81: Public Domain

At the sight of Marcus, Tarique moved to give him better access to Rao, his attention shifting to Wells. “Affirmative.” He gave her a short nod though his head tilted a tenth of an inch to better appraise her attire. The professional blending of cultures was tasteful while also suitable for what he understood of Romulan standards; thus logical. At Sunsan’s exclamation he turned to see the Romulan directing his greivances towards Zletka. There were certain behavior standards which he was resigned to accept as both cultural and biological imperatives. The emotional outbursts of Romulans as compared to Vulcans was one such example.

Zletka exchanged a brief glance with Rao who was biting the inside of her cheek to keep from speaking. It was a technique they’d been working on for some time to withhold Rao’s trademark outbursts…though Rao rarely employed it. Instead of offering Sunsan a response, Zletka elected to stay silent. Rao on the other hand was just about to slip up when Wells spoke. A small triumphant smile formed only to be quickly washed away for curiousity. Peeking up at Markus she raised a curious brow as if asking ‘who is you know who?’. Turning back to Wells she nodded enthusiastically. “Thank you. I’ll remember that.” Just like that her small triumphant smile returned. Rao made a mental note to thank Zletka and Vinaa later. ~I’ll remind you~ Zletka’s familiar voice briefly passed through her thoughts. ~Thanks Zletka~ Rao thought in her mind. Zletka’s outward expression remained calm and alert as she smiled at Wells. “Thank you. My mother will be delighted to hear it.”

Tarique’s gaze was already focused on Wells by the time she turned to face him again. “I’m amendable.” He followed her out with ease, only briefly regarding the Romulan’s sneer to focus on the task at hand. Zletka stepped away from the pairs to stand next to Tarique, pressing up on her tip toes to better see the image. “Will you not be joining?” Tarique asked without tearing his eyes away from the screen. “Not this time.” Zletka replied quietly. Rao pressed back against Marcus, the corner of her lips twitching as she tried to pin point what a show and light of a peacock would be…and also if Zletka’s dress made him think of it. “I’ve got this. You just remember to zip it if who know who says something.” She teased, sliding her hands down his arms to intertwine her fingers with his. Tarique took a few shots of Rao and Marcus until Wells and Sunsan were ready. “These should be adequate.” He commented before handing the device to Zletka. “Thank you. Enjoy your evening.” Zletka left Tarique to step inside the limo where she soon fell transfixed in her thoughts of an earlier conversation with Vinaa. Rao followed in after Zletka, taking back the device to look over the shots. She smiled to herself. After three years Tarique had learned how to take pretty good pictures if she did say so herself.

Tarique’s brows rose slightly. “Considering the information is in the public domain I will forward them to you once I return to my dormitory.” He answered plainly. When she leaned forward he remained ramrod straight. Though his expression remained impassive his eyes darkened slightly at her admission. Wells was proving quite resourceful even if the ethics seemed questionable. It would take more interactions before he could draw a successful conclusion to his idle curiosities; however clearly she intended on more purposeful interactions. “And you as well.” With parting words he took his leave. Even from his rapidly expanding distance he could hear the Romulan’s words. In the fraction of a second it took for him to process Loceb calling Wells a whore, his body had ceased it’s movements with his head angled towards them. A moment later Wells retorted. Once the limo doors shut he resumed his trek. Once inside his room he quickly sent the full album to Wells before sitting at his desk and scrolling through is messages. There was a single message from the Embassy.

“Hey, Zletka.” Rao waved her hand in front of the Betazoid’s face. “Hm?” Zletka look over just in time to see Rao snapping a picture. “Something for your momma.” Rao smiled while taking a few more, “You know, since you opted out of the group photo.” She added with a smirk. ~Are you nervous?~ Rao asked, having noticed Zletka’s far away expression earlier. ~A little bit~ Zletka admitted though her thoughts sounded very at ease. ~You better not be trying to calm me~ Rao warned. ~I’m not. Perhaps it’s the pheromones radiating from Marcus~ Zletka offered innocently. Rao stiffled a laugh, leaning against Marcus in defeat. Zletka showed traces of a smirk before dropping her gaze to the ring on her left middle finger.

When the limo came to a stop Rao was in awe of all the regal attendees passing by. “Oh wow…” She shot Zletka an excited look. Seeing it would be her turn to step out soon she quickly shook her arms and got loose. “Okay, let’s do this.” After giving Zletka a wink she stepped out and joined Marcus. Zletka followed suit, a smile forming at how entranced Rao appeared to be. It was times like this when she almost envied Rao’s lack of psionic abilities. She remained a half step behind Marcus and Rao, attempting to take in the atmosphere while also remaining aware of Rao who had noticed how Sunsan and Wells were holding their hands. ~Do I need to do what they’re doing?~ Rao thought before leaning towards Marcus to whisper, “Should we be doing what they’re doing?”

The lingering gazes and pointed thoughts of strangers weighed on Zletka, but it appeared Rao was either too consumed in Marcus or too confident to notice. It took barely an ounce of probing in order for Zletka to get her answer. As easy as it was to ignore the looks of strangers…thoughts were unfortunately an entirely different situation.

Rao’s head naturally whipped in the direction of the voice that called out to Sunsan. If there was one thing Rao could recognize; it was animosity. Zletka; however, was so consumed in the thoughts of others that it took her a few extra moments before her gaze finally fell in the same direction as Rao’s.

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The Importance of Not Caring

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