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[Backlog] - JL | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | CMO, CIO | "Aftermath"

Posted on Wed Aug 22nd, 2018 @ 4:10pm by Commander Valeese Stacker & Commander James Stacker

Mission: Lacuna
Location: USS Campbeltown, In Deep Space

The bunks aboard smaller escort-class vessels, and their variants, had never been designed for two-person occupancy. This, of course, didn't stop the more audacious from squeezing into them, as it was a long-established fact that turning on one's side could leave enough room for a second body to fit in there. Which is precisely how James came to awake on the day after the rescue, to find himself with ... her. More specifically, her hair. It took another heartbeat to realize his arm was protectively around her waist, as if shielding her from whatever might be outside the bunk, and that they were as intertwined as a pair could be under these circumstances.

He breathed deep as his mind caught back up to the present, remembering the storage compartment on the asteroid base. Seeing her body held aloft by the Orion - his arm pressed more tightly to her skin as he thought back to that still-angering image - and the one hand not covered by the corpse. If it hadn't been for seeing that hand ... he buried his nose in her hair and tried not to think about how close he had come to missing her. It still managed to send a shiver down his spine, even as he basked in all those little tactile sensations that confirmed she was really here and this was not a dream.

Fingers pressing into skin and the weight of his arm cradled snugly in the valley between her hips and ribs was more than a welcomed set of circumstances to wake up to. The feeling of his nose and lips burrowing deeper into the expanse of her hair only heightened the awareness that she was safe and tucked up against the warm body of a man that had moved heaven and earth to give her the gift of freedom and safety and everything that had been stolen from her... Including him. Valeese moved, reaching to rest her hands on his chest. She could feel his heart thumping steadily beneath them in coordination with the subtle rise and fall of every breath he drew and released. Twenty-four hours ago she'd been convinced that she'd never experience these things again. "Hi..." she whispered against his neck.

"Good morning," he murmured by way of response. There was a momentary twinge of guilt at knowing she was awake; some part of him knew though that there was a larger shadow looming over them. Yesterday had been nothing but confusion and bodies hustling everywhere. Medical checkups, priority reports being filed, inventorying supplies ... all the typical post-mission things that needed to be swiftly dealt with. He had not had time to spare in any great measure to actually sit and think about her ordeal. About how she would be coping with it, both mentally and physically. He hadn't even stopped to think about whether it would be wise to - No. The mental door slammed shut before he could delve farther down that rabbit hole, and his head turned to nuzzle her hair, letting it tickle across his nose.

"It is." Valeese replied with a hidden half smile. It was probably one of the best mornings of her life. All the hardship and horrors aside, she was alive and comfortable after a rather harrowing ordeal. The gentle upward curve of her mouth refused to falter, the memories and thoughts surrounding her captivity banished for the time being. Though she knew it was unhealthy to suppress, she was not quite yet ready to immerse herself in anything but the serenity the sanctuary he provided included. The frantic nature of their love making likely should have waited - but there was no sense in turning back or second guessing. The heart and soul knew what it craved - what it needed - in order to be whole.

The hard pill to swallow was realizing that was him.

... That she loved him all the more, even with how wrong it was and how close she'd come to him being killed while trying to dig her out of hell.

The fingers of one hand traveled to brush over his injured shoulder, soothing over the hurt she'd caused in a round about fashion and her lips found the pulse of his throat in a feather soft caress. The 'could have's could wait and give way to the present and the 'will be's.

The soft sound that came from his throat was a most un-spook noise. Downright human: a far better improvement than the cold Ghost that had appeared in the aftermath of her disappearance. The reason for the quick thaw was debatable, though. Past experience? Possibly. Her touch? Proximity? And what about the sudden tension in his muscles when she brushed her hand across the lingering trace of the wound? To say that there were mysteries put it mildly. It was also fair to say that James had no immediate appetite for answers. Instead one of his hands softly made its way through her hair, stroking it as gently as he could muster.

Though her bruises were still fresh and tender, her genetic makeup refusing to play nice with conventional medicine and rebelling - to a degree - against accelerated healing, Valeese couldn't stop the contented sigh that escaped her lips. Every movement and touch became compelling evidence in the case being made that she wasn't dreaming and wouldn't awaken to find herself in some dank, dingy hold somewhere far away and all alone. "Pinch me." The Vorta requested, "I want to make completely sure of something."

The look he gave her was downright conspiratorial. Mischievous, almost. "Well if you insist," came the firm and even reply, murmured into her hair as a hand glided down. Fingers slid atop her lower back and even lower still, following the firm contours and swell of her rear. He winked ... and pinched her rump.

It wasn't quite the response from him that she'd expected and she jumped slightly at the goosing she'd received as a result of her request. Had she been more inclined, she'd likely have swatted at his in response. Instead she huffed gently in surprise and groaned, "I should have known better." The Vorta admonished him, settling back in her original position.

He welcomed her back with slow strokes over the affected spot. Nice and even, back and forth, just enough to soothe. Yet there were also slight tremors in his chest that betrayed his mirth. It didn't last for long - just long enough to make its presence known. "I think you should have," he finally said, when he was confident that his voice wouldn't shake and betray the chuckles that had wanted to escape. "Now, are you completely sure of whatever it was?" Her scent was starting to cloud his judgment. Flirtatious goosing wasn't something he was normally prone to.

A snort followed by a gentle nod were preludes to the response she was working hard on formulating. Truth be told, she was exhausted and lulled to the point of pure relaxation aside from the quick pinch he'd provided to her shapely posterior, "Very much so, thank you." Valeese finally murmured. This time when she kissed him, her lips encountered the familiar tickle of the beard hiding the strength of his chin, "Didn't even need ruby slippers or a so called wizard with a hot air balloon."

He recognized the comment as a possible literary reference, but didn't know what specifically she was referring to. Ruby slippers? A 'so-called' wizard? Perhaps wisely, or unwisely, he filed it away for later and elected not to comment. Instead he focused on what he saw. That she was tired. He could hear it in her voice, and wasn't surprised. His free hand - the one not gliding along her curve - went to the blanket they were both under and pulled it up a little, even as he returned the kiss in kind. It was followed by a second, on her cheek, and a whisper in her ear. "Go to sleep, my dear. You're safe now."

"You'll stay?" Filters gone, erased by the necessity for further rest and rehabilitation, Valeese felt her heart rate speed up for the briefest patch of time before evening back out about the same time she nestled in closer. He was right. She was safe and more than that, she was secure within his embrace and watchful manner.

He didn't even bother with a reply. Just put his arm around her back again, tugged the blanket up a little higher, and settled down into a position where he could watch the door. But ... the silence bothered him. Nagged at, really. It was only a little thing now but he didn't want to have a regret later on. "Yes, I'll stay," he finally said as his head rested on the pillow. Mindful eyes checked the room, saw nothing amiss, and his body relaxed as he felt her pressing to him. "Computer, status of door lock?"

"The door is secured." His only response to this was a grunt of satisfaction.

She may have said something like 'thank you' or 'ok' or... something... But she couldn't be completely certain. What she was completely and totally aware of was the sensation of drifting off comfortable, warm, and happy.


Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
2XO/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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