What Lies Within Us
Location: His, then her, quarters
Timeline: Middle of the Night, MD 4 to MD 5
It was the middle of the night and Alex lay in bed with his hands under his head, unable to sleep. There was alot on his mind and try as he might, he couldn't clear it. Trying again he ran his hands down his face. He had never had to deal with OCD like his brother, not even close, but the thought of possibly starting now was another stress on it's own, and it was bothering him now.
He looked over at the clock; it was oh-three hundred hours and he wondered if Alora was in her lab. "Computer, locate Doctor Jaenke Alora."
=^=Doctor Jaenke Alora is in her quarters, located on Deck Three=^=
Disappointed, Alex lay there debating. A few heartbeats later, he got up, threw on a t-shirt to wear with his pajama pants, and was out the door. A minute or two later he stood outside Alora's quarters, pressed the chime button and waited.
Alora was dead to the world, still in some off duty clothes. She'd fallen asleep working on some new designs for shields and a few PADD's lay scattered around her on the bed. She didn't hear the first chime.
Alex turned to leave, and then hesitated. He needed to talk to someone and he wanted it to be her. He turned back and pressed the panel again.
She was groggy as she looked up only partly awake, the door chime went off a third time and she yelled, "What?!" as she tried to get her brain to work she looked around mildly confused. The door took that as an open command and swooshed open as she stood rubbing her eyes....
Alex stepped inside, the lights coming on automatically at his presence. "Alora?" he shouted out, and seeing her bedroom light was on too, he peeked inside. He was expecting to see her working, but it only took one look at her and he knew he was wrong. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, starting to turn away, "I'll just..I'll just go." and he looked quickly towards Amiri's bedroom, hoping he hadn't disturbed her. He hadn't thought about it until now.
"Yes because I'll totally not be consumed with burning curiosity about why you've come to me with that look on your face in the middle of the night..." She muttered loudly enough to him to hear as she got up, rubbing her eyes. She caught his look, "Amiri is off working" She went to the little fridge she used as a night stand and got a couple of bottles then handed him one with an obvious look at a nearby chair then his face.
"Thanks." Alex accepted the bottle and remained standing, moving his eyes down to the floor for a moment before taking a seat in the chair. He leaned back and stared at the bottle as he opened it.
"It's not water..." She sat as well and opened her own bottle taking a drink. "So would it help if I put on an apron and pretended to clean a glass?" She asked gently after a moment when he didn't speak.
"No." he replied, half smiling at her. There were many things he loved about Alora, and the smart-ass side of her was one of them. He took a drink, staring at her and thinking about the two of them. "I couldn't sleep 'n' I needed someone to talk to." Then his brow furrowed and he leaned forward, holding the bottle between his hands, "Actually it's you I need to talk to."
"That's ominous." She thought to herself event as she made a gesture for him to continue. "What about?" She asked trying not to let her mind jump to random conclusions up to and including one where she helped bury a body. She throttled her imagination and waited for his reply.
Having a difficult time beginning, Alex ran a hand over his mouth, along his chin and held it there for a couple seconds as he thought about how to explain it to her. "My son 'n' what's best for him." he finally said. Then paused, finding it harder as he stared at her. "I've never totally committed to him. I've been this long-distant dad...'n' I don't think I can do that anymore."
Alora's reply was a simple but encouraging nod for him to proceed. She thought of her own father. She and her own family had been close so this sort of thing was new to her but she kept her comments to herself wanting to hear what he was thinking now. She had a strange feeling she knew but forced her mind clear.
Alex frowned, breathing in deeply. He didn't want to hurt her but he could see it in her eyes. "I'm going to put in for a transfer. I'm going to leave the Armstrong.".
"I'd like to be wrong just once...." floated through her mind as she sat back unable for a moment to control the disappointment on her expressive face. She took a drink of water more to buy her mind time to work than because she was thirsty. "I get it..." She finally responded talking to her water bottle, giving a weak smile.
"I'm sorry. Alora..." Feeling the loss himself, he wanted to say, "you can come with me." but they had only begun exploring the possibility of a committed relationship. He had no doubt he loved her, but in love? He wasn't sure he even knew what that meant. How could he expect her to make that big of a change for something so uncertain? So into his thoughts and his feelings, he hadn't realized he was staring sadly down to the floor.
Alora muttered something that sounded like "fire cave..." (The Bajoran version of hell) and moved her chair next his. They both sat dejectedly. "I get it..." She repeated and looked into his eyes, she rather liked those eyes. "Family is family..." Her own father went through a mine field for her once how could she expect anything less than a full commitment from Alex for his own son. "He's a good kid...". Trying really hard to be positive, pushing through a sense of disappointment still new.
"Aye," Alex nodded, "thank you." He placed a hand over hers, and continued to gaze back into her eyes. He loved how she was trying to be so supportive, but at the same time a part of him wished she would tell him how much she wanted him to stay. Their fingers intertwining, a few moments later he managed to smile. "We'll still see each other...from time to time."
"Yes of course..." She smiled though to be honest she'd been in Starfleet long enough to not hold her breath. She wouldn't mind if he could stay but she wasn't about to make this harder on him. One never asked a parent to choose, ever. "We'll take it as it comes, after all that's why they invented subspace communications..."
Alex found himself nodding again, although he didn't believe they'd be seeing each other enough when it came to having a relationship anymore than she did. Reluctantly he released her hand and slowly stood. "Well, I should be going." he said.
Alora stood as well, instinctively not wanting to drag this out, trying to be positive. "Yes it's late..." She walked him to the door and tried a brief smile, "Let me know before you head out I think we can get a pretty good party going if we're quick before CO's shuts us down..."
"Okay." he said quietly looking down on her, his eyes taking her in. Then he forced a partial smile before placing a hand behind her head, pulling her gently towards him to place a kiss on her forehead. He lingered there for a few heartbeats, closing his eyes before pulling away.
She closed her eyes and felt his lips on her forehead, her attention on the touch. She fought the impulse to not let him go but kiss him properly instead of watching him walk out her door. With a deep breath she sat back down head on her hands. Regret mingled with disappointment as she finally stood to get ready for bed.
The door closing behind him, Alex walked slowly away, and looking as if he just lost his best friend.
Crewman Jaenke Alora, Dr.
Ship Tactical and Defense Systems Specialist.
Lt.Cmdr. Alex McKinney
SCE Team XO/Engineer