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A vague grunt was about all the response there was from the lump on the bed, whilst the computer's chirpy voice carrying on announcing the fact that it was another glorious day in San Francisco. When Delvia finally poked her dark-haired head out from under the covers, it was to glare at the panel on the wall that the digitised voice was coming from.

"Computer," she croaked after a few moments, "why in the name of all that is holy are you waking me up in the middle of the night?"
"As requested, your wake-up call was scheduled for 0800. The time is now 0806."
"Like I said, the middle of the [...]ed night."
Still, at least the stupid machine shut up, and she decided that since she was awake, she might as well drag herself out of bed. Shoving the covers aside, she began the laborious process of getting her green-skinned self up and moving. By the time she was sat up, her leg had decided that it would at least pretend to be cooperative enough for her to grab the cane she'd left by the bed and pushed herself to her feet. Taking a deep breath, like she'd done every morning for the last few years, she shuffled her way across the bedroom to get herself ready to face another day.
By the time she emerged, still damp from the shower, and rolled her eyes when she heard the cheerful humming from the lounge. Clothes were already laid out on the now-made bed, and she moved over to start getting dressed with a total lack of concern for the fact that her bedroom door was open and she was wearing nothing but a grumpy expression.
Not that there was any point in making anything of it, since when Brexx poked his bald blue head around the doorway, he looked at her with a total lack of appreciation for the sight that would likely have offended any Orion woman that gave a [...].
"Breakfast's going to be ready in a few minutes." His voice matched his tone, warm and bright with the kind of enthusiasm that only came from really enjoying your job. "You want tea or coffee?"
"Don't care, go away."
Brexx shrugged and wandered away, leaving her to get herself more or less decent. A few minutes later, she settled herself onto her chair at the dining table, mouth watering at the gorgeous aromas wafting up from the plate that sat waiting for her. Picking up a fork, she started shovelling perfectly cooked eggs into her mouth as Brexx, over by the big computer and entertainment screen on the wall, called up the mail that had come for her since yesterday.
"A lot of holiday stuff here," he called over his shoulder. "I'll leave that stuff for you to look over. Oh, something from the Ambassador and her wife..."
That was a bit of a surprise. She tended not to get messages from the far depths of the Beta Quadrant, and she smiled to herself at the fact she'd gotten one now. Probably the result of incessant nagging from a third party, but she'd take it.
"Aannd... One from your father."
Delvia's smile slipped away as if it had never existed. "Delete it."
"You sure?"
"He had his chance when I was a kid. He doesn't get to try and make up for it now. Kill it, then disappear."
The Bolian shrugged and did as he was told - at least the deleting part. Finished with the mail, he ambled over and stood by the table as she finished the last of the breakfast he'd made for her and washed it down with a slug of coffee. Quite why he put up with her surly attitude, she had no real idea. Since he was happily married to his husband, it wasn't because of that... and since she'd pretty much chased away the first two domestic helpers she'd been assigned after she got out of hospital, it wasn't because he was just doing his job.
"Enjoy your food?"
"No. It was foul."
"Ah, yes... that would be the targ vomit garnish. I thought you'd enjoy that."
And there it was, the reason she never actually meant it when she told him to go away. He gave her as much grief as he got, and did it with a sly grin that told her she knew exactly why she was acting the way she did and was quite content to play along if it kept her happy. It would just ruin the game they played if she actually acknowledged that, though, so she just sneered at him as she levered herself to her feet.
It was the first step she took away from the table that killed her. As soon as she put weight on the biosynthetic replacement for her right leg, the thing gave way utterly, sending her plummeting to the ground with all the grace of a collapsing ruin. Her hand shot out to try and grab the table, her cane clattering away as she went for the chair as well - but Brexx was there, as ever, to save her. Before she'd dropped more than a few inches, he was right behind her, his arms wrapping around her chest to catch her and get her steady again.
Keeping her stable, he hooked a foot under her cane and flipped it up so she could catch it and stab the end into the ground. Once her rebellious limb was behaving again, she straightened herself up and he let her go, stepping back just enough to give her some space. Drawing a shaky breath, she glared at her leg, then looked over her shoulder at the persistent pest that had been sicced on her by Starfleet's veteran's affairs service.
The one word she uttered was so softly spoken that it was barely audible at all, and Brexx's answer was a solemn and serious nod and nothing more. That was the way it always went, every time he was there to literally catch her when she fell. It wasn't just the dry humour they shared. It was the way he just would not let her down.
"Ready for your day?" he asked after a few moments, glossing over the last few minutes with practised ease.
"Get lost, you bald, blue freak."
"Excellent. Give Counselor Herris my regards."
This time, the disdainful twist of her mouth wasn't faked. She'd actually managed to forget she had to deal with her counselor today. What fun that promised to be...
As she chewed on the sandwich she'd picked up on the way out of Starfleet Medical, Delvia thought about the odd way things seemed to go sometimes. She knew, for example, that the worst her leg would do during the day was an uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful, spasm or two. She also knew that the medical staff who'd treated her still had no idea how to counter the effects of the venom that had screwed up her nerves enough to stop the prosthetic meshing properly.
Looking out over the bay, the shadow of the Golden Gate bridge falling over the water, she considered the event that had screwed her up so badly six years before - and put a very definite end to her career. The away mission had been pretty mundane, her job being to shepherd a bunch of science geeks around as they poked at the assorted foliage of the planet they were surveying. It wasn't the flora that had been a problem, as it turned out, but the fauna. Particularly the overgrown hairball that had burst out of the undergrowth without warning. She'd managed to drop it before it could do any damage to the science team, but had been too late to keep from getting a savage bite that had broken her knee in the process.
To add insult to injury, whatever the creature had slobbered into her bloodstream had started digesting the flesh of her leg before they'd even managed to get her back to sickbay. So, here she was, out of a job she'd loved and still trying to fit into planet-bound life as a civilian.
As she tried not to get lost in the memories of what had happened, her eyes shifted to the discrete stone plinth that sat by the edge of the water, a few meters from the bench she sat on. When she realised what she was looking at, she smiled tightly and closed her eyes, bowing her head in acknowledgement of what it memorialised - the men and women of San Francisco's civilian emergency services who'd risked, and lost, their lives to save others when the Breen had attacked two and half decades before. She paid her respects every time she passed this way, and didn't miss that even after all this time, there were always fresh flowers laid at the base of the concrete chunk.
It was a much needed reminder, sometimes, that you didn't have to be in Starfleet to make a difference.
Sighing, she tossed the remains of her lunch into the nearby trash can - her aim was still good, no matter what else - and hauled herself to her feet. She had time to kill before the next thing she had to do today, and felt the need to distract herself from not only that but the after-effects of yet another fruitless session with her counselor. Once a month, she sat and talked about her feelings, despite the fact she'd rather have stuck her head into a plasma fire. It was what she was supposed to do, after all, and the habit of doing as she ought was ingrained in her deeply enough that she didn't think it would ever fade.
She didn't have to like it, of course. Just do it. Just like she didn't have to admit to anyone that the sessions actually did help...
When she started paying attention to her surroundings again, Delvia realised she had managed to get almost the whole way to her favourite bar without even knowing what she was doing. Smiling to herself, she shook her head at the instincts that seemed to have developed whilst she lived here.
"Why the hell not?"
Her cane tapped against the ground as she covered the last little way to the bar, and when she walked through the door she shared a nod of greeting with Mack, the grizzled Terran behind the bar. She sometimes wondered if the place had actually been built around him, since she had never heard of him being sighted anywhere but here, and her certainly looked old enough. He was also a man of few words, and by the time she reached her usual stool at the bar itself he'd poured a glass of her favourite tipple and set it on the counter for her without any need for them to exchange anything more than they already had.
She settled herself in place, propping her cane against the bar, and took a sip. Just as good as ever. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror that covered most of the wall behind the bar, and her lips twisted into a wry smile as she looked at her reflection. She used to wear her hair long, letting it flow down her back, but now it was cut so short it was barely able to spike up when she bothered to do anything with it. Pretty much the same went for her clothing, as well. Off-duty, she'd had a range of stuff to wear, all of it carefully chosen to emphasise her figure and colouration just so that she could have some fun during her downtime.
What she wore now was pretty much whatever Brexx picked out for her, assuming she didn't manage to get it done first, and today it was plain and practical in style, the colours muted. She didn't wear bright shades any more, there didn't seem any reason to.
Delvia heard a sniff from Mack's direction, and she glanced his way. When she saw the frown he was aiming her way, and the significant look he gave toward the half-dozen other patrons - most of them male - around the room, she sighed.
Mack grunted and went back to his routine as she stuck a hand in her jacket pocket and pulled out the hypo that sat there. Another gift from the homicidal space-hamster and it's freaky drool. She pressed the hypo against her neck, triggered it, and dumped the thing back where it had come from. There was never any point trying to predict when she was going to have to dose herself up with pheromone suppressant any more. It had sometimes actually been amusing, but right now she wasn't in the mood to deal with male attention drawn her way by her natural biochemistry. There were enough incidents simply from being recognised as an Orion woman... and the last few times she'd tried to let herself indulge and enjoy, she'd learned that it was probably not going to go well...
No, better to just cut that part off entirely, and just some pleasure in a nice quiet drink.
The cool evening air followed her through the door as she walked into the gallery. She'd actually bothered to make an effort, and when she let the young man who greeted her take her coat, she knew that the makeup she'd applied, along with the attention she'd paid to her hair and the sleek black dress she'd reluctantly put on, made her look better than she had in a very long time. She'd even chosen to use the new cane that Brexx and his husband had gotten for her in honour of the occasion, and the whole ensemble made her feel like she might just be worth the effort of looking at for once.
"Miss Corsetto, I'm so glad you could make it!"
Delvia suppressed a grin at the hint of relief she heard in the voice, shifting her cane to her other hand so she could take the one being held out to her. Donatella Laine had never failed to be anything but charming and polite to her, though she'd had enough reason not to, and Delvia simply couldn't make herself like the idea that the gallery's owner might have believed she'd not come tonight. Given all the bullying and persuasion that had been put into getting her to agree to go along with this whole stupid idea, Delvia felt she really should try to make Donatella's investment of effort worthwhile.
"Where else was I going to be?" she asked, and chuckled at the knowing gleam that appeared in the other woman's eyes. "Okay, yes, I'm a pain in the backside to deal with. I just... Look, you think I should be here, so I am."
Donatella sighed laying a gentle touch on the Orion's arm. "No, dear, not just me. Look."
She did as she was told, and swallowed on a suddenly tight throat when she saw that there were literally dozens of people around, all of them chatting to each other as they looked at the pictures hanging on the gallery walls with approval that was obvious even to her cynical eye.
"Do you want to take a few moments?"
She shook her head, knowing that if she'd said yes then Donatella would have been fine with it. She wouldn't have been, though, and waiting would only have made her nerves get worse. No, better to meet this head-on and get it done.
"No, I'm good." Which was a lie, but the next part wasn't. "If I can be crazy enough to take on drunk Nausicaans, I can do this."
A tinkle of laughter was all the response Donatella gave, taking a soft grip on Delvia's arms and leading her forward.
"Ladies and gentlemen," she said loudly, catching the attention of everyone in the gallery. When she was sure they were all looking her way, she smiled and made a little gesture Deliva's way. "As we see in the dawn of 2400 with this beautiful display, it is my great pleasure to present you with our featured artist, Miss Delvia Corsetto."
Training, experience, counseling... Delvia had all of them in bucket loads, but none of it helped prepare her for the way every single eye turned her way and applause rang out to fill the air. She recognised two of the city's biggest art critics in the crowd, as well as an FNS reporter that she knew specialised in such things. All of them were welcoming her with genuine pleasure, and she felt tears welling up in her dark eyes as it finally hit her that far from wasting their time, these people honestly wanted to be here, taking pleasure in the paintings she'd never thought anything but a way to kill some time.
Maybe she could make this life out of uniform work, after all...
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