USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Transfer Orders and Stutters

Posted on Tue Apr 4th, 2017 @ 11:49pm by Commander Akiva ben-Avram
Edited on on Thu Apr 6th, 2017 @ 6:23pm

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: XO's Office - USS Vindex
Timeline: Mission Day 74 - 1731 hours

Laena's petite figure stood calmly outside of Akiva's office, a PADD firmly grasped in her hands. She had just pressed her finger to the chime and now awaited the Commander to beckon for her to enter.

Duty always called. Akiva had looked forward to handing the Vindex back over to Claudia for every moment of the hostage crisis, but now it seemed playing catchup would consume his life for the foreseeable future. The number of new additions to the crew was not the least of his encumbering responsibilities.

"Enter," he said without looking up. Depending on who it was and what they wanted, he would handle the matter and send them away without breaking his stride.

The doors opened and Laena stepped in, her footsteps silent. "Good evening, Commander," she said in a soft tone.

"Crewman Laena," Akiva nodded. He noted the PADD in her hand and the diffidence of her body language, then sighed. "What can I do for you?" he asked while setting his own PADD down.

"It's Petty Officer," she corrected, immediately regretting that she did so. "I apologize, sir. I shouldn't have said that."

Akiva cocked his head in irritation, though he soon smiled with nervous energy. This woman was as timid as she was beautiful. And, for once, he did not feel like the one tripping over himself.

"All right--what can I do for you, Petty Officer?"

"I wanted to give you this," she said, taking a few steps forward to set the PADD down on his desk. "It's a transfer request. Deep Space 9 has an opening in their Science Department and I'm hoping to take it."

Akiva balked at the surprise announcement, then reviewed the request. "I don't believe their facilities are a match for ours," Akiva said. "At least, not where your position is concerned. Can I ask why you you wish to transfer?"

"I took this assignment for real world experience but..." Laena's voice trailed off as she looked at the ground. "Maybe this experience was a bit too real."

"So you'd rather live in a box?" Akiva asked. "Stitching together outdated charts that somebody else already compiled?" He stood up from his chair and walked around to the front of his desk.

"I would say experience is the only thing that matters," he continued with forced eye contact. "With our upcoming mission to delve into the heart of unknown territory, your experience would be invaluable."

Laena looked away, but he couldn't stop now.

"We've all come through so much these past weeks." He swallowed the lump in his throat to still his shaky voice. "Gavara was the time to transfer. Our core crew has been bonded together in a way that nobody else will understand. The newcomers will find their place eventually, of course, but... it won't be the same. And they know it." He paused for effect before adding, "... and if you run and hide away at DS9, you will know it too."

"How am I supposed to live with this, though," she said, not looking up. Her bottom lip began to quiver, slightly, "How am I supposed to be ok?"

"Together." The word hung in the air, limp and impotent. When Laena neither spoke nor moved, just stared away from him, Akiva tried again.

"Hey..." How did Claudia do this so easily, he thought to himself. He reached out a trembling hand to uplift Laena's face. When he met her eyes, they shimmered wet with unshed tears. Such fragile beauty made him quake inside, though it also ignited a flame within. He needed to encourage this broken woman, and not just on a professional level. The expectant look of an all but forsaken hope deep within her eyes demanded it of him as a man.

"We will get through this together." The word felt more compelling this time. "I am no stranger to tragedy myself, and I understand the instinct to hide from the world and everyone in it." Maintain eye contact, he told himself. "I spent 20 years within a cocoon until I learned to let people inside. What I found is they are not 'ok' either. That they need me as much as I need them. That only together will we overcome the cruelty of this world."

Rather than calm her, Akiva felt as though he only stirred Laena's emotions even more. He pulled his hand away as though from a stove. "At any rate, that is how I see it. I will pass this along to the captain if you wish, but... I will pray you have a change of heart."

Laena just stared at the man, suddenly feeling unsure of her decision. Her eyes glued to his hand as he pulled it away. The hand that, until a few moments before, was resting softly on her chin. His touch was warm and gentle and she had to admit, she was not afraid of his touch like he was with most people. "Letting people in isn't exactly something I'm good at," she said, her voice shallow and soft.

"It never gets easier," Akiva said. "Not until we make the effort. After a while, you grow old, alone, and..." He trailed off, suddenly feeling vulnerable and exposed.

"I don't want that," she said, suddenly feeling the need to defend herself. "I just..." She looked away again, taking a deep breath. "Sometimes I just get frightened and people touching me freaks me out and so sometimes solitude just...makes it easier to handle."

"I apologize," Akiva said. "I normally don't... and... it won't happen again." He pressed his hands against his legs and wished for pockets to hide them.

"No." She looked at the man, "Your touch was...calming, actually." A weak smile pulled at the woman's face.

Warmth kindled within Akiva's chest and fluttered outward to his... extremities. "Oh." He gulped. "I'm glad I could help. If there's anything else I can do for you... or to help you decide what to do... I mean, what you want... I mean... where you want to be. Oy vey."

Akiva turned away to hide his flushed face. It had been a long time since he had lost his composure so completely with a woman.

Laena leaned forward and gently pulled the PADD off of the man's desk, "Thank you for the talk," she said as she turned to leave.

"You've changed your mind, then?" Akiva asked, barely turning to face her.

"I'll give it more thought," she simply said.

"Ah. Very well." Akiva shuffled back around to his desk and seated himself. It was the closest he could do to hide from the woman other than curling up in the corner in a fetal position. "Please let me know what you decide." There. He dared not say anything other than that. Any further offer to help would seem perfunctory at best and lecherous at worst, at least to his embarrassed mind.

"Aye, sir," the woman said. "Perhaps, next time, I should send a message rather than see you in person?"

Akiva gulped. "If you prefer." He forced himself to look up from her feet to her face. Unfortunately he glanced over everything in between. Oy vey, why did he do that?

"I will be here if you need me."

In silence, Laena walked out of the room.

Akiva slammed his head on his desk. "Mishegas."

 

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