Dinner Time! (Part III)
Location: Liam's Restaurant
Timeline: sometime after MD 2, 2220 local
=/= OLD =/=
"Then my name is LONUS. We just ate a great dinner and we're talking as friends. When the uniform is off, leave it off unless we go to alert. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes sir," Liam said for his sister, his hands dropping down to touch the tail near his ankle, bringing it up to his lap where he could explore the texture without being too horribly obvious about it.
Ceri managed a blush.
=/= NEW =/=
Ceri had had enough to drink that she was pleasantly tipsy and relaxed and Liam had kept pace with her. The trio had finished their meal and retired to one of the small lounge areas in the far corner and been swapping funny and/or embarrassing stories.
Liam had just finished relating the time that he and a date had destroyed the data pad containing on of Ceri's final reports the night before it was due, doing a fair imitation of the look on her professor's face when she had explained why her report would be late. Ceri had had to spend the entire weekend rewiring the whole thing and the lateness had cost her a full letter grade.
"You had to go there didn't you," Ceri sent a playful glare at her brother, "Maybe I should tell him about the time you got locked in the cadet barracks and had to spend the night sleeping-"
She cut off as Liam slapped his hand over her mouth and smiled at Lonus, "He doesn't want to hear that story sister mine."
"Oh, no, please continue," Lonus set down his wine glass with a devilish smile.
Liam sighed dramatically falling back on the couch, "Fine, tell him."
"Well let's see," Ceri said, starting from the beginning, "Liam had to dive into the closet because Lukara, H'ta's roommate, came back to the room early. This wouldn't have been that much of a problem if Lukara hadn't sworn to skin Liam that next time he saw him."
"And why did Lukara want to skin Liam?" Lonus smirked.
"Because I broke things off with Lukara as soon as I met his roommate," Liam answered, "I need more wine." He got to his feet and headed to the backroom for a fresh bottle.
"Liam had to spend the entire night and into the next morning sleeping on H'ta's dirty clothes," Ceri said with a laugh, "While Lukara and H'ta set aside their differences and 'got back together.'" She made air quotes on that last.
"It's not my fault!" Liam protested, as he opened the new bottle of wine, "Your job was to keep track of who was dating who so I didn't end up sleeping with the wrong person."
"My job was learning to put people back together, not keeping you from getting taken apart," Ceri said, laughing at the memory.
"I leave those who are less... experienced alone unless they ask me to teach them." Lonus confided. "I introduce my lovers to each other and I see to it we remain friends. I've arranged a few pairings between friends over the years. I suspect Liam likes the danger and attention."
"Me?!? Like danger and attention?!? NEVER!" Liam said dramatically.
"Besides," Ceri said with a snort, "If we tried to introduce them all to each other we would have had to book the grand hall and schedule multiple events."
"Sounds like a party," Lonus took a long, slow draw from his wine as his tail curled.
"And hire body guards," Liam muttered, "I was a little indiscreet in my uh, youth."
"Sounds like a better party," Lonus laughed.
Liam and Ceri laughed together, as always the two sounds mingled together into a melodic sound, and it relaxed the pair of them as if the sound was a long lost blanket they hadn't known they'd lost.
"Your turn," Liam said as the laughter subsided.
Lonus swirled his plum wine in his glass, thinking back over his life for just the right story for this moment. At last he smiled and downed his drink, setting his glass on the table and leaning forward to face his companions. "I'm lucky to come from Deltan, Kolari, and Betazoid roots," he began. "I never grew up with the weird sexual hang-ups of most humans. I knew what to expect and how to behave long before my hormones kicked in. That said, I never 'scored' like rumors suggested. Oh, but there was one time..." he bit back a chuckle. "To explain, my family took down the Syndicate and some of the old Syndicate survivors marked me as a prime target for abduction and/or assassination. I traveled everywhere with a retinue of Deltan and Kolari bodyguards. Rumors put me in wild orgies with my guards or using them to sneak cadets into my room, sometimes both. Cadet drama is legendary, as I'm sure you know."
"Don't I know it," Ceri muttered.
"To be fair I was at fault for most of it while you were at the academy," Liam grinned unrepentantly.
Lonus laughed and continued. "I understood the need for bodyguards but they still cramped my social life. My guards never got in my way but few cadets wanted to squirm through background checks and probing personal questions just to spend time with me. Worse, Starfleet Brass hated my family, so any cadet stupid enough to get friendly with me stood to wind up scrubbing plasma inducers with tooth brushes for the rest of their careers. One particular admiral made no secret of his desire to drum me out of the service. Imagine my surprise when his one-and-only son started slipping notes to me on my PADD."
"Sounds like a set up," Ceri pointed out.
Lonus nodded, "I thought so too, at first but he kept at it until I wanted to know what his game was. Turned out I wasn't the only one stuck behind guards and expectations. He was curious about why his Old Man hated me so much." Lonus grinned at his next words. "We kept things between us cool and public but eventually hormones kicked in. We were in the mood to do something fun and stupid. We couldn't use our quarters without tipping off the whole academy. We couldn't use a classroom or a closet because of my guards, not to mention security lockouts and monitors but we took the same advanced piloting class. We used an excuse of studying for an upcoming exam to use the simulator. Remember how the simulator connected to the flight museum? We slipped in there and hid in the cockpit of an old Stiletto fighter." Lonus beamed wickedly. "We thought we were so clever until Justin stepped on the old manual ejection release."
Lonus shared his memory of the moment. They watched in their mind's eye as the canopy of the old fighter blasted off its hinges, followed immediately by an enormous, gas-powered explosion. An ejector seat rocketed across the museum, clothing flew in every direction like confetti, and two naked, screaming cadets flailed helplessly through the air until they crashed into nearby displays.
"I didn't think they still used gas-powered ejector seats what with emergency transporters..." Lonus returned to the moment with a sheepish shrug. "Starfleet engineers and 17 layers of redundant backups. I'll never underestimate them again."
Both twins burst out laughing.
"Gods what did Dieter say?" Liam asked after the night guard at the museum.
"He never got the chance to say much," Lonus frowned, thinking back on it. "We never knew it but the graduating class took the Kobiyashi Maru test in the simulator next door. The explosion set off the alarm and that in turn shut down the simulator. Admiral Carter and his class rushed next door to help with the emergency. Imagine the look on the Old Man's face when he saw his son."
"Oh no!" Ceri said laughing, "I was on with a crew that ran KM three times, it was miserable, I bet the cadets were glad for the interruption."
"Probably," Lonus sat back. "More likely they breathed a sigh of relief when Admiral 'Eats Cadets Live' Carter turned his attention on me instead of them. He did his best to drum me out on discipline charges but Justin stepped up and insisted on sharing all charges with me. So, his Old Man couldn't bust me out without ruining his son's career." Lonus curled his lips smartly, "I don't recall ever seeing Admiral Carter's face turn that shade of purple again." He cast a thoughtful look between Liam and Ceri. "After that I stopped worrying about meeting expectations and what others thought about me. I focused instead on why I wanted to be there and what I wanted to accomplish. Ironically, I had a lot more fun."
"I've seen his face that color," Ceri said her eyes twinkling.
"Oh?" Liam asked with a chuckle, "You seduce Justin too?"
"No," Ceri laughed, "I was in a class when he came in with severe abdominal pain, my instructor was trying to save his dignity a little not letting and of us scan him. But I was so focused the patient that I blurted out to the rest of the class his wife had put him on a special diet heavy in cruciferous vegetables. He didn't realize I was telepathic, it startled him so bad that he let one rip right there in front of everyone."
Lonus shook his head ruefully, "It's so sad when emotional attachment to reputation leads one to humiliation," Lonus smiled wistfully, "Oh, but it's so satisfying to witness when it's deserved."
"Especially when they are brought low by garlic butter brussel sprouts," Ceri said with a laugh, "He cleared the room. I suggested a level 5 containment field but the instructor felt that was a bit excessive."
"On that pleasant note I must go," Lonus breathed a sigh. "I have a pregnant Akane to feed and pet before bed."
The twins got to their feet at the same time and Liam leaned down to hug his sister closely before giving her a peck on the cheek. Ceri smiled at Lonus before taking her leave, "If you'll excuse me, thank you for a very pleasant dinner captain."
"Likewise, Ceri," Lonus took her hand before she made her way out. "I look forward to next time."
Liam's hand went to the back of his neck, smiling as he motioned to the door, "I'll walk with you, if you want."
Lonus leaned into Liam's touch and flicked him a knowing little smile. "You mentioned a private talk? We can take a walk through the Lifewell."
"Give me just a moment," Liam said turning towards the kitchen, "Let me pack you a basket to take back with you."
"Thanks," Lonus got to his feet and leaned across the counter. He watched Liam work with lazy swishes of his tail. "You're good with your hands."
Liam grinned, "I like to think so." He was filling a basket with a container of soup, some other finger food and the last of the veggies. When he had finished he lifted it and walked out from around the central cooking area, motioning for Lonus to lead the way.
Lonus walked past Liam and his tail brushed against Liam's leg affectionately. Lonus stepped out into the Lifewell and looked up at the artificial moon and stars. A comfortably cool breeze lifted his hair and he scented the fragrance of hundreds of nightblooming flowers from dozens of worlds. He checked to make sure it was safe and stretched mightily, his arms clenched in fists and his wings extending to their full length overhead. He stood on tip-toes to get the full pleasure of the stretch, flexing his muscles until he felt relaxed. He then dropped casually and folded his wings until they hugged his shoulders like a billowing cape.
Street lamps along the plaza shone dimly, leaving Liam and Lonus in companionable darkness. Insects and night beasts sounded in the distance as they began to walk.
Lonus tilted his head and cast Liam a coy little smile, "You wanted to talk?"
"More I wanted time with you without my sister," Liam said smiling at Lonus, "I hope we didn't keep you too late, wouldn't want to have gotten you into any trouble with your mate."
Lonus took the basket Liam thoughtfully prepared and it vanished in a blur of transit. "Tazu has your gift already and he's a happy Akane. As for my 'getting in trouble' our relationship doesn't work that way. I love Tazu, he carries my cubs, but we hold no ties or expectations against one another."
"How does that work?" Liam asked honestly as they walked through the quiet gardens, "My mind is wired that way, but I have found that most others aren't, most can't help their possessiveness or anger in a situation like that."
Lonus' gaze grew distant as he considered Liam's question. "There are many factors but I think ultimately it's because Tazu and I are telepathic. We keep no secrets from each other. We know our needs. We know what needs we can meet for one another and what we needs we can't. We discussed the kind of relationship we wanted and came to an amicable arrangement. No fuss, no muss, no drama." He cast Liam a sidelong look. "Tazu and I love each other and we offer that love freely because our lives are dangerous. We never know what might happen tomorrow."
"Funny when I tried the same thing it always ended up splashing on someone's pant leg," Liam muttered with a laugh, "then again I have never been around this many telepaths."
"From the sound of it you've spent too much time around the wrong humans." Lonus looked at the moonlight as it passed through the leaves. "There are exceptional humans. My father was human but you have to be patient to find one without the typical hangups." He stopped in a ray of moonlight. "I understand you met an exceptional human."
"T'alei," Liam said but this time without the sadness he'd had before, the night had been fun and not taken away from his love of the other man. He was learning to live with the pain and remember the joy.
"From the look on your face he was very special." Lonus offered a gentle smile.
"He was," Liam returned the smile, touching Lonus' arm he stopped them, "This has been a wonderful evening, I think we should end on a good note." With that he took the other man's hand and kissed it softly, taking a long moment before letting it drop.
Lonus caught Liam by the wrist with gentle but firm strength. He leaned close until they shared body heat, their cheeks nearly touching. He cupped the claws of his free hand and brushed them through Liam's hair. Lastly, he stared deeply into Liam's eyes and spoke in a low, confidential tone. "You're in pain," he stated plainly. "Loneliness is eating you alive and your sister can only help so much. I'm here to help until you feel better. No expectations, no drama, and no treading on T'alei's memory. I only ask that you think about it."
Liam nodded, not smiling for once, but he leaned into the touch. His thoughts were a jumbled mess as he tried to sort out his feelings about this new life his sister have brought them to. But he accepted Lonus' touch, enjoyed the contact for what it was, and deeply appreciated the offer that was in more than his words but in his touch.