USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Operation Keep Them Apart, Part 2

Posted on Wed Jun 21st, 2023 @ 8:54pm by Tulilah Cel & Aaron Corrino

Mission: Shakedown Shake-Up
Location: Esquimalt, Medbay
3311 words - 6.6 OF Standard Post Measure

"It'll be okay," Tulilah assured Aaron. The boy was sitting on a biobed, osteogenerator frame over his forearm. The nurse said it was a simple break, easy enough to set that she hadn't even needed to call a doctor except to check it over and sign off. But it was going to take awhile, so she'd decided to stay. Partly it was just easier to play a nurse and have her mom informed about the situation so she'd be picked up in meday and wouldn't have to get back into the care center. But partly she felt a little guilty and like she should be here for moral support. "I've broken an arm or leg a few times. If you play it right, you even get ice cream. You know, to make you feel better."

How could anything make him feel better right now? Aaron's face, puffy and turned toward his shoes, was locked in a struggle not to show it. He grit his teeth despite the lack of pain in his arm. It could have almost been easier that way, he was so knotted up trying to figure out what he should feel it almost gave him a stomachache. "How did you break yours?" the boy asked, curiosity getting the better of him. His free hand clenched and unclenched the loose fabric of his pants, really wishing it would be okay. The osteogenerator pushed and pulled at something inside his injured arm, it was uncomfortable but bearable. Aaron's nerves were wound up for something else. "I broke my leg a few years ago playing with Jack and Rashane."

And given how they are, I bet they both ditched you the second a medical officer showed up, she thought, but given how anxious and uncomfortable he looked he looked, she decided to keep things light. "Don't worry, I'm going to stick around until you're done. I've been there - broke an arm a couple times and my leg once. The leg was a couple years ago, spilling out on a hoverboard. The first break was my arm though. That was in a care center, on my first day there in fact. They had this big geodesic half-dome to climb on - it was so cool! - but I got to the top and this pack of bigger kids scrambled through and made me lose my grip. Hit the deck wrong and when I got up I couldn't move my hand. Which was weird 'cause I don't remember it hurting, just that I was upset my hand wasn't working." She shook her head and gave him a small grin. "But not as upset as my mom! Great Bird of the Universe, she was freaking out - yelling at the care workers about letting her 'baby' get hurt." She rolled her eyes. "I was so embarrassed. I mean, I was little, like 5 years old, but not a baby. Fortunately, Grandma Cel showed up and calmed her down. She was like 'Active kids break things. Get used to it'," Tulilah laughed. "And she did - when I broke my other arm trying to swing between stage rigging platforms, mom just tsk-ed and said 'This is why I told you not to do that'."

Aaron giggled despite himself, lifting his eyes up halfway. "I bet she'd just do that now if this was you, not me." Having Tulilah here helped, even if it wasn't as good as his friends. The boys knew just how to cheer him up, thinking a girl could do that was completely foreign in Aaron's mind. It wasn't as if Tulilah had been the typical girl today, or the typical Tulilah. She was showing a different side to herself, one he was almost starting to like. "Thanks," the boy told her, meeting her with one eye. "For not leaving me."

Tulilah shrugged. "You got hurt following me. It'd be jerk move to leave. Besides, this way mom will pick me up here so there won't be any awkward questions at the care center. Or any scenes," she flashed a wry grin. "Depending on how the audition went, she might take the excuse to vent at the care workers, even if I'm not the one hurt. If I was the one hurt, yeah, she'd probably be all 'what did you do now?' ...unless Doc Martin was around. Then she'd do the worried mama and probably key on any little twitch as an excuse to bring me back for a check. And then invite him to dinner as a thank you..." The girl cringed, imagining how it would play out. "So, if one of us had to break something, sorry, but I'm kinda glad it was you?"

"Glad I could help," Aaron inserted, not feeling much better about himself for the fact. She really wasn't Jack or Rashane, as similar as they might have been. Not even Rashane would have rubbed a broken arm in his face like that, maybe for other reasons later just not for something so selfish. She wasn't leaving, though, that was something. "Is Doc Martin really all that bad? He was kinda mean when me and Rashane went to see Jack, but he did heal him. I guess I figure Doc Martin can't be all bad if he did that."

"That's the thing - he's not bad. In fact, I like him..." she paused, "...not like like him." Her twisted like she'd tasted something bitter. Possibly the worst thing about seeing Marty wasn't that he'd been with her mom, but he'd made her see Doc Martin as a man; one that women - much older women - would find attractive. Somehow that... just felt wrong. "I mean, he's nice. He listens. He really cares about people, even if he gets stressed out about patients and yells." She lifted her head, looking Aaron directly in the eyes. "But that doesn't mean I want him as an 'uncle'. Do you have any idea how awkward it would be if he was staying over in mom's room?"

Aaron could really use her more than dad right now. He missed her hugs the most, his mom's hugs were soft and warm. Hugs from his dad weren't all bad, it just felt like the elder Corrino had forgotten how sometimes. Lost in his thoughts, the boy started at the touch on his arm, not even realizing the nurse had returned. For a moment, his arms reached out instinctively for the hug, only to find that the woman was neither his mom or interested in offering hugs right now. "Just hold still," the nurse said firmly, and rattled his arm to make following that instruction impossible. With a few clicks, and a jerking pull that made Aaron draw in a sharp breath, the osteogenerator frame came free of his arm. "How's that feel?"

Experimentally, Aaron moved his arm a few ways. It felt solid again and the discomfort of the frame device was fading. He nodded affirmatively to the nurse, who took his arm again to press on specific places, as if Aaron had a map tattooed on his arm. "Any pain? Is it sore or tender here?" When Aaron shook his head, the woman patted his hand and told him, "Good. Take it easy with that arm for a day or two, okay?" A nod of mousy brown curls. "Your dad's waiting for you at the door, you're all ready to go."

Without thinking, the boy used both hands to hop down off the biobed. He marveled at it briefly, happy for a moment before he had to face his dad. Aaron glanced over to Tulilah before setting his eyes on the floor, "I gotta go now..."

Looking at him, she couldn't help but think how it different it was from whenever her dad got from medbay. There might be an instant of worry in his eyes, but it turned to smiles when she came skipping out. Even when she stomped out, still mad at herself for blowing whatever she'd been trying to do, he'd just smiled and ruffle her hair and take her for ice cream to cheer up. (She really missed Dad. If he were around none of this would have happened).

Aaron though, he looked so downcast and ...resigned. It made her feel ...she didn't know really, but he seemed like he needed a hug and the next moment she was hugging him. "It'll be okay." The assurance was barely out of her mouth when it hit her. What was she doing? Hugging a BOY? She pulled back. "I mean, um, I'll go out with you. Help you explain." She glanced aside, shrugging as if the gesture could shrug aside the awkward moment. "I can't sit here in a treatment anyway."

Aaron stiffened in surprise at the embrace, enveloped briefly in the arms of the lavender-haired girl. It was nice, she smelled of sweet shampoo mixed with caramel corn. It wasn't like his mom, Tulilah's skinny frame was bony and she didn't stay long enough for it to feel warm. Except in his cheeks, which flushed hot as he lifted his head up, an elated smile painted on his face. He didn't know what to say or do in that moment, so he just nodded and smiled at the girl who was doing all she could to cheer him up.

"Yeah," the boy agreed, not sure what else he could say. Should he thank her? Ask for another hug? His dad might know, or he might be too upset with Aaron to offer good advice. Rashane would just give him bad suggestions and Jack might find the whole thing disgusting. Neither of them would believe it if he told them, either, and if they did he'd just be made fun of. Who would believe that Tulilah had hugged him, of all kids? "So maybe we should..." Aaron's feet pointed him toward the doorway, and the inevitable encounter with his dad. He only glanced back once to see if Tulilah was still behind him, unable to shake the smile from his face.

Vic Corrino cut an imposing figure next to the door, looking at-once too big for the room. He reached out a hand, beckoning his son closer when he appeared, setting it on Aaron's shoulder. Evidence of the fading smile was still etched on the boy's face. Coupled with the Tulilah-shaped shadow behind him, it told much of the story his shy son would probably keep buttoned shut. "You don't look hurt," Vic told Aaron, his eyes the only thing betraying his straight parenting face. He reached down to hold the arm Aaron was still carrying gingerly, as if it would break all over again, and gave it a gentle shake. "See? All your molecules seem to be in one place."

"Daaaad," Aaron protested, drawing back his arm. He was struggling to think of the cover story he and Tulilah had invented, while struggling to keep from grinning or blurting out what had just happened. "We were just playing, and then..."

"It was tag and we got a little competitive," Tulilah quickly supplied. "My fault, really. Aaron is lot quicker and more agile that I thought - gave me a real chase when I was 'it' - so I used some gymnastics moves and..." she glanced down, playing up contrition, "...I'm really sorry. I never wanted him to get hurt."

"I'm sure you didn't." The voice came from Safyrah, who had just arrived and was regarding her daughter with a mix of bemusement and maternal concern. Adorable as it was that she'd decided to stay with her little boyfriend while he was being patched up, she wasn't letting her off the hook quite so easily. "But gymnastics? Honey, didn't we discuss keeping that to the gym when you broke your leg?"

Tulilah's contrition instantly transformed into a frown. "I wasn't swinging on high bars. It was just a jump and roll!" Catching herself, she glanced quickly at Aaron and Chief Corrino, and resumed an attitude of apology. "But it was too high for someone who hadn't had lessons. Sorry."

"I'm sorry as well, Vic," Safyrah said, and expelled a sigh. "I try, but she's always been a daredevil. If there's anything we can do to make it up, please let us know."

Vic figured he might be faced with the misguided boys Aaron called friends again, primed for a lecture and a quick word to the Andorian in particular. He suspected that Commander Mantell was usually the instigator, though the child-officer's rank gave him trouble in addressing that directly. Instead, he found his ire diffused by the sight of Aaron healthy and whole again, paired with a mostly unlikely culprit. He offered a warm smile to the adjoining parent, knowing she shared the kind of exhaustive means it took to keep track of her child's antics as well. "They're at an age..." Vic told Safyrah, lifting his hand in a hapless sort of shrug. "In fact, you might just be able to help me."

Here it comes. Aaron's brow nestled close to his eyes, ready to fight his dad this time. He could spot Chief Corrino emerging from within, the type who was about to ask Tulilah's mom to keep her away from Aaron. And just like that, Aaron would be cut off, but for the moments he could steal or lie about. If his dad had his way, Aaron wouldn't have any friends at all, he wasn't about to lose one more! "No, you can't!"

"I'm sorry, son," Vic rubbed Aaron's shoulder in that consoling manner Margie was much better at. He considered for a moment that Aaron might be more upset with his response than had he given his son another lecture on picking his friends. Of course, he might also be meting out a worse punishment on Aaron, too, but Safyrah had offered. He liked her in just a few minutes than he ever had with Rashane's parents, her daredevil daughter notwithstanding. He let out a breath, "It's last minute, but I just got the orders. They want me on the Nelson with the rest of the crew. INothing too lengthy, it's only a shakedown, there's just no leeway for civilians to be onboard." For however that had worked out between them, Safyrah had been with a Starfleet officer before. She probably understood he could neither take Aaron along nor refuse the assignment. He hoped that still curried sympathy with her. "I know it's asking a lot. Would you have any room for Aaron to stay with you?"

"Of course Aaron can stay with us. That will be no trouble at all. In fact, he can come back with us now if you need to get back to work," Safyrah replied with a smile, and a suppressed chuckle. She wasn't so old that she didn't remember that confusing tween stage when a friend started to feel like maybe more than a friend - and trying to play it cool while constantly teetering between hope and mortification. Judging by Aaron's reaction and Tulilah's suddenly widened eyes, mortification was winning at the moment, but she was sure the pendulum would swing again. Besides, how could she resist chaperoning puppy love? "I should tell you though that I may have a job at the club that's opening. It would only be a few evenings though and I'm sure I can get someone to stay with them. Maybe Dr. Sorenson."

"No, Mom..." Tulilah's eyes had gone even wider. Doc Martin staying with them, hanging around with Mom after they'd been sent to bed...

"I can't leave you alone with your boyfriend, now can I?" Mom tsked. "The doctor's a good man, and very responsible," she added for Vic's sake. "Do you know I came out of my audition and found him cleaning trash off the piano outside? A Commander - he could have ordered anyone to do it, but he felt like it he should because it had been thrown after he started playing." She shook her head. "I don't know what's wrong with people. I don't care how 'rusty' he may have been, there's no excuse for that."

Aaron's eyes found the floor again, wanting nothing more than to be invisible. He hated when people talked about him like he wasn't there. His dad and Tulilah's mom were doing it now, sharing details he could have handled himself. He wasn't a child anymore, he was practically a teenager. Fifteen, if he counted the anomalous time jump that Vesta had experienced, and sometimes he did. "Whatever," he offered morosely, knowing that nothing he said was going to change things. "When do you have to go?"

The dashed hopes of his son's eyes looked up at him, causing Vic to try to avoid dealing another, crushing blow to their relationship. Only moments had passed since he'd seen Aaron's giddy, smiling expression, and Vic wondered when was the last time it had been directed at him. It wasn't fair to the boy, first to make Margie wait for years without hope, and now to make his son wait for weeks or months, however long this mission took. He knelt down, and now it brought his head much, much lower than Aaron's eyes, who was so tall now. "It was supposed to be tonight. I'll let Captain Darrow know he'll have to wait until tomorrow. The Nelson doesn't ship out for a few days, so I may be able to spend evenings here too." Vic rose, squeezing Aaron's shoulder again for a moment to look at Safyrah, "Congratulations on your new job, I have no doubt you'll liven up the place." He chuckled, "Maybe with your new connections, Doctor Sorenson can find a better position than janitor. I had no idea he played, though I guess it makes sense for a surgeon with his talented hands."

His mousy curls nodded as Aaron picked up his face, satisfied for the moment. He glanced over to Tulilah, mouthing the word 'sorry' on his lips. "We're just friends, Mrs. Cel," the boy pointed out, hoping Tulilah wasn't going to go back to hating him now. It wasn't his choice to stay with a girl and her mom. "Thank you for letting me stay.

Tulilah had been standing there, stunned and confounded at hearing that despite all they'd done - maybe even because it - Mom had run into Doc Martin outside the club. The Great Bird of the Universe has a really twisted sense of humor. And on top of it, Mom was talking about having him play 'uncle' to watch her and Aaron...

...her and Aaron..

It was weird enough though without her Mom referring to him even teasingly as her boyfriend. Which was a feeling apparently shared by Aaron. She wasn't sure how she felt about that either, but she could sympathize with facing a dad going away. 'Not your fault,' she mouthed in return.

Ignoring to the silent exchange - kids were so adorably awkward at this age! - Safyrah just smiled indulgently. "Of course, dear. And don't worry, it's no problem at all." the last was said half to Vic. She smiled sympathetically, knowing how hard it was to leave a child with someone else, even when it was for the best. "We'll take good care of him," she assured, and guided Tulilah out as the Corrinos left together.

"Come on, honey," Mom said cheerfully. "How about some dinner? Maybe we'll run into Dr. Sorenson."

Tulilah bit back a sigh. Maybe with Aaron staying they could come up with enough diversions to keep that from happening, or happening too often. "How about we eat in. I'm kinda tired."


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