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Knowing Me, Knowing You

Posted on Sun Sep 2nd, 2018 @ 8:35am by Lieutenant Meilin Jiang & Ensign T'Niam

Mission: Preflight
Location: Deck Seven - Gym
Timeline: MD 63

The last several days had been very eventful. For the past month, Meilin had been engaged in a bureaucratic tug-of-war with the Intelligence department regarding the rights and purview of monitoring and checking up on crew members. It was that very struggle which had brought her together with her newly close friend, T'Niam.

News came across her desk of personnel transfers as well as other exciting developments. There was no one else she'd rather share and celebrate with than the new counselor.

Meilin found T'Niam in the gymnasium of all places. The Vulcan was practicing a ballet form with every ounce of focus and attention to detail one would expect. Rather than announce herself, Meilin couldn't help but stand and watch.

The adagio was almost Vulcan in its discipline. T'Niam flowed from one motion to the next, from plie to arabesque, développé to detourné, each one slow and measured, utterly precise… as far as she could determine, though her knowledge of her own body told her that perfection had yet to achieved. The fluid set of exercises was designed to strengthen her balance and grace, to help her develop her leg movements and extension, but she had never been an adept at the martial arts of her culture and combined with a lack of time to consistently practice, T'Niam found herself illogically frustrated. Until a familiar presence tickled at the perimeter of her shields, nothing but a whisper without contact but enough to make T'Niam pause. "Would you like to join me, Meilin?"

Despite herself, Meilin giggled lightly. Not at T'Niam, but at the thought of joining her. "I... have never studied ballet." She moved closer to her friend, though, since she had been discovered. "The forms are beautiful, though, and would compliment nei jin very nicely."

T'Niam turned, adjusting her feet smoothly into a flawless turnout, and gave Meilin a welcoming look. "It is an intriguing practice," the Vulcan woman replied. "One I have regrettably not dedicated sufficient time to." She mulled over Meilin's words for a moment, and eyed her companion. "May I enquire as to the definition of nei jin? I am unfamiliar with the term."

"I suppose you might call it 'internal power,'" Meilin said thoughtfully. "But it's often a matter of dispute. Essentially it inverts the concept of traditional kinesthetics, which rely upon external stimuli to gain momentum and therefore power, and focuses upon micro-stimuli within the body in order to generate power without external movement. It requires extreme focus and clarity of mind."

Meilin fell into a tai-chi-chuan form to demonstrate. "Though my body is rigid, my muscles are relaxed and therefore remain conducive to my yi, or intent, which then guides my motions rather than having my muscles do it." She shifted her weight and slowly pulled her hand in front of her as though drawing water from a bucket. Or, perhaps, as though her limbs were on strings drawn by her intent. "As a trained eye would note, ballet appears to operate as a similar discipline."

T'Niam mulled over Meilin's words. The concept of internal power was not a new one, psychologically speaking, though spiritual definitions varied. She watched Meilin with open interest, eyes following the motions closely. "This is indeed similar. The motions of ballet are intended to be supported from within, not without, and as such are expected to appear effortless." She stepped forward, pointe shoes padding softly on the floor. T'Niam had eschewed the traditional tutu, finding the arrangement illogical, and kept her garb simple and form-fitting for ease of movement. "It is the technicality of the technique which first drew my attention, yet it also has cognitive benefits such as relaxation. It is in many ways quite meditative once one has mastered the relevant skills." Her lips ticked up, a hint of frustration in her expression. "Or so I am told."

The explicit agreement between them gave Meilin a measure of joy. It reminded her of the reason she had come in the first place. "I have good news," she said with subdued excitement. A sudden idea teased at her thoughts. "Shall I attempt to tell you... mind to mind?"

She extended her hand toward T'Niam, palm outward, and smiled at the boldness of her request.

T'Niam's eyes were warm with approval as she listened to Meilin's proposal, and it seemed illogical to accept in any other manner but to simply move forward with the act itself. The Vulcan stepped forward, lifting a hand to lay it palm down upon Meilin's, her shields unfurling in her friend's direction. Lowered, but not absent, should Meilin display any discomfort.

"Wonderful." Meilin positively glowed with repressed delight. She closed her eyes, unfurling her thoughts and emotions in order to let her intent arise. In many ways, she felt bared before T'Niam, but in another sense their joint consent for mutual sharing felt like a protective shroud.

Proactive measures: successful. Lieutenant Aurileus: transferred. Crew privacy: secured.

Meilin sighed as she felt a simultaneous exchange of knowledge.

T'Niam could not suppress a small smile at the soft burst of happiness that Meilin exuded, and though her own reaction was tightly controlled, it was not absent nor invisible. Already familiar with Meilin's mind from their joint meditation, T'Niam felt no need to guard against the Human woman with the intensity she would require with others. The words sank into T'Niam's consciousness not so much as syllables but a sensation, a flash of insight that left the Vulcan exhaling slowly. Though the Lieutenant's transfer was not an outcome she had any particular feelings about one way or the other, she could not regret protecting the confidentiality of those under her care. She let the answer float between herself and Meilin, a perception of satisfaction and respect that they had succeeded.

A giggle escaped Meilin's lips as she felt recognition and understanding bleed back through her connection with T'Niam. Her free hand ran across her lips to stifle it. "Sorry," she said through blushing cheeks. "Forgive me. I got excited and... well, you know."

The burst of laughter felt like bubbles prickling under T'Niam's skin, a ticklish reaction that had the Vulcan making an effort to school her expression into suitable passivity. Not unpleasant at all, quite light and airy in point of fact. T'Niam regarded Meilin with a hint of mischief. "I assure you stifling your lips does little to stifle the emotion," she said kindly, glancing pointedly at their hands. "I have not experienced laughter from a human perspective before."

"I've never experienced anything from a Vulcan perspective before," Meilin said "You... are very instructive." She had to close her eyes. Her emotional display, though enjoyable, weakened her side of the mental contact. As she emptied herself and refocused upon T'Niam, Meilin drew in the other woman while simultaneously reaching out to her.

Curious. Resolute. Passive.

With their link strengthened, Meilin allowed herself a faint smile of satisfaction. Eyes opened once more, she looked up at her closest friend on the ship. Perhaps her closest friend... ever?

"I want to thank you for all you've shown me," Meilin said softly.

T'Niam's eyes were soft as she felt Meilin adjust, the fascinating Human mind trying so very hard to meet the Vulcan halfway. "In this, we must be equally grateful. To see and feel the universe through the willing mind and heart of another is a rare gift." She let the sense of acceptance, the deep but present desire to share and understand flow forward carefully, a mere trickle compared to the torrent Meilin had already glimpsed. "You are a singular Human. It is my privilege to know you."

The honor of T'Niam's words set Meilin's inner being afire with joy and satisfaction. An irrepressible flutter of emotion passed through their link. Rather than resist it, Meilin permitted its intrusion into the flow. Wu wei would demand no less. "And mine to know you."

A vestigial longing awoke within Meilin. As an orphan disciple in the Taoist monastery, there were few hugs offered or received during her adolescence. But... further back, deep in her memory, she recalled the warm embrace of loved ones, an experience she had seldom shared since. The memory and its paired desire could not be denied.

"Do..." Meilin hesitated, nearly aborting the question for its awkward nature. Despite her timidity, she persisted. "Do Vulcans hug?"

It had been a long time since she had allowed anyone to glimpse her mind directly yet somehow it was fitting that Meilin was the one to break that pattern. Contrary to popular belief, Vulcans were not solitary. It was impossible to be so when one's mind was firmly linked to one's family and cherished ones. Creating pathways of understanding with other beings made sense to T'Niam on a primal level. She smiled slightly at Meilin's question. "Not in the physical sense," T'Niam answered honestly, "but there is no taboo against it should I choose to do so." The Vulcan woman lifted her hand from Meilin's palm to open her stance, the gesture inviting.

Drawn by a natural desire for intimacy, Meilin grasped her arms around T'Niam and melted into a warm embrace. The link between their minds waxed and waned at the heightened tactile connection and the emotional flux it raised. It took relaxed concentration to maintain a mental connection, but the emotional bond of hugging was just the opposite -- Meilin felt as though she would have to erect barriers to prevent it from not only forming, but growing.

"Perhaps Vulcans should hug more often," Meilin said. Perhaps... so should I.

The hug was not like anything T'Niam had ever done, and the combination of conflicting signals - both physical and mental - briefly had the Vulcan's head spinning before she managed to centre herself again. She relaxed slowly into the embrace, taking her cue from Meilin as to what was appropriate or not appropriate to do with one's limbs. T'Niam smiled gently, cataloguing the sensations as she experienced them. "It is true that experiments should be repeated," she said sagely, "to ensure consistency of results."

"Well put," Meilin said. Reluctantly she pulled herself away, lest she test the bounds of Vulcan sensibility and her own propriety. "I've taken away from your ballet practice. Forgive me." She made a light bow.

T'Niam took a moment to resettle her shields, to let the echo of Meilin's emotions ebb before she spoke. It had been a singular experience, both alien and inviting at the same time. "In order to forgive you, you are first required to trespass. No such thing has occurred," T'Niam pointed out. She gave Meilin a pensive look. "I have never hugged anyone before. As I am attempting to understand Human culture in order to better serve my patients, I am pleased to have experienced the phenomenon. I am also gratified that you trust my discretion enough to share it with me." With the amount of contact required, T'Niam could easily have invaded Meilin's privacy.

Meilin suppressed a chuckle. "My goal in life is to realize the fullness of Tao, which is oneness with all things. I am an open book to those who do no harm."

"Then perhaps it is you who must forgive me, as I believe I may have done irreparable harm to the art of ballet."


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