The First Date
Location: USS Fontana |Holodeck 1
Timeline: 2393 - MD08 Evening
Soral had been working all day. He found the paperwork relaxing. They were on their way to the planet that may hold Stillwater and they would have some time on their hands. He'd sent a small box to Alex. Inside would be a few assorted chocolates and a note asking for the pleasure of her company on the holodeck after work. They had been living together for about a week in all and he hoped that she had enjoyed it as much as he.
Entering the holodeck, still holding the note, the ship’s Chief Science Officer offered a bright smile as she found herself in the great outdoors. Kind of. Technically she was in a stable, the doors on the far side opened wide to show acres of rolling countryside. Her eyes swept the room, the beautiful horses in each stall being cared for and groomed, the sunlight steaming through windows and some gaps in the wood, bales of hay piled high in the corner and the furthest corner housing what looked like riding gear.
“If you keep buying me chocolates, I’m gonna need to put in a lot more gym time,” she teased as she approached Soral.
He turned slipping his arms around her waist and holding her to him. It was a simple gesture yet it brought him so much strength. "Feeding you chocolate is the logical thing to do."
"And some people think logic can't be fun," she grinned. She held up the slip of paper, "I got your note."
"Indeed." He stepped back and motioned to he stables. "I have done some research and have realized something. We have never had what Human's call a date."
Her smile widened, clear amusement in her eyes. "You did some research...? Well, you are right, we didn't. We kind of jumped in at the deep end, I guess. I mean most people do the dating part and then maybe try living together. But I like us doing it our way. Unique, like us. So! What do you have planned? Please don't say horse riding because I have never done that in my life..."
He gave a nod. "Very well I shall not say it but we will try today. We will ride to a picnic spot and we will talk and have food." He raised an eyebrow. "I was unsure of one thing but I believe I have it covered."
"I was not sure if dates were exchange on these dates. I did pack a box of dates just in case." He said refereeing to the fruit.
She laughed, standing on her tip toes to kiss him, "that is kind of adorable. But no, dates are not needed. Just you. And me, obviously. The rest is just setting the scene."
His mouth turned up a little. "I wish you to meet someone. He is real and housed on Vulcan a holo here only though." He brought her over to a holo horse. Deep chocolate brown wit a white spot down the middle of his head. He was strong and had a long main. "This is Tango." Soral stroked the creatures head. There was obvious affection for it.
"He's beautiful," Alex commented with a smile, watching how relaxed Soral seemed with the animal. She kept a short, respectful distance. Animals - well holographic ones programmed to respond like a real animal - did not often take well to strangers getting too close too soon. Bones was the obvious exception.
He held out a hand to her. "Here. Give him some sugar cubes." He placed a few in her hand and stood behind her with his arm wrapped around her. The horse sensing her reluctance looked at her and nudged her hand as if asking for permission to take the sugar.
With Soral at her back and the horse waiting expectantly for the sugary treat, Alex opened out her palm and tried to hold it steady. Within seconds every single sugar cube had disappeared and she smiled softly. "That wasn't so bad."
"Indeed. Ready to ride? We'll both ride Tango."
Her relief at not being expected to ride a horse alone was palpable. "Sure," she nodded.
He saddled Tango with a double saddle. He helped Alex up and then set himself directly behind her. He clucked his tongue and the horse began a slow walk. "Comfortable?" He asked.
At the first step, she was certain she was about to fall and break something. Of course she didn't, with Soral there to keep her safely in the saddle. As Tango continued on, she remembered to breath again, although at his question the best she could manage was a nod as she held on tight.
Soral leaned over and kissed the side of her neck. "You will not fall. I will not let you."
She grinned, rolling her eyes, "what if you fall first?"
"Who says I have not already?" He said.
"Very smooth," she complimented with a laugh.
They trotted along for what seemed a good 30 minutes before the horse stopped. Soral swung down and held out his arms. "We are here."
Grateful to fall into his arms and have her feet on solid ground, she smiled as she took in his picnic spot. It was awash with colour from the nearby plants, the warmth of the sun was pleasantly warm and an old tree provided some shade. It was picture perfect.
He opened the saddle and laid out a blanket. He also removed the little basket he'd tied and began setting out the food and drinks. Tango he removed the saddle from and allowed to him to graze off to the side. "Your banquet awaits my lady." He said. He hoped that he'd gotten all her favourite foods, God knows he'd had to hunt for it.
"Wow," she breathed as she looked over the food and drink. "You have thought of pretty much everything!"
She saw a collection of small dishes, including Strawberries, and she realised how hungry she was. It was an eclectic mix from some cheeses to garlic bread, salads to a sealed container which appeared to be keeping ice cream suitably chilled. And, of course, the dates. As she knelt beside him on the blanket she frowned. "You brought enough food for you too, right?" she teased.
He smiled. "Yes of course." handed her a plate. "I brought ice tea, lemonade, and champagne. which would you like?"
"I may regret it in the morning but it would be criminal to let champagne go to waste," she decided.
He filled two glasses deciding to indulge himself. "Tell me about you Alex. I wish to know everything."
"You know most of it anyway but what else would you like to know?" she asked him curiously.
"Everything you wish to tell me. From your favourite colour to your favourite book." He took her hand. "Anything you wish my lady." He kissed the inside of her wrist as he always did.
Her cheeks flushed as he kissed inside her wrist, and she suspected he knew all to well how difficult he made it to stay focused. Taking a sip of champagne she considered it. "My favourite colour, no lie, is blue. But azure blue. You know, oceans not a big thing on Mars and not a big thing in Cambridge either but at the academy we used to scuba diving at weekends and it was amazing. The water so clear, and all the colours in this amazing underwater world... it was my favourite thing to do."
"Favourite book. I'm not sure I have one? Do I?" she frowned, seemingly trying to decide on this point. "I don't think research journals count. My mum loved reading classics like Jane Austin. All the romantic tales. I preferred the Agatha Christie books. She was a talent. But I couldn't pick just one."
"Then it is mystery that holds my lady's interest." He began to nod. "It makes sense, you enjoyed the scavenger hunt."
“I guess it is,” she nodded.
He stayed silent a while letting her speak more if she wished.
“What?” She asked, self conscious with the silence. “What else do you want to know?”
"Anything you wish to tell me." He nibbled a little on some cheese. "Tell me about what it was like at the Academy for you."
“Weird but good,” she grinned, “I made some good friends. I pretty much kept my head down and worked hard. Did you enjoy the Academy?”
"After a fashion. It was a fascinating time. I found a job and my own way." He looked at her. "I was known as the singing Vulcan."
“Well you proved you can sing,” she reminded him with a grin. “Very very well in fact.”
"Indeed." He studied her. Reaching out he touched her hair. "Curious."
"Curious as to why your hair fascinates me so. I feel as if I were a cat with a ball of string. I cannot resist touching it. It is not logical but most beautiful." He smiled at her then. A dazzling smiled he only reserved for her.
"It is incredible hair," she laughed as she leaned in to kiss him, "and I don't mind."
"One day," he said looking over at Tango. "You shall meet he real one. He is impressive. It took a lot to get him to Vulcan and he has adapted well to the climate." He thought a moment. "I'm glad you didn't go to Vashti with me." He said honestly. "It was... a difficult sight."
“I wish I was,” she confided, “to help you deal with what you experienced. I’m sorry you had to face it all.”
He took and held her hand. "I have never been able to explain it but Vashti has always felt like home to me just like Vulcan." He shrugged. "Seeing all those hungry people." He shook his head as if to clear it. He swallowed just past the lump in his throat. "I just wish we could help them."
Alex shifted so she could wrap her arms around him. She wasn't sure words could really ease the pain in his eyes. His sadness almost palpable. "I know you do."
"But enough of such things. I have an idea." He paused giving himself a further moment to come up with something. "Tell me more about the Academy. What was your favourite subject?"
"Biochemistry," she said without hesitation. "I was sad and even did an extra credit forensic science course in second year. That was interesting. I hated Ethics."
"Why did you hate Ethics?" He asked.
"For one thing, Professor Ejaryn? He had this monotone voice that just lulled you to sleep if you weren't careful. And he presented everything in such black and white ways - I mean, really? The biggest ethical dilemmas are not so straight forward. Like doctors triaging a patient or faced with limited choices. Who lives and who dies? If there is nothing to distinguish them, if there is nothing to say person A has a higher chance than person C... what is the right choice? Anyway, it was required so we went, we listened and did enough to pass. He hated my paper too."
"Hmmm no what was your paper about?" He asked. He shifted her slightly so that her head was resting on is shoulder and her breath tickling his neck. Laying back looking at the holo sky he allowed her voice to bring him peace.
"The ethical implications of the synth ban for patients diagnosed with silicon based virus," she recited. waving her hand through the air as if the words were written in the sky. "It got pretty deep but the arguments were sound. The ban was wide ranging, made in fear with little understanding of what happened and the repercussions went beyond the loss of what was essentially ship building tools. There were health implications too for the wider Federation. He didn't fail it, in part I suppose so I didn't annoy him again the following semester."
"I like your paper." He simply said. "I would love to read it."
"You might say differently after you read it," she grinned, "but I'm sure it will be saved somewhere. It was a work of genius after all. What about you, was there a subject you especially liked?"
"I originally went into science but I was drawn to security. I felt comfortable here. But to be honest. I very much enjoyed Diplomacy...and cooking."
"Diplomacy can be good, but sometimes don't you just wanna scream?" she asked. "And you are a great cook."
"Screaming is illogical...unless one is trapped somewhere and it would have an aid to being rescued."
"Unless," she countered, "you are trapped somewhere and running out of oxygen. Then screaming is counterproductive unless someone is definitely close enough to rescue you on time."
"Indeed." He sighed. "This is nice. I believe I like dates."
"The fruit?" she teased.
"No." He kissed her. "You, me, here. I like hearing you talk and learning about you." Something niggled the back of his mind.
She stretched up to kiss him back, "you forgot the hair..."
"I can never forget the hair." He studied her. "Let us play what if."
"What if?" she repeated, curious. She shifted so she could see his face more clearly. "What if what?"
"What if I did not have to marry T'Aurora. Would you consent to be my wife?"
"Sorry, what?" Her eyes went wide as she sat up suddenly, knocking over one of the dishes laid out on the blanket. Surprise was an understatement. Yet it was also more than that, it was almost cruel. A reminder of what they wouldn't have. Of their borrowed time. "That isn't funny, Soral," she said finally.
"I am honestly asking. It was not meant in jest. If I did not have to marry and was free to choose my mate I would choose you but would you choose me?"
"Yes," she said, "unequivocally yes. Which is why it is cruel. Because you are marrying her."
"I am still working on that." Then something else popped into his head. "I know of one way for sure to ensure no marriage but... you would not like it."
Her eyes narrowed, "wouldn't like what?"
"I am still working on how to get out of the contract but if not an opportunity has presented itself on Vashti."
"What kind of opportunity?" she prompted, weary.
"I met with a former Senator from Romulus. He is attempting to rebuild. All be it not the right way. He has offered me a role as Senator and aid in reconciliation to Vulcan. While I have no intent on working with that .... disgusting man there are others on Vashti who are trying to make a real difference. Perhaps I can help. we could... leave Starfleet, be together on Vashti, work with the people to ensure they have food and clothing. Help build a new world and maybe even help with a reconciliation with the Federation."
"Is leaving and living on Vashti what you want?" she asked him with a deep frown.
He shrugged. "I do not know. I just know I wish to have you in my life. I have never thought of marriage seriously before I met you and I find it...painful to know that I can have you yet never have the full relationship as I want it, a marriage. I am...worried about what would happen if I cannot get out of marrying T'Aurora."
"I don't understand," she admitted, frowning. "What if... so what if you do marry her? For the sake of your sister. What are you worried will happen?"
"I am worried that I will loose you." He simply said. "Worried that I will never have the life I want with you."
She was silent for a long moment as she sat beside him, her hand resting on his chest. "I want that life too," she told him quietly. "And I want you to be happy and have everything that you want. I just don't know how to make it happen. I don't know how to fight Vulcan tradition."
"I will find a way for us."
She cupped the side of his face, smiling softly, "Vulcan tradition doesn't stand a chance."
He felt content. He pulled her back down so he could hold her a little. "I think we will have to make dating a regular occurrence."
"That would be nice," she agreed as she lay at his side. "And thank you, for organising all of this."