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Those Who Come After
A Friend In Need

901 - Senior Staff Quarters <Deck 9> [Gibraltar Station]

These quarters are spacious and comfortable, and of fairly good size. The main room is a rectangle with the door centered across from a bank of tall, straight windows. There is a work station to the left of the doors, with desk and display panels, a maroon swivel chair providing seating. A white sofa, large enough for three, is placed under the windows slightly to the right, facing the door. A small fern sits upon the window ledge, its twin resting upon a smoked glass coffee table in front of the sofa. Twin chairs of the same plush style as the sofa complete the seating arrangement. There is a replicator and table ringed with four chairs to the right, opposite the desk. Left is a door leading to the bedroom. The bed is large enough for two, with maroon comforter and gray pillows. There is a closet and cupboards for the occupant's belongings, and a bathroom that boasts not only a shower but a full tub as well. The carpeting throughout the quarters is cyan trimmed with light gray that matches the wall paneling. Soft lighting comes from panels in the ceiling, and there are twin vertical alert tracers on either side of the door.

Gwen Hawkins

Solvek is sitting in his quarters. His face is still paler than normal and a slight sweat has broken on his brow. A mug of Vulcan tea sits before him on his coffee table. The lights are very low and a few candles have been lit, filling the room with the smell of rosemary and lavender. He stares at the mug as his door chimes. "Enter," he replies without taking his eyes off the mug.

Gwen steps through the door and pauses a moment, letting her eyes adjust to the light as the door closes behind her. As she comes closer and can see Solvek, her face mirrors her concern. "Solvek? Are you alright?"

Solvek doesn't remove his gaze from the table. "Physically, I am experiencing similar effects of what could be called 'shock.' Mentally and emotionally, I am as you would say 'going through hell.'" He pauses, "I did something that was highly illogical and I am not entirely certain as to my motivations for doing it."

Gwen slowly lowers herself into one of the chairs. She leans forward, placing her elbows on her knees and lacing her fingers together in front of her. "What exactly did you do?" While there's still concern in her voice, there's a sharp edge--a hint of the Captain speaking to her Exec.

Solvek looks up at Gwen. "I engaged in a mind meld with Winifred Brooks."

Whatever Gwen was expecting to hear, that wasn't it. Her eyebrows shoot up and she takes a moment to say anything. When she does, it seems all she can think to say is, "Why?"

Solvek's voice is slightly shaky, "My intention was to transfer my teachings of Vulcan emotional suppression to assist her with... a problem she was having. However, I pushed too deep... allowed her too far in. The strain is quite painful." He takes a sip from his mug and lifts a hand to his temple.

Gwen just stares at Solvek for a long, long moment. She considers her words carefully before saying, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"The only reasons I called you here were to relay a message and to be in the presence of... a friend." Solvek says the last bit slowly and cautiously.

Gwen nods slowly. "And the message?"

"Lieutenant Brooks 'appreciates your thoughts on the costume matter, but she does not appreciate matchmaking.'" Solvek restates the message verbatim with a slight detachment from the words.

Gwen sighs. "I didn't mean to be doing so... she came and asked me, and I knew she wanted you to notice her, so I'll admit I was thinking, offhand, of things you like. But I did feel the valkyrie fit her, personality-wise, and such a costume would look good on her, and, I'd hope, be something she'd be confident in." There's a long pause. "I suppose you're upset?"

Solvek's gaze returns to the table. "No Gwen. My initial reaction was one of irritation but I quickly realized that your intentions were meant in a positive manner. Therefore, I am not upset."

Gwen nods. "That's good." Pause, and then, softer, "Solvek, please. I know you usually don't talk about these things, but unless you want to sit with me in silence, it would probably help for you to tell me what it is that has you so... riled up. Was it just her access to your mind?"

Solvek visibly exhales deeply. "Her access to my mind was not as disturbing as my own access to my mind. I witnessed things I had forgotten and things I had no previous knowledge of. Furthermore, her mind's images... she is only the second individual I had melded with. The first was T'Mar and our bonding already forged a telepathic link. The experience was... intense, too say the least."

Gwen raises her eyebrows. "I can imagine." Long pause. "If mind melds are so intense... if you hadn't done one except with T'Mar before..." Gwen pauses, as speaking that causes her pain as well. "...Why not simply teach her the techniques, the knowledge you wished to impart?"

Solvek seems slightly alarmed by the question. "The amount of time needed to teach a human the discipline of Surak would be unsatisfactory. Her sanity was degenerating, Gwen. She was in need of assistance immediately."

"So call the Counselor. You know, the professional psychologist, the Betazoid I put on the payroll?" Gwen's voice, despite an edge, is more probing, pushing Solvek to find the true answer, than a reprimand.

Solvek shakes his head. "Her natural defenses forbid her from explaining the truth of her problems. I did it because I was concerned as her colleague and I felt there was no one else who could assist her."

"So you rode in on a white horse and did just that. Using an intimate and intense technique you'd only used with your wife, letting her into the depths of your mind and you into hers so deeply you're now more shaken than I've seen you in... a long time." Gwen takes a deep breath, and her next words are spoken with the deliberation, care, and trepidation of one blatantly ignoring a 'do not feed the bear' sign. "Solvek, has it occurred to you that maybe you have feelings for this girl that go beyond friendship?"

Solvek just sighs. "I am aware that my emotional response around Winifred is one similar to that of adolescent humans who experience a 'crush.' But that is a fleeting and meaningless relationship. Besides that fact, I believe that I am not fully ready to let go of T'Mar" He lets his head sink at the mention of his wife.

Gwen shakes her head. "I never said you were. However, you need to be aware of what you're feeling. You made a decision, I suspect, because you wanted to help Ms. Brooks, and because you wanted, on some level, to be closer to her, but didn't feel you could do so 'normally.' Ignoring what's going on inside your head won't make it go away, Solvek. You have to control it... not let it control you." Pause. "Unless I'm completely blind, she's head over heels for you. Tell me you at least handled that delicately. Unless I'm wrong, and completely misreading her."

"My response was one of concern. I told her that at the moment I could not share her feelings for me." Solvek looks at Gwen. "I am not entirely certain that her response was one that most would consider 'positive.' She explained her intentions were not to get involved with Vulcans because of their 'volatile and unpredictable manner.'"

Gwen blinks, several times. "Vulcans are volatile and unpredictable?" She doesn't seem to know quite what to say to that...

"Her most recent relationship was with a Romulan posing as a Vulcan. His control over his emotions broke while they were on their cadet cruise, and his actions were extremely... heinous." Solvek's voice has a hint of anger. "Therefore, it is safe to say that her view on my race is slightly skewed."

"So... she doesn't want to get involved with you because Romulans are volatile and unpredictable, especially when masquerading as Vulcans." Gwen pauses. "You know, perhaps you could, ahh, sit her down... explain things a bit?"

Gwen pauses, then adds, "Then again, perhaps what she's worried about is the possibility of your emotional control--or any Vulcan's emotional control--breaking. You can be rather... passionate, and violent, when you have lost that control."

"It is this fact that scares her the most, I believe. Her education has taught her that the Romulans are essentially Vulcans without Surak's teaching. While this may be true, Romulan minds are much more fragile due to their warlike cultural beliefs." Solvek sighs, which is something he's only comfortable doing around Gwen. "What I need to ask you is, do you think there is any chance of my emotional control breaking if I was to express my feelings for her, however mild they may be? I am asking you this because you know me better than anyone else."

Gwen thinks about this for a moment. "I don't think she's worried about your expressing emotions in general, but rather what can happen if those emotions get the better of you. Expressing them, working with them, is healthy. Part of being human." She pauses, clears her throat. "Sorry, that's a terribly chauvinistic term, but you know what I mean. However, you have the perfect opportunity to express yourself without having to be clinical, or worrying about becoming too forceful. The Ball."

Solvek thinks this over for a moment. "This thought had already crossed my mind in a previous discussion. The only problem with doing this is the suspicion that my actions are only part of the character I am portraying and not part of myself."

"So tell her they're not. If she doesn't trust you to be honest with her, you're never going to manage a friendship let alone anything else." Gwen chuckles, ruefully. "I think that if she thinks about it long enough, she'll probably see why you chose that path--to allow yourself to express emotion you might otherwise have trouble expressing, in a way she, as a human, would appreciate. She's a smart girl, and an anthropologist to boot, remember. She should understand the difficulties societal expectations put on people."

Solvek blinks slowly and then nods. "It is safe to assume that your previous suggestion for a costume would be appropriate in this matter?"

Gwen laughs. "Appropriate? Perfect is more like it." She shakes her head. "I don't mean to offend, Solvek, but I do look forward to the day when you've come to understand yourself better. I feel like I'm back in school, counseling a friend on what to wear to impress that boy she likes." Gwen's eyes twinkle a bit. "I'm not demeaning you or your emotions. I just wonder if perhaps you need a crash-course in mature dating rituals. Given the... nature of Vulcan relationships."

"It is embarrassing for me, but I must agree with your observation. Human courting rituals seem extremely complex in relation to Vulcans." Solvek pauses for a moment. "I believe I have a theory on what to do tomorrow. I would like your assistance refining my plan."

Gwen smiles, and reaches over to grasp Solvek's shoulder for a moment. "What are friends for?"

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