BACKSIM JP: Lt. Cmdr. Maxwell & Lt. Cmdr. DeVeau - “The Gift of Company” (Part II)

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Iain Turnbull

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Oct 26, 2020, 2:31:36 PM10/26/20
to StarBase 118 Ops – UFOP: StarBase 118

((Starbase 118 - Deck 830 North, Apartment 49C.))


DeVeau: African violets are easy.  They don’t need much care, and they’re hardy as well as beautiful.  You think you’ve killed it, but they’ll spring back with a bit of love.  I’ve messaged instructions, so when you’re a bit more clear headed, you can read over them.  Of course, I’m always available if you have questions.


Alora motioned to the flower that sat in the pot, which itself was a dark blue.  The leaves of the flora were of an emerald hue, lines quilting from the stem in the middle to the smooth outer edges.  The ruffled petals of the blossoms that had opened were almost pansy like in shape, though the two upper petals were smaller than the three bottom ones.  Those top petals were a pale pink, almost white, but the bottom ones were painted with a thick brushstroke of darker pink.  The anther was unusual in that it was white rather than yellow, blending in well with the rest of the flower. 


DeVeau: Treat her right, make her happy, she’ll bloom most of the year for you, only resting for a couple of months to regain her energy.


Maxwell: I should be able tae manage that.


DeVeau: So, we haven’t really had much of a chance to talk.  ::Alora allowed herself another sip of tea before continuing.::  How are you doing?


The science officer refrained from commenting on the obvious. 


Maxwell: Me? Oh, you know. Winding down after an away mission. The usual.


He had an old-fashioned remote on the sofa arm, and he used it to flick the frozen screen from it’s paused video file to a simple woodland scene.

In fact, rude gestures from behind a closed door, being utterly smashed out of his face for about three days and probably having been rude to a guest was totally out of character and about as far from “the usual” as you could get for Max.

Heh. Hell of a way to make a first off-duty impression to somebody.


Alora sainted at the strange device.  It was a boxy thing, and she couldn't understand why it was necessary when the computer did everything for you, but that wasn't really relevant to the situation.  Maybe she'd ask some other time.


Maxwell: So, how about yourself? ::He pointed to the plant, remembering to add a bit of a smile to avoid sounding rude or ungrateful.:: This a habit ae yours?


It was the nicest thing anybody had done for him since Erin had surprised him with the actual printed poster of Freddie Mercury that now resided above his replicator. That had been months ago, well before all that crap with her now “missing” ex, Fredericksen.


DeVeau: Yes.  I love giving people things, especially beautiful things.


Maxwell: Well, um, cheers. It’s nice. ::He leaned forwards to have a better look, making his head thump all the harder. Perhaps not. He slumped back again.:: Real nice colours tae it.


Yes, they were beautiful, but Alora didn't really want to talk about the plant.


DeVeau: As to your first question...actually, I've been better.


Alora sighed and gazed into her cup.  The shadowy liquid showed her a distorted reflection before she lifted it back to her lips.


The sigh was quite a giveaway that Miss - Ms? Mrs? Screw it, Commander - DeVeau wasn’t as cheerful as initially appeared to be the case. Max raised an eyebrow partially, a tilt of the head adding an unspoken question to his expression.


DeVeau: Just…


Alora trailed off, once more staring into her tea.


Maxwell: Just?


His tone was that of a concerned friend. Sure, they’d barely known each other five minutes, but a friend of German’s was a friend of his. Max always found that having actual time for somebody counted for more than how much time you had known somebody.


Alora sighed again and finished off her tea, then set the dishes aside.  


He ignored his thumping head, leaning forwards to rest his forearms across his knees. He fixed her with a pointed, yet gentle gaze. A half-smile followed.


Maxwell: Am no wanting tae pry. You don’t have tae tell me a thing. ::Hic.:: No offence taken if you want tae tell me tae piss off. ::Another half-smile.:: No a bad listener though.


DeVeau: It’s just...hard.  And now German’s gone.  


The one person she’d actually /known/ on the Starbase when she’d arrived.  Alora had been so happy to see him, and while they hadn’t been the closest, they were still friends.  


Feeling his stomach rumble, he grinned with mild embarrassment, before motioning towards the replicator.


Maxwell: Well, seeing as I’ve got you trapped here, care tae join me?


DeVeau: I’m not trapped, I’m here of my own volition.  How about you sit and /I/ get us something.


Alora pushed herself to her feet and crossed over to the replicator.  Turning she glanced back at Max.


DeVeau: What will you have?


Maxwell: Heyyy, I’m the host. ::He offered a grin.:: Spag bol fae me. In the file titled Mama.


His mother's cooking was divine, and that was something else he missed. Somehow, even a replicated version of one of her meals tasted better than standard stuff.


Putting in the request for him, then for her, she took the plates then crossed back over and set them both down.  A large bratwurst piled high with onion and spicy mustard looked almost deadly, and the fries merely added to what would normally be an unhealthy meal, but Alora didn’t care.  


Maxwell: Thank you. ::He took a breath of his meal.:: So…. tell me?


DeVeau: I’m just...German’s gone.  And he almost got killed. 

She paused looking down at her plate, then over at Maxwell.


DeVeau: You’re upset too.  


Maxwell: Aye, that I am. But we’re talking about you the now.


DeVeau: Oh we are, huh?


Now he did break into a grin, encircling his apartment with a circular wave of his fork.


Maxwell: S’my hoose. My rules.


DeVeau: Ah, but then it’s all one sided.  


Alora picked up the brat and leaned forward so that anything that fell would do so onto the plate.  Stuffing it into her mouth, she bit off a fair chunk, then chewed as she eyed him.  


Max hauled himself from the sofa he was on, shuffling his hungover way to the sofa opposite, and plonking himself down on it. He turned his head slightly.


Maxwell: I go, you go? ::He gave her a friendly nudge with his elbow.::


At first, Alora couldn’t answer for the porky goodness that was bursting into her mouth, beer flavoured onions and the spicy mustard adding a gleeful combination of slight bitterness and tang.  Finally, though, after getting it well chewed and swallowed, she nodded. 

 

DeVeau: Okay.  


Alora set the brat back on the plate, then ate a few fries.  She pondered over their little deal.  There was a lot on her mind, much more on her heart, but this was not a man she was overly familiar with. While Alora made friends easily, and hoped to call him one, they were not there yet.  There was no way she was going to tell him what was in the deep recesses of her thoughts and heart.  She was, however, willing to talk about a more recent sadness, so that was where she went.


DeVeau: German and I worked together on the Veritas a little over a year ago.  He was nice, and we got to be sort of friends.  Then I was assigned to a classified project.


She offered a rueful grin. 


DeVeau: /That/ is something I can’t talk about.  But anyway, I got reassigned here a couple of months ago, as you know, and...well, all my really close friends are on other ships.  I was...starting over.  But then I found out German was here, and it was just so nice to have someone I knew, someone who was something of a friend, you know?  And then everything with the borg happened and he was almost killed...and now he’s gone.  


Maxwell: Aye, he sure went away on one.


Max paused thoughtfully, thinking back to German’s outburst on the bridge, his being confined to quarters, and then his outright theft of a shuttle to get back out there. Then his kamikaze run, his apparent death, and his miraculous sort-of survival. It was a strange, messy situation and Max found himself stumped for something meaningful to say. He knew he couldn’t take away the pain, but not even knowing how to soften it irked him a little.


Maxwell: Hundreds ae thousands ae people aboard the station. ::He smiled.:: You’ll soon find people tae confide in or just drink a brew with.


DeVeau: Like you? 

Alora grinned over at the man.  


With his mouth full, he waved his fork in towards himself in a “Yeah, like me” kind of motion.

Admittedly, Max had dropped lucky and literally bumped into the woman that would become his best friend right outside his own door. Alora seemed confident to him, a little bruised, maybe a little broken, but confident enough. Max was convinced she’d soon settle into the station and gradually be able to find her way through her loss. Forgetting he had a mouthful of spaghetti, he offered up a sauce-covered smile.


DeVeau: What about you?


He paused a moment before answering. A mouthful of food was both the perfect cover and excuse to give him a moment to ride the following wave of sadness. With a sigh, he gave voice to root cause of his three day bender.


Maxwell: Something… happened mission before last..


He picked his words carefully as he twirled his fork around in the spaghetti. His appetite had evaporated, but he needed something better than beer, scotch and - mainly cold, leftover - pizza in his stomach.


Alora’s expression softened, that smile turning into sincerity as she picked up a fry to fiddle with it.  She dipped it into the ketchup, then turned it over and over, never lifting it to take a bite. 


DeVeau: You seem really upset. 


He put the plate down, running his hands over his face briefly.


Maxwell: My da was in hospital. When I commed him on our way back tae the station, he said he’d got a chest infection and was waiting tae see what they were gonnae give him.


Alora had a feeling she knew where this was going, and she didn’t like it.  Oh poor, poor arturo.


Maxwell: Asked if he wanted me tae come home. ::He gave a forced smile.:: Said he was fine and would be home in a few days.


The young woman nodded her head, watching him, but saying nothing. She was just going to let him talk.  What little of her meal was left sat forgotten as she focused her attention solely on him, her lips fallen, her eyes lacking any light of humour.  


He lowered his head a moment, fighting the stinging eyes as he thought back to going out and enjoying himself on those last couple of days before shore leave came to an end. Unawares of the shattering change that was hanging over his family at home.


Maxwell: Didnae think any more about it. End ae shore leave came around. When I called - the afternoon before Sal’s nautical themed awards party - I was patched tae some Vulcan doctor.


He paused, swallowing hard.  Alora didn’t interrupt, simply let him continue.  


Maxwell: The auld man had been gone nearly a week…..


DeVeau: I’m so sorry.  


Alora stood and shifted from the chair so she could sit beside the man.  What would it be like if she had lost her own father?  Etienne DeVeau and his daughter had always been close, and Alora’s heart seized at the thought of losing him like Maxwell had lost his father.  Sudden.  While he was gone.  Unable to go back and see him one last time.   


Maxwell: I miss him. And...


DeVeau: And you feel guilty?


Maxwell: Aye ::He paused, eyes stinging further.:: I do.


DeVeau: Why?


His shoulders slumped, defeat and pain evident enough to see through walls.


Maxwell: Should ae gone hame.


A lot of things had clicked into place when he’d first gotten home a couple of days ago. As he sat watching the playback of the service on his screen he’d thought back over the last few weeks. His pain in the arse sister being the one to call him that William was in hospital should have been enough of a warning shot. He’d missed it.


The particular ward he’d reached. The fact that his call had been routed directly to his father and not through the ward desk first as would usually be the case. Those points had sailed over his head. Then the fact that his mother wasn’t there at the time of his call. Even for a trivial illness, Abrielle would never have left her husband's bedside.


His father's words were somehow embedded into his mind. As if, subconsciously, Max had somehow known.


He replayed his question and the reply in his mind.


“Mama there?”


“No lad. She’s got tae get some things frae hame. She’ll be back the night.”


Got to get some things. Not gone for some things.


DeVeau: Arturo...


Maxwell: Should have gone….


And then the dam broke.


*****


Lt-Commander Arturo Maxwell

Chief Tactical Officer.

Starbase 118.

O239311AM0


&


Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau

Science Officer

Starbase 118 Ops

M239008AD0



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