USS Churchill

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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An Evening Encounter

Posted on Sat May 25th, 2019 @ 10:17pm by Captain Mr'isarr & Ensign Harlow Launceston

Mission: Off duty Postings
Location: Starbase 51
Timeline: Backpost

Since her arrival on Starbase 51, Harlow had achieved basically nothing, with the exception of an incredibly long shower. Now, finally feeling refreshed and clean, she pulled on a long sleeved black gypsy dress and sat on the edge of her bed running a brush through her hair, thinking back over the journey on the transport.

Initially Mr'isarr had been a source of protection against the unwanted advances that had come her way, but through the journey she had found herself more and more captivated by his presence. He had a strength and powerfulness unlike anyone else she had ever encountered, yet at the same time there was something about him that was unfailingly kind. She was drawn to him in a way that she really just didn't quite understand.
The chime of the door startled her, making her drop her brush as she jumped. Standing up, she smoothed the front of her dress and tucked her hair back behind her ear as she walked silently to the door, taking a deep breath before opening it.

A shower helped greatly in making him feel more himself and it was much needed for what lay ahead. He considered what to wear and yet the uniform seemed out of place. He was glad that he packed a few alternatives and so with them freshly ironed his attire of a three piece outfit of jacket, a vest similar to a waistcoat and pants to finish. He had taken the required time to trim, make sure that his fur stayed in place. His claws were sharpened and polished, whiskers cut to an expected length. Once he was set he departed.

The time on the transport ship while long in duration he welcomed the company. Pleasant conversation and engaged in a variety of topics and she honoured him by touching his hand, doing so again when when they disembarked.

He stood outside her doors, he would have had with him a gift but the computer was among him questions, about the nature of the meal, answers he didn't have. He pressed the door come announcing his arrival and patiently waited.

As the doors slid open silently, Harlow's gaze travelled slowly up over his form before meeting his eyes, smiling warmly. She stepped back to allow him access to her quarters. "Come in," she said softly. "It's nice to see you again Mr'isarr." Though her pronunciation was still off, it was definitely better than it had been earlier. "Can I get you something to drink?"

Seeing her once the doors opened he once again bowed, as customary to all females. "Water, please." Glad for the offer water may seem simple but often ideal for Caitians. He stepped in allowing the sensors to permit the doors to close behind him. "Thank you for inviting me. You look, if l may, beautiful."

A feeling of warmth rushed over her at his words. "Thank you," she murmured softly, feeling the color in her cheeks again as she walked silently across to the replicator, getting two glasses of slightly cooled water before returning to him, handing one across to him before taking a seat on the couch. "Sit with me?" she asked with a smile as she motioned toward the couch. "Though maybe you should sit and I should stand, it would help even our heights," she laughed softly.

In a normal situation he would have sat on thr floor to avoid her standing in her own home. But the offer made and one he would not decline, culture demanded it. "As you wish." He answered. "Somewhat better now being off the transport ship is it not?" He asked, not really sure how things were to proceed, the truth behind the matter, he'd never been on a date.

Harlow smiled as she sat on the arm rest of the couch. While still not evening their heights, it was slightly better, and it meant she was closer to him than by standing. "I've never been so glad for a long shower, it was hard to get out. I probably could have stayed there all night," she said before taking a sip of her water. "Thank you, for keeping me company on the journey, it made it much easier to deal with. I'm not very good with dealing with people, especially lots of people like that."

He smiled. "What l am comes has benefits at times, more so that I'm almost fully grown." As he grew especially to a point to being taller and bigger than most he found a vast majority of people avoided or simply stepped aside from his path. "I am honoured to have been of assistance." He sipped his water, admiring the dress and more so the hair.

Harlow paused, contemplating on his words. "I enjoyed spending the time with you," she confessed quietly, her words sounding almost awkward as she spoke them. "And I'm glad I get to spend time with you again now."

"I am honoured you invited me. Though I am afraid several people saw me on the way here and some standing outside your doors." He was worried that people would talk, that his being seen would cause her problems and issues that she would have to deal with because of him. Something which he would be ashamed of.

With a shrug, Harlow reached out and touched his hand again lightly. "I don't care," she said softly. "Not that who visits me in my quarters should be anyone else's concern..." she paused for a moment, realising that his concern may have been for himself instead. "But if it bothers you, you are free to leave," she finished softly, pulling her hand away.

"It is no bother, I would just be ashamed if through my action you were to suffer some consequence inflicted upon by another." In simpler terms, he didn't want to cause her any discomfort or embarrassment by his being seen attending her quarters. He thought to the meal, dinner, wondered what was set in mind. "May I ask what you propose for dinner?" He admired the dress, how it held her frame, curves and suited her well, her legs highlighted by the skirt part of the dress as she sat on the arm of the couch.

"If you don't object, I thought we might just get something from the replicator. I can't cook, at all. The one time I tried I set off the fire supression system in my quarters, so I either order from the replicator or go to the mess hall." Harlow laughed softly. "But if you want to go to the lounge or somewhere else we can."

"The replicator will suit fine." The lounge or elsewhere that she had kindly offered meant more people and after an ordeal of a transport ride just to get here packed with people, freedom from extra people was welcome.

“Do you want to eat now?" She slid off the arm rest of the couch, standing in front of him, looking into his eyes momentarily.

"If you wish to wait I would be open to it." He answered. "Otherwise I will eat when you are ready to." He replied as he looked up at her standing before him. The dress she wore reminded him of similar styles that he saw on the Homeworld at the time of his departure. It was a pleasant reminder, one that caused him to smile.

She remained standing in front of him for a long moment, caught in the way color reflected in his eyes. "Will tell me something more about your world?" she finally asked quietly, tearing her gaze away from his and returning to the couch, this time sitting next to him.

"Well. On my world the females are the dominant of the two genders. You may have noticed my bowing to you, a custom that all males from my Caste must do as it shows respect and acknowledges proper place." He began to explain at least some of the easier topics of his species. "Males are forbidden to touch a female without permission, only in strict situations can such be done such as preservation or life or protection from danger but even so, we must surrender a gift, something personal to repair the wrong doing of such a unpermitted touch."

"Oh..." Harlow said softly as realisation dawned on her. That suddenly explained a lot. An awful lot. "I guess that can make things complicated sometimes." She kept watching him as he spoke. "So a male can't touch a female... does that apply to non Caitians as well?"

"It does, any female regardless of species is afforded the same respect as a Caitian female would." He answered. "For a female to offer her touch is to honour the male. " He continued as he looked at her seated beside him. He tried not to draw in her scent too much, slower breaths.

Harlow paused for a moment, thinking of the number of times she had already touched his hand, wondering if maybe she had somehow inadvertently caused some kind of offence. Instinctively she pulled her hand away, reaching up to tuck her hair back behind her ear instead. "I'm sorry if my touching you caused offense," she said softly.

"Not at all. I considered it an honour that you would do so without fearing what I obviously appear to be." He answered as he looked at her, wondering that if by his explanation he'd now made her uncomfortable with him.

"But why would I fear you?" she asked softly, clearly confused by this sentiment.
"As I mentioned on the transport. Many do not see beyond what I appear to be, it can be cause for pause in most that interact with me, even other males." He explained.
Harlow stopped again,, smiling as she watched him for a moment in silence. “I don’t fear you,” she said quietly, reaching out, her fingertips brushing over the back of his softly furred hand. “I don’t fear you at all.”

"I am thankful." He responded, there was relief that could be heard in the tone of his voice. The touch of her hand once again gracing his own, gentle, delicate, friendly and yet, new.

“Tell me more?” She asked with a smile as her fingertips continued tracing across his hand. “Do you miss your homeworld?”

Looking down at this hand where her fingers delicately traced over his fur he considered her question. "Yes, but also no." He stood up and paced a bit. "As you can see my fur is white, on the Homeworld such an occurance is rare, its considered a gift. It is highly regarded and when I passed my training and announced my intention to leave the Homeworld for Starfleet I was strongly encouraged to remain. A mate would have been provided, a home, nearly every luxury afforded and offspring encouraged, all because the colour of my fur." He explained though he was clearly troubled by it as while it sounded great, it also sounded like a luxury breeding program. "I do not wish to live my life at the luxury of others because of anything other than what I accomplish."

She watched as he paced, a shiver rushing over her as she took in the pure power exuding from his being as he moved. "You want to be accepted for who you are, not because of a circumstance of your birth," she surmised softly. That was a feeling she understood incredibly well. She fell silent, looking down as she folded her hands in her lap, her hair falling down around her face. After a moment she looked back up at him. "It must be hard," she said softly. "Feeling judged, not only by the people who feel intimidated by you, but by your own people for making your own choices."

"The intimidation I can accept, I can not hide what I am in the eyes of other races, the judgement from my own kind is the hardest to accept." It was strange for someone of his size to express discomfort over a situation outside of his control, especially over something as intimate as home.

As she watched him, Harlow felt conflicted. He was single handedly the largest, most powerful and most imposing individual she had ever met, yet seeing him as he was, here, in front of her, speaking as freely as he was, she had an overwhelming urge to comfort him. Standing on the couch to help even the difference in their heights, she inhaled slowly, remaining silent and simply motioning for him to come closer to her.

Watching, slightly puzzled by her action though even now as she stood on the sofa she remained some height shorter. He suspected what she sought to do, other females had done similar when in times he felt homesick or otherwise. He walked to her, his size easily dwarfing hers, still looking down slightly. Already the room held her scent faintly though stronger when next to her. Still there was a comfort, she didn't fear him, was not put off by what he was or scared by it, there was a sense of warmth in him for that.

Setting a hand on his chest to steady herself, Harlow reached up, tracing her fingertips slowly down the side of his face, a smile playing on her lips. "Well their loss is my gain," she said softly. "Now I'm the one that gets to enjoy the pleasure of your company." She paused for a moment, just looking into his eyes, her fingertips still against his face before she drew in a shaky breath, pulling her hand away slowly. "I... uh... I promised you dinner didn't I?"

"Indeed." He answered stepping slowly sideways so that if she should wish, use him as support to step down. "Have you decided on what you would like?" He asked, waiting, supporting.

With her hand trailing down his arm as she climbed off the couch, Harlow took a deep breath and straightened her back, smoothing the front of her dress. "My thoughts have been decidedly preoccupied," she replied with a grin. "Is chocolate an option? I can never resist chocolate."

"Liquid or block form." He asked as she stepped down from the couch she was previously standing on. He knew that he would have to shower at nights end to remove her scent, her scent upon him, this close and strong, he knew there would be complications if he didn't.
She laughed as she started walking toward the replicator. "I don't discriminate, chocolate is chocolate. I'll take it any which way it comes, except dark. I don't really like dark chocolate much." Turning, she looked up, brushing her hair back again. "What about you? What do you want?"

"Liquid is easier to eat, Caitians lack the teeth to crush blocks of food." A liquid also wouldn't lodge between his teeth too, which could be uncomfortable. "An accompaniment with it?" He asked wondering what would be joining the treat, ice cream, wafers, any other dessert components. He stood hands together in front of him, patiently waiting, a pleasant appearance that was both graceful and yet dominating of the room at the same time.

"You want chocolate too?" Harlow asked with a laugh, clearly surprised. "Normally I get told chocolate is definitely not a meal...." She contemplated for a moment. "How about a chocolate fudge sundae?" she asked finally.

I tried to explain to him that Marines, and CAG like fighters etc are loaned units. They can be aboard ships and stations etc but they report to the Captain, they don't sub division under another department.

"That would be nice." He knew from painful experience that eating too much too fast caused what was called 'brain freeze', an experience he sought to avoid. "Though, a slightly bigger spoon if I may for myself."

Harlow thought for a moment before smiling. “Do you object to sharing?” She asked softly. “You can have your own spoon of course.”

"I do not object, no." He stood and even smiled, relaxed and at ease enough that the tips of his fangs appeared from under his lip. His whole body language showed he was more at ease, ears, whiskers, even the gentle left and right sway of his tail behind him.

Programming the order into the replicator, Harlow waited for the order to appear, picking up the tray and carrying it across to the table, setting it down. In the center of the tray was a large bowl of ice cream with lashings of hot chocolate fudge and whipped cream. In smaller bowls around the side were assorted fruits and berries, cut into smaller pieces to make them more manageable. Finally, set on the tray were two spoons, neither of regular size. A larger spoon for him and a smaller spoon for her. Taking the chair, she pulled it around the table so instead of sitting across from him she was sitting beside him, motioning for him to join her at the table. "Do you like fruit? I didn't think to ask, I'm sorry," she said softly.

"Some, but not all but please do not let it dissuade you from enjoying the treat." Last thing he wanted to do was let his own ease of preference to sully her enjoyment of what she wanted. Seeing her motion to him he walked to the table and pulled out the chair indicated next to her, it was small but he wouldn't be in it long, it would suffice for now. The act however reminding him that he would probably need to seek Engineering's aid in fabricating a new bed, furniture and such to suit his weight and size.

"But I want you to enjoy it too," Harlow replied with a smile as she watched him. "I would be a terrible host if I didn't see to the comfort of my guests."

"You have honoured me already by the invitation." Which as far as his ways was more than enough regardless of what happened. "Please, enjoy." He picked up the spoon, the much larger one more suited to his own and fiddled with it to find a comfortable and stable holding method.

Picking up her own much smaller spoon, Harlow dragged it through the fudge slowly and deliberately making a practiced swirl of ice cream and fudge before scooping a small amount out and eating it. "If I could get away with it I would eat chocolate for every meal," she said, an almost dreamy tone to her voice as she savoured the dessert.
"We have a fish on the Homeworld, its protected and difficult to export off world. However when numbers permit and cooked the fish is considered a delicacy." Mr'isarr scooped some of the dessert upon his own spoon and slowly, once his whiskers were pulled back, slipped it into his mouth to eat.

"What else do you like to eat?" Harlow asked curiously as she picked up a piece of strawberry and popped it into her mouth.

"Fish is my more desired of meals, meats of most kinds I can eat though slowly. A majority of vegetables I cannot eat as it does not agree with our systems. Some fruit is acceptable but not many, apples are my favorite in that category however." He explained, then went on to talk about some of his other favoured meals and dishes, especially those he cooked himself since he did enjoy cooking.

"Maybe next time you could make dinner for me?" Harlow asked with a smile. "That is, of course, if you want to have dinner again?" There was a hint of hopefulness to her voice as she spoke, watching him carefully.

"I would be honoured to cook for you." Once again illustrating the matriarchal setting of his ways. "Perhaps once we arrive on the Churchill, we can arrange a time suited when duties permit for me to do so?"

"I would like that Mr'isarr," she said warmly. "Your homeworld must be very different to Earth..." she mused softly. "Is it pretty there?"

Mr'isarr spoke about his world, about the various beauties, the wonders he saw when he was young, and the things he missed even still. He spoke of the unity in the province even if they were a province of warriors they still supported the collective whole. The spoke of the skills of the artisans there, the famed talents of the dress makers for females. He spoke of how the Pri'archs colossal castle that stood high on top of a cliff with the famed 1,000 step path to it. He spoke of the forests, the lakes and oceans. He spoke about how it rained and when he was younger he would play out in it much to the annoyance of his mother.

Having long since lost interest in eating the ice cream, even with the chocolate, Harlow had set her spoon down and watched him as he spoke, captivated by both his words and his mannerisms, even laughing at stories of his childhood antics. "It sounds amazing," she said softly. "I understand why you would miss it."

Looking down a moment as if embarrassed that he'd spoken at length about his Homeworld, even if at her request, fearing that he'd gone for too long. He himself only sampled the desert a few times more mostly due to the coldness being somewhat painful to his teeth.
Harlow watched him for a moment before drawing a deep breath. "I never went off Earth until I left the Academy," she said quietly. "At least, not that I have any real recollection of. I always like hearing about other places, everywhere sounds exciting and adventurous."

"We take classes before we leave the Homeworld, to prepare us for the social differences we might expect by other races because of what we are known for, appear to be. When I joined Starfleet it was very much a learning curve not just academically, but socially as well." He explained, though Earth had its beauties it would never compare to Cait.

She fell silent again; unable to help but feeling sadness at the fact that so much of his life had been tainted by the perceptions of others. "Do you ever contemplate just going back to Cait and being among your own people again?" she asked softly. "Not having to deal with others anymore?"

"I did think about it after my graduation, I have discovered that many seek the comforts of the known, the same species for example. Seldom is companionship sought with another race and less so with one that such as myself can inflict great harm on others." He explained though he tried to hide the sadness in such facts.

Standing up, she closed the step and a half between them, pausing next to him momentarily as she looked up into his face. Even sitting he was still taller than she was. Reaching up, she put her arms around his neck, closing her eyes as she rested her head against his chest for a moment, just sighing softly, a gesture of comfort.

Letting her do as she wished, as was her right as a female to do he sat there letting her hold him. It was a kind gesture, a warm gesture and he understood why. She however had not given permission for him to touch her and as awkwardly as it might as seemed, or disinterested as he may have appeared, he couldn't touch. His ways forbid it.

Pulling away from him for a moment, Harlow simply looked up into his face, the thumb of her right hand resting on the ridge of the collar around his neck as she looked into his eyes. Slowly her left hand ran along his shoulder and down the length of his arm until her hand covered his. With a soft smile she picked up his hand and raised it to her face, resting his palm against her cheek, her hand still covering the back of his hand as she leaned into him slightly.

Her scent covered him now and strongly, her touch was gentle and considerate to which he didn't take offence or discomfort, only honoured that she would do so. His hand when raised to her cheek was large easily covering half her head within his furred grasp if he wished to. He was particularly mindful that he didn't cut or catch her with his claws, he'd just had them treated, sharpened them himself while he waited for the transport.
“Mr’isarr, Is this okay?” She whispered, still looking into his eyes.

"It is, though perhaps I should explain something to you that you should be aware of." He could see she was an affectionate young woman, but his ways were vastly different and sometimes could be overwhelming. With his other hand he gestured towards her chair, an offer, not a request, but he did need to explain.

Suddenly feeling like she had done something wrong she pulled away and nodded silently, returning to her chair and watching him, colour burning at her cheeks as she reached up and brushed her hair back from her face. “Okay?” She said quietly, her voice wavering with the single syllable.

He paused for a moment after she sat, considering how to best inform her. "My...ways, as you know are rather strict in its dealing with females. As such, and with that in mind I feel that I should to avoid the hurting of feelings or situations undesired from arising tell you about bonding." He brushed his whiskers on one side as a few had tangled between themselves.

"Unlike most species, who pick a partner, or Mate, as we call them we Caitian's determine this by scent. Everything you touch leaves a scent unique to you upon it. It is that scent which we process chemically. We do not so much pick a pick a partner in the same sense as you would. When we Caitians find a scent, it begins the chemical reaction within us and we are drawn to it, driven to it. It can take weeks or months for the process to finish, determining if this scent is suited to us." He paused, next came the harder part.
"Our...." He paused to find the right word. "Relationships are not fleeting. We mate to one, for life. On the Homeworld we are discouraged from seeking a mate from another species because of the implications that has. If left, if the relationship is broken, the Caitian will die from the imbalance."

“Oh...” Harlow replies quietly, not entirely sure whether she really understood or not. “I...” she smoothed her skirt before folding her hands in her lap, looking down at them in silence for a moment. “Thank you for telling me that.”

"I felt it prudent to do so. It was only right that you know since you said before you knew little of our ways and customs on the transport." He explained, hoping that maybe it shed light on a few things, his actions and such.

“I don’t quite know what that means,” she said softly, confusion clear on her face.
"It means, should one of us find a Mate and be claimed by her, should she leave us or die herself, so too will we." He answered. "The chemical reaction we undertake changes, the scent of the female keeps the balance. Without it......"

“Without it you can’t live,” Harlow said softly. “Does that mean I shouldn’t touch you?” She asked. “I... I don’t want to hurt you...”

"Short periods are fine. I will retire tonight and shower and change. You need not worry for me." He replied trying to be reassuring as he could be.

“How long is too long?” Her questions were equal parts genuine curiosity, concern for his wellbeing and disappointment at the perception that any future time they spent together may be cut short. “Does this mean I can’t see you again?”

"You can still see me should you wish to honour me with your presence." He answered her latter question first as he felt that had the larger impact at the moment. "I would need to be exposed to your scent continually for several weeks before it became anything else."

She nodded slowly. “I still want to see you, if it won’t harm you,” she said with a small smile. “I enjoy your company, possibly more than I have ever really enjoyed anyone else’s.”

"Then I promise I shall inform you before anything happens, should that put you at ease?" He asked, hoping that would suffice, though he wouldn't know when that would be since he'd never really been in the position before.

“Is there anything else I should know?” She asked, watching him still. “Do you turn into a wolf during a full moon? Or change back into a mouse at the stroke of midnight?” There were so many thoughts racing through her mind she couldn’t separate any one from the jumble of others. It was confusing, to say the very least. At least confusion was something she was used to.

"I would make for a very large and heavy mouse if that were the case." He mused. "No, I remain as I am, just as you see me."

“Good,” she said with a smile, tucking her hands under her legs so she wouldn’t be tempted to touch him again, swinging her legs above the floor. “Is there anything else you can tell me about your homeworld?” She asked. Talking was safe, she hoped.

Talking about the Homeworld was easy for him, his memories were fond and plentiful, his experiences varied and many. He often thought about what it would be like now since it had been some time since he'd set foot on it, wondering how much it had changed, if buildings he remembered were still there, how the tree he climbed often as a child was fairing, the flower beds he helped plant were still sprouting all kinds of beautiful flowers.

Listening to him talk about his home Harlow couldn’t help but smile. There was a genuine happiness in his eyes as he spoke, and he seemed more animated than she had otherwise seen him. “It sounds like it was a beautiful place to go through childhood,” she said with a wistful smile.

"Much of my youth was spent in training for my adult years, in my Caste, our training produces warriors, fighters, they also produce the bodyguards for the Pri'arch all of which are female." He answered as he watched her and how she was sitting. "You seem....troubled since I mentioned about scent earlier, is everything alright?"

Harlow sighed softly. “I don’t know,” she finally admitted quietly. “I’ve not really found a lot of people I have ever enjoyed spending time with, usually I prefer to be alone because people confuse me too much and I’ve enjoyed your company, more than I ever thought would be possible. I don’t want to not see you again, but I don’t want to hurt you either, even if it isn’t intentional, so I don’t know what to do.” She laughed softly, and shook her head. “It just figures.”

"As I mentioned, I will inform you before anything happens, you need not worry on my account." Once again showing that females are superior, males the subordinate. "It will take weeks at least and if you are so concerned about it, we can meet outside where the breeze will take your scent away from me." It was unusual for him to meet a female that thought of him as important like that, on the Homeworld his welfare would hardly be considered, it was the duty of the male to serve.

Harlow smiled and nodded, “I’ll try to remember that then,” she said softly. “Do you want something else to eat?” She asked, standing up and starting to clear away the plates. “Sorry, I know ice cream and chocolate isn’t everyone’s idea of a good meal.”
"Sometimes it is the company that makes the meal, not the meal itself." He responded as he also stood and helped clearing the table, even if there were only a few things it would have been rude for him to sit there and do nothing while the female did all.
Taking the dishes from him, Harlow shook her head quickly. “Sit,” she admonished gently. “You’re my guest, and my friend, not my servant. I can clear the dishes. Do you want some more water?”

"As you wish." He spoke handing over the dishes and taking a seat once again on the couch, his tail hanging over the edge next to him. "I am fine, thank you." He replied to the offer of water.

Finished clearing the dishes and their glasses from earlier, Harlow replicated herself another glass of water and carried it across to the couch, setting it down on the coffee table before joining him. “What else would you like to talk about?” She asked with a smile.

"I have been wondering about the coloration of your hair. Do you change its appearance often or keep the same colour as a liked preference?" He asked.

Harlow smiled slightly. “It’s been this colour since my second week at the academy. Being the girl with the purple hair was better than the alternative. I guess I figured if I had to stand out, if may as well be for something I liked.”

He could understand the wish to stand out, everyone to some measure or another did, for him it was easier than most but the purple hair he had to admit did help facilitate her need and desire rather well. "Is purple the only colour it has been, or did you experiment with it before deciding?"

"Only ever purple. I don't know why, there was no reason really, it used to be blonde, really blonde, almost white, and one day I just woke up and decided I was going to make it purple and it's been that way ever since." Harlow smiled. "I contemplate other colours sometimes, I thought about maybe red, or maybe black, but I kind of like the purple now."

She was slightly taken aback at the statement. "Why should it bother them?" she asked softly. "Do your people never do anything to change their appearance?"

“Some Elders believe in the purity of what we are as a beacon of how far we have come, others believe that to change ourselves is to deny what we are and the potential we can achieve, because we don’t accept who we are completely.” He explained. “In my case, to do so would bring considerable shame to my family, and my province.”

Harlow thought about his words for a moment before she shrugged slightly. "Well, in that case, I guess it's a good thing I don't have any family or province to shame," she said quietly. After a moment of silence, she looked up at him and smiled. "Besides, I'm kind of attached to it purple now."

He smiled at her answer, seeing that purple did suit her well, but then another notion came to mind, one that he should have considered before. “I hope that my being here does not cause any impact to anyone you are currently courting.” Last thing he wanted to do was to get in the way of a relationship.

"Courting? Me?" The expression on her face was nothing short of incredulous before she laughed, shaking her head slowly. "I am not seeing anyone," she said , her voice still light with laughter. "Not now, and not any time recently. I guess I'm not really what anyone considers the courting type."

While there was some relief seen, he still didn’t understand the complexities of relationships of other races, he was a marine so it was not exactly a priority for him and most other saw a mix of what his appeared to be and the uniform. “I see, I apologise if that question was sudden. Caitians view relationships very seriously as you know and the interruption of one is most disrespectful.”

While there was some relief seen, he still didn’t understand the complexities of relationships of other races, he was a marine so it was not exactly a priority for him and most other saw a mix of what his appeared to be and the uniform. “I see, I apologise if that question was sudden. Caitians view relationships very seriously as you know and the interruption of one is most disrespectful.”

Harlow smiled slightly as she watched him. The question was somewhat unexpected, but did it mean that there was a chance that he was interested? "You can ask me anything you like," she said quietly. "I don't have anything to hide."

With permission given, something he had secretly and silently sought he considered for a moment what to say. "As I mentioned before, any saw me on my way here, some observed me outside the door. I do not wish to put you in a situation not of your doing, if asked, what would you wish for me to tell them?"

"Just growl at them and they'll run away?" Harlow suggested somewhat teasingly. "But if anyone did dare to ask, then just tell him that I asked you to spend the evening with me," she said with a smile. "I like you and I like your company, and I do hope they will see you outside my quarters more often."

"As you wish." A saying that she would hear often in her time spent with him. "Though might I offer my quarters if I am to cook for you, I understand some enjoy watching people cook." This would mean he’d have to use utensils since normally his claws would do most of the work. Only the Mate could see his claws in a social setting.

"I'd like that," Harlow replied with a smile. "As long as it doesn't break any of your rules."

"It does not." His gaze once again to her hair, then to her attire. The off the shoulder design similar to styles of the Homeworld though it lacked the open section at the torso where if pregnant it would show. Stopping short of the knee, arms covered with a small golden chain around her neck. Since he had permission to ask anything, he did. "The decoration you wear, is that of import or significance?"

Her hand went up to her collar bone, her fingertips resting on the small charm hanging from the gold chain before she shook her head slightly. "I got it when I graduated from the Academy. Right before I left Earth. I found a little junk store filled with all kinds of trinkets and treasures and this was among them. I decided to treat myself as a graduation present," she said with a smile. "I just liked it is all."

"When you hugged me earlier, you may have noticed the collar I wear." It was hard to avoid, very sturdy, thick and resilient. "We are given one on out 5th birthday and we replace it as needed. The old one is destroyed, the current one is not only a guard for our neck which is considered a very private location on us, but the collar is also given to the Mate upon claiming as a gift. It symbolizes that with her he exposes his weaknesses to her, trust, faith. He can should she desire from his collar make one for her out of it, a bracelet or keep it as it is for display purposes." He explained, since it was the only kind of addition to his appearance beyond clothing.

She smiled and nodded. "I felt the collar there," she said quietly. "I had wondered...." she stopped speaking momentarily as she watched him. "Claiming... is that part of the bonding you mentioned?"

"It is." He answered. "Upon claiming it is removed and with that the female will place her scent marker upon the male. Once done the male is required to do the same, which for a mixed species pairing can be daunting for the non Caitian given the location and what is involved."

"What makes it so daunting?" she asked curiously.

Not an unusual question he thought. "Considering what I am, and what I appear to be, there is an understandable unease with the idea of putting ones neck between my jaws for me to scent." He responded.

"Oh." Harlow replied simply. "I can see how some people might be intimidated by that," she said softly. "Is that why you're discouraged from mating with non Caitians?"

"Not strictly, it is more aimed towards the understanding that for some species, relationships are fleeting or prone to ending. Such an ending for a Caitian once claimed and bonded, nearly always results in death of the Caitian unless the break is in the very early stages." He answered having known of cases where such things happened, having lost a training friend to one such case.

Harlow remained silent, just contemplating the entire situation. "I can't even begin to imagine..." she said quietly. "I mean... I don't think anyone ever goes into any relationship wanting it to end or even thinking about it ending... but to know that the consequences would be so devastating... especially when being in Starfleet makes everything so uncertain." She sighed softly. "Are Caitian females so strongly attached to their mates as well?"

"They are, it is often that females bond to males before males bond to them. It does not diminish in any way the union of the two as both will bond to each other in time." He answered. "With the female being the figure of home and society, the owner of property and position its understood that bonding quickly will bring ease to the transition, resulting in a prompt return to duties."

"Are you ever considered equal?" Harlow asked softly. That was probably one of the things that left her most unsettled.

"No, the closest a male can come to being considered equal, though will never be, is if the female should deem the male worthy of marriage." He answered, hands in his lap as he spoke.

"Your relationships are so confusing," Harlow said with a sigh. "Don't you ever wish it was just easier?"

"It is all I have ever known." He answered, revealing it was hard to view it any different than to what upbringing, culture and education had told him.

“I can’t imagine being so deeply ingrained in culture and tradition,” she replied, reaching out and brushing her hand over the back of his again. “I guess for someone who has never known it, it’s such an alien concept.”

"It is." It was a difficult thing for him to say, since leaving the Homeworld he had resigned himself to accepting that he would not find a Mate unless she too was Caitian. He'd learned early on that Starfleet which was mostly Human in composition as well as select other races shared in the commonality that they will find Mates of their own species. Few, as he knew it at least sought a mate of another race and while he understood there was comfort in the known, the familiar, with it came a price.

“Are you alright?” Harlow asked softly, her voice filled with concern. “I’m sorry if my comments bothered you.”

"I am, thank you." He quickly replied for any unease that he caused her, a female, concern over his own choices in life. "As you can see, my experiences with females is very limited in any setting, I often find myself unsure as to what would be suited to a given moment or situation."

“To be honest, I’m not exactly certain on anything either,” she replied with a soft smile. “I am kind of making this up as I go. But you needn’t worry about causing me offence or saying or doing anything wrong.... I... I trust you.”

"Kind words, thank you." He smiled, once again the tips of his fangs present. "I hope I am not keeping you up." Not wanting to disturb her routine or anything that she was used to while alone.

She shook her head slightly. “No, I rarely sleep much, but if you want to leave you don’t have to stay. I would probably just read a book or sit and watch the stars if I wasn’t with you.”

"Which would you wish?" While he did not mind her choice, the choice was indeed hers to make, he was after all, her guest.

"I would much rather sit and talk with you," she said with a smile.

"Perhaps you would wish to rotate the couch to face the viewports so that we may watch the stars?" He offered, permitting the enjoyment of company and her liking of the stars.

"Oh, actually, I think I would like that very much." Standing up, she carefully smoothed the front of her dress, her hands running from her ribs to her hips, looking for invisible wrinkles in the fabric. "I don't think it will be too difficult to move. Will you help me?"

"Of course." Size had its advantages, so too did strength. He only had to make sure to keep his claws in check lest he snag the fabric covering of it as he aided her in its rotation. Once done however the couch faced the viewports and an unobstructed view of the stars ahead. "Acceptable?" He asked.

“Perfect,” she said with a smile as she returned to the couch, waiting for him to join her. “Thank you, for helping. I’ve always loved watching the stars.”
Smiling he sat down again, wrapping his tail about his waist as he let himself sink into the softness of the couch. The stars were indeed pleasing, soothing, his hands in his lap as he took in the view.

"When I was young, there was a garden behind one of the buildings at Starfleet Medical and it was one of the few places that gave an uninterrupted view of the stars at night. I spent a lot of nights laying on the grass, just watching the stars in space..." She smiled slightly as she moved closer to him, leaning her head against his arm. "It was my favorite place to be. I always wondered what it would be like to be out among the stars, free from everything, just with the stars."

"When I was young during a time I was allowed home from training, I spent a night on top of a steep cliff because of the view of the stars. I could see across the city and province, even when clouds for rain appeared on the horizon the view was indeed spectacular." He spoke as he remembered the memory fondly, a time long ago when he was but a fraction of the size he is now.

"Do they look the same from out here as they did then?" she asked him with a smile. "The stars I mean?"

"More…..distant." He replied after a few seconds thought.

 

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