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JP: Lt. Commander Ayiana Sevo & Lt. Cory Stoyer - Cultural Faux Pas


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I rarely post my own sims here, but we got a number of supportive messages about the JP, so here it is for your consideration.

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((Shopping District, Promenade, Iana Station))

(( OOC: Sometime after the camping trip))

It was weird to be “officially” dating Cory in a non-cheating type of way. She had felt feelings for him ever since the affair years ago. “Affair.” No, that wasn’t quite the right word for what happened between them. Yes, Cory was married to Petra at the time; yes, Cory started flirting with Ayiana behind Petra’s back (much to the confused emotions of Ayiana herself, as Petra had been a close friend). But they never actually “did anything.” Not even kissing. Their first truly romantic excursion was also their last at that fateful dance.

Yet somehow, the universe and their hearts had conspired to bring them together. It started in the Skarbekverse, where they were already together; that led Ayiana to consider her deeper, subconscious emotions concerning Cory, and that her mind was trying to tell her something. It spiraled until finally the other day in her quarters, when the two exchanged those three words.

Cory was walking with Ayiana in the shopping district on Iana Station. While he said nothing, Cory was looking for a gift for Ayiana. He didn't know what he was looking for, but knew it when he saw it. It still felt strange to be dating Ayiana. They had been friends for a very long time. Looking around, Cory saw couples holding hands. He didn't do that to her. To him, she didn't seem like a public display of affection type-of-lady. He decided he would let her make the first move.

Stoyer: There is a great restaurant up the way that is pretty good. You want to stop later?

Sevo: Sounds good to me. Shopping always makes me hungry.

Cory saw a music store that had music programs that looked like old style records. Cory bought a player a while ago while having lunch with Jona and Tahna. He was tempted to go in and see if he could go find some older music to add to his collection. Cory stopped and looked into the window. Then shook his head and continued on with Ayiana at his side. Maybe before shore leave ended, he would come back and look through their collection.  

Ayiana had completely forgotten about Cory’s interest in those primitive music disks, but she vaguely recalled him having a player for one. She was curious why he didn’t stop in to look around. They weren’t in the Shopping District for nothing, after all! 

Sevo: Why didn’t you stop in? You like those… things.

Stoyer:  If you don't mind…

Ayiana’s head swiveled around, looking at the various storefronts. Her eyes paused on a particularly flashy looking one selling electronics. One particular holosign caught her interest: they were broadcasting the latest new tech showcases from the Federation Technology Expo. 

Sevo: Ooo! Be right back!

She darted off towards the store, leaving Cory alone in the crowd. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that.  

Cory smiled as he watched Ayiana tear off toward the tech store. She would be there for a while. He stopped again in front of not really a jewelry store, but he saw something that caught his attention. He thought it was perfect for Ayiana. 

Stoyer:  That’s it.

Cory entered the shop and, after purchasing the item, had it placed in a box so he could give it later to Ayiana. Cory left the store and back into the crowd. He looked around to see if Ayiana was on her way back. Not seeing her, Cory opened the box and looked at it in the light.  

Cory thought to himself, would she like it? Now how to hide it until he could give it to her.

Stoyer:  ::To one in particular.::  The music store.

Cory headed back to the music store. Rummaging through the place, he found several disks that he wanted to buy. The bag holding the disks was big enough to hide the box. Cory placed the box in the bag with the music. Outside the music store, Cory leaned against the storefront while watching the tech store ‌Ayiana was shopping in.

Ayiana had spent more time in the technology store than she expected. She was enamored by the radical developments coming out of Starfleet R&D regarding everything from phasers to tricorders to PADDs, especially in the area of holographic interface advancements. It had baffled her why Starfleet had kept the older two-dimensional, sharp-angled touch screens of the mid-century, while civilian areas had widely adopted holograms; Freecloud being a prime example. Well, it seemed Starfleet was finally bringing themselves to the 25th century (close enough) with holographic interfaces and displays rolling out.

In the end, Ayiana came out of the store with a HoloStrip. It was basically a PADD, but completely holographic, being projected from a handheld rod-like device that could be held in the hand or placed on a table. She also came away with replicator pattern licenses for aftermarket parts she hoped to, at some point, put into her tricorder and other devices.

It took her a few minutes to find Cory in the plaza. 

Cory spotted the red hair of Ayiana coming through the crowd. Cory flashed one of his roguish grins.

Stoyer: Hey you.

Sevo: Hey. Sorry I took so long; I got carried away in there.

Cory smiled. He knew how she was about technology. It was part of her charm.

Stoyer: Let's head over to the park for a bit. I want to talk to you.

Sevo: Um… okay?

That was a bit disturbing to her. Was Cory already having second thoughts about their relationship? It had always been in the back of her mind ever since that day in her quarters. Her heart pounded in her chest as Cory led her to the park in question.

Cory looked out over the park. There was a small lake with a walking track surrounding it. Cory could see children playing on the shore of the lake. He saw an empty bench and walked over to it, placing the bag on the ground. Looking over at Ayiana, her blue eyes that he fell into every time. He reached over and took Ayiana's cool hand in his.  

Stoyer: I wanted to tell you I haven’t been this happy in a long time. I know that sounds like a line, but it’s true.

Sevo: I… :: she exhaled a big breath she didn’t know she was holding. :: …I am too. It feels right.

Stoyer: We’ve been friends for a very long time. You’ve been there for me, even when everything happened. I can't imagine my life without you  in it.

Ayiana remained quiet, simply waiting for what Cory was going to say.

Stoyer: I’ve never really apologized for leaving you on that dance floor. That was wrong on many levels. I am sorry.

Sevo:  Yes… well… *ahem* :: she ran her fingers through her hair nervously. :: It was a kind of joint effort. :: She paused. :: Cory, what is this all about?

Cory looked back out at the lake and the people walking around it.  

Stoyer: I’ve asked you over here to give you something. I saw it and thought of you.

Cory reached into the bag and brought out the box. Smiling, he handed the black box to Ayiana and waited for her to open it. Cory watched her face. He knew she was going to like it, or at least hoped she would.  

Well, this was awkward. Ayiana had never been much for gifts. Cory was angling for something, she thought, and he hoped to buy Ayiana’s appeal for it. The box was not too dissimilar to those given by Quinn at awards ceremonies, but it was bigger than a ribbon or pip box. Besides, Cory couldn’t hand those out. She recognized the name on the box as an upscale jewelry store they recently passed on the promenade. Oh, Cory, that sneaky bugger. He used her distraction with the tech store to double-back and get it.

What could it be? Earrings? Bracelet? Necklace? She had more than enough for any formal event she’d ever have to attend. Mountains of jewelry, so much that some people had dedicated furniture and storage for them - like her mother - baffled Ayiana. Why have so many of them when you’ll probably only ever use a fraction of them, and even then, not that often except for your favorite few? Well, if Cory thought she could be bought with a piece of shiny metal, he had another thing--!

Ayiana let out an audible gasp as she saw the object laying on the velvet cushion inside. It was an armlet made of three copper wrought and banded wires making the arm ring itself. The three wires flared out of the banding in the front, one set going up, the other going down. In both sets, the outer two wires flared, curved, and twisted around each other, ending in loose coils. The middle wires ended in a gap in between the two, delicately cradling a sparkling ruby in each. The whole arrangement looked similar to leaves.

(( OOC: Inspired image here, edited with rubies: https://drive.google.com/file/d/11uydJCCUIAPjXWi-JUi5lrRXLm60b9Hs/view?usp=sharing ))

Seeing the armlet, Ayiana panicked; she felt her heart racing in her chest and her cheeks hot with flush. Even her hands were getting warm. No way. There was NO WAY Cory would do this to her so fast. Without touching the armlet, Ayiana closed the box with a snap and thrust it back in Cory’s arms.

Sevo: Cory… I… I can’t accept this. :: She said as she looked away.::

Cory’s mind went into shock. He expected any reaction other than this one. He looked wide eyed at her; his mouth went dry.

Stoyer: Ayiana…I…

Sevo: It… it’s… 

Cory looked at the box in his hand. Once again, the fears he thought had gone started filling his heart again. Then he looked up into her blue eyes.

Stoyer:  Ayiana, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.

Ayiana paused, realizing what was happening. Cory knew very little about Trill customs, and he must have not understood the armlet’s significance. He simply bought her something nice for her. It was just a gift to her, nothing more than that. She let out a deep breath and gestured Cory to a nearby stone bench. Ayiana sat down nervously, ramrod straight, and waited for Cory to sit down next to her.

Cory followed her to a stone bench, sitting down next to her. His insides were turning to mush. Ayiana’s rigid posture wasn’t reassuring him ‌he didn’t make a huge mistake.  

Sevo: You… uh… don’t know much about Trill customs, right?

That wasn't the question he was expecting. As he thought about it, no, he didn’t know much about Trill customs. Other than the whole symbiont and previous hosts thing.  

Stoyer: No, I didn't I guess. I mean I know about your symbiont and prior hosts. But other than that, no.  

Ayiana smirked at the irony of that fact. It was not too long ago, only a few decades, that the Joined nature of Trills wasn’t known. Not that they were trying to hide the symbionts; Trill just didn’t consider it out of the ordinary, like how Vulcans had nictitating membranes, Humans had an appendix, or Klingons having a QiVon. Now, the Joined nature of many Trill was the most well-known aspect of Trill biology and society, with Trills having mixed feelings about that.

In lieu of an answer, Ayiana simply nodded.

Stoyer:  Let me guess, I made a serious sin of not knowing something vital.  

Sevo: Sort of. Um… :: She passed her hand through her hair again.:: …in some Trill cultures, gifting someone an armlet as exquisite as this is… is a marriage proposal.

Cory’s mouth dropped open. His mind was blank as she spoke about a marriage proposal. 

Stoyer: What?!

Sevo: It’s similar to your Human custom of presenting an engagement ring, except instead of two separate rings, for each occasion - one for engagement and one for marriage - it also acts as a marriage ring, to put it in your context. It’s generally worn on the left arm. :: She tapped her left bicep. ::

Ayiana only knew about Human wedding and engagement rings from witnessing Cory’s and Petra’s marriage several years ago.

Stoyer: I…I didn't know.  

Sevo: The person proposing has two matching armlets, one for them, and one for their prospective spouse. They are usually displayed together when proposing. So if this — ::She tapped the box in Cory’s lap. :: — was a real Trill proposal, in my local culture at least, you’d have two matching armlets in that box; one for me to wear, and one for you.

Cory looked down at the box in his lap. This had never occurred to him. He saw something that was pretty and it reminded him of Ayiana. Cory looked at Ayiana.  

Sevo: The armlets also have a blank area on them, usually around the arm ring itself, but designs vary widely, and some people get custom designs made. They’re worn to show the person is engaged to someone. When or if the individuals marry, they have the blank area engraved with their name, their partners’ names, and the date of marriage.

Stoyer: Ayiana, I never thought of you as a Trill. I see you as a brilliant, tough scientist.

Ayiana smiled. “Uniform first,” was the Starfleet ethos, right?

Sevo: Well, you are right, there. And I’m pretty sure you didn’t *mean* to… uh… get that response from me.

Cory shook his head no.

Stoyer:  No, I didn’t. I guess there is a lot to learn about each other.

Sevo: You have no idea. I’ve been married twice and never learned everything about my spouses in our lifetimes.

Cory looked at her for a moment before it hit him. Previous hosts.  

Stoyer: Look, I am sorry for surprising you like this.  

Cory looked at the box. Looking back at Ayiana, he tapped the box and made a decision.

Stoyer: Ok, how about this? I can return this…until the time is right.

Sevo: I don’t know. It was very thoughtful of what you did.

Stoyer: You pick out something you would like from there or the tech store?

Ayiana thought about the offer, but after a moment, she shook her head.

Sevo: No. I know you meant well and didn’t mean what I initially thought you were offering. Tell you what, I’ll accept this, — :: She tapped the box :: — graciously, I might add, and wear it for what it is: a thoughtful gift of appreciation. ::She smiled at Cory.::

Cory returned the smile. His heart started beating again.

Stoyer: Great.  

Sevo: Then in the future, if - *IF* - ::she raised her index finger and tapped the air to emphasize the word:: - we take this relationship to the next step in the future, I’ll have a blank band added to it as part of my cultural observance, and it will be a proper engagement armlet. You could get a ring instead of a matching armlet, if that’s what you want. But we’re a long way from anything like that!

Cory heard the “if”, but didn’t react.

Stoyer: Yes, I agree. We are a long way from that. The black band is a nice touch. I, on the other hand, will start reading about Trill culture.

Ayiana didn’t know what “black band” Cory was referring to, but she didn’t comment on it.

Cory opened the box and held it out to Ayiana.  

Sevo: Hah, that’s a nice gesture, but not necessary. I find it more fun to find things out spontaneously.

With Cory holding the box open, displaying the armlet to Ayiana, she delicately picked it up off its velvet cushion. She carefully twisted it around in her fingers, examining it from every angle, her eyes falling a little longer on the rubies socketed in it than the rest of it. It was exquisitely crafted, and she did mean crafted, not replicated. She could make out slight imperfections in the banding around the wires, suggesting they were hand wrought. There was no way to tell if the rubies were hand-carved, but if the same ethos went into them as the armlet, there was little doubt they were. 

Sevo: Cory, this is *handmade*, not replicated. It must have cost a fortune!

Cory smiled. It did, but other than his music and books, it was just sitting there.

Stoyer: Ayiana, I could say something like “you are worth it.” I saw it and thought of you.

There went her cheeks again, flushing with a mix of embarrassment and gratitude. 

Sevo: Well… then… uh… :: she gazed at the armlet in her hand for a moment :: …I’ll wear it happily as the gift it is, and we’ll see what happens from here. Sounds good?

Stoyer: Sounds good.  

All was well with the world, according to Cory.

With Cory’s acceptance of the offer, Ayiana rolled up her left arm sleeve and slid the armlet up to her bicep. The wired form of it helped it grasp securely to her arm, with no squeezing or pinching occurring; in other words, it fit her perfectly. She didn’t believe in destiny, but if she did, this certainly lent proof to it. Cory had no idea of her arm size. He just found a bauble in a store, thought it looked good, and bought it as-is. She twisted and bent her arm around, observing how it looked on her arm, and trying to catch the station’s lights in the rubies. At just the right angle, they shined and reflected brilliantly back in her eye.

Sevo: I’m going to have to wear more sleeveless shirts in order to show this off. :: Her eyes lit up. :: That means more shopping!!

Cory watched Ayiana roll her sleeve up and slide the armlet up a toned bicep. He breathed a sigh of relief as it fit perfectly. He watched as she twisted the armlet around, smiling as it caught the light from the station. Cory stood, grabbing his bag as he got up. Looking at Ayiana, he offered his hand to her.

Stoyer:  I am famished. Shall we go get some lunch?

Ayiana wasn’t normally keen on the affectations Cory often reverted to; Quinn once called him a “gentleman knight.” But in this instance, she couldn’t help but feel just a little spoiled. Clasping Cory’s hand, he gently pulled her up with the help of her own legs and his muscular arm that she never forgot about. Those well-toned, chiseled muscles. She left her sleeve rolled up; Ayiana had no intention of hiding the bauble right now. Shame it would be hidden by her uniform on-duty.

Still close, Ayiana looked into Cory’s eyes.

Sevo: Cory, thank you. It’s beautiful.

Stoyer: You are welcome.

She clasped her arms around Cory’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss, locking lips for several seconds. Was that strawberry chapstick Cory was wearing? She wondered what her own lipstick must taste like to him. Such thoughts never occurred to her before.

Cory was surprised at the sudden embrace and kiss. He pulled her tight against him.

Sevo: Now we can go.

Cory smiled.

Stoyer: Now we can go.

Sevo: How about some place with a nice steak and wine? 

She definitely needed alcohol after all that. As they walked back towards the procession way, she reached out and clasped Cory’s hand in her’s.

Cory felt her hand grab his. He looked at her and smiled.

Fin (for now)


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Lt. Commander Ayiana Sevo
Mission Specialist
U.S.S. Gorkon
Image Collective
Wiki Ops
V239109AS0
----------------------------

&

----------------------------
Lieutenant Cory Stoyer
Helm/Comms/Ops Officer
USS Gorkon
C239111CS0
----------------------------

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