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Posted on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 8:31am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Staff Warrant Officer Laena ben-Avram
Edited on on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 8:31am

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: USS Vindex
Timeline: 2388

Akiva had run all over the ship in a post-crisis scramble. The Intruder Alert had been rescinded once Engineering was secured, but a first officer's duty was neverending. Security still confirmed a deck-by-deck clearing protocol as a purely perfunctory act for the official record while everyone else had to pick up the pieces.

The first officer had some security checks of his own. After leaving Main Engineering on Deck 23, he stopped by the Science Labs where he had left Biynah with the linguist. They appeared to be working well together, albeit they were a bit fuzzy on the progress they'd made. Akiva had shrugged and chalked it up to the intruder alert.

From there, he stopped by Deck 18 to find Laena in Stellar Cartography. Only she wasn't there. Figuring she had taken refuge in her quarters, he quickly went to Deck 14. Her door chime went unanswered. Either her quarters were as empty as Stellar Cartography, or she was back to giving him the cold shoulder.

Akiva sighed with resignation and headed back to the turbolift. Clearly Laena needed her space. After his midday drinks with Major Garlake, Akiva resolved to give her whatever she needed, while at the same time doing what he ought to do as a man.

Easier said than done.

The turbolift dropped him off at Deck 2 near his quarters, where he would update his personal log with the events of the day while they were still fresh in his memory. He'd probably also take a change of clothes again. It had been awhile since he had dressed himself three times in one shift. In those days he was charged with keeping the ship running smoothly. Today, it was a different sort of mess that needed his attention.

When he opened the door to his quarters, he had already dropped the service jacket off his body. A few steps further, the doors closed, and he had his red shirt peeled off his back and tangled around his head. He nearly stumbled into the room, but his feet found their balance. His vision cleared as he blinked away the blur of his strangulating shirt, revealing Laena standing before him.

"Oh." He had spent some time running all over the ship looking for her. Now that he had found her, words escaped him. "I...I've been looking for you."

Laena was laying on Akiva's bed. She was looking a bit less formal than usual, only wearing a tight black v-neck and grey sweatpants. She looked up from the PADD and smiled, "I figured you would, that's why I came here," she said, brushing her hair back and pulling it into a ponytail.

"I... I went by your quarters." Akiva chuckled with nervous relief at the sight of her. "It was silly of me, but I thought you were there and wanted to be alone."

She shook her head. "The moment I heard what was happening, I came here to check on Biynah. She wasn't here, but I figured if she was scared, she'd probably come back here, so I waited for both of you."

Akiva rushed to the bedside and took Laena's hands in his own. "Barukh Ha'Shem you are well. I had hoped you only wanted to be alone... the alternative was too horrible to even consider."

Laena looked down at her hands, being held gently in his. "I did, at first. But when everything happened, there was only one place I wanted to be."

"With me, I hope." Akiva smirked as he fished for affirmation. It was the closest thing to flirting he knew.

Looking up, Laena nodded, "Akiva, I'm ready to give up my quarters," she said.

"You..." Akiva's jaw fell agape. "Well, this is good, because I am ready to give you mine." His mouth spread into a grin.

"I realized something during this." She pulled her hands away and pulled her legs to her chest. "When the ship was in trouble, there's only one place I wanted to be. Here, with you and Biynah." She looked at him, "I'm scared Akiva. I'm confused. I'm worried. And I don't know what I'm doing. But...I want to do it with you."

Akiva sniffed back an untoward emotional outburst. "Laena, that makes me so happy. I'm sorry that I ever doubted you. Please forgive me."

She placed a hand on his arm, "There's nothing to forgive. I love you."

Gooseflesh rippled up his arm at her touch. Akiva felt his breath turn husky at the sight. Her hand felt cool, but her palm quickly warmed against his arm. Slowly, his eyes glued to hers, he took her other hand and placed it against his chest. Several heartbeats passed from him into her. "This is yours," he said.

And then he leaned down to kiss her. Gone was the hesitant man from a moment ago who couldn't help but stammer over his words. Akiva felt a primeval and spiritual longing within him that he would not have denied even if he could. His kisses were fierce, tear-stained, and riddled with whispers of adoration that gave substance to the forceful passion he set upon her.

When their passion was spent, Akiva lay idling near a doze in his lover's arms.

"I think I'm getting the hang of this," he said playfully.

Laena smiled, her eyes closed as her head rested against his chest. "I have no complaints," she said.

Akiva chuckled at that. "If you did, would you log a maintenance request? Then I could conduct a diagnostic to achieve optimal performance."

Sitting up, Laena looked down at the man. "Is this a joke to you?"

"What? No!" Akiva balked at her reaction. "I... just... never thought I would be any good... you know." His lips pursed into a bashful smile.

Laena laid back down, "You're caring and gentle and soft, and yet strong and protective."

"Funny. I would say the same about you." Akiva laid back and stared up at the ceiling. Much of the advice he'd been given had swirled in the back of his mind all day. Now that he had truly reunited with his kallah, much of that advice began to make sense.

"There's something I must do," he said at length. "I am going to contact our fathers."

Laena's hand recoiled, as if Akiva's skin had suddenly become burning hot. "Why would you do that?" she asked, suddenly pulling the bedsheets up to cover her body.

"Because it must be done," Akiva said plainly. He rolled onto his side to look Laena directly in the face. "I know myself to be a coward, Laena, but you make me want to be brave. I have run from my father for more than ten years. I know you have done the same."

Akiva turned spirited.

"My father has all but disowned me for my past actions. I will not cower from him at a distance any longer. You are my wife, Laena, and I will boldly tell him that. If he disapproves, then I will add that my seed has blossomed within you, and that you are now part of the ben-Avram lineage."

He cupped her face with his hand. His thumb rubbed away an unshed tear from her eye.

"I know this pains you, so I do not ask that you join the transmission I have with your father--if I can even locate him. But I intend to tell him that I have claimed you. That any tie or claim he has to you is gone, and that the child you bear me will never even know his name."

His voice took on a tone of pleading. "Please understand... I must do this for us. For our future family. For our future home."

Laena pulled away from the man, pulling the covers even closer to herself. "You haven't claimed anything, nor do you own me," Laena said, her voice becoming firm. "I have given myself to you freely, and can take myself back from you at any point I choose."

"This misunderstanding again?" Akiva closed his eyes and muttered a silent prayer for patience under his breath. If they were going to work out, then he needed to be patient for the gaps in their cultures. "I never intended to imply ownership. No person can own another. We have traded ourselves to one another, and that means we can overcome the wrongs of our past together. I will tell my father to accept you or disown me. I will tell your father that I have found the treasure he forsook, and then dare him to do anything about it."

He paused for a moment. "You can leave anytime you wish... we could end our very lives and embrace death if we had the mind to do so. But... to live, Laena. I want to live, and I have found the life I want with you. There is nowhere else for me to go, and that means I must tell the two people in this universe that must know it."

A gentle hand reached for her shoulder atop the bed sheet. "I am sorry if this brings to mind painful memories you'd rather forget."

"I hate when you refer to things as 'this misunderstanding' when you know talking like that really bothers me," Laena said, taking the blanket from the bed and standing, pulling it around her. "There's a lot you still don't know about me and my past."

Akiva folded his head in his hands. "You know next to nothing about me either," he said with his voice muffled. "Are you always going to police my every word without even trying to understand what I meant? I've never done this before, Laena, so I need some understanding and consideration too."

"And I..." Laena looked down. She pulled the blanket over her shoulders. "I've only done this one other time. And it was..." She stopped, sitting on the end of the bed. "It was much easier than this."

"This is hard," Akiva agreed. "Very hard." He rubbed his hand through his hair. "But I will still do what I must. Part of moving forward is resolving our past, so that is what I will do." He sighed away his mounting anxiety. "Do you have any objections?"

Laena simply nodded.

"I would know them." Akiva reached for her hands and squeezed them. "There's nothing that I will do without consulting you."

She turned to look at Akiva, "I don't want you to contact my father," she said as her eyes glistened with a new wetness. "The truth is, I escaped the Syndicate. And I'm sure they were not kind to him for the loss of an asset. I would fear that if he knew where I was, he would tell them and they might come after me. And I can't..."

Laena took a deep breath, willing the tears not to fall "I can't live my life looking behind me. For once, I feel safe and secure within Starfleet. I wake up and I don't wonder if today is the day I am abducted and returned to a life I do not wish. And I do not want to live in fear. And your message to my father would accomplish nothing but to put my life in jeopardy."

"He won't have to know where we are," Akiva said, "which so happens to be nowhere remotely close to Orion space. I won't do this thing until you agree to it, yet neither will I let it go. It must be done, but only when you are ready and willing." He closed his eyes against his own grief.

"In the meantime, I will contact my own father when I can clear enough time for... recovery." He held Laena under the chin with his thumb and forefinger. "I will boast of the beautiful wife I have taken and the strong son or daughter with which she has honored me."

"He'll know I'm in Starfleet," she said, turning her head away. "That is too much information."

Akiva turned pensive. "There is more that you are not telling me. Isn't there?"

"When I was a young girl, my father sold me into the Orion slave trade in order to save his farm from going under. I hadn't even begun to transition into being a woman yet." Laena wiped at her face with the back of her hand. "For quite a few years, I was passed from one evil man to another, each abusing me in whatever vile and creative way each could imagine."

She took a deep breath, finally looking up at Akiva. "My human mother caused me to be very desirable and quite lucrative for the Syndicate. The first time I tried to escape, they punished me in a way you cannot fathom. The distance I've put between me and the syndicate is the only thing that keeps me safe from them. And my anonymity is crucial to that safety."

Akiva flinched at her words, but he pressed in nonetheless. "I would fathom if you told me. Anyone who would harm you must now go through me." Tears filled his eyes, but he willed them not to shed. "If you do, then I will tell you how I came to be so... cowardly."

Laena's heart broke at the words. For the first time, she saw the man before her as a kindred spirit in many ways. He needed her just as much as she needed him. Her hand went to his cheek and slowly wiped away the tears that were forming in the corners of his eyes. "Tell me," she said.

"My brother Omri died when I had just come of age," Akiva began. "Boys enter manhood quite young. I was ready to follow in my father's footsteps, to enter University and become a rabbi--a professor of law, history, and all else." He dropped his head. "But then the power surge happened. Parts of our colony have not been updated to current technological standards. We're... anachronistic in many ways. After Omri's death, my father said any fool should have seen the signs. And that any man with any sense in his mind would not have taken his younger brother to the power station in the first place."

Akiva clenched his hands into fists. "Father blamed me. His firstborn son who had been named a man. When I protested, he... he struck me. Told me I was too stupid and irresponsible to become a rabbi like him."

His hands fell open, revealing the rough callouses of hard work that his brief time in command had not softened much.

"I worked tirelessly day and night, for years and years, to prove him wrong. Eventually I proved the faulty relay system was a ticking time bomb, and that there was nothing that I could've done differently. That we were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. That Omri could have been spared if we had updated our infrastructure or used cybernetics to replace our outmoded robotics to spare human lives. But it was too late. The gulf between us was too great. My father no longer viewed me as his firstborn son, but a rival and upstart rebel."

Akiva finally turned his eyes back to Laena. "I joined Starfleet to get away from a home that no longer welcomed me... and now I am haunted not only by those demons, but also by the memories of what could've been." His tears gave way at last, no longer able to be denied release. "Ha'Shem help me, but I am not the man I am supposed to be."

Laena wrapped her arms around Akiva's head, pulling his face to her chest as she slowly stroked his hair.

There was more he wanted to say, but Akiva couldn't find the words. Never in all of his life had he ever shared that tale with another living soul. Emotions from decades ago clear up to the present day fought for their place in the sobs forcing their way through his gullet. Feelings of inadequacy. Failure. Shame. All melting away in the rising dawn of Laena's embrace.

"It seems we both have quite some baggage," she said softly, planting a kiss on the top of his head. "But we can handle it together."

Akiva halted his sobbing enough to nod his agreement. Words continued to fail him, so he returned her kiss against her shoulder.


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