfast. He used to run long distances on the holodeck (before he decided those were evil, too) and lift weights. And he used to have a family to keep him busy.
Now he still lifted weights. He ran when the demons in his head were too much to bear. He socialized when forced to do so. His family, odd as it was, were all with his Dad on the Constitution. That left him on StarBase 118, alone with a pile of tribbles.
Foster: I lift weights on the regular. ::another dismissive shrug.::
Foster: Some people are boring, OK? I’m one of them.
He wasn’t mean when he said it, but the words were a little short, a nerve was hit.
Alora sat there for a moment, pondering. She wasn’t sure why he was annoyed, maybe upset, but she’d done something to cause it. All she had wanted was to get to know him better, to find something he liked, but while traversing that path, she’d managed to stumble across some thorns.
DeVeau: I never said you were boring, Doctor Foster. Far from it.
He paused, putting his lips together in a firm line to stop his mouth from running off as his brain realized he had already let too much weakness show. He preferred the casual sort of grumpy cool, the one people could easily ignore. The hotter kind started raising questions about how fragile was the person under the facade.
Foster: well I guess I sound like it ::he waved a hand dismissively::
DeVeau: I mean, think about it. You’re a surgeon. Not just a surgeon, but a /really/ good surgeon. You’re an Andorian who didn’t grow up on Andoria and has worked your way through Starfleet to become a lieutenant commander and an amazing medical officer. You’re amazing because not only do you have skill, but despite that little grumpy act you like to put forward, you actually care about your patients. I know because I saw it first hand with me. That says there’s more to you than what you’re displaying, so don’t try to tell me you’re boring.
He paused for a moment and forced himself not to say anything. To just listen.
Somehow they were hard words to swallow. He was so used to fighting the outward perception that he was just a miserable grumpy person who did cool things when patients were under anesthetic that it was a struggle to hear otherwise. Then again he had specifically created that persona to keep people away, so maybe it was far less the suprise at not having to fight a created persona and far more the panic of how to continue to maintain that safety distance when people were trying to get closer.
Foster: ok… I’m not boring? ::he shrugged a little helplessly::
DeVeau: No. You’re not.
Foster: I mainly focus on work ::he admitted:: I had a family on the Constitution. Sort of. But they all stayed there with my Dad and I came here.
He shrugged again, trying to just blow that off.
Alora let her gaze drop and she went silent a moment, just petting that tribble cat. She knew what that was like. She knew exactly what that was like.
DeVeau: I left mine on the Veritas after...my reassignment. Then when I came here, they were still there. Lightyears and lightyears away. So yeah, I get that. And now I’m here.
And there was a lot more to it than that, but Alora wasn’t going to get into the nitty gritty details. He knew enough about her situation, he didn't’ need to hear the rest. He didn’t need to hear exactly how much family she had truly lost.
DeVeau: So we’re kinda in the same boat, I guess.
Foster: I’m sorry. ::he offered earnestly:: it’s not a good boat.
DeVeau: Doesn’t mean we have to stay there.
His tone fell softer.
Foster: No… I know. People will just tell you to move forward. But moving forward is tough and you wonder what you leave behind.
Oh yes, Alora was extremely familiar with that. Not only wonder what you leave behind, but wonder how things might have been different. How you might have been different.
DeVeau: It’s hard not to do that. We shouldn’t forget about what’s past, right? But...we’ve got to try and look at what we have here. I know that’s hard too.
She knew how hard because she struggled with it herself. Honestly, that hope, that glimmer, some days, it was the only reason she was able to get out of bed.
DeVeau: Wanna watch a movie with me tonight?
He froze. He wanted to say no. It was a cold comfort to stay alone, hiding away, enduring the pain and keeping everything the same. No was the easy way out. Easy but not good. It was better to spend time with others but outside his current comfort zone.
It wasn’t a dismissal. But not an acceptance either.
DeVeau: I can make popcorn. And fries. We can have both - and invite Prudence. I want to hang out with her more too. Please?
He would love to say he made his choice based on doing what was best. But in the end he just gave an answer through social pressure, one he would dwell on until he inevitably enjoyed himself despite his less than stellar attitude.
Foster: … Ok.
Alora’s eyes crinkled in the corners in delight. He said yes! For a moment there, she thought he was going to refuse.
DeVeau: Got anything you’re interested in watching?
Foster: ::he shook his head:: No, I don’t know much about movies. Pick something… that isn’t depressing
DeVeau: So a comedy then. Awesome. Do you want to ask Prudence or shall I?
Foster: Probably you ::he murmured.::
DeVeau: Whatever milks your guernsey.
Now that was a Pepperel saying if he ever heard one. He was almost ashamed to admit he understood the reference immediately and without a universal translator.
Foster: Well, if I invite her she’ll think I’m joking. If you invite her she’ll know it's real.
Sad, but true in his mind. He never invited anyone to do anything anymore. He remembered back in the days when he did. Maybe someday again that would happen.
DeVeau: Great, so I’ll see you tonight. Popcorn and fries for dinner. Might throw some meat and green vegetables in there just for good measure.
Alora stood and turned, waving before she picked up her PADD. She didn’t even make it to the door before the doctor called out. She turned, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
Despite having his mind full about unexpected socialization, he had not forgotten his missing furry companion.
Foster: You forgetting something?
Alora gazed down at the tribblecat still cradled in her other arm, her expression mournful, and for a moment, looked sincere before humour crept back into it.
DeVeau: Ah well, it was worth a try.
She crossed over to hand the tribblecat back to his master.
DeVeau: Triberius is invited too, though. I’d love to have him come.
Clearly she didn’t know how annoying the hybrid could be. Wyn sighed softly, trying to think of what a mess it would be to bring the little monster with him.
Foster: We’ll see if he settles tonight or is a little jerkface. ::He made a melodramatic face at the ball of fluff as he retrieved Triberius into his arms.::
DeVeau: All right, but I hope he can come too. See you tonight!
With one last flash of a smile, Alora turned and left the surgeon alone, his own company to keep.
Foster: I’ll be there ::he waved.::
He would, now he didn’t have a choice..
Lt Commander Shar’Wyn Foster
StarBase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops