SIM:T'Lea Katra Part 1

JP Lt. Della Vetri & Lt. T’Lea – Popping The Question

((USS Constitution-B, Unassigned Quarters, Deck 39))

The room was sparse, with only the bare minimum of furniture installed, but that only served to accentuate the lack of space. The lighting was dim, a detail Della had seen to in an attempt to minimize the chances anyone would notice the power drain, and the fact these quarters were not as empty as they were meant to be.

A lone white candlestick burned on the plain, ordinary dining room table. There was a faint, soft aroma produce from the melting wax -- it was supposed to have a therapeutic calming effect. Calming was exactly what T’Lea needed right now. She was a nervous wreck, despite the hour of meditation she’d forced herself into.

The Romu-vulc paced by the front door fidgeting with her hands and mumbling words that she’d recited a million times in front of the mirror until it was perfect. She wore casual clothing. A type of Vulcan Karate pant, black, and a slinky silk top, also black, that clung to her every curve. Her guest was going to be here any minute and suddenly she was forgetting every word she’d committed to memory.

Pull it together, she thought as the gleeful door chimes scared the dren out of her. You can do this, she reaffirmed steeling her sights on the door panel. As the entrance parted T’Lea took a slight step back to get a full view of the beautiful Trill that she’d been preparing for all day. Della Vetri.

There she was…. and suddenly T’Lea’s mind went completely blank.

Vetri: Should have thought of this one before...

Stepping through the open door, Della shifted the sleeping bag she had tucked under her arm, then simply dumped it on the floor. She could have blamed that on a disregard for neatness, but the truth was that the sight of T'Lea standing in the low light, obviously waiting for her, made something in her mind short out a bit, and she completely forgot for a second *why* they were in this situation to begin with.

Vetri: Um. Wow. You look... ::Somehow, she managed to get her head and feet talking to each other, and stepped further into the room:: I... You're taking this better than I thought. If you want, I can head back out for a while, give you some time to-

T'Lea:  ::sharply:: No.  ::calmer:: No. You’re fine. It’s fine.

That sounded desperate, thought T’Lea. Desperate and pathetic. But if Vetri walked out of that door the hybrid was sure she’d lose whatever little conviction was left to do this.

Vetri: You sure? I mean, I was expecting maybe a bit of annoyance or something, but this...

Trying hard to ignore the part of her mind that was imagining what could end up happening between the two of them in close quarters like this, she watched as the hybrid moved a little, a subtle change in posture that brought to mind a predator lying in wait.

T'Lea: It’s not an issue. Well, it *is*, but not tonight. Not right now. Stay. Please.

Vetri: ::smiling uncertainly:: Okay, I'll try not to get in the way or anything.  ::a few seconds of awkward silence, then...:: So...

Moving to dig around in her bag for one of the things she'd brought from her quarters, T'Lea glanced back to see Della with uncertainty, taking in her surroundings.

T’Lea: The replicator is only operating at half power, it may be slow, but could you order us a couple of glasses. How are you with Romulan Ale?

Happy to have some mundane task to distract her, Della did just that, then headed back over to where the hybrid was standing.

Vetri: As long as it's not too much, I should be fine.

Turning as Vetri came up behind her, T’Lea uncapped the bottle of blue liquid and poured. Her hand slightly overlapped Della’s as she steadied the glasses that were held out to her one by one. There wasn’t much of the booze left -- just enough for the two of them. T’Lea would sip hers gingerly to make it last the night, but hopefully the high alcohol-proof would disintegrate the butterflies in her stomach right now.

T’Lea: Go easy then. I’d rather not get you drunk like last time.

Vetri: Yeah... I was a little worried for a moment you might have some more of those berries hiding somewhere. At least this time there's just the two of us.

As she said it, Della realized that her humorous little comment wasn't as funny as it had first seemed to her. After all, what had ended up happening on Gaia hadn't exactly been what she'd hoped for...

T’Lea gave an unsure smile and set the empty bottle on the table before heading toward the replicator, where she hovered like a fly. She was certain Della could tell that she was anxious. The Romulan hybrid wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding her jitters.

T’Lea: Are you hungry?

Vetri: Not ravenously. Not for food, anyway. I'd be more tempted by ::grabbing a good, solid hold on her own brain, she made darn sure what she intended to say was what actually came out:: knowing for sure what's got you so on edge. Apart from the obvious, anyway.

Turned away from the Trill as she pushed in a chair at the table, the hybrid let her expression slip. She briefly closed her eyes, feeling exposed.

T’Lea: Am I that transparent?

Vetri: ::smiling a little:: Just a lot, yeah. Sorry.

Gulping a big mouthful of Ale to fortify herself, T’Lea faced the Trill with a gesture to the sofa. Her nerves may have betrayed her to Della, but she still needed to work up to this in her own way.

T’Lea: You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve… never done this before.

Taking the glass with her, Della set herself down as T'Lea had suggested, trying to keep her own nerves out of her body language.

oO *You've* never done this? For God's sake, every host so far has been straight as a darn ruler, and now I'm... Oo

Obviously, her grip on herself wasn't as strong as she hoped, and even her thoughts trailed off as she watched T'Lea approach. More accurately, she watched the flow of fabric over the hybrid's body as she moved, and she had to take a quick sip of ale to counter the fact that her mouth had suddenly gone bone dry.

Vetri: ::softly:: No rush... oO Oh, frak. How lame was *that*? Oo

As she sat near Vetri on the couch, T’Lea rolled her glass between her hands and stared into the blue liquid hoping to find those words she’d practiced so hard. She was just waiting for the start of the conversation to float to the top in a way that wouldn’t make her sound like a fool. So far, nothing.

It was surprising, really; for once in her life the strong-willed, self-confident woman couldn’t muster the courage to ask Della the intimate question throbbing at her mind. Maybe it was the fear of rejection. It was definitely that.

With a quick glance to the woman beside her, T’Lea changed the subject, as if she’d lost her nerve.

T’Lea: How are you? How’s Vetri?

It took Della a moment to register the change of topic, and she immediately felt a surge of gratitude toward the woman sat beside her. First time or not, T'Lea seemed to be a whole lot better at this than she was...

Vetri: Fine. Good. We're both good.

T’Lea: And Rynn? Has he given you any more trouble?

Vetri: No more than usual. Since I had a little chat with him, things seem to be mostly back to normal. Which I guess is a good thing, what with the wedding coming up and all.

The Romu-vulc hesitated, hunting down more conversation to be had in the warm silence. The damn aroma therapy wasn’t helping. She should have just taken a drug.

T’Lea: As I understand it, the Symbiosis Commission puts prospective hosts through a rigorous selection procedure.

Vetri: Rigorous... That's one way to put it. The wash-out rate is unbelievable, and even then... There really aren't that many symbiotes to go around.

T’Lea: Who was your field docent?

It sounded like T’Lea had done her homework, and had taken a keen interest in the whole Trill society and rituals, and in particular the Spotted-One in her quarters.

Vetri: Just full of questions tonight, aren't you?

Her smile was hopefully enough to show T'Lea she was kidding, and she took another sip of the potent blue liquid in her glass before speaking again.

Vetri: Hell, I haven't thought of him in years... Travi Mal. Good guy, but didn't take any dren from anyone. I don't think I'd have made it without his help. ::giving T'Lea a sidelong look:: Reminds me of someone else I know...

T'Lea's slight shuffle where she sat showed that she'd picked up on the hint, and Della was glad to see that she wasn't entirely unhappy with the comparison. She waited for a few moments, hoping the hybrid would speak again, maybe saying something that would help dissipate the nervous tension that had wrapped itself good and tight around Della's stomach.

T’Lea: I read somewhere that only one in a thousand make acceptable hosts, and that if the host is weak the symbiote’s will overpowers their personality. You don’t seem to have a problem with that. You're strong you just need to believe in yourself more.  ::pointing off the glass she held in her hand:: In fact, I think I can tell the difference between you and the symbiote.

The laugh that provoked was a total surprise, to both of them, and Della set her glass aside as she sat back on the couch.

Vetri: You should have seen me right after the joining. Freaked the hell out of my dad when I complimented him, quite bluntly, on how hot my mother looked. Of course, it was Tomas that was expressing the opinion, but still...

A nervous chuckle. Another sip. A troubled sigh. T’Lea felt and heard Della scoot a little closer, perhaps out of concern. And now T’Lea was starting to worry about herself too, wondering if she could muster the strength to say the words, or if it was going to eat her alive. Della’s new proximity encouraged her though. Being that close to the woman -- she was gladly getting comfortable with it.

Okay, thought T’Lea, you haven’t scared her off yet. That’s a good sign. Out with it already.

T’Lea: I have a confession to make.

The woman's discomfort had sobered Della's humor pretty quickly, and even though she'd shuffled a bit closer, she still felt an urge to offer some more support, and tentatively reached out a hand to rest on T'Lea's leg, fighting the urge to yank it back when she realized she could feel the heat of the hybrid's flesh through the fabric. Desperately, she tried to think of some way to distract herself, and T'Lea, from how much she wanted to close the distance between them, and not just their bodies.

Vetri: If it's that you're really a man, I think I can bring myself to accept it.

The look on T'Lea's face was an interesting blend of amusement and frustration, and Della shook her head with a small laugh.

Vetri: Sorry. I think I may have been hanging around a certain Security Chief too much...

T'Lea:  ::a short-lived smile:: He has that effect on people.

She traced the lip of her glass with her finger. She could feel the rounded edge against her fingertip and the area where the liquid had dried. It was a little sticky and Della’s hand was giving a penetrating warmth on her thigh. It only seemed to resolve her decision.

T’Lea: Earlier, on the Bridge. I didn’t just ask you to meet me for dinner and a casual chat.

She kept her head down, cupping the glass in both hands now, back to searching the blue liquid for courage. Her expression changed from nervousness to exposed and vulnerable with a hint of fear on her brow.

T’Lea:  ::softly:: The truth is, I want more out of our relationship.

Whatever Della had been expecting to hear, that was about as far from it as it was possible to be. Her mind went utterly blank, and it took a few silent seconds before she could manage to put words together.

Vetri: Um... Okay... Um...

Okay, perhaps not, but she at least had some kind of control over her body again now. Gently, she took the glass from T'Lea's hands and set it aside before raising a hand of her own to gently brush over the Romu-vulc's brow, trying to smooth away some of the tension she could see there. This close, she could feel the woman's nervous worry, and only the memory of what she'd found out about T'Lea's implant stopped her from sending some empathic reassurance into her.

Vetri: Not exactly what I expected to hear...

T'Lea: Not exactly what I expected to say… and yet

There was no pause, to which Della seemed to finish her thought.

Vetri: ::smiling gently as she shifted her fingers to run through T'Lea's hair.:: I'm still here, aren't I?

Almost immediately, she was silently cursing herself as the hybrid pulled away, rising to stand a few feet away. Too much, too fast, but that was hardly surprising, given that her total romantic experience consisted of a high-school crush that evolved into a broken engagement.

Vetri: ::gently:: Sorry. Guess I'm still feeling a little of what happened...

Fortunately, she managed to avoid finishing that sentence with the words "with Tash". Even with her total ineptitude when it came to this kind of thing, she knew that would be a staggeringly dumb idea. Sadly, the woman she was talking to was far from stupid...

Indeed the Romu-vulc had extracted herself from the couch and Della, but not for the reasons Della had betrayed. T’Lea got up from the sofa to further explain her intentions, but now that she was witnessing the Trill’s awkward reaction to her sudden withdrawal, the hybrid quickly and correctly came to the only logical conclusion to be had. After putting all the past and present pieces together, it was as if a veil had been lifted. T’Lea finally got it. Della had feelings for her, and she’d nearly seduced the woman tonight. Frelling moron, she silently cursed herself.

The professional part of Della's brain knew full well that the way she wrapped her arms around herself was a way to try and block herself off from the mess she was making on this whole situation, and the more emotional side of her agreed wholeheartedly - this was going to get messy. Slowly, trying to avoid anything that might seem threatening, she stood up and began making her way toward the door.

T'Lea: Della…

Her voice trailed off tragically when she saw the Trill cautiously getting up. This was going wrong. So horribly wrong.

Vetri: I've screwed this up. I'll just... I'll go.

T'Lea: What?  ::quickly:: Wait. Don’t go. Don’t you dare leave me.

Della barely slowed at that, determined to put as much distance between her and this shuttle-wreck of a situation as possible before she made things even worse.

T'Lea: Della, you can save my life!

That worked. She should have just said that from the beginning, it would have saved a lot of misunderstanding.

The Trill was now at a standstill an inch from leaving, and finally T’Lea was making sense. Thank the gods her inner Vulcan had kicked in because her survival was about to walk out that door.

Choosing her words quickly but precisely, T’Lea worked her way over to Della, careful not to spook the woman.

T’Lea: I may have found a way. The zhian’tara ritual, it uses a synaptic pattern displacement that is similar to the fal-tor-pan. The fact that both our species are capable of performing such a complex function tells me that a successful transfer of my Katra to you, and then back again is highly favorable.

She slipped herself between Della and the door, and firmly, but gently took the woman’s shoulders in her hands, trying to make eye contact -- trying to see if Della was receptive to the idea, or if she had taken a mental leave of absence out of pure embarrassment.

After a few seconds, Della knew she wasn't going to get away from this - not with T'Lea so firmly blocking her way, and certainly not after a declaration like she'd just come out with. Eventually, she met the hybrid's eyes, hoping she was able to keep some of the startled confusion she was feeling out of her own expression.

T’Lea: You’re the only one I trust to do this, Spots. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t believe it to be true. The Symbiosis Commission chose you because you’re mentally stable enough to handle all the past lives of your symbiote. I think you could handle one more for a while.

She let her hands slide off Della’s shoulders, only to have the Trill catch hold of her wrists in a firm but gentle grip. Della felt the need to hold onto something solid as she worked to get her head around this, and T'Lea seemed willing to be that rock - for the moment, at least.

T’Lea: It’s a lot to ask. I know. It would only be temporary that I can assure you. I’m counting on returning to my body after it is restored, but if that fails, I need you to take me back to Vulcan.

The hybrid crinkled her Vulcan brow and tilted her head to catch Della’s eyes again. The silence was coarse to her ears. It worried her greatly.

T’Lea: Say something, please?

Lifting the hybrid's hands, Della rested her head against the woman's fingers for a moment, eyes closed as she took a few breaths, trying to regain a bit of mental equilibrium. After a few moments more, she lifted her head again, releasing T'Lea's wrists and opening her eyes again.

Vetri: ::softly:: Sorry, it's just that this is...  ::another breath, and her voice firmed a little:: How would this work?

T’Lea: The transfer would be made through a mind-meld.

With a hand faintly pressing against Della’s low back, T’Lea delicately led the woman away from the exit and back to the sofa and a drink.

Vetri: I thought that kind of thing wasn't possible for you anymore.

T’Lea: The closer I come to death the less the implant is able to efficiently block telepathy, which in turn fries the chip faster. If I meld with you at the right time, when the chip is at its weakest, it might work.

Della frowned as she worked her way through that, coming to a conclusion that didn't sit very well with her at all.

Vetri: But by that point, you'll be...

Her voice trailed off as she tried to clear the image of a dying T'Lea from her mind.

Sharp girl, thought T’Lea. Initiating the mind-meld at the weakest possible moment would be the nail in the coffin, and therefore completing the task was iffy at best. It could be suicide.

T’Lea: *I* would be at my weakest as well, yes. But between the two of us I believe we could bridge the gap. If you are disciplined enough.

Vetri: Disciplined? Me? ::the laugh that came out was far from amusement:: I've barely been able to keep my own personality intact of late, how do you expect me to be able to keep it together enough to do this?

T’Lea: We would meet on a regular basis. I will show you meditation techniques, we will practice the melding technique without actually initiating it. The time with you will also help me to become more comfortable with your body.

And there was the reason she didn’t recoil from Vetri’s most recent signs of affection, aside from not recognizing them for what they were at first. Familiarizing herself with Della on that kind of level would help ease the “moving in” process when the transfer actually happened. After all, Della’s body would become hers too, she had to be comfortable with it.

Vetri: ::quietly:: Trust me, babe, there are far easier ways to get that kind of outcome.

Another off-hand comment to try and hide the rising sense of panic within her. Maybe she'd said it too quietly, maybe T'Lea simply ignored her words, but either way she carried on as if Della hadn't said anything at all.

T’Lea: With my Katra safe, it is my hope that the doctors, the nanites, and the remaining basic functions of my Vulcan physiology will be able to work more efficiently to repair the damage.

Sat on the couch T’Lea was searching the woman’s eyes, hoping Della would agree to be her Katra’s keeper. When there was no reaction she did something she wouldn’t normally have done. She reached out a hand and relaxed it on Della’s knee, partly to get her attention and partly to lend the other woman some support.

T’Lea: It’s intimate, more so than sex, and I’m unsure of the ramifications. Like I said I’ve never done this before.  ::shifting on the sofa:: You have experience and knowledge in certain areas, whereas I do not. I would be the one depending on you to guide me through the… living arrangements between you and the previous hosts.

Vetri: Right. Okay... I'm not agreeing to this, you understand. Not yet. Just gathering facts.

Her hand was shaking as she rested it atop T'Lea's, gripping it tightly before releasing it once more and clasping her own hands in front of her.

Vetri: Exactly how this would work, everything that could go wrong. All of it. Or I walk out that door.

That was utter dren, and she knew it. T'Lea had trapped her pretty well, and there was no way in hell she was going to be able to simply walk away from this.

Reaching over to the coffee table T’Lea took the two glasses of Romulan Ale in each hand and gave one back to Della. From that point on they talked who-knows how long, going over all the pro’s and con’s, going over everything that could go wrong, and everything that could go right. It was an all-encompassing conversation involving everyone. At one point T’Lea felt like a suitor getting grilled by Della’s father, she supposed it was Rynn, or one of the other male hosts.

Eventually, Della couldn't keep herself focused any longer. There was a lot of information bouncing around in her skull now, and she needed time to assimilate it all, to try and fully understand what she was being asked to do. She'd been standing by the shelves, studying the bare, empty space upon them as she listened to T'Lea's words, and when the hybrid went quiet once more, she turned to look at her in silence for a moment or two.

It only took a few steps to have her standing in front of the Romu-vulc, and she spent another few seconds gazing at her, wondering for what felt like the millionth time tonight what being that intimately entwined with T'Lea would be like. Eventually, she raised a hand to stroke lightly over the other woman's hair, and sighed.

Vetri: I can't do it. ::raising a hand to buy a little more time to talk:: Not right now. I need to think about this some more, preferably without you sitting there looking so frakking appetizing... :shaking her head with a smile:: Let's make a start on it. If I *do* agree to this, we need all the prep we can get, but I just can't give you an answer now.

Stepping back, she slowly made her way to the door, half expecting T'Lea to call her back once again. Instead, she was standing in the open doorway when she stopped herself, looking over her shoulder with a soft smile on her lips.

Vetri: I'll be in touch.