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JL | Lt Merlin, Xue'Daio Nox | "Alohomora"

Posted on 242004.11 @ 23:45 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Lacuna

There was serenity now where there had been chaos, comfort where there had been pain, peace where there had been panic. Xue was quiet, blissfully allowing herself to be embraced by water hot enough to bring a tint of pink color to her otherwise perfectly snowy skin. Around her, her hair played like silver kelp, arcing and swaying in the gentle current of the filtered pond-sized bath. To say she was happy was a far reach. To say she was content was more within reach. The events of the day still played like a movie behind her eyelids, reminding her of her brush with death each and every time she closed them. Now... They remained closed, forcing her to deal with the remaining emotions associated with nearly burning to cinders in the belly of an archaic space station. What she wasn't was so lost that she didn't hear the whispers of foot steps approaching, steady as a heartbeat. And she wasn't ignorant to the fact that those foot falls didn't belong to a Stenellis, the cadence was all wrong. Another thing she wasn't was troubled by their appearance. In fact, she smiled softly.

"Good morning, or whatever time it really is," the Lieutenant's soft voice said. He hadn't bothered to check the time, all he knew was that there had been a lot of action, then a quick sonic shower, then actual sleep. For a man who didn't sleep much, it said a lot about recent events that he actually took the time for it. (And no Denobulan roommates to complain about his snoring. A bonus.) So, for him it was morning, if only because he chose to define that as 'the time after he slept'. "How do you feel?"

She certainly looked a lot better than last time he saw her, which was curled up in a chair in a quiet section of Central Ops. At some point she must've been beamed back to her quarters (he dimly recalled giving orders to that end, somewhere at the end of that hectic night, once things finally began to quiet down), cared for, the stained clothes removed and tucked into a real bed. All the soot and grime had disappeared. All the cuts and burns as well. (that evoked another dim memory, one he'd almost, but not quite forgotten. Something about glowing hands?)


"Morning, I think," Xue responded, cracking her eyes open enough to take in the sight of him and found herself drifting in his direction, close enough that she could sidle up to the side of her bath and gaze up at him in her own quiet wonder. "I'm alive, thanks to you. Doctor's say the damage to my lungs will heal in due time and to take it easy." With her shine restored, the peacefulness of him once again became damn near contagious. She could live with a cough for awhile, so long as she had -- Well... She wouldn't have him in every sense of the word. Their bond would persist until such a time she decided to release him, but he would remain upon the station and she would return to Apsha just as soon Si'a was returned back to Anaxar and the rest of Starfleet.

"I owe you." She hummed.

"All I did was pull you out and get you some rest," the Lieutenant said, puzzled. "You and those with you. You owe me nothing…" He studied her. She looked frail, her internal glow dimmed, though not gone, and weary still. "Just take the time you need to rest and heal. I'm… just glad you will be fine."

"No. I insist." Her head shook and she lifted herself from the bath, her hair falling over her shoulders as a heavy drape, clinging to the curves and contours of her body as she moved, "You saved my life, you saved my soul when I wanted to let this entire sector burn... And when I called for you, you were there." Her steps, surprisingly sure against the wet stone floors, took her toe to toe with him - allowing her to raise up on tip toe and cradle his face in her palms, "I'm going to take the leash off, let you go, let you live your life without being tethered," She nodded along as if to give extra weight to a decision that waned more than waxed within her.

He studied her for a moment longer, his face resting between her hands, while his own plucked a towel from behind him and deftly wrapped it around her slender frame. "So, since you are familiar with the Arthurian legends," he said with a faint smile, "do you fancy yourself Nimue, releasing Merlin from his bounds or prison of your own volition?" He held the towel in place with one hand and gently stroked her wet face with the other. "Yet your words say one thing and your eyes another. Why is that?"

"Nimue..." She breathed with a soft shake of her head. Arthurian lore was never far away it seemed and it left her with a breathy laugh both sad and amused at the same time, "I don't want to leave you held in a cave or some bush for all of time, even proverbial bushes don't suit you." Xue tried to explain while his touch and care tugged at and erased her resolve, "It may be that they something different because I'm at war with myself. My head says to free you from our binds, let you live your life without me as an after thought as you continue on your path." Her eyes blinked as she searched his, shielding them from the grittiness that persisted to plague them, "But my heart..." She paused, a wry smile curling across her features, "My heart says that you're happy. That you're already liberated."

The Lieutenant smiled. That soft, kind smile, so very different from his usual manic grin, and his sea-coloured eyes, now mirroring the depths, did not stray from hers. "Maybe those bonds were once intended to enslave, maybe they can be used so still. But when there has been a free exchange, out of mutual kinship, friendship, love… Then they cannot bind. Freely given, and freely accepted. And indeed-" his hand mimicked an invisible line between the two of them, "wasn't it this bond which brought you to Central Ops, and me, and saved you from getting lost?"

"Enslave, share, dependent upon who and what and how and why..." She nodded meekly, "In hindsight, yes. I suppose it was that bond that sent me in that direction. The Gods know I know nothing about this station or how its built or which way is where..." All she knew of it was him, really. Him and the obvious things outlined by computerized digital directions and the promenade that offered an assortment of treats to appease all senses and sensitivities. One hand left his face long enough to capture his, allowing her to study his long, tapered fingers. They were so very elegant and hardly showing signs of wear or age or pain or strife. None of the things she worried she may have caused him and sought to set him free from. Neither did his face, for that matter, his eyes still shone like sunlight on the sea, "Do you not wish to be unbound?" She asked, releasing his hand.

"I will remain bound to you, no matter what you do," he said. With both hands free, he slowly began to towel her dry. "I do not lightly call someone a friend, and what we have shared will remain between us, whether the bond you created remains in place or not." A vivid memory of floating in zero-G, glowing like two fallen stars… Distance and time might separate Xue and him, but that memory alone would be enough to connect them forever. That and shared conversations under starlight, dinners in candlelight, and further back, dancing in the rain in the Arboretum… So many things which created bonds, and not all of them easily broken.

His response was unexpected, left her silent and unable to formulate a response correct enough to counter him. It begged question whether or not he needed to be countered, whether anything needed to be said at all between them on the matter. His touch was as gentle as it had ever been as he carefully curried her free of water and it wasn't until he bent a bit to reach other parts of her, that she came up with a response she deemed appropriate enough for the moment. The hand that had been on his cheek slid over his jaw to the nape of his neck and into the bounty of ink black curls to be found there and she knew there was no turning back, no second guessing to be had as she rose slightly and allowed white lashes to close over her eyes half a heartbeat before her mouth found his in a kiss made up as much of show as it was tell when it came down to her thoughts, her intentions, and the gratitude she felt for having him in her life.

This time there was no actual slowing of time per se, chronometers still kept ticking steadily, stealing second after second from the future and adding them to the past, but for the two of them there was again only private time, where nothing else needed to exist but each other and that which bound them. The damp towel fell to the floor, and he lifted her gently, not breaking the kiss, and carried her into the adjacent room.

---

A time later, how long she could never have truly guessed, Xue lay draped across the strange Lieutenant's chest. Her head rested over his the bizarre double beat of his heart, listening to the rhythm of it in coordination with every breath he took. Each second that passed left her in wonder of what it was that was coming next, answering questions as soon as her mind posed them and leaving others to hang precariously in the precious balance. It felt right, justified even, and for once she didn't question whether this was due to his wants or hers or if he'd been coerced by the bond they shared. "If you have me, you will want to share me. If you share me, you will no longer have me. What am I?" She hummed softly in question.

There was a long moment's silence, then a soft laugh. "Ah, my dear, I have none of those you ask. And if I do, they are buried so deep inside of me that I can merely feel their echoes, sometimes, far away. The ones I do have were not mine to begin with, so they are easier to keep…" He shook his head in a soft, slow motion, so as not to startle or dislodge her. "It's one of those riddles I never truly understand. I know the answer, but I never feel that urge to share. Is it that burning, for others, truly?"

"What if you were the secret?" She asked, her lips pressing to his skin before she allowed herself to lay back again, enjoying the sensation of his voice rumbling through his chest against her cheek, "Not everyone has to tell a secret, like the riddle says... If you share it... You no longer have it. Do you agree with that?"

"That I can agree on, yes." His fingers played through her hair, which was all dry now and beginning to fluff. He gently combed through beginning tangles. "It can mean more people have it, or that once shared, it's lost. Or both, though rarely at once."

"I see." The words were hummed against his chest and her fingers, needing to do something as she thought and spoke, began to trace lazy little circles along his abdomen. They were slow, soft, anything but frantic and simply an excuse to touch him and focus her mind that was traveling at an obscene rate of speed. "I feel like you inherently know all of my secrets."

"As you know mine, insofar anyone could know them." The fact that he himself knew nothing of his own origins or past only bothered him occasionally. Sometimes, upon meeting species he hadn't encountered before, from areas stretching beyond the Federation, he enquired if people had ever met anyone like him, or heard of someone. When the answer was an invariable 'no', he brushed the question under the rug again, where it stayed covered for the most part. But even so, once every now and then, he did wonder.

"The thing is that secrets are often truths... If they're your own, then they're most inconvenient, really." A silvery lock slipping from his fingers and coiling across her back and thigh made the woman shiver and her skin lift and contract into goose flesh. It was an involuntary reaction, but telling and curious all the same. How her body and mind reacted to his every move and word and thought was curious indeed as they were such new reactions even for a body that wasn't a stranger to being touched and pleasured. "And I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things." The lazy circles paused, her fingers frozen against the pale buckskin tone of his belly, "I've started to fall in love with you over the time we've spent together." Of all the inconvenient truths, this was perhaps the prettiest.

"'Love'…" He caressed the stilled fingers. "Another complex word, that is. It has so many different meanings to different people. Many confuse it with lust. One can 'fall in' love, or 'fall out' of it. But at the core, love is an all-encompassing word, meaning 'friendship' and 'deeply caring for' and 'trust'. Someone you can be yourself with, someone who will love you for what you are, the whole package, the good, the bad and the ugly…" He lifted his head to look at her and smiled, a faint, sweet smile.

"An even more complex assortment of feelings and emotions." Xue whispered in response, watching the way his fingers smoothed their way along hers, touching them with the lightest of pressure. It didn't take long for her to shift her focus towards his face, taking cues from his movement, the tightening of his core. "There's desire, but it encompasses so much more than basic lust. It's a desire to know, and be part of, someone. To want to touch someone's soul as well as their body." Sex was one thing, and with him it drove her crazy - in the best of ways - but it was conversation with him that drove her sane... Conversation that she'd come to cherish so much - even when they said nothing at all. "To still desire him even when they aren't at their peak. To honor them and realize that it's their imperfections that make them so perfect." She nodded, "Yes... Complex it is indeed."

He nodded, not surprised at all that she understood. Most of the communication they did was unspoken, a weird form which wasn't as much telepathy as the way their minds and thoughts seemed to run in synch at times. A lot of times. He raised his other hand, held it close to her without ever quite touching – at the point where her glow would reach. "If you do want to dissolve the bond between us," he said softly, still gazing at her, "I wouldn't be at all surprised if it only partly breaks. Or not at all."

Starlight shivered as she shook her head and breathed a gentle laugh as much filled with wonder as it was defeat, and not in the negative connotation of the word It was defeat in so far that she knew he was right, that their bond went so much deeper than the simple connection they'd achieved early on as a way of sharing and experiencing life differently. In many ways that parlor trick was over and done with, had metamorphosed into something far more beautifully chaotic. "Even if I wanted to, we'd be bound no matter what I do, no matter what I tried." Xue hummed, pushing herself up carefully to peer down at him through a thick veil of silver lashes, "I think you know that and I think you have a hefty hand in that." Her lips pressed against his in a feather soft kiss.

But in a way it was true. As long as they were apart, they were their original selves, but as soon as they were together they were transmuted. And just like that, the Lieutenant thought of another gift for Xue, something he would give her next time they'd meet. A symbol of their union, their time together, their merging – and their bond.

---

Lieutenant Commander Evan Merlin
Acting Executive Officer
COLD STATION THETA, SB-1170

Empress Xue'Daio Nox
Queen of Apsha
Ruler of Aleine
Stenellian Ascendancy

 

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