((Starbase 118 Ops - Alora’s Quarters ))
When the rose had arrived, it had been labeled with the sender’s name - Raymond Lassiter. What hadn’t been included was a note, but Alora had figured it was a late birthday gift - after all, she was a July baby, and Ray had sent her a message wishing her happy birthday - one of several from friends and family.
After Masha’s visit, Alora had gone to work on her Aikido, and upon her return she’d showered and just prepared to settle down for a relaxing evening - though part of that included a call to Raymond. She had just finished dressing, a black tank top with a white, oversized, off the shoulder shirt and black leggings that hugged her comfortably, when the computer chimed, indicating she had a call. Lo and behold, it was Raymond. DeVeau: Hey Ray! How are you?
His smile was warm in return, but there was something that seemed...different. Alora thought his expression was more subdued than normal.
Lassiter: I’m doing well, how are you?
DeVeau: Not bad. I’ve had a good day, I’m getting to know more people, I met a lovely lady today and we’re talking about putting on a ladies night out and a ball. I got to practise some music and Aikido. All in all, pretty good.
Alora had gotten used to laying out everything right off the bat, though every once in a while she didn’t. Raymond would always ask her if she did what she meant by ‘good’ or ‘not bad’. It was an attempt to get her to be more aware of why, not only why she felt good, but maybe why she felt bad. As he said, awareness was important, for it was through awareness one could change by identifying.
Lassiter: I’m glad to hear that.
DeVeau: And I got your rose.
Alora turned to look over at her coffee table where it had remained, a prominent place since no other plant occupied that particular place in her quarters. She’d had so much room, she hadn’t needed to use it. Around the table squatted one large couch, flanked at an angle on each end by two end tables. In turn, those were flanked by two, large, comfortable arm chairs. It was a cozy place to sit and chat with people.
Lassiter: You got the rose. Good. But it’s not from me.
DeVeau: It’s not? It said you were the sender.
Lassiter: Yes, I did send it, but it’s not from me.
DeVeau: Oh? Who’s it from?
Ray went silent and although his face was almost completely still, she could tell he was struggling with something. He watched her through the screen and Alora leaned forward, her verdant eyes intent on his image.
DeVeau: Ray, what’s wrong?
Ray sighed and looked away for a moment, as if gathering courage before finally focusing back on his friend.
Lassiter: It’s from Kalin.
Alora froze and stared at the man before her. Her mind attempted to process what he said, but she couldn’t fathom that it was a reality when she knew very well what the reality was. After a moment, when Alora remained silent, he continued.
Lassiter: It arrived the day before your birthday. I managed to get ahold of the shipper - an Alvanian who evidently knew Kalin and had gotten it for him. Kalin had evidently procured it for you before his death...as a birthday present.
Kalin. The mention of his name by someone else, even Ray, made her heart twist. The pain was still there. It would always be there, but this seemed to twist the knife that remained stuck within her. Alora licked her lips, attempting to keep her voice as level as possible. This was one thing that frustrated Ray - she was very good at acting when she needed to be.
DeVeau: I see. Wow. That’s...unexpected. Thanks for getting it to me. This means a lot.
Just because she could act, didn’t mean that Ray didn’t know exactly what she was doing. After all, they’d seen each other every single day after the incident until her return to Earth, and even then it had been at least every week virtually until her return to duty. She managed a small smile. She knew what he was going to ask, so she didn’t bother to make him work for it.
DeVeau: I’m devastated Ray. And yet, at the same time, it’s...it’s beautiful. It’s a reminder of him, and I certainly want to remember him. I know healing’s going to take time, and I’m never not going to hurt, but you’ve helped me a lot and I’m going to get through this.
Ray opened his mouth, rethought and then shut it. After a moment he nodded. He had a feeling he knew what would happen after they got off, but it wasn’t necessarily unhealthy - and he knew she needed time to process this alone.
Lassiter: You’ll call me if you need anything?
DeVeau: You know I will.
Lassiter: I want you to call me tomorrow. DeVeau: After my shift, yes.
Ray rubbed a finger a thumb over his mouth and chin as he studied Alora a moment longer.
Lassiter: You’re not alone, Alora.
DeVeau: I know. Thank you. I’ll see you tomorrow. Lassiter: All right. Good night.
The screen went dark and Alora stared at her own reflection within the blackness before slowly pushing her way to her feet. She shuffled across the room and back to the coffee table, inching her way down to sit on the couch. Before her, the rose gleamed, purple and silver, two of her favourite colours. She should have known it would have been from him. This was how he was. To others he had seemed cold, distant, but in reality he cared. He was thoughtful. Thoughtful in ways that others didn’t realise. How long had it taken for him to find this? Then to order it and make sure it would arrive just in time for her birthday? Carefully, Alora reached out to stroke a petal. Although it seemed to almost glow and looked almost metallic, the petals were excruciatingly soft, even more so than a Terran rose. Although there were no thorns, its presence stabbed her with a bone aching pain. Alora pulled her hand back, attempting to hold it in. She knew that wasn’t good. She knew she had been told not to. She knew she’d been encouraged to just let it out, but she hadn’t expected this. This gift. This beauty. This painful reminder.
Eventually, it overwhelmed her, rising in her chest, consuming her heart with a weight that threatened to crush her. Her head bowed beneath its power and her hands covered her face as the only thing she could do was weep.
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau Science Officer Starbase 118 Ops M239008AD0