Looking out for my Brother
Location: USS Standing Bear | Various
Maximus saw Alex working out. He headed to her corner of the gym. "Hello Redheaded Goddess." He said with a grin.
Landing a high kick on the bag, the computer chirping to register the hit, Alex turned at the sound of the familiar voice. "Hey," she grinned, not bothering to correct him. If the dinner party was any indication, it would do no good. "Staying out of trouble?"
He grinned. "I was never for staying out of trouble." He laughed. "Good that I ran into you. I wanted to chat with you, to get to know you a bit. You are after all married to my best friend."
"Ahh. You wanna be sure I'm not psychotic or something?" she teased as she went to the wall and deactivated the programme. The area immediately around the punching bag went dark. "Well, I was going to go wrap up here," she confirmed as she picked up her kit bag, "we can walk and talk?"
"Sounds good." He smiled. "I'm sure your not crazy. Soral isn't usually attracted to crazy. I just never thought I'd see him married. Not after..." he rubbed the back of his neck. "Not for a while."
"After?" she prompted when he broke off midsentence. "Come on, you can't say that - especially to a scientist - and not finish. I'll only assume the worst."
He sighed. "Evasta. Soral was in love with her and she hurt him. Badly. He said he would never allow himself to love. Don't get me wrong I am glad that he is in love and married I just want to make sure you won't hurt him. I was there to pick up the pieces. I don't want to go through that again."
"Oh." She fell silent, considering this new piece of information. After a moment she frowned, "and if you decide I'm as bad for him as she was?"
He studied her and smiled. "I don't get that vibe. That's why I want to know you. I really want him to be happy." He smiled. "Plus you can ask me all sorts of questions." He winked at her.
"Indeed," she murmured, echoing one of Soral's favourite sayings as she led the way out of the gym. "So, what exactly do you want to know?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Tell me about yourself. How you two met."
"We met here, on the ship," she said with a shrug, "I didn't come aboard as science chief, that came later. I was doing research and to be honest, I saw my lab and my quarters and that was pretty much it. Then an alligator fell on me - a stuffed one - and I went back to the gym too soon and ended up with a twisted ankle and Soral carrying me back to my quarters. Not embarrassing at all, obviously. And it just kind of went from there."
He smiled. "Yes...Soral has always been the night in shining...well pointy ears." He chuckled. "Stuffed alligator? This I have to hear."
"It isn't that interesting, the person who had the quarters before me left it behind by accident and when I finally opened the door - well, was better than a giant spider I suppose," she grinned.
He gave a shudder. "Do not even mention spiders. I'd rather face a thousand angry Klingons."
"A million angry Klingons," she agreed with a solemn nod.
He smiled, liking her more. "May I ask you a personal question?"
"Sure," she shrugged.
"Do you love him? I mean really love him."
"Yes," she said, with perhaps surprising confidence.
"Good. He needs that. He's going to need that."
It was an odd choice of words, ones which brought her up short. "What do you mean?"
"When he goes back to Vulcan to brake the marriage contract with T'Aurora." Amongst other things he was not sure of.
So he knew about that. She frowned. "Will it be bad?" she asked quietly.
"No. Not if the love is real. When the Mistress of Gol examines the link she will see it is genuine and she will void the contract."
"Examines the link?" Alex repeated. "Sounds uncomfortable... And his sister. Her marriage depended on Soral's marriage to T'Aurora. I've caused so much trouble."
He stopped and put a hand on her shoulder. "No you have not. You've pulled Soral out of something that could have destroyed him. I see new life in his eyes. T'Mari is married they eloped and frankly once a Vulcan is bonded it cannot be torn apart. Plus Fang...the Ferengi, I don't know if Soral told you about him. He's pledged his life to Soral after Soral saved his. He hates T'Aurora he'll move heaven and earth to ensure that doesn't happen."
Alex peered up at him, voicing what she was truly realising, "you know him better than I do."
"Soral is like a brother to me." He studied her. "Did he ever tell you about what happened on the Essential?"
"No. We talk but we tend to get... distracted," she resumed walking at that, sure her cheeks were as red as her hair.
He laughed. "Indeed. That says a lot about how he feels. Soral has never been distracted...at least not like that." He sighed. "How about we grab a snack and I can tell you what he's afraid to tell you."
"Okay, but I need to grab a shower and change first," she agreed, "you can keep Bones entertained."
He snorted. "Yes...his guard dog."
She hit his arm playfully, "no dissing our dog."
Although, twenty minutes later when she emerged showered and in a fresh set of clothes to find Bones on his back enjoying a belly rub, she had to admit the point was valid. Anyone willing to spare a few minutes playing with the puppy was instantly a friend, possibly for life. "Replicator or mess hall?" she offered.
"Ladies choice he said." Lifting the little puppy. "Okay off you go now." He stood and dusted himself off.
"Here I guess. I wouldn't want anyone overhearing something that Soral wants to be private. If your expectations don't extend beyond a sandwich, I can give you some real food," she offered.
He smiled. "That would be nice." He seated himself. "Thanks."
She retreated to the kitchen area, with Bones darting around her feet. Preparing sandwiches for them both she returned minutes later, setting down a plate before him. "What can I get you to drink?"
"Orange juice is fine."
Collecting drinks for them both she settled down into the chair opposite, "so, the Essential?"
"Yes." He said. He'd recently told this story to Vali and it felt odd telling it again but hell she had a right to know and Soral was Logic-ing it to death...If that was a word. "Soral and I served on two ships together but we really became close friends when we...kind of mutinied."
"Yes...he was the king of this particular one." He sighed. "We were on patrol at the neutral zone. The Romulans were evacuating and it was just a year after Mars...so we kind of had stopped helping them. So our ship got this distress call from a cargo ship. It was bound for Romulus."
"What happened?" she asked after a moment, his mention of Mars ruining her appetite as she pushed the plate away. "If it was a distress call, I'm assuming you followed protocol to assist?"
The cargo ship was Romulan, old, beat up. Staffed by Warrior nuns." He laughed. "Anyway their engines failed and they asked for help. There was a debate on the ship. It was...mixed. Some wanted to help, others not so much. In the end we helped. The nuns they asked us to help them move more people. The situation had started to be critical. The senior staff debated. Openly. In a blasted mess hall." He sighed his frustration clear. "We would not help them. The senior staff voted to uphold Starfleets orders we would not help the Romulans take people off the planet."
She knew Soral enough to know how close he was to the Romulans. How badly he felt for the decision the Federation made to give up on the evacuation. "I can't even imagine being in that situation," she admitted. "Go on."
"It didn't sit with Soral, me or a few others. He argued with the CO an XO. It was a no go so Soral hatched a plan. Of course the CO wasn't as...deaf to his arguments. He helped us gather the senior staff and we knocked them out and locked them in the brig. The CO would keep them from getting out. Soral go the rest of the decenters into the brig and took command. We headed to Romulus, full warp."
Considering this, Alex frowned, "hardly mutiny if the CO was complicit. Sounds as if they just didn't want to make difficult call...?"
"The CO couldn't. The XO was the son of a very influential Admiral." He sighed. "We got to Romulus. Soral helped ordered our transporters to work overtime to get the cargo ship full. He even filled the escape pods on the ship for more room. Then he got pilots to take the shuttles and the runabout and filled those to the brim. I mean shoulder to shoulder. He moved the staff out of their quarters and filled highly sensitive areas like engineering with our people sleeping on the floor in the J-tubes, same with the bridge and security office. Then he crammed the vacated quarters, crammed the entire ship with Romulans. They were in the hallways, on the lifts sleeping in the escape pods that were attached. When I say full I mean full. You could barely breath. The ship couldn't even hit full warp. We were over capacity and then some."
He sighed. "Soral...he was..."
"Obsessive? Determined?" she ventured, based solely on his description, that was what came to her mind. "Trying to save lives?"
Max smiled, "That too. But he was possessed. When he wasn't on the bridge he was helping with those that needed basic medical. He didn't eat, didn't sleep. He stopped many a fight on the bridge by our staff over sleeping spots." He sighed but there was clear hero worship in his eyes. "We limped to Vashti slowly but in that time I noticed that he was getting...sicker. I figured he wasn't sleeping and eating...but it was more then that. The doc...the CMO he came to me told me something was very wrong. Soral was dying. Soral didn't care he just kept helping. The Romulans were grateful the crew inspired. I was worried for my brother."
“Dying?!” Alex blurted out, eyes wide.
"Yeah. His first Pon Farr. It hit him like a truck. He used all his meditation and kept it in check for the most part." He sighed.
“The most part?” She queried. “What exactly does that mean?”
"It means they went away or lay dormant as it were." He paused. "Eventually we got to Vashti. We offloaded the passengers. We were getting ready to transport the senior staff down to the surface so we could make another run but they got out. We were tossed in the brig and off we went to the Starbase." He paused. "Soral made it through the trial, the CO stood up for us but Soral took the brunt of the blame. We were all reprimanded but him to a greater extent. He'll never have command, never be more then an XO nor greater then commander in rank. "
Taking a sip of his juice he looked at Alex. "He got sick again at the base." He sighed. "His symptoms...they surfaced again. The CMO at the base was a Vulcan. He moved Soral to quarters from confinement. "
“But he got through it. I mean, he’s here...?” She prompted.
"Soral had a girlfriend at the time. Evasta. She was a member of the crew, an NCO. They never bonded but they were seeing one another at the time so they spent a few nights together and the symptoms eased. I fact she convinced him to write a resignation letter to give up Starfleet."
"She convinced him that they should run away together get married. He would have done it too if I hadn't figured out all she wanted was for him to sell his land on Vulcan so she could get her hands on his money and leave him high and dry." He shook his head. "I'll never forget the pain he went through when he learned the truth. In the span of a few days he'd seen his career crumble the woman he loved had betrayed him. He was a mess. He swore he'd never love anyone again, never give anyone the chance to hurt him like that. He agreed to T'Aurora's terms, she was safe, no love and his sister would marry the man she loved he figured win win."
There was no more prompting, or questions. Instead Alex sat back, digesting it all. The entire situation, from the 'mutiny' to the betrayal, were circumstances she had never experienced. Yet she felt angry, at this woman. For Soral for the betrayal he experienced, for the consequences of doing the right thing. He deserved so much more.
Max studied her. He could see the wheels turning. "I like you." He said. "I can see why he let his defences down, I like you for him."
"I'm glad you approve," she quipped, taking a drink. "I was worried we'd have to call the whole thing off."
He laughed. "Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?"
"You caught me," she grinned.
He laughed. "Nice. But seriously. I told you all this cause I know Soral is afraid to. He's very much...scared of revealing his soul. He's been hurt so much. But don't give up on him. Okay?"
"I wasn't planning to, bonded, remember?"
He smiled. "Soral is my brother but now I have a sister as well."
"Be warned, I might be a bad sister, I have no idea," Alex told him as she took a long drink. "I could be the kind of sister that draws on your face when you fall asleep drunk on the couch..."
He snorted. "Oh boy." He was glad that they' spoken. He studied her. "So.. Alex. Short for Alexandra?"
"Only if your name is Soral," she replied, "just Alex."
"Yes I had a feeling he'd prefer that. You do know on Vulcan you will be Lady Alexandra."
"It's slightly better than red headed goddess," Alex pointed out.
He laughed, "That was all Soral. I'm afraid he worships you in a sense." He grinned. "So Alex aka Alexandra, aka Red headed Goddess tell me more about yourself."
"I have a very good right hook," she confided with a mischievous grin, "Science officer, obviously. Born and raised on Mars until I went to Earth to study."
He laughed..."So you are a Martian...and I suppose Soral is a Venusian." He waggled his eyebrows laughing at her expression.
"You two are so alike, like twins," she rolled her eyes. Unable to equate his humour with Soral. At all. "He's the funny one, right?"
He laughed. He was starting to like Alex more and more. "Indeed."
"Now that," she said, grinning as she pointed at him, "is one hundred percent Soral."