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A second date

Posted on Sat Oct 9th, 2021 @ 10:19pm by Jerant van Rijn & Lieutenant Xavier Leiko

Mission: Character Development
Location: Bridge/holodeck
Timeline: After mission end
3373 words - 6.7 OF Standard Post Measure

The bridge was a place Jerant rarely went without Savin, and lately, the Romulan counselor hadn't had bridge duty, so the Betazoid hadn't really had any business being on the bridge. As a civilian, he didn't really have any clearance to be in any key area of the ship, without the chief counselor -as he was his aide- or any other officer accompanying him.

Today, he made an exception though as he kind of did have business there, it just wasn't anything official. And as it wasn't, and Savin wasn't on the bridge, Jerant dearly hoped he wouldn't be kicked off. As the turbolift car deposited him upon his designation, he quickly made his way over to OPS, and tapped the other Betazoid on the shoulder. He had no doubt the man had already sensed his arrival, so he made no secret of being there. "Hi... are you off duty soon?" He spoke quietly in their native language, making the huge assumption that Xavier did in fact speak or at least understood Betazoid - since both were also part Human.

"Hey Jerant," Xavier said with a smile as he turned to face the man. He too replied back in perfect Betazoid. He had never understood why his mother had been so insistent on him learning both Betazoid and Federation Standard, as though universal translators weren't a thing. He guessed she didn't want her children to lose their heritage, or maybe it was because she liked to torture them. Xavier felt it was the latter.

"I can be," Xavier said. "What did you have in mind? Or did you want me to see for myself?" He asked as he tapped the side of his temple.

"Go ahead," Jerant permitted with a smile, "though it's nothing fancy unless you'd like it to be." He didn't really have anything specific in mind except for perhaps dinner and taking a stroll past a couple of old windmills and vintage buildings from his home town. Though it was all open for debate, as long as he was getting to spend some time together.

"That's perfect actually," Xavier replied after poking though Jerant's head. After spending the last few weeks cooped up on the ship and the last few days crawling through jefferies tubes and such, the idea of being out in the open, even the artificial open, felt like exactly what the young man needed right now. "Shall we say in about an hour?"

"An hour," Jerant agreed, "it'll give me time to do some fine tuning."

***

An hour later, he stood waiting for the operations chief, a happy smile on his face. The program was ready and would open with a view on his home town.

Xavier turned the corner and saw the translator standing outside of the holodeck waiting for him. Xavier was in a loose white linen shirt that was only buttoned halfway up, and tan coloured linen shorts. He was clearly dressed for warm weather and was even carrying a brown wicker picnic basket. "It better be warm in your hometown Jerant," he said with a gleeful look in his eye. "I'm not dressed for snow... or freerunning," he added with a smirk.

"We're not going freerunning," Jerant promised, sizing the other man up with an appreciative smile, "and I programmed it to be summer so the temperature should be moderate. My town doesn't get too hot in summer, though since this is a computer program, I suppose we could just raise the temperature if you like." He led the man inside, stepping right into the city center of Zaandam, with a clear view of the typical green houses that were iconic to the area. "What kind of food do you fancy? There's a wide range of things available."

Xavier walked into the programme that Jerant had created, he had to admit he was a bit blown away. The place was just beautiful, nothing like something you would come to expect from the normal human architecture which was normally quite cold and sterile looking. No this place was the complete opposite, it was bright and quirky. None of the colours went together but somehow they did. The buildings themselves didn't look like they should work together either. It was as though someone had taken loads of little, bright, coloured houses, and pushed them together to make one big building. He had truly never seen anything like it.

Xavier looked at Jerant, confusion etched on his face. He didn't say anything, instead he just held up the picnic basket he had been carrying and grinned. "My food not good enough for a civilian?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

Jerant blinked as his gaze fell upon the basked and offered a sheepish smile. "And here I thought I had invited you for dinner," he said, "not quite sure where we can sit down in this immediate area... We'll have to go to the island, I do know there's a small park there... it's situated within the river" He gave the computer the order to change their immediate surrounding. "We can sit down here," he smiled, gesturing at the green around them. It was quiet since there were no additional holograms, but in the real place, it'd be littered with playing children.

"This seems perfect," Xavier said as he admired the new surroundings. "Though we could always ditch the picnic and go with your regular plan, I'd hate all of your hard work to go to waste."

"What hard work?" Jerant smirked, "seems you did more work putting that basket together and we really would be wasting things if we didn't use it." He nodded over to a grass field. "We can sit down over there, and look out over the river if you like. Unless you'd prefer a little more secluded under the trees?"

"Seclusion?" Xavier asked with a raised eyebrow. "What did you have in mind, cause I gotta say, I'm not that type of guy."

The other Betazoid's face flushed a little as he caught some stray thoughts. "Nothing that shouldn't be done in public," he reassured the man, "and nothing neither of us are anywhere close to ready for on a second date. I just meant a little less in the open, a bit more private. Not that there's anyone here or anything, and I doubt anyone would walk in either..."

Xavier rolled his eyes in amusement. "I'm messing with you Jerant," he said. "Come on." Xavier made his way towards the trees where there was some shade from the sun but the breeze was still warm. Jerant's word rang in his head, second date, second date. He was trying to think about this as having some fun with a friend, rather than a date. It felt like it had been years since he dated anyone and he didn't need those nerves right now.

Xavier picked a spot and took the blanket out of the basket and threw it on the ground. He then threw himself towards the ground too, happy to be sitting. After the last mission he felt like all he wanted to do was relax and forget about the ship, and his staff, and everything that came with being a senior officer, at least for a moment. "So what was it like growing up here?"

"Probably no different than anywhere else?" Jerant mused, "this is a tourist town though, or at least it used to be. But where I grew up it was pretty quiet so honestly, I wouldn't know. Before moving to Vulcan for a while when I was ten, I never had lived anywhere else. You see... I was born with telepathic skills and my parents didn't know how to deal with that, so I was sent to Vulcan. I pretty much grew up with Savin, who I suppose is more or less a brother to me. His parents needed someone with telepathic skill to help their son learn how to speak and communicate, and my parents needed someone who could help me learn to control my telepathy. I did return home frequently, obviously..." He looked up. "What about you? WHere did you grow up?"

"Well I spent the first few years of my life living on various starships, exploring the galaxy. Both of my parents were in Starfleet and neither were ready to give up their commission to raise us. Eventually, my mother got assigned to Betazed and I spent all of my years there before leaving to the academy. I hated the idea of being 'grounded', stuck on one planet after the adventures that deep space offered, but I grew to love it there. It was home, you know?"

Jerant nodded. "Home is where your bed is, right?" he chuckled, "I don't mind where I am to be honest, be it planet bound or space bound. Actually... I've found the chances of encountering new languages is a great many times greater on a ship than on a planet. And here I am... a civilian on a Starfleet vessel. What did your parents do?"

Xavier smiled broadly. "My dad he was a pilot, a really good one. He taught me to fly and we'd have mini adventures across the Betazoid system. My mother-" the smile faded now and his tone shifted, not that he was aware of it, "she is very ambitious. Command was her only passion. She's still in Starfleet now, an Admiral. Do you speak many languages?" He asked, shifting the conversation back to Jerant. As he did so he started to unpack the picnic basket and laying the food and drink out in front of them.

"The better question would probably be 'what languages don't you know'," Jerant chuckled as he stared at the amount of food displayed. "Wow...you sure don't do things half way huh? So... I take it you don't talk to mom much?" He had noticed the fade of smile, and definitely noticed the shift in tone.

"Well my dad always said that you can never find love on an empty stomach," Xavier chuckled. He thought how best to answer the second question and decided that honesty was the best way to go, after all wasn't the purpose of a date to get to know one another, scope each other out. "You picked up on that did you? We speak but I wouldn't say we are close. We never have been really," he shrugged his shoulders. "My dad on the other hand, you'd like him, he gets along with everyone and everyone gets along with him."

"Your dad's quite right," Jerant laughed, "my dad would probably agree with that. So what does your dad do now? If not pilot for starfleet? Private transports?" He grinned. "Would it surprise you that my parents are actually counselors? Non-fleet though..."

"No he's retired now," Xavier said. "He always has some grand project on the go, a different one every month. Never finishes them though, drives my mother crazy. I think that's why he does it," Xavier added with a laugh. He reached for the bottle of wine and popped the cork off. He poured out two drinks and handed one to Jerant. "Cheers," he said as he tapped his glass against the other. "That doesn't surprise me at all, you're very easy to talk to, something you inherited from them I'm guessing? Besides, Betazoids make great counsellors. Are you close to them?"

"Pretty close, even though I was sent away when I was ten." Jerant took a sip of the offered wine and relished the taste. "Pretty close to my sisters too. I should count myself lucky that they're not trying to marry me off to some high class lady... or any lady. I've heard of other Betazoid men getting pressured by any female relative they had. My mum's full Betazoid, but she treats the three of us as equals. Obviously, she's the boss in the house, as she should be I suppose, being Betazoid. But I'm happy the way things are, and they accept me as I am." He chuckled. "I suppose I am easy to talk to, but that also comes a little with my own profession. And I'm the aide to the chief counselor here too."

Xavier groaned. "I too was in an arranged marriage, until I came out and put an end to that. It seems so antiquated doesn't it? Arranging a marriage before you know the sexual preference of your child." He took a sip of his wine. It didn't take much for him to get started on Betazoid traditions and customs, and once he had started it was hard for him to stop, not a side of himself he wanted to show Jerant just yet. Ari used to find it adorable, but there was no telling how the other half-Betazoid would react. For all Xavier knew, Jerant might be a complete traditionalist. "What do your sisters do?"

"My older sister Anita is a teacher.. she's not a lot older than me though, only about a year or so. My younger sister, Patricia, she's the baby of the family and I'm actually not quite sure what she does at the moment. I haven't spoken to either of them for a while, something I probably should remedy in the near future." He grinned. "And I'm not a traditionalist... I'm just glad I wasn't married off to anyone, and my sisters aren't trying to be the boss of me. That does say something doesn't it?" His grin widened as he reached out. "And I'm glad you weren't married off either, or we wouldn't be sittng here. How did your ex-fiancée react though, when you broke it off?"

Xavier forgot what it was like being around other Betazoids, he had spent too many recent years around non-telepaths. He almost forgot that among his people thought and spoken word were one. In fact, in some Betazoid households, his own being one of them, they didn't speak at all, everyone knew every thought the other family members had, at all times. It was an adjustment Xavier had had to make when he joined Starfleet, to not intrude on people's thoughts. He guessed, he had become a little too used to it.

"We weren't technically engaged," Xavier said thinking back to his teenage years. "I mean, the wedding had been planned, at least in my mother's head, but the second they knew I was gay, well that was the end of that. At least I had a reason, my brothers just flat out refused. It's the only time ever that my oldest brother has ever stood up for himself. Coincidentally, it was the only time I had any respect for him."

"I suppose they were right to refuse... Arranged marriages are so archaic right? How come you have no respect for your brother? What did he do?" It was pure curiosity on Jerant's part. "How many brothers do you have?"

"Two," Xavier answered as he pulled out some urkifoss from his basket of treats. They were a Betazoid fruit, similar in shape to a medium earth mango, but bright blue, with yellow spots. He handed one to Jerant. "Edan, the eldest, and Quori. We've never really seen eye-to-eye, he's too much like our mother. These are real by the way, not the replicated junk," he added as he bit into the skin, relishing in the sweet juice that instantly filled his mouth.

Jerant felt honoured to have bene given the real thing and he examined it for a moment. "It's been quite some time since I've had these... my grandmother used to bring them over from Betazed when I was still a child. Where did you get these?" he asked as he carefully bit into it, feeling the juice running down his chin. He made a grab for a napkin to quickly clean it up, before it'd make a further and sticky mess of him.

Before Jerant could wipe his face, Xavier reached over and wiped the juice away with his thumb. He wasn't quite sure why he did it, but the motion felt right and Jerant's skin felt soft underneath the stubble. He almost apologised, but it didn't feel right to do that either, instead he pulled his hand away and smiled at the man, a little sheepishly. "I've... erm, had them in reserve... I mean storage since my last trip to earth... I mean home." He answered, a little flustered.

Jerant froze as he was touched, his skin flushing a little. "These things grow on Earth?" he finally managed, looking from Xavier to the fruit, and back to Xavier. "Wow... and mom never knew this apparently..." He caught the hand that had touched him and held it for a moment. "You have very soft hands," he marveled absently, before letting go. "Sticky hands now," he chuckled in afterthought. "What would you like to do after we finsish? I can show you around town, or we can go someplace more..exciting?"

"No I meant Betazed," Xavier said, feeling his cheeks growing warm. Damn, why was he so nervous all of a sudden? Xavier chuckled as he grabbed a napkin and dried his sticky hands. He hadn't felt this connection with anyone since being with Ari and that realisation made him feel equally sad and scared at the same time. It had taken a lot for the Betazoid to get over his Andorian love, was he truly ready to open his heart again? He knew what Tey would say, but the Trill's outlook on love and romance, and sex, was very different from what Xavier himself believed. "Someplace more exciting?" Xavier repeated as he pulled himself out of his reverie. "What did you have in mind?"

"Wherever you wanna go," Jerant smiled, "wherever would make you feel more at ease. I promise, I won't do anything you don't want me to do." He reached out, cupping the man's cheek, though barely touching his skin. "I'm not Ari, and it's alright to feel sad over a lost love. I can be patient if I need to be, if you need me to be."

Xavier froze and then recoiled from the near touch. Something about Ari's name coming out of this stranger's mouth didn't feel right. Jerant didn't know Ari, even Kateyo who was one of Ari's best friend didn't know him, the only person who knew Ari was Xavier, at least he did. "Maybe... just a walk around the town, yeah I think that would be best." He said finally.

Jerant felt the recoil and he instantly pulled his hand back. He couldn't help but feel he'd done something wrong here. "What is it?" He asked after a long silence in which he did his best not to read Xavier's feelings or even thoughts. It didn't take much effort as he did spend a lot of time not reading people on a daily basis. Thoughts wasn't difficult, but feelings were extremely hard to avoid.

"Nothing," Xavier said a little bit too defensively. "I mean ... nothing, I ... I'm okay. Sorry," he mumbled eventually. "I need to go," and he quickly stood up and started gathering his things. "This was lovely, we'll do it again soon, maybe, if you want, someday," he added hurriedly as his quickened his repacking efforts.

Feeling hurt -and it did show on his face-, Jerant first said nothing. He could feel Xavier was lying as obviously something was wrong or he wouldn't be hurrying to leave. "I do want to do this again," he finally said, watching him pack up, "but perhaps...when you're ready, because I feel that you're not..."

Xavier could see and feel how hurt and confused Jerant was and he hated that he had caused that. But all he knew was that he needed to get away, far away. He couldn't put his finger on it,he didn't even know what was wrong exactly, he just needed to be by himself. He grabbed the basket, minus the bottle of wine and made his way away from the stunned man. "I think you're right," Xavier replied, more to himself than to Jerant. He then called for the exit and left the holodeck without looking back.

 

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