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Can I Help You?


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((Bay Front Park - Vrans, Trillus Prime ))
Aelya: Nearly a month ago, we all suffered a devastating loss. He was a devoted brother, a beloved friend, a loving partner...
::The middle aged Trill woman waved a strand of dark red hair out of her face, and tucked it behind her left ear, leaving a small smudge in her running makeup. Her voice started to falter, and she continued, in almost a whisper ::
Aelya: ... and my beautiful boy, my oldest son.
::Avaris was seated on the grass, amethyst waves lapping against the rocky beach, the sound of seabirds occasionally punctuating the calming rhythm. He was watching a mother on the verge of breakdown, delivering a belated eulogy, on the day that should have been Jaheran's 20th birthday. His brother Jazren stood next to her as she leaned on his muscular arm for support. ::
:: There was more of a crowd than Avaris had expected, enough to attract the attention of the police, who stood at a respectful distance, but seemed tensely aware that the situation could become volatile at any moment. There were no Starfleet uniforms amongst them. Too bad. One of those pigs showing up would have ensured things got interesting.::
::Aelya allowed herself a momentary loss of composure, before her expression hardened. She transitioned from grieving mother to revolutionary general, and began an emotionally charged tirade. ::
Aelya: My son, who would legally be a man today, but who was always more of a man than anybody. My sweet gentle Jeheran, who joined a crew of volunteer medics to go and support our the brave men and woman who stood against the Cardassian Fascists, even when our own weak and illegitimate government and their dogs chased them down for it. My son put his life on the line to stand up for justice, for those that the so-called Federation abandoned when they needed them most. And he made the ultimate sacrifice, doing what was right.
::She surveyed the silent crowd. Avaris and Andressa Castyr consolingly held each-other, her having lost an adored older brother, Avaris having lost the love of his life. She had been quietly sobbing throughout the first part of her mothers speech, but was now paying rapt attention, her own expression a hardened mirror of the Castyr matriarch. ::
Aelya: And comrades, let us not ever forget who took him from us. Death came too soon, not by the scaled hands of a Gul or a Leggat. Jeheran Castyrs murderer wore a red collar, held the rank of captain. The war criminal Benjamin Sisko poisoned a world to strike at Federation Citizens who refused to leave their homes, refused to bend to them or their Fascist allies. And where is this monster now?

::She paused, and then raised her voice, roaring so that the cops in the back could hear her clearly ::

Aelya: He still commands DS9 and his experimental warship! Starfleet has shown its true face, not even dressing up as explorers anymore, attacking dissenting Humans, Vulcans, Betazoids, Bolians, Andorians and us, Trill who are proud of our single lives, and who refuse to be their pets! We are at war now, their friendship with the genocidal expansionists culminating predictably in betrayal, but we must not EVER let that make us forget who the real enemy is. The Dominion wants to destroy our civilization, but our leaders might beat them to it if they are not forced into accountability!
:: The crowd roared furiously, the mothers rage spread through them like flames through a dead standing forest. But for Avaris, the death of his lover had sapped away any spark of furious desire for action. He had once been first to the fight, at the front lines of any demonstration, putting himself in the line of fire with reckless abandon, but he had always done it with Jeheran at his side. Without him, it all seemed gray and pointless. He knew that many of the assembled crowd were preparing to march, but all he wanted was to drink himself into a stupor. ::
((Later - The Commissioners Daughter Tavern))
:: Avaris was several drinks in, and dreamily staring off. The group was reminiscing, Jeheran had been larger than life, and everyone seemed to have a story. He had been a joker and had tormented his younger siblings. He had played matchmaker for Nyta and Baxin. He had organized some of their most triumphant actions, being at once jovial and kind while also deathly serious about challenging the ruling institutions of their planet. He had treated friends injuries on the battlefield of violent, riotous demonstrations, practicing the medical skills he had planned to see through to becoming a doctor.::
:: Avaris hadn't said anything, and nobody had pressured him to. He was not ready. The Jeheran they all knew was a great man, but the part of Jeheran that Avaris pined for the most, was the part of him that had been for Avaris alone.::
:: It was a vague collection of sensations, hardly even something he could put into words anyways. Avaris stroking his long red hair and gazing into his soulful, hazel eyes. The moments they would sneak away for a kiss during gatherings. The feeling of lying awake, ready to get out of bed and start the day, but lingering there so that he could hold him a bit longer. ::
Andressa: Avaris my dear, I think you have an admirer.
::The group laughed a bit mean-spiritedly, the idea of Avaris with anybody so soon, let alone a Terran was beyond ludicrous. But there he was, in a small cluster of aliens. The one that was looking at him had fair skin, light hair, and eyes the colour of ice. He was admittedly handsome, but Avaris was having none of it. Raw from loss and embarrassment at being leered at by a human at what was essentially his lovers wake, he snapped at the boy. ::

Torrin: Can I help you?

:: He flushed with embarrassment, looking away from the furious Avaris. His friends giggled.::

Andressa: What... you wouldn't go there? Some of them have enough freckles that they almost look normal.
Torrin: Andressa, please!
Jazren: ::sarcastically:: Yeah why not Avaris, you look like you could use some unwinding.

Torrin: Is that an offer Jazren? I had no idea you and your brothers tastes were so similar ...
::Avaris jokingly put his arm around Jazren, who had just taken a sip of his drink and now sprayed it out, the others laughing and banging on their table like a bunch of Klingons. ::
:: While they were laughing, Avaris looked back to the aliens, and felt a rush of anger, the Terran was stealing sidelong looks at him still. It was flattering, but right now he wanted nothing more than to punch every human man woman and child squarely in the face, not even remotely in the mood for flirting ::

Andressa: Your drink is gone Avaris, why don't you go get another one? The Human might even buy.
::Avaris rolled his eyes... this was getting old fast ::

Torrin: Don't be stupid... you know how humans are above money, he is probably mooching off the Bolian.
::He stood and approached the bar, and by necessity, the group of aliens, scowling in a way he hoped seemed unapproachable. One of the human girls was giggled, her eyes darting up to Avaris, whispering to the fair one. Avaris rolled his eyes, and stood at the bar waiting for the single elderly bartender who always seemed to be the only one working at the grimy dive. ::
:: As he waited , the whispering to his left reached a fever pitch, culminating in the girl actually shoving the boy up to the bar, who was clearly mustering up his bravery. ::
:: Avaris wanted to end it. ::

Torrin: You keep looking at me.
::It was a statement, and was meant to be curt. The human fidgeted, stuttering his reply. ::

Dragumov: Do you guys live around here?

Torrin: Of course we do, why else would we be drinking here?

Dragumov: ... well I am here, and I am not from around here.
::Torrin snorted::
Torrin: Look I don't actually care. You seem like a nice guy but I am not in the mood for this right now okay?

::The human looked crushed, but possessed surprising determination. Instead of giving up, he for some reason continued talking. ::

Dragumov: We just arrived, we are staying in the dorms at the school waiting to get picked up by the USS Gloriana.
::He beamed with mistaken pride in his own impressiveness ::

Dragumov: We have enlisted to go fight the Dominion.
::Avaris' eyes narrowed. ::

Torrin: Oh. Have you now.
::The human blithely unaware, continued on. ::

Dragumov: We are here for two weeks before she arrives, and were hoping to meet some interesting locals... you guys seem pretty interesting.
::Torrin looked back to his table. Jazren was making a lewd gesture at him, delighting in his discomfort. Nyta was showing off by throwing bar nuts in the air, and not managing to catch almost any. Andressa had drank so much that she was unknowingly spilling liquid all down her front, almost completely avoiding her mouth. He wasn't wrong, they were interesting. ::
Torrin: Look I am going to be honest with you. We are here celebrating the birthday of a very close friend, he was killed about a month ago... he was collateral damage in a Starfleet attack on the Maquis. Now might not be the right time to try and make friends with us.
::The humans eyes widened. ::

Dragumov: Thats horrible... I am so sorry! Here, let me buy you guys a round!

::Torrin was a bit taken aback by the offer::

Torrin: But...you are human... you have money?
::The blonde haired man smiled at him, but confusion was plain in his voice ::

Dragumov: um.. yes? You don't think humans aren't allowed to have money do you?

::Avaris was so embarrassed that he forgot to tell the human not to buy his friends drinks. And so he did, and before he knew it, he was taking a bottle over to the table of shocked Trill anarchists. When they arrived, he addressed the scruffy, tattooed assembly of Unjoined Majority. ::

Dragumov: I am so sorry, I heard about your friend, here, this is on me.
::He smiled kindly, either totally unaware of the tension he was causing, or simply not bothered by it. He turned back to Avaris, being much shorter, his head tilted upward to meet his eyes. ::

Dragumov: Its Artem Dragumov by the way. Ill leave you alone now, but it was nice to meet you. If you want to show me around sometime, we are at Raxan Hall for two weeks.
::Avaris felt the need to decline right then and there, especially with the present audience. But before he had a chance, he heard Andressa snarl. She shouted towards a group entering the bar ::

Andressa: I was wondering when you were going to show up, you never missed any of Jeherans other birthdays, beating your faces in was his favorite present every year.
::Avaris looked to the door, and his heart sank. Five familiar faces, matching shaved heads, and decked out in their ridiculous matching leather outfits, with haphazardly stitched angular red patches, almost a parody of Starfleet uniforms. They called themselves the Essentialist Militia, a violent branch of the conservative movement within the Federation. They were the polar opposite of the Unjoined Majority anarchists, and brawls were common, particularly at the Commissioners Daughter, a haunt frequented by outcasts of all stripes. The militiaman at the front laughed cruelly. ::

Taxal: We just wanted to come and drink a toast to Captain Benjamin Sisko, who not only captured the traitor Eddington, but exterminated one of Vrans' most persistent vermin in the process. Maybe the rest of you Castyrs and your Unwashed Majority will follow his example, I hear the Maquis numbers have been dwindling lately, I'm sure they would welcome some additional disruptor-fodder.

::Avaris friends all stood, fists clenched and with stony expressions. He bent down slightly to whisper to Artem.::
Torrin: Get your friends and get out of here buddy... you aren't going to want to see this.
::But Taxal saw Avaris talking to the human, and called out to him ::

Taxal: Well isn't that cute Avaris, its nice to see you moving on so quickly. I was afraid you would never get over that scumbag, but look at you go! And on his birthday too, good for you for living your life.
Andressa: Today's not the day Taxal, leave it alone.
Avaris: ::To Taxal:: Why, you jealous?

Taxal: Never, you always save me a dance Avaris.
::The bar erupted into a flurry of chaos. Avaris and his friends launched themselves over their table and crashed into the leather-clad militiamen. Glass shattered, chairs were thrown, tables overturned. The alien soldiers-in-training stood their ground admirably, a few of them even tried to break up the fight. Avaris was swinging at Taxal when he looked up and saw the broken glass slash across Artems face.
He kicked Taxal out of the way and ran to the annoying human, who had crumpled like paper, holding his face which was bleeding horribly through his fingers.
Avaris crouched down beside him and dragged him behind an overturned table, shielding them from the melee.
Torrin: Okay! You are okay! Let me just take a look ....
::He pried the boys hands away from his face, and his stomach cartwheeled at the sight of so much blood. Shaking off the oncoming nausea, he took the smaller man by the arm, and pulled him up. ::
Torrin: Come on, this way!

::Torrin burst through the doors to the small dirty kitchen, where he knew the delivery door to be, and together they escaped through a back alley, and ran a block.
When they were safely out of the range of danger, they both started laughing. Torrin convinced him to let him have another look at his battle wound, and upon second inspection, was less concerned. It was nothing a dermal regenerator could not easily repair, and he had one stashed away back at his apartment. ::

Torrin: Come on, Ill get you fixed up. I'm not far, you okay to walk?
Dragumov: Yeah, its just a scratch.... thank you....
Torrin: Its Avaris.
Dragumov: Avaris... you Trill have such ... flowing names.
Torrin: Dont make this weird soldier. Come on.
::As they continued walking, Torrin joked meanly ::

Torrin: I shouldn't get attached to you, based on tonight I don't know how well you'll do at the front buddy.

((Avaris and Jeheran's Apartment))
:: Avaris was nearly finished with the dermal regenerator. Artem was lucky, the swipe of broken glass had missed everywhere it could have done real damage. ::

Torrin: Do you want me to keep going? Or should I leave a sexy scar?

::The human blushed crimson. Torrin giggled to himself, his hand lingering on the human mans face. ::

Torrin: I think it would make you look rugged, but suit yourself.

Dragumov: Is this place yours? Do you live here alone?

Torrin: ... yeah, I do I guess.
::Artem winced ::

Dragumov: Right, what that guy said... your friend who died. ...
Torrin: Don't worry about it. There. All done.
::He stood up. Eager to put some space between himself and the human, he had begrudgingly felt a spark or two pass between them, and he wanted to avoid that... it was too soon, and too weird. ::
Torrin: Can I get you anything?
Dragumov: No thanks, I should really be going I think...
Torrin: Yeah. Well, sorry things got so...
Dragumov: Yeah.
::They stood in silence for a minute. ::

Torrin: Do you know how to get back to the school buddy?

Dragumov: I ... er.. not really. I can find it though I'm sure.
::Avaris sighed dramatically ::
Torrin: Ugh why don't you just sleep on the couch, I am a Teachers Assistant there so I can take you back with me in the morning.
Dragumov: Um, thanks... you sure?

Torrin: ;:tersely:: I wouldn't offer if it was putting me out. Let me get you something to sleep in.
:: He withdrew to his room and rifled around in the piles of laundry for something passably clean. Finally finding a cotton tunic that smelled fresh enough, he went back into the living room, and tossed it to his guest. ::
Dragumov: Thanks,
::The human started to undress without any ceremony or embarrassment. Avaris found himself paralyzed as his incredibly attractive, incredibly human, and incredibly wanting-to-be-a-Starfleet-soldier guest disrobed to his underwear, and went to put on the tunic. ::
:: He stopped, with his arms partway through it, noticing Avaris staring.::
Dragumov: Can I help you?
::He said it in an exactly perfect impression of Avaris. ::
Torrin: ... I doubt it very much.
::Artem smirked, shy, but intent. ::
Dragumov: ... could I try?
::They stared into each-others eyes. He dropped the tunic on the floor. Avaris broke eye contact for a fraction of a second, his gaze darting to a holoframe containing an image of Jeheran and himself, surrounded by a crowd carrying banners and angrily shouting, a line of police in riot gear blurred in the background. The world burned around them, and they were kissing as though they were the only two people alive. Andressa had taken the picture a year ago, when they had marched in solidarity with the Maquis through the streets of Leran Manev, it was by far Avaris' favorite picture of the two of them. ::
oO Forgive me. Oo
:: He looked back to Artem, and in that moment, abandoned everything ::
Avaris Edral Torrin
Civilian School Headmaster
USS Apollo - A
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