((OOC- Backpost, prior to “Things we Know About Saveron.”))
((Starbase 118 Ops - Zahv-tor Heh Veshtau))
Food. Alora was hungry, and when Ashley had suggested Vulcan, she was happy to go along with it. In general, she was pretty eclectic in her tastes, but there were indeed some very delicious dishes in the Vulcan culture. She suspected a lot of people who complained about their food either had only tried plomeek soup, which had its place in the realm of being delicious, or hadn’t had /good/ Vulcan.
Zahv-tor Heh Veshtau had come highly recommended, and the fact that all their food was not only fresh, but authentic, had certainly been a draw fo Alora. She’d arrived first and been shown to the table. When Ashley appeared, she rose slightly and waved to get his attention, catching, also, the eyes of a couple of Vulcans. They probably disapproved inwardly, but that was just their way, so Alora paid no attention.
DeVeau: You’re late.
Yael: ::walking briskly up to the table:: Sorry! I had a walk-in stay late.
DeVeau: Excuses, excuses.
Yael: Nothing more important than my crew's mental health.
He said that with a purposefully obnoxious air, then slid into his seat.
Yael: And my mental health is being told by my stomach that it needs nourishment.
DeVeau: You could use something to eat. I’m glad you like Vulcan.
Yael: Vulcan food *can* be relatively mild, but I’ve found it to be quite surprisingly rich as I’ve tried more options.
DeVeau: It’s not /mild/. It’s /subtle/. There’s a difference. You have to take the time to savour it, enjoy the flavour, not just stuff it in your mouth, chew, and swallow. You do that, you don’t get the flavour at all. So when did you get introduced?
Yael: A friend of mine got me stuck on Plomeek soup. One of the more *subtle* options, but it’s great for a troubled stomach. And occasionally just because it’s warm and fulfilling. ::pausing:: We served together at the Duronis Embassy, back before they became Federation members.
DeVeau: Oh I agree. It’s one of several soups I go to if I need something comforting. Your friend, do you still talk?
Yael: I’m afraid we’ve lost touch these last couple years. He was a doctor then. His name is Saveron.
Just at that moment a Vulcan staff member arrived with fresh, chilled water, and complimentary items given to each table.
Alora offered, glad she hadn’t worn her comlink on her civilian clothes. It allowed her to converse in other tongues and practise.
Staff member: Ra tor du istaya tor zek?
DeVeau: Spo' tor zek pak'tor heh...
She paused, then turned to Ashley.
DeVeau: Would you want to split a jumbo mollusk with me?
Yael: Absolutely. ::pausing, then speaking to the waiter:: I’d also like a small bowl of your Redspice Stew, please.
Alora finished off her own order, but in Vulcan, because she preferred to speak her learned languages so she didn’t lose them, even if it was only for a brief moment. It never hurt to practise, and she didn’t want to lose her skills.
The waiter stepped away to put their order in, and Ashley popped a small piece of the complimentary bread in his mouth. It seemed like *every* culture had bread, though they varied of course.
DeVeau: So tell me about Saveron.
Yael: Mmm? ::chewing thoughtfully:: Well… an intellectual, of course. He was a medical doctor for some time, though I think he’s changed his field of interest since those days. We were close friends. ::pausing:: We were two of the few non-Human crewmembers at the time, so we bonded to an extent over that. Not that the Human crew were rude or anything, of course they were fine.
DeVeau: But it gave you something in common. So you two became good friends?
Yael: Oh, yes.
DeVeau: Why did y’all lose touch?
It was Alora’s turn to raid the bread basket. This version was more like a cracker, hard, but not overly so. Maybe crisp was a better term, and it would certainly make it easy to scoop food onto it and eat it, nice to put in a soup or dip it. On its own, at first taste, it was almost as if it was nothing but starch, but once you sat and waited, there was a subtle hint of some sort of herb and a buttery undertone that left a pleasant, lingering flavour.
Yael: Well… I… left the Duronis Embassy and returned to Earth. ::he’d already told her bits and pieces of why:: He went on, I think with the Thor.
There was a longer pause as he thought on it.
Yael: I suppose… I let it fall by the wayside. I was embarrassed, and didn’t want to keep him apprised of it all.
DeVeau: I see.
Yael: I’m sure we could pick it up again. I don’t think there were any hard feelings.
DeVeau: It sounded like things ended better for y’all than it did for us.
Yael: Yeah… wait... what?
If she was looking into his amethyst eyes, she might have seen them short out as he processed what she’d said.
DeVeau: He broke up with me, then left. We sort of served together for a while after that, but...I guess I kind of avoided him. I haven’t heard from him in a long time.
She sighed softly, allowing herself another bite of the cracker.
DeVeau: I honestly miss him. And Saavok. Oh Saavok was just darling. I taught him how to make origami.
She’d fond memories of both Vulcans. She’d also had some thoughts about their futures, what it might have been. There were no regrets, though. At the time, there had been, certainly. At the time, his breakup had not only been sudden, but difficult. Now, however, she had been grateful, for other things would not have taken place had they remained a couple and things progressed. Even amidst the horror, there had been joy.
Yael: ::still not catching up quickly:: You and Saveron… *dated*…?
DeVeau: We courted for a while, yes.
Yael: Woah… ::honestly it took him too long to shift gears, he was so surprised:: I… I’m not sure what to say. I was *not* expecting that.
DeVeau: That Saveron had a love interest? Or that I did?
Yael: Neither. That you knew one another, and that we should serve together now. Though, it is a small universe.
DeVeau: It’s smaller than we think yes.
Yael: … I don’t suppose he ever mentioned me? I hope he isn’t cross at least.
DeVeau: I don’t ever remember him mentioning you. But there are a.../lot/ of things that he didn’t mention to me.
And that had been the entire problem. Saveron had kept things to himself, and when he’d chosen to end it, Alora had been completely taken off guard.
Yael: He always was very private. Kept everything important very closely guarded… I suppose we bonded in that way too, somewhat.
DeVeau: The problem was...he wasn’t always that way with me. We connected...I loved how we would do so telepathically. He actually was who got me started on meditating after I was…
Yael: After you were…?
Alora leveled her gaze at the Counselor.
DeVeau: You’ve read my file, right?
Yael: Of course. ::nodding::
DeVeau: I was having nightmares. After the incident with the kindred, they were happening often. He got me started on meditation, and started teaching me techniques so that I’m not so psychically vulnerable.
Yael: I recall reading about that, and wondered if that’s how you became so proficient. I’m glad you have this weapon in your arsenal now.
Oh that wasn’t the half of it. Saveron had gotten her started, that was certain, but it was Kalin who had taken it further. Much further. Even more so than she suspected Sav could. Alora wasn’t about to get into that, though.
DeVeau: It’s useful. What about you?
Yael: I do try to meditate, and while I’d call myself proficient, I doubt I’ve gained any psionic control for it.
Meditation wasn’t how she’d gained psionic control, but once again, Alora wasn’t going to get nitty gritty with the details.
DeVeau: Well...he’s the one that started all that. At one point I imagined a future that involved more than just that, but evidently it wasn’t to be.
Yael: Do you miss him?
DeVeau: In some ways I miss him, but in others, it was good that it didn’t work out. I guess I miss…
Ashley gave her a smile, cocking his head slightly to the side and letting her finish the thought.
DeVeau: Connecting telepathically with someone. I’m not telepathic but...well, in my file, it talks about being sensitive, right?
Yael: Yes, it does. ::nodding again::
DeVeau: Do you...understand what that means?
Yael: ::chuckling:: I have a working knowledge. It’s a sort of telepathic status without being directly telepathic. You have a certain sense non-telepaths typically lack.
DeVeau: Well. Not quite. Maybe? I know it’s easy for telepaths to connect with me. More so than usual. I guess...I’m like a magnet in some ways, which is why they suspect the Kindred honed in on me. Anyway...I’m not telepathic but doing so with someone...it’s hard to describe, but it feels good. Especially when it’s someone you love. You’re able to communicate in a way that goes beyond words, even beyond emotions.
Yael: And you had this kind of bond with Saveron?
DeVeau: Sort of. I mean, we weren’t bonded...but we communicated that way. A lot.
But they also touched a lot, mainly because of her. That was how she showed her love to him. Holding hands, a brief touch on his shoulder, leaning against him as they relaxed on the couch. Touch was important to Alora, and when they had touched, it was inevitable they had connected in that manner. In public, though, it had been different. He had been reticent to do so in public, but when it was just them, things had been different.
And then there had been Kalin. With Kalin, it had been even more intense. More so. When others weren’t around, it had gotten to the point where neither of them had bothered with words. Eventually, he could hear her without even trying, and his response to her had always been immediate. With Kalin, it was as if they had formed some sort of bond, though she didn’t think Betazoids had anything like the Vulcans did.
Yael: I’m a little jealous, actually. It’s a rare gift.
He thought briefly on his telepathic contact with Cadet Harper, and realized, despite her doing it to keep him calm while she did medical work, it was… quite nice. Not quite the same as bonding romantically, but still very nice. Something he hoped they could do again.
Ensign Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops
((OOC- Backpost, prior to “Things we Know About Saveron.” It got lost in the depths of our folders. :-D))
((Starbase 118 Ops - Zahv-tor Heh Veshtau))
DeVeau: It hasn’t always been a gift. And...I don’t really have anyone to talk to like that any more. My best friends all seem to be telepathic.
And looking back, Alora couldn’t help but wonder if that had been part of it, part of why they had been drawn to her.
DeVeau: But they’re also millions of light years away.
Yael: That does make it difficult.
DeVeau: What about you?
Yael: ::redirecting his thoughts:: What *about* me?
DeVeau: Did you ever have a connection like that with someone?
Yael: Oh… ::he thought on it a moment::... I… don’t think so. It’s not really something I can do.
He said that quite casually.
DeVeau: That’s not what I meant.
The waiter stepped near at that moment, dropping off their order and making sure to top off their drinks.
Yael: Very quick service. ::giving his stew a taste test:: Mmm… it’s always better than I think it will be. And I expect it to be good.
DeVeau: You’re doing it again.
Yael: ::smiling innocently:: Doing what?
He still smiled, but it was more a real one now than a forced one.
Yael: Yeah. I can’t really do that. I don’t mean the psionic-sensitive bonding either.
DeVeau: I’m not sure I understand.
Yael: How could I expect to bond with someone if they can’t… ::he shrugged slightly::... you know.
He droned off slightly, then the smile recovered as he tried the plomeek.
DeVeau: Nope, still not getting it. I’m sorry, I’m rather dense. Can’t what?
Yael: Ahh… ::he seemed a bit caught out on something for a moment:: … nevermind. Forget I said anything. I’m just jealous, is all.
DeVeau: No, I’m not going to forget you said anything.
Alora wished he’d be more open with her. It was hard for her to try and be open with him when he was so hesitant to do the same. She looked down at her food. What had appealed to her before seemed a little less so now, but she took a bite.
Noting her stubbornness, he knew he wouldn’t be able to deflect her from it.
DeVeau: Why are you jealous?
Yael: Well, I imagine you actually *touch* the person you’re bonding with. It can’t *all* be telepathic, can it?
Yael: Right. ::nodding::
DeVeau: Why /can’t/ you touch? Is it a physical pain that you feel, or what? You never really explained it.
Yael: Umm… ::lowering his voice, he knew Vulcans had a sharp sense of hearing:: … the “why” is complicated. The rest is… it’s like… ::he paused, struggling to find a way to describe it without turning every pointed ear in the room onto him::... have you ever had a spider crawl on your skin? An insect?
DeVeau: Well, yeah.
Yael: Right. It’s some sort of instinct. Or a warning system going off. The effect is like a thousand insects crawling under my skin. It’s… unnerving. It can be unbearable sometimes.
He had literally never put it into so many words, for anyone.
DeVeau: Oh. That...that’s awful.
Alora sat back, staring at him, then she shivered.
DeVeau: I think I’d go crazy if I felt like that when touched. Touch is...it’s so…
DeVeau: Oh yeah. Very essential. I mean...for me. It’s...it’s an expression of affection. With Raissa and Kestra, they may have been telepathic, but we would hold hands and hug. We were like sisters. To not do that was as if I were treating them like...well...at most acquaintances, at worst, strangers. When I’m with someone, romantically, if I’m not touched… it’s almost like that person is saying he doesn’t love me.
Yael: Now imagine every potential partner feeling that way about you. It’s not really possible to get past, for most people. They *need* that. And I can’t give it to them.
DeVeau: Now I want to cry.
Yael: Not in front of the Vulcans, please. ::it was a small joke::
Alora shifted in her seat, her face contorting as a variety of emotions shifted over her face.
DeVeau: How do you stand it?
Yael: You learn to tolerate it, mostly. It does make for some difficulties… like, on the holodeck.
He recalled wrenching his arm free of her grasp, and still felt rather badly for it. Alora’s own thoughts drifted to those moments when he’d pulled away. She hadn’t understood then.
Yael: I’ve tried my own medicine, so to speak. There are therapies for this sort of thing, medications. They don’t touch it.
DeVeau: Does anything?
Yael: I’ve recently started training with 2nd Lieutenant Meeks, just some basic stuff… it’s not extremely hands-on, but in a controlled environment where I know what to expect, I can *almost* ignore it.
DeVeau: Almost. But not.
Alora managed to take another bite of her food, but her fork dropped down to play at it, pushing it this way and that. To live a life with that, to not be able to be touched seemed like such a dreary thing to deal with. Obviously there /were/ worse things, but touch was such a significant aspect for her. Not having anyone that she could do that with - hold hands, hug, or just lean into while lounging - that had been one of the most difficult things.
Yes, she had friends. Yes, she was growing closer to them, but she still hadn’t developed the kind of relationship with any where she could just enjoy that sort of intimacy. Not sexual, just that closeness where one could have that physical contact because it was a way of comforting and being comforted, of showing affection, even just as a friend. She missed that. Ashley was the only one thus far she felt comfortable enough to show that type of affection to, and he couldn’t stand it.
DeVeau: Do you /want/ to be touched though? I mean, if it feels bad...Does it bother you that it feels like that? If it doesn’t bother you, why change it?
Yael: I… He thought on it a little, but felt as if he’d said enough for now. Who didn’t *want* to be touched? Just the normal, casual things that make you close to someone, the small things most people wouldn’t even think about. Who didn’t want those, in their own ways? Of course it bothered him. But if he couldn’t *fix* it, then what was the point lamenting the loss? What good did it do to tell her how hopeless it seemed sometimes? How much of a Denobulans life revolved around *family*, and he would never have one if things continued this way?
Yael: ::smiling again, then quietly:: Perhaps we could change the subject. ::pausing, then louder:: How is the mollusk? You promised me a portion.
He lifted his empty bread plate and indicated he’d like his part of the really gross looking but well-prepared mollusk.
She didn’t want to change the subject, and when Alora had admitted that she wanted to cry, she hadn’t been lying. The idea to not be able to have that ability just disturbed her deeply. Looking down, she eyed the mollusk, then reached out to take her knife and fork and slice off some for him. Placing it on his plate, she dug back into her food, although she found herself with little appetite left, her thoughts still pondering over the situation Ashley was in.
Yael: Perhaps I shouldn’t have told you. I didn’t mean to bring you down. ::pausing, he still smiled:: But you’re *so* insistent.
He didn’t say that as if it was a bad thing.
DeVeau: No, I want you to tell me these things.
Alora’s gaze lifted and she held it steady with Ashley’s.
DeVeau: You’re my closest friend here, and I want to be involved in your life. But when something sad happens to you, I’m going to be sad. When something wonderful happens to you, I’m going to be happy. That’s part of caring about someone. Don’t hold back just because you think it’s going to bring me down. Cause, honestly, holding back...it just feels like that’s not a true friendship.
Yael: I see. Well… I will endeavour to be upfront with you. You’ll have to forgive me if it doesn’t come naturally though. I’m usually the one listening about *other* peoples problems.
He took a bite of the mollusk, and his eyes brightened. Why had he never had this before?
Yael: This is *good.* Also… squishy texture. Weird, but good.
DeVeau: It is good. Sometimes you have to get past the texture, but the flavour is really good.
Alora popped another bite into her mouth and chewed on it, regarding Ashley thoughtfully as she did so. Her mind continued to whirl and when his eyes met hers, that time, she let them fall.
Yael: ::noticing her change in demeanor:: What is it?
DeVeau: Shall we make a deal?
Yael: A deal? Sounds tantalizing. What kind of deal?
The Denobulan leaned forward slightly, enjoying another squishy bite of mollusk.
Once more, Alora allowed her her gaze to lift and hold his steady.
DeVeau: Don’t hold back on me. I won’t hold back on you.
He cocked his head slightly to the side in that way he was prone to doing, this time intrigued while also curious.
Yael: What do you mean?
Alora took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
DeVeau: I mean...if you’re willing to be completely open and honest with me, then I’ll try to do the same with you.
His smile dropped now, though he wasn’t disturbed at all. More a little surprised. Was she really ready for all that? To give *or* to receive, in terms of what “completely open and honest” could mean. He took an even breath, eyes not leaving her… she seemed utterly serious.
Yael: … Are you sure you’re ready for that?
Alora’s mouth twitched upward a bit, a hint of humour drawing into her face.
DeVeau: I mean...you spent four days with me just because I wanted to go on a holodeck adventure. That meant a lot.
A lot more than Ashley realised. There were other ways to show that you cared about someone besides touch, and that had certainly made an impression on her.
Yael: It did. ::nodding:: Ok. I can try.
DeVeau: Unless I’m reading our friendship incorrectly.
Yael: Oh… ::he took another casual bite of mollusk::... you’re not.
DeVeau: Good. Cause I care a lot about you Ashley. I hope you know that.
And that was what she needed. A friend. A /good/ friend. Not some counselor that she talked to across the way in an office, but someone she could confide in, someone she could cry with and who would cry with her. She didn’t need a physician. She didn’t need a mind healer. Anyone could fill those roles.
Yael: I *suppose* you’re a good choice of friend.
He said that with a little bit of a salty smile, and pseudo-attitude.
DeVeau: Do you /want/ me to throw some of this mollusk at you? Alora stabbed a rather large piece with a fork and threatened it at the Denobulan, the flesh wobbling as if in support.
Yael: ::smiling innocently:: Oh no, I’ve had plenty.
He lifted the bowl of red spice stew and drank from it his own way, directly from the bowl. A Vulcan sitting next to them lifted an eyebrow in dramatic disgust, but he ignored them. When he set the bowl down again, he stabbed at a larger vegetable with a fork and ate it alone - only to find himself with a piece of mollusk suddenly sticking to his face, right between the eyes.
Alora sat there in shock. She hadn’t thought she’d managed to aim that well. She thought, at the very worst, it would land on his shirt, maybe on his plate. But no. She’d gotten a bullseye. Right smack dab in the middle. She blinked. She blinked again. Then, ducking her head and covering her mouth she tried her hardest not to laugh - and was failing.
Ashley, for his part, remained quite still with the slimy piece of mollusk stuck to his skin. He could feel it slipping off, so reached up to peel it free instead of letting it land in his lap. And he gave her A LOOK. One an annoyed brother would give an obnoxious sister. One with a seriously Vulcan eyebrow that singularly rose in that subtle expression that said so much.
Yael: We are no longer friends. I draw the line at assault by mollusk.
DeVeau: I love you too.