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Don't Be Afraid to Cry

Posted on Thu May 21st, 2020 @ 12:20pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Laena ben-Avram

Mission: S1E4: The Hills Have Eyes
Location: San Francisco
Timeline: MD 1


San Francisco, Earth


With Starfleet Command and every professional nuisance it represented behind him, Akiva set out on a personal errand. Well, rather a series of them. It was perhaps the first bit of personal time he had taken in years, what with the demands of service and family that he had found thrust upon him. One by one, his family had be stripped from him. Biynah. His baby. Laena.

Now it was time for him to do what manhood required of him. He was going to win his wife back.

The first step was the massive San Francisco Mercantile Center.


Mercantile Center - Style & Attire section


For his first step, he found a haberdashery. It was actually in the name: The Haberdashery. While Akiva found the name simple and helpful, evidently the bespectacled proprietor saw it as an ironic name as part of an edgy, retro motif. Absolutely nothing in there appealed to Akiva, perhaps because he was not an actual tourist and he was unfamiliar with ancient Earth culture outside of his Semitic heritage. The plushy animals, belt buckles, suspender straps, and foam fingers were a fine assortment of junk.

Evidently the proprietor's idea of greeting customers was to stare without blinking. Lionel, as indicated by the stitched lettering on his plaid shirt, did not seem to register human contact.

When Akiva finally made it away from that anachronistic boutique, it wasn't too soon. At least he managed a trim and clean shave that morning, but he still had nothing but his plain old uniform. Akiva had never been one for fashion. In fact, one of the perks of being in Starfleet was that he seldom ever had need for clothing outside of duty uniforms, dress uniforms, utility uniforms, sportswear and lounge wear. None of that struck the image that Akiva held in mind in his long-awaited reunion with Laena. He didn't want to be Captain ben-Avram. He wanted to be Akiva.

The problem was that after all these years, Akiva still didn't know who that was. With stakes being what they were, he had to seek professional help. And that is what led him to the clothing level of the Mercantile Center. Most of the other boutiques were crowded, which sent him into a panic. How was a consummate Starfleet officer who rarely spent time out of uniform supposed to choose? The fashion trends of Hebron Colony would not fare him well here.

Suddenly, something he did -- or, perhaps, failed to do, such as promptly move along -- alerted a virtual assistant that flashed into being in front of him.

"Bienvenue and good morning, Monsieur!" The boisterous hologram appeared with a thin mustache that spanned the length of his lips and not a millimeter longer. He was garbed in a luxurious onyx three-piece suit, a periwinkle bow tie, and a reflective, glittery vest of dark colors that began with indigo and went on from there to exceed the spectrum of human vision. "It is plain to see you are in a fashion emergency. But, have no fear, for you have come to Gush! It is here that you shall find creative fashion solutions for every trend! Come, now! Entrez s'il vous plait and I will sex you up, mon beau monsieur."

Akiva's jaw fell agape. "Uh... no... no, thank you. I don't need to be 'sexed up'."

"Aha! You misunderstand, but no matter." The hologram snapped his fingers twice overhead and summoned disembodied white gloves that began stretching tape across Akiva's hips, shoulders, and down along his inseam.

"What is the meaning..."

"Shhh..." Two holographic fingers were pressed to Akiva's lips. "Tis not for me, mon amis, but for mademoiselle. You are preparing for a romantic rendezvous, non?"

"That's private!" Akiva said.

"Aha, I see," the hologram said with a shrewd smirk. "Then you are to meet with a célibataire confirmé," he waggled his eyebrows. "Oui, oui?"

Akiva scoffed and shook his head. "No... no, I am meeting a woman, but not like you're saying. It's been awhile and I just want to make a good impression." He looked at the flamboyant outfits inside Gush. They at least made sense, unlike the Haberdashery, but Akiva still found them too gaudy for his taste. "Perhaps I should look elsewhere."

"Nonsense, mon amis! I have just the ensemble for you here."

Holographic projectors changed Akiva's uniform into a glittery nightmare beneath a black velvet fedora.

"Non, this is all wrong!" The hologram snapped his fingers, changing the holographic overlay to something else with a reverse color palette but had a feathery boa added to the fedora. "Pardonnez-moi, my algorithm results are still processing. Stand by."

And stand by Akiva did as every square inch of his body was adorned with one hastily compiled and horridly mismatched assortment of garments after another. Thankfully the hideous montage came to an abrupt end.

"Ah, oui! This is the one! Come, look in the mirror!"

Akiva turned to the full length mirror and startled himself. The man he saw staring back was a tall, dark, and handsome stranger whose mystique was enhanced by the all-black outfit. His hands slid into the pockets of the slim black blazer and tugged. Black shirt underneath, black slacks with the off-black stripe running down the side, the black leather penny loafers with red-lacquered soles.

"It is good! Simple, elegant, understated, all of which is ideal for a ne rien savoir faire de ses dix doigts man such as yourself." He held back a sardonic snort, covering it up with a happy clap. "Now give us a spin!" the holographic salesman jovially encouraged.

At first Akiva meant to refuse, but he chuckled at the suggestion and did his best. It was a meager pivot on one heel that flared his blazer outward. The action brought out a deep belly laugh. "All right, I have to say you did well." Akiva loosened his collar a bit, then unbuttoned it completely. "I can't deny I look good."

"Monsieur..." With arms crossed and hip popped to one side, a flesh-and-blood human could not have effected a more boastful disposition. "You are un coup de foudre!," it said with a hand flourish. "Go and get your mademoiselle!"

For the first time in ages, the small voice inside Akiva's mind did not argue. Grinning his delighted agreement, he said, "I think I will."


Starfleet Academy - First Year Quad


Clothes do not make the man, but in his new attire Akiva felt more confident than ever before. Perhaps there was something to be said for Earth fashion. He had been freshened up. He was suitably armored. All that was left was armaments. Having learned his lesson from their previous reunion, Akiva bypassed the floral shop and went straight to the chocolate boutique. Naturally there was a large selection, and as sentimental as he was feeling now, Akiva chose the large heart-shaped package full of diverse chocolates that he did not recognize. He was all but certain Laena was not allergic to any particular food ingredient. The shop next door sold wine, so he grabbed the first bottle he saw, and with these weapons of war in hand, Akiva had set out for love's conquest.

Even though he was not the only person in civilian attire on campus, Akiva couldn't help but feel he stood out. Eyes watched him as he carried his love gifts in search of Laena. Things hadn't changed much in the more than ten years since Akiva had last been here. Perhaps he was the one who'd changed. Looking at the cadets amidst their eating and leisure time, Akiva wondered if he had ever been so young. Time had certainly worn on him.

As he came upon the outdoor dining area, Akiva stopped to survey the crush of tables. Perhaps Laena was taking a meal. There could be no more perfect opportunity than that.




Apaxi looked happy. Far happier than when he was on the Ajax. The last half dozen years had aged him well. The first tiny hints of silver started peaking through at the temples, his powerful metabolism was slowing down just slightly, allowing for hips cheeks to fill up a little more, and to soften his waistline just a smidgen. If anybody would ask, he'd blame his wife and her pastries for that. He'd probably also blame his lack of free time due to a tiny human Nathalie and him had adopted a year and a half ago. And now he was eating pastries with another beautiful woman. One from his past, who he was smitten with once upon a time. He still admired her natural beauty, her soft lips, and the sound of her laugh. But the desires he once had quietly simmered out, replaced by friendship.

That friendship was reciprocated in the young Orion woman who had, herself, moved on romantically. Though she always had a place in her heart for Apaxi, her first love, she was too entangled with Akiva to ever consider anything with anyone else. But she loved reconnecting with the ghost from her past every couple of weeks when the Ajax returned to Earth. It was becoming almost a regular thing, them meeting for a coffee or a quick meal. The stability of it was helpful to Laena as she continued to recover from the loss of her baby and the big change of attending the Academy.

She smiled as Apaxi set down the bag in front of her, knowing he went to her favorite bakery on his way here. And of course, she stopped by his favorite coffee shop in the village for that Triskelion Latte he swears he couldn't get anywhere else. This was the ritual they shared.

"Do I smell cinnamon and walnuts?" she asked, taking a deep breath as she closed her eyes. The smell gave her such comfort, a familiarity that was hard to find on Earth.

Apaxi gave her a suspicious look. "Do you have me followed?" he asked before sitting down on the metal chair and cracking a smile. "And yes, but they aren't for you yet... Where's your part of the deal?"

Laena giggled slightly as she pulled out the two large to-go coffee cups and set them in front of him. "Have I disappointed you yet?" she asked.

"Well... there was this one time you brought me a soy latte instead of a proper one." Apaxi said as he pulled the lid off the cup and stirred the milk through the coffee and sniffed. "This really is the good stuff."

"It's not my fault the dairy farmers on Tisk Prime went on strike," she responded as she pulled out the two warm pastries and set them down on the flattened bag.

Apaxi took a healthy gulp of his coffee before answering, "Sure, hide behind the strike again."

"What about the time you got pastries that had raisins in them." She looked at him over the lid of her coffee, using it to hide her smile. "As if you forgot I was allergic to them."

"Oh, that was intentional. I wanted those muffins all to myself." Apaxi retorted with a grin, "Nat makes delicious things, but the woman can't make muffins to save her life."

Laena smiled, "How is Nat and the baby? Are you both getting enough sleep?"

From inside his jacket, Apaxi produced a small PADD and accessed his personal storage to show the ever-important baby pictures. "She's been a little 'haksi', though I swear she occasionally thinks she's... what did Nat call it, a 'Shedim'. Especially at 0300 when she doesn't want to sleep." The memory prompted Apaxi to yawn. "We're lucky our careers prepared us for short nights and looooong days."

Sliding over, Laena moved closer so she could get a good look. "Oh my goodness she's getting so big," she said with a big smile as she placed a hand on Apaxi's arm. She looked up at him with a twinkle in her eye, then back to the PADD. She swiped a finger over the interface to move to the next photo. "I see she has your hair and ears, but that smile..." Laena giggled, "That smile is Nat 100%."




Across the quad, Akiva first caught sight of Laena. Her dark raven hair had an ebony shine in the setting sun. The same golden rays made her soft, creamy mint-green skin gleam like polished jade. Akiva stood stock still for a moment, his breath stolen from his lungs.

"Kallati," he said. "My bride" in the native tongue of Hebron Colony. Just as he was about to make his move, another sight stole his breath away, but not for the same reason. In fact, it was quite the opposite feeling.

Apaxi.

Akiva knew the face. Though Laena did not much discuss her past, she had told Akiva about how she had nearly been married before. The revelation had made Akiva research the man. All in all, a very impressive Starfleet officer and overall specimen. And now Laena was grinning at him, sharing an evening meal and who knew what else.

It had been more than three months since they had last spoken. Now Akiva knew why. Fire welled up within him, though only a guttural grunt would suffice for the seething rage he felt. How dare she? How could she? The clack of Akiva's new dress shoes sang out as he began marching toward the happy couple.




The beautiful afternoon had turned to chilly evening. It was still April after all, and San Francisco wasn't exactly balmy this time of year. Apaxi held Laena's coat for her to put on.

"Do you know when the Ajax will be leaving again?" Laena asked, as she slipped into her jacket. She always asked this question, each time they ended their rendezvous. She knew what it was like for an Officer, having to leave home so much. But she was certainly glad he had a beautiful family to come home too. There was a small pang in her stomach as she thought of the man she called family, and how she had left him for her career. But she ignored the pain.

"Not for another nine glorious days." Apaxi replied as he grabbed his own jacket to put on. "I'm happy that these are only thirty day missions. If I had to be away any longer than that I would've put in for shore duty. Not seeing Amita for that long is already bad enough. She gets bigger every time I come home." Apaxi lead Laena through the quad. "So I'm heading home to see my girls. You want to come, I'm sure Nat has something sweet laying around?"

Laena smiled, "I had plenty of sweets this afternoon," she said, patting him on the upper arm, gently. "Besides, I have a xenobiology exam in a few days that I need to be studying for. Can I take a raincheck?"

"Of course you can." Apaxi replied and extended his arms around Laena, gently pulling her in for a hug. His nose automatically buried into her hair and he enjoyed the smell of it.

Laena leaned into his hug, enjoying the brief contact. "Please give Nat my best," she said as they separated. Lifting herself on her tippy toes, she kissed the man's cheek before giving his arm a squeeze and walking away.




Time and space came to a crashing halt. Akiva's indignant stride petered out as his feet turned to lead. There were words in his mind. Harsh words for harsh feelings. Before he could close the distance and confront Laena for spending time with a former lover when she had not so much as contacted him in months, Akiva saw the two rise. He watched them embrace. He saw Laena stand up on her toes, just as she had for him, and tenderly kiss Apaxi on his cheek. That was his wife! Or, at least, should have been. How many times had Laena told him he didn't understand her? Could he have been so wrong all this time?

Seeing was believing, though. After all the dreams and hopes of reuniting with Laena, there was no denying reality. Akiva had watched another man take the mother of his dead child in his arms only to watch her return that man's affections. Anger was not enough. Words were not enough.

Suddenly the wine and chocolate in his hands felt toxic, like profane emblems of his foolishness and cuckoldry. He slammed the box of chocolates onto the ground, then when his rage did not abate, he stomped on it. Then stomped again and again. The heels of his new dress shoes smeared brown with the shambles he had made of his would-be romantic gift. It served as a fitting metaphor for the shit that had become of his alleged marriage.

Next he raised up the wine bottle, preparing to shatter it like his heart regardless of the crowd of people watching his public breakdown. As he held it to his cheek, though, another thought came to him. A better thought. He uncorked the bottle and joined mouths with it. The sticky liquid overran his lips and stained his shirt. Realizing the bottle was already half gone, Akiva knew he would need more. Much more.

Loosening his collar and casting his bow tie aside like his hopes of ever having a family, Akiva stumbled away for the nearest public transporter station, eyes glistening with tears that he held back with only the deepest of sobs. Where he would go didn't matter. He had to get out of here. Far and away. Where didn't matter. Nothing did. Right now Akiva didn't want to be anywhere, but he would settle for wherever served a bottomless bottle.




Apaxi was played by Roderik Kos.

 

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