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In the Pool

Posted on Thu Nov 5th, 2009 @ 12:13pm by Chief Warrant Officer Akina Jrez

Mission: Ties To Blood: Season 1, Episode 3.
Location: Holosuite

OOC: A late entry in the competition.

Hot water swirled around Jrez and Thalal’s bodies. Mineral laden steam filled their nostrils with a distinctly metallic tang. It was peaceful and calming in Thalal’s Japanese hot pool holoprogram. It had cost an arm and a leg to book the holosuite at short notice and the Ferengi bar owner, Toka, knew how to extract full payment but Jrez was glad that they’d finally gotten some time together.

He settled back in the water. He was much more at ease with Thalal’s nakedness now. He wasn't averting his eyes from the sight of her. In fact, tonight he was feeling positively amorous, cuddling up to her and fondling her. Absence had, for his part, indeed made the heart feel fonder.

Strangely, it was not the same on her part. She was rejecting his overtures. She seemed distant, preoccupied.

She tried to move away from him. When she made to insist, he held her firmly. Damn, she thought, why did you have to pick tonight of all nights to get frisky?

Jrez pondered Thalal’s mood. It could just be reaction to the trauma of the last few days – they’d been through a lot, what with the Borg incursion then the captain’s problems. He did not think that was it. There was something else, something deeper. From what he’d seen of Thalal, physical danger wouldn’t cause this level of distraction. There was another possibility though. Thalal had never mentioned it but.... He decided to take a risk.

“You're going back to Andor,” he said.

Thalal sat dumbfounded.

Jrez smiled but said nothing further until she'd recovered.

“How do you know?”

”You're Andorian. You feel the pull of shalthreth.” Again he waited. She did not answer but the look on her face invited him to continue. “You know Andorian population numbers are shrinking and your bondmates can't do anything about it without you. Your thaan and chen each carry half the chromosomes on the male side but it's your shen whose egg they'll jointly fertilize. All's fine up to that point but they need you. You're the zhen. It's you who'll take the embryo and carry it to term. There’s no point in the other three going forward without you but they only have a short window of opportunity when they’re all fertile.

“Oh, don't look at me like that, Thalal,” he said. He pulled her in close to him. “Andorian sexuality is no great mystery and nor is the very real threat to your population numbers. Go! Go back to Andoria. You must go to them; they can’t come to you. Go and fulfil the need that's driving you. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your people. Thalal, if you don't do this you'll regret it the rest of your life.

“But....” She wanted it, she needed it. Shelthreth was more than just an act of reproduction; the chan, thaan and chen became bonded in a way that went beyond mere sexual union. It was...there was no way to describe it; not to a non-Andorian, certainly not to Akina. There were no words for it in any other language. It bore aspects of love and empathy and fellowship but it was none of those. At the same time it was all of them and more.

“And if I didn't let you do this,” Jrez said, “I'd regret it for the rest of my life. If I held you back for my own selfish reasons – even if I justified them in terms of keeping us together or building our relationship or otherwise acting in your interests – still I'd regret it.”

Now it was his turn.

He could tell Thalal was about to say something more, to try to come up with some new argument for staying on 611. He put a finger softly to her lips.

“You might have noticed I've been a bit unfocused at times lately,” he began. “Two of the former Jrez hosts have been conducting an all-out verbal war inside my skull.”

Thalal caught the serious note in his voice. “What over?” she asked, her own concerns forgotten for the moment.

“Not what...who.”

“Who?”

“Yes, Thalal...who. You're the subject of their ongoing acrimony.”

In an instant she was no longer the lover, she was the Security Officer. She looked at him, all ready to defend herself “Me? What have I done?”

Jrez could see the worry in her eyes. He hugged her tenderly. “It's not what you've done, Thalal, it's who you are. Erial Jrez was on Vulcan at the time of the P’Jem crisis. His thinking is deeply prejudiced by the reaction of the Vulcans.” He proceeded to explain Erial’s subsequent actions at to inhibit any sign of accord between Andorians and other species.

Thalal felt her gall rising. She pushed herself out of Jrez's grasp, unable to believe he was supporting the Vulcans. Her face became rigid, her eyes hard. All pleasure in the program had evaporated. She made to rise, unwilling to share the pool with this man a moment longer.

Jrez reached out, took her shoulder and gently pushed her back down.

“Thalal,” Jrez pleaded, his voice soft and soothing. “What I'm telling you is Erial's opinion. He can be rabidly anti-Andorian. It was he who outlined Andorian sexuality to me. I knew you had four sexes and I knew your numbers are diminishing but beyond that.... I didn’t know how you actually manage to procreate and while I had a vague notion that four cornered liaisons might have something to do with dwindling numbers, that was all it was, a vague notion. It was Erial who filled in the details.”

Thalal made to reply. She saw Jrez's eyes suddenly glaze over and, thinking he was ignoring her, she raised her hand, ready to slap some attention into him. Her hand was hovering – she was not a violent person for all that Andorians had a reputation for striking first and thinking later but Jrez's outrageous attitude was getting under her skin.

With a violent shiver, Jrez came back to the real world. “Forgive me, Thalal but Erial can be demanding at times. Believe me, his instruction wasn’t out of any sense of goodwill. It was more along the lines of so, what are you going to do about that? and sooner or later, she’ll go back to Andor. What will you do then? When that didn’t work, he insisted on reminding me of Tarah's virulent xenophobia at P’Jem and wanted to paint you in a similar light. Basically, I told him to shut up.”

Thalal's hand was shaking. She wanted to believe Jrez but all her instincts told her the could not be trusted. All the old anti-Vulcan emnity boiled up inside her, threatening to overwhelm reason and common-sense and her certain knowledge that for all Vulcans might have once been, they were not that now. Nor, she told herself were Andorians. Violence was not the answer. Slowly, her hand came down. The muscles in her face relaxed as composure came back to her.

“So.... Erial Jrez did you say...? Erial's been hounding you for me being Andorian? But you said two of the former hosts have been arguing. Is one taking the Andorian side?”

Jrez hesitated but honesty was imperative here. “Not exactly,” he admitted. “Amizel was a diplomat. She was heavily involved in negotiations aimed at Trill joining the Federation. It was one of the lengthier episodes. Most Trill aren't xenophobic and we don't normally harbour antipathy towards other races like Erial did towards Andorians. We interact with other races but we do tend to hold ourselves apart, both as individuals and as a race. We didn't, for example, reveal that some of us are joined. It wasn't that we didn't want other species to know, it was more that being joined is so much a normal part of our lives that we don't normally mention it. Amizel's been trying to remind Erial that the bitter Andorian-Vulcan conflicts were all over two hundred years ago. Unfortunately Erial's attitude is one of once and Andorian, always an Andorian and a leopard can't change it's spots.

“And you...?” Thalal asked, suspicion still lingering in her voice.

His eyes searched her face. He could see she wanted to believe him but was not quite ready to completely lower her shields. “Thalal,” he said, “I'm my own person. The former hosts are part of me in a way I can never even begin to describe but I am my own person. All the hosts gave their lives to the Jrez symbiont in a very intimate way and I carry their lives inside me. They influence everything I do – for better or worse. Thalal, in many, many ways, Akina Jrez is the product of all the lives the symbiont has shared but I am Akina Jrez. I'm not Erial Jrez or Amizel Jrez or any other of the former hosts. I'll say this though, I'm glad I confided in you. I feel much better for it.”

Now it was Thalal's turn to search Jrez's face. She expected to see duplicity but found nothing beyond open warmth. “Akina, I almost hit you.”

Jrez tenderly took hold of the offending hand. Lifting it to his lips he kissed it. Then he took hold of her head, his hands framing her face. “You didn't do it though, did you?”

“I hated you. I wanted to hurt you, to drive your anti-Andorian sentiment out by brute force.”

Jrez did not move. “But you didn't. That part of you that's so calm and collected when in action held you in control now. You didn't give in to the base urges which were driving you. Hold onto that.”

“But....”

“No buts, Thalal.” He drew her face to his and kissed her. Her mouth opened to his; she held him close; tightly, desperately.

Jrez eased himself out of her embrace. He put his lips to her ear.

“No buts,” he repeated softly.

 

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