Posted Oct. 31, 2022, 8:50 p.m. by Lieutenant V'alura Belmont (Scientist on Medical Leave) (Abigail G)
He pointed out towards the hallway. “I will walk with you. I volunteered to take care of your boarding tour. You will be boarded on the recovery floor… Deck six. They are full quarters. You will be most comfortable. I am housed in the crew quarters, but I always answer a page, so if you need anything, please do not hesitate.” His delivery was most Vulcan, but it was considerably more than he’d do for someone else. He never, ever, gave boarding tours. He answered pages… For emergencies. “And… I’m on medical leave, too, now.” That was a recent change, “So I will be available any time.” Solal hated having so much free time.
For a moment V’alura’s mask slipped. Concern, subtly, gently showing within her eyes. Even Solal was put on leave. This strange illness may have brought them together, but that came at an unfortunate price. That thought was the crack that broke the dam. Her hands trembled. “Oh, Solal. . .” V’alura said and she couldn’t hold back anymore. She opened her arms and pulled him into a tight hug. Mindful of her hands, V’alura gently squeezed him, her mental barriers as high as she could build. “We’ll get through this, together, I promise. What kind of big sister would I be if didn’t keep your company? Especially with all this free time we’ve suddenly found ourselves with.”
Solal was suddenly held in a tight embrace, squeezed in V’alura’s arms. He stood there awkwardly, and then cautiously returned the gesture, his arms loosely around her like he wasn’t sure what to do. He fell back on what was comfortable: “Logically, we must be fine. Ogawa has excellent patient recovery statistics.”
After one last and quick squeeze she released him, “Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I hope you could forgive me for one display of emotion. I am a sick patient after all.” Was it wrong to play the patient card when V’alura knew she was going to be one of those patients? Yes, but she didn’t have the energy to feel guilty that moment. “How about that boarding tour? At least show me where the lounge is?”
When she released him it became apparent he was suffering the same dizziness she was as he had to steady himself. He distracted from that fact by saying, “You have displayed emotions non stop since arriving. It is expected.” What he didn’t say and wouldn’t admit was that he kind of liked the concern that haunted her gaze, the warmth of her hug. He nodded. “Let me show you to your room first, so your helper may drop off your bags. Then I will show you the lounge.”
Without thinking V’alura reached out to steady Solal, and held on until he seemed to regain his balance. She smiled, hoping to cover up any awkwardness with some humor, “Oh good!” She laughed, “My emotional subroutine is working as intended. The virus infecting my system hasn’t spread too far then.” Oh, her scientists back on the AA would have loved that one. They always laughed or groaned at her dumb jokes. . . V’alura wondered how everyone was doing. If the notes she left behind detailing the work she left unfinished or incomplete. There were so many move parts to the life of a CSO and V’alura took on far more work than most usually do.
V’alura steadied him. It was a helpful, kind gesture. He murmured a quick, “Thanks.” He looked at her and blinked with her joke. “We don’t know that it’s a virus. And it hasn’t affected our brains… yet.” Apparently, Solal had a thing for taking things literally. Solal missed his own work, but at least he was on the same ship. He was allowed to have updates on how projects or patients were doing, he just wasn’t allowed to do the work himself.
“But yes, that sounds good to me. I want to get my ladies settled in before all this moving stresses them out too much.” She glanced back at the two terrariums securely settled to the top of her rolling luggage. Both her ladies darted into the safety of their burrows when she moved them from their homes into these (smaller but portable) homes. They’ve yet to step out and V’alura hoped they weren’t hunkering down within for the foreseeable future. It would be a great comfort to her to see them. Perhaps when she feeds them later they’ll feel more secure.
Solal led her toward the lift and told it to take them to deck 6. He peeked at the terrariums, “What’s in there?” His voice sounded scratchy as he finished his sentence and then he went into a coughing fit, careful to turn away from her. It was the flu he’d picked up. When it was over, he took a longer, deep breath.
Oh no. Not him too. V’alura hoped it was only her breaking into coughing fits. Was it another symptom of whatever this illness was? Or were they both incredibly unlucky? Still, she waited for the coughs to subside before answering as though nothing had happened at all, “My lovely pets. Lady No Mercy, a pterinochilus murinus and Lady Vengeance, a chromatopelma cyaneopubescens. They’re both tarantulas.” V’alura turned to smile at the terrariums. “Perhaps once they’re settled in they’ll come out and you can see them for yourself. They’re beautiful to behold.”
When the doors open, he led her down the hall. “This way.” Finally, he stopped at a door at the end of a row in a quieter area and pressed the control for the door. “These will be yours.”
V’alura stepped inside her quarters and let out a quiet sigh of relief. Sickbays and medical wings put her on edge. Too many unpleasant memories and ugly associations. Here, she could pretend like she was on a humble vacation. “This will be perfect.” V’alura said. She took her luggage from the helpful NE who nodded his head before taking his leave. V’alura wasted no time in setting the terrariums on an empty shelf. Decorating can come later. “So! Where’s the lounge! And you’ll have to tell me where your quarters are. If you don’t mind me dropping by. I’m. . .” She hesitating, her voice catching on a wheeze before she stopped. “I’m. . . ah.” V’alura took careful breaths, “I’m curious but it’s okay if you don’t want me poking my nose there.”
When she stopped to breathe, Solal reached for his medical tricorder. Yes, he carried one, usually. Not always. “Are you okay?” There was a note of concern to his voice he failed to hide before speaking. He needed to meditate… He always felt like he needed to meditate lately.
“I’ll. . . I’m good now.” V’alura said with a weak smile. “I always feel like I’m out of breath these days. . . When I’m not coughing up my lungs. Or wheezing like a toad.” She took careful, measured breaths. Solal’s concern was welcome, though she couldn’t help but feel that it was out of place for him. Solal, unlike her, followed the Vulcan path of suppressing emotions. For him to show his feelings so openly. . . “See,” V’alura said, hoping to comfort him, “All better now.”
Solal’s look said he didn’t believe her, but his hand did slide away from his tricorder. He was quite concerned for her, but he hadn’t been able to meditate very effectively in about a week. It was having an effect on his ability to keep his emotions under control.
He nodded. “I’ll show you the lounge. It’s always open to crew and patients.” Solal spent time in the lounge occasionally, it wasn’t his favorite place but sometimes he grew bored of the inside of his quarters. Speaking of his quarters, he shook his head. “Drop by anytime. They’re on the crew deck.” Then he listed the exact deck and room.
“Just remember you said that,” V’alura said, teasing, “No complaining when I drop by to talk your ear off now that I can speak with you when I want without the need for subspace relays to carry my words.” And didn’t that kick her in the gut with how strange it made her feel. They communicated through written words and video messages for so long that they can simply seek the other out to communicate in real time was unreal. As much as she wanted to abuse this access while staying aboard the Ogawa she knew Solal didn’t have the same social energy as her. She’ll speak with him but she won’t overwhelm him, despite any teasing claims.
Solal looked at her. It was a look of you better not tainted with a hint of… maybe excitement, that they could now talk freely, whenever they wanted. The letters took time and energy to write, and then took time to transmit to the other person. On the other hand, it would be a secret to no one on the Ogawa that Solal had a sister. And it wouldn’t be long before it was also known by at least some of his colleagues that whatever they had, it was suspected it was genetic. “Are you ready to see the lounge?” It seemed like she was done, at least for now, setting her things down.
For the time being she set her luggage aside to put away later. Only her pets and the framed photo of V’alura and her mother were given the care of a proper and immediate placement. Everything else could wait until later when she was bored out of her mind and in need of something to do. “Lead the way,” V’alura said, and motioned for Solal to take the lead. Though her chest ached something fierce she’ll soldier through. The pain wasn’t even as bad as the time a horse kicked her in chest. Now that it was just the two of them, V’alura spoke up. “Should I keep our familial relationship between ourselves? Given our past as co-researchers in a medical study I don’t think it would be far-fetched for people to believe that we are good, albeit long-distance, friends.”
Solal was a private person, and someone who never wanted to know about his biological family. It felt right to give the choice to him. To reveal their familial connection or not. If he desired her to keep it secret then she will, revealing it only to whoever he wished to know. “I don’t want you to feel pressured to reveal anything you’re not ready to.” She added, softly, “As glad as I am to finally stand next to you in person, I understand that the timing is. . . less than ideal.”
© 1991-2023 STF. Terms of Service