Roosevelt Station



Post 13 - Desire and Condolences

Posted on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 @ 3:00am by Commander Eden Starling-Enigma & Lieutenant Jessica Layton & Liu-Zhang Daiyu

Mission: In the Shadow of Thanget
Location: Roosevelt Station, Mall
Timeline: January 16, 1600 Hours

"On behalf of the Garen Epok Commerce Guild, we look forward to working with you, Commander." Liu-Zhang Daiyu, proprietor of the Sparkle in the Void, was a tall woman. Handsome, dressed in a fine suit from one of the great seamstresses of Risa and a violet scarf of Tholian silk, no one who had ever done business in Ferengi or Orion space would ever guess that she was the one who operated Roosevelt's long-lived house of pleasure. But that was her job - she owned the Sparkle in the Void, and had held it through two different station commanders trying to push her out. The shining ivory and gold of the social space at the ground floor of the Sparkle in the Void somehow managed to balance decadence with class, and Miss Liu-Zhang seemed entirely at home there.

Eden took a moment to enjoy the sight of one of Daiyu's employees - a tall, slender Lagashi man who wore his jaunty hat well - before smiling to Daiyu. "I'm hoping for a partnership with the Guild," she said. "Something closer than Captain Axim managed."

"That would be a relief," Daiyu replied with a sigh. "Though I hesitate to speak ill of your brother in service."

"He's gone. I'm here," Eden said. "Let's leave it at that. Now, if you'll excuse me..." Daiyu nodded, and Eden turned to leave, smiling once she was on the main floor of the Mall and saw Dr. Layton. It's very distinctly not seemly for a command officer to enjoy the sight of one of her subordinates quite this much. I need to keep an eye on that. But she waved. Perhaps an off-duty conversation would be less difficult for the doctor than their meeting in her office had been.

Jess Layton was coming off-shift and looked tired, heading into the Mall with slumped shoulders and a frown of exhaustion. There was a lot of reading to do while on-shift, as well as off-shift catch-up reading, not to mention actually treating and preventing illness or disease in patients. But, catching the Commander's wave and friendly, decidedly off-duty stance, Jess smiled despite her weariness. "Hello, Commander! I was headed to the Stone's Throw. Would you like to come with me? I was going to get something to eat. I was up late reading last night, and my shift started early, so maybe I'll have one of your favorite raktijinos." Her smile warmed up and she gestured. "Let's go."

To her credit, she didn't give the brothel more than a passing glance of curiosity, but it was not a judging look. Interested, maybe, if anything, but Jess tried not to be too interested in front of Eden.

"I was on my way there," Eden said, falling into step alongside the doctor. "My shift ended halfway through my conversation with Miss Liu-Zhang... fascinating woman, by the way; she spent her youth on merchant ships and was one of the first Lagashi to set foot on Vulcan... and I very much need to relax a bit."

"Ah, well then. Relaxation is good," the Black woman replies, smiling at her commander. "And she does sound interesting. Maybe I should stop by. If you won't have any kind of regulations against it...?" Jess asks, looking at Eden warily. "I rather don't do relationships. Kind of famously, actually. It might be for the best if I don't start burning through the senior staff." Her laugh is soft, enticing.

"Ah, I haven't been here yet. I just want to sit and talk while we drink. Is that the bottom floor or the top?" she asks a moment later, pausing in front of the Stone's Throw.

"There's seating on all levels, but the upper floor tends to be quieter, and that would suit me," Eden said. "There's no regulations against visiting or availing yourself of the Sparkle in the Void... if there were..." She trailed off, deciding not to immediately start telling those particular stories. "Honestly, I might have a synthale this evening."

Jess tilts her head at the trailing off, but doesn't press. "Upper floor is good," she says with a smile. "I may join you in that synthale. That actually sounds about right." She looks at Eden. "Lead the way, please?"

Eden smiled to Jess, offered a nod, and headed into the bar. One ride in its interior turbolift later, and they were on the upper floor, a balcony overlooking the bustle of the main Mall level, and Eden had her synthale in hand. "Admiral T'Vrell offered me the choice between Roosevelt and a starship. Given that choice... I wanted to be here."

Jessica looked over at Eden, her own synthale on the table between them overlooking the bustle of the Mall. "Why, Commander? I've only been on starships, so I don't know what Roosevelt Station has to offer."

"I was born in space, and spent the first few years of my life there," Eden said. "Before my mother's death and my father's retirement, when we moved back to Earth. Earth was never really comfortable for me. I really found home again when I started space service... Sovereign, Seldon, and Roosevelt. This place is as much home for me as anywhere I've been, and to be able to live here... it was worth moving to starbase command."

"Ah," the doctor said. "I can understand that. I was born on the Moon, and I can sort of relate. So yes, that seems a good move." Her smile was warm, and she nodded over her drink before taking a sip.

"Better than raktijino." Her amusement was apparent, eyes sparkling, as she spoke of her change in planned drink.

"About a year after we moved to Earth, my father took me up there, to Serenity City. We put on EVA suits and went out to stand on a crater ridge to watch Earthrise. He thought that might help me adjust to life on Earth." Eden looked down into her glass. "It didn't. But it was still breathtaking."

Jess nodded sympathetically. "Earthrise is spectacular." The human woman studied the half-Betazoid in front of her. "You feel guilty over that a bit, I think. That your home can never be where your father's is."

"I've never really handled planets well," Edens said quietly. "They get... overwhelming. Even for someone of my species, my empathy is... powerful. And I loved the stars, loved space, even when it was dangerous. But more than that..." She met Jess's eyes. "I was... difficult. I argued with him, fought with him. Took my anger over my mother's loss out on him. I wasn't angry with him; he was just who there was in reach, and I was so angry, and..." She exhaled. "This is in my medical files, but I'm not sure how much of what it means is there. I have a genetic abnormality arising from the lack of a gene in my twenty-seventh chromosome allowing a recessive gene my mother carried to express fully. I'm a broadcast empath. For full Betazoids, that requires a rare gene from one parent and an even rarer mutation from the other; for those who have an alien parent, we only need the rare gene. I've worked with counselors my entire life to gain the ability to control it, and even now that control isn't perfect. As a child... the only way I knew to keep my mind from lashing out with that much anger was to do it with my behavior instead."

"Oh." Jess winced. "I can relate to lashing out over your mother's death; I only called my father after our last discussion. First time except for his birthdays in 14 years." Her smile was small and sad. "I think we're on our way to making up for lost time. I will call him next week, as well." Her eyes met her commander's, the light making the amber color glow.

"As for the rest... That sounds incredibly hard. I can't understand. But I can... at least try. I owe you that much." Jess bit her lip.

"I'm glad you're speaking with your father again," Eden said. "My father and I have been working to repair our relationship for... a long time. But we are working, and that gives me hope." She brushed a hand against the one Jess held her drink with. "As for the rest... dangers of being an empath, and a member of a species that there's perhaps a dozen of in the galaxy."

Jessica nodded. "That's fair." She gave a rueful sort of smile. "I guess it's weird, being a full human. There's billions of us. We're all over. It must be kind of odd being in such..." She searched for a word. "Limited? genetic company."

"I prefer to think of it as a exclusive club," Eden said, finding her smile again. "And I've honestly found that I get along better with other members of that club than I do with my immediate relatives. My father and I are doing better than we once were, but it's still difficult, and my grandmother..." She sighed. "I'm an eternal disappointment there. Sole heiress to House Starling, since my mother was also an only child. And instead of returning to Betazed to learn my role and marry a scion of another of the noble houses, I'm off throwing myself at Breen and Orions and Tzenkethi in Starfleet." Eden sighed. "She keeps sending me pictures of how nice the sons and daughters of the other families are looking, their accomplishments in poetry and government and art."

"Families are difficult at the best of times," Jess agreed, but she'd kind of caught onto something. "So um. You haven't settled down yet? I'm kind of surprised. You seem like you'd be a catch, Commander. And before you ask," she said, smiling, looking down at her drink. "I'm not really flirting. Just curious."

Probably best that she isn't. I keep having to work not to. "Career first. I've... had a few people I might have done so far." Arcadia. Alexiandria. Rei and Shen... "But that ended up not happening. I'm not closed to the idea of marriage, but... the life of an officer is hard on relationships, and even moreso if that officer's seeking or holding command."

Jess nods. "I'm on that track myself. I understand, though that is only part of the reason I won't marry." She bites the inside corner of her lip and stares past Eden for a moment before continuing the thought. "I don't want what happened to my father to happen to anyone I marry."

"That... is a concern for me as well," Eden said. "Losing my mother... wounded my father deeply. They were bonded telepathically... two minds that worked better acting as one than separately. That's something that can happen with Betazoids, though even in the kinds of love that stories are written about it's a rare thing." Eden sighed. "He never really became who he was when she was alive again."

Jessica's eyes went sad. "That's awful," she muttered. "I cannot imagine. It would be... exhilarating while with that person, but so hard while apart." She bit the inside corner of her lip and twisted both lips to the side, a moue of regret.

"He wasn't ever the same again. That was what ended his career." Eden sighed. "Doctor, you are exceptionally talented at getting people to open up to you. I'm not sure if I like that."

Jess blushed, looking up from her reverie induced by Eden's discussion of her father. "Why not?" She looked at Eden directly despite the flush on her cheeks. "It makes me good at what I do. And helps me direct people to services they need." Her head tilted to the side.

Why is that blush so attractive on her? "I usually keep my cards a bit closer to my chest than I have with you so far," Eden said. "Though I've been trying to do less of that."

"What," Jess asked, "be closed off, or be less open with me?" A loc had worked its way from behind her shoulder to in front of her ear. She absently tucked it behind her ear and smiled a little. "Being disarming makes my life easier. People don't mistrust a Black woman who listens quietly and asks the right questions innocently." She laughed softly. "My father once told me I would have made an excellent spy, but that's not true. I can't lie for the life of me."

"Being a spy isn't what it's sold as anyway. It's honestly mostly paperwork and making sure that Admiral Pinna's yeoman has the contact information for your father's sausage supplier..." Eden paused. "Or maybe that was just me. I've been trying to be less closed off... every therapist I've had since I moved to Earth has told me that would be healthier. I finally decided that maybe they have a point."

Jess smiled. "I'm honored that you're practicing with me, Commander." And she raises the rest of her synthale in a toast before draining the glass. "That was a good idea." Meaning the alcohol. "I feel much more relaxed now. How are you doing?"

Eden finished her glass as well. "Better, I think. And now I have an excuse not to meet with the other members of the Guild tonight, which I expect someone to ask me to do about five minutes before I try to sleep."

"I'm glad to provide," Jess said dryly. It's difficult not to offer another. Commander Eden is really pretty. She cleared her throat a bit. "What are your plans for the rest of the night?"

"Reading. Possibly calling my father or Zetian. Then a very long night of sleep." Eden's eyes lingered on Jess's face. "Which I expect to be interrupted by an urgent message from Sector Command two hours in at most. My father was convinced local admirals make a point of denying new command officers sleep."

"Oof." Jess shook her head. "That's never anything I can understand. Why make it harder? Hazing is such crap." She looked at Eden and smiled, a little shy.

"It is," Eden said. "But old traditions die hard. What about you? Any plans worth speaking of?"

"I have a certain commander who wants me to catch up on years of medical tech ay-sap. So that's a thing," Jess said. Her eyes held a faint twinkle, though. "Beyond that, nah. Missing my bathtub at home. I'd kill for a bubble bath soak while I read."

"Suggestion: Holodeck." Eden smirked. "When I was on Earth, one of the few luxuries I came to really love was soaking in a tub full of water. Aboard Sovereign there were a few ways to do that, but Lagashi ships are very Spartan in terms of creature comforts. But they do have holodecks. I spent a surprising amount of my holodeck time in a bath."

"I always forget about holodecks and water feeling like water. I used to use a holodeck for gymnastic routines, but a soak in a tub sounds lovely." Jess grinned. "I think I may do that on my next day off."

"Saving it for a day off is a good idea. Given that you can make the tub whatever size you want? You will not want to get out and go to a shift." Eden grinned. "Or an impromptu marksmanship and unarmed combat drill where you end up wrestling a Lagashi woman twice your size. Which happened once."

Jess blinked. "You got out of a tub and into an impromptu combat drill? That sounds vaguely disheartening, Commander. I'd get right back into the tub afterward." Although if the wrestling match were with the Commander I might invite her to join me in the tub afterward.

Eden blushed vividly. Can't pretend she's not interested now. The doctor's desire felt very different from hers, though, and those emotions were easy to disentangle. "Major Sun Rei had a sense of humor about these things, and by the time we finished in the Valoris I was her second in command. She thought it was important I set an example for the others in what it means to always be ready to deploy."

Jess realized that Eden could feel what she was feeling and blushed, too. "I see. That sounds important and good, but it sounds very frustrating, too." Her eyes looked anywhere but at the commander. "I, uh. Should get going. Alcohol's making me a bit warm. Need to hydrate and get reading." She nodded to Eden. "It was good talking, Commander." She rose, and smiled sincerely at her commander and new crush. "When are you coming by for your physical? After that classified information and all?" Her voice was quiet, despite her embarrassment.

"I think so. We might as well get all the official business out of the way at once." Eden folded her hands on the table. "Have a good night, doctor. And... thank you for the company."