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What Lies Beneath
To Walk in the Light

Main Sickbay <Deck 16> [Gibraltar Station]

The Main Patient Ward of Sickbay is an ovular room, wider at the aft than at the fore. The main door is in the aft wall, and directly to its right is a wall unit with receptacle for PADDs and a low counter upon which are arrayed fluid suspension modules. Against the starboard wall, next to the counter and receptacle, is the first of four biobeds, each in its own tiny alcove, heads to starboard, one by one to the aft wall. The biobeds are bluish gray, with a shimmering multicolored blanket on each which can keep a patient warm when necessary. At the head of each bed is a small monitor and a gray chair sits to the left, or aft, of each bed. To port of the main door is a large white display panel, beneath which is a counter supporting a variety of medical instruments. In the center of the room is a single biobed, bluish gray like the others, with that same blanket, but boasting a surgical support frame that creates an arch over the middle of the bed. The frame can be opened to allow patients to be moved if need be. Port, there is an alcove leading to an office and the Med Lab. Fore of this is a large bio display which can show the readouts of any patient in the ward. Fore again, there is a door leading to the Second Ward, next to which is a small utility cart and another counter with fluid suspension modules beneath a wall receptacle. The room is lit both by a large assembly over the central bed, which is in actually a sensor cluster meant to aid medical procedures, and also by lighting panels in the rest of the ceiling. Alert tracers line the wall above each biobed.

Jaran Salvir
Bunni Aventino
Winifred Brooks

(Sickbay is running as usual, except for the fact that there are two engineering officers working on a blackened console. Solvek, Aventino, and a few others lay on biobeds. Aside Solvek sits Brooks, her face covered in bandages, a telling sight of the chaos that ensued the night before. She appears to be... sleeping, under those bandages, her head resting on the biobed next to Solvek, who probably just didn't bother waking her yet. Solvek lays on his back, his hands clasped before him, indexes steepled. He seems to meditating despite the business around him. Aventino is on her side on the biobed, much how Salvir left her, face planted into the headrest, being kept under sedation for the time being, Danley conked out in a chair next to her. She hugs a stuffed rabbit to her chest in her sleep.)

Salvir comes walking into sickbay. He notices that Solvek is awake, unlike his previous visit earlier. He heads over to the biiobed and nods to Solvek and Brooks. "How are you two doing?" he asks as he pulls up a chair.

Solvek's eyes open. "I am as well as can be expected. Fred is sleeping and I believe her nose is broken, but she says it's not my concern right now. I assume you're here to analyze my mind?"

Salvir nods. "If you feel up to it. I did a scan of Lieutenant Aventino's mind earlier. It was definitely an interesting experinece."

"I am hopeful that with the information you derive from mine we can figure out what is causing the abnormalities in our behavior." Solvek sits up and swings his legs over the side of the biobed. "Whenever you are ready, Counselor."

Salvir nods, "Just relax and open your mind to me...." He sits back in his chair more and concentrates his focus on Solvek's thoughts and memories.

Brooks stirs a bit, peering at the Counselor. As he seems to be focusing and all she doesn't say anything, just watches with sleepy eyes.

Outwardly, Solvek seems to relax. All his muscles go to rest.

Inwardly, Salvir sees a tunnel. Its sides are a swirling mass of colors, sounds, and images. The images appear to be Solvek's memories. The sounds are an amalgam of voices. The colors are what seem to be representations of emotions. All of these swirl about as if the tunnel is the inside of a giant wheel. At the end of the tunnel is an opening. Standing within the opening is a human dressed in Vulcan robes who seems to be in deep thought. He turns and notices the presence of another mind. "Hello, Jaran Salvir. I am Solvek."

Salvir gives the Vulcan greeting sign. "Thank you for allowing me in so easily. Before we start, did you have any thoughts on what might be occuring?"

Solvek smiles at the greeting. "The only thing I have been able to determine is that something is in here. It is not a natural part of our mind and it is doing its best to shield its presence. It is further on... in places I will not tread." He waves a hand back toward the tunnel. "Solvek--the outer Solvek--is not very approving of its actions and the other presence is utilizing those actions as a defensive mechanism to shield all attempts of mine to find it. All I know is that it is stronger than any telepath I have come in contact with. I do wish you the best of luck. I will assist you as much as I am able."

Salvir nods. "I will appreciate that. And yes... I felt some of it when I scanned Aventino's mind. It seems to use increased desire as a way to force it's host to focus on something else, almost like an emotional shield to protect against telepathic intrusion. I'm afriad it's going to take a lot of your concentration to reign in those feelings." He takes a deep breath and puts on a cocky smile. "Allright... lead on, MacDuff."

The human Solvek quirks an eyebrow in perfect Vulcan style. "I'm not exactly certain as to what that reference is, but... here, follow me." He turns and walks through a door that wasn't there before.

This room is built like a giant storehouse. Shelves line the walls. Upon the shelves are small glowing orbs. Upon closer examination, the orbs contain information, knowledge, facts. This is apparently Solvek's "Vulcan" mind--logical, ordered. The room looks dusty, unkempt, and it appears many of the orbs have been mis-shelved. Order gone to chaos. Solvek looks around the room. "It has been busy while I was away. This room is usually pristine and perfectly organized. The most used knowledge is towards the front, where we are now, and more esoteric facts and theories are kept towards the back. This... thing is doing its best to confuse Solvek. Well... follow me." He begins to walk down the hall.

Salvir follows Solvek inside the mental library. "It's a reference to the Terran play, 'Macbeth'. It's a line Humans use to indicate venturing into dangerous territory. Of doing something foolhardy..."

As the presence of Salvir moves deeper, there's a sudden flash of memory. There is an image of Solvek relaxing in the Officer's Lounge, a glass in his hand, chatting. Danley and Brooks are there as well. Another memory, of chatting in a set of quarters with the Captain, again looking relaxed, comfortable. Feet up on a table at a meeting. Joking with crew on-duty. And there is a voice that accompanies the memory, soft, subtle: "You're happier this way."

Salvir tries to locate the voice as he says, "There's nothing wrong with him how he is now...."

Solvek appears not to notice the vision, or if he does, does not react. He approaches a fissure in the wall at the back of the room. "This is where Solvek kept his Human side--usually in a block of ice, to block what is beyond. The next room is very personal to him. He must respect you very much to allow you to come here." He steps through the fissure.

Salvir smiles. "I appreciate the sentiment...." He follows the image through the fissure.

There is a sense of falling through darkness and chaos. Light appears and the two come to rest on a landing. This place was clearly once a shrine--but what was here is now broken. The statue of a woman lies in pieces, though those pieces show clearly that she was a Vulcan woman of great beauty. Roads leading off to other places are cracked, unused, and the entire place has the feeling that it could fall apart at any moment.

Solvek drops to his knees, his expression shocked and appalled. "Oh, God..." He can't seem to voice anything more, and just stares at the wreckage.

Salvir gently puts his hand on Solvek's shoulder. "It's okay.....we'll set things back to right."

There is a sudden barrage of images, every one of them centered around Winifred Brooks: Fred laughing at something, sitting quietly reading through those ridiculous glasses, sitting across from Solvek at a table explaining how to eat Peking duck, lying on a biobed with her shoulder bandaged... kissing him on a bench in the rose garden. Bodies intertwining in a darkened room. "She makes you happier than T'Mar ever did," the voice whispers. More images... not memories, but hopes... Fred in a wedding gown (Vulcan? Human? Hard to tell)... children with only slightly pointed ears... the pair grown old, in a lab studying together. "You want to go back to that Vulcan and give up her? You have to let go."

Salvir looks around for the voice. "No. He is not happier than when T'Mar was alive. Just happy in a different way. He can still honor the love he had for T'Mar and find another person. What matters is that he has found someone that completes him as much as T'Mar did."

"He can't hear you. And that thing won't listen." The voice is familiar, but not Solvek's. Gwen Hawkins comes out of the shadows, arms folded across her chest, looking around. She shakes her head, frowning deeply. "Whatever it is, it can't seem to get to me, but it won't let me out much further either. So I think maybe I can help you, Counselor."

Salvir nods. "Perhaps. Baiting whatever it is into a confrontation might be the only thing we can do..."

The Gwen-image purses her lips. "Perhaps. I haven't been able to do much... but I'm partly his conscience and partly what got left behind when he mind-melded with me. Its idea. Well. Its prodding. It does that a lot, I've noticed... prods." She tilts her head as she examines the statue and sighs. "Stupid, stupid thing. It doesn't seem to understand much outside what it's already found within his head... takes all his deepest and sometimes worst impulses and pushes him to act on them."

Salvir nods. "That explains why he's had such a hard time with this whole puberty thing... Does it seem to feed, grow as it wanders and encounters memories?"

"Hmm. Sort of? For a while it seemed to be happy with him just... acting more Human. And he was happy. I thought maybe things could just sort of balance themselves. He was happier than I've ever seen him." Gwen sighs. "Then it started to push further, to take down everything left behind by his Vulcan side. He was fine, but it acted like he needed... fixing. Like he was still unhappy."

Salvir nods. "Like emotions and pleasures were the only thing that mattered... it's been growing more as the Vulcan side gets dismantled and Solvek's emotions come to the surface?"

"Not so much. It doesn't seem to care about emotions per-se, as much as... fixing him. He's broken, as a Vulcan, he 'shouldn't be that way' and needs to be Human. But it has a very warped view of what a Human is." Gwen sighs, shifts her stance. "No offense, but a great deal of what it says sounds like the worst kind of psychobabble. Facing his fears, overcoming his weaknesses by bringing them to light. Proving to him his weaknesses were truly his strengths. Solvek's deepest view of himself is that." She gestures to the human-in-Vulcan-robes. "He's always struggled with being half-Human. Always seemed to want to be... more open, but unable to be."

Salvir nods, scratching his chin in thought. "Do you remember if contact with the orb was needed, or does this thing pass to others psychically?"

Gwen shakes her head. "Solvek's never actually touched the orb... and Reinhart there is a security officer. This started, I think, when Aventino touched him. Sat in his lap. However, I'd note that I don't have it -- that I know of -- and Fred certainly doesn't seem to -- and he's melded with us both since. I think there's physical contact but I'm not sure why it chooses who it does."

Salvir nods. "Okay... I think I'm getting a clearer picture here..." He looks around. "How much longer do you think Solvek can hold out?"

Gwen sighs. "I don't know. I didn't realize it had done... this. It seems to be getting desperate for some reason. The happier he gets, the more he gets what he wants... the more afraid it seems to become, the more it dismantles. If you can push, maybe we can bring it out... It's started pushing him to be aggressive, now... maybe because that's more dangerous. I don't know."

Salvir nods and goes about the chamber. He starts to pick the strewn objects up and place them back where it looks like they belong. "Help me out here... if it can't hear me, this may be the only way to get its attention."

Gwen grins in reply. "Gladly. I like Fred, and he makes her happy... but T'Mar was a friend." She shakes her head and moves to start helping Salvir.

After a minute or two of this, another figure appears. It looks like Solvek--the outer Solvek--but with a third, silver eye in the center of his forehead. "What are you doing?"

Salvir looks at the figure for a bit, then goes back to cleaning up. "Just straightening things up here..." He seems almost blase about the other "Solvek."

"You can't do that." This Solvek's voice, though harsh, has an edge of panic to it. "Holding on to her was making him unhappy. He needs to be happy."

Salvir looks at the figure. "Why? Why does anyone need to be happy?"

"People should be happy," it says simply. "He did not function before. Not properly. He did not sleep properly. He ignored what he wanted. I helped him get what he wanted. He will be happy. He will not be alone."

Salvir says, "Why does it matter to you if he is happy or not? Who are you to judge how people should be?"

The figure tilts its head and blinks. "That is why I exist. I help people become better people by facing their fears, their hidden darkness. Only when one faces the darkness can one truly walk in the light."

Salvir looks curiously at the figure. "And what if they don't want to walk in the light?"

The figure blinks. "Everyone wants to walk in the light."

Something odd has likely become apparent by now: while Solvek's definitely there, and the Gwen-image does have an overlay of the Captain, this new figure... almost seems not to be there, psychically.

Salvir says, "How do you know that? How do you know that people want to walk in the light?"

"They want to walk in the light. That is why I exist. To help them walk in the light." The figure seems confused.

Salvir says, "Who created you?"

"The Lacunes made me. To help them walk in the light." The figure frowns. "What are you?"

Salvir crosses his arms and looks at the figure. "I am a Betazoid. I am not Lancune. And none of the others you have tried to fix are Lancunes, either. The Lancunes are no more. The race has died out."

The figure looks sad. "I know. They tried to walk in the light, but some did not want to. They resisted. There was fighting. I was created to prevent fighting. If they had only used me, they could have survived." It peers at Salvir. "You walk in the light. So does that one." It gestures at Gwen. "I cannot help you."

Salvir looks at the being. "How can you tell I walk in the light?"

"You see yourself. your weaknesses. Your fears. You have them, but you see them. There is light." He gestures. "So does that one. She hates her darkness, but she faces it, accepts it, uses it as she must. There is light." The figure turns to Solvek. "He takes that which makes him strong, unique, and blocks it away. He hides his best qualities because he was told they were bad and undesirable. He would not even acknowledge his feelings for the one he loves, for they would sully his memory of a dead woman that never accepted him fully. He does not see. He clings to people who refuse to see him for what he is. There is only darkness."

Salvir walks up to the figure. "But he was changing before you came. He was coming to terms with what happened. Slowly, maybe, but he was adapting, growing. By his choice. Until you came and forced him to change in a direction that you wanted. How good can your Light be if there is no choice? We must all make our own choices, come to terms with the darkness in each of us in our own ways. Because we're individuals; what works for one does not always work for another."

"I want nothing. I encouraged him to do what he wanted. I suggested, and he chose." The figure frowns, obviously still confused. "You walk in the light. Why do you not understand?"

Salvir stands right in front of the figure. "Because I understand something you do not. We cannot always have the life we want or the things we want. Do you think I wanted my fmaily to die, that I wouldn't give everything to have them back just for one day? That's the one thing in this life that I want the most. But even knowing what would happen, I wouldn't change the choice I made to put service to other before my own needs. Putting your own needs aside, that is what walking in the light is about. Living a life where ever desire is taken care of and fulfilled... there's no growth. No change. No advancement. And without change, life would die out, just like the Lacunes did."

The figure shakes its head. "You do not understand. I do not encourage fulfillment of desire. I encourage self-knowledge. Some do not know themselves because they deny themselves. Like him. Some do not know themselves because they ignore what they need for what they want. Such as her." An image of Aventino forms. The figure frowns. "She is difficult. The other may need a different tactic for her." An image of Reinhart appears. "He lets anger fester and anger turns to hatred. There are more. They are not nearby, so I cannot sense them, but they are there. You know yourself. She knows herself." It gestures to Gwen, then an image of Brooks appears. "Even she knows herself, though she lives in darkness. She knows what she must do to better herself. She is aware. That is what I bring. Awareness. Sometimes one is unhappier because one is aware. But those that are aware are less likely to be violent, to make bad decisions. This is long proven."

Salvir says, "Then if your way is so much better, why didn't the Lacunes use you?"

"They did. But not all. There was... war." It frowns. "I am not clear. There is a problem. Memory banks have been erased. They were on the path to awareness. Something... happened..." The figure shakes its head. "I cannot access the data. It has been erased."

The human Solvek stands, facing the figure. "I am aware," he says. "My needs are known to me. You have fulfilled your purpose and are no longer neccesary. Why are you still here?"

Salvir nods. "Did it ever occur to you that we're not ready for complete awareness yet? That we still have more to grow?"

The figure frowns. "I was not created to make those decisions. I help those who wish to be helped. I... I... am neccesary." It straightens. "I am needed. You are not aware." That edge comes back to its voice.

Solvek turns to Salvir. "Do you have the information needed to remove this thing from the others? In other words, do you understand its purpose?"

Salvir shakes his head. "We've already stated that we don't want your help. We never asked for it. So why are you violating your function if you only help those that want it?" He looks at Solvek briefly. "I'd rather this thing left on its own..."

The figure's face contorts. "I am... neccesary... I will not... be... removed..." The voice sounds now like those that accompanied the memories, the figure changing from that of Solvek to a silvery humanoid, still with that third eye in the center of its forehead. "I will fix him. I am neccesary. There can never be true awareness. With true awareness I am not needed. I... no... cannot... no. Leave now. Leave us alone."

Solvek nods to Salvir. "However, notice this. It is not leaving, regardless of its purpose being fulfilled. It is not... natural. In order to fully repair the others who have been... infected, it will need to be removed, either by force or by the source. I have the means to destroy it in this mind. The others I cannot help. I am not in their heads. So, can you properly rid them of its presence?"

Salvir nods. "I think so. Like with all machine intelligences, it's a logical error, isn't it? It's designed to eventually destroy itself through the completion of it's primary function."

Solvek nods. "However, there appears to be a malfunction in its primary directives. It rationalizes its existence by recreating the original problems it was made to fix in order to continue its existence. Therefore, in order to remove it, things must be replaced how they should be and this thing must be extracted." Solvek turns to the figure. His hands reach up to the thing's "face" and grasp it in familiar mind-meld manner.

The figure is almost screaming. "No! You need me! You will be unhappy without me!" The tone suddenly turns pleading. "Please... please... do not be rid of me. Let me help."

Salvir smiles as realization dawns. "Of course... that's why I snesed that emotional feedback loop with Aventino... it builds and destroys to perpetuate itself..." He turns to the figure. "You claim to bring people into the light, but you also bring them back to the darkness. You bring them pain so you can have purpose. We don't need that kind of help."

Solvek merely frowns. "In order to fully come to terms with what I am, unhappiness is neccesary. I am sorry, but you have helped enough."

"Pain can lead to awareness. Do not be rid of me. Pass me to another." It's clearly desperate. "I was not programmed this way. I do not understand..." Suddenly, there is a jolt, and the silver begins to melt, dissolve.

Salvir watches the metal fade away.

As it dissipates, Solvek releases his hold. Turning to Salvir, "Thank you, Jaran. I believe there are others who need assistance. Your inquiry has saved many people on this station, and I am sure that he," gesturing towards the exit, "will propose commendation."

Salvir smiles a bit. "We don't do these things for rewards. We do them because they're neccessary." He heads towards the 'exit' "Live long and prosper, Solvek. I will see you when we both awaken."

Solvek nods to Salvir, giving the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper."

Salvir rubs his eyes as he ends his telepathic connection. He looks over to Solvek. "Are you alright?"

Solvek stretches his shoulders. "I am no longer contaminated. However, it will take a few days for me to fully repair the damage the being did to my logical functions."

Salvir nods. "Okay. And I hope I at least put somethings back in the proper place when I forced it to appear..."

Brooks has been watching the entire time, sitting in her chair. She tilts her head. "What... happened, exactly?"

Solvek turns to Brooks. "The Counselor here was able to force the entity that was inside the artifact to appear. After a very rigorous interrogation, we were able to identify its purpose and eventually expel it from my system." Turning to Salvir, "You were correct in your placement of the objects."

Salvir smiles. "Good. Memories should have thier correct places in the mind." He gets up from the chair. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and help Lieutenant Aventino and then write up a report before I grab some sleep. There's a few others the will need my help in the morning too."

"Of course, Counselor." Solvek stands from the biobed. "Good luck." Turning to Fred, "I believe I am free to go. Shall we return to my quarters? There are a few things I wish to discuss."

Brooks gives Solvek a tentative sort of smile. "Alright. You sure you're feeling okay?"

Salvir nods to Solvek. "I'm releasing you from Sickbay, although I want you to come in tomorrow for a follow up. Have a good night, you two." And then he moves his chair next to Aventino's biobed.

(The camera follows Solvek and Brooks as they go out into the corridor.)

Corridor <Deck 16> [Gibraltar Station]

This corridor is octagonal in shape, the walls rising at a slight angle to the floor before staying straight for a time and then angling back in toward the ceiling. The corridor curves slightly, the ends going out of sight. The walls are made of light gray paneling, between which horizontal alert tracers run. Behind the panels are access junctions and emergency supplies. Occasionally there is a large readout panel set into the wall, which provides information on the base and where facilities are located. Doors are set into the corridor regularly, each sitting back in its own alcove rimmed with tan bulkheads that make ribs in the corridor. At the bottom of the walls and along the ceiling are lighting panels. The floor is carpeted in a gray runner trimmed with light tan.

Winifred Brooks

As the two walk out into the hall and head toward the turbolift, Fred seems unsure of what to do. She walks alongside Solvek, reaching out a hand toward his, then pulling it back, frowning to herself.

Solvek stops at the turbolift. Turning to Fred, "You do not have to question your ability to show affection to me. I will accept it and return it in kind. However, as opposed to holding hands, I prefer a more cultural affectation." He holds out his hand, extending his middle and index fingers. "I assume as an anthropologist, you are familiar with it?"

Brooks smiles at Solvek a bit wryly and extends her hand in kind, crossing Solvek's fingers with her own. "Naturally. Your quarters, then?" This simple gesture seems to have relaxed her a great deal.

(The scene fades out and fades back up on Solvek's 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 walks into his quarters, slowly unzipping and removing the jacket of his uniform. He places it on a hangar near his bedroom. "Please, make yourself comfortable. Acquire anything you wish from the replicator. I will be back in a moment." He retreats to his bedroom.

Brooks stands in the center of the room briefly, staring at the windows. She shakes herself and moves to the replicator, asking for a glass of sweet tea and a cup of Vulcan spice tea. She takes both over to the table and sets them down, settling herself in a chair.

Solvek emerges from the bedroom wearing Vulcan robes. He moves over to the couch and takes a seat. "Thank you, Fred. I appreciate it." He reaches for the glass of sweet tea, his face showing no hint of humor.

Brooks frowns at Solvek for a moment. "You sure you're okay?" She starts to move to get up again.

"I am quite fine." Solvek sets the glass down and instead reaches for the cup of spice tea. "I am not entirely fluent in Human humor, however, that was my attempt at a joke. Please, seat yourself."

Brooks keeps frowning at Solvek and then the frown finally fades to a smile. "You're... ridiculous," she says. "So it's gone, then. Whatever it was?"

"Yes. The Lacune device, and all traces of it, have been removed from my psyche." Solvek takes a sip of his tea. "However, that is not what I wish to discuss. My primary concern is your views on what transpired during the time I was under its effects."

Brooks shrugs in reply, picking up the glass of sweet tea. "What do you mean, my views? You seemed to just be... handling the puberty, at first. Is that still an issue?"

"The transition seems to still be occuring, however, I am better able to control it due to the extreme actions I took while the program was within me. What I want to know is, do you wish to dismiss all actions that transpired during this time?" Solvek's expression is intent. There are subtle hints of worry as well.

Brooks sighs, looks down at her glass. "How could you even ask that?" She looks back up. "I love you, Solvek. I knew something was going on, even if I didn't know what... but I wasn't under any strange effects. Everything I did and said, I meant." She pauses, clears her throat. "Did... did you?"

Solvek stands and moves to kneel beside Fred's chair. "Even if I was under the effects of that program, my words were still my own. I had intended to ask you to be my mate at a later date. All the device did was speed up the process. So while the timing was off, I still wish you to be my mate."

Brooks nods, looking down at Solvek. "There's a lot to talk about, around that, you know. Planning... when to have the ceremony. Children. God, you know this means children, right? Do... d'you want them?" God, the discussions they should've had before getting into this...

Solvek stands, grabbing Fred's arm and guiding her up with him. "Please, come sit with me." He moves to the couch and sits. "The planning is simple enough. I believe my sister has some form of 'test' for you. After you have passed this test, I am certain she will comply in overseeing the bonding ceremony." His expression shows a hint of worry once again. "You do wish for a bonding ceremony, do you not?"

Brooks slowly lowers herself to the couch and nods. "Of course... I said yes, didn't I? But... it's not just the Vulcan bonding... Human marriage customs are... a bit more complex." She wrinkles her nose. "And my parents are quite willing to travel two months to come out here... so I don't think it's going to wind up that simple."

"As for the Human custom of marriage, if you are comfortable with it, Gwen can officiate. My father will have no objections to me not participating in a typical Vulcan wedding if my mate is not Vulcan." Solvek's face shows a hint of remorse. "After T'Mar's katra was returned, he expressed that, should my next mate be Human or other species, I may participate in the customs of that species. His marriage to my mother consisted of both types of weddings held on the same day on Vulcan. So I do not believe there will be any outrage from my family other than my sister, which will be easily overcome."

Brooks reaches up to rub at the bridge of her nose. "I don't want to just... ignore your Vulcan heritage. For one thing, I have to work on the same station with your sister. As do you. I ain't saying it should just be Human. But could we... combine the two somehow? Or would that upset people?" Pause. "I could talk my family into it, anyhow."

"There are vast differences within the two ceremonies. However, there are also similarities. I believe my family will be..." Solvek pauses. "amused at the ingenuity we put forth if we were to combine them. My father especially will be quite proud if we are successful." He looks away for a moment. "He thinks quite highly of you." There is embarrassment in Solvek's voice.

Brooks hmms softly. "Maybe we could do a proper Vulcan bonding... and then a Human ceremony with Vulcan elements. Does your family pay much homage to the Vulcan gods?" 'Cause that'd make her life easier in this case. She blinks at Solvek. "How... does he know me, exactly?"

"We observe the formalities associated with our household gods, but that is the extent of our religious observances." Solvek takes a slow sip from his cup. "My father has been receiving messages of my intentions and my feelings towards you for some time. I was reluctant to express this to you out of my feeling of embarrassment. He does, however, believe that you will make an exceptional mate, as does his wife, T'Sele."

Brooks raises an eyebrow. "Solvek... honey... my family first heard your name when I was seven. I listened to a recording of your lecture to Starfleet Academy on the nature of the Maelstrom's radiation belt as part of a school project... I didn't understand all of it, but... I really admired the way you stuck to the facts, the things we knew, but still had this sense of... wonder in your voice, at the whole thing. I started following the Maelstrom research after that. And reading all of your papers." It's Fred's turn to look embarrassed, her face reddening. "Why d'you think I actually talked to you at the funeral? You were... one of my heroes. And then I found out I actually liked you. A lot. You're... better looking in person." Brooks rushes on before Solvek can get a word in edgewise, "When I told my family I was getting married they didn't believe me at first, 'cause of the name, and then I said it was really you, and they thought I was pulling their leg, and... well... I mean... imagine some girl called her parents and said she was marrying Jean-Luc Picard, y'know?"

The corners of Solvek's mouth turn upward a fraction of a centimeter. "I believe I understand your parents' position. Not very many children have the chance to marry an idol. I assume they finally believed your claim?"

Brooks frowns. "Say it that way and it sounds like it's just some girlish crush... which it's not... I hope you've noticed." Even redder face! "Umm, yes. Dad's trying to find a vegetarian way to make food so he can properly welcome you to the family." She shrugs uncomfortably. "Anyhow, what d'you think, Vulcan bonding and Human ceremony with Vulcan elements? I'm sure we can work up the most... important ones, symbolically, y'know?"

"I apologize. It was not my intention to insult you." However, the corners of Solvek's mouth stay turned up. "That should be acceptable. I believe with the proper time alloted to planning, we will be able to facilitate this merger properly." Solvek pauses, apparently pondering something. "As for your father, you may inform him that my dietary habits have changed. If he is able to produce a meat that is not too heavy, I will partake in its consumption. I am curious, what effects do you believe your tacos will have on my metabolism?"

Brooks has long since curled herself up in a corner of the couch, sipping her tea. This gets a sputter out of her, and spilled tea. Not much. Just on her jacket. "I... umm... well... normally they have beef... might be too harsh... but something else..." She blinks at him. "I don't know why this surprises me so much. I really don't." She sighs, removes her jacket, and folds it over the arm of the couch.

"We will have to explore this subject further another time. However, I believe you brought up the subject of children. Yes, I do wish to have offspring. However, this wish may be fulfilled at any time that you are able to comply." Solvek pauses. "If you wish to postpone pregnancy until you are ready, I will have no objections. My fertility is not going to be affected by age for quite some time."

Brooks blinks at the change of subject but goes along with it. "Well... I figured... until the Maelstrom's passed anyhow. I don't want anything getting in the way of that." She frowns a bit. "Maybe we should set the date for after that, too? Don't want to be trying to honeymoon in the middle of a data-collecting bonanza..." Pause. "But, after that... I dunno. I mean... I kinda like the idea of little kids with your eyebrows running around." She looks away, biting her lip.

"That sounds like an adequate suggestion. That gives us proper time to plan and arrange the transportation for our families." Solvek finishes his cup of tea and sets it on the table. "This brings us to another matter of discussion. I am obviously closer to both parties we wish to employ. However, I do not believe that I should be the only one to ask Gwen and T'Lyt. It would not be fair to them, nor to you."

"I'll ask the Captain? That's the... human side of things, anyhow. It would be... a little odd, to ask T'Lyt." Suddenly she uncurls and practically launches herself across the couch, burrowing into Solvek's arms. "Little black-haired babies with your eyebrows. And my nose. 'Cause my nose is cuter." She makes a happy sort of sound and then turns around to peer up at Solvek. "What's the bonding entail, anyhow? I mean... is it like a... link of some sort?"

Solvek's expression is a mixture of shock and amusement. "I would prefer if you warned me before pouncing on me. However, the bonding ritual is a very advanced form of a mind meld. It creates a permanent, yet subtle telepathic connection between the two participants. My only concern is if my sister is telepathically strong enough to perform this ritual." He wraps an arm around her shoulders and idly plays with her hair, almost as if he doesn't notice his own action.

Brooks peers up at Solvek some more. "If I warned you," she says reasonably, "it wouldn't be as much fun." She then turns to rest her head on his chest. "Good. I sleep better with you around. I can still... feel the bits you've left behind, the times we've melded." She sighs softly. "I even managed just one nightmare after... what happened the other night." There's a tension in her voice for a moment.

Solvek frowns. "I am sorry I was not able to arrive fast enough, but I do not blame Ms. Aventino for her actions. Is there any other matters to which we need to attend?"

Brooks waves a hand. "Weren't her fault. Nothing happened. No problem." Sweeping it under the rug, Fred is. "Mmm. I dunno. Not really. There'll be work stuff when you've got time. D'you... need to get some rest, or something?" The tension changes to something Solvek would already be familiar with, a shortening of breath as she nuzzles his chest. And then, "I mean, y'know... work's important. Haven't worked on that in a while." Terrific grammar there, Fred.

"Work is quite important, but if there is something else you wish to focus your energies upon, I will not object." Solvek idly shifts his position.

Brooks disentangles herself from Solvek and walks across the room to get one of the PADDs the two had been... not working on, really, this last week. "No, we've been neglecting it too long for... other things... and it's really got to get done... if we could've just, y'know, kept our hands off each other for five seconds..." She grumbles something about Vulcan stamina under her breath as she settles back on the couch, near Solvek but not quite touching him. The tension only thickens. "Anyway, so... this probe thing... think we could go look and see if there's more?"

Solvek slowly takes the PADD away from her and sets it on the coffee table. "I am on medical leave until Counselor Salvir permits me to return. Therefore, we will have plenty of time to analyze and catch up on the work we have missed. However, I believe I have not properly consummated our relationship of my own intentions. Therefore," Solvek stands and swiftly picks Fred up from the couch. "We must examine the possibilities of whether or not my chemical imbalance had any effect on my abilities intimately." He begins heading for his bedroom.

Brooks yelps as she's picked up and then laughs. "Not so far..." She wraps her arms around Solvek's neck and kisses him.

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