Updated: Mar 18
The corridor was a buzz of activity; young officers of all walks of life eagerly go about their work. T'Quila drifted through the masses, distant and distracted, even failing to miss the occasional greeting until a second prompt. She watched the people pass her by and found her thoughts dwelling on the excitement. Of course, she had served on board long enough now to recognize this as the usual heightened activity which tended to follow a new discovery. This time however, she felt unusually detached from the activity.
A smile formed on her face with this thought, a recognition of the irony given that she was in fact more attached than ever. It had been a long day, even discounting all which transpired on the surface. Almost all of her time had been taken in accommodating their newest addition to the crew; orientation, accommodation, amenities, restrictions, medical... it was a relentless process which she barely felt prepared for before it commenced. Then there was the debrief with the Captain...
T'Quila had served many years under Captain Keelah and felt a close bond of friendship with her. Considered unusual - even inappropriate - by some of her fellow enlisted friends, T'Quila knew better. It was not service or duty that bonded them, but heritage, and it was the very reason they formed a friendship in the first place. She smiled with the memory of that day; Keelah was still a Commander back then - XO of the Dawnstar - and moreso, a fellow Vulcan living with emotions. Though T'Quila knew their circumstances were different enough, what with her only being half-Vulcan, she always felt that her Orion half presented enough difficulty of its own to easily match the strength of the Vulcan emotions which she knew Keelah had fought to control her entire life.
This was the foundation of their friendship and the draw which led T'Quila to serve under Captain Keelah all this time. Yet today for the first time in all those years of service, she had felt uneasy about walking into that ready room. After all, Captain Keelah had been more than accommodating with indulging her desire to train as a full officer, and so allowed her greater participation in missions. But today was different, she still dwelled on the feeling of dread she felt standing before that door. The discomfort at the Captain's scrutinizing gaze as she stood rigid before her.
The feeling passed as quickly as it hit her though and T'Quila again smiled, a passing greeting to Chief Tyr who always made a point of tracking her down after any mission. She always mothered the enlisted on board, even those like T'Quila who served alongside the duty bridge officers on a regular basis. The smile held as she continued a tired walk back to her quarters from the bridge, holding on the warm memory of Keelah's supportive and kind words.
Captain Keelah was naturally concerned about the new arrival on board, especially given the implied connection to T'Quila. But after hearing the full report on events, and seeing concurrent evidence from the medical, it became clear that her concern was less for the impact of this new arrival being on board, and more concern for a friend. The Captain was an explorer at heart after all, not to mention an accomplished diplomat. T'Quila believed with all her heart that she was the ideal choice to command this mission; one who could so seamlessly integrate cultures old and new all under one roof, or rather... one starship.
Now though, the debrief was over, as was her long day. She stood at the door to her quarters and drew a deep breath; already welcoming the highly anticipated ditching of her uniform soiled by days of living rough on the planet below, the indulgence of a nice long sonic shower, possibly even treating herself to some of the pleasant Orion scents that Lendaria had given her. The door hissed open and T'Quila stepped inside, shrugging her tunic loose as she loosened it's collar. "There you are!" Came a voice from around the corner.
As an enlisted officer, T'Quila did not get to enjoy the luxurious quarters that the senior staff did. But her rank did at least afford her a modest private room that was at least sufficient enough to segregate sleeping from living areas. A fact she did not feel so fond of at hearing the voice emanate from her bedroom. T'Quila peered around the bulkhead with apprehension, eyes widening at what she saw, "Tiah? What are you doing here, you know we gave you your own quarters... right?"
Tiah - the unusual new arrival who had both been the cause of T'Quila's long day, and the hive of activity she had witnessed since returning to the ship - lay sideways on T'Quila's bed. Her bushy white tails fluffed around her and partially draped across her own small frame, with a delicate hand brushing the soft fur almost absently. T'Quila still hadn't even begun to comprehend what had happened between the two of them, it was all a little surreal in her mind still. And seeing Tiah now - like this - did not help matters, "Tiah...?"
The girl rose from the bed and approached T'Quila. Her movement was paced and purposeful, but not aggressive. It was more... reassuring, soothing even. Her gaze held firmly on T'Quila and complemented by a contented expression. Her tails swayed hypnotically with the movement of her hips as each stride brought her a step closer. Tiah stepped around the corner, coming to a stop right in front of T'Quila where she reached up and gently placed her arms around T'Quila's neck, draped lovingly as she looked up with big, bright eyes and furry vulpine ears standing high and attentive, "But this is where Quila is, this is where Tiah belongs"
T'Quila smiled, unable to deny the soothing sensation she felt just from Tiah's presence. She reached for Tiah's hands to encourage them back to the metamorph's sides, but paused with hesitation as she looked down at Tiah's face. Instead, she found her hands gently tracing along Tiah's slender arms, and down her sides. She couldn't help but marvel at the wonder of nature this mysterious girl was. Not only had her metamorph nature allowed her to transcend multiple planes of existence and evolve from a vulpine to a hybrid vulpine-humanoid. But now as her hands caressed Tiah's arms, she couldn't help but marvel at the silky fabric she had created for clothing in the process, and wonder where in T'Quila's own mind she chose from for it's inspiration. Of course it's form fitting cut was also a welcome aspect, but that did not stop T'Quila from appreciating the detail. Her hands came to rest on Tiah's narrow waist, subconsciously holding her close as she savored her intoxicating natural scent 'is this what it feels like for others when my pheromones effect them...?' She pondered in a fleeting moment. Tiah smiled, ears flicking back and forth curiously, "Quila finds Tiah intoxicating? This is welcoming!" Her tails swaying with increased vigor as she rest her head on T'Quila's shoulder. T'Quila rested her own head against Tiah's, giggling a little as the flicking vulpine ear tickled her nose. She shifted her position to nuzzle her cheek against Tiah's soft hair between her ears, "Tiah, the point is that you have your own quarters. You don't... you don't need... to be here...". The trailing of words providing further proof to the pair that they were not sincere, and Tiah welcomed the acceptance, "Quila wants Tiah, just as Tiah wants Quila". T'Quila pulled herself away from Tiah, just enough that the pair could look to one another without removing her hands from Tiah's waist, "Tiah, I..." she flustered, cheeks turning a deeper shade of green. A reaction which drew a charming giggle from Tiah, "Quila does not need to feel embarrassment, Tiah understands. We are bonded, remember; what Quila feels, Tiah shares" "You don't understand, Tiah. It's- ". Tiah interjects, "It's complicated, yes. But it is also not". She tilts her head, reaching one hand from T'Quila's shoulder up to her cheek, fingers exploring the tip of her short bobbed hair while gently caressing her cheek as she continues, "Quila's heart is filled with words which have no meaning; Vulcan, Orion, pheromone. And ones which do; fear, control, protection... love. Tiah has much to learn about this existence, but all is known from Quila already. Tiah understands Quila's apprehension, but doesn't want her to worry. Tiah sees Quila like no other can, Tiah sees the conflict and knows... it does not need to be feared" T'Quila watches Tiah with acute attention as she tries to understand the girl's unique dialogue, succumbing to that soothing presence as her eyes close and she finds herself nuzzling her cheek into Tiah's hand briefly, "Tiah, I..." "Sshhh...." Tiah encourages, stretching a fingertip across to rest on T'Quila's lip in emphasis of this encouragement. It holds there, slowly tracing the contours of her lips as she tries to explain further, "Tiah understands that Quila is a child of two worlds. That she lives in fear of this heritage. But Quila will never be at peace as long as she hides from both worlds, trying to be something else. Quila needs to be herself; be both wonderful things that she was born to be" She did not know if it was the soothing presence, the empathic bond between them, the gentle caresses, the select words, or a combination of it all. But at this point, T'Quila did not care. She felt in that moment that her entire existence was centered around Tiah, around this very moment in time and space. And Tiah knew she welcomed it. Tiah gingerly stepped backwards, trailing her hands down T'Quila's arms to grip her hands encouragingly, and T'Quila hesitantly followed, "Tiah, I don't know. This... I mean, I've never..." "Sshhh..." came another honeyed reassurance from Tiah, "Quila fears moving too fast, but Tiah does not want or need this either. Trust your Tiah". She continued to step backwards towards the bed, drawing a hesitant T'Quila along with each step. Arriving at the bed, Tiah slowly lowered herself to it and encouraged T'Quila down alongside her, "All Tiah wants is to be with Quila". She wrapped her arms around T'Quila's neck once more and pulled her close. T'Quila's hands slowly found their way around Tiah's back, pulling her closer as she gradually allowed her lifelong emotional barriers to drop. The pair held the embrace whilst nuzzling each others cheeks, each savoring every caress, every sensation, like it was both their first and last. As they lowered to lay in each others arms, T'Quila felt the most unexpected sensation of having a multitude of fluffly tails slowly wrap around her body. Tiah's tails continued to completely engulf the pair in a soft, fluffy embrace. And in that moment as their lips dared to touch, T'Quila felt something she had never before felt, nor dared to imagine one day ever feeling. She felt safe.