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Our Little Secret

Posted on Sat Mar 2nd, 2024 @ 9:44pm by Commander Arianna Frost & Captain Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E6: Where Skies End
Location: Akiva's Office
Timeline: MD2 - Late

Briefings and admirals and covert operations within secret missions all made for a month from hell. That actually tracked with the rest of the year. While Akiva has made Captain, it was in a position no one would ever know about. Even the rank was an act of pity from Admiral Nyel, Tau's predecessor, in a vain attempt to keep Mrazak corralled. Little good that had done.

From a failed marriage that ultimately never was to the loss of two individuals he viewed as children, Akiva looked back in his brief stint as a first officer with misery. He had been so insecure at that time, unsure of his place in command after nearly fifteen years in Operations tech and logistics. Somehow he shined bright enough that he ended up here.

HaShem worked in mysterious ways indeed.

What he needed was someone he could talk to. Someone disconnected from Starfleet and everything going on at present. It was nearly 20 years since his father had disowned him and had the family sit shiva as if mourning his death. Honoring their father meant upholding that, though there were always exceptions. Akiva wasn't dead. Pretending he was felt wrong on all sides.

On a whim, Akiva dialed in a subspace transmission code he had kept memorized but never used. It may cause trouble on all sides but he was out in the wind.

Yael bat-Shemmai sat in her office, studiously hunched over an old book. One would think the Torah, or perhaps one of the sacred texts. Yael was religious, of course, but she was also a woman who was a firm believer in fact and evidence. A scientist.

Sometimes the two were in conflict with her role as a wife and mother. Sometimes that conflict lasted for years.

Yael sighed and pushed round rimmed glasses up her nose when her desktop display clicked open, a red light signalling an incoming message.

The old woman sighed and tapped the control to...

"Live comms. Haben sheli." My son. Her heart sped up for a moment before she squashed it down and opened the commline.

While her expression was serious, her eyes shone brightly, almost on the brink of tearing up. "HaShem be blessed."

"Barukh HaShem," Akiva repeated. "It has been so long, eema..." Mother. "If I can still call you that."

"Always." Yael leaned back, observing the boy, no, the man on the other side of the screen. "Look at you, you have grown so much."

"I don't know about that." Akiva chuckled, his nervousness beginning to melt away talking to the woman who had birthed and raised him. "Older, maybe, but I do not yet know if I am grown. I hate to say it...but abba was not as wrong about Starfleet as I would like to admit." His eyes began to glisten. "Sometimes... I wish..." But he stopped. That wasn't why he reached out. "I feel lost, just as he said I would be."

"So do all who undergo big life changes." Yael smiled at him kindly. "When I married your father, I left a home and a life much different to what Chaim and I have built. But we made it work...mostly." She said as she reached out for a cup of now cold tea, a salt and pepper lock falling over her forehead. "Just because your father says something, does not mean he's always right. For the record I never said that." The corners of her mouth crinkled upward.

Akiva smirked along with her. "I believe I said that to his face a time or two." His smile faded as the pain awakened in his eyes. "I've lost people, eema. I took a goy to wife, except we lost our child and now she is gone. My spirit groans within me now." He paused for a moment. "I've despaired of my life. More than once."

Yael canted her head sideways a bit, observing her son. Pride swelled in her at his ability to articulate himself and bravery to express he was feeling anything else but strong and in control. Her son was human.

"Tell me of your life, bni." Son. She leaned forward, chin propped on her hand, observing Akiva, wanting to reach out and touch him, but unable due to distance, both physical and mental.

"I can't," Akiva said with a whimper. "I really can't. I'm stationed somewhere so classified that I can't reveal its name or remit." He stared at his mother with grief in his eyes. "I've never felt so alone..."

Yael nodded, she hated but understood the need for secrets. "What can you tell me? I would have anything, for as long as you're willing to be connected, my boy. Tell me who was this goy wife of yours who wouldn't stay?"

That was an entire can of worms all in itself. "She...was beautiful. And smart and challenging. She has been through so much, overcome so many trials. We... became intimate after working together. After awhile, she became pregnant but lost the baby after a few months." There was so much he had to leave unsaid that it made him sick. "Things were never the same after that."

Yael observed him for a long moment, her heart going out to her son. Her heart ached to reach out through the screen and embrace him and tell him all would be well. But they were both adults, and knew she would do him a disservice more than anything if she did so were she there.

"Who, or her?" She asked instead, wanting to see if she could help him resolve this issue instead.

"She did," Akiva said, "the first time. Then she returned and... I tried to let her back in but I think I drove her away again." His thoughts went to Ari. "Partly because there is someone else who has become special to me. I fear I have committed na'aph..."

Yael smiled at him. Did he not see his life was richer than he thought? She drove the urge to be the doting mother away. He clearly needed help through the fog surrounding his heart. She knew, as a mother who was so far away, this was the best way to help her first born.

She nodded first, to let him know she heard him. Then, she sighed. Relationships were hard, any way you put it. "Were you wed to your goy wife when this other person became special? Or was this after she left?"

"After," Akiva said carefully. So far he'd not revealed any identifying information. At least not to his ear. There's no telling what a savvy intelligence officer could glean though. "I don't know what to think anymore. Not just with them. With the mission. It's disheartening. Disillusioning. I'm wondering some days why I go on."

Yael nodded, listening, watching. She could plainly see his struggle, her heart aching to hold him even harder. But she knew she never could, not unless Chaim changed his mind. Which she knew would never happen. Once her beloved husband decided, there was no changing his mind, for better or for worse. As much as she loved that about him she also hated it, like now. Their son was suffering and their beliefs prevented healing.

Instead of voicing her dissatisfaction, she sighed. "Akiva, bni, there are no easy answers for your pain. Everyone bears their own pain in their own way. Whatever you think, be at peace with it, for good or for ill. You will never be able to please everyone with your thoughts or your beliefs, my boy. You are not meant to, either. The right people understand this and stand by you anyway. People come and go in life. The ones worth keeping are ones who come back in the end, who stay, who make themselves part of your life whether you want them to or not. You go on because you are brave. True courage is getting up every day and going back to it, regardless of how lost you feel."

Yael sighed again, hoping that he could read all the love she had for him in her body language, or the words she could not say. She had sat the Shiva too, though she had hated it, she had never wanted it. For the love of her husband and other children she did it. She had almost left Chaim over it several times in the years past.

In the end, she was still here, in silent defiance. "Tell me of this special one." She wanted to ask about the mission, more of his life, but he was clear that he could not speak of it.

"I can't," Akiva said. "Every one of my colleagues are classified. But..." He couldn't help but grin. "She's a real plasma conduit. Shrewd, crafty, brazen, methodical..." Words trailed off when they reached aspects a man would never share with his mother. "Uh... just a very beautiful person."

Yael smiled, a knowing look on her face. She nodded in acknowledgment of the restrictions. "I don't see na'aph anywhere in what you have said, my bni. Why do you believe you have committed it?"

"Oaths were made," Akiva said. "With the..." He almost said Orion but that would have breached protocol. "...first one. I've made a right mess of everything."

Yael reached out, touching her fingers to the screen. "Perhaps. Perhaps not. Whilst I hold our religion in high esteem and follow its tenets, I believe one must conduct oneself according to what is right for oneself as well. You are already suffering enough because of the Shiva. Have you acted according to your own beliefs and moral code? My moral code or your father's moral code does not matter. Have you acted in accordance with yourself?"

"Eema!" Akiva gasped in shock and forbidden delight at what she was saying. "No wonder Abba named me apikoros... I might have inherited it." It was a horribly dishonorable thing to say to one's parent but Yael was clearly not so orthodox as she would appear. He chuckled at the wrongness of the whole turn of conversation. "I fear I could have done better somehow. I've made mistakes that just made things worse."

"How are they worse, though? You speak with resignation of one and with fire and joy of the other." Yael pointed out. "I know you cannot detail...tell me what you can?" She pressed. "Perhaps you could have done better, yes. Perhaps it would have helped, or the result would have been the same. Or perhaps you are meant to do better going forward. Do not be stuck in the past like your father, Akiva. I have made many mistakes in my life, and your Shiva was one of them. I cannot undo it, but I have learned from it. Unlike Omri, you are still alive, regardless of what our law says. I will not mourn you a second time, bni, so I will be here, for as long as I can, in this distant, limited capacity. Don't make the mistakes we made, please."

Omri had been the beginning of the end for them all. His death devastated everyone. Akiva took the brunt because the industrial accident sparked a heated debate between Akiva and Chaim that eventually turned into an irreparable divide.

"What now?" Akiva realized the question applied to them both.

"You live." Yael said, trying to keep the quivering emotion out of her voice, her amber eyes shining with unshed tears. "I have made my bed, so I have to deal with it. Yours is still well unmade and you have time to decide what you want with your life. All I ask is you try and live forward, not backward."

"How do I live when I don't know what to do?" Akiva asked. "You should know that I kept myself chaste until I took the first for betrothal. I turned her out. Now I cannot return to her. But she was not unfaithful as I had thought. How can I take another as..." What started out as a statement turned into a confession. Akiva saw Ari as a potential bride. "... as a bride with another left in the wind? 'Let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth,' say the prophets."

Yael nodded, "do you wish to return to your first wife?" She leaned forward, index fingers touching together, fingers steepled together. Index fingers touched her nose. "With your...condition, you are not inextricably bound to our laws anymore, son. If you choose to do so, then that is what you will do. But you can choose your own path. It is what I wish for you. To choose your own path. The life you lead now, it clashes with our beliefs more than it yields to them, no?"

"Sometimes," Akiva said, his voice dropping to a hoarse whisper, "but... they're all I have left. I have to find the way through."

Yael nodded, "I have faith that you will, my bni. You have come this far."

"Thank you, eema..." Akiva wished had the same faith she did. "I hope you don't come to any trouble for taking my transmission."

"Don't worry about that. I can handle your father if he ever learns of this." She said with a wave of her hand. "Let's not take another twenty years, hm?"

Right. The highest authority of man with which his mother would ever have to contend was his father. No admirals. No taskmasters. No treacherous Vulcans Without Logic. No ghosts in the machine. Just stodgy, old rabbis and the Sanhedrin composed of them. If Akiva played it right, though, she would never know of any of his demons. "Amen, eema. I'm sorry that I cannot give you any direct means of contact."

"Don't be, Akiva. This has meant more to me than I can put to words. Chazak u'varuch, bni." Be strong and blessed, my son. Yael touched her hand to the screen again.

Akiva sat frozen for a moment. "Eema... Ani ohev otah’..." Mother... I love you.

"Ani ohevet ot’h’a." I love you too. Yael smiled softly. "Be well, Akiva."


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