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Posted on Wed Apr 26th, 2023 @ 1:21pm by Lieutenant JG Shaille Levine & Warrant Officer Koh Ottasu

Mission: In The Face of Adversity

The sound of music echoed softly through the quarters they shared, music that was played simply for a soft background noise. The two figures intimately curled on the couch remained silent, only the occasional movements giving any indication that they were awake. A slender hand snaked upward, fingertips teasing the tip of one soft, furry ear tenderly, gently stroking along the length of the ear, brushing along the side of his face as she pulled away and looked into his lackluster eyes before leaning back into him, her forehead resting against his again in silence.

There had been no need for words to be spoken, there was solitude and comfort in their combined presence, a sense of reassuredness, relief at being reunited. There was love.

Her entangled partner held her close, one hand daring to roam and explore her form while the other was simply content to hold her. A deep breath, a released sigh, a slight shiver and then his grip on her tightened ever so slightly. Eyes closed, brow against hers, moving to a gentle brush of a cheek against a cheek before he returned his brow to her own.

The Son of Ts'usu was no stranger to conflict, to war. It wore heavily on his soul, and the things he had seen would stay with him forever. The horrors, the pain, the loss. THIS... this anchored him in the here and now. This was keeping him together, keeping him here.

"Hey." he whispered, the first to break what had been a five minute streak of silent cuddles and tactile affirmations.

"Mmm?" she murmured as she pulled away enough to be able to look at his face again, remaining close enough that physical contact was still maintained. The whole time she had been on the surface, not knowing what was happening on the ship, especially after the explosion in the sky... the thought that there was even a possibility that he would not be here waiting when she returned had caused a physically tangible pain that still echoed in her soul and lingered in her mind. The need for closeness was real.

He didn't answer her for a moment, he simply just buried his face into the crook of her chin. Laying like this for a moment, there was another shudder, and the feeling of damp fur against her chin.

"I heard about the second offensive, the random fire, the..." he paused. "I was worried beyond words." he admitted. "But, I couldn't act, I couldn't think, I couldn't risk... not until now. Knowing... knowing now that you're safe. That you're here."

He leaned back to look her in the eyes, and the only time the eyes of a Ts'usugi shined is when they cried.

Her fingers traced the side of his face tenderly before she leaned in and pressed soft kisses against his damp fur. "I know," she whispered softly. "When I saw the explosion in the sky I thought the worst." Her words trailed off and she traced her fingertips along his face again.

She drew in a deep, shaky breath. "I wrote a letter. I gave it to Commander Gail. Made her promise that if anything happened it would go back to Ts'u with you, so that even in death you would have my love." She leaned into him again, finding solace in his arms. "I wasn't sure if..." her words broke off and she lapsed into silence again, unable to even complete the thought, the fear that had come so easily before they went into combat. The fear that he would be lost to her completely.

"I wrote one too." he admitted after a moment. "Just, If." he commented. "Seems Gail was to carry both of ours." he paused and resumed his hold on her, soft yet decisive. To remind her that the worst had passed, and that they both endured.

"I know there's supposed to be ceremony. Pomp and circumstance, rituals and social cues but... I'd rather do it now, here, in this moment."

"A celebration of our togetherness." he pulled back for a moment, to look her in the eyes. "There's no one I could see making me more happy, more complete, more valued... and I hope you feel the same." he slowly blinked, took a breath, and gathered his courage.

"Would you... would you marry me?"

There was a moment of stunned silence as Shaille looked into his glossed eyes, her head moving in a nodding motion before she found the words to speak. "Yes," she leaned into him, pressing her forehead gently to hers, another moment of silence before she spoke again. "Yes, of course I will."

He took a breath, a smile across his features. The Ts'usugi were usually reserved about their expressions but with her, he could be honest. He could be free.

"I ... " he started, but just shook his head and held her close to him, "I didn't know if it was proper, to ask now. To ask after that. But, I decided... to hell with proper." he stated, convinced of his decision. "I tried not to think of the worst case, tried not to think of a life without you. Every pulse on the surface, every shift in troops simply reminded me of the chances."

"We'll face those chances no matter what. I want to face them together."

She smiled in response, a smile of pure happiness. "What does a Ts'usugi wedding even look like?" she asked suddenly, realising how little she actually knew of the cultural ceremonies of his people.

"Okay so, traditionally.... it's held during the birth month of the bride. The best times are when Ts'usu is overhead but those tend to get booked years in advance, so..." he just shook his head gently. "The groom is dressed in two layers of a suit. The inner layer is white, while the outer is black. The bride is usually dressed in three layers. The outer is her family color, the middle is a neutral color, and then the inner layer is white."

"So, the ceremony starts with being lead down the aisle by an honored elder, and then the outer layer is removed to signify the departure from being in just one family. The neutral garb is to represent the transition from one step in life to the next, and then finally the white layer is revealed when the couple is officially wed, to signify the start of a new life. A fresh canvas."

"The groom wears black to signify moonfall, the night, the end of a dark period. At the end, like his bride, he reveals the white suit beneath to show the start of something new together." he explained.

"Everything about the ceremony is traditional. Where, when, what direction we're facing... It's a lot of tradition, astrology, and the like. I'd be content with something that took a bit of my heritage, and a bit of your heritage, into consideration."

"What are weddings like for your people?"

"Complicated," Shaille replied with a laugh. "Even just among humans there are so many different types of ceremonies depending on religious beliefs and customs. My parents had a very traditional denominational wedding... in some ways similar to what you just described. Black suit, white gown... lots of bridesmaids and flower girls and groomsmen... big elaborate ceremony, feast after..." she smiled, hand reaching to lazily caress the length of his ear. "I think you'd look incredibly hot in a suit."

"Anything I wear from your culture I'd be hot in." he smirked, "Fur." he clarified with a chuckle, before leaning in closer to her. "If you want a suit, I'm in a suit. Honestly your way sounds a lot more comfortable, for you, then mine. Though, my parents will insist on attending." he said, as though that were ever not an option.

"They'll love you. Though, I'll be doing a lot of the translation."

"How do I know you're translating properly?" Shaille teased as she leaned into him. She laughed for a moment. "Though, to be fair, even if you translated to get me into trouble it's probably less trouble than I'd get into if I tried to speak myself."

She paused for a moment. "What are vows like in Ts'usugi ceremonies?"

Koh closed his eyes, and took a breath, "Watakushi wa kono josei to kekkonshi. Fufu to narou to shite imasu. Watakushi wa kenkouna tokimo. Soudenai tokimo. Kono hito o aishi. Kono hito o uyamai. Kono hito o nagusame. Kono hito o tasuke. Watakushi no inochi no kagiri. Kataku sessou o mamoru koto o. Chikai masu."

He opened his eyes slowly, "This woman, I marry. No matter what their health. I will love this person. Respect this person. Console this person. Help this person. Until death. Protecting fidelity...." he paused, and then whispered the last bit, "I swear."

Shaille brushed her fingers along his furred cheek and smiled before leaning in to him, resting her forehead against his, remaining silent for a moment. "I want to say my vows in Ts'u," she said softly. "Help me learn them? I don't want to mess it up."

He enjoyed her closeness, her touch. It was so taboo back home, and now he was beginning to know why. "It's Ts'usubito. The Language of the Moons." he started softly. "I'd love to hear them on Ts'usu, but I think the closest we'll get is either a colony, or a holodeck. As for the vows, I'll teach them to you, but in return..." he smirked.

"If you're saying your vows in my language, I want to say mine in yours. I know I know, hopeless romantic."

Shaille smiled as she ran her fingertips down the side of his face. "You are, and it's just one of the very many things I love about you," she said quietly. "I guess we should chose a date, what do you think?"

Koh gave a smile, leaning into her touch. Such an intoxicating sensation... Touch.

"Hmmm. We talk to the Captain, get her to do a maritime wedding tomorrow. Then, we plan on the ceremony. Take the time, get the date, oh, a year out. Or is that cheating? Getting 'married' on our anniversary?" he said with a snicker.

Shaille smiled, leaning into him, a contented sigh escaping her lips. "I don't think it's cheating," she said softly. "I think it's perfect."

"I think the only thing left is to tell our folks." he mentioned. "Oh, and the Captain. We *might* need to tell her." he snickered softly. "So, how *DO* you pronounce your last name?" he asked, half teasing.

{ To Be Continued }


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