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11 July 2009 @ 02:40 am
We'll Never Say Goodbye [Part Two: The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine]  
Title: We'll Never Say Goodbye [Part Two: The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine]
Author: igrab
Pairing: Nero (Oren), Ayel, and Mandana
Rating: R overall
Word Count: 2,195
Summary: Ayel knows that things should be different. He doesn't regret a single day.
Notes: I'm going by movie appearance for Mandana rather than Countdown. Because movie canon > comic canon. Also, I like it better.


Do figures of authority just shoot you down?
Is life within the business world a drag?


Ayel fingered the ends of his shirt, his thoughts taking a fast track on a hundred different topics as usual. He hated parties like these, and he was almost positive every other man and woman in the room did, too. No one liked diplomatic parties. They endured them.

He was drifting around the drinks table, doing his level best to look completely unnoticeable. It was a skill he'd practiced from a young age; a necessary skill, with a rich important Senator for a father. It was, so far, working quite well for him. A good handful of the Senate had taken their drinks and passed him by, and he amused himself by continually calculating what fraction of the people he'd seen were male versus female.

Crowd rustling; was something going on? He slipped between the elegant costumes and fragile chatter - ah, music. He was wondering why it was so quiet.

The young lady on stage was petite and willowy - often a dangerous look in the hawklike high-end company, but she held herself with a quiet dignity, just enough to show that she could stand up for herself, not enough to be arrogant.

Her instrument was a long, silvery set of pipes, that curved around her torso and steadied on the floor behind her. It was a complicated musical feat to be able to play, and to play well - even better. Her notes sounded like twinkling stars, dancing in the twilight.

Slowly, the people broke off and continued to mill about, and Ayel was able to move closer, a smile twitching onto his face. He really should have guessed. After all; what would a Senate party be without their best musician?

The talk around him was heavy with politics and vitriol and lies. He let it flow through his ears, imprinting itself on his memory to be perused later, in case of anything he need be concerned with, but for the most part he stood by the edge of the stage, hands clasped behind his back, and watched the girl play.

Her hair was definitely her defining trait. It was the best kind of Romulan hair, unruly and spilling curls out everywhere, unable to be restrained. It was so indicative of the indomitable spirit of her people, and, more particularly, of her herself. He knew that for a fact.

Her face was flushed green when she finished, almost a full hour later. Ayel hadn't moved. He was in the presence of a fine artisan, and no one else paid her the slightest bit of attention, because they were used to it. All of the Romulan Senators were used to this, used to fine wine and delicate food and beautiful music, all at the tips of their fingers. On a better day, more of them might have been appreciative, but he could feel the tension in the atmosphere, the palpable shift and creak of alliances breaking and forging. Everyone was nervous. He didn't know why.

"Ayel," a breathless voice said at his elbow, and he was jarred sharply back to the present. "You really didn't have to stand there the whole time, you made me nervous." Her smile said otherwise, and he easily read the teasing twinkle in her eyes.

"Mandana, my darling, would I be here if it was not exactly where I wanted to be? You look ravishing." It was true; when did her neckline take a nosedive like that? He was quite sure this was some sort of conspiracy.

"I look green." She shook head head, laughing, and threaded their arms together. "Come on, get me a drink like a good boy."

"You seem to be attached; and might I remind you, I am not a 'good boy'. You told me so yourself."

They made their way to the drinks table, much more slowly this time, navigating as a two-person team. "If you get me a drink, I'll rescind that promptly."

"What if I don't want to be a good boy?"

"Ayel, for logic's sake, get me a drink." She laughed, leaning against the table, still breathing heavily.

"Language language, missy." He poured her some juice, he knew she didn't drink alcohol when she was performing. "How long before your next set?"

"Long enough."

Oh, she had that look in her eye, the one that said 'there will be talks now, and you will not slither out of them.' He wondered if the entire party had been a setup, which of course it hadn't, but it was entirely possible that Mandana's performance was. He wished, very suddenly, to be back home where he belonged - not home in Ra'tleihfi, which, frankly, had not been home for years - his home in Mhiessan, at school, with Oren. He'd gone halfway across the planet to study astrophysics, which would have been fine, only now he wanted to do mining of all things and -

"Ayel, my parents have chosen a date within the time frame you requested. I just wanted to know if that's all right with you."

"Why shouldn't it be?" He raised an eyebrow, over his glass of wine. Really, he had nothing against her, or the marriage - it was what it stood for, the expectation that he'd give up this ridiculous mining career and join the Tal Shiar and marry Mandana. Which he wasn't going to do, not in the slightest, and he had a sister, which he continually reminded his father of. A sister who was a Centurion on a D'deridex-class starship, with eyes to promotion. She was clearly going to carry the family name and honor, and he certainly had no want for it. The only thing the s'Viaen clan name was good for, in his opinion, was being a bitch when he felt like it. And the only time he felt like being a bitch was when his clan got handsy.

And they were often handsy. The Tal Shiar had had him on their list since birth; he was exceptionally gifted and didn't he know it. He felt them watching, sometimes, the streets thick with them as Mhiessan boiled with intrigue. They must know he would never come willingly. It's a mark of their avarice, and a credit to his intelligence, that he's still alive.

He didn't want that. In fact, all he wanted was a mining ship and some drills and Oren, which went completely against everything he'd been taught to want. How illogical, he thought with a twisted mental smile. I should be getting a medal. I shouldn't have to do this.

But, on the other hand, Mandana was beautiful and smart and simply everything he could want in a wife, which was why he dithered so much about this whole thing. He wasn't allowed to want to marry her, which was also illogical, and he hated it when the government was hypocritical. Oh, wait, that was every day. He just didn't know how he was going to put up with so much hate.

Mandana would, of course, hate him if she knew how disloyal he was. She fully believed that he was going through with his astrophysics degree, heading into the Science Institute and, perhaps, designing starships. Or maybe just blowing things up, because that's all he really wanted to do lately.

She would hate him for being so disloyal, but not, perhaps, for the reasoning behind it. Whatever. He didn't really want to get into it, because their entire relationship - whatever it was - would fall apart without their engagement. So. He was going along with this, for as long as he could. He was a selfish, slimy bastard who loved a little too much to let go too easily.

It was the second time he'd really felt like a Romulan. This time, it made his skin crawl.

- + -

Oren seemed to think this was all way too funny. "No, I think it's great that you're getting married. Really."

"Oren." Ayel sighed, pooling himself in his friend's lap like a tame set'leth, and very nearly purring. "I can't get married. Getting married means having a family and being part of the clan and having... little Romulan spawn that my father can mold to his liking. It means going to fancy parties and making nice talk and most importantly, it means not being light-years away in a mining ship, with you."

Oren's hand was warm, stroking through Ayel's hair in a comforting pattern. "Ayel," he murmured quietly, his voice like beautiful mountains, "I can't be the be-all and end-all of your existence."

A moment passed. Then he pushed to a sitting position, eyes dark and intense and bright. "Why not," he whispered, the words hot in the black vacuum of nights that still remained oppressively warm. "I don't think you understand, the strength and depth of my devotion towards you. It can't be measured."

"I know," Oren murmured, his expression warm as he slid a hand around the back of Ayel's neck. "I know that. What I mean is... can't you have a family and a career? I want to get married some day. Have some little Orens. I would love that."

Ayel's brow knit together and he made a distressed sound, in the back of his throat. "That's different. You're not s'Viaen. Your family isn't prestigious - it's not an insult, it's just the truth." Both of them knew that Ayel would rather be anything but prestigious.

Oren's forehead rested against his own, and Ayel felt his breath leaving in a slow, moist 'whumph'. "I don't want them killing you because you won't marry her," he said, matter-of-factly.

And, that was a viable concern, as much as he hated it.

"Oren," he whispered, his eyes closed and nervous despite himself. He shouldn't be nervous, but he supposed it was only natural. "I want to bond with you."

He didn't look surprised; and Ayel wondered privately if he hadn't been thinking along the same lines himself. But, if he had, it was likely that he'd've just asked to begin with. Oren wasn't the sort of person who waited around. "Not that I don't want to, but I kind of question your timing, here." He was grinning. Ayel should've known that it could never be awkward with his best friend, no matter what.

He let out his breath in a rush, and shook his head. "My timing is fine. It's something that's been on my mind for a while, now." He fingered the edge of Oren's collar, knew that if he turned it down he'd see a familiar mark, mottled blue-gren against his collarbone. "No matter what happens, I want to tell the world that my first allegiance lies with you."

- + -

He knew that this would be a turning point. It took all of his courage to go through with it, because the small amount of defiant motivation that he'd had, safely ensconced in Oren's arms, had flown right out the window the next morning when he'd woken alone in their bed. Well, that wasn't unusual; Oren had class, but it was still jarring to realize that he had to go through this alone.

He had to do this. There was no question in his mind that this was how he was going to reveal his intentions; her reaction to it was up to her. She could understand what this gesture of bonding meant - completely aside from the overpowering love he felt, which was the biggest reason but not the only one - that he was choosing a side, choosing a lifestyle and a career and turning his back on his family, his clan, and the Tar Shiar. She could understand that. She would be upset and betrayed but it was up to her what to do about it - whether she lied for him, or blamed him, or set the metaphorical wolves on him; it was her choice.

There was also the possibility that she would only read one layer into this, and see it as a bonding ceremony between her fiance and his lover, and naively assume that it would not affect her. That, too, was her choice. In that case he would play along, but when push came to shove he could not say he didn't warn her. This was a warning.

So, he screwed up his courage, bit the bullet, and invited Mandana to his bonding ceremony.

There was one possibility that he had not expected. It was, of course, completely illogical.

But he was absolutely right when he said that this would change everything.

<- "The Dangling Conversation"
"Patterns" ->
 
 
 
Elanya: fanboyelanya on July 11th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
Two things:

Your Ayel is *disturbingly* like my Ayel, though our Neros are very different! In terms of family and heritage and so forth. Disturbingly! (See here if you are curious!

Also I am very very much enjoying this series, and I am exceedingly curious to see how you are going to handle the Nero/Mandana relationship, to go along with Nero/Ayel :) Please write more!
➵ she walks in starlight: trek: countdown / romulusigrab on July 11th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
I find that mega levels of awesome. Because that means I'm not crazy, probably. who am I kidding. All clues point to a rich family!

:D I will soon!