"The Dating Game": January 2012 challenge entry

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Enterprise1981, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Special thanks to Rush Limborg for the January 2012 challenge theme, which is roughly similar to this month's challenge theme elsewhere on the web.

    Aurellan Markalis goes on her first date, and learns that romantic partnerships are not as simple as she observed them to be. But while discovering how cruel adolescents can be towards their socially awkward peers, she also learns that acts of friendships can come at unexpected moments.

    WARNING:
    May closely resemble your usual '90's sitcom or present-day teen angst drama.

    ************

    [LEFT]
    The Dating Game

    She often enjoyed being a loner. While her peers were out having fun on Friday nights, Aurellan Markalis spent her evenings viewing old Earth entertainment programs. In a time where people were spoiled by interactive holodeck programs, she saw a certain appeal in just watching the narrative and not being a part of it. She often looked at the universe through the eyes of a non-humanoid anthropologist.

    Aurellan was viewing an episode of the 21st century television program, The Big Bang Theory, on a padd. That television series was about a group of four highly intelligent and socially-challenged young men whose lives were changed when they became acquainted with an attractive, yet intellectually-challenged, young woman they could only dream of dating. Out of all of the main characters, Aurellan identified most with Amy Farrah Fowler. The character was initially introduced as a female version and possible love interest of one of the original male characters. But as the character developed over time, she was revealed as someone who accepted who she was, but at the same time, longed for the social life she missed out on growing up. In this particular story, the oddball couple of Sheldon and Amy tagged along for a “girls’ night out” At one point in the evening, Amy and the two other women in the group began teasing Sheldon about how had never kissed a girl in his life. When Sheldon insisted that he was not at all curious about it, Amy then planted her lips on the lips of the blonde woman on her right saying, “Give me some sugar, bestie.”

    Not that she ever envisioned engaging in “experimental lesbianism”, Aurellan often experienced a similar duality ever since she realized she was “different” from the other kids. She was placed into an accelerated curriculum program after her primary-school teachers and counselors concluded that she wasn’t being challenged enough. Without much of a social life, she could concentrate on her academic goals. At times, she did try to bond with her peers—the “normal” kids who were still in secondary school while she was a first year student at Cambridge University. But those efforts often led to complicated misunderstandings. Frustrated by these encounters, Aurellan found herself back in her flat, immersed in a form of entertainment that became largely obsolete in the mid-21st century.

    Aurellan paused the playback and flung the padd on the nightstand. She pushed aside a lock of her blond hair while experiencing a sudden feeling of boredom. The usual Friday evening lost its appeal for some reason. While she valued consistency in her daily and weekly schedules more so than most of her peers, she often saw the value of being spontaneous, of living for the moment. But even when it came to be spontaneous, she still had to think through every single step. “Heck, if the ‘Sh-Amy’ could find each other,” Aurellan muttered, repeating an amalgamation of the names Sheldon and Amy so often done with romantic pairings of famed actors during that era, “then there’s someone out there for me.”

    ***

    After she consulted the university directory, Aurellan contacted Gavin Durant, a young man in her organic chemistry class with whom she was well acquainted. While he was also a college freshman, Gavin was two years older than Aurellan. They had been lab partners on numerous occasions throughout the semester, both appreciating the other’s work ethic and punctuality. He was not at all intimidated by her superior intellect, nor was she by his older age or his Betazoid heritage. Aurellan could not say that about too many of her peers.

    An adolescent human male greeted Aurellan on the video monitor with a boyish smile. His golden blond hair and lack of any visible facial hair made him look younger than seventeen years of age. The splotches on his forehead, a distinguishing feature of Lumerians, were barely visible, as he was only one-quarter Lumerian. “This is an unexpected pleasure,” he said with a very distinct southern English accent. “We’ve never spent much time outside of our organic chemistry class.”

    “That’s because I have an unusual request,” Aurellan replied with a light grin. She never gave much thought, but now it came to her mind that while she lived most of her life in the British Isles, she spoke more of a Midwest American dialect of Federation standard. “I wish to arrange a rendezvous with you. Perhaps dinner at 1900 hours tomorrow.”

    Her request was then accompanied by an awkward silence. As each second passed, Aurellan was almost certain that Gavin would turn her down. Or maybe he was still trying to absorb that a girl asked him out rather than the other way around. She was not always so great at interpreting non-verbal facial cues.

    “Did your flat mate put you up to this?” Gavin asked with a confused smirk.

    “No,” Aurellan said with a slight giggle. She exchanged very few words with her very extroverted roommate Phoebe. So why, oh why, would Gavin think Phoebe suggested it? “Why would you think that?”

    “No reason,” Gavin said with an awkward shake of his head.
    Now, Aurellan could tell he was holding something back. But she chose not to broach the subject, thinking it was uneasiness on his part. Of course, if the situation was reversed, Gavin would be able to see right away if she was being less than honest, which was the extent of his Betazoid telepathy. “So, yes or no,” she asked.

    “Yes,” Gavin confidently replied. “How about the Rainbow Cafe?”

    “Sure,” Aurellan said. “See you then. She then terminated the transmission while resisting the urge to squeal with excitement.
    [/LEFT]
     
  2. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ###

    “You have a date?” Phoebe gasped in disbelief. She was beside herself when Aurellan asked her for wardrobe advice. Phoebe was a tall lithe brunette with an Australian accent. Outside of being roommates for half a semester, she and Aurellan were not that well acquainted. Phoebe, of course, did know that they led very different lives and that Aurellan did not seem like the dating type.

    “I just thought of doing something spontaneous,” Aurellan nonchalantly stated.

    “So who is the lucky gentleman caller?” Phoebe eagerly asked.

    “Gavin Durant, in my organic chemistry class,” Aurellan plainly answered.

    Phoebe remained silent for several seconds as she gave a skeptical nod.

    “What?” Aurellan impatiently asked.

    “We dated on and off in high school. We decided we were better off as friends. You don’t strike me as the kind of girl he dates. He usually goes for the tall athletic types.”

    “Someone like you?”

    “No offense,” Phoebe assured her. “I’m okay with it. Just keep in mind what guys like him are after.” Phoebe then gave Aurellan an encouraging tap on the shoulder, which made Aurellan cringe. But she grinned, trying her best to hide her usual discomfort with physical contact.

    ###

    Gavin and Aurellan at first exchanged awkward stares while waiting for their respective meals. Once they received their dishes, they both spent most of the time eating asking about the other’s food and commenting about how often they had been to this particular restaurant. The relative silences between the two of them became even more awkward, when Aurellan saw Phoebe and two of her female companions enter and seat themselves at the bar. Aurellan became even more embarrassed when Phoebe looked in her direction and waved. Aurellan flashed a forced smile back at her roommate, and then decided at that moment to get a little more conversation going.

    “Aren’t Lumerians telepathic?” she asked with a partial stutter.

    “Only with other Lumerians,” Gavin replied. “And they have an empathic sense similar to that of Betazoids, but only with other telepathic races. Being half Betazoid, my mum likes to brag about being able to sense strong emotions from anyone within a hundred meters. That certainly kept my father in check.”

    Aurellan chuckled then remarked, “It must have hard to keep secrets from her.”

    “Like you wouldn’t believe,” Gavin retorted. “When my older brothers started honing their telepathic senses, they’d try to blackmail the rest of us. Just knowing that they could sense one of us was being less than honest was enough to get us to go along with one of their schemes. What about you? Any brothers or sisters.”

    “A younger sister,” Aurellan replied. “Half-sister actually. We never really knew either of our fathers. Mum’s probably out looking for husband number three on one of her diplomatic assignments.”

    “Forget I asked,” Gavin quipped. He then saw segue into a new topic of conversation. “You’re mum’s a diplomat?”

    “Ambassador Lorena Markalis,” Aurellan answered. “Not quite the same level of achievements as Sarek of Vulcan or Lwaxana Troi of Betazed, but she has a way of baffling everyone else in the room with some subtle point of logic.”

    “You must have been moving around a lot,” Gavin offered with a grin.

    “I’ve lived on… I would say… about seven different planets,” Aurellan guessed. “But my mother’s never wanted to live anywhere else on Earth but here in England.”

    “Speaking of which, you don’t have much of an English accent.”

    “No,” Aurellan said with a slight Australian cadence. “I guess it’s because I’ve moved around, I’ve picked up many different languages and dialects.”

    They both exchanged lengthy smiles. Aurellan was feeling a sense of relief. What started out as experiment in this long-standing adolescent mating ritual became two people who were almost on the same wavelength. For a brief moment, Aurellan felt she could, while lacking his telepathic abilities, sense Gavin’s thoughts. She was about to speak, but Gavin spoke first. “Can I tell you something?” he asked. “I’ve had my eye on you since the first day of classes. But you just seemed like the kind of person who didn’t have much of a social life.” He slowly moved his right hand towards hers. Feeling a wave of consternation, Aurellan pulled her hand off the table. Sensing her discomfort, he backed off.

    “Glad to take some of the pressure off,” Aurellan retorted. “Phoebe says I’m not the kind of girl you go out with. Maybe that’s why you thought she put me up to this.”

    “Of course, I’d expect her to say that,” Gavin scoffed while rolling his eyes. He was about to say more when he heard a chirping noise in his pocket.

    “Is it not good etiquette to turn off your portable communication devices while on a date?” Aurellan asked with a chastising grin.

    “I’m terribly sorry,” Gavin said with an embarrassed chuckle. “I will get rid of this person and I will be right back.”

    Aurellan threw down her napkin in annoyance almost thinking this was all too good to be true. Perhaps that was what was meant by “running the mood.”

    ***

    Gavin sauntered over to the entryway just outside the two gender-segregated lavatories. He looked around to make sure no one else would headed there and then flipped open his communication device. He still looked around nervously while speaking to the caller through his palm sized visual communications device. “You could not have picked a worse time to call,” he said, taking a quick look back at Aurellan to see that she was still at their table trying her best to hide her impatience. “Everything is going smoothly… She doesn’t suspect anything… Look, mate, I’ll contact you again tomorrow morning.”

    “For shame, Gavin!” came a familiar voice with an Australian cadence.

    Gavin closed his communication device and stowed it away in his trousers pocket as he felt a hand smack him on the right shoulder. He turned around to see Phoebe giving him a derisive frown.

    “This is some kind of sick game you and your frat brothers are playing,” Phoebe grumbled. “You’re just pretending to fall for her and then throwing her aside when she starts to reciprocate making her an object of ridicule.”

    “Phoebes, it’s not what you think,” Gavin futility attempted, seeing that his friend’s facial expression had not changed.

    “Save it, Gavin,” Phoebe snapped. “You’re gonna take her home now. Otherwise, I might just send out a certain holo-photo. You know, you and me…”

    “All right,” Gavin relented, throwing up his hands in surrender.
    Gavin quickly paced back to his and Aurellan’s table. “I’m terribly sorry,” he said, removing his jacket from the chair, “but I forgot I already forgot I had a previous engagement tonight.”

    “Oh, I see,” was all Aurellan could say. As she slowly slipped her arms into her jacket sleeves, she wondered if the uneasiness in his voice meant this “previous engagement” of his was just a convenient white lie on his part to end the night early.

    ###

    Sometime later, Gavin walked with Aurellan to her dormitory. Neither spoke on the trip from the restaurant to her flat. Those ten minutes seemed like the longest of her short life. She was afraid to ask what this “previous engagement” was out of fear that she would catch him in a lie. And if she did, would she call him out on it? But each time she got the urge to broach the subject, she remained silent assuming that taking him at his word was the proper social protocol. “I had a good time tonight,” Gavin said. “I’m just sorry it had to end so quickly.”

    “Don’t worry about it,” Aurellan replied with a grin. “We can take a rain-check if you like.”

    “I’d like that, too.” Gavin leaned over to kiss her when the dorm room doors slid open.

    “All right, Gavin,” Phoebe said with a chastising stare. “Say goodnight to the lady.”

    “Phoebe, what are you doing?” Aurellan demanded, almost certain she would draw the wrath of the jealous ex-girlfriend.

    “Why are you still here?” Phoebe asked Gavin, who was in a confused state of shock. “Go. You know she’s only fifteen?”
    “Phoebe,” Aurellan snapped, as if she did not want the truth of her age to come out.

    “Your secret is barely the half of it,” Phoebe assured her. “Tell her, Gavin. You were just pretending to like her because your frat brothers put you up to it.”

    “Of course not, Phoebes,” Gavin attempted. He then looked at Aurellan, who did not seem at all fazed by this sudden revelation. Even if she couldn’t tell he was being less than honest with her, he couldn’t keep up the lie any longer. “It was just a silly game at first, but…”

    “You should go,” Phoebe insisted.

    Without another word, Gavin walked away while drooping down his head in embarrassment.

    “Phoebe, what the hell was that?” Aurellan demanded. She had mentally rehearsed how she would call Phoebe out on her flagrant violation of the social protocol of minding one’s own business. But her roommate’s expression was one of sympathy rather than anger. Aurellan felt relieved that she hadn’t misread Phoebe’s words as granting her permission to date her former high school boyfriend.

    “You’re right, ordinarily I should mind my own business,” Phoebe answered. “But I felt I had to butt in now rather than have you find out after you fell in love with him.”

    Aurellan’s expression remained neutral as if this whole ordeal did not bother her. But it didn’t take a Betazoid empath to tell that she was feeling intense anger and sadness deep down. “Romantic pairings seem so simple from the outside looking in,” she lamented.

    “Consider this a learning experience,” Phoebe replied with a wide smile.

    ###

    In the middle of the night, Aurellan lay awake in the top bunk still thinking about the events that had transpired. She mostly wondered how she could cope with Gavin’s presence during Monday’s class session knowing what she knew. She hated herself for letting herself be mislead yet again. That self-loathing then gave way to a sense of loneliness, being reminded that her peers were not always so gullible. A single tear flowed down her cheek, which she quickly brushed away.

    The video monitor chirped, catching her attention. She looked down at the bottom bunk and saw that Phoebe was still sleeping soundly. She quietly climbed out of bed and tiptoed to the video monitor. She gasped when she saw the name Gavin Durant on the screen. She looked back at the bed and saw that Phoebe was still sleeping. Not wanting him to see her in sleepwear, she responded to the hail on audio only. “Are you even remotely aware of the time, Gavin?” she plainly asked.

    “Of course I am, Aurellan,’ Gavin replied. “I just wanted you to know how sorry I am for what happened. And I didn’t want Phoebe butting in. I really did enjoy our time together this evening. I should never have let those jerks maneuver me into this. You’re not the only one who feels like they rarely fit in.”

    “I know,” Aurellan said, fighting back more tears. “It’s still reassuring to hear someone say it.”

    “And if I had known you were a fifteen-year old prodigy,” Gavin began. “But I suppose when you’re eighteen, and I’m twenty-one or twenty-two or twenty-three depending on whether you’re going by Earth years, Betazed years or Lumeria years, we could try this again.”

    Aurellan chuckled. “I’d like that,” she said. Hearing him ramble the way she often did made her feel less alone in the universe. She then terminated the transmission and climbed back into the top bunk with a contented smile.
     
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Story End note: That Aurellan Markalis speaks with a Midwest American accent despite being a native of England is analogous to Jean-Luc Picard being French, but speaking with a London accent or Pavel Chekov pronouncing V's as W's, which is hardly typical of a Russian accent.
     
  4. ambessalion

    ambessalion Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    cute story

    i love how anthropology is always expected to be like in the 24th century looking back at today 'was' like
     
  5. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Actually, the bit about seeing the universe "through the eyes of a non-humanoid anthropologist" is a reference to Dr. Temple Grandin, the autistic woman with a PhD in animal sciences, seeing world as if she was an anthropologist from Mars. In this context, "non-humanoid anthropologist" seemed like a more apt metaphor.
     
  6. rabid bat

    rabid bat Rear Admiral Moderator

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    I won't repeat exactly what I said on Ad Astra, save that the story is well told and I think Aurellan should understand that Phoebe probably did her quite the favor. Lots of young girls could use a friend like that - and Aurellan may not even realize the kind of favor that was done.
     
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There was dual lesson to be learned here that while people can be worse jerks than the naive ones realize, those who would fall under jerk stereotype are capable of great acts of friendships.