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Capt Renos & LtCmdr Traenor, "Point of View/Pain of View."


Maxwell Traenor
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((OOC: Reference is made to previous posts named “Sweet Music” - Part 1 and Part 2. Though not necessary reading, it does provide background information on the situation. ))

((Holodeck 1, Deck 7 - USS Darwin-A))

((1st POV))

Renos: =/\= You know, that’s not a transmission I think we should be worried about. =/\=


:: The J’naii captain stopped mid stride, stooping to pick up a mishandled PADD ne’d fumbled and dropped. Ne had butterflies in nir stomach again today and was all thumbs. It wasn’t the first time ne’d sent something tumbling and clattering to the floor. It wasn’t like nem at all - ne wasn’t known for being a clutz. Renos huffed audibly, regretting putting the efficient Dokkaran in the role of Acting Chief of Tactical and Security. ::

:: Ne paused outside of the holodeck door and thumbed the panel by the door, calling up the program ne intended to run, complete with secret subroutine. If only ne could get Icavoc to drop the matter, or at least postpone things long enough for nem to get some much needed down time. This was the third time ne’d tried to get some holodeck time and ne had to draw the line somewhere or ne’d never get a break. ::

Icavoc: =/\= But it could contain a corrupted attachment that may have been garbled by a subspace relay or even something more risky, like a virus. =/\=

Renos: =/\= Leave it with me! ::Insistently:: =/\=

Icavoc: =/\= As you wish Renos. ::In the same neutral calm tone as ever:: =/\=

:: By now the J’naii deviant was pulling out nir special red PADD and silently cursing the idiot who didn’t follow the proper procedure for contacting nem with underground business. Having nir activities uncovered and linked with an organisation considered criminal on nir homeworld didn’t make for a relaxed mood and ne didn’t notice the error that flashed up briefly on the holodeck control panel before ne breezed in, determined to get some joy out of the day. ::

:: When ne entered ne couldn’t help but smile. The place was exactly how it was meant to be and there was Traenor by the piano. Ne’d been particularly withdrawn lately and had missed this man greatly. Ne felt like ne had a bit of making up to do after being so cold and withdrawn. Despite better judgement ne'd been reading about the complexities of human dating customs. It was genuinely mind boggling compared to the arranged pairing common on J’naii. It wasn’t necessarily a practice ne agreed with or liked but it certainly made matters simpler. Then again simpler wasn’t always better. ::

Renos: Hello Gordie. ::Brightly while checking nir red PADD and then stuffing it away for later.::

:: Renos could see Gordie’s face was already lit up with a big smile as ne approached. Strangely, if Renos was reading things right he actually looked a little relieved. Why would that be? He couldn’t be expecting someone else surely? ::

Traenor: Renos, I’m so glad that it’s you here right now!

Renos: Of course it's me. ::In an amused tone::

::With Noros gone and out of the way, no one remained aboard who knew about this program except for nem so this Traenor wouldn't be getting any other guests whether he knew it or not. Gordie gave nem one of his charismatic grins and Renos felt the tension begin to melt away. ::

Traenor: Why don’t you come take a seat, and we’ll get some music started.

:: Ne approached and scooted the holographic man over, feeling a rise in nervousness. Nir mouth seemed to dry up and the J’naii had to question what ne was doing here, what ne hoped to achieve. Had ne not ruled out this possibility the last time ne was here? ::

Renos: Actually, I thought I'd show you what I've been working on.

:: This was something of an exaggeration. Due to the demands of the mission ne hadn’t really had the time or opportunity to practice but hopefully ne'd get lucky and show enough improvement. All this really needed to be was an icebreaker to set nem at ease more so ne could try what ne'd come here to practice. ::

:: Renos took a long, deep breath to steady nir nerves then demonstrated what Gordie had shown nem before. It did not sound good to nir ears and ne tried to focus on the positive - ne had at least managed to hit all of the keys. ::

Renos: Ah well. I don’t have the same deftness or lightness of touch you do but perhaps we can agree that at least it wasn’t so wooden. Perhaps I’ll leave the piano to you.

:: Ne made a gesture that invited him to play and wondered what he might choose today. The J’naii observed Gordie and his reactions to nem carefully, wanting to know what landed well with him and what wasn’t working. Ne’d never attempted anything like this and it was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Nir heart was pounding hard and fast in nir chest and ne was increasingly aware of nir close proximity to the object of nir desire. ::

Traenor: Oh, I don’t know about that. That was a pleasant surprise, and I hope you keep at it. I thought it was wonderful!


:: Renos hadn’t tinkered with the program and yet had a sense that things were different this time. Was it nerve related paranoia? His responses didn’t quite add up to what ne was expecting, yet he seemed more natural and realistic than before. Ne didn’t know what to think of it but ran with it anyway. ::

:: After waiting a moment to gather nir nerve ne was ready. The love struck officer had over half a dozen pick up lines prepared and ready to try. In the course of nir research ne’d found this was how humans expressed their interest in one another. Unfortunately the success rate was not reputed to be good but this was thought to be down to ill crafted lines. Renos didn’t expect to need or get the chance to try them all but preferred to have too many than come up empty handed should they all miss the target. Gordie had barely begun to play but Renos couldn’t bare to wait any longer and blurted out the first one to the holographic man, regretting that the delivery wasn’t as smooth because of it ::

Renos: Did you just move from the subdominant to the supertonic? Because I think you’re my perfect counterpoint.

Traenor: Heh, actually I believe that it was a variation of the mediant… wait, what did you just say?

::The J’naii winced at the sudden jarring break in the music and the way he clearly looked put off by nir comment. The colour of Renos’s face deepened further and ne felt the heat rising. Sweat formed on the palms of nir hands, the back of nir neck and back. This wasn’t the reaction ne’d expected. Ne’d been so nervous and shy that it must’ve come out as incoherent babbling and ne didn’t have the guts to repeat it. ::

Renos: I was… just admiring your music… ::Sheepishly::

Traenor: Oh, okay. ::chuckle:: For a moment there, it sounded as if you were making a pass at me. How silly of me, right? I mean, not that there would be a problem with it. Er, not that it would be appropriate. ::vehemently:: Or inappropriate! ::big pause:: I need a drink.

:: Renos felt increasingly flustered and looked away, wondering what to say. The thing that really struck nem in the heart was the question of how appropriate it’d be. This wasn’t a primary concern for nem, after all ne’d broken dozens of J’naii rules and helped others do that too, so clearly this wasn’t a deal breaker for nem. It was troubling because ne valued nir relationship with Starfleet and the Federation a great deal more than nir homeworld and didn’t want to unduly put at risk a career ne dearly loved. ::

:: Gordie got up and poured them both a drink, leaving nem feeling confused and surprisingly vulnerable. Ne couldn’t help but notice the difference between the portions in the drinks and eyed the glasses with mild suspicion. Did the subroutine running the holographic Traenor not think ne could handle the same amount of drink? Did he simply not pay attention to what was being poured? That made even less sense. This was most unexpected and strange considering nir last experience here. ::

Traenor: Perhaps I should try another song. How about this one?

Renos: Whatever makes you happy.

:: Renos listened to Gordie’s next song a while, letting the awkwardness of the failed attempt wash away while considering what went wrong. After a bit, ne decided to select the next one to try and plucked up the courage to deliver it. When the opportunity presented itself, ne tried again, this time trying to be more seductive without being overly obvious. ::

Renos: Did you just move from V to I?

Traenor: Yes, I did. Good catch! Why do you ask?

Renos: Because I think you’re perfect.

Traenor: I can assume that you’re talking about the chord switch, because that makes sense in a literal fashion. Or I can assume that it’s a thinly veiled attempt to ply me with a flattering compliment, in which case I’m left to wonder - why? ::suspicious glance:: What exactly are you doing?

:: So far nir experiment into human dating had been a shuttle crash of embarrassment and mixed signals. It felt as though ne was navigating a minefield. The complexities involved were mind boggling, frustrating and clearly not getting nem anywhere. If ne’d learned anything from this experiment it was to stay clear of it. The pick up lines were a disaster. Ne couldn’t work out if there was a problem in the delivery of them or if ne’d crafted them to be too subtle. Was this simply a quirk of the holographic character’s programming? Perhaps there was simply a missing element, like touch. Ne hadn’t found a way to work this in yet and while the atmosphere seemed charged, ne hadn’t felt a kiss would be appropriate. ::

Renos: ::With a creased brow:: What is it with humans? Why must you tip toe around your emotions so? Are you embarrassed by them or is it the fear of rejection that’s created such a complex yet hit and miss dating system. Help me understand why your people can’t just talk plainly.

Traenor: I-- I don’t--

:: Ne really needed to get Gordie out of nir system. Ne still had niggling doubts and concerns over the appropriateness of all of this. It was hard to properly relax knowing the dubiousness of using a holographic character modelled on a real person anyway. Now was the time to say what needed to be said; maybe that would release those pent up emotions. ::

Renos: I’m trying to tell you that I find you attractive. You’re handsome, very handsome, charismatic and funny. I just want to be with you. I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not but I can’t get you out of my mind or my heart. It’s exciting, alien and even a little scary but I’m tired of fighting it so do you reciprocate or not?

:: Renos looked at him intently, waiting for a straight answer, wondering if ne’d get one. There was no doubt ne’d put him on the spot but then it wasn’t really him. Ne’d opened up nir heart but it was easier to do knowing the person you intended the words for was out of earshot. The admission was probably the first time ne’d been completely honest with nemself, so was refreshing and a weight off nir mind. Ne knew, should ne meet rejection here then exposing nemself to the real deal was out of the question. At least it’d put matters to rest one way or another. ::

Traenor: Darn you, Renos!

:: Renos was shocked by the growling response and initially took it to be rejection. Ne was caught off guard, swept up and trapped in a tight embrace before ne had a moment to process what was happening or what it meant. With his hand cupping nir neck, he leaned in, kissing nem hard. There was no room to retreat and nir senses were overloaded. Renos felt nir desire for him spike sharply. Caught by surprise and inexperience, ne was clumsy and highly self conscious because of it. Nir body tensed and stiffened up as ne floundered and struggled to cope with such a strong display of affections and the powerful emotions it brought out in nem. Just as ne had when the holographic Traenor had acted seductively the last time, ne felt nir level of anxiety rise as panic set in. ::

:: The captain had dreamed about this so many times. Ne couldn’t believe the way he smelled, the way his skin felt as ne brushed the side of his head with nir fingertips, or the way he tasted. The experience was far more vivid, far more real than expected. Renos wanted him so much but at the same time was overtaken by terror until finally ne pushed him back forcefully. Ne couldn’t allow nemself to get too involved with a hologram, this wasn’t how it was meant to be. Suddenly filled with doubt again ne wondered what exactly any of this had achieved except to prove just how much this man could influence nir emotions. ::

Renos: Computer. End Program.

:: Renos’s eyes widened and ne stared ahead in disbelief when Traenor failed to vanish. Ne was terrified about the possibility of a malfunction and deeply regretted creating the program. Increasingly ne began to wonder if ne’d tricked nemself about the benefits of doing this. Ne was always on edge as it seemed ne was only ever two steps from discovery. The colour drained from nir face and ne gulped hard. ::

Renos: ::Quietly, with befuddlement:: I don’t… What’s going on, why are you still here?

Traenor: Why am I still here, pulse racing and out of breath? Fine question to ask! Let me ask you, what are YOU doing here?

:: Slowly the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. The reactions that had seemed not so much off but different - less robotic and more organic than before. Nir face burned red as ne took a step backwards, covering nir mouth with the fingertips of nir right hand. Soaring anxiety left nem feeling somewhat light headed and dizzy. ::

Renos: oO ::Horrified:: What have I done? It’s not… It can’t be… Oo

Renos: ::Apologetically:: Sorry! Ignore me. I’m babbling. I should go though.

:: It was a really stupid thing to say and ne regretted it instantly. Nir mind was buzzing but not forming coherent thought. Traenor had never spoken to nem like that before and while ne could hardly blame him it still hurt. Renos was increasingly mortified and angry at nemself. Ne’d known this was a foolish idea from the get go but had put aside inconvenient facts and downplayed them until ne’d convinced nemself to do it anyway. As an ex-mental health professional ne knew ne should’ve known better and felt a particularly strong surge of guilt and shame. Ne didn’t need to be an expert on behaviour and body language to see how Traenor was hurting and it made nem feel a stab of pain. ::

Traenor: I don’t think you should go anywhere, Sir, until you explain just what is going on in here!

((Holodeck 1, Deck 7 - USS Darwin-A))

((Concurrent - 2nd POV))


::Although he had a piano in his quarters, Maxwell Traenor was content to open his personal program on the holodeck and play piano there. Being designed and based on a fond locale from his past, it was where he preferred to go and play when he wanted some quiet, nostalgic reflection. He practiced in his quarters, with it being a relatively sterile environment, but here, in the warmth and comfort of the bar, he created. Sitting at the piano, swaying gently to the tune that emanated forth from his ministrations, he let his mind wander aimlessly.::


::It came as a bit of a surprise when he heard the distinctive whoosh of the exterior holodeck doors faintly through the simulated leaden glass portal of the holographic bar, and his thoughts instantly went to one person. There was only one individual who ever entered the sanctity of his privacy unbidden. Noros Tanna. But that made no sense, as she had been transferred off the Darwin, so it was with great curiosity that he awaited the arrival of the interloper.::


Renos: Hello Gordie. ::Brightly while checking nir red PADD and then stuffing it away.::


::Letting out a huge sigh of relief and smiling broadly, Maxwell turned to face his friend. Compared to who he thought it might be, he was very happy to see the J’naii captain. He had fully feared that Noros was back and up to her old tricks, so this was a nice surprise.::


Traenor: Renos, I’m so glad that it’s you here right now!


Renos: Of course it's me. ::In an amused tone::


::Grinning even wider, Maxwell was struck with how easy going and natural Renos seemed right then. As of late, there had been a certain kind of tension between them. Nothing tangible, nothing terrible, just a difficulty in keeping eye contact, or conversations that faltered slightly where before they would flow naturally. It had started sometime over the previous shore leave, and Maxwell wasn’t sure why. But the old chemistry was back, and in full force, so he intended to take full advantage of it.::


Traenor: Why don’t you come take a seat, and we’ll get some music started.


::Expecting nem to take a seat at a bar stool next to the piano, Maxwell was surprised when Renos moved in and scooted him over on the piano bench. Willing to play along, he made room and locked eyes with Renos as ne looked at him expectantly.::


Renos: Actually, I thought I'd show you what I've been working on.


::Showing a surprising bit of initiative by tinkering with a topic that he didn’t know his friend had any interest in, Maxwell was bemused by the genial, playful manner of Renos. He had missed this side of his friend for so long, that he was going to encourage it for as long as he could. With calculated, deliberate movements, ne placed nir hands on the keys and played a faltering yet passable primary musical scale. Eyes wide in surprise and mirth, Maxwell wondered when Renos had decided to try nir hand at playing the piano.::


Renos: Ah well. I don’t have the same deftness or lightness of touch you do but perhaps we can agree that at least it wasn’t so wooden. Perhaps I’ll leave the piano to you.

::Unable to take his eyes off the newly invigorated J’naii as ne looked back at him, Maxwell was almost at a loss for words. From the recessed, protected, withdrawn individual over the past several weeks to this… outgoing, smiling, eyes bright and mischievous… he couldn’t process it. But, he sure could relish it. Spilling into one of his face-splitting grins, Maxwell took the challenge and decided to try his hand at a Vulcan piece that had inspired him during Kael Thomas’s promotion ceremony a while back.::

Traenor: Oh, I don’t know about that. That was a pleasant surprise, and I hope you keep at it. I thought it was wonderful

::The compliment seemed to give Renos pause for a moment, as now it seemed that perhaps ne was at a loss for words. And it might be Maxwell’s imagination, but it almost looked as if ne was sporting a slight blush.::

Renos: Did you just move from the subdominant to the supertonic? Because I think you’re my perfect counterpoint.

::The tune stopped momentarily, in a discordant sound. Though fluent in the terms of musical theory, over the years Maxwell had learned to play intuitively, and hadn’t needed to think about the notes he was playing, but rather just breezed through by touch. Trying to think back to the notes he had been playing a few bars back, and digging through the archived theory he hadn’t referenced in a long time, caused his fingers to temporarily tie up in knots. With a nervous chuckle at his error, he resumed playing.::


Traenor: Heh, actually I believe that it was a variation of the mediant… wait, what did you just say? oO Did you really just say what I think you did? Oo


::Being a plain, unassuming person, and a scientist to boot, Maxwell tended to look at the literal, logical context of words first and foremost. It meant he was slow on the uptake when there was subtext or innuendo. And if he wasn’t mistaken, that last phrase was heavy innuendo. Now it was his turn to blush.::


Renos: I was… just admiring your music… ::Sheepishly::


::There was no way that Maxwell was going to let Renos backpedal out of that unexpected statement. Was it a come-on line? Just the possibility of it made his heart flutter with emotions that he had been suppressing and resolutely discounting for months now. Yet, the rational part of his mind sternly told him that it was an inflated weight placed on innocent words, a desperate grasp to make more out of a closeness that had been conspicuously absent as of late. Far too late, Maxwell tried to affect a calm, flippant air, as if he took Renos’s dismissive answer at face value. However, it just came out at awkward.::


Traenor: Oh, okay. ::chuckle:: For a moment there, it sounded as if you were making a pass at me. How silly of me, right? I mean, not that there would be a problem with it. Er, not that it would be appropriate. ::vehemently:: Or inappropriate! ::big pause:: I need a drink.


::All too quickly, Maxwell arose from the piano bench and went to the bar. Grabbing a bottle of brandy and two glasses, he came back and sat down at the bench again. He poured up a sizable portion for himself, and a reasonable one for Renos. He put his drink back in one long pull, feeling the warmth spread through his midsection and invigorate him. Though the holodeck only dispensed replicated synthehol, the psychosomatic effects still instilled him with liquid courage and he was able to recollect his composure.::


Traenor: Perhaps I should try another song. How about this one?


Renos: Whatever makes you happy.


::Switching to a simple, melodic composition, Maxwell took a few moments to mull over what was happening here. Renos had entered his program unbidden, though that was hardly an issue, just uncharacteristic from nir recent behavior. Ne was lively, friendly, provocative, all the things that Maxwell wanted from and craved from nem, and yet it all felt off, somehow. ::


Traenor: oO How can ne know what I want from nem, when I don’t even know myself? Oo

Renos: Did you just move from V to I?


Traenor: Yes, I did. Good catch! Why do you ask?

Renos: Because I think you’re perfect.


::Again with the provocative statement. He didn’t stop playing this time, but Maxwell did turn his head to fix Renos with a questioning stare. This conversation was getting eerie. The two of them had never talked this way before, and he wasn’t sure why it had suddenly started. Though ne was flush with emotion, Maxwell had a twinge of intuition that ne was testing him, trying different methods to get a reaction out of him. But to what end? What precipitated this? Was it the change in their professional dynamic? Was it a release of pent up stress from their recent encounter with Raikenoff? Maxwell was flattered and heady from the attention from his dear friend in ways he dared not admit to himself, but it was so far out of character that it was too jarring.::


Traenor: I can assume that you’re talking about the chord switch, because that makes sense in a literal fashion. Or I can assume that it’s a thinly veiled attempt to ply me with a flattering compliment, in which case I’m left to wonder - why? ::suspicious glance:: What exactly are you doing?


Renos: ::With a creased brow:: What is it with humans? Why must you tip toe around your emotions so? Are you embarrassed by them or is it the fear of rejection that’s created such a complex yet hit and miss dating system. Help me understand why your people can’t just talk plainly.


::Maxwell was certain his jaw had dropped, and his ears were ringing with the words that Renos had just said. Emotions? Rejection? Dating!? He was so confused, and his racing pulse did not help matters any. He felt lightheaded and weak. He could hardly formulate a coherent thought, let alone verbalize the jumbled mass of conflicting ideas tumbling through his mind.::

Traenor: I-- I don’t--


Renos: I’m trying to tell you that I find you attractive. You’re handsome, very handsome, charismatic and funny. I just want to be with you. I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not but I can’t get you out of my mind or my heart. It’s exciting, alien and even a little scary but I’m tired of fighting it so do you reciprocate or not?

::The J’naii had the audacity to sit there, ramrod straight, and look at him with intent earnestness and anticipation. No sense of impending “Gotcha!”, no sense of theatrical sleight, just plain honesty. Maxwell wanted to slap nem. All the repressed emotions that he had worked so hard to discount, dissuade, and discredit seethed just beneath the thin veneer of self-control that held them in check. There was no lying to himself any more. Renos was more than a friend to him, ne was an object of desire. A paragon of traits and skills that Maxwell had coveted for a long time now, eliciting emotional urges from him with greater and greater intensity as time passed. And now, to have nem sit before him and profess a desire that matched the one he had tried to deny himself, for fear of impropriety and rejection? It was more than he could bear. With his heart bursting in equal measures of fear and elation, he growled a response.::

Traenor: Darn you, Renos!


::In one quick, fluid movement, Maxwell swept Renos to nir feet and swooped in closely. Wrapping one arm around nem in a tight embrace, he used his free hand to cup the back of Renos’s neck. Fingers entwined in nir silky, thick black hair, he pulled nem in and kissed nem fully. Savage in his intensity, his senses exploded in a fireworks of sensation overload as he breathed deeply, gripped tightly, losing himself in the tsunami of emotion that overwhelmed him. Lost in the moment, he didn’t even notice Renos tense and stiffen, until ne pushed him away forcefully.::


Renos: Computer. End Program.


::The holodeck environs froze, then whooshed out of existence, leaving Maxwell staring at an obviously startled and frightened Renos.::

Renos: ::Quietly, with befuddlement:: I don’t… What’s going on, why are you still here?


::Now it was Maxwell’s turn to be confused and upset. What did ne mean, “why are you still here”? Ne had led him on, drove him past the point of self-restraint, brought out emotions and urges that he had carefully crafted to be so hidden as to even deny them to himself, and the response was “why are you still here”? Heightened by the surge of adrenaline that still coursed strongly through him, Maxwell’s response was harsh and accusatory.::


Traenor: Why am I still here, pulse racing and out of breath? Fine question to ask! Let me ask you, what are YOU doing here?


Renos: ::Apologetically:: Sorry! Ignore me. I’m babbling. I should go though.


::Hurt, confused, angry, and vulnerable, Maxwell fell into an ingrained stiffness and formality, infused into him by Starfleet, that really had no place or appropriateness in the current conversation. He could tell the words stung its audience as soon as they left his mouth.::


Traenor: I don’t think you should go anywhere, Sir, until you explain just what is going on in here!

((Holodeck 1, Deck 7 - USS Darwin-A))

((Continuation - Combined POV))


::What had started off as a nice, relaxing visit to the holodeck for Traenor and Renos each had devolved wildly into confusion and mixed signals as each discovered the disparity in the others purpose for being there. Hurt, confused, angry, and vulnerable, Maxwell fell into an ingrained stiffness and formality, infused into him by Starfleet, that really had no place or appropriateness in the current conversation. He could tell the words stung its audience as soon as they left his mouth.::


Traenor: I don’t think you should go anywhere, Sir, until you explain just what is going on in here!


:: Renos stared with mouth agape, struggling to figure out just what to tell the man. Part of nem really hoped this was a malfunctioning holoprogram but intuitively a deeper part of nem knew it wasn’t so. Ne glanced towards the control panel near the door frame, feeling the urge to run over there and find out where the real Traenor was and how ne’d stumbled so blindly into this situation.


Renos: Okay… I can explain. Just, uh, there’s been a bit of a… small… mixup. ::Struggling to reply coherently or confidently::


Traenor: Were you expecting a holographic version of me? oO That’s it, isn’t it! Is it true? Oo See, the way it looks to me is that you’ve been using my personal holodeck program to do, well, who knows what with a holographic doppelganger that you’ve cobbled together of me! How long has this been going on? The last few months that you’ve been distant with me, you’ve been cavorting with a shallow approximation of me? Is that it?


::It stung terribly for Maxwell to think that somebody he considered as his dearest friend would be content to ignore him, while secretly experimenting with a fake version of himself. In his private sanctuary no less, a holodeck program that he had painstakingly fostered over many years and hardly ever invited people into, let alone allowed others unfettered access to. And experimenting romantic gestures and overtures on a pale shadow of himself? It made a mockery of all the confusing emotions and attractions he had buried for so long now towards Renos.::


:: That sounded and felt harsh to nem, more harsh and awful than how ne’d seen things anyway. It occurred to nem belatedly that this whole terrible thing had been about control. The J’naii had known well enough how ne felt, but being so unfamiliar to nem, so new, it had left nem uncomfortable. Renos had wanted to control these romantic feelings and urges yet it had become clear during nir first encounter with the program that they were stronger than ne’d thought they could ever possibly be. When controlling them and making them go away hadn’t worked ne’d been forced to reconsider nir intentions. This was about controlling how ne expressed nir feelings, about controlling nir friends reaction, testing to see whether he would reject nem. Figuring out what to say, how to say it to get a reaction ne could feel comfortable with. It was motivated from a place of intense fear. It wasn’t about pursuing romance with a figment of nir imagination to the detriment of their friendship - but the result was the same. ::

:: As difficult as it was, there was only one thing ne could do now - come clean and tell the unaltered truth. If ne did that and was sincere in nir apology perhaps ne could be forgiven in time though ne didn’t hold out any hope their friendship would survive. The outcome ne’d sought so hard to avoid by using a hologram - rejection and permanent damage to the most valued friendship ne’d ever formed - was happening right before nem right now. It was truly heartbreaking and perhaps it was no more than ne deserved. ::


Renos: It’s not like that, I swear. I’ve only used the program twice… well once actually. ::Quickly correcting nir error. ::

:: This would’ve been the second time had ne not carelessly barged in on Traenor using his own program. ::

Renos: But it’s not and never was intended to act as any kind of replacement for you. It was a bad, bad, stupid idea and I regret it completely. I was only using it to analyse my own feelings in what was supposed to be a safe environment, look for ways to impress you and find an adequate way to express my feelings without… hurting our friendship.

Renos: oO And a fine job I did there. ::Remorsefully:: Oo


::Maxwell stood throughout Renos’s pained explanation with his arms rigid against his sides, hands balled into fists to try and control the torrent of emotion he was feeling. He was trying to make sense of that very emotion, to place a name on it in order to face it and deconstruct it before it consumed him. Was it a sense of betrayal? That didn’t feel quite right, though there was definitely a sense of that in there. Indignation? Some, certainly, thinking of a holographic version of himself being used like a puppet. Anger? Tons of that, though it was mere shading to the true emotion. And that emotion was fear. Fear that he had been duped into expressing his true passions for Renos, when those passions were not reciprocated. Fear that the resultant mistrust and awkwardness would poison and wither the strong friendship that these two had cultivated over so long. The power dynamic being what it was between them, and that he had made the overt advance that had been rebuked, stung him with shame and embarrassment. Despite his best effort, he could hear the woodenness in his own voice, tinged with just a touch of malicious barb. It sickened him to speak such, but he hurt too much to avoid it.::


Traenor: ::but a whisper:: I never would have kissed you had you not… oO had I not been conned into playing the fool Oo ...had I known that it was unwanted. If I could take it back, I would.


:: Renos felt crushed, like nir heart was breaking to hear of his regret. Ne wasn’t sorry for the kiss. Ne was sorry for nir reaction to it. It was clear the J’naii had a problem that needed addressing before ne would be capable of being a good partner to anyone. Nir response came slowly because it was carefully considered and completely honest. Under these circumstances and after what ne’d done he deserved the truth even if it was incredibly difficult to express, especially for one who valued privacy so highly and so rarely confided anything in anyone. When ne finally had the courage to say it, all of the words tumbled out as ne hurried to get the painful admission out. ::


Renos: I do want it! I just wasn’t expecting it and you were so intense. I’ve never been intimate with anyone before and I just… I just panicked. ::Placing nir fingertips to either side of nir face in distress:: This is all so messed up. All because I was too scared face my feelings and face you. Fear or rejection, fear of being embraced only to disappoint you with my… inexperience, leading to rejection…

:: Renos had started rambling and pacing, ne could barely stand to remain in the room a moment longer. Ne only remained and put nemself through this because ne recognised this problem was of nir own making. Ne remained because ne hoped to make him understand. A tiny flicker of hope burned for forgiveness. Running out of steam and not sure where ne was headed with it all any more ne trailed into silence. ::


::Maxwell could hear the conviction in Renos’s words, but the memory of how ne had recoiled from his touch and pushed him away still burned like a raw wound. The caress of nir fingertips lit his senses on fire anew, but he didn’t think he could handle yet another rejection should Renos decide again that this was all too much too soon. He stepped back as his counterpart paced slightly.::


Traenor: You’re right. This is all so messed up. I need time to think. I need to figure out what just happened. I need space to digest this. I need… ::angry sigh:: I don’t know.


:: The emotional pain that came with his words was unbearable and unlike anything ne’d ever experienced before. Renos began to believe that allowing nemself to become in any way close to anyone was a mistake. Nir only attempt at it had gone so catastrophically wrong ne never wanted to feel like this again. Ne couldn’t cope with it and wanted to raid the pharmacy for drugs that would dull nir emotions and take them away, take the pain away. An intense wave of rage bubbled to the surface, anger at nemself for all the decisions that had let to this and all the pain it had caused. Ne thrust nir hands out with fingers splayed and raised nir voice at him. Even though he hadn’t said it outright, this was clear rejection in nir mind and ne deserved it. ::

Renos: You need space? Fine! I’ll give you all the space you could want. Good day!

:: Renos turned towards the door and exited just short of a run, pushing back tears of anger. How could ne be so stupid? None of this should have happened. Ne was filled with such self loathing that ne could quite easily punch nemself in the face repeatedly. In nir mind Traenor had been completely ripped out of nir personal life, it really felt as if ne’d lost a limb. Their friendship was in tatters and they were going to have to work side by side as Captain and First Officer every day with this horrible wedge between them. It was enough to make one consider retirement but ne knew that was just the impulse to run talking and pushed it away. ::


::As Renos left, every fiber in Maxwell’s being screamed at him to stand up and run to nem, sweep nem up in his arms, apologize profusely for being such a boorish fool, and kiss nem again and again. His arm actually raised, reaching plaintively towards where the heavy holodeck door was already closed, before he realized what he was doing. And like that, ne was gone, and with nem went every ounce of happiness within him. Spent, morose, he grabbed the bottle of brandy that the two had shared. The cut glass bottle screeched a piercing scratching sound as he dragged it clumsily along the polished finish of the piano, though the sound didn’t even faze him. He brought the bottle up and gulped sloppily, letting the numbing warmth of the synthetic alcohol fill the void he felt. Boorish fool, indeed.::


END



Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

Executive Council Member =/\= Captain's Council Member =/\= Promotions Coordinator

Cadet Steward =/\= Publicity Team Facilitator =/\= FWPA 2015 Co-Facilitator =/\=

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~and~

LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor - First Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

Graphic Contest Taskforce =/\= Characters Guild Co-Facilitator

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Edited by Maxwell Traenor
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