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Lazarus Davis: The Thousand Natural Shocks


Lazarus Davis
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The eleventh-graders towered over Lazarus like a trio of obelisks as he found himself on the ground, pushed over in the cold mud after a late September rain in Pennsylvania. 

“You get those ears sanded down, Davis?” said one.

“Even his blood is red,” laughed another. Was he bleeding?

Lazarus looked up at their faces, only to find they had no discernable features. He tried to stand up, but his arms and legs could barely move.

“Nothing? No reaction?” mused the third, a tinge of annoyance in his voice.

“Pfft. A half-Vulcan that lost the genetic lottery. Just an emotionless freak.” It was unclear to Lazarus which one of them said that. 

Somewhere a chime sounded. It was pleasant, unassuming, but repeating and getting louder.

“This is a dream,” thought Lazarus as the sound got louder still as he opened his eyes.

He turned off the alarm with his right hand, and then reached across his body with his left hand to grab the sheets to throw them off. He slid his right leg off the side of the bed, and placed his right foot on the ground as he used his right arm to push upright and swing his hips around to get both feet on the ground.

Once his feet were firmly planted and he was sitting upright, he stood up and walked the four short steps to the edge of the bed, turned ninety degrees to the left, and walked eight steps to the dresser. And from there continued his morning routine. He didn’t think about it, it just was. The routine was the optimal way to get up in the morning. Once established, there was no need to change it.

As he poured himself a cup of coffee, the dream he awoke from echoed in his mind. That wasn’t a recurring dream by any means. He hadn’t thought about that interaction in years, even. The sound of the coffee sloshing in the mug as he poured it sounded surprisingly loud today, and the ting-ting-ting of the spoon as he stirred in the creamer almost felt sharp somehow. A belch of steam hissed out of the coffee pot, and he nearly jumped out of his chair.

Soon enough, he was on his way to the park to read; such is the life of a graduate student. Lazarus ran his fingers over the familiar contours of “his” PADD. The slight indent on the back from accidently dropping a large book on it was particularly pleasant. Patently unpleasant, however, was the high relative humidity. Unlike the dream, it was midsummer now and the rain from the night before was rapidly drying in the sun. It felt like the air was closing in on him, and the multiple conversations going on around him as people walked in groups of twos, threes, or more were rattling his ability to think clearly. 

“Just a little further to the bench,” he quietly said to himself.

He’d found the bench earlier that week. While the park was busy, the bench and the area around it was not. All of the amenities were on the other side of the pond, keeping most people over there so that he could enjoy a bench under the sycamore growing on the banks of the stream that feeds the pond. It was shady, quiet, and cool. The gentle burble of the stream obfuscated the voices that carried across the water.

Lazarus pulled up the dry, academic text on his PADD. “Eminence Front: a longitudinal analysis of the dissolution of caste systems following admission into the Federation.” It was important to read outside of your narrowly-defined field of research, and this paper had generated some buzz–mostly based around its broad interpretations of what constitutes a “caste system.” By the definition presented in this paper, any society with institutionalized differences in treatment of people based on socially-defined categories such as class, phenotype, or genotype was a caste system. The region he grew up in was, for a brief time in history, known as the “United States.” According to the paper, it was a society with a caste system, even if their propaganda said otherwise. 

The faint whirr of an electric motor and the sound of wheels on the paved path grabbed his attention and he looked up. Rolling along the path was what Lazarus could only conceptualize as an equally handsome and gorgeous Vulcan in a wheelchair. Not in an androgynous way, but in the sense that they transcended those categories. Their eyes briefly made contact, and Lazarus swore he saw a look of intrigue from the Vulcan before looking back down at his PADD.

He could feel the warmth in his ears as the whirring sound crescendoed and diminished as the Vulcan passed.

 

The better part of a week passed, and that day he sat on the same bench as before,  reading another boring academic text. It was a lovely day, with people enjoying the food vendors. A young couple were tossing bits of bread to the geese in the pond. 

Lazarus again heard the whirring and rolling sounds. He looked up, almost by reflex. The Vulcan was looking at him and their eyes locked. The Vulcan nodded to him, and he nodded and smiled back. Much to his surprise, the Vulcan approached him on the bench.

“Hello. I am Kovar. May I sit next to you?” they intoned.

“Er, yes of course,” Lazarus replied. Kovar rolled closer, and stopped to the side of Lazarus.

“Would you please make room for me?” Kovar inquired, nodding toward the bag and PADD next to Lazarus on the bench.

“Oh! Of course.” Lazarus had presumed that Kovar would simply park next to the bench, but swiftly moved his things. Kovar stopped their chair, pressed a button to engage the wheel lock, and stood up, turned, and sat down on the bench next to Lazarus.

“You look confused,” Kovar observed. “I understand. Most chair users are partial chair users.”

“I didn’t know that,” Lazarus admitted. Kovar simply nodded and sat back on the bench, looking out across the water. The shade from the sycamore overhead was refreshing, and the light peeking through the leaves glimmered in the gentle breeze.

“What is your name?” Kovar asked after a moment.

“Oh! Lazarus. Sorry, I thought I–”

“I am pleased to meet you, Lazarus. Why are you here by yourself? There are lots of people on the other side of the pond.” Kovar’s tone was inquisitive, not invasive.

“I guess I like the quiet. It’s hard to concentrate with too many people around.” Lazarus took a moment to turn his PADD off and set it down.

Noticing this, Kovar asked, “I hope I am not bothering you?”

Lazarus felt his ears get red hot. “No, not at all. It’s… nice to have company. Is this a favorite spot of yours, too?”

“I have never sat on this bench. I stopped because you are here, and I wanted to meet you.” Kovar inclined an eyebrow slightly and inspected Lazarus’ face briefly. “I find you attractive and judging by your physiological responses, you find me attractive as well?”

This sent Lazarus sputtering for appropriate words before they were both interrupted by a cacophony of angry geese honking and flapping. Both Kovar and Lazarus’ attention was drawn to the sound. The geese had begun to fight over a hunk of bread floating in the water, and the conflict was escalating. Lazarus winced and shrunk back at the sound. Time slowed as the cacophony increased, but in truth it was over in a few seconds, and Lazarus relaxed.

“Well that was unexpected,” Lazarus remarked.

All that Kovar had to say was, “Indeed.” They sat quietly for a moment before continuing. “Perhaps I was too direct. I will take my leave, but if you are amenable I would like to sit with you again next time our paths cross.”

“...I would like that, Kovar.” That much Lazarus could say for sure.

Kovar grasped the arm of the bench, and pushed themself upright, pivoted, and sat in their chair. “Until next time, Lazarus.” And with that, they reengaged the chair controls and rolled away.

Lazarus sat quietly with his thoughts. Kovar was compelling, to put it mildly, but also created a sense of confusion with him. Lazarus knew he wasn’t narrow, but he understood himself as attracted to women. Nothing about Kovar’s presentation suggested “woman,” let alone feminine. But Kovar was not wrong to assert that Lazarus found them attractive.

After a few minutes of pondering, he returned to his reading and later headed home. 

 

Meeting Kovar again happened sooner than later: Lazarus made it a point to go to the same bench at the same time of day when his schedule allowed. They saw each other twice the following week, and then nearly daily on the third week. Every time they met, it got easier. Kovar’s unwavering clear-minded communication was welcoming to Lazarus, and easy to reciprocate. He felt understood by Kovar in a way he hadn’t known before.

On a particularly warm day, Kovar approached the bench with a small bag slung over the back of their chair.

“Hello, Lazarus. I bought a blanket. Do you care to sit under the sycamore with me?”

“Yes! That sounds lovely. Thank you, Kovar,” Lazarus said as he set his PADD down and stood up to greet Kovar.

Kovar pointed over their shoulder. “Do you mind retrieving the bag? It has the blanket in it. I also brought snacks. You mentioned an interest in Vulcan cuisine last week. I bought some items you might not have tried before.”

“Oo! I can’t wait to try them. You’re very thoughtful,” Lazarus said with a smile.

“I am Vulcan,” Kovar said dryly but with a glimmer in their eye.

As the two sat on the blanket, chatting and snacking, there was a brief lull in the conversation.

“Lazarus?”

Lazarus finished chewing and swallowed the bit of–what was it? He forgot the name. “Yes, Kovar?”

“I would like to make our time together more comfortable for you. What are your sensory sensitivities?”

The puzzlement was clear on Lazarus’ face. “I’m not sure what you mean, Kovar?”

“Perhaps it was another assumption on my part,” Kovar replied mildly, and picked up a cracker to nibble on.

“Maybe, but I genuinely don’t know what you’re asking me.”

“Oh? I have noticed when we spend time together, you seem sensitized to the environment in ways that most humans are not. You yourself mention it sometimes - do you recall last week talking about the sensation of touching ‘flat paint’?” Kovar inquired.

Lazarus contemplated for a moment before replying. “I guess so? I thought everyone had those experiences.”

“Perhaps,” Kovar leaned back and looked across the pond for a moment before speaking again. “Lazarus, would you like to go out to dinner tonight?”

“Yes, I would like that,” he replied. Lazarus surprised himself at how easy it was to say that, given his reaction to Kovar’s direct question about attraction in the weeks prior.

Kovar suggested a place, and the two made plans before parting ways for the time being.

 

The restaurant-slash-club that Kovar suggested was one Lazarus had never been to before. It was a queer venue in practice, though of course all were welcome. Once inside, Lazarus was surprised to find that less than a quarter of the people there were human. There was a sign next to the host’s station that read: “This is an inclusive space by design. If you need any accommodations, inform our staff.”

Behind the host’s station was the dance floor, with music playing at a surprisingly low volume. Most of the people on the dance floor were wearing headphones or other types of localized audio reproduction systems. And they were all having a great time.

“Lazarus.” Upon hearing his name, he turned around to see that Kovar had just entered. They were breathtakingly gorgeous and fantastically queer.

“Table for two?” inquired the host.

“Yes, thank you,” Lazarus replied to the host before turning back to Kovar. “You look amazing.”

“Thank you. You look,” Kovar paused while searching for a word. “Handsome.”

After being seated, Kovar offered an upturned palm across the table to Lazarus; an invitation to hold hands. Lazarus placed his hand in Kovar’s, and felt a rush of sensation running up his arm and throughout his body. It was euphoric.

“You have soft hands,” remarked Kovar.

“It’s from the hard life of an academic,” mused Lazarus.

“I bought you something,” Kovar stated as they produced a data device and handed it to Lazarus. “It is a book about neurodivergence. I thought you might enjoy reading it.”

“Thank you, Kovar! I… I didn’t think to bring you anything,” he said sheepishly. He wasn’t totally sure it was a date, per se. Or at least he tried to not think about it too much. “What is neurodivergence?”

“You are familiar with my people’s concept of ‘IDIC.’ It is that same concept, applied to cognition and neurotype. As a burgeoning experimental psychologist, I thought you might find it compelling. And, to be frank, you might find it interesting to think about given your own experiences.” Kovar’s words were direct, but the tone was warm and compassionate.

“I’ll start reading it as soon as I finish my readings for class,” said Lazarus. He had learned to trust Kovar - they always said what they meant. It was refreshing.

 

Dinner was lovely, as was the conversation. Afterwards, Kovar invited Lazarus to dance, which he hesitatingly agreed to. Not out of lack of interest in Kovar, but dancing was an activity that always eluded him and caused him some degree of shame. Dancing seemed to come naturally to everyone else, but he had to actively think about how to do it. He absent-mindedly fiddled with the data device Kovar gave him in his pocket as they approached the dance floor.

“I will not want to dance for too long. May I lean on you as we dance?” Kovar asked, plainly.

“Of course you may,” said Lazarus, offering a hand to Kovar as they stood up. The two stepped onto the dance floor, and an attendant came by with an assortment of headphones and such. They each grabbed a pair, put them on, and swayed to the music. At first, Kovar merely used Lazarus for stability support, but their eyes met and Kovar motioned closer to Lazarus, wordlessly asking if it was alright. Lazarus smiled and nodded. They swayed slowly in a gentle embrace. He had never enjoyed dancing more, between the company and the chance to do it without the sound system rattling his brain or fighting through thongs of people shouting at each other over the music.

After two songs, Kovar pulled their headphones off and announced they needed to sit back down. “But first, may I kiss you?”

Lazarus flushed red, and Kovar had an unmistakable twinge of green.

“I’d like that,” Lazarus responded.

They both leaned in close, and their lips met. Lazarus found himself swelling with emotion, and embraced Kovar fully, his hands around their back and against the smooth, light fabric on Kovar’s shirt. 


 

“...That all was years ago, though,” said Lieutenant Lazarus Davis, Chief Science Officer aboard the USS Constitution, as he reclined back into the couch while taking the final swig of his glass of wine.

“And where is Kovar now?” the Linarian woman, Queen, inquired from the couch in their shared quarters.

“We went out a second time, and after that I got a message from Kovar that they had to immediately return to Vulcan to attend to a family matter. They told me they would contact me once it was resolved, but who knows,” Lazarus said, as he set his empty glass down on the table. He looked over to Queen to find her studying him from behind her darkened goggles.

“I appreciate you sharing that with me. You can be… private, at times, Lazarus,” she stated plainly. He chuckled and nodded in agreement.

“I don’t mean to be, I just never know what to share,” he said, smiling and wrapping his hand in hers.

“We can share everything as bonded mates,” she said again with her flat affect. Between reminiscing about Kovar and staying up late talking over a bottle of wine, he realized that she had many of the qualities that he admired about Kovar. In particular, she said what she meant. “If you had to encapsulate that story into one moment, what would it be?”

He thought for a moment before responding, “The texture of their shirt. I'll never forget the way it felt in my hand that day.” There was a wistfulness in his voice.. She squeezed his hand as he spoke, and he squeezed back. The pressure felt reassuring. “Thank you for listening to my story.”

“Of course. And I will share some of mine, but not now. It is late and this ‘malbec’ is making me tired. Is it supposed to do that?” she asked.

“Not by design, but it does makes people sleepy without fail. Yes, let’s go to bed,” he responded.

“What about the book Kovar gave you?” she asked as they walked to the bedroom.

That was a point of contention, he thought. “I never read it. After they left, any time I picked it up to read, it made me sad. I still have it, though.” The door to the bedroom slid open, and he stepped through. 

“Maybe you should read it. It sounds like Kovar gave it to you for a reason.”

“Maybe I should…”




((Note: Queen, PNPC of Jalana Rajel, portrayed with permission))

Edited by Lazarus Davis
correcting an error
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