((Starbase 118 - Deck 830 North, Apartment 49C.))
It had been two - maybe three - days since the Narendra had returned to her berth at Starbase 118. Max had lingered aboard longer than most, overseeing the handover to the maintenance crews that would be taking care of her sensors and weaponry, and authorizing the moving about of the torpedoes, probes and other such hardware.
Having finally collected his few bits from “his” quarters, Max had wandered down the main gangway and back aboard the station proper. He made straight for his quarters, dumping his small rucksack just inside the door and heading to his fridge.
The bottle cap clinked onto the worktop, punctuated by a gentle trilling and the soft sound of dainty paws leaping up onto the worktop. He drained the beer in one long pull, even as he was scritching Nessie fondly behind her ears with the other hand. Putting the bottle down, he collected another pair from the fridge before dragging himself towards the sofa and flopping down. Nessie was on his lap in an instant, pawing about gently as she got comfy. He scruffed the little silver tabby playfully, earning a gentle bite of the hand and a meowl in return.
He cracked open his second beer, tossing the cap onto the coffee table. He pulled up his messages onto the main viewer on the wall. There was the usual crap. Adverts for bars, movies, takeaways, private shuttle hire firms, tailors and all manner of junk. He filtered out the ones that were addressed to him personally, finding a couple of dozen for Max the CTO and two for Max the Son. He already knew what the messages from his mother contained. He skipped the first one for now. As much as he adored his Mama, it was the second email with it’s recording that he wanted to see. He drained half of his beer in a massive pull.
Maxwell: Computer. Open message titled “William” and play contents.
Computer: Confirmed. Beginning playback.
The message inbox was replaced by a view down the length of the local chapel where Max had grown up. The seats were all empty. As was the room.
A few seconds into the recording, figures appeared from the bottom of the screen as they came through the doors. First came the ageing figure of Father Darius, then came the coffin draped as it was in a large flag bearing the crest of Starfleet Science. Of the six pall-bearers, Henry was front right and Max could see his brother's grief even though only the back of him was visible.
Then came Abrielle - his beloved Mama - and his sister. Rosetta had her arm linked with their mother, and her other hand held that of Max’s daughter Milly.
As the coffin was placed down, and those gathered - both friends, family and colleagues alike - were seated, Father Darius gave Abrielle a gentle smile as he began. As the service began, Max felt his eyes begin to burn fiercely.
Fr. Darius: None who enter this life may escape grief. No matter our wealth, nor our achievements all must eventually bid their loved ones farewell as they undertake their final journey. We have come together today, to bid such a farewell to our dear and beloved friend, William Henry Maxwell.
The words cut into Max with a far deeper pain than even the burns he had suffered at the hands of the Cult’s chemical fires, leaving his pain rolling freely down his cheeks and into his beard.
((Timeskip to now.))
There were countless beer bottles, as well as those that had contained scotch scattered all over the coffee table and around the sofa. There were also crunched up cans dotted amongst them and punctuated with the odd pizza box. Haggis and Nessie were curled up in their little bed, the boisterous ginger tom occupying himself with washing his snoozing sister. Max was sprawled out half on and half off the sofa, stained with smeared bits of food and spilled alcohol. The door chimed once.
He ignored it. The whole world could f-
It rang again. Silently, he raised a defiant finger to it even as he slid completely from the sofa to land uncomfortably atop discarded bottles and cans. He stayed put. Thankfully, the chime didn’t sound again. Instead, there was a voice.
DeVeau: Special delivery!
Alora had to raise it quite loudly - the doors did a great job of cutting out the noise in the hallway so that others weren’t disturbed by what went on in the corridor. Looking around, she really hoped no one got mad at her for effectively shouting. Maybe if she only had to do it once it would be okay.
Maxwell: Go ‘way.
His voice was slightly muffled from where his face was smushed against the sofa.
Unfortunately, there was no reply - at least that Alora could hear. Frowning, she turned to the computer.
DeVeau: Computer, where is Lieutenant Commander Arturo Maxwell?
Computer: Lieutenant Commander Arturo Maxwell is in his quarters.
Now, normally Alora would have just left. If he was in his quarters and not answering, it was unlikely that the man wanted company, or maybe he was in the middle of something and just didn’t want to be disturbed. In fact, Alora had even turned and taken about three steps back toward the turbolift with the intention of returning later.
But then there was her gut.
Occasionally, she got them. Not often, but every now and then, just something in the pit of her stomach that told her an action wasn’t the right action. That something different needed to be done. She hadn’t had one in a long while, so when it hit her, she immediately paused and turned around. As she approached the door once more, it eased, and so she rang the chime again.
He heard the sound of voices, muffled as they were being outside. There were a few footsteps and silence. But he knew there was somebody still there. His head was pounding so much he swore he could hear his mystery visitor blinking. He let his head flop onto his arm.
He had a feeling he was going to have company if he wanted it or not.
Maxwell: Computer, open the door.
He still didn’t move. The room was spinning like a gyro and banging like a Klingon heavy metal drummer. Whoever it was, it sounded like they were coming closer.
Maxwell: Can I help you? ::He belched. Loudly.:: ‘scuse me.
His two kittens were already on the case, swarming his visitors feet with wafting tails, head bumps and tiny trilling sounds. His mouth felt like it was filled with sandpaper, indicating the need for a drink. Alora winced at the rather vulgar expulsion, but automatically reached down with her free hand to caress the backs of the heads of the cats who wound through her legs. Her eyes turned toward the figure of the man - and it was not a pleasant sight. Picking up a couple of beer bottles to make room, Alora placed the pot on the coffee table.
DeVeau: Are you okay, commander?
Obviously he wasn’t. Alora could see that, and she had a feeling she knew, sort of, what the response would be.
Maxwell: Aye, and I’m kind ae busy the now.
Yep. She was right.
He rolled onto his side, his hand feeling about atop the coffee table and finding a half empty beer bottle. He knocked it, spilling most of its contents over his pounding head. He spluttered, blinked a few times and then slowly hauled himself partially upright. He picked up the bottle.
Hooboy, was she right.
DeVeau: What...are you doing?
Maxwell: Oh, you know… ::He drained what was left in the bottle, waving vaguely with his other hand.:: relaxing.
DeVeau: You don’t look very relaxed to me. Hard to relax in a situation like this.
Alora plucked several more bottles and went to the replicator to recycle them. A poster of a musician was displayed above it, but she didn’t take too long to give it a proper study. There was something a bit more important to do. Turning back, Alora continued to pick up the trash.
DeVeau: I think you’ll be able to relax much better with a clean room.
Maxwell: Looks alright fae doon here.
He giggled at his own poor joke as he put the bottle back on the table. He scritched Nessie behind her ears as she pawed at his leg. Haggis had decided to follow the new lady, playfully attacking her feet and legs as he pounced and chirped. Max squinted through red-rimmed eyes as he looked at his visitor. A bonny lass he thought to himself as his addled brain struggled to catch up with current events.
DeVeau: Maybe from where you’re positioned, but not from my position.
Alora picked up one, two, three...she managed to balance about eight bottles between tucking them in her arms and holding them in her hands. With some delicate balance work, she managed to get them in the replicator without dropping any. Back she went, plucking various bits of trash and allowing the replicator to make use of the matter for other things. Recycling was such a lovely option. After a few minutes, the room was fairly clean - just a bit...well, rumpled. Or rather, the man was rumpled.
Maxwell: What can I do tae help you this morn- ::He peered at the clock in the corner of his wall viewscreen. Oh.:: this evening…?
DeVeau: Aye, evenin’ i’tis.
Alora affected a Scottish accent to match the man’s as she offered him a hand.
DeVeau: Yer nae goin’ ta whitey on me now, are ye? If so, we’d best be off t’tha cludgie.
Max blinked up at her. Cludgie.
He giggled at hearing Scots words from somebody that wasn’t family. His first thought had actually been his Mama, as hearing her use certain Scottish words in her Italian voice was at times hilariously endearing. A lightbulb went on somewhere in his brain as he focused properly on her face. Alora? Scottish? No, that wasn’t right. He blinked a few more times at her.
Idly, she wondered if he’d even have the wits about him to get up. Maxwell didn’t look particularly tall - round about average for a human male, but he was a stout fellow. She could take his weight if he stood up, most likely, but pulling him up from the floor at dead weight was probably a no go.
Maxwell: Nae need. ::Hic.:: S’all good!
No, it really wasn’t. Alora shook her head and tugged insistently at him. Eventually, he seemed to realise that she wasn’t so easily swayed and finally, with some staggering assistance from him, she got him to his knees.
DeVeau: Come on then, to the couch with you.
Alora dropped the accent and focused on dropping and centering her weight so he didn’t easily get her off kilter and she wound up on the floor with him. Carefully, she managed to lead him to the couch where she fairly sloughed him off onto it.
The couple of paces to the sofa felt like a route march before he was poured from her shoulder. He sat slumped, like a puppet with a hangover. Or, with its strings cut. One or the other. He wasn’t sure really.
DeVeau: Now, a cup of coffee would probably do you well. Unless you prefer tea?
Maxwell: Tea is good. ::He waved a wobbly hand towards the kitchen.:: Got some real tea in the cupboard if you don’t want tae use the replicator.
DeVeau: Ooo, real tea?
Alora did an about face and aimed for the cupboard he indicated. After a brief search, she found the one indicated and pulled out two bags before moving over to the replicator to take care of the hot water. That done, she placed the bags to steep, then carried it over to the now clean coffee table.
DeVeau: I brought you something...but maybe now’s not the right time to tell you about it.
Alora had already sent the instructions, but he wouldn’t get those until he was sober again. They’d wait, and the violet didn’t need immediate care anyway.
Scratching at his beard, he looked between the hot tea, his visitor and a plant he didn’t recall owning the night before. Hic.
Maxwell: That wasnae there last night. What kind ae plant - flower - is that?
DeVeau: It’s an African violet. It’s one of the ones I grow.
Maxwell: You grow things? ::Hic:: That’s a skill I never got the hang ae.
She was a botanist. Alora had never known any botanist who /didn't/ grow things. Then again, the comment just made it obvious how little they knew each other, something Alora hoped to rectify.
DeVeau: Ah, but there's no better time to start!
He shuffled slightly on the sofa, slowly becoming aware of what kind of a mess he must look like as he slowly sipped at his tea. He blinked at the steaming cup. By accident or design, it was Assam, a particular favourite of his.
Maxwell: For me? ::He looked up from the tea.:: What have I done tae deserve a gift?
Alora took a sip of her tea, watching Maxwell from over the rim of her cup. What had happened to bring the man to this state? Alora would be lying if she said she wasn't curious, but her concern for his health was genuine.
DeVeau: My dear commander, if it was something you had to earn, then it wouldn't be a gift.
Maxwell: Good point…. ::He pointed around. Hic.:: S’my first plant.
DeVeau: Really? Then your statement about having no skill in growing things isn’t /exactly/ accurate.
Well, it was his first plant here. He’d tried a couple of times to grow particular plants during Field Medicine at the Academy. They really hadn’t lasted despite his best efforts. So technically this was *his* first plant. He blinked. That was quite a technical line of thought considering he felt like the rough end of a badger.
Maxwell: Probably won’t last long living here…..
Lt-Commander Arturo Maxwell
Chief Tactical Officer.
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops