((Starbase 118 Ops - Little Risa))
DeVeau: Yes, I know. But our joy was celebrating you. We wanted you to be the focus for once.
Taybrim: ::chuckling with a smile:: That comes part and parcel with overactive empathy.
Yes, she knew that. Though not an empath herself, Alora could understand. She didn’t necessarily want the accolades, she wanted to enjoy the others, to see their happiness, spread joy and participate in it. To see faces light up because something delighted them delighted her just as much.
Taybrim: Yes, that does mean I share in other people’s happiness.
DeVeau: I’m aware. But still, maybe every once in a while you can let us spoil you and let it just be about you, hm? Because it brings us joy to do that for you.
Taybrim: Oh? I always thought the focus on one was a bit… selfish ::he shrugged a little, not arguing that overly much. He wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.::
DeVeau: Seriously. It’s okay to just have things be about you.
Alora laughed and shook her head. That was Sal. If he was going to do anything, it was going to be for others, not himself. Which meant that others were going to have to look out for him. She supposed that was part of her job now, not that she minded. He was easy to like. And…
Alora stiffened then rubbed her eyes, looking back at the horizon.
DeVeau: The sun’s coming up.
Green eyes skimmed the surface. Very few people had remained on the beach, it was deserted. For the moment, it was just the two of them along with a straggler or two far off in the distance.
DeVeau: I think I’m going to take a walk and watch the sunrise before heading to bed.
Taybrim: That sounds lovely. ::He paused, asking gently:: Mind if I join you?
DeVeau: Of course not.
Taybrim: I love the peace of walking along a beach at sunrise. There is a feeling of hope and renewal that each sunrise brings.
Another smile appeared and Alora nodded before slipping her sandals off her feet and bending down to pick them up. Hope and renewal. Yes. Those were perfect words to describe it, the rising of the sun, another day beginning. No matter what had happened the day before, the night before, there was always a new day, a chance for a new start. It could be difficult to remember that.
DeVeau: I suppose my reasons are more shallow.
Taybrim: Oh? ::Sal didn’t think any reasons were more or less valid - people could like whatever they liked for whatever reason.::
DeVeau: It’s just beautiful. Relaxing.
Though sometimes, it was also a nice reminder that it was always darkest just before dawn, and if one could just hold on, the light would break through.
DeVeau: I have a song in my head now.
Taybrim: Which song?
There was a mischievous grin upon Alora’s face as she glanced over at her Commodore.
DeVeau: I have songs in my head quite often, actually. If I actually verbalised them, I’d probably be singing most of the day. But this one...it’s probably not what you’re familiar with. It’s from an extremely old Broadway show called ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. The song is entitled ‘Sunrise, Sunset’.
Taybrim: Hm. ::Now his curiosity was piqued.:: I have never heard of it. Can you sing it?
Alora arched an eyebrow. Sing it? Generally, she had no problem singing, but it just felt odd to do it there for some reason.
DeVeau: It’s not even related to what you were saying. It’s all about these parents who are watching their children get married, as well as others who are pondering the passage of time and their own thoughts.
Taybrim: I would love to hear it.
There was a pause as she mulled over the request, followed by a playful question of her own.
DeVeau: Is that an order from my Commodore?
Taybrim: Oh no, just a request. ::He said innocently, but with that charming look of ‘please?’::
DeVeau: Then I suppose I can’t say no to such a request. Just the ending, though. The rest seems odd when sung out of context, I think.
And there, walking along the sand with the Commodore, the golden rays of the sun stretching upward, an orange hue drifting over the edge where the water and sky came together, Alora lifted her voice, a high sweet soprano that rang like a clarion bell.
DeVeau: Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness,
Sal strolled, letting the song settle through the sunrise and across the waves.
Taybrim: That is lovely ::he murmured as the final strains rippled off over the waves.::
It was. That was the thing about music, even music in a fictional setting. Fiction mimicked real life, and the music often touched upon aspects of life in a way that mere words just couldn’t. Maybe that was why she had always enjoyed opera and musical theatre so much.
Taybrim: I suppose it reminds us that life always goes forward. Or as one poet said, every storm runs out of rain. Every sunrise will set.
DeVeau: Sometimes it’s hard to remember that .
Darkest before the dawn.
Taybrim: ::He offered a hand out towards her:: Every sunrise brings hope. Hope that we carry forward. ::he smiled softly.:: Hope that I will always offer you, and those who are with us on this strange journey.
Alora stopped and stared down at the hand. Her eyes shifted upward to study his face a moment, then fell back to the warm gesture. Remaining silent, she stood there, continuing to stare at it a moment longer before lifting her own and slowly slipping her hand into his
Taybrim: I believe in you ::He murmured, letting the slowly dawning sunlight splash over them.:: I know you’re taking on a challenge. I know this is a time of change. But I believe in you just as I know the sun will always rise.
His hold was gentle, his touch almost tender. Even as he spoke, Alora didn’t look at him, but rather at their hands, clasped together, his fingers curled around her own. It was pleasant. More than just pleasant.
Immediately, Alora pulled away and took a step back. For him, it meant nothing, but for her? For her it was far too much of a reminder of what she didn’t have, and brought up too many of the emotions that had sprung to life under the influence of those drinks at the festival. Confusion wielded its ugly head once more, along with regret and guilt that joined it, amplified it, and churned energetically within. The hand now freed of his mild grip lifted to rub at her forehead.
Taybrim: Are you OK?
The question was immediate and compassionate. Empathy picked up the slow but profound change in emotion.
DeVeau: I’m fine.
She wasn’t, but the words came easily, familiar and well used, a way to avoid dipping into the cauldron of her thoughts and feelings. Alora shook her head and managed a smile, but it was pale and, likely, unconvincing.
DeVeau: I’m just tired.
She was tired, it had been an all-nighter. But she wasn’t just tired. He didn’t need to be a Betazoid to suss that out, though overactive empathy certainly helped. He had somehow unintentionally hit a nerve.
The counselor in Sal was concerned. But Sal himself wanted to understand why this reaction was coming. He accepted that this may not be something he could fix - a foundation that a counselor needed to learn. But he did need to understand, even if the fix would lay wholly elsewhere.
That was balanced by a need to not push. Push too hard and all was lost.
Taybrim: Will you be OK? ::He queried gently again.::
DeVeau: I’m...going to go to bed.
The sun hadn’t risen, only the topmost portion had peeked over the edge of the sea, casting more gold across it. Although she had wanted to watch it rise, she was doubting the wisdom of staying.
Taybrim: If you like you can stay, to rest your mind and soul while the sun rises. I should head home.
DeVeau: No, don’t leave on my account.
If anyone should be able to stay, it should be him. It was his celebration after all. Another attempt at a smile made an appearance before fading away.
DeVeau: I really am tired. I don’t usually need much sleep, but it’s been a while since I’ve pulled an all nighter. You enjoy the time you have.
Taybrim: ::A small smile:: I am not against asking someone to make sure you get back to your quarters safely as well.
He would offer, but he feared his presence was only exacerbating things.
DeVeau: And no, that’s okay. I’m sure I’ll be able to find my way back to my quarters.
Yet, she didn’t walk away, didn't turn and start down the beach toward the exit that would spill out into more of the commercial sector, eventually leading her to a lift. Instead, she stood there, watching her, as if she might say something, as if she wanted to say something, but something else was holding her back. Finally, she shook her head, perhaps dismissing some thought or idea in her mind, then started across the sand.
Taybrim: Take care of yourself ::He implored quietly, with a gentle tone.:: Sleep well.
He didn’t pursue. He paused in his walk and turned towards the sunrise, allowing Alora to find her own way. Trusting her to open up to him when she was ready.
Commodore Sal Taybrim
StarBase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops