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What Lies Beneath

[Current Time]

OOC Time: Sun Jun 24 05:52:41 2007
Earth Time: May 08 18:10:08 2376
Star Time: 53350.0 16:09:15

Fore Walkway <Deck 31> [Gibraltar Station]

The Promenade is an airy, open cylinder that stretches for five decks. Around the outside of this cylinder on each deck are walkways that allow for easy foot traffic between the various establishments lining the walls. The outer wall of these walkways are paneled in light gray except where interrupted by doors and openings. Some establishments are open to the Promenade, allowing one to look inside before entering, while some merely have a door with a plaque declaring what is beyond. The inner side is bordered by a low rail. Beyond this rail are the trees and bushes of the central garden, shading this level of the walkway from the lighting above. The lighting on the Promenade adjusts according to the time--by day it is quite bright, dimming at around 1800 until its darkest point (though still light enough to see clearly) at midnight. From here it slowly brightens until reaching its full, daytime brightness once more at 0600. Vertical alert tracers line the doors and other openings, showing the status of the station.

Winifred Brooks

Lieutenant J.G. Winifred "Brooks" (Qipao)

This woman is slightly taller than is average for a female of her species, standing perhaps five feet eight inches by old Earth scale--perhaps 1.8 meters. She has the sort of frame that some might call thin and others might call skinny--while she's clearly female, and a bit curvy, and certainly healthy-looking, she's... well... thin. Her face is long, and might be considered pretty if one likes human women with pleasantly rounded faces, with brown eyes, long nose, full lips, straight eyebrows. Her hair, long enough to reach her elbows and curly, is also brown, the kind that glints gold in the light, pulled into a loose bun at the top of her head in an attempt to get it all out of the way. Somehow despite the attractiveness of her features and frame she manages to put off an impression of being shorter and mousier than she really is. Perhaps it's her stance, or the way her eyes tend not to look people directly in the face. Perhaps it's the way her voice seems to run a mile a minute when she talks, hampered somewhat by a thick regional accent. Perhaps it's the glasses she often has perched on the end of her nose--and who wears glasses these days, anyhow?

She wears a long dress in a traditional Chinese style. The fabric of the dress is black, covered in a red brocade blossom pattern. The high collar is Mandarin-style, fastened with a single round button. The closure of the dress continues from the collar down to her right side just where arm meets body, fastened with round buttons along its length. The sleeves are elbow-length and tight. The dress is form-fitting to the waist, where it falls in a straight skirt to her ankles, slit on the left side to the knee to allow for ease of movement. She wears black slippers, embroidered in gold and red, and a bracelet of linked jade rectangles encircles her left wrist. An ivory shawl is draped across her shoulders, made of wool spun to be light and delicate. It is long enough to reach her hands, its ends fringed.

Commander "Solvek" (Three-Piece Suit)

He is a tall man, over six feet in height. The dominant feature of his face is the nose, long and pointed, to either side of which are set expressive dark eyes. The other most obvious feature are the pointed ears easily seen past his regulation-short hair. His skin has a greenish cast as befits a Vulcan, yet he looks as though he perhaps practices sympathetic looks more often than most Vulcans--or perhaps it is merely because his eyebrows are not as given to points as most others of his race. He is a bit lanky, but looks to eat well enough.

He wears a three piece suit. A pair of dark gray slacks fall just below his ankle, covering the tops of the pair of black loafers on his feet. Around his waist is a black belt with a silver buckle. A black button-down shirt and a red vest are covered by a double-breasted dark gray coat. Around the collar of his shirt is a thin red tie.

It's just at that point in the day when the lights on the Promenade start to dim. As this is not long after Alpha shift gets off-duty, and dinner time for many others who are not on a rotating shift schedule, the Promenade is getting busy.

Off to one side of the throng, standing near the arched entrance to the gardens, is a young woman in a black and red dress, an ivory shawl clutched around her shoulders. She's scanning the crowd for someone, craning her head a bit--she's taller than average, but not that tall.

Slowly walking up behind the woman is a tall man, his only odd features being his pointed ears and his upward angled eyebrows. He quietly approaches the woman from behind and stands a bit to her side. "Looking for anyone important?" His question is stated in a humorous tone.

"I have a date," she responds. "I don't suppose you've seen him... kinda tall, Vulcan... he's the First--" she turns to face the man and blinks. "Solvek! I didn't realize... usually you're not so... you don't sound like you're making a joke when you are."

"Doctor Omtala said there might be some changes in speech patterns. This just happens to be one of them. Anyhow," Solvek wraps an arm around Fred's waist. "Shall we go?"

Fred smiles, placing a hand on Solvek's where it rests on her waist. "Sure," she says. "I'm starving." Not that that's anything new...

(The scene cuts to a restaurant in the garden.)

Restaurant <Deck 31> [Gibraltar Station]

Spanning five decks, the ceiling of the garden is high enough to hold full-grown trees. There are indeed trees here, along with flowers in every imaginable color, grass in a hundred shades of green and blue. The lighting overhead is diffuse enough to nearly substitute for sunlight on an M-class world. The plants are well-tended and some effort has been made to make the layout pleasing to the eye. The sounds of bird calls fill the air, insects chosen for their compatibility with the plants here flit about, and there are small mammals about as well, again chosen for their compatibility with the plants and each other. With the scents of life and growing things surrounding one, it almost seems like a park on an M-class world, save for the Promenade walkways one can sometimes spot high above.

The trees shade this area well enough that it needs its own lighting; in the evening and night that lighting is subdued to provide a more subtle, possibly romantic mood. The restaurant is shielded from the rest of the garden by thick bushes and a low fence with a single gate. Just past this gate is a station where a host waits to seat guests. There are several tables of various sizes arranged here, spaced to give privacy--though those who want to be truly private may sit at a table screened from the rest of the area by more bushes. The tables are mahogany covered in white linen, mahogany chairs providing seating. The cooking is done in a kitchen easily seen from most tables--a full kitchen complete with grill, ovens, refrigerator and freezer, and a replicator for those items not specially procured by the staff. All the staff, from the hosts and waiters to the chefs and bussers, are friendly and courteous, glad to make substitutions. The menu covers a wide range of cuisine from the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and one may find that a request the chefs did not know how to prepare one night has joined the menu a week later. The small bar next to the kitchen provides a wide array of drinks--not as many as to be found at Area 51, to be sure, but still a good range of choices to compliment one's meal.

Winifred Brooks

As the couple approaches the restaurant, Solvek removes his arm from around Fred's waist and reaches out to open the gate, holding it for her to go through before him.

Fred quirks a brow at Solvek but goes on through the gate, looking around at the restaurant as she idly lets her shawl fall down a bit to be hooked around her elbows. "I haven't been here before... it looks real nice."

"To be completely honest, neither have I. Gwen recommended it highly, however. She usually has very good taste, so I trust her judgment." Solvek approaches the host station and gives his name, indicating he had a reservation. The two are shortly seated at one of the more private tables. Solvek does make sure to hold Fred's chair for her.

Fred unloops her shawl and lets the host take it away. She seems a bit bemused by Solvek's holding her chair, but sits and allows him to help her get settled. As the host asks for their drink orders, she blinks a bit and glances to Solvek.

Solvek quickly takes a look at the drink menu. "We will have two Manhattans, please." He glances at Fred with a quick smile.

The host nods and moves away.

Fred quirks that brow again. She's getting good at that. "Manhattans? I'm terribly behind on some aspects of Human culture, especially cocktails."

"Apparently the Manhattan is a common before-dinner drink among those who indulge regularly. It has some historic relevance in that it is was the first Earth cocktail to use vermouth. It has a very fruity and sweet taste, but a very bold texture." Solvek finishes settling himself in his chair. "I believe you will like it."

"When'd you become such an expert?" Fred smiles across the table.

"Again I must confess that Gwen advised me in this matter. However, after receiving her recommendations I decided to research the subject matter in a more extensive way." Solvek smiles lightly, looking extremely relaxed and calm.

Fred opens her menu and gives Solvek a wry look over its top. "Ahh, so the Captain's the expert. I guess that's to be expected." She starts perusing the menu, tilting her head a bit as she considers what to eat.

The waiter comes to the table to take orders, bringing the Manhattans with him. Solvek looks up. "I will be having the rainbow trout in cream sauce. And you?" He looks to Fred.

Fred blinks, peers at the menu. "Umm... the Peking duck." She glances to Solvek and says, "I'm in a Mandarin mood today. I have no idea why. Not that Pek... well. That's not important."

Solvek smiles, then turns back to the waiter. "And we'll have the house champagne."

The waiter writes all of this down and then moves off.

Brooks picks up her drink and peers at Solvek. "Fish? Human fish, no less?" She takes a sip and blinks. "This is pretty good..."

"I feel, for some reason, the desire for meat. Knowing that my system would not handle a red meat very well, I decided to opt for a white fish." Solvek quirks a brow at Fred. "Mandarin? That is an old human culture based in the ancient country of China, correct?"

Fred nods, sipping her drink again. "Mmm-hmm. China was a... hodgepodge of sorts, of several ethnic groups, including the Han, the Manchu, and of course the Mongols, who invaded, oh, a couple of times. Peking duck is technically a Han dish, since it was quite popular during the Ming Dynasty--the last ruled by ethnic Hans before the Manchu took over with the Qing Dynasty. Especially with the Ming royal family." She is clearly in full lecture mode. Sips her drink. "However, it can be traced all the way back to the Yuan Dynasty, which was established by Mongols under Kublai Khan, the Ming's direct predecessor. It ultimately became known as Peking duck for its association with, well, Peking, traditional capital of China." She gestures to herself. "My dress is a variant of a qipao, which was traditionally a Manchu style, before becoming pretty much associated with 'China' in general later on. So, yes... Mandarin. Which is what the Manchu people came to be known as."

Solvek continues to smile throughout the entirely of Fred's digression. "It is good that your xenocultural expertise includes your own race's cultures. Beyond the historical value of your dress, I must say, you look quite beautiful in it."

Fred blushes a bit, glances down at the table. "Umm... thanks. I mean, 'xenocultural expert' is something of a misnomer. I'm an anthropologist, really." She clears her throat. "Umm, but, the qipao was originally a very loose garment... I don't think I'd look quite as good in something from the older tradition." A shrug. "This is the most recognizable form these days though."

Solvek shakes his head. "Regardless, it still looks quite beautiful on your figure. And I must say, I feel slightly under dressed."

Fred blinks at Solvek and then shakes her head. "Oh, no... what you're wearing is... it's perfect. You look... quite good in those colors." She smiles over the drink.

Solvek smirks. "Even you must see the cliche I have gone to in choosing this outfit. It seems that I cannot escape the confines of Starfleet uniforms, even with formal wear."

Fred is wide-eyed. "Oh, but, you really do look good in those... in the uniforms... better in the red, I think, than in the blue, but those were old pictures..." She blinks and clears her throat. "I mean... I like it. It looks good."

"Thank you. I must say that it took me quite some time to decide on whether I should dress in Human formal wear or Vulcan. Noting the setting, I believe the correct choice. Although I still think you outdid me." Solvek smiles. "But I don't mind."

Alright, so Fred's cheeks are just going to be pink the whole night. That's fine. "Vulcan formal wear would've worked, too." She pauses a moment. "Y'know... you don't have to... try so hard to do 'Human' things. For me, I mean. I mean... you're Vulcan. And, y'know, I don't mind that. I suppose Vulcans don't really 'date' but... I imagine the formal robes would have looked good, too."

Solvek seems to think of what to say. "I don't enjoy dampening your spirits, but I did not choose my attire solely for your sake. It felt right, to me."

Fred nods. "Oh, that's good. I just mean..." She sighs. "I guess I mean... I like you trying Human things. And, y'know, I've shown you Human things. I just thought, maybe, you could show me Vulcan?" She gestures. "I mean, this is a Human-style dinner, obviously. Which is fine, and good, and enjoyable. I'd like to see your side of things, though."

"We shall see." There is an odd smile on Solvek's face that hints that there is more to what he says than he is showing.

Fred nods to this, and as she finishes her drink the first course arrives.

As they eat, the conversation turns to work topics... the Maelstrom, the relic brought by the Montgomery, etc. Eventually dessert is brought (flan with caramel drizzled over its top) along with Vulcan brandy for each.

"So... I hate to be somewhat narcissistic but I am curious for an outside perspective." Solvek pauses to take a small bite of the flan and a sip of his drink. "How do you think I am handling this change? Well, do I need improvement in areas... am I doing too much? What do you see?"

Fred frowns a bit as she takes her first bite of flan... though the frown's hard to keep on her face. "Oh, mmm... that's good. Umm... I'll admit I miss the logical side of you a bit... but I'm sure that'll be back." She smiles. "You're doing pretty well. I mean, I haven't heard of you slamming doors or having arguments with anyone yet... and you're being awful nice to me." The smile fades a bit and she glances away. "I'm afraid it won't last, honestly. I want you to be yourself, and I know public displays of affection aren't very Vulcan. Heck, I'm not totally comfortable with them. I mean more... privately."

Solvek gets a dismissive look in his eye for a moment. It is quickly replaced with happiness. He reaches across the table and takes Fred's hand in his own. "Well, I think the best option in this case is to enjoy it while it lasts. And who knows, perhaps I will find some great epiphany through this change, and my habits once it passes will change."

Fred allows the hand to be taken, though she seems unwilling to totally give up the flan. She smiles in reply. "We'll see. I love you either way, you know. I guess I'm just being a bit selfish."

"I wouldn't use the term 'selfish'... indulgent would probably be better." Solvek glances pointedly at the flan. "And I don't blame you. I admit that my stiff Vulcan manner isn't exactly the most personable when it comes to relationships. But then again, you haven't seen the release of most barriers that my father's species displays with their mates. It is rather intense."

Fred nods slowly. "Mmm. Well, everything in time, right?" She releases the hand and gestures. "Eat. It's good. Isn't it? It might be better than Dad's. Can't possibly tell him. He'd be devastated." She shakes her head. "I dunno what he'd make of you... I don't know if Dad knows how to cook without meat."

"Well, I would do my best in the circumstances. Being vegetarian is a choice, not a necessity. And after eating that fish, I believe my choices may need re-evaluation." Solvek smiles and takes a bite of his flan. "You are right... this is quite good."

Fred smiles. "Maybe I'll get you eating tacos someday. They can be made with chicken, y'know. Or even fish, but it's not quite the same. Still, y'know, baby steps." She goes back to eating, and the dessert is soon finished.

"Yes, all things in moderation, as the saying goes." Solvek's dessert is quickly finished as well. He sits, idly sipping his brandy. "Do you feel like going for a walk, perhaps in the rose garden?" He smiles. "This is an invitation for you to be romantic with 'the Vulcan.'"

Fred smiles in return, finishing off her own drink. "I'd like that, sure."

Solvek nods and motions to the waiter. The dishes are cleared and the tab settled, and soon the couple are walking through the garden, arm in arm, Fred's shawl about her shoulders once more.

(We cut away to the rose garden, last seen in Episode 2.)

Rose Garden <Deck 31> [Gibraltar Station]

Spanning five decks, the ceiling of the garden is high enough to hold full-grown trees. There are indeed trees here, along with flowers in every imaginable color, grass in a hundred shades of green and blue. The lighting overhead is diffuse enough to nearly substitute for sunlight on an M-class world. The plants are well-tended and some effort has been made to make the layout pleasing to the eye. The sounds of bird calls fill the air, insects chosen for their compatibility with the plants here flit about, and there are small mammals about as well, again chosen for their compatibility with the plants and each other. With the scents of life and growing things surrounding one, it almost seems like a park on an M-class world, save for the Promenade walkways one can sometimes spot high above.

This corner of the garden is filled with rose bushes displaying a wide variety of the delicate flower. There are pinks and reds, whites and yellows--even a few rare and carefully tended black and purple varieties. The bushes and the white stone paths through them are laid out in such a way as to show off the best points of each variety, leading one through a display of sheer beauty. The scent of the roses fills the air here and is quite unmistakable. There are archways made of trellis upon which bushes have been encouraged to climb, and areas of green grass where benches have been placed to allow one to rest and take in a particularly prized specimen. The entire area is surrounded by a stone wall, with gates leading back to the garden's pathways, as would befit a Terran rose garden of a bygone age.

Winifred Brooks

Fred walks along in silence for a time, simply enjoying the garden in the slowly darkening night. As they approach the garden, she comments, "I haven't really had time to come in here very much... busy working, y'know."

Solvek smirks. "Well, then I must be very fortunate to be here with you on your first trip." He looks around. "It is quite beautiful."

Fred nods, looking around at the flowers as they walk. For now she seems content just to walk, and be there, looking at the garden and enjoying the time together.

After a time, Solvek stops and gently pulls Fred to sit on a bench. He slowly strokes her hand, and his face gives the impression that he is thinking on something. Finally, "You mentioned earlier wanting to experience the formalities of Vulcan relationships."

Fred settles herself on the bench, shawl looping around her elbows. She smiles to Solvek. "Well, it's only right, if I'm dating a Vulcan. But Vulcans don't really date, do they? I mean, before the bonding and mating and all of that..."

"Half-Vulcan," Solvek corrects her. "You easily forget that I'm only half Vulcan. As to dating, you're correct, they don't."

Fred sighs. "I'm sorry... it's just... you don't talk about it much yourself. Until the last couple of weeks you barely admitted to your Human half. I... thought you weren't comfortable with it." She tilts her head. "Then what is there?"

"There is the bonding ritual. Something I think you and I are ready to go through." Solvek turns to Fred, holding her hand in both of his. "What I'm trying to say is, will you join with me as my mate, Fred?"

Fred blinks repeatedly. "I... I... wait. Are you asking..." She blinks again. "Mate... as in wife? As in marriage?"

"If you want, I can use the Human euphemisms." Solvek smiles. "Fred, will you marry me?"

"I just wanted to be clear." Way to avoid answering, Fred. "I..." She can't quite seem to find her voice. "You can't be serious. You... can't be."

Solvek shrugs, and sighs. "Well, it was worth a try." He leans in and kisses her deeply. After pulling away, "Let's try this again. Fred, will you marry me?"

"You're... persistent." Fred manages a smile. "I'm sorry, I just didn't think... I mean, I thought I didn't... I couldn't..." Her eyes fill with tears suddenly. "I'm sorry," she whispers, and suddenly throws herself into Solvek's arms, burying her face on his shoulder. "Yes, I'll be your mate, Solvek. God, yes."

Solvek embraces Fred, slowly stroking the back of her neck. He leans down and whispers, "There is nothing for you to measure up to. You are your own person, and I chose you for that reason. I believe what was in the past is in the past, and should be left there."

Fred pulls back a bit to smile at Solvek with wet eyes. "You say the nicest things." She clears her throat. "Are you sure your family'll..."

Solvek smiles. "You've already lived up to the expectations of the most scrutinizing member of my family. If T'Lyt accepts you, I am certain my father and her mother will do the same." He looks at Fred for a moment. "It looks as if the light is failing here. Perhaps we should retire to my quarters and you can try on the outfit I purchased from Patterson's."

Even in the dim light, Fred's blush is easy to see. "Are you... sure? We're not bonded yet..."

Solvek puts an arm around Fred's shoulders. "The bonding ceremony is actually a formality, something for the community... and typically at the onset of the first pon farr. As I have already reached that milestone, I feel that there is no reason to do other than we wish." He sweeps Fred low and kisses her.

(The scene dissolves and fades into a set of quarters.)

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.

Winifred Brooks

Solvek ushers Fred right on through the outer portion of his quarters, not even bothering to turn on the lights. The bedroom is decorated in a rather strange manner for a Vulcan. Unlit candles are placed along the windowsill and on holders on the walls. There is a bottle of champagne next to his bed, in an ice bucket, along with two glasses. Laid out on the bed is the outfit Solvek purchased from Behind Closed Doors--a robe, chemise, thong, garters, and thigh-high stockings, all in red Ferengi silk and lace. Solvek gestures to the outfit and then to the door in the far wall. "Go change while I set the mood."

Brooks peers around the room for a moment, quirking an eyebrow. "I guess Vulcans are prepared for anything, hmm?" She shakes her head with a smile and goes to collect the clothing, pausing a moment at the bathroom door to look back. She opens her mouth as if to say something and then shakes her head, disappearing into the bathroom.

As the bathroom door closes, Solvek begins to light the candles, calling to the computer to turn down the sensitivity on the fire supression systems. Once the candles are lit, he turns out the normal lights and turns on some soft music. He then opens the closet door and pulls out a long dark blue satin robe, in Human style.

In the bathroom, Fred has finished changing, belting the robe so that the outfit really isn't visible for the moment. She takes some time folding her clothing, then looks into the mirror as she takes her hair down. As she shakes it out into its normal curls, she takes a deep breath. "You can do this, Fred," she tells herself. "Solvek loves you, and you're engaged now. Ain't no crime for him to see you half-naked. Right? Right." She drops her arms and shakes her head. "I have got to be the silliest woman in the galaxy, standing in here talking to myself with him outside waiting."

There's a call from the bedroom: "Fred? Do you need any help?"

Fred, wonder of wonders, blushes when she's alone. "No... I... umm... I'll be right there." Taking another breath, she turns and leaves the bathroom, standing in the bathroom doorway looking around at the candlelit room. She almost unconsciously takes the sort of pose one would expect from a more experienced woman, one leg bent to show through the opening of the robe, one arm resting on the doorway, shoulders pulled back, yet her eyes are downcast, as if she can't quite bring herself to look directly at Solvek.

Solvek is lounging on the bed, sitting up against the headboard with his legs stretched out, holding a glass of champagne in either hand. He wears the blue satin robe, tied at the waist, leaving his lower legs and feet bare. He offers one glass to Fred and says, "Come, make yourself comfortable."

Brooks walks over to the bed and climbs up to sit next to Solvek, legs curled up next to her. She reaches out to take the champagne and smiles a bit. "So is this a Vulcan custom or have you been studying Human ones?" She still can't seme to quite look him in the eye, and focuses on his chest instead.

Solvek takes a sip of his champagne. "Some Human customs have their..." His eyes trail along Fred's body. "...appeal." He reaches out and, with two fingers under her chin, brings Fred's gaze to meet his own. "Please, don't be afraid to look at me. I'm not going to hurt you or anything."

Brooks looks away, as if by instinct, for a moment, and then looks back, blushing. "M'not used to... all this. I'm sorry." She bites her lip and pulls away enough to take a drink of the champagne. "I guess you are, though."

Solvek gives a bark of a laugh. "Used to this? You obviously have never studied Vulcan mating customs. Oh, sure, there is passion, but as for romance, that is something that involves exchange of emotions and feelings, something that my late wife was not prone to doing."

Brooks tilts her head a bit. "I thought Vulcans were open and emotional with their mates, though. Or moreso than usual." She takes another sip of the champagne.

Solvek shakes his head. "Moreso than usual amounted letting each other know we cared in a way more than given to others. T'Mar was not comfortable with any demonstration of emotion. But enough about the past. Let's focus on the here and now." Solvek reaches out and gently caresses the side of Fred's face.

Brooks reaches out to set the champagne glass down, smiling again. "Do you want me to take off the robe?"

"I think that would be a good start." Solvek gives Fred a look-over once again and smiles.

Brooks reaches for the belt of the robe and unties it, then reaches up to pull the robe back from her shoulders. She does all of this somewhat slowly, almost as if she's peeling the thing away until it's left on the bed in a puddle behind her. She bites her lip as she looks at Solvek, ducking her head a bit but still keeping her eyes on his.

As Fred undoes the knot at her waist, Solvek sets his own glass down and turns on his side to get a better look. As the robe slips off her shoulders, his eyebrows lift. "Wow. That is more beautiful than I imagined. If we were already married, I don't know if I could stop myself from taking you right now."

Well, she was already blushing, so the fact that the blush doesn't fade is hardly surprising. "You picked it out," Fred replies, and bites her lip again. She does that a lot. "You talk an awful lot. It's making me nervous. Or, I mean, is that normal?"

Solvek gives Fred a hurt look. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know you wanted to cut right to the chase." Without waiting for a reply, Solvek sits up and leans forward, placing a hand behind Fred's head. He brings her down to the bed and kisses her passionately.

Brooks doesn't resist, but returns the kiss as she shifts her body around, extending her legs so that she's lying down. She reaches her arms up around Solvek's neck, twining her fingers together as she pulls him a bit closer.

Solvek's free hand, (the right one, incidentally), begins to trail down Brooks' side, finding rest on her upper thigh. He leaves it there as he pulls away from her kiss and begins to plant gentle pecks on her neck.

One hand tangles in Solvek's hair as Fred giggles--yes, giggles. "That tickles," she says rather breathlessly.

Solvek mumbles into Fred's neck then pulls away. "My apologies. Would you rather I did it elsewhere?" He gives Fred a very seductive look.

"If you want? I dunno how you're gonna get past all... this." Fred gestures to the chemise with her free hand, the other having loosened a bit to let Solvek sit up.

"There is so much more to you than 'that.'" Solvek smiles as he slides down the bed a bit and leans down to place a soft kiss on Brooks upper thigh. As he does so his hands slide up the chemise slowly.

Fred closes her eyes as Solvek slides away, not seeming to know what to do with her hands, so placing them up near her head. As good a place as any, right?

Solvek's kisses become more eager and he begins inching his way inward on Brooks' thigh. His hands move to the straps of the chemise, where they begin sliding the straps down off Brooks' shoulders.

As Solvek goes for the straps, Fred moves her hands to take his and move them away. She sits up a bit and pulls the chemise over her head. There are fine, light scars in a crisscrossing network along her upper body--not where they'd be seen unless she was practically naked, but now obvious. And obvious why she usually keeps everything between waist and breasts (as well as her back) hidden.

Solvek sits up again to look at Fred. Instead of focusing on her fully, his eyes fall to the network of scars. He reaches out and trails his finger across one of them. "Fred, how did you...?"

Fred peers at the scars for a moment, shivering a little as Solvek touches her. "I... it was Menora, it... he used to cut me, when he was... when..." She abruptly turns away, curling up on herself, arms folding over her stomach.

Solvek pulls away as if he was struck. He shakes his head a bit then his expression turns to concern. "Fred... I didn't know. I am sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up. Please, relax." He moves to sit beside her.

Fred has closed her eyes and curled up on herself even more. She appears to be trying to take deep breaths to calm herself, but is shuddering nonetheless. She presses her lips together and shakes her head, then forces them open to breathe.

Solvek stops short of sitting, and watches Brooks for a moment. Then he squints his eyes a bit and sits down, maneuvering himself behind her. He leans down and softly sayas, "Fred, it is going to be alright... no one can hurt you here. You are safe." He reaches up and places two fingers on either side of her head, near her temples. He then begins moving them in a circular pattern, applying pressure to the area. After a time he closes his eyes and begins to rock back and forth in rhythm to his massaging.

At first, Fred flinches at the touch, whispering, "Don't hurt me, please, don't hurt me... I didn't do nothing wrong, I... please... don't..." She trails off as whatever it is Solvek's doing starts to affect her. She stops shuddering, her breathing becomes more relaxed and regular. She uncurls herself, slumping against Solvek. As he begins to rock she stiffens just a bit, though it's more of a stiffness of paying attention to something than fear or worry. "Solvek," she murmurs, "what're you doin'? I was... I... usually takes hours to get out of those flashbacks..."

"Just flow with it, Fred. Let it take you." Solvek's voice is still a whisper, though there is something beneath it, a hunger of sorts. "Relax and feel what I feel." His rocking increases in speed as does the massaging motion on Fred's temples.

"You promise it won't hurt?" Fred, too, is whispering, but there's a catch in her tone and she arches her back a little as the speed increases. "I just don't want it to hurt anymore. Don't want to be afraid. It hurts 'cause I'm afraid... Solvek..." The last word has a different tone, half-pleading. She reaches out and back blindly, toward Solvek, trying to touch him without being able to see him.

"You have my word. There will be no pain. Only you and I together." Solvek leans back a bit, pulling Fred toward him. "There is nothing to be afraid of now, Fred." He leans down a bit and releases only for a second. He wraps his arms under Fred's and resumes his massaging.

"You and I together," Fred murmurs. She leans back, resting her head on Solvek's chest, opening her eyes and looking up at him. "Meld with me. Please? I didn't remember all that when we were melded. Just us. It hurt, then, 'cause I thought you didn't love me, but now... please. Just this once, so it'll just be us, so I can start over."

Solvek stops and turns Fred around to face him. "Are you sure, Fred? Is this really what you want?" His tone is eager, excited, and filled with lust.

"You make the pain go away," Fred replies simply. "Please, stop talking, and just... Solvek, please." She reaches out, tugging at his hand, leaning forward to kiss him at the same time, though that's hardly a way to easily mind-meld.

Solvek kisses back passionately then pushes her away. He stands and disrobes, revealing that underneath the robe was... nothing. He leans forward and places his right hand on Fred's face. His fingers separate to the usual positions for a mind-meld as he guides her down to the bed with his other hand. He whispers, "With this I join with you and you with me as one, together."

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