((OOC- Backsim to before the mission briefing.))
((First Officer DeVeau’s Quarters))
Alora’s head tilted to the side and she regarded her friend. She wished she could find some way to stop the digging of his nails into his skin, but at least he wasn’t actually injuring himself. At the first sight of blood, however, she’d intervene. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that. It was a reaction to him touching her, that psychosomatic condition that he’d warned her about, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch.
Yael: Why, what…?
DeVeau: Why did you make assumptions about him?
Yael: I just do. I’ve seen it happen so many times, I just expect it. But he’s different. *You’re* different. Neither of you do what I ever expect you to do.
Alora managed a semblance of a smile. She wasn’t sure why, but she got the sense that he meant it in a good way.
DeVeau: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Switching gears to talking about her and now, he brought a clawed hand up beneath his ear and repeated the harsh motion down his skin under his jaw, and down the side of his neck. He was doing his best not to crawl out of his own skin.
Yael: I couldn’t let this go on any longer. Neither of us have the time to waste on fighting…
As quickly as it had come, the fleeting smile faded away and her gaze turned down. Time. Time was not on their side.
DeVeau: No. We don’t.
And she had even less time now.
His breathing was slowing down now and he wasn’t *growling* when he spoke anymore, but there was a glint in the low light… a bead of blue blood sliding down his neck from beneath his ear where he’d last clawed, too deep this time. It slowly slid down the side of his neck and onto his collarbone. At the sight of it, Alora reached out and caught his hand briefly, pulling it away, then letting go.
DeVeau: Stop hurting yourself.
She knew why he did it, but that didn’t help her feel any better. Even though she knew it wasn’t true, she still couldn’t help but feel rejected at the idea that he found her touch undesirable. It was a strange thing, that head knowledge somehow not translating to the emotional aspect of it, even after he’d basically physically assaulted her with a hug. Not that she had minded that. If he did it again, she’d revel in it. She just wished he didn’t get freaked out by it.
Yael: ::clutching his hands into fists to stop himself clawing at his flesh:: The report said you had a seizure. Are you okay? Tell me the truth.
For a moment, Alora stared at him. Then she blinked and rubbed her eyes. She hadn’t said anything to anyone. As far as she knew, only Wyn and a couple of other medical officers knew - plus any medical officers who had the clearance to see specific information on her chart.
DeVeau: Wait, how do you know about that?
Yael: Raymonds files…? He finally sent them to me. Honestly, I never expected to get them, but he managed it somehow...
DeVeau: How did he know?
Yael: I have no idea. The information seemed current up to last week.
DeVeau: Oh. Which meant they were still keeping tabs on her. Eudora had said they would keep looking for an answer - maybe that was why. She was still searching for answers. Alora smiled a little, but once more, it didn’t last long.
DeVeau: When I have an episode, it does that. I take medication to try and stop or at least slow it down, but it hit me unexpectedly.
Yael: Were you alone…? Did you fall?
DeVeau: Yes. And yes.
Thankfully, over several minutes the absolutely all encompassing sensation in his flesh was easing… it was more a general discomfort than driving chaos now. He wrapped his arms around his middle to keep them from doing other things, and despite how he felt he smiled as he looked up at his friend.
Yael: I’ve missed you.
Alora inhaled, then exhaled as more tears threatened. He’d had no idea. None at all how much she had missed him. Although Alora knew she had other friends on the station, none of them were as close to her as he. None of them were the sort she felt she could come to in the middle of the night, even if she would certainly want them to do so if they felt the need. Those were the types of relationships she craved, the close ones, where they could share anything and everything. It was the type she’d had with Aron. With Raissa. Now with Ashley. Kalin, too, though his had gone even beyond the others .
And she missed that as well. No. Don’t go there.
Alora wiped at her eyes, feeling foolish, as if she were a child rather than adult who should be able to temper her emotions more readily.
DeVeau: I miss you too.
She smiled a little. DeVeau: More than words can say.
Yael: I know it’s late, but… ::he hesitated, then apparently changed his mind:: No. You’re the FO now. You have duties to keep up on. I’m probably already keeping you from sleeping, aren’t I.
It wasn’t a question, and finally he processed what she was wearing. Despite his eyebrows being furrowed as he fought off the crawling sensation, which was thankfully weakening as the seconds passed, he smiled in humor.
Yael: Are those… unicorn slippers?
Alora glanced down at her feet, then wiggled them, which caused the horns to slice through the air, as if the unicorns might impale anyone who came near.
DeVeau: Yes. Yes, they are. Christmas gift from my parents. They know my style.
He laughed again, lightly, slumped there against the edge of the couch. Then the smile melted away somewhat as he thought on things.
Yael: The truth is, I’ve been having a rough time. Since seeing my father, mostly… ending up drunk. I was a complete ass to you both. I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to make up for it, and all I did was make it worse.
Yael: I gave Anthony the opportunity to throw me out of a holographic shuttle… with chutes, of course. He didn’t seem to see the therapeutic nature in the offer.
DeVeau: Wait...why? I don’t get it either?
Alora shivered at the idea. She could deal with shuttles in space. Perhaps it was the fact that she would be more likely to float than fal had something to do with. In gravity, where she would simply plummet to the ground and go splat was quite a different matter entirely. Even if it was a holographic simulation, it felt real enough that she would never participate in that type of program.
Yael: Anthony says I have a death wish… that I’m self-destructing… ::more softly now:: He’s probably not wrong…
Self destruct….Alora pushed herself forward and slid off the edge of the couch so she could lower herself to the floor. Turning to him, she lay her arm on the couch, and her head in the crook of her elbow. For a moment, she simply remained there as she was, studying him. Did he mean that? Was there something worse beneath that smile that he so easily painted on his face?
DeVeau: Are you saying you sometimes feel like you want to…
She almost didn’t want to say it. While some people had no problem with such things, it was a heart wrenching idea in her mind.
Yael: ::quick to reject the idea:: No! No… I don’t mean *that*. I just… don’t have a lot of quality time left, so what’s the point of being careful...
Alora breathed a sigh of relief. That was, at least, a good thing. The idea of losing Ashley like that made her heart burn and her stomach twist. DeVeau: I’m glad to hear that.
Yael: There are still things I want to do. I need to finish my hybrid brain study, for one. ::his work was evidence of his existence:: I’ve been trying to get close to someone. Have a *real* relationship. I’m...not sure how well I’m doing. That might not even be fair of me, to get someone else invested if I’m not going to be here. I… don’t know how that’s going to work if *this* is still happening though…
He reached up and touched his neck where he’d previously been clawing at himself.
Yael: Counselor Corvin wants to start immersion therapy. Which sounds genuinely awful.
DeVeau: Immersion therapy?
Yael: It’s where you successively expose yourself to the thing that disturbs you. It’s to retrain the brain and body… like… if you’re afraid of spiders, you get near some spiders, then eventually you hold a spider… and by the end of it, you’re not so afraid. DeVeau: Oh.
Alora had no idea. While she was not ignorant of counseling techniques, that was not one she’d come across before. It made sense, though, to retrain the body to accept touch and convince the brain that it really was all right. She mulled over that, then decided she dared to ask.
DeVeau: So...who have you been trying to get close to? Yael: I’ve been out with Doctor Foster a few times. Also, Ithri Sh’shelor. ::he laughed lightly at himself:: I have a way of picking *the* most resistant women. And men who aren’t even interested in men.
DeVeau: The Andorian woman? In security? I don’t know her well, but she actually helped me when I gave the Captain his Christmas gift.
The most resistant? Was she resistant? Hard to read, yes, difficult to fathom, but resistant? Maybe Alora just didn’t know her well enough.
DeVeau: And when you say ‘men’, who do you mean?
He gave her a look that said “you know who.”
Alora’s eyebrows shot upward. For a moment, she blinked at him, then realisation lit up her eyes.
DeVeau: Oh! Oh. Tony?
Yael: ::smiling, he just nodded:: He loves Kherys.
DeVeau: Well, at least y’all can be friends, right? That’s better than nothing.
Yael: Oh, it’s not nothing at all. ::pausing:: I’d never tell him. It would make him uncomfortable. That’s the last thing I want.
DeVeau: Yeah. I get that.
Boy did she get that. Shifting, Alora still wasn’t even sure about her own feelings. Every time she tried to sort through them, the knots only seemed to get tighter and she couldn’t make hide nor hair of which end was what.
DeVeau: I’m glad to hear you have someone in your life though. I know you feel lonely sometimes.
Another thing they had in common. The problem was, there was no cure for her loneliness, but at least she could feel happy for her friend.
Yael: What about you? Have you still been feeling a certain way… for our Commodore?
DeVeau: Did you really have to go there?
Yael: I’ve been *worried* about you.
DeVeau: You don’t have to be.
Yael: How are you handling the whole First Officer thing? It’s a huge responsibility.
That was a very good question. Alora took a moment to consider it before answering. How was she doing? Honestly?
DeVeau: I’m still not sure I’m the right person for the job.
Yael: Sal believes in you. You deserve it.
And Ashley believed in her too. It was nice that both of them did. Generally, Alora didn’t have issues with believing in herself. Stepping into that new, unexpected roll, especially with having information that indicated they were on the brink of war flung into your lap all within the span of a couple of hours? She couldn’t help but wonder.
DeVeau: I don’t know about that but…
He waited for her to formulate her thought.
DeVeau: But I do know that I’m going to try my best.
That was all she could offer. She just hoped it was good enough.
Yael: You can lean on us, you know. You’re not doing it alone. Even… if you’re angry with us, even if we hated each other's guts. We’re in this together.
DeVeau: Thank you.
There was a long pause, a warm silence.
Yael: I should probably go… let you get some sleep.
He probably should. Alora couldn’t deny that she was exhausted. While generally up early, she was not normally up quite that early, but she was grateful he’d come to her. Yet.
DeVeau: Five years.
Yael: Five years?
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops
Lieutenant JG Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops