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Maddi Hyden

Lieutenant Commander Toryn Raga & Lieutenant Ishkabella Journs: Taking It Slow

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This was a brilliant piece of writing! Well done @Lael Rosek and @Toryn Raga. I couldn't stop reading it at work on break till I finished it. I think I was a minute late lol. 

 

 

((Corridor, Deck 3, USS Atlantis))

{{Day 3 of shoreleave, Late evening}}

 

It had been another long day of avoiding Toryn. She freely admitted she was attracted to him and that his company soothed her in ways she couldn’t begin to understand. That wasn’t the difficult part. Something about the situation between them made her wary of messing it up. She’d taken her space after the last away mission, not wanting to rush into things any more than they already had. 

 

There’d been very little communication between them in the way of getting to know one another. Most of what she did know about him had been gleaned either from his Starfleet records or from shrewd observation. There was no discounting what they’d been through together and the intimacy that they’d shared in the process, but she was nervous. 

 

She’d been hurt so much in the past and wasn’t sure if love was something she was interested in. It made her much different than other Al-Leyans in that she had considered monogamy. Al-Leyans weren’t monogamous by nature and yet, the idea of one person she could always rely on and didn’t have to share did have its appeal.

 

There had been an uncomfortable feeling he’d been dealing with since the mission ended. He couldn’t place it, but Toryn had the suspicion that Ishka had been avoiding him. It brought back unpleasant memories of Serala, one of his two best friends, doing everything she could to put as much space between them as possible and being blunt to the point that it didn’t even feel as though they were close friends. Thankfully, that seemed to have passed, but to be honest the two of them hadn’t actually spoken much lately. 

 

His thoughts wandered back to Ishka as he realized he could feel her nearby. That wasn’t surprising. It was a small ship and he could always sense her mind. The only one on board that he could. It made him respect what their resident Rodulans must go through hearing everyone’s thoughts. 

 

He should have been focused on where he was going, as he rounded the corner he practically bowled someone over in his quick stride. 

 

She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t noticed the familiar presence of Toryn’s mind nearby until it was too late. As she rounded a corner, she made hard contact with something solid. Thankfully, she was able to keep her footing and as soon as she was certain she wasn’t going to fall, she glanced up to find herself staring into the impossibly deep blue eyes of the very man she’d hoped to avoid until she could sort out what she was feeling.

 

That gaze felt like staring into a stellar nursery. Or a gravitic anomaly because for the life of him he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the vibrant emeralds in front of him. Framed by the fiery red mane she was breathtaking. Literally and figuratively as he stood there, trying to assemble coherent letters into words, then words into a sentence.  

 

Raga: oO Winds she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve met. Oo I’m sorry, doc. Are you alright? 

 

She wasn’t sure how to respond at first. The formality had her fighting back a wince. He’d been so free with her given name on multiple occasions while they were on the surface. Had it just been the heat of the moment? Adrenaline? It had been so freeing the couple of times she’d used his given name. Every touch had been more real for it. Something about the intimacy had helped her keep her focus. She’d worried that her personal feelings for Toryn would get in the way of her professionalism, but what had happened on Paldor II was proof that she’d been overthinking it. Or so she’d thought.

 

Journs: ::gaze drops and murmurs:: I’m sorry, sir. It’s my fault. I wasn’t paying attention.

 

Raga: It’s alright Ishka. I wasn’t looking where I was going either. 

 

Had she not lowered her gaze it would have been nigh impossible for him to look away. But he visually examined her from head to toe, not finding any signs of injury. Not that he expected there to be. Al-Leyans were a hearty bunch. However, he gently touched a crooked finger under her chin to raise her gaze to his again. 

 

Raga: I really wish you’d stop doing that. ::He whispered:: Your eyes are too beautiful to hide. 

 

A flush crept into her cheeks, one that she failed to hide despite her best efforts. The mixed messages made her even more timid than usual. Worrying her lower lip, she lifted her gaze to his, her mouth agape slightly as the tip of her tongue peeked out to moisten her lips. Winds, but he was attractive...and so charming. Any sense she had was scattered to the winds when he called her or any part of her beautiful. The compliment drew a shy smile.

 

Journs: ::breathily:: I--

 

Any words that she’d managed to string together in her mind in response clearly hadn’t made it all the way to her mouth. What could she say to this beautiful man who had held her in his arms and worshipped her for hours?

 

Part of him couldn’t help but smile a bit at her expression. The crimson that filled her cheeks could likely be detected by the ship’s sensors at this point. And that thing she did with her lip only added to her own allure. Eventually, awareness of things other than the radiant entity before him filtered into his perceptions and he glanced around with a grin. 

 

Raga: Were you headed anywhere in particular? ::He asked, clearing his throat slightly:: 

 

They were just standing there in the corridor and if she wasn’t doing anything, maybe they could talk. Clear up a few things or at least try to sort out this intense tension between them. 

 

Again, she worried her lower lip. Her thoughts had been focused on her couch in her quarters and maybe another night of movies and chocolate ice cream.

 

Journs: Um...nothing specific. Why?

 

His brow raised and a slight smirk curled his lips. The thought of spending time with her was enough to quicken his pulse by a warp factor of ten at least. 

 

Raga: Well, I don’t have plans. And I know that last mission was tough on all of us. If you want we could talk a bit. We haven’t really had much time to get to know each other much. 

 

Which was quite amusing if he took a moment to consider they’d already been quite intimate and that was just about the most, well, intimate way to know someone. 

 

Raga: My quarters are right over there and for once Kurt isn’t mimicking a statue outside. 

 

She smiled wanly at the memory of her and Toryn’s first night together when she’d had to make excuses to Logan in order to gain entrance to Toryn’s quarters. He wanted to talk and though she was certain he meant it, she also suspected that thoughts of their last intimate encounter were occupying his mind at that same moment. Despite fighting the desire to spend time with him alone these last few days, she couldn’t help the way her heartrate picked up at the thought of sharing that intimacy with him again. It was all she’d wanted on Paldor II.

 

Journs: ::softly:: Okay.

 

No matter how hard they both were trying to conceal their thoughts from one another it was impossible for him to not hear her heartbeat. It brought a warm smile to his face even before she agreed to spend time with him. 

 

Raga: Great! ::He felt silly just how excited he’d sounded and realized he was louder too:: 

 

oO You’d think I’d never gone through my season or something. Oo 

 

He chided himself mentally and turned on his bootheel. Toryn lead her back to his quarters, which were only just down the next corridor. Mid hull on the Starboard side. The door swished open and he stepped inside, gesturing for her to follow. A soft hoot came from the corner at their entry and he smiled at Sylara. Toryn looked back to her as he stood midway between the door and the replicator. 

 

((Raga’s Quarters))

 

Raga: Would you like something to drink? 

 

Just being in his quarters again stirred memories of their passionate night and she felt a shiver race down her spine. It had been the most intense coupling of her young life, and that was saying something given how many lovers she’d had. Though they’d destroyed the majority of his quarters in their desperation to get as close as possible, there had been a tenderness to Toryn’s actions. She’d felt special and protected.

 

Journs: Al-Leyan spiced tea.

 

He gave a nod and stepped in front of the replicator if only to give himself a reprieve from having to actually think about how to start such a conversation. 

 

Raga: Two Al-Leyan Spiced teas. Hot. ::He looked back:: Make yourself at home. 

 

The replicator whirred and a moment later the requested beverages appeared in the usual swirl of blue and white luminescence. Steam rose from the mugs and he grasped them by the handles and joined her in the living area. Offering one mug to her before he took a seat on the large couch beneath the window looking out at Paldor II. 

 

For a moment, she sat still in the quiet, taking a long sip of her tea. Her racing heart missed a beat or two only two resume its normal rhythm. A nervous energy filled the space between them Something was developing...something serious...though it seemed neither wanted to admit it. Her gaze lifted to meet his. She wasn’t a risk-taker. Like most of her species, she calculated every possible risk before arriving at a conclusion. Not with Toryn. 

 

She’d done things these last few days that would typically be outside of her comfort zone. She’d followed him without a second thought, not stopping once to question the recklessness of his choices, and she didn’t regret a moment. Setting the mug of tea down on the coffee table, she lifted slightly shaking hands to cradle his face tenderly, running one thumb over the swell of his lower lip.

 

Journs: You make me utterly crazy. Even when we’re together, I can’t stop thinking about you. I’m trying to go slow and not ruin a good thing before it truly has a chance to start, but…

 

Toryn sat there, his own mug still clutched in his hand as he hadn’t decided to actually partake or set it down. And then he felt her soft, yet trembling hands cradle his face. The thumb brushing across his lips felt like electrical sparks the way his being reacted to the contact. 

 

Raga: So it’s not just me then? ::He muttered softly, as if he were one asylum patient confessing to another:: I’ve thought about you more in these past few days than anyone I’ve ever.. 

 

Slept with? Loved? Been attracted to? All of the above? He struggled how to finish that thought, his words trailed off as he couldn’t settle on any one in particular. He reached up to cradle her hands in one of his own and the other extended to brush fingers through her hair. 

 

Her gaze dropped to his lips and she leaned forward slowly, brushing her lips chastely over his before pulling back and staring into his eyes. She pulled one hand free and slid it up the side of his face, brushing the tip of his ear tenderly. It was an intimate gesture typically reserved for lovers as the location was one of an Al-Leyan’s most sensitive places. 

 

A soft smile turned up the corners of her lips as she leaned closer to him, longing to feel the weight of his body pressed against hers. There was something about his masculine strength that made her feel so warm and protected. It never failed to drive away any worries of the day.

 

Toryn felt the chaste kiss and the brief contact of her supple lips to his was enough to steal his breath. He’d been longing for her company since the crisis on the surface. When she was facing a lost patient he wanted to pull her into his arms. Hold her until she felt better, or bring her to his quarters and pamper her with intimacy until she forgot. 

 

Seeing her smile, he couldn’t help but do the same and he reached out to set his mug down as she leaned in. With both hands-free he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against him. He’d wanted to talk, they needed to but it was almost futile to resist or deny the magnetic pull he felt towards her. His hands caressed her back as he drew her against his chest. He stared into those emerald pools of hers and let his lips tenderly meet hers. A passionate kiss ensued, one that even took him by surprise. 

 

For a long moment, she allowed herself to be lost in it, closing her eyes and enjoying the way his lips felt against hers. She arched her neck, exposing her bare throat to his kisses even as she buried shaking hands into his dark raven locks. For a few moments, she allowed it, then sighed and pushed at his chest with one hand, the other on his shoulder to hold him firmly in place.

 

Journs: ::breathily:: I thought you wanted to talk.

 

Toryn lost himself in her for that long moment and then sense kicked in with one of them and she broached the reason for them visiting his quarters. The dutiful former Tac/Sec chief cleared his throat and nodded. Sitting back against the cushion of the couch, but still embracing her he licked his lips, 

 

Raga: Sorry. You’re right. ::He smiled:: I can’t seem to help myself around you. ::He muttered softly:: What is this we seem to have between us? 

 

Journs: ::touches her forehead to his and sighs:: I don’t know. It’s not like me to be so reckless. On Paldor II with the stampede--I just reacted. I saw you risking your life and I reacted.

Hearing her say that he felt a twinge of guilt and inadequacy. Toryn was by far the least typical specimen of their species. Al-Leyan’s were so methodical they didn’t even accept transporter technology on their homeworld until long after it had been perfected. Favoring the reliability of magnetic rail propulsion and massive networks of trains that blanketed the planet. Every possible risk was assessed before an action was taken. And here he was, the record holder for purple hearts on Atlantis. Far more emotional than most Al-Leyans. They were a passionate species, but he was broken. The usual filters of his species weren’t present in him. It’s part of why he’d undergone two separate Attitude Readjustment Therapies. 

 

Raga: It’s because of me. I’m not a good Al-Leyan. ::He frowned and shifted his gaze away from her as if ashamed:: 

 

Journs: ::shakes her head and brushes her lips against his:: Toryn, I--All my life, I’ve stayed with the traditions and have never taken unnecessary risks. ::pauses:: I went outside of my branch, but I can’t say I’m sorry I did. ::brushes the backs of her knuckles over his cheek:: Winds only know what would have happened if I hadn’t. I would have regretted it if I’d just stood by and watched while you risked your life to protect those people.

 

His eyes closed briefly when her lips touched his and he kept them closed, trying not to let his inner demons draw his thoughts away from the gorgeous redhead embraced in his arms. 

 

Raga: It’s my duty. One I’ve had to push to the limits more often than I’d like on this ship. So many enemies and all alone. ::He opened his eyes to look into hers:: I’m reckless, I know. It’s done as much good as it has harm. I made a rash, split second decision to save Captain Brell and spent three months with the Consortium as a result. 

 

She reached out, caressing his mind with hers. She should be running. This wasn’t what good Al-Leyans did. Not according to the Council and the traditions anyway. People had been exiled for less. While it wasn’t officially against the laws, many received therapy for chronic recklessness. But was it really so reckless? In her time enlisted in Starfleet, she’d been forced to redefine a lot of her beliefs in the context of the greater universe. 

 

Many species considered actions like Toryn’s noble and an indication of good character. He cared for others and was willing to go to any lengths to protect them. Maybe that was why she felt safer with him than she ever had with anyone back home. There was something comforting in knowing that he would fight beside her even through the dangers they faced as Starfleet officers.

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: The duties of those within your branch come at a price. It’s not one to be taken lightly. In my time with Starfleet, I’ve learned that the hardest choices, no matter the price, can also lead to our greatest sense of purpose and satisfaction. ::pauses:: You’re a good man, Toryn. I feel safe when I’m with you. No one else does that for me like you do.

 

The touch our their minds together, even brief was enough to relax him. It was soothing. And yet, Toryn had enough baggage to fill the Expanse. Ishka’s comments were, quite frankly surprising. All of this was. She should have run for the hills by now, called someone back home on Leya-I and have the Council pressure Starfleet into ordering him home to be treated again. Or worse, exiled from the homeworld. It never occurred to him that being brainwashed and conditioned was perhaps a far worse fate than never being allowed on the world of one’s birth. That’s just the way they were raised.  

 

Raga: I know. And I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made in regards to protecting this ship and crew. I...I’m ::He floundered:: You’ve seen the scars, I know you have. I’m not right. There’s something wrong with me, Ishka. 

 

Journs: ::expression softens and murmurs:: No, there’s not. You’re different, but that doesn’t make you wrong. People like you and I stand out from the crowd because we don’t blindly do what we’re told. ::pauses:: My uncle, though he wasn’t proud to be different, realized eventually that there was no shame in it either. It’s about time that we caught up with the rest of the universe in that regard.

 

Toryn stared at her for a long while, just, surrounded by those emerald eyes and soaking in what she’d just said. She had a point. In his three years on Atlantis he’d struggled with the cultural upbringing of his species. Of the way he was different. He’d met others who were similar. Rune Jolara was one, who’d embraced her exile status and was a proud Starfleet officer. She’d been the first to tell him warnings of the Council. 

 

Raga/ART: ~Imperfect beings attract imperfect beings~ 

 

A cold chill ran right down Toryn’s spine as the voice he’d not heard in some time filled his mind. The voice, was his own, but twisted. Dark. Cruel. And for that brief moment it sickened him that he’d let himself be tricked into saying it aloud. 

 

ART: ~How many women must you ruin simply because you love them?~ 

 

He trembled as ART tormented him and he snapped his eyes shut, to focus on forcing the malevolent entity back into the fragile cage it was contained within his psyche. 

 

She felt him shaking beneath her touch and her brow furrowed.

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: ~ Toryn, come back to me. I’m here. ~

 

Ishka’ voice was like a bright light in a stormy sea. The Al-Leyan shuddered a moment at the telepathic contact. For a brief moment Toryn’s usually high mental shields dropped. Giving her a glimpse of his psyche. Every telepathic species had their own quirks. Al-Leyans were different only in that as a whole their species rarely had members who possessed such a gift. Perhaps one in a few hundred million. And he was even more unique due to the nature of how he received such gifts. The center point of his psyche was, for lack of a better term, a room. A sanctuary for him to retreat to in times of psychic stress. In the center of that room was a large gilded cage, like an archaic prison. The walls and ceiling were slender bars of gold, though the metal had seemingly lost its luster. Cracks spiderwebbed throughout the structure, including the door. The interior, despite the appearance wasn’t visible. Obscured by shadows. A pair of reflective eyes looked out from the small, barred window in the door. Fingers gripped the bars as a face pressed against them. Toryn’s face. Yet not. His features were dark, sullen and there was an intense cruelty in the eyes that stared out at Toryn. They shifted over his shoulder and looked right at the light shining into his mind. At Ishka. 

 

ART: ~But for how long? She’ll abandon you like all the others.~ 

 

In her time, she’d seen some shocking things. But nothing had prepared her for the inner world of Toryn’s psyche. She could only assume that what she was seeing visually represented the brokenness she knew he felt. Instead of acknowledging the twisted version of him, she focused her attention on Toryn, cradling his cheek with her hand.

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: ~ I’m real, Toryn, and I’m not going anywhere. ~

 

There was the faint registration of physical contact as he stared at her, into those emerald eyes. All while the telepathic connection pulled his focus. He struggled with what to say when a flood of memories of the last two years came to his mind in a flurry. He thought of Serala, how he’d told her how he felt for her but after it was already too late. She had been mated to Stevok. Of Lael Rosek. The memory of her hurt even more. How he felt himself a failure as an Al-Leyan and a person because they couldn’t reconcile the differences of their cultural upbringings. And then Ishka, she was new and he truly didn’t know how he felt about her other than the intense effect she seemed to have on him. 

 

She leaned forward, brushing her lips against his, the familiar flutter taking up residence in her abdomen. The things he stirred in her...she couldn’t even begin to explain what he did to her. Though she hadn’t had much of a chance to properly sort through her feelings, she knew he brought out a side of her that no one else did and for the first time, she felt truly free to be herself. There was no fear that he would judge her for not being a traditional Al-Leyan. There was a trust between them that she’d never known before.

 

The adrenaline-like sensation that filled him when her lips brushed over his was enough to snap him from his psychic stupor and those walls of his came slamming up hard as if his own internal red alert activated. The last image and sound of ART staring at them both laughing echoed a moment before he sucked in a sharp breath of air. Focus returned to those cerulean eyes of his and they flicked side to side looking at each of hers. That laughter caused the aftershock of a shudder to course through him and he retreated from her a moment. Fear in his eyes. She’d just glimpsed far more than most got to see of his being, his thoughts, memories. She was a true blood, like him, and they were both raised to view what he was as being wrong. The thought of her rejecting him caused a painful ache in his gut that he couldn’t shake. 

 

Raga: …..

 

She slid her hand to the back of his neck and gripped it tightly, pressing into him. She wasn’t letting go. She couldn’t let go. The pain she’d felt at nearly losing him on Paldor II crept into her thoughts and, though she knew he wouldn’t feel it, maybe he’d be able to see it in her thoughts. She allowed the memories of their intimacy to come to the surface, allowing him to relieve it through her eyes and to see himself as she did. The smile that lit his face when he looked at her...the tenderness in his eyes.

 

Even with his shields up he saw the surface thoughts, deliberately shown to him by her. That caused his brow to raise slightly and after he sorted through them he looked at her, head shaking slightly, given the grip she had on his neck. 

 

Raga: Why? We both know that I should be reported to the Council. How can you be comfortable being around someone who’s… ::He fell silent but the words Fallen Branch floated into his thoughts:: 

 

Journs: ::meets his gaze and murmurs:: After my uncle, I--I’m not so sure. I--oh winds, Toryn. ::tears gather in the corners of her eyes::

 

When she seemed to fall apart like that he pulled her closer, hugging her gently against him. Seeing her with that look in her eyes, he felt the impulse to protect her. Or at the least to comfort her. 

 

Raga: I’m sorry Ishka. I make a mess of everything. ::He closed his eyes to keep from showing the tears threatening to fill them:: 

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: The Council--I--There must be a better way than sentencing so many good people to death simply for being who they are.

 

Toryn’s brow furrowed slightly when she said that. It was true, and yet not. 

 

Raga: Ishka. There’s a reason the punishment is there. To protect our way of life. 

 

If ever there was a pre-programmed response it was that. Toryn looked at her with a momentary glimpse of innocence before he shook his head and sighed, enjoying her warmth against him. 

 

Journs: ::exhales shakily:: I know, I know. ::worries her lower lip and blinks back tears, then murmurs:: But is it really worth so many dying? Isn’t there a better way?

 

Raga:  ::He shrugged slightly::  There’s really not many that actually die, Ishka. As far as I know anyways, but I barely know of the Exiles. 

 

Journs: ::brow furrows in confusion:: Exiles?

 

Raga: ::He nods:: That’s what they call themselves. A colony of Al-Leyan’s who’ve been, well, exiled from Leya-One. 

 

She wasn’t quite sure how to take that news. Did the Council know? Surely if they did they wouldn’t allow its continued existence. Such a faction was the ultimate threat to their way of life. People like Ishka and Toryn already pushed those limits by being part of such a diverse organization that could hold so many temptations for even the most dedicated Al-Leyan. 

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: Does the Council know?

 

That. Was a question he’d honestly never even considered to ask. Though, he was fairly certain he knew the answer. If the Council knew there was little doubt that they would leave them be. Such a group was contrary to the established way of thinking and way of life. Without the fear of exile, the Council would lose a great deal of its power. Or at least, influence. Since that was the utmost worst punishment on Leya-I even beyond execution. 

 

Raga: I have no idea, but I doubt it. They wouldn’t be able to let that stand if they did. 

 

Ishka nodded, suddenly becoming quiet. This wasn’t what she’d come here for. She didn’t want to think about home. She wanted to think about them. She’d had days to mull this over and had decided she wanted to see where things with Toryn went. It wouldn’t be easy given that he was her direct superior. They’d have to keep things discreet so no one found out. A part of her was nervous about how much she’d shared with Maddi. She only hoped that didn’t come back to bite her.

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: But this isn’t why I came here with you.

 

Raga: Oh? ::He asked curiously, for the moment he was mostly back to his usual self and smirked at her:: I don’t know if my quarters can survive another visit from you. ::he chuckled:: 

 

She blushed, recalling vividly the disaster that had been the aftermath of their last night together and her heart thudded rapidly against her ribcage. A shudder ran down her spine at the memory and her tongue peeked out slightly to moisten her lips.

 

Journs: ::pauses:: What happened on Paldor II--

 

Seeing her fluster was enough to cause him to smile brightly, something about being able to elicit that sort of reaction in someone. He felt her shudder against him and he squeezed her gently, even as he pressed his lips against hers in a tender kiss. It only lasted a moment. 

 

Raga: Was a tragedy and one none of us are likely to ever forget. We just have to move on. We did what we could. ::He said, trying to comfort her not knowing precisely what she was speaking of::

 

Journs: ::shakes her head:: That’s not what I meant. ::pauses:: Was I imagining it or did something happen down there? Between us I mean.

 

There was a moment where he was silent, just. Looking at her. Memories played through his mind of the surface of the world they were already parked on. The sky of the world they’d helped save could be seen out the window they were both sitting beneath. He recalled the patient she tried to save even after they’d died. Of him trying to comfort her. There had been something there. 

 

Raga: That depends entirely on whether or not a yes would bother you. 

 

He was the antithesis of his species, reckless instead of cautious. Impulsive as opposed to reserved. He was not what Al-Leyans were supposed to be. She should be running for the nearest shuttle, but here she was in his arms. 

 

Journs: ::whispers:: And what if I said it wouldn’t?

 

He felt his heart pounding in his chest when she whispered and it was his turn to moisten his lips with his tongue. 

 

Raga: Then the answer would be yes. ::He stared into her eyes longingly and brushed his fingers through her hair:: But I think it started long before that. 

 

Journs: ::nods:: From the moment I first saw you on the bridge. ::blushes:: I can’t explain it, but--

 

Raga: I haven’t been able to keep you out of my mind. ::He finished her sentence:: Since you reported on board and I felt the presence of your mind. ::He shook his head, smiling:: 

 

She was like a Fekundeco plant, or at least that’s how he felt around her much of the time. The plant, whos spores had an affect on the libido of their species was potent. But it was more than just the physical attraction. Ishka was...something. Toryn just couldn’t put the word to it. Like she were something he’d been looking for and didn’t know he needed. 

 

Ishka pulled her hand away from the back of Toryn’s neck and laced her fingers with his, her gaze dropped to their intertwined hands. She reached out for his mind, gently caressing it with hers. They barely knew one another and yet she felt at peace and relaxed with him in a way she didn’t with others. Despite her initial hesitation, she found herself wanting to get to know him better.

 

Journs: ::softly:: Would it be okay if we slow down a bit and get to know each other? ::smiles:: Don’t get me wrong. Our one night was amazing, but I think I’d like to see if this can be about something more than just satisfying each other’s physical needs.

 

The telepathic contact was soothing, and he accepted it and her mind against his easily. He followed her gaze and wiggled his fingers between hers gently then nodded. 

 

Raga: I’d like that. Though, to be honest there’s a part of me that is afraid when you get to know me enough you won’t want me. 

 

Journs: Because of your past?

 

Raga: ::He nodded slowly:: That’s part of it. Partly because I’m not...right enough to be an Al-Leyan and because well..::He sighed:: I don’t know. So far everyone I’ve loved has found someone better than I. ::He met her gaze:: I’m sure, if given time you’ll find someone better too. 

 

Toryn wasn’t typically self-deprecating, but that episode he’d just had a moment before with ART had rattled him. 

 

She studied him for a long moment before bringing their entwined hands up to cradle his cheek. It was clear he was very nervous and afraid of being hurt and abandoned. She had those same fears. This was still so new and she really didn’t have much to go on as far as if this was going to work. She cared for him a lot. What they’d been through together on Paldor II had made that exceedingly obvious. She wanted to see where this went and if they had enough in common to make it work.

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: I can’t guarantee that one or both of us isn’t going to hurt the other at some point. We’re going to disagree on things and we’re going to get annoyed at each other. Maybe we make this work. Maybe we don’t. But I know this. If we don’t try, then both of us are going to spend the rest of our lives wondering what if.

 

He thought on her words, and how right she was on the last part. Serala had been the first woman he’d developed feelings for and in his hesitation in dealing with his cultural upbringing, how she was a non-Al-Leyan, and his own uncertainties he’d told her how he felt too late. Lael had been a different story, but Toryn was certain that with how Ishka made him feel he didn’t want to look back and wonder what might have been. 

 

Raga: Agreed. 

 

He reached up to caress her cheek with the hand that wasn’t laced with hers and leaned in to kiss her forehead softly. 

 

Raga: ~There’s one way to truly get to know each other like no one else can.~ 

 

He thought to her mind and with the exception of the memories from his time as a Consortium prisoner he completely dropped his mental shields and let her see into his mind fully. The torture had been extreme and she didn’t need to see that. He was still coping with the trauma he’d endured and too much of his life was already traumatic.; 

 

She closed her eyes, lowering her mental shields. It was overwhelming at first, the strength of his mind, but she gradually grew used to it. Squeezing his hand, she reached up to cradle his cheek.

 

Journs: ~ Where did you play most as a child? ~

 

There was a warmth, a tenderness to her mind being in contact with his. He smiled as they enjoyed each others company. He leaned against the touch to his cheek, smiling. 

 

Raga: ~Easy, the Sez Toural mountains. I had already shown a proclivity towards climbing things when I was young, so even after my tenth year I could already climb well enough. And my blood family are accomplished as well. But then, isn’t everyone from Sez Toural?~

 

She smiled, leaning forward so her lips were only a hair’s breadth away from his. The warmth of his breath caressing her lips caused her to shiver and moisten her lips, her gaze flickering up to meet his.

 

Journs: ~ Show me. ~

 

His pulse quickened at her proximity and he felt her lips just barely out of reach. At least until he leaned closer, kissing her deeply. He let his arms slip around her back, holding her against him as he opened his mind to her. Sharing memories of his climbs, including the one when he was ten and caused the avalanche that orphaned Sylara and brought her into his family. He hadn’t climbed for several months after the accident but he went on to spend most of his time climbing alone, with his sister, or and a few occasions his whole family. He felt at peace alone on a mountain. 

 

She smiled behind closed eyes, enjoying seeing his adventures through his eyes, recalling her own. As his memories faded, she shared her own. 

 

It had been a typical morning. She’d snuck out early enough before lessons to explore the frozen forests of Sez Toural. The cold air stung at her exposed nose and cheeks, the brisk air filling her lungs as she crunched through the snow, wincing at the sound. It would scare all of the animals away and she’d so wanted to see them running free. It was some she longed for herself. Freedom from the restrictions of society, though she told no one this. Saying such things would result in an intervention, potentially Attitude Readjustment Therapy. They weren’t told much about what it was like, only that it was intended to correct those who fell off the branch. 

 

Suddenly, she heard it. The flapping of wings. She looked up in amazement to see a Seiuri gliding through the air toward a tree limb, reaching out and wrapping its talons around the branch to gain its balance. She’d never seen one in person before. Carefully, she tiptoed toward it, wanting a closer look. Unfortunately, she only got halfway to the tree where it was perched before it heard her and took off without so much as turning in her direction.

 

A warm smile adorned his face as he watched her memory, and shared one of his own involving a Seiuri. 

 

As he recalled he was older, just barely into his teens at the time. He could feel the biting cold of the southerly winds whipping through the Western face of the Sez Tourals. His fingers dug into the frozen rock of the mountain known locally as the Spear. A singular peak that roze up a good five thousand feet higher than those around it. Treacherous. He pulled himself up over the lip, panting and straining from the climb. He flopped onto his back with his legs dangling over the edge. Staring up at the always overcast sky and the lone winged figure circling overhead. He heard the voice in his mind. 

 

Sylara: ~Toryn friend made it. Finally. Could have nested though.~ 

 

The teasing of the bird was enough to make him laugh as he rose to his feet on the top of the largest mountain in the southern pole. He admired the view a moment, as he shed the climbing gear he’d brought. Securing them back into the pack on his back. He could see everything from up here. High enough that several layers of clouds lay between him and the ground. But just in the distance, he could see the lights of the Capital, Sez Toural. Hundreds of kilometers away. A grin plastered his face as he broke into a run, snow crunching beneath his boots. A leap made without hesitation, but more than a fair share of panic as he jumped off the mountain. 

 

The rush of the winds whipping past him as he fell straight down for a few seconds as he held his legs together and his arms flush with his sides. A second more passed and several hundred feet before he snapped his arms and legs open, the fabric of his suit catching the wind instantly. The sudden jerk as his descent arrested quickly and he flared back, upwards a moment. Sylara swooped down passed him and he dove again. Limbs outstretched. It was incredible. The first time he’d ever used a wingsuit to get off of a mountain after a climb. And the first true flight he’d ever shared with the Seiuri. The bird flew beside him, keeping pace easily. It was an incredibly fond memory. 

 

She opened her eyes, disoriented at first. It was the first telepathic experience she’d shared with someone where the exchange had been mutual and intentional it was like nothing she’d ever experienced. Even with the absence of the emotions that she was certain were present for Toryn, it had been enjoyable all the same living the moment through his eyes. A slight flush filled her cheeks. Somehow what they’d just shared seemed more intimate than anything physical.

 

Journs: ::murmurs breathily:: That was--

 

He stared into those amazing emerald pools when she opened her eyes. Though he’d had several telepathic exchanges before, and even shared a strangely unique psychic realm with another there as a sense of intimacy with sharing that memory that he’d never felt before. Sure, there had been times when he let someone else into his mind, see his memories but this was more direct. More visceral. 

 

Raga: ::He leaned his forehead against hers:: I’ve never shared a memory like that before. That was one of my favorite memories. The first time I’d ever flown with Sylara. 

 

Journs: ::smiles sheepishly:: That was the first time I’ve shared a telepathic connection like that with anyone.

 

Raga: I’ve had a few, but none quite that direct. There are hardly any of our kind with our gifts. And I can only connect to our own kind. ::He smiled and kissed her forehead gently before looking into her eyes::

 

She recalled the statistics. Only 10% of the planet possessed telepathic abilities. That was one in ten if she was doing her math correctly. The odds of her finding another telepath outside Leya-I, especially with the very small minority that chose to leave home and serve in Starfleet, were astronomical. 

 

Journs: ::pauses:: I like you, Toryn. But I’m terrible at relationships. ::blushes:: I’ve spent so much time with my nose buried in a PADD…

 

He smiled when she said that and chuckled, perhaps a bit louder than he intended. 

 

Raga: I like you too, Ishka. And I understand, believe me. When it comes to relationships, well...I’ve not had the best of luck. Anyone on the ship could probably tell you as much. ::He laughed, but there was sadness behind his eyes, how many times had he been heartbroken now?:: 

 

Her gaze dropped from his, her thumb brushing gently back and forth over the backs of his knuckles, her expression contemplative. She supposed it was a bit different for her. She’d never really specifically sought anything monogamous. With her eyes set on practicing medicine, she hadn’t had much time for a social life much less a serious relationship. She drew her lower lip between her teeth and worried it for a moment before releasing it. Al-Leyans lived such a long time that it wasn’t uncommon for some pursuing their branches to wait until later in life to have children. In fact, there were some professions that didn’t allow those in them to reproduce. 

 

Though the population as a whole wasn’t aware, birth control was available, but was severely restricted and was administered at the discretion of the Council. It was a side to their society that remained hidden from the general population. The only reason she knew was because of her uncle. He’d shared much with her that would otherwise have remained behind Council chamber closed doors. The fact that she was required to receive birth control innoculations as part of her contract with Starfleet--well, she was glad her parents weren’t aware of that detail. They would have called her home immediately and insisted on intervention by the Council.

 

He watched her get lost in thought and refrained from prying. Unless she chose to share with him, it would be a violation to do so. Even still, surface thoughts were different. He could tell she was worried over something. 

 

Raga: Though, if I’m to be honest being the only Al-Leyan on board before now has made relationships...tricky. Even the one half Al-Leyan I care for...well it didn’t work out. I had to go back home to Leya-I for my season. 

 

He hoped that keeping the conversation going might help her relax a bit. Even if the topic itself was seemingly bothersome. To the both of them. You couldn’t truly know someone if you only ever sought out the pleasant parts of their life. 

 

Journs: ::smiles wanly and nods:: I admit...it will be nice not having to worry about that.

 

Raga: ::He nodded:: Agreed. Though, I don’t think my season is due for another year or two. 

 

She paused. Most Al-Leyans had their seasons relatively young. However, her doctors were puzzled. She should have experienced her first by now, but hadn’t. They’d attempted to explain it away as her being a “late-bloomer”, but that had been less than reassuring. She was already seen as unusual because of her uncle’s strange ideas about revolution and a new way of things. Now she was even stranger. An Al-Leyan’s first season was a rite of passage of sorts, so many of her kind still viewed her as a child in spite of all that she’d seen as a medical officer with Starfleet.

 

Journs: ::blushes and murmurs:: I’ve never…

 

A few of her surface thoughts filtered through as he saw her blush and his brow raised slightly. Given the fact she was older than him it was a surprise that she hadn’t had at least one season yet. 

 

Raga: Really? ::He smiled to try and comfort her:: I figured with you being so much older than me… 

 

Toryn had lived among humans long enough to pick up at least a small fraction of their proclivity for humor. Especially using it to help lighten a mood, or for some good old teasing of those one cared for. 

 

Journs: ::drops her gaze to their entwined hands and murmurs:: My parents became concerned when my peers were entering their seasons and I wasn’t. I’ve been to a few doctors, but none of them have been able to figure out why.

 

There’d been talk of infertility and an inability to have children, which had devastated her even though she was older before the doctors had considered the possibility. It was heartbreaking to think that she might never experience that joy. So she’d thrown herself into her studies and her career, hoping to fill the hole. The doctors hadn’t said she’d never conceive or have children, but they’d said it was best to be prepared for the possibility.

 

Toryn held her hands gently in his and stared at her a moment. He wasn’t entirely sure what to say. He’d never really thought much on whether or not he’d have kids. Not that he didn’t like them, or want them. But when it was seemingly so impossible to find love, much less a mate that would want to have that deep of a connected relationship with him it never seemed a priority. 

 

Raga: Well, aren’t you a doctor? Have you tried running tests on yourself to see why you haven’t had your season? ::He asked, earnestly ignorant of what Prote-ses she might have::

 

Journs: ::grimaces:: I suppose I’ve been avoiding it...not really wanting to know the answer, afraid that it would be what the doctors suspected. ::closes her eyes and murmurs:: I--I’m not sure I can handle it.

 

He pulled her into a gentle hug, holding her head against his chest.

 

Raga: I suppose that would be difficult. But, isn’t the uncertainty worse? If...the worst is true as much as it will hurt, at least you can get closure and eventually move on. But if you live your life never knowing, missing out on the chance that they’re wrong and you can...well. Isn’t that worth the potential pain if they’re right? 

 

Journs: ::whispers:: Until now, I’ve never had a reason for it to really matter.

 

Raga: ::His heart rate quickened slightly:: Oh? Doctor are you trying to seduce me for science? ::He chuckled:: 

 

A blush filled her cheeks as she realized the weight of her admission. Had she gone too far? She didn’t even know if this meant anything to Toryn beyond a casual hook-up like so many of their species had. She wanted to believe the intimacy they’d just shared meant it had the potential to be more, but it would be foolish not to guard her heart with her knowing so little about him and this--whatever it was--being so new.

 

Though they had only known each other for a brief period of time he was certain that seeing her blush was one of his favorite things about her. Something about the softness of her expression and the fact that he could elicit a reaction like that in someone was always a pleasant feeling. He smiled warmly and lightly ran his fingers through her hair. 

 

Raga: In all seriousness, I’m humbled and flattered that you’d have such a consideration. But as you said, let’s pace ourselves and see what this...thing is between us. 

 

She nodded, leaning forward to lay her head on his chest and wrap her arms around his middle. There wasn’t any reason that she couldn’t enjoy the comfort of his physical presence, even if they were trying to slow that aspect of their relationship down. Having the solidity of a strong man to lean on was comforting and it gave her a peace that she’d never experienced before. With previous lovers, it had always been about physical needs. She’d never had this kind of connection with any of them before.

 

He felt her lay on him, wrapping him up in an embrace and it brought a smile to the Al-Leyan’s face. Such contact was something that Toryn had rarely had in his life. Even when it was to save his life for mating season, his relationships had always fallen apart on him. And there was just something to be said about having someone to hold you. 

 

Journs: ::murmurs:: Can we lay together and just sleep? 

 

When he was with her, the nightmares of Paldor II didn’t seem as overwhelming. In truth, she’d missed having someone to hold her at night.

 

Raga: Gladly. It’s been a long time since I’ve had someone to hold. 

 

He’d held Lael of course, but that had always only been in the dreamscape. Never in person as they’d spent so little time together, face to face. 

 

She’d need to set the chronometer to wake her in time to head to her quarters for a fresh uniform, but thankfully she was on second shift tomorrow, giving her plenty of time. She wanted to enjoy this...enjoy him.

 

Raga: Stay as long as you like. ::He whispered:: 

 

Toryn embraced her gently as she lay upon his chest. With her hair so close her scent was unmistakable and reminded him of home. He smiled, then gently ran his fingers through her hair a moment before kissing the top of her head. He could feel her steady breathing as easily as he could hear it. This was nice. This is what he needed. What, he suspected they both needed. He wasn’t quite sure when he fell asleep, but it happened quickly. She was so warm and comfortable in his arms. It felt right. 




 

=====================================================

Lieutenant Commander Toryn Raga 

Mission Specialist/Second Officer

USS Atlantis NCC-74682

Atlantis Staff Member

Writer ID: A239410TR0

https://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Toryn_Raga

 

 

&

 

Lieutenant Ishkabela Journs

Medical Officer, USS Atlantis NCC-74682

I238110RH0

 

 


 

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