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Only Human

Posted on Thu Feb 28th, 2019 @ 9:06am by Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Sonak

Mission: Recovery Trek
Location: USS Hera, Deck 8, Commander Paris & Mr. Sonak's Quarters
Timeline: 2396

It had been an exciting and eventful day, even for the life of Rita Paris.

At the end of a long and eventful day, she preferred to come home to her logical spouse, enjoy a meal together and share the events of their day. This morning she had started slow cooking a 15 bean soup, and arriving home to the quarters they shared, she had started baking a dinner roll each to fill the quarters with the heady scent of baking bread. It made the atmosphere more welcoming, more like... home. Looking about their quarters, decorated in the nostalgic style of their native era with sentimental mementos already beginning to add up, it felt like home. So big and empty they had been when she was alone, but with Sonak, it felt as though their quarters together were just right.

Sending him a message would of course, alert him to her intentions, as their schedule had been written to be flexible today. After all, she didn't know if she was going to end up kidnapped in the Gamma Quadrant, or starting an interstellar war or rescuing a kitten from a tree. Thus this was one of those days where the schedule was open for the evening. But she had stories to tell, and experiences to share. The emotional executive was excited to explain and explore the events of the day with her logical spouse with the insatiable curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for understanding of the universe.

{ I have had a very exciting day. Can you break away for dinner and some deep meditation together? }

Oh, Rita, you wild wanton woman, she chuckled to herself, reading the dry message she had typed. Deleting it, she tried again.

{ I have had a singularly unique day that I would like to share with you. Dinner and some time together? }

Still not romantic, but at least it wasn't academic. That was the worst way to ask for a little date night action...

True to form, the reply came in the same fashion it was received.

{ Acknowledged; it will be something appreciable to share with you, as always, my wife. }

It was, however, far less dry than his usual speech pattern; something he reserved exclusively for his mate.

He was Vulcan. He was Kolinarh. He was emotionless. But he was always learning.

Bustling about their shared quarters, Rita insured that the soup was ready, adding a few more seasonings to insure it would not be overpowering, yet not dull- a delicate balance. The Vulcan metabolism was meant for a bland diet, but as Sonak was hardy and sturdy he compromised for her more flavorful dishes. However, in that same spirit of compromise, she tried to insure that she would not overdo it and cause him later intestinal distress.

At the moment Rita had yet to change out of her distinctive of-center V-neck uniform of ages gone by, which she was allowed to wear as an indulgence by her Captain. The full-figured first officer had tried wearing the uniform of the day, and while she wore it well, these were her colors, and this was her era. In a literal sense the anachronistic astronaut wore the past upon her, to remind her and everyone else from where she had come, and what she represented. The cheerful commander suspected that the Captain allowed it, partially because it served as a reminder even to her that Rita came from a simpler time of exploration and a kinder, gentler approach. Before the Borg and Dominion had scarred Starfleet.

In the modern day, those wars were in their past. As Starfleet moved into the 25th century, they were returning to the principles of her era- exploration, first contacts, the open hand of diplomacy. It often made her wonder if her arrival in this place and time had been accidental, or part of some cosmic design that she lacked the capacity to perceive. Sonak had theories, of course, and they discussed them from time to time. After all, as much as she took comfort with him physically, with his lean athletic build, it was his mind and personality which made him extraordinary to her, and she literally loved him for his mind.

The body was a secondary- not that she didn't enjoy his superhuman strength, speed, endurance and bodily control. But throughout their relationship, it was who he was on the inside that left her no choice but to love and adore him.

Pulling out bowls, she set them and utensils aside, as she suspected he would be home soon. They would take water with their meals, as per their dinnertime traditions of proper hydration. For dessert she had ordered a lime sherbert, whose tartness she believed he would enjoy, as well as the smooth and creamy texture of the frozen confectionery. The timer sounded and she moved to remove the bread from the oven, moving in a surprising display clockwork efficiency about the kitchen. After all, life with a Vulcan did tend to teach one organizational skills, whether consciously or subconsciously.

As he entered their shared quarters, Sonak was not at all surprised to see everything in neat order. Before he went to change out of his uniform, he walked to his wife and offered two fingers in the customary manner of intimacy of his people.

''Greetings, my wife. It is agreeable to see you again in such a peaceful and relaxed state. It is conductive to my own, as always.''

Offering two fingers of her own, she connected them with his outstretched digits, and was flooded with sensation. Of the passionate reception that she received from him, the seemingly simple action far more intimate than outsiders would likely imagine. A kaleidoscope of images, calculations, interactions and more flooded into her mind, no faster than she could process them, but still a torrent of information from her logical spouse.

In turn, she shared with him what she had experienced- escorting Hera to the promenade of DS9, the performance of her Security team, the encounter with zealots after Hera performed a miracle, saving a man's life. Then came the journey through the wormhole, meeting the Dominion to return their Founder, which had gone exceptionally well. Then the return trip, and her meeting with the Prophets from her own perspective. The exchange that led to Az'Prel being sent home with them.

All of this and more they exchanged, even as she stroked her fingers against his own.

"Greetings, my husband. I've missed you, and I have had a very adventurous day. Shall we sit, take a meal together and discuss our individual days?" she smiled sweetly at him- the honest expression she tended to wear when she shared with him like this, just happy to be with him once more. Both tended to different duties during the day, but when they came together once more, it was always a joyous moment for her.

Sonak nodded.

''You shall do most of the conversation then, because my day was standard routine in the science department. Supervising experiments, recording measurements and filling up reports is not much to discuss about unless you have more than a passing interest for astrophysics, exobiology or quantum mechanics.''

"I hope not," Rita explained, breaking contact with him to step over to the stove to ladle out the soup into bowls. "I was there, sure, but I could really use some help analyzing and processing it all. Which, by the way, I sent you the scans from both trips through the wormhole, and Dedjoy got some internal scans of the neutrino surge when Az'Prel appeared. Did you get a look at them yet?"

Carrying the steaming bowls of a mushy blend of bean soup to the table, filling the air with the aromas of a hearty vegetarian feast, she went back to fetch the rolls. "Beyond that, I mean, what are these wormhole aliens slash prophets supposed to be? Have you read up on them at all? Oh, and can you get the water, please?"

He got the Altair water pitcher from the replicator then came back to answer her as he poured her a glass.

''According to the data I have briefly acquainted myself with, it is estimated with a reasonable degree of accuracy that they are transdimensional non corporeal entities of unknown origin; that have transcended material existence; and that they have achieved voluntary instant transmutation of matter and energy. They would be akin to the Naguile life form encountered by the USS Enterprise D a few decades ago; powerful cosmic sentient entities nevertheless bound to a certain continuum and mostly limiting their influence to a local area of our universe. It is most common that such entities are confused with spiritual entities by the imagination and ignorance of primitive people much less powerful than they are."

"Known motivations in this particular case?" Rita pressed, asking the relevant questions to seek clarification as she set the rolls on small plates next to the bowls of soup. As she passed him, her fingertips traced across his broad shoulders. As they were off duty and in their quarters alone, she could be more intimate with him, and as always, she craved contact with him, reassurance to her subconscious mind that he was there, and that she still existed.

''Estimating motivations is much more complex than mere physical parameters,'' the Vulcan retorted matter-of-factly; ''especially with sentient species of which we barely grasp this mere physical reality. What seems to be the case is that they are content to live within their own reality unless outer reality threatens them; isolationists in the broadest sense of the word. They seem to get some kind of yet undefined sustenance, possibly psionic in nature, from the nearby Bajoran people, therefore showing concern with their existence, sometimes even to the point of direct intervention. Beyond those two priorities, they seem unconcerned with whatever happens, even within their wormhole.''

He paused a moment to reflect before finishing his typically long-winded answer.

''As for this particular case; I would hypothesize that they are either concerned or at least aware of cosmic balance and thus, had come to the same conclusion as we did not so long ago; the existence of our own false universe was a threat to all of reality, therefore to themselves. And thus, they acted to correct the imbalance created here by Ambassador Spock and Nero. It could be that they are not totally unrelated to your own quantum transitory situation as they seem to be clearly involved in that of our newest arrival, the Az' Prel of Vulcan.''

“Wait, are you saying that they might be the reason I ended up in this reality? That’s… curious. How do you draw the connection, I’m curious?” When in doubt, ask the question. This was, after all, why she had asked for some time to process the experience with him. Sonak had a far greater understanding of such beings and forces, and thus asking him the questions had a much greater chance of producing answers than just pondering them on her own. Aside from the fact that she always enjoyed watching him work out a puzzle.

''I am not drawing such a conclusion; you are,'' he corrected. ''The only thing we can assess at this point, based on the data we have about these beings, is that they might have been aware and monitoring the situation. Anything beyond that is pure speculation. Vulcans do not speculate.''

The answer left her cold, and after the day she’d had, being chided for asking questions and being accused of drawing conclusions when seeking clarification was frankly not something she was in the mood to deal with. She had thought her close encounter with beings far removed from the experience of most might have ignited his scientific curiosity, and brought about an informative and lively discussion. Instead she was being made to feel stupid for asking, and she resented it. More and more lately it seemed their conversations were becoming laborious. He no longer seemed interested in what she had to say or what she brought to the table for discussions, and in fact often seemed dismissive. Which in turn distressed her further, and she ate her soup in silence, uncertain of what to say in response to that, or further, how to address how she was feeling.

It did not escape Sonak.

''You seem... disturbed, my wife.''

Taking her time to collect her thoughts and order them, Rita was silent for a long pause. After all, things had to be presented a certain way in order to effectively communicate with a master of logic. When she felt she had her response properly framed, she replied.

“Recently it has been my impression that my queries are less than welcome, and my company is no longer pleasing to you. I have attempted to engage you multiple times and felt as though my efforts are easily dismissed, which has resulted in me being less interested in reaching out more often. It has been my experience that you will respond to direct questions, but elaboration or exploration of topics is of little interest to you. In conversation, I have often drawn the conclusion that my intellectual inferiority has left me nothing to contribute to conversations with you. It has been a developing pattern for some time, and it is causing me emotional distress, as it is a new pattern to which I am unaccustomed. I find it disagreeable.”

It was the most logical way she could find to frame how she was feeling, and she hoped that it would be received as intended. She felt stupid talking to him lately, she felt as though he didn’t want to speak with her or spend time with her, and she felt as though she was not important to him- certainly not as much as she was in the past. Once he had celebrated her emotional vibrancy and curiosity, and now she found herself avoiding bringing up topics with him because the results depressed her. She’d experienced a wonder of the universe and was excited to share it with him, and the conversation in which she hoped to share and explore it with him had essentially reached its conclusion with her regretting having brought it up. Instead she felt stupid for bringing it up.

He stopped everything he was doing and looked at her straight on with his grey luminous eyes.

''Rita, I am sorry. Being a Vulcan does not make it easy for you to cope with my constant self control. That is no fault of yours. And being Kolinarh and thus devoid of emotion, it makes me insensitive to your own feelings. Alas, I can not be anything else than what I am and I am conscious of my limitations. This is not an excuse... and I am incapable of regret; but it is factual, nevertheless that I may not be up to your expectations.''

He paused but his gaze never faltered from her own.

''But despite this, I am always genuinely concerned with your well being, even your emotional well being, regardless of the fact that I am not really able to understand it. And that being said, never think for a moment that I do not greatly appreciate your presence in my life, your keen intelligence or your instinctive understanding, which is way beyond my logic. If my answers seem curt and dismissive, it is never of you but of me. I cannot speculate, even if you ask it. It is a limitation of mine I am forced to impose upon you... because of who and what I am.''

He stopped, not really able to formulate anything better than this bland admission of his limitation in interpersonal relationship. Before he knew her, his whole life has been spent either in solitary contemplation or with colleagues. This life experience he was sharing with her was so different, so unique, he wondered if he had the tools to just flow with it, let alone succeed in it.

But he truly wanted to try, if only for her sake. She was his Thy'la.

Watching his face as he spoke, her face contorted into a sort of frown and her eyes lowered to her plate. When she spoke, her voice was soft and unsteady. "I thought... I thought you did understand it," Rita replied, unable to meet his gaze. "After all these years, after all this time sharing minds, I thought... you did understand, you just didn't feel them yourself. But now you d-don't. Okay. Okay."

Hands gripping the chair, she shook slightly as she attempted to change course and move on. "I had... I had a really interesting day today..." she tried, but couldn't finish before she began to cry.

For a moment, he said nor did nothing, visibly taken aback by her reaction. Then his voice became softer thant she had ever heard it before.

''Understanding is not the same thing as feeling.''

And so saying, he extended his two fingers to her.

It took her a moment to notice the gesture, and even then, she was hesitant. They had been together for many years now, but the day and events had brought one of her old fears to the surface. In this case, that somehow she would damage him with her emotions, that she would somehow ‘break’ the master of logic by sharing her tsunami of emotions with him.

But tonight she felt alone after a long and trying day, and the truth of the matter was that she needed him. His words and actions may have exacerbated her emotional state, but this was him making an offering- literally reaching out to her. What she wanted was to be held, to be reassured. But those were human needs, and his method was far more direct. But touching, they re-established their bond and their thoughts and emotions would be shared freely.

Prying her hand loose from its deathgrip on the chair, a habit she had never broken when she was stressed or insecure, she mopped at her eyes and sniffled, then reached out with trembling fingers to touch her fingers to his.

Apart and never parted; always; touched and touched.

As the tought flowed to her, he started gently and slowly rubbing his fingers to hers. To a Human, it was not much. But to Vulcan, it was the nearest intimacy to sex; less than intercourse but more than a kiss, as their minds and souls touched with this delicate body contact. he could not feel her sadness or her anguish; but at least he could acknowledge it, respect it, possibly alleviate it a little bit.

It might have not been much; but to him, it was all that he could give... because through it he offered all of him and expressed how much he longed for all of her. It was not emotional longing; but somehow, it went even deeper than that. It was spiritual, integral, of both life and mind.

And she was the only one he ever felt in such a way; or ever will.

First her fingers wrapped around his, gripping them like a lifeline. Then her hand gripped his, then slowly she wrapped her other hand over it, and held his hand in both her own, leaning across the table to bring them to her forehead. She wanted to be held, to feel arms wrapped protectively about her, to be reassured. But that compromise was not offered, and while she felt his yearning for her, how it was expressed was just as important to her.

While he was and always would be Vulcan and he had limitations, she accepted them.

But she too had needs, and in the past he had understood that clearer and worked to accommodate her as well. She needed to hear the words of reassurance, needed to be communicated with not only on his level, but on her won. The blending of their species and culture that had made their relationship possible.

And so, understanding beyond even their bond, he stood up and went to her, to wrap his arms delicately around her.

He could not feel; but he could understand. And he could give; perhaps not the affection she deserved, but at least the presence she needed. More than anyone in any universe, he understood this. He understood her.

Sonak didn't move but applied enough pressure so that she would feel his solidness, his controlled strength and his higher body heat. The closeness would allow her to even smell his body odor and hear his beating heart against her lower ribs. He understood that this would provide her emotional comfort and a feeling of emotional significance, even if he didn't really felt any himself. But it would hopefully convey his deep appreciation of her presence in his life, her unique significance as aliving being to him among all that could exist in this or all reality. But most of all, it would reassure her taht she was alive, physical as much as spiritual. After what she had been through, she needed this feeling and, through their bonding and melds, he understood it almost as if he had felt it himself.

That understanding, he transmitted with his telepathic ability through their body contact, along with all that she meant to him.

He hoped that it would be enough for his alien, emotional, sensitive wife. Because she needed it.

And he needed her.

The faint scent of sandalwood that always seemed to accompany him was subtle, but like the man himself, significant to her. She felt his hands move cross her form, applying pressure, stroking and holding her gently despite his great strength. It moved her and comforted her- not only because it reinforced that she existed, but that he was here, with her. In a lifetime of traumas, being torn from him had left its mark on her, and she craved that reassurance.

Because she needed him.

Particularly now- their positions reversed in this reality, she was now the First Officer, and the stress and pressure of the position sometimes weighed on her. On deck, she had to appear decisive, controlled, yet accessible and professional. Only here, with him, could she let down those barriers, to let her anxieties be known, to relax and not be the icon of Starfleet service that was required of her beyond the door of their quarters.

Reassured, her tension slowly began to ebb. Reaffirmed, she clung to him, like a shipwreck survivor to driftwood. Emboldened, she shared her experience with him, from her own perspective- that of encountering the non-linear aliens who inhabited the wormhole, who had entrusted her with a survivor of a reality that was no more. For her it had been a remarkable experience in a lifetime of such, and she wanted nothing more to share it with him, to see if through his eyes. To hear his thoughts on it, even as she tried not to think about the fact that such aliens could just as easily have abducted her.

Emboldened by his arms about her, she calmed. She still worried of distance between them, and of growing apart. She worried that he grew weary of her and would find reasons to avoid her. She worried that her needs were too great for him to bear. She worried that he no longer found her interesting, but dull and commonplace. All of this passed through her mind, and in return, he held her, soothed her and listened; not to what she said, but to her needs, her fears, her anxieties and insecurities. The parts of her that she could share with no one else but him, because Rita Paris had to be so many things to so many people. But vulnerable and fragile was something she could always be with him, if no one else.

In the privacy of their quarters, alone, encircled in the arms of the last kolinahr, she could be… only human.


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