((Starbase 118 - Alora’s Quarters))
People had called Alora old fashioned. She liked it when the guy asked her out, preferred he be the one to initiate. Asking her father permission? She didn’t quite go that far.
Maxwell: Well, they were supposed tae be out for five years, but only managed twelve months cruising due tae damage tae the ship. Da was back after eighteen months, and he’d had regular comm-call’s with Mama. Off duty, my Da had spent the time learning Italian. ::Max smiled.:: So when the time came tae speak tae Granda…..
DeVeau: So when the time came, he was able to ask in your Granda’s own language which then would impress him, hopefully enough for him to say yes to your Da.
Maxwell: Bingo. GranMama was beside herself and already thinking ae what hat tae buy. Granda just nodded and went back tae pruning his roses. ::Max leaned forwards slightly, as if to whisper a secret.:: Apparently Granda very nearly cracked a wee smile after my Da had left.
DeVeau: And I’m going to guess that was unusual for him. A rather solemn man?
Maxwell: Very much so. Always smartly turned out, and a very serious man.
DeVeau: Probably a good thing the voyage didn’t last a full five years.
Max sat back again, nursing his water with a nod.
Maxwell: Truth be told I think Mama would have snatched the family shuttle and gone after him if they’d been apart much longer. ::He snickered.:: Granda wouldnae have liked that!
DeVeau: I find it hard to believe your grandfather was such a serious fellow. Was he? You certainly aren’t. You’re quite jovial.
Maxwell: Oh, aye. Still is. The mans as hard tae read as an armchair. ::A smile.:: I like tae think I am, just like my Da.
Alora giggled at the description of Max’s grandfather - an interesting analogy to be sure, and it made for a rather amusing image. Suddenly, Max got quiet as he thought for a moment.
Maxwell: Reckon you’d ae liked him.
DeVeau: Well, if he’s like you, I can imagine I would have.
Maxwell was sweet, and easy to like. She’d barely known him when she’d come to his quarters while he was distraught, but she’d already known she wanted him as a friend. Glad was she that he’d come now, to share the story of his family with her.
He gave a short belly laugh before answering.
Maxwell: Me. But older. ::Grin.:: And much smarter.
DeVeau: Now don’t go putting yourself down. You’re intelligent.
Maxwell: I’d no go that far.
DeVeau: Just because the type of intelligence you have is different doesn’t mean that you’re less smart than he was. You need to give yourself more credit.
The man wasn’t stupid. Maybe he liked to joke around, and maybe people took that to mean he wasn’t very smart, but Alora knew better than to judge by those standards.
Maxwell: Never been one for that much. I know what I know ::he smiled.:: and what I don’t know, I guess I can try tae learn.
DeVeau: See, that’s the difference between those who are truly intelligent and those aren’t. True intelligence is the willingness to learn.
As they chatted back and forth a little, he glanced at the clock and a thought suddenly occurred to him that nearly split his head in half with the grin in caused. He placed his glass down and stood, offering his arm like an old Victorian-era gent.
Maxwell: Fancy a wee stroll?
Alora paused, surprised by the sudden turn in subject, but it was a pleasant one. Smiling, she pushed herself to her feet and motioned to the door.
DeVeau: Sure. I enjoy getting out with friends. Where are we going?
Max grinned broadly again, like somebody who had just drawn the winning numbers on the Saturday night Power9.
Maxwell: Deck thirty-two.
DeVeau: Deck thirty-two?
Alora paused ever so briefly, once again taken by surprise. Both eyebrows arched upward, then one lowered so that only a single one remained raised in a Vulcanesque brand of curiosity. There wasn’t much on those lower decks, so why take her there? DeVeau: Isn’t that one of the shuttlebay decks?
Maxwell: Aye, sure is.
DeVeau: Are you planning to kidnap me or something? She laughed, knowing full well that he had no such intention. Alora hadn’t known the man long, but she did know she could trust him. At least, she could trust he wasn’t planning to kidnap her.
Maxwell: In a manner ae speaking.
DeVeau: Well now I’m intrigued. All right, I’ll play along.
Thrusting her arm straight into the air, finger pointed up and out, she cried -
DeVeau: To the shuttle dock!
And with that, Alora marched forward, the doors parted for her and her visitor, and aimed straight for the turbolifts. It didn’t take long for them to travel, the computer humming softly as they chatted pleasantly about this, that, and those. Milly was brought up, his hope that she would return soon, Alora’s mention of some new plants she wanted to add to the base and her hopes that she could get some sort of program running with the zoo. Eventually, the lift came to a stop on deck thirty-two, and Alora turned around and began to walk backward.
DeVeau: So are you going to tell me what this is all about. Maxwell: Got something tae share with you. Something wonderful.
DeVeau: Don’t I at least get a hint?
Max grinned as he walked, looking over Alora’s shoulder.
Maxwell: Aye, you do. In about three… two….
He dropped to his knees as a scream cut the air.
And he was hit by a speeding cannonball of giggles.
Alora spiraled around, watching the homeschooling of the beloved daughter as she crashed into the arms of her adoring father. Immediately, Alora’s smile grew wide, her eyes bright with her delight at the heartwarming homecoming. She had yet to have children - and might not ever, but she loved them, and she loved seeing a family reunited.
Rooted to the spot, Max wrapped his arms around his daughter.
Maxwell: I’ve missed you, Squidge.
Milly: I’ve missed you too, daddy!
He got a big kiss on the cheek before Milly wriggled herself free, unable to fight her ever present curiosity and love of meeting new people. She grinned up at the lady stood nearby.
DeVeau: Hi there!
Alora raised her hand and offered a small finger wave to the child.
Milly: Hi, I’m Milly!
Max chuckled as he stood, putting a hand on her shoulder.
Milly reached up and took his hand.
Maxwell: This is Milly. ::He smirked.::
DeVeau: Hey Milly, I’m Alora. Lovely to make your acquaintance.
She seemed nice, and Milly beamed up at her.
Milly: It’s nice to meet you. Are you an officer like daddy?
DeVeau: I sure am.
Alora grinned over at Max, then back to his daughter.
DeVeau: We work together. In fact, we’ll be working together a little more often now.
She gave Max a meaningful look, still coupled with her signature smile.
Maxwell: Aye, we will.
Milly: Doing what, daddy?
Milly craned her neck to look up at her father.
DeVeau: Aren’t you going to tell her, Max?
Maxwell: Well, um, Alora is the station's first officer now.
Milly: First officer? What happened to Uncle Sal?
Max smiled down at her.
Maxwell: Oh, nothing. First officer is Sal’s immediate helper.
DeVeau: That’s not what I was talking about.
Alora reached out, gently poking Max. Of course the man would mention her, but she hadn’t intended that at all.
DeVeau: What I was talking about is, your daddy is Second Officer, so now we get to work together directly more often.
Maxwell: Oh, aye ::He smiled slightly.:: That as well.
Milly wrinkled her nose as she thought for a moment.
Milly: That sounds very important.
Wordlessly, Max began a gentle shift towards an ice cream stand. A certain person amongst them would never turn down an ice cream. But then again, neither would Milly.
DeVeau: It is.
And Alora still wasn’t so sure about whether or not she was the right person for the job. But, Sal had pegged her, and she had sort of said yes. Sort of. Kind of. Not really? And yet she had? It was really odd how it had happened, and as she looked back at it, she could see an agreement, but it still felt hypnagogic.
DeVeau: Unfortunately, Commander Nijil had to go on a very important mission, and we didn’t have a second officer. I have to admit, I like my coworkers.
Alora gave Max a hint of an elbow at that.
DeVeau: Oh! Ice cream!
Milly: Mr Nijil is a grumpy bum. ::She giggled.:: I like him, he’s funny.
Max shot an amused glance over at Alora as they walked.
Funny? Nijil? Funny? Maybe if the definition she was going for didn’t mean amusing. Nijil was definitely not that in Alora’s book. The man was severe, and yes, grumpy. She didn’t dislike him or hate him, but she had a hard time being around him. For multiple reasons.
DeVeau: Yes, well, hopefully he’ll be successful on his mission.
They drew alongside the stand and Alora glanced down at the child.
DeVeau: So Milly, what’s your favourite flavour?
Milly: Strawberry! What’s yours?
DeVeau: Chocolate in general is mine. I rarely get any other flavour.
Max grinned down at Milly.
Maxwell: Sounds like somebody no that far away.
Milly: Heyyyyy ::Milly bumped herself against Max’s leg.:: I don’t always have strawberry!
DeVeau: There’s this fabulous ice cream shop in the San Francisco district y’all should try sometime. Over 200 flavours!
Milly’s eyes went wide as dinner plates and she looked up.
Milly: Can we daddy? Can we?
Maxwell: No today, Squidge. But we can go in the afternoon taemorrow?
Milly gave a squeak and hugged into him.
Milly: Can Alora come to? ::She shifted her gaze.:: Can you? Please?
Maxwell: Well, she may be busy. ::Smile.:: But you are welcome of course.
DeVeau: Here’s a little secret.
Alora crouched down so she was more on level with the little girl. Although she whispered, it was loud enough that both Max and Milly could hear what she spoke quite clearly.
DeVeau: I’m never too busy for ice cream. Especially chocolate ice cream.
Max chuckled quietly to himself.
Clearly Alora had found herself a new fan, and Max busied himself ordering up a chocolate, a strawberry, and a Risian Berry ice cream.
Maxwell: Here we go.
Alora drew back to her feet and accepted the ice cream. Chocolate, oh chocolate, how did she love thee? Let her count the ways. Better yet, just eat it. That was far more satisfying.
DeVeau: Are you glad to be back Milly? I know your da has missed you.
Milly just beamed up at both adults, hugging into the side of her father as she did so.
Maxwell: I’m going tae take that as a yes.
The trio strolled onwards, and after taking a lift, found themselves drifting along the Promenade.
DeVeau: So Milly, what sort of things do you like to do? Besides eat ice cream?
Alora attempted to tame her own scoop, but rivulets of chocolate were running down the sides, leeching onto her hand. Tilting the cone, she attempted to discreetly lick the sweetness from her fingers, then trace the trail backwards and up the mound of soft serve. For a moment, she got the best of it, but then another trickle managed to get past her and onto her skin. Thus the cycle started over again.
Milly: I like the beach. And reading. And kittys!
She pursed her lips thoughtfully, before attacking the ice cream once again.
Maxwell: No many things you don’t like.
Milly giggled, nodding.
Milly: What kind of officer are you?
A blot of ice cream on her nose, Milly looked up to Alora, the interest shining brightly in her eyes. Learning things was fun, nothing was too trivial to catch her interest.
DeVeau: Well, I’m the first officer now.
Which was an unexpected turn of events, and Alora still struggled to really grasp the reality of it.
DeVeau: But before that, I was a science officer.
Milly: Like Aunty Erin! ::Her face lit up.:: Do you know her?
Max shuffled along quietly as the pair talked, Erin still hadn’t spoken to him, and now he wondered if she would remain shut away despite Milly’s return.
DeVeau: Erin Dolan? I certainly do. She’s a good officer.
Alora looked askance at Max, noting the subtle change. Obviously he must have known Dolan since Milly did, but why the shift? Was there something between them? A romance perhaps? Or a former romance gone awry? Maybe he cared for her and was too shy to say?
DeVeau: I bet she’ll be happy to see you again, Milly.
They must be sort of close considering the honourific the child used to refer to the woman.
Maxwell: Aye, she will be.
Milly skipped slightly as they continued on their way, and having finished her ice cream she reached out with both hands, taking one of her father’s and one of Alora’s.
Max finished off his own ice cream and smiled down at her, unaware she was holding two hands.
The woman’s fingers curled gently around the child’s even as she continued to eat her ice cream. It had been a while since she’d had the opportunity to spend time with such a young woman. Children were precious, and if she couldn’t have one of her own, she had no problem doting upon those of her friends.
Lieutenant-Commander Arturo Maxwell.
Chief Tactical Officer.
Starbase 118 Operations.
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops