The Mature Species
A Camping We Will Go
Location: Timmoz's Yurt
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1800
On the jade-jeweled space rock that was Gentris IV, far from anything remotely Orion, the three-day remembrance was halfway through. Ur'eons... Qolaari, those Imperial Orions seldom remembered the festival. Planets were resources to exploit. The Botchoki did, however, see a planet as something slightly more. Or at least, something worth sending on.
209,670 years ago, the equatorial alliance of Sirrud and Botchok Cajus left Orion-That-Was-Dying. The details weren't important- they had been long lost in the Orion Age of Silence that followed. What remained was ritual: severing bonds of the earthly kind, and appearing Bunjeezu the Death God.
Timmoz wasn't religious... but why anger a God when one could easily appease them? Thus, as the Orion finished tying the black silk Fundoshi on his hipbone, he turned his attention to the inverted pyramid incense brazier. The smell was strong, like ozone and burning hickory. Timmoz lit each stick for the Principle Qodi in Bunjeezu's Caju, and then a central stick for Bunjeezu himself. He breathed in- and the incense had its effect. It made the Orion feel hungry and hollow.
He could taste the ash on his tongue. He muttered words in Orion: "Ur'eon is No More. We spread our seeds and fortunes to the stars." Timmoz's thoughts strayed to his personal diaspora as it had every year since leaving Botchok. It had a sting, but far less than it did those first years away from home.
Timmoz had demanded a yurt- something that did not have a surface or penetration on the planet's ground itself- to signify leaving those earthly bonds for space so long ago. And he eyed the hammock he had opted for instead of a cot or sleeping bag.
Timmoz eyed the small bottle of lubricant oil, smelling of an earthy musk with a jasmine-like note. He made sure it was near his hammock within reach. Then he began combing back and gathering his hair when he felt a tap at his yurt, He twisted back and saw a presence. "Come." He stated. Timmoz, for the moment, didn't leave the small altar he had in place.
In the light of the lanterns, his greenness had a warmer cast than his usual lime hue. He was nude except for the black silk fundoshi cloth and his usual copper armlet around his bicep. He lifted his hair and tied it back and then turned back to confront his visitor. He built spit in his mouth.
Hesitant, Irynya had stepped inside, catching a view of the Orion from behind as he tied up his hair. A part of her was desperate for someone to talk to. Another part wanted to go back to the lakeside and hide. But hiding wouldn't help and, in the end, she needed to talk to Noah. Avoiding seemed like a poor idea, but she'd gotten things so wrong that as the day wore on she'd begun to doubt her own judgment. And so she found herself outside of Timmoz's yurt, hoping he could help her sort through the morass of her... well... self.
Almost skittish, she averted her gaze, looking instead at the altar that had been set up. "I can come back another time," she said softly. "I didn't mind to interrupt."
With a shift of his leanness, Timmoz fully turned to face his adopted alien-sister. "You're not interrupting anything important," Timmoz said. "Just," he blinked and unleashed an irreverence in his Cluros smile, "An affectation. Just in case." He said. She was the first to enter his yurt since they'd set down on this rock. He finished tying up his hair and then absent-mindedly posed with relaxed hips and a hand on one of his ileum. His eyes squinted, discerning. His fingers drummed on the skin of his hip and the twisted braid of black silk under his palm. "More Dear Departed Taoji feelings, or is this something else?"
"If I didn't know better I'd accuse you of being an empath," the Risian grumbled, no longer averting her gaze now that Timmoz had confirmed she was welcome. "Something else and also not," she admitted, lips tightening into a thin line. "I've been self-flagellating " she confessed and the flat almost dull look in her eyes gave mire away than anything. "I messed up."
Timmoz's nodded was thick with absorbing what Irynya said. It was slow and steady. He finally, with a quick, decisive perk of his eyebrows spat on the floor of his tent and then bowed his hands out in a small arc. "Well come in, take off your worries. You're safe here tonight," he said, granting her Xo-I. "Forgive my attire," he smiled, "Though I know you will say no need. I was having a little chat with Bunjeezu." His eyes darted, bemused, and he moved to select a Tholian silk robe which he pulled over himself. "Tell me what has you whipping your normally glowing skin, Kava. My empathic skills are as such smoke as the incense."
Iry was quick to return the gesture, spitting with precise aim next to Timmoz's own saliva. She tried to remember the exact words she had heard Timmoz speak to the hostess in his holo-program, but failing that repeated his gesture back to him. "Thank you Qash." The relief in her tone surprised her. Timmoz had never turned her away, but a day of the kind of introspection she had engaged in left her less certain instead of more.
"I tried to kiss Noah last night," she said plainly. No point dancing around it though mortification reared up as she said it. "Truthfully if he'd not stopped me ai would have done more than that. As it was..." She sighed. "He ran, Timmoz. He literally fled."
Timmoz, patiently, chuckled with a note of concern. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Oh... Bunjeezu. Tu dor'ono spa'az, Kava." He moved and put his arm around her, his potent Orion scent from his underarm coming along with. He ushered her further in, beyond the draft of the tent flap and into the circular space that was an elaborate domicile. It was warm to the point of being feverish within. "That...." he wanted to begin diplomatically. He blinked genteely, and twitched a smile into place. "Seems out of character for your normal... everyday grace." He blinked. "What did he say before he ran away," Timmoz asked, "If anything."
She leaned into his side, melting into the embrace like it was shelter in a hurricane. Timmoz was warm, but then Irynya was Risian and warm was hardly unheard of for her. She drank that in too though the scent of him made her tense a moment, conflicted. His point, though, was kinder than she felt she deserved even if it was accurate. "He said no. Something about doing this before and losing friends. I..." She ducked her head into his shoulder, "it was fast and I honestly don't know if I remember correctly. Just the part where he left. He said be right back, but ... It must have been hours. I was asleep before he did."
"Ah," Timmoz said. "So, our little cadet has a romantic past after all. I pegged him as more innocent than that," the Orion said. "He feels... disinterested... in such things." Timmoz moved to his altar, "Kava... have you considered that our little cadet and Dear Taoji were friends as well? Humans..." He chuckled. "Are prudish little creatures. They don't have the eons of a mature, spacefaring culture that has tried and learned from its mistakes. Almost everything they bring to the V'draysh they do with that.... hmm, how do I put this nicely. Zealous innocence." He chuckled again, grinning, "And it is occasionally endearing. And very frustrating."
"I've known they were friends," she commented wryly. "The whole reason that Kennedy blew up at me was because he thought I was doing something inappropriate with Noah. And that... That was far more innocent than this." She sighed then, dropping down to sit.
As he approached with the small, shallow ramekin, he squeezed her shoulders, sighed and then dipped his fingers in the earthy-jasmine-like oil. When it touched Irynya's skin it had a hot, relaxing effect. He began to massage her neck and shoulders. His deft and agile fingers searched for the knots that sleeping on hard ground- and being around Humans- inevitably brought. "Have you heard the Human colloquialism that...." He sighed warm breath over her shoulders. "I will try to get this right... Brothers don't fuck their Brother's Partner?" He let her digest that.
She'd not heard that one. But it fit. The deft skill of Timmoz's fingers, though, were successfully beginning to loosen at least they physically knots she'd tied herself in.
"Nonsense to you and I. Our bodies are ours. But to a culture that has barely abandoned some of their instincts of spousal possession," and Timmoz grinned at the irony of that. Orions loved possession. But this one he understood via libertarian values. One might own slaves, our ofprotection, but one did not own a spouse. "You are still... hmm... sacred and off-limits to their detente."
In front of Timmoz as she was he wouldn't have seen the way her expression darkened. Her voice, though, carried a matching defeat tinged with the tiniest bit of disgust, though whether it was directed at herself or the two human men they were discussing, she wasn't even sure herself. "So even though Kennedy now has, emotionally and physically, no claim to me, as far as Noah is concerned I belong to him." The concept was so archaic that it made her squirm under Timmoz's hands. "That seems terribly unfair. Do I also belong to Rami? Marteli? How far back does my ownership go?"
"Own like property? Not always." The lime one shrugged. "But you are tied to Dear Taoji and so," he sighed and perked his eyebrows, "In their thinking, it would hurt Taoji for Balsam to pursue you. And perhaps there is that heavy-handed Human tendency to help when their help isn't wanted. Our Cadet might be trying to give you space after your relationship has ended." He chuckled. "List all the names you like, Kava. This is Human thinking. They avoid relationships with their partners of their former partners and friends. A few don't. Some seem to prefer communication over fidelity."
He worked to her other shoulder. "You are usually so perceptive of these things Kava," Timmoz said soberly, his eyes narrowing. "Humans being Human... what is pushing you to do this? And why Balsam? All I have seen of him this shoreleave is him looking miserable and avoiding Margarar."
She was quiet a moment, letting her chin drop to her chest as the warmth of Timmoz's handa and the salve he was using did their work. "I have been asking myself that all day," she finally asked. But the answers I come up with... they will sound ridiculous to him. And besides maybe he does not want this explained. Maybe he'd just as soon I leave him alone entirely now."
Timmoz scoffed at that, "You really should be holding a Hor'gahn when you say that," he said with a fiercely bemused, dripping irreverence look over his shoulder. "It is the best prop for martyrs." He tsked. "Now I know you're not yourself. The Irynya I know would never throw out a good friendship because of a kiss." Timmoz stopped massaging. It didn't seem to be working her down.
He went for a cloth near his hammock and wiped off the residual oil from his fingers. "I ask again. Why Balsam. He's... kind. Inoffensive. Safe and benign. But has he ever shown interest in anyone that way?" Timmoz twisted over his shoulder and smiled like an amused imp, "Pheromone-induced erections notwithstanding."
Eyes narrowed and a touch defiant, Irynya met her friend's impish gaze with more fire than she'd had for the entire conversation. "Yes. To me."
"But has he shown interest in others, not have others shown interest in him," Timmoz countered her defiance.
"I've kissed him only once. Last night it never even happened. I went in for it, but he moved out of the way. And... in this... you're asking me two different questions. Why Balsam and do I have reason to believe he'd ever want to... they're two different things." Had she been standing her hands would have gone to her hips and as it was she had trouble deciding what to do with them. She crossed her arms then uncrossed them, not wanting to keep a closed posture like that. But laying them relaxed on her knees felt wrong too. She settled for leaning back on them, propping herself up on her palms.
"Why Noah?" she said, with a point on the question as if vocal punctuation was needed. "Sometimes he reminds me of Marteli. And last night... I was missing home. I was wishing for something that I couldn't have. Something that... were Marteli here... would be natural as breathing. And I was confused and it hurt and Noah was just there and open and comfortable. He was..." she pursed her lips, "safe. Safe like Marteli is safe. Safe like you are, but also not because we don't..." She shrugged, not finishing that thought.
"If he was comfortable with you, then that's the only time this shoreleave I've heard of it." Timmoz shared his observation.
"But also, and you know this, I find him attractive. And... when I did kiss him..." That memory was more than clear. He'd mentioned Kennedy then, but there had been a second kiss and that one... "It didn't go further than a second kiss, but not because he lacked any kind of reaction."
If sighing was an art form the one Irynya gave now was full of all the things one needed to succeed in it. It was heavy and long, full of the weight of frustration and failure and also the lingering realities of unanswered desire that was more than just Noah's retreat if she was honest about it.
"Qash, I was selfish. I thought... maybe..." She pursed her lips to the side. "No. I didn't even think. I knew the minute he moved I'd failed to even do the most basically decent thing of checking consent. Maybe I just wanted to think that he'd want... that... me in that way... Not the way that like... you and Nico want each other... but... like the way that Marteli and I..."
Timmoz smiled, glancing at the ceiling, "Is it possible, Irynya, that you want someone inside you? especially after that mannequin called Taoji wanted you on a pedestal to admire rather than actually be with?" Timmoz waved his finger, in dismissal "Nico hasn't touched me since he got back from Pathfinder. He'd rather eat Debbie's food. Ersatz sex between us is..." He shrugged. "Banter."
The revelation that Timmoz and Nico had not, in fact, been intimate since the engineer's return caught her off guard. She'd sensed something was off, but it had not occurred to her that it would be that. The distance and time, sure, but that... she couldn't quite imagine what Nico was thinking.
But his relationship with Nico was a digression. "If he did want you that way, Kava, you are only a few days away from Walsh leaving. Doing that is would feel like a betrayal to him. He's Human." Timmoz didn't repeat what he felt like he'd had to keep saying: he had never seen Noah Balsam show genuine romantic lust for anyone.
Repeating wasn't necessary, though. Irynya heard the skepticism and chose to set it aside. Whatever Timmoz may think of Noah's sexual preferences, Irynya felt confident they existed, even if he might not view her in that light. "You're right," she said. "I know it. And now... I need to fix it. You were right earlier. I don't throw out friendships over a kiss. I just... I hope Noah doesn't either."
"Benign Balsam? I don't think you'll have any issues. Remember who you're dealing with." Timmoz replied. "But Kava. You might have to settle for a friend and a brother. And do what the rest of us do when the passion isn't clicking." He smirked, "I believe it's on deck three? 80 people isn;t a large mating pool."
"Says the man who did find a real live lover in that pool," she quipped back, with a touch of wry amusement. "Yes, I would like to feel good. But there is something about it being a person who knows me. Who actually cares about... making me feel good and who I care about pleasuring in turn. The holodeck scratches an itch--confirms everything is in working order. It doesn't care, though."
She took a step toward Timmoz, placing her hand on his arm. "Woldelaht. I was explaining woldelaht to Noah. After Rami... It was Marteli who did that for me."
"I see," Timmoz replied. He gestured at her with a roll of fingers to and back, "But how does Woldelaht lead to a kiss? Or more?" He smiled a toothy smile, amused again. "And can it handle an Engineer. Trust me. Being with an Engineer is not always easy. They'll always have a... fascination... with their little toys."
"Have you never made love to ground yourself in the physical... in the moment? To force yourself out of your own head?" Iry asked, stepping towards him at his gesture. "Does your engineer need to be drawn out of his head? If so then yes. It could work. Or it could work for you. If you need that. It's... It's about being in the care of someone you trust when you are most vulnerable so that you can move forward."
Timmoz cocked a thinking smile, which bore his canines. "Nothing so... spiritually tied... as I think you are hoping. In the past, I have... congressed... when I wanted to have it. And it was a pleasant distraction." Wily, the Orion shook his head, "But it never lasted. And it wasn't with people I may have cared a great deal about."
Timmoz smiled, "You know.... one of the great ironies of the V'draysh is they saw our women." His eyes narrowed, "Incredibly sensuous. Unattainable. So many men and women would kill for them." Timmoz pursed his bottom lip, "But we're not any more sexually voracious than any other group. The irony being, they throw us into the mix of sexual hedonists... thinking that a culture this old, it's all we have left." He chuckled darkly, "It's not true."
Timmoz shrugged. "I digress." His brows raised quickly and dropped again, in humor, "Again." Timmoz smacked his lips together. "My values land in the Orion camp, Kava. It is not for me to draw someone out of their shell, necessarily. Not if they don't want to be. Personal freedom trumps contentment or knowledge to us." He shrugged again. "It's not a V'draysh answer, but it's mine."
With a sigh Irynya drew her arms across her chest in a sort of hug. "I'm the one that wants someone to draw me out," she said resignedly. "I'd never..." but she stopped herself. She had. And Timmoz was, as he so often was, right. Her eyes dropped for half a moment as a fresh flash of frustrated mortification flashed across her features before hardening into something more neutral. "I should probably find Noah and apologize."
"You have many friends to draw you out. But won't force you out." Timmoz said. "Most of them are Humans. And Humans have some strange rules around relationships." He glanced sideways and back, "Strange to some of us, anyway."
Her arms constricted tighter, like they might hold all of her in, press all of the wanting and turmoil back into herself so that it wouldn't spill over onto anyone else. As if by doing so she might make her body language match her expression. "Thank you for listening Qash," she said, and her voice gave away the depth of her appreciation for her friend even as she worked on reeling her body language into order. Arms dropping to her side she offered him a half smile. "Surehm a Vendah." The words in her own native language were soft on her tongue, as if she were tasting them; breathing them out with a lilting warmth.
Timmoz curled a ropy arm around her shoulders and tugged her in. "I haven't seen him since I relayed him and the scientists to the waterfall site earlier. He might not be back yet. So that gives you some time to plan."
With a sigh Irynya leaned into the warmth of Timmoz's arm, resting her head again on his shoulder and this time letting the distinctive Orion pheromones do the job of relaxing her. "Who is bringing them back?" she asked quietly. "I assume they aren't leaving their equipment there. And since I'm not aware of any plans for me to fly..." she let the sentence dangle, sighing her appreciation of his warmth and snaking her hand around his waist, fingers drawing slow circles on his opposite flank. "I assume there's time. Would you tell me about what you're doing?" She tilted her head up to look into the dark eyes of her verdant friend. "If you don't mind sharing of course."
"You can bring them back if you prefer." Timmoz grinned in a Cheshire fashion. "But just so you know, they're a lot of noodle-armed scientists who struggle with carrying anything heavier than a Tribble." He teased. "Margarar is strong. But, you've seen Balsam's arms." He grinned more coyly this time, "Apparently at length."
When Irynya shifted the conversation, Timmoz looked at the altar of incense and accoutrement. "Ur're Kandur'eshum. It's a day of remembrance. Think of it as a funeral passing for one world, but the eventual birth of another." He grinned, "We sever our earthly bonds and prepare to seed the stars with our people." Timmoz shrugged. "It culminates in." He chuckled. "Spreading our seed?"
With eyebrows raised the Risian held her friend's gaze. "Timmoz... Nico is on the ship..." If it was possible her eyebrows popped higher, a chuckle on her lips as she waited, expectantly, for the Orion to expand on his statement.
Timmoz smiled wolfishly. "Nico's not an Orion either." He pouted a kind of shrug, and lifted a shoulder. "I do keep some things for myself, Kava."
Irynya's eyes sparkled with mischief and her arms tightened around Timmoz in a half hug. "Then I should probably leave you to it, Qash," she said, a teasing grin on her lips as she gently disentangled herself. "Thank you," her tone softened the mischief in her expression when she pulled away, "for taking time for me."
She paused at the entrance to the yurt, looking back with an almost devilish grin. "Have fun," she called in singsong and then she was gone.
"Thank you," Timmoz smirked.
A Post By:
Lieutenant JG Irynya
Assistant Chief Helmsman