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Commander Serala & Lieutenant Commander Lael Rosek: Awkward Favors

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((Deck 3, Enroute to the Bridge, USS Chin’toka))

{{Time Index: Day 2 of Shoreleave, Before the Card Game}}

Lael strode through the corridor, a PADD in her hand. As the primary reason for her speaking to Serala was personal, she’d been uncertain if she should stop by the First Officer’s quarters or her office. In the end, she’d decided to do as she’d often done with Mei and Rahman, using a professional excuse and sliding the personal one in afterward. The PADD she carried contained her report from the mission and her diplomatic analysis of the Caraadians from the last mission. They’d learned a good deal about the various Houses that could prove useful in future diplomatic situations.

She arrived on the bridge several moments later, smiling and inclining her head toward Patrick Callahan, who was on duty. Mei was likely enjoying his off-shift time. Her brow furrowed. The computer had said Serala was in her office--at least last that she’d checked. Was it possible that the woman had departed the bridge since then? Shaking the thought from her head, she strode the remaining distance toward Serala’s office. If she wasn’t here, she’d just find her later.

Stepping up to the door, she pressed her thumb to the doorchime and waited for an answer from inside.

(( Serala’s Office - Deck 3, Primary Hull, just off the main bridge ))

Serala: Very well, Mother. I will see if I can bring her by to see you the next time we are in the area.

Ambassador R’Val looked skeptical, but mollified. Serala’s conversation with the Captain about her similarity with her mother had really gotten her to thinking. Perhaps it was time to try and mend some fences. She wasn’t really sure where she and her mother had gone wrong, but to say their relationship was strained would have been an understatement. Serala didn’t want that kind of relationship with T’Saara, so perhaps her mother felt much the same way.

oO It’s worth the try, anyway. Oo

R’Val: =/\= Good. I look forward to it, Serala. And I should very much like to see you again as well. =/\=

oO Why do I doubt that… Now, there you go. Already doubting her word. Your not going to repair your relationship with her if you are critiquing everything she says and looking for hidden meanings. Oo

Serala: And I you as well, Mother.

R’Val: =/\= Well, until then, y’hhau pænhe. =/\=

Serala: Y’hhau, ri’ranov.

She had just switched off the comm channel, closing the video link as well, when the chime to her office door sounded.

Serala: Come.

Lael stepped inside finding Serala at her monitor as though she might be in the midst of a conversation and she hesitated.

Rosek: Is this a good time, ma’am?

Serala: Yes, Commander. Come in. What can I do for you?

Lael nodded and strode toward Serala’s desk, offering her the PADD.

Rosek: My mission report and the diplomatic analysis of the various Caraadian houses. We were able to get a good bit to add to the database. At least the next time we have an interaction with these houses, it won’t be such a blank slate.

Serala tood the offered PADD and looked at it. She didn’t want to take the time to read the lengthy report in detail right now, but she did want to get a basic overview of its contents.

Serala: Well, this looks like your usual thorough work, Commander. I will look over the details later.

She smiled and nodded, hesitating. It wasn’t the most comfortable conversation, in large part because she couldn’t anticipate Serala’s reaction. Her reasons made perfect sense, at least to her. Three years ago, if someone had told her that she would have even a civil working relationship with the woman who she’d been competing with for Toryn’s heart, she would have laughed in their face. However, she’d grown to respect Serala a great deal over the last several months, even to the point of seeing similarities between them. If she found herself in a fight, she’d want Serala at her back.

Rosek: Ahem.

A flutter of nervousness took up residence in her abdomen but she was determined to follow through. She knew she wouldn’t regret it.

Rosek: I--um--I actually had a bit of a personal question to ask you. ::pauses:: Maybe more of a favor.

Serala’s eyebrow quirked up at that, and she looked at the Al-Leyan in full now.

oO A favor? I can’t remember any time she has requested a favor from me before. This ought to be interesting. Oo

Serala: Oh? Well, what can I do for you?

Rosek: ::pauses:: Chythar and I have had discussions regarding the wedding and one of those has involved the wedding party. ::looks up and meets her gaze:: I wondered--Well, I’d hoped that--Would you be one of my bridesmaids?

Serala’s other eyebrow shot up and she felt her hearts begin to race.

oO Me? A bridesmaid? But surely there must be other… Oo

Serala: I don’t know what to say. I mean, no offense intended here, but we hardly have more than a working relationship. :: quickly realizing how that was sounding, she rushed on to clean that statement up :: Not that I am not flattered. But I guess I just don’t understand. Why me?

Rosek: ::pauses:: I’m sorry that you feel that way. I’ve come to respect you a great deal over the last several months. ::runs a nervous hand through her hair:: I know we had a rocky start, what with the situation with Toryn. I’m certain that I look like a terrible person for that. I hope you realize that I never meant to hurt him. I truly did love him. But there were things that-

Serala held up her hand to stop her. She understood probably far more than Lael realized. She had once felt the same way about Toryn Raga. They were still friends, but there had been a time when she would have died for him, so strong were her feelings. But they could never move past their cultural differences. At least, until Stevok had come along.

Serala: No need to explain, Lael. I understand more than you realize. And no one could have hurt him worse than I did when I suddenly announced to him that I was bonded to Stevok. The feelings I had once held for him were gone, replaced by an even deeper love for my husband. So, believe me, I do understand.

Serala paused for a moment to collect herself. That whole memory had brought up some serious regrets again. Regrets she thought she’d already put to bed.

Serala: But I do appreciate your respect. And I am very honored to have such a request. You should know, however, that while I grew up on Earth and that I am very familiar with this custom, I am not the most … :: she paused, searching for the right word :: feminine woman. Basically, what I am trying to say is, I really wouldn’t know what to do.

Lael paused for a moment, considering her next words. How could she explain this in a way that Serala could understand? She wasn’t certain she completely understood the tradition herself. An image of the conversation she’d had with Lephi when she’d asked the woman to be her maid of honor popped into her mind.

Rosek: From what I understand, the role has its basis in Earth history as a support role. Someone to ease the bride’s concerns and to help see to tasks leading up to and on the day of the wedding. ::pauses:: It may seem strange to you given the unconventional nature of our acquaintance and our still-new working relationship, but when I think of individuals around me with who I want to share the intimate parts of this special event, you come to mind.

Serala: Well, then. Hwi khlinæ arvha. Arhem neiss. (You do me honor. I accept.) :: smiling :: Just don’t ask me to do your makeup or fix your hair.

Lael laughed at the image of Serala staring perplexed at a curling iron. She didn’t imagine the woman to be overly feminine even before the admission. Had her mother not put her through finishing school, she might still have been a tomboy beating up boys who made fun of her.

Rosek: ::smirks:: Don’t worry. I’m sure an outside party will be doing that. I can’t really picture Lephi even knowing what makeup is. Liz maybe. But not Lephi.

Rosek: ::smirks:: Don’t worry. I’m sure an outside party will be doing that. I can’t really picture Lephi even knowing what makeup is. Liz maybe. But not Lephi.

Serala: Well, I am sure you will look fantastic, whoever does it for you.

A deep flush filled her cheeks at the unexpected compliment. In most cases, she didn’t embarrass easily, but something about receiving a compliment from Serala-- 

Rosek: I--Well, thank you. You don’t really need any of it. 

She immediately snapped her mouth shut and grimaced. What was it about this whole situation that was making her so damned nervous?

Rosek: ::clears her throat:: You’ll have to excuse my fumbling. Feelings, especially mushy ones, have never really been my strong point.

Serala: :: chuckling :: Well then, be glad you aren’t Romulan. I tend to have too many emotions. And strong ones. And it takes a lot of self-discipline to conceal them. My philosophy is that my subordinates need to see a strong leader, not an emotional Romulan female. Especially with my temper.

Rosek: ::grins:: I can actually completely relate. I meant I don’t handle them well. I’ve needed intensive training for my empathic projection abilities. I spent a month in a Vulcan monastery undoing the damage from a forced mind-meld and learning techniques from masters.

Serala shuddered. It was her mother’s doing, she knew. R’Val had been very careful to teach Serala all of the Romulan Way, including philosophies, beliefs and traditions. And even though Romulans came from Vulcan descent, none of them - as far as Serala knew - retained any trace of telepathic ability. It was considered almost taboo. Except for the fact that she had been telepathically bonded with Stevok, she would still hold those strong feelings. But even with her experience having tempered it, she still had a slight bias against telepathy.

Serala: I am sorry to hear that, Lael. One thing my husband instilled in me was a strong sense of ethics when it came to telepathy. Before him, I had the typical Romulan aversion to it. But having had that strong bond, I can’t even begin to imagine what something like that must have been like. No one should have to go through that.

It wasn’t one of the more pleasant events from her life and wasn’t something that she talked about often. Age had tempered the anger she’d held for what had happened. Lenik hadn’t been the first, though she hoped that he would be the last.

Rosek: ::smiles wanly:: Well, homicidal Vulcan madman bent on God knows what, using anything in his arsenal to steal the command codes of a Federation ship from a semi-trained telepath/empath. That was never going to end well. ::grins wryly:: But in the end, the [...] left this world and a lot of people are safer for it.

Serala remained silent for several long minutes, struggling with her Romulan desire to see vengeance done for wrongs. This Lenik had gotten what he deserved, it seemed, and the Romulan fires in her blood screamed in victory for that. But the trained Starfleet Commander in her regretted the loss of life - any life - no matter how vile the person may have been. When her Starfleet training finally won that fight, she spoke again.

Serala: Well, it’s in the past and I hope you have been able to find some solace in the situation.

She inclined her head somberly. It had taken a good deal of healing to get where she was at. The mess that Lenik had left her reminded her too strongly of how the other universe had nearly broken her. Both she and Chythar had been shells of themselves, irrevocably changed by the things that they’d seen and done. 

Rosek: ::smiles wanly:: All part and parcel of Starfleet. We do the things that no one else can do or wants to do.

The sudden turn in the conversation had served to remind Serala of her own loss and she felt the grief rising up in her again. But, just as she had just told Lael, she couldn’t afford to let her subordinates see her as anything less than a strong leader, so she fought back the tears. However, she couldn’t hide the huskiness in her voice.

Serala: Yes we do. Yes we do.

~ Peace, Serala. I am here. Be strong. ~

A silence settled between them, though it wasn’t as uncomfortable as it had been earlier. She’d suspected since coming aboard that she and Serala shared a number of things in common. Friendships had been formed on less. As much as she wanted to say something probably too emotional for either of them, she remained silent for fear that it would shatter the delicate moment between them. Her gaze dropped to the floor and she cleared her throat, taking advantage of the opportunity to gather her thoughts.

Rosek: Well, I imagine you have quite a lot on your plate. I should leave you to it. ::smiles:: A First Officer’s job is never done, after all.  

Serala had to fight back the gasp. Only twice before now had she so clearly heard Stevok’s voice speaking to her. He couldn’t actually be talking to her, of course, since he was dead. But the voice in her mind was as clear as any other time she’d spoken with him via their bond while he was still alive. It wasn’t until Lael had spoken again that she realized she had become completely lost in that voice, hoping to hear more of it. But there was no more. The moment had been brief and though she found new strength within herself from it, the grief welled up even stronger as well.

Serala: :: quietly :: Yes. Thank you. I will look over this report later.

Rosek: ::nods:: Of course. 

She turned on her heel and began moving toward the door, but halfway there, she stopped and again turned to face Serala. Her expression softened.

Rosek: Thank you.

It slipped out before she could completely process it. She wasn’t quite sure what she was thanking Serala for, but it seemed like the appropriate thing to say.

Serala couldn’t trust herself to speak, so she only nodded at Lael.

Turning back to the door, Lael left Serala’s office, her thoughts trained on a bowl of Bailey’s chocolate gelato. After the day she’d had it would likely taste even better than usual.

As soon as Lael had left her office, Serala spoke into the air, choking the words out as she did.

Serala: Computer. Secure my office door except for emergencies. Also, hold all non-emergency communications for thirty minutes.

The only reply was the trill of the computer acknowledging the order. That done, Serala placed her hands together on the desk in front of her, steepled her thumbs, and leaned forward to place her forehead on those thumbs as she felt tears that she had thought long gone once more begin to fall.


Commander Serala

First Officer

Training Team Member

Image Collective Member

Chat Team Moderator/Facilitator

Academy Statistician

USS Chin'toka NCC-97187





Lieutenant Commander Lael Rosek, Eng.D.

Mission Specialist

USS Chin'toka, NCC-97187


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