<<OOC- This takes place after Ashley is released from Sickbay but before "Breaking Bad".>>
((Starbase 118 Ops - Habitat Sector))
The previous week’s session had been...interesting. The session with Ashley had been...more than interesting. Alora wasn’t sure what to feel about it, and she still wasn’t quite sure why Ashley didn’t want her to think. Or rather, why he /did/ want her to think. That was the problem, he wanted her to, Alora didn’t. It wasn’t just thinking. It was what he wanted her to think about. What he wanted her to focus on. That was just way too difficult, and she wasn’t sure she could handle it. Not without Ray. Not without Aron. Not with him. She liked Ashley, she really did, but Ashley wasn’t family. Not like the others were. Not like Raissa or Chy.
But all the others were so far away.
Never alone but always alone. Alora hated feeling like that. While she had established so many great connections, started to form some wonderful friendships, they were all in the early stages. She hadn’t bonded with them to the depth that she had with the others she considered part of that family.
And she was a little bit peeved, mainly because he’d tampered with the program in order to trick her. Alora hated being tricked. That didn’t mean she hated /him/ though, so when turbolift stopped on a floor on its way down toward the commercial sector and the doors parted to reveal a waiting Counselor, she immediately lit up with a smile - even if it was a bit more muted than normally.
DeVeau: Hey Ashley.
Having been on his way down to the commercial sector, intending to go to Verriar’s for some much needed relaxation, the Denobulan hybrid lifted his gaze and set amethyst eyes on Alora. He nearly said hello back, but caught himself. His chest still ached from the results of their holodeck adventure… the tube Doctor Bailey had had to insert into his ribs had just recently come out, and he was still dragging just slightly from having to recover from surgery… nothing like having your bones pierce through your organs to really make you feel valued.
Of course, he knew full well Alora hadn’t intended *that* to happen. She hadn’t even known what the program was going to do. He hadn’t either, honestly. But her hostility toward him after the big reveal had been clear enough… and he probably deserved some of it.
Yael: ::pulling his posture up, and smiling mechanically:: Lieutenant Commander.
The reaction wasn’t exactly what Alora had expected. She could get the use of her rank in the session - even if she didn’t use his. The science officer was particularly informal, and would use rank if people asked, but in general, she liked the familiarity of actual names - especially first names. Thus far, Ashley had used her name except in counseling. Now he hadn’t.
DeVeau: Lieutenant Commander? What happened to Alora?
Yael: Of course… Alora.
It didn’t seem entirely natural, though he acquiesced to her insistence. He wasn’t one to push for a confrontation over something that could be easily satisfied. His reaction remained somewhat less than exuberant, and he seemed tired… drawn tight, and kind of stiff.
Alora crossed her arms and regarded the Denobulan man. His demeanor toward her was far, far different than before. Was it because of what had happened on the holodeck? Was he mad at her? He had been the one to deceive her, not the other way around! That still didn’t mean they should dance around each other. Ashley was acting weird, and she didn't like it.
DeVeau: All right, what’s wrong?
He turned his head slightly so he could look in her general direction, but didn’t offer anything more.
DeVeau: You’re not acting normal.
Yael: Oh… ::he nodded, but turned back to the lift doors:: … I’m just a bit tired. I didn’t get a lot of sleep.
Not mentioning the why or how of it, he didn’t want to drag her down into his mood.
DeVeau: Denobulans don’t usually /need/ much sleep.
Alora pointed out. Her brow furrowed, her confusion sifting to concern. It wasn’t just fatigue, she knew better than to accept that answer.
DeVeau: Ashley, come on. Something’s wrong. I can tell.
Yael: I suppose I should say, I haven’t slept. ::he finally smiled lightly, then told a little white lie:: I was up to my neck in data for my new study, and morning came faster than expected. Then evening came as fast as morning did.
DeVeau: Uh huh. Yeah, you keep telling me that if you want.
Alora shook her head, but while she wanted to know what was going on, she wasn’t sure he would even share with her.
DeVeau: Is this because of what happened the other day?
The Denobulan had to stop himself sighing out loud… he *must’ve* been tired if he was openly frustrated. Denobulans were known for their patience. A cranky Denobulan was almost unheard of.
Yael: You had a tough session, I know. It’s not my place to intrude on your process. Everything I do is for your benefit, and your reactions are valid expressions.
Repressing his instinct to ask her how she was feeling, he knew he’d get an earful of it during her next session… after her hours prescribed time with the Psionic Orb of Doom. For the moment though he wasn’t quite in a place where his chakra’s were clear enough to speak to her from a place of authenticity.
DeVeau: I’m not asking as a patient.
The stiffness in his shoulders relaxed a little, but he didn’t say anything. He had no intention of telling her about his injury from the Holodeck… he didn’t want to make her feel badly.
DeVeau: I’m asking as a friend. Are you mad at me?
Yael: ::it took him a moment, but he turned to her with a smile:: I’m not mad with you. I really am just tired. ::pausing:: I hope I wasn’t too hard on you.
He smiled, but was it a real smile? Sometimes Alora wished she /was/ telepathic. She hated not being able to tell what was really going on, because she knew very well that sometimes people just said things that other people wanted to hear. She should know. She was an expert at that.
DeVeau: No. Not as a counselor. I mean...I hated it. But...that was you as a counselor, not you as a friend. You were wearing a different hat. And I know what you’re trying to do, it’s just…
She trailed off, a shadow drawing across her forehead once more as she attempted to find words, and completely failed.
He *almost* heard a little progress in those words, that tone. He straightened his shoulders back and lifted his face, turning slightly toward her.
Yael: It’s okay. You don’t have to force it.
DeVeau: Force what?
Yael: It’s all for you. It’s not about making you prove it for my benefit.
Alora’s mouth shimmied upward a little. The turbolift finally came to their exit and she stepped off, but didn’t veer away from the Denobulan.
DeVeau: What am I trying to prove?
He laughed lightly, but ended up grunting in slight pain. A hand briefly came up to his chest, but he had it back under control in less than a moment.
Yael: If I knew the answer to that, this wouldn’t be nearly as intense for either of us.
DeVeau: Too bad neither of us have it then. We could just cut to the chase.
Alora stopped in her tracks even as she spoke, that smile fading once more.
DeVeau: What’s wrong? Are you okay?
She’d asked that question earlier, but she’d caught the sound and the motion that went with it, so the question made an appearance once more. Alora had been through enough to see even subtle signs that something wasn’t completely right.
Yael: ::smiling that infuriatingly persistent smile:: Maybe I have the Terellian Death Plague.
He kept walking, and gave his electro-stabilizing braces a slight tug each. He hadn’t taken them off for two days and they were getting a bit restrictive and itchy. Of course, he’d said that with a joking tone. He didn’t have any plague.
DeVeau: Yeah, well, then we’ll die together. At least we won’t be alone.
He was brushing her off. Something was wrong. Ashley was definitely more friendly than when he’d walked into that turbolift, but Alora could tell everything was not on the up and up.
DeVeau: Something’s wrong.
Yael: ::still ignoring her concern:: I’m going to Verriars. Wanna come with?
Well, Alora couldn’t say she didn’t know what he was doing. It was similar to the tricks she pulled. All right, she’d play the game.
DeVeau: What’s Verriars?
He paused, amethyst eyes darting to her as she took up a place at his side. Denobulans were the ultimate social butterfly, after all. He *needed* to be around people. It was in his bones. Which thankfully weren’t in his lungs anymore. But he’d had a long day of walk-in’s at the counseling office, and one-on-one’s were *great*, but it wasn’t enough. It was also too early to crash yet today… despite not sleeping for two. It would wreck up his sleep schedule. So it was time to play.
Yael: The seedy underbelly. I was going to hit the Tongo Wheel.
DeVeau: Shouldn’t you be getting some sleep if you’re so tired?
Yael: ::stubbornly making an excuse:: Absolutely not. My sleep schedule is an absolute.
That made sense, even if it was kind of lame. Alora studied the violet hued man a moment, then shrugged.
DeVeau: Sure, why not. I’m free and was just going to see what was happening. I’ve not been to Verriars before.
Or the seedy underbelly. Alora hadn’t even known there WAS a seedy underbelly to SB118.
((A Few Minutes Later - Verriars Establishment & Bar))
They walked in through the front hatch and into the bar and seating space. It was getting late in the evening, so the place was noisy and rambunctious. The Andorian Jazz was a little more jazzy, the lights a little flashier, and the four armed Terellian at the bar was spinning drinks out with a speed a two armed alien could never mimic.
Verriar: Ashley, darling!
She greeted him with her usual flamboyance, dressed in an equally flamboyant bright green and orange monstrosity with odd frills that she insisted was big fashion back home. Ashley smiled back at her, always happy to be in her company.
Yael: Verriar, lovely to see you again. But I thought you only wore orange in the winter?
Verriar: Ohhh, you know too much, sweet boy. ::she playfully chided him as he sat:: Who is your gorgeous friend, now? Are you trying to make me jealous?
The Terellians eyebrow ridges wrinkled as she smiled.
Verriar: Because it’s working.
Alora slipped onto a seat next to Ashley and glanced over at her friend before turning to the Terellian bartender.
DeVeau: Oh don’t worry, I don’t want to steal anyone. Besides, I’ve got nothing on you.
Verriar: ::licking a suck salt which appeared in her third hand, then, to Ashley:: Oh, I like her.
Yael: ::trying not to laugh since it hurt:: I do too.
DeVeau: I’m Alora by the way.
She extended a hand in typical Terran fashion, her smile warm as she offered it to the woman across the bar.
Verriar: First drink is on the house, my dear. Which poisonous concoction can I create for you?
She motioned with her second hand to the assortment of bottles behind her, chilling in the clear wall cases, while pouring another patrons drink with her first hand and sliding it down the bar.
DeVeau: Tea, please, light on the ice, light on the sugar, lots of lemon.
Alora wasn’t opposed to alcohol, but she was very, very careful with its consumption. Being in a new and, as Ashley had said, seedy place, she definitely wasn’t going to take the chance.
DeVeau: Unless you have chocolate milk. Then I’ll take that instead.
The Terellian gave Alora a very serious look.
Verriar: I’m afraid that’s where I draw the line. No children in Verriars, no no no!
When she was done playfully chiding Alora, she turned to Ashley, her expression sobering up, but with a humorous twinkle in her eyes.
Verriar: You’re rubbing off on your friends, dear.
Yael: ::smiling, he shrugged:: You heard the lady.
With two hands below the eye level of the bar, two expert ice teas were mixed and lifted into view, and she carefully slid them the few inches forward to these most intense of drinkers.
Yael: You’re a dream, Verriar.
Verriar: Don’t you *know* it.
She was off with all four hands to pour drinks elsewhere down the bar, and the noise from the Tongo Wheel proclaimed someone had won a round. Groups were going in and out of the holosuites, and yet more were milling about, eating, drinking.
DeVeau: She seems really nice.
WHich wasn’t exactly what Alora had expected. She’d expected grouchy, dark, and dank. While some of that could be attributed to the atmosphere and the patrons, Verriar literally lit up the entire place with her effervescence.
DeVeau: I have to admit, I would have never found this place. How did /you/ find it?
Yael: Don’t you know? ::grinning at her:: Counselors know *all* the exciting secrets.
DeVeau: Huh...interesting. I’m almost afraid to ask what else is there that I don’t know about
Yael: ::glancing at the unoccupied Tongo Wheel:: Do you mind if I go for a round or two?
DeVeau: Sure, go ahead. I don’t mind keeping her company.
Alora tilted her head in the direction of the bartender and sipped at her drink, watching Ashley head over to play some Tongo. Turning back in the direction of the bar, she drained her glass, then motioned to Verriar.
DeVeau: Would it be okay if I had another?
Verriar: ::she winked, but then went serious when she spoke:: Darling, the ice tea is *always* free. I only charge for *real* drinks.
DeVeau: So you and Ashley…
She trailed off, letting the woman make any assumptions she wanted.
Verriar: IF ONLY my dear! I couldn’t say no to that little lamb, but he scampers away whenever I try to seal the deal. He’s a bit hand-shy, you know… ::she lifted all four of her hands daintily, palms upward:: … and I have *four* of them.
As she told her very dramatic side of the story of Ashley escaping her affections, she poured a new ice tea and mixed the lemon and light sugar with her third. Then she leaned forward on the bar, her rather large size no barrier to her endless grace and coordination.
Verriar: Has the darling gotten *any* sleep? He was in here absolutely trudging days ago, and looks even more dreadful now than he did after they fixed him up.
DeVeau: No, he hasn’t, and he admitted as much.
Alora shook her head, then processed the last thing that the woman had said.
DeVeau: Wait...fixed him up? What do you mean fixed him up? Who fixed him up?
Was this some underworld slang Alora hadn’t learned yet?
Verriar: The *Sickbay*, darling! He came in much later than usual for him. Said he couldn’t sleep… he’d been in a run in with some hooligan at the holodeck. Had to have a *rib* removed from one of his *lungs*, oh, simply *awful,* isn’t it. It almost makes me lose my appetite.
To demonstrate, she licked her suck salt again, her appetite clearly fine. Of course, Verriar was exacerbating the story somewhat, nor did she know Alora was the “hooligan.” Ashley had been far kinder in his telling of the story the Terellian was relaying.
Ensign Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops