Tea and Talk
Posted on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 - 4:35pm by Lieutenant T'Lanna Vali & Lieutenant Talarn Zilth
T’Lanna hadn’t seen much of Talarn since their first meeting, so she decided to drop by and see how the Cardassian ex-Borg was doing. As much as she hated being reminded of her time with the Borg she felt an affinity with Talarn, simply because they were both once part of the Collective. Arriving at the quarters he shared with Stillwater, she pressed the chime and waited for an invite to enter.
Talarn had been picking up the quarters most of the morning. He wasn't the type to feel put upon for it though, no matter how messy it got. He was lucky to have someone to pick up after. He enjoyed it, much like he enjoyed doing chores on the farm back on Prairie. When he had finished picking up, he had pulled out some painting supplies and set up and easel in the living room. He had touched the canvas twice with the brush when the chime rang.
He looked up and stared at the door for several moments, going through a list in his mind of who it could possibly be. "Enter?" he called out, making sure he was loud enough to be heard.
Walking inside, T’Lanna smiled warmly as she looked at Talarn sitting ready to paint. “Hi Talarn, I hope I’m not catching you at an inconvenient time? I thought I’d drop by and see how you’re settling in?”
Talarn blinked at T'Lanna and tipped his head to one side, curiously. "Not an inconvenience, just surprised. I wasn't expecting anyone." His expression stayed impassive. He lifted the paintbrush and then looked at it and looked back at T'Lanna, lowering the brush again. "Would you like to sit? Or have something to eat or drink? There's a replicator... or I can actually make real tea."
“If it’s not too much of an inconvenience I’d love a real tea.” She smiled warmly. “Replicators do the job to a certain extent, but nothing beats the real thing.”
"Replicators are disgusting. Granted they can meet our nutritious needs, but that's not really food, nor does it taste like real food. Although, I have been told that I have a sensitive pallet." He shrugged and put the paintbrush down, crossed the room, opened a cabinet and started to retrieve a tea set, setting the pieces on the table as he got them down. It wasn't a fancy tea set by any means, and there was no decoration on either the cups or the teapot, but it was colored a nice, deep, hunter green. "Replicator food tastes like plastic to me. Seasoned plastic. Not saying that I won't eat it, because I certainly will, but enjoyment of it... not so much." He smiled stiffly and poured water into the tea pot from a pitcher. He also pulled a little hot pad from the cabinet and set it on the table, turning it on to let it warm up. "So... what sorts of teas do you like?"
“Me?” T’Lanna paused. “To be honest I haven’t tried that many varieties. I only drink it every now and then, when I feel like something different. What kinds would you recommend?”
Talarn snorted. "Well, then maybe a few questions... narrow it down. Do you like dinner or dessert the best? And do you prefer breakfast or lunch?" He grinned a little. "Believe me... it matters."
“Hmmm, now I have to say dessert and lunch.” T’Lanna smiled. “So how does that narrow down my choices?”
Talarn chuckled. "Well... with those decisions, I can assume that you like sweeter teas. Perhaps even something a bit fruity. It also tells me that you would prefer a light tea to a dark one. Dark teas tend to be heavier and require more... doctoring... with creams and sugars. You don't have any fruit allergies, do you?" He picked up the teapot and set it on the warmer. He also removed several small cloth bags from a drawer and laid them on the table as well.
T’Lanna shook her head. “No, I don’t have any fruit allergies, at least none that I know of anyway!” She smiled. “Can I ask you something? Do you experience nightmares?”
Talarn took down a jar of leafy looking things and started to stuff them into the little bags. "I made this blend myself. I think you'll like it. I don't really dream. My dependency on my cortical node keeps me with the need for a regeneration "chamber"." He actually made air quotes with his fingers.
“There are reports of crew experiencing nightmares, myself included.” She sighed. “A certain amount are usual but there seems to have been a sudden upsurge and I don’t have an explanation as to why. It doesn’t help that my implants are causing irritation as well, fortunately Ryan is an excellent doctor.”
"I'm glad the doctor can help you with your implants. I usually find myself in engineering for, what some would call, medical attention." He shrugged. "I still have aspirations. In that sense of the word "dream"." This time air quotes were not included, as he tied the little bags shut tight and added them into the teapot, one at a time.
T’Lanna watched with curiosity as Talarn tied the bags shut. “So what are your aspirations? If you don’t mind me asking.”
Talarn looked up at her for a minute as he dropped the now tied up bags into the warming teapot. "Ask anything you like. I'm not shy. As far as aspirations go though, I'm not sure anymore. I would say to get back to Prairie and back to the life Barret and I had there, but that might take awhile and things may change." He shrugged a little and put the lid back on the teapot. "I guess I don't have a lot of aspirations. I feel like I used to... but now... I don't know. How about you?" He sat down at the table.
“Me?” T’Lanna shrugged her shoulders. “If you’d have asked me that before I found out I was pregnant I’d have rolled off a whole list of career based ideas but now...” She shook her head. “I know I want to be with Raith, to make him happy and be with him, but as a mother I’m struggling with the thought that I’m going to have to be separated from my son. He’s not allowed to remain aboard ship which means if I want to keep my career, then I have to leave him with family whilst I’m out in the Standing Bear. Right now, I’m not sure I can face doing that!” She paused. “Thing is, if I leave I won’t be with Raith and I won’t allow him to give up his career for me.” She sighed and gave Talarn an apologetic look. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to go and blurt that all out on you!”
Talarn shrugged. "Everyone needs to vent. I understand your dilemma, to an extent, although mine doesn't involve the life of a child. I can only offer what I decided, which was to be wherever he was and try to find peace with that. Yes, sometimes it's painful and hard to understand, but we're together. I don't really think anything else much matters." He offered her a little smile.
T’Lanna nodded. “Thank you Talarn, you’re one of several people I’ve talked to about my feelings and everyone’s opinion has given me a different view and way of looking at this. I just need to, as you said, find peace with the decision I finally make.”
Talarn nodded and lifted the lid of the teapot to check the progress of the tea. The smell that wafted up from it was both fruity and earthy. "Mmm... almost ready. I never thought I would have a relationship. I was too worried trying to be a real person again for a long time. Relationships were the last thing on my mind. Yet, here I am, several years in and no end in sight." He chuckled. "Who knew."
T’Lanna smiled. “We’re both lucky in that respect, Talarn. I’m a lucky woman to have Raith and my son.”
Talarn stood again. "I'm sure this is ready." He picked up the teapot and poured two cups, then he retrieved the sugar and a spoon before sitting back down again. "I also have honey if you'd rather sweeten it with that." He set a tea cup in front of her and one in front of his own seat. "I hope you like it. Blackberries were my favorite."
T’Lanna picked up her cup and took a sip careful not to burn herself on the hot liquid. She offered a smile as she relaxed back in her seat. “Hmmm that’s lovely, it has a nice fruity flavour. I think I may have just found a new favourite drink.”
The Cardassian smiled a little and sat down. "I can program the blend into the replicator if you like. I wouldn't mind at all. I have several. I'm not sure the replicator will do it justice, but we can sure try." He sipped his cup of tea, looking at her across the table. "How long were you a Borg again? I know you told me, but my memory..."
“Six years,” T’Lanna paused for a moment. “I was only five when I was assimilated along with my mother. I was eventually liberated when an ion storm brought down the scout ship I was aboard. It took five more years of learning to be humanoid again after that.” She shrugged her shoulders and sipped her drink again. “I don’t ever want to face that again, I enjoy being me.”
"I had to reinvent "me"..." Talarn said softly. "There was really no "me" left. I was twenty-two when I was assimilated. Also along with my parents. I don't remember ever seeing them again. I was five of thirteen drones they took from our science ship. There were only about 23-28 people onboard anyway. I assume that means the rest of them died in a way that made them not useful anymore." He shrugged. "It was a long time ago... I'm just glad Barrett is into older men..." he joked.
T’Lanna smiled. “To be honest, there are still parts of the old me that are missing. Old memories I try to recall that are there, but I can’t reach them. They seem lost in a fog, but I’m not sure I want to delve that deeply, for fear of waking up memories of my time with the collective. I’d rather not remember my assimilation if I can avoid it.”
"That's about all I remember. I remember more of my time with the collective then I do of my family. Sometimes... some days it seems like the opposite." He snorted and sipped at his tea. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I like who I am now... not so much all the implants... but personally. I love my relationship I never thought I would have and I loved our life together... I still love our life together. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for everything that has happened to me. Whatever my life was before the Borg or during my assimilation... or even when I was an actual Borg... is all in the past." He shrugged. "Knowing or not knowing doesn't really make any difference. It won't change who I am now... either way and I wouldn't be who I am now without experiencing what I've experienced. I can't do anything about the past, even if I knew... even if I remembered everything... it's in the past. There's really only one thing that matters or that truly exists... and that's right here and right now."
T’Lanna nodded and smiled warmly. “Exactly! Our happiness now is what matters, the past can’t be changed, so why dwell on it. All I know is that I’m no longer alone. I’m not the only ex-b anymore. There’s you too. Plus, I have Raith, whom I completely adore. Then there’s my son, I feel... blessed.”
He eyed her teacup. "Is the tea to your liking?"
T’Lanna nodded and smiled. “Very much so!” She sipped it politely, enjoying it no end. “I could definitely get used to this.
A small smile played at Talarn's lips. "I'm glad. I will start putting the recipes into the replicator and see if I can get them to taste right." He looked over at her again. "What do you like to do in your free time?"
T’Lanna made herself more comfortable. “Well, I like to read, spend time in the holodeck, watch movies and practice my meditation, among other things.” She finished off her tea and put the cup down. “I’m slowly learning to enjoy more things as well.” She offered a smile. “I still possess Borg knowledge, as you do, I put to use if I need to, but I prefer not to if I can help it. The less Starfleet know of ex-b’s the better, I think, although I trust this crew, just not those we work for.
"I'm really beyond caring what Starfleet knows or doesn't know about Borg. I'm also not much for caring about what people think of me." He shrugged. Even though his words were a little harsh, to Talarn he was simply stating fact. "I am what I am. How do they say? Take it or leave it..." He smiled a little. "I can't do anything about what I am now and I refuse to apologize for it anymore." He tapped his fingers on the table, the metal tips making a distinctive rat-a-tat-tat sound on the surface. "Not that I feel particularly hostile towards anyone. Please don't misunderstand. I have repeatedly, as I'm sure you have as well, been treated like the enemy. I have tried to change people's minds concerning this. Lead by example... blah blah blah... Nothing changes anything. The only thing you really have control over is yourself. You can't change people unless they want it changed."
T’Lanna nodded in agreement, “I don’t try to change people, they take me as I am or not at all. That’s why I’m so pleased to have you here. We’ve both been through so much in our lives, we deserve a better life now.”
"I'm not sure I deserve anything," Talarn responded. "Or who is to decide what I deserve. Life is what it is. Nothing that I've done merits any sort of deserving. Becoming a Borg wasn't my choice... and unbecoming one wasn't my choice either. The only certainty that I have experienced with that is that it made me something different. No longer Cardassian, but not really Borg either." He shrugged. "I do have a better life now. Deserving though... No one owes me anything. We make our own destiny."
T'Lanna nodded. "I'm glad you have a better life, for what it's worth I'm glad you're here." She smiled warmly and looked at the time. "I should be going, thank you for the tea." She stood, ready to leave. "Anytime you fancy a chat or anything feel free to drop in on me or call."
Talarn stood as well and smiled. "You're welcome for the tea. Thank you for stopping by. I enjoy our chats. I will program the teas this afternoon. Maybe you can help me make them taste right, at a later date, of course."
T’Lanna nodded. “I’d like that. Thank you again it’s been nice being here with you.”
"You're welcome." He followed her to the door. It was only polite to see people out. "Thank you for coming by to check on me."