457: Faltering

By Vol Tryst
Following Ready, Aim, Fire
Soundtrack: What Would Happen if We Kissed
by Meredith Brooks

-=The Tryst Residence, Betazed=-

After their match, the duelers cleaned up as best they could, and retreated to relax awhile.

Siter was dragged into helping his mother and the others, whereas Vol managed to weasel out by saying he was going to entertain and feed Zanh Liis and Arie. Thus, the three were currently out on the Tryst's porch, soaking in a healthy dose of sun and enjoying the air. Vol had fetched some baked sweets for Arie, and she was enjoying them with some milk as she took in the wonders around her.

Vol and Liis were having a very witty conversation, and were enjoying each others humor thoroughly. The ranks were very much dropped, as some passing insults were traded, in jest of course. Vol held is abdomen in slight pain from laughing out loud, and the Captain was smiling so much she noticed her jaw was aching.

"Ok, stop. Serious question now." Zanh insisted at last, while she tried to catch her breath. Vol let one more burst of laughter escape before inhaling deeply to calm himself.

"I temporarily forgot the status of women and men in your culture," Zanh began. "Is there anything the crew should know about? For the wedding I mean, is there anything we should do differently that we may not normally do?"

The smile in Vol's eyes glimmered, and then faded like a snuffed candle. He sniffed and rubbed his nose and scratched the back of his head all in the same ten seconds. Something about what she'd just said made him uncomfortable in some way. Zanh arched a questioning eyebrow.

"None really that I can think of, Zanh Liis." Vol pondered awhile. "You are clearly not Betazoid, and all of our guests will more than likely expect some differences and be intrigued by them. If you wanted to blend in a little more, I could suggest one thing. I know it happens more often that, in social gatherings, it is the males which introduce their partners. Here, it is customary to do the opposite. So, you would introduce yourself first, and then say 'and this is my significant other, Jariel.' The same would apply to February, Kellyn, etcetera."

Vol smiled and nodded once at Zanh, who then broke eye contact. Looking the other way instead, to what Arie was currently drawing on a piece of paper with some art supplies he had found for her.

It was then that Vol read very clearly from Zanh Liis something that the bustle of the day's activities, as well as the multitude of emotions he was processing in his own mind had prevented him from seeing before.

"When?" Vol asked, concerned. Last night at dinner when he'd seen them holding hands, he had thought...

Zanh continually looked away, off into the distant treetops. "This morning. We both...we just knew."

"I'm sorry." He sensed in her that the last thing they wanted was for their parting to cause any distraction before his Bonding, and that was why the Vedek had chosen to slip away quietly, saying nothing to the rest of the crew.

They would find out soon enough.

Liis nodded, relieved of the need to try to say anything more as the little girl nearby waved her hand excitedly, seeking the Counselor's attention.

"Look, Vol!" Arie piped up excitedly and held up her drawing. She had drawn Vol and Dana, facing each other with their foreheads touching. She offered it to Vol, but he didn't seem to catch the hint and instead just nodded and smiled at the child.

"It is very nice."

That was perhaps the last straw for Zanh. She was going to find out what was on this man's thoughts even if she had to 'borrow' a Betazoid from the nearest street corner to serve as her conduit to accomplish it. She had to think of a way to dismiss Arie without having her unsupervised, but Vol interrupted her plot with a solution of his own.

"Arie, I've just spoken with my brother. He says that my mother would like to know if you would enjoy helping the lot of them at picking fruits off of some of the trees in the front yard. They'd want you taste some, and help them decide which are best to please some of the unfamiliar pallets we have present at tomorrow's wedding."

"Would I?" Arie thought the question was absurd, and she politely excused herself before heading into the house and out the front door, her smaller feet pitter patting on the floor.

"Well then... glad to see you would jump at the opportunity." Vol said after Arie, even though she had gone beyond earshot.

"What did Siter mean when he said you would be staying here on Betazed?" Zanh had her arms crossed along with her legs, and was no longer jovial as before. She wanted answers. Vol sighed before speaking.

"No patience hmmm Captain?" He sat back in his chair and joined his hands, lacing his fingers on his lap. "I'm sorry, I made an assumption on this matter that I shouldn't have."

"That..." Zanh needed clarification.

"That you and the crew would be aware of my need to leave Starfleet to stay here with my wife and family." Vol looked at her apologetically. "You have to understand Captain. My family has been of noble status for sometime now. However, with my parent's divorce and my brother's denial to uphold his bonding oaths, there are no recognized women in our family. So my family's reputation is slippery and sliding at best."

Zanh listened intently.

"That will change come tomorrow, there will be a female in this household. That in itself will ameliorate our image here on Betazed, but I can't just marry her and take off. Dana is not a dog, she is a fine woman who I cannot simply desert here to deal with my family and everything else that may happen."

Vol finally exhaled, and the Captain simply studied his with a scrutinizing eye.

"You missed a beat." She said without wavering, Vol looked at her for an explanation for her odd statement.

"Oh, well, all that sounded just like a speech. So I thought I'd point out the polishing that would be needed in order to make it more convincing."

Vol threw up his hands, smacking them on his knees before standing up. He took a couple steps away to stand on the edge of the porch, crossing his arms and taking a deep breath. It was true, and moreover he had failed to convince his own Captain of his words.

*Never try to pass of something as true if you don't believe it yourself.*

Zanh stood up and leaned her back against the railing next to where Vol stood.

"Vol, what's really going on here? What's been bothering you?"

Vol did not answer, and Zanh revisited her previous idea of hijacking a Betazoid for a minute to translate what Vol was thinking...if not what he was feeling.

"Is the wedding a mockery of what marriage is meant to be? Two people in love, who want to be together for the rest of their lives?" Liis would previously not have dared to ask anyone such a thing, believing she never had been married herself.

Recent events, and more than a year's worth of memories of what marriage could be were now a part of her, though, and so she felt qualified to pose the question.

"Because that's what marriage is meant to be. It's not a business transaction and it's not a transfer of title or property. Marriage should be about love and nothing else."

Vol whipped his head about to glare at her.

"The wedding is what's best for my family. I love Dana and I--" Vol tried to speak more but the words would not come. He fastened his lips closed and he looked away from Zanh again.

"Vol, let me give you a piece of advice." Zanh knew the man would not speak, and so she'd decided that she'd make him listen instead. "Family is, without a doubt, important to anybody. They are with you through everything and they are always supposed to be there when you need them. So logically, it follows that you want to be there for them, too. But, sometimes the needs of the individual do not match the needs of the family, and some sacrifices are just too great to make."

Before he could object, or otherwise try to work around her words, Liis raised a hand to pat Vol's shoulder. "I have to go ask your mother something. I'll see you tomorrow, or before if you want to talk."

He said nothing and Zanh took that opportunity to leave. The man was so young, she would even still be comfortable at calling him just a kid, and yet he was getting married. The idea made Zanh nervous, but she hoped Vol knew what he was getting himself into.

Vol heard the door close behind the Captain, and he finally exhaled. He felt the weight of what he was embarking on more so now, he was unsure now. For the first time... he didn't know.


Vol slowly turned around to look at them, them.... the one person who would suffer most from this entire ordeal. They didn't deserve this.

*How long have you been..?* Vol asked.

*Not long, you're mother runs a tight ship.* This produced a small chuckle from Vol, which had been the intent.

*You still have some paint on your face.* A warm hand reach up and out to smudge some purple coloring from the top of Vol's brow. His Imzadi wore an adorable smile, and Vol couldn't help but grin as well. As the hand lingered and the touch remained however, Vol noticed his breath got shallower. He gulped nervously, knowing that present company would read his thoughts.

Not wanting to make Vol uncomfortable, said company brought their hand back and broke eye contact. Vol felt like he could breathe again, but he didn't want to. He wanted them near him, closer to him. He watched as they picked up Arie's drawing.

*It's a very nice representation of you.* They held it up for Vol to see. *Your eyes, your hair, your jaw line, very accurate indeed.*

*Thank you.* Vol thought, walking a bit closer letting a single hand linger on the back of one of the chairs for some illusion of support. The weakness in his knees would not go away.

*Except for...* They stopped in mid-thought, but Vol picked up on the direction of the sentence. He dared to inch closer, and he could hear his heart-beat in his skull now.


They looked up at him, defeated. Putting the child's drawing back down, they conceded.

*Your lips...* The same hand reached up once more, a thumb brushing across Vol's mouth. *Your lips are so, so...*

Now they stood closer, and Vol looked straight into their eyes. The pale aquamarine eyes he knew so well, the eyes he had stared into with such hope years ago, the eyes he'd fallen in love with.

Vol stepped even closer, letting his hands touch the sides of his Imzadi. Before quickly pressing against their body and moving to their lower back.

*Y-You said...* they tried to remind Vol of what he'd said the other night.

*If you don't want to, then I won't.* Vol stated plainly.

A single moment went by, before their lips met and everything faded away. This was what they had been waiting for all this time. Neither of them cared anymore, and they just let the world fall away.

They didn't even sense the curious eyes peering on them, or hear the small steps that pitter-pattered as they quietly retreated.

Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity/Alchemy