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[BACK LOG] JDL | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | CMO, CIO | "Five Minutes"

Posted on Fri Aug 23rd, 2019 @ 3:33am by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker & Commander Valeese
Edited on on Fri Aug 23rd, 2019 @ 3:40am

Mission: Dust Stirring
Timeline: Two days after "Wishful Sinful" (SD 241905.20)

It was sometime after oh-dark-thirty that James Stacker finally closed up the book and rubbed his eyes. Maybe now, he thought to himself, he was sufficiently tired to get some sleep. It had certainly been elusive, earlier. For a multitude of reasons that continued to crowd his conscious mind. He didn't want to dwell on any of them, he concluded internally as the chair creaked. The book was left behind as he padded into his quarters. "Computer, dim lighting to ten - no, fifteen percent." The electronic humming that most veteran spacers swore was always there diminished in an obligatory manner, concurrent with a reduction in ambient lighting. He sighed as he climbed into the bed, an arm pulling up the sheets. He tried not to dwell on the lack of contact with her today.

On her own end, Valeese was the picture of tired though nervous energy. Two days had passed since the run in with Ravnsson and while her morning had started fine, she'd forgotten to shove something down her gut within the first half hour after her feet hit the floor. In many ways she could thank the bastard, or at least the anxious memory of him, for providing the distraction that ultimately upended the careful balance she'd created for herself. Two hours had passed and that had been enough to create a cascade effect that sent her practically crawling from her office back to her quarters. Her poor desk-side trash bin was taking one hell of a hit - tossed away and re-replicated more times than she could remember now, but each time she pulled that stunt she ran the risk of discovery. Hiding in her own quarters, citing the need for a personal day, was the safest plan she could have come up with. Ever.

Even if it meant that she'd further need to avoid Stacker.

She sighed softly, venturing to curl her knees up closer to her chest. The nausea had abated, but the nagging feeling of exhaustion hadn't. Her plan to wander on down to him, snuggle up close for the nighttime hours, had been thwarted. It was as if the child within her had suddenly decided 'Not without me, you're not.' and stubbornly decided to see who would fold first. Her, forcing herself to come clean after cleverly keeping things under wraps, or the baby, agreeing to remain a silent partner in the plan her mother had written as law.

Both of them were unwilling to capitulate under the current circumstances, but there was that one hidden ace that Valeese kept up her proverbial sleeve. In her fingers rested a small communication device, channels secure as anything - or so he'd insisted upon. A night without him, in some form or another, just wasn't an appealing or otherwise appetizing idea. Swallowing the small knot in her throat, her thumb depressed the small button, listening to the soft chirp inviting her to speak. and her head shook. "You awake?" She asked, hardly able to contain the hope bubbling into her voice.

He'd been fading faster than expected; another five minutes and he might have been too far gone to note the chirping signal and the voice. As it was, though, it took several minutes for his mind to connect with the fact that someone had been speaking in his quarters. Even then it was debatable. Had he heard a voice? Where did it come from? He continued to lay there, hearing nothing, debating internally about whether his mind had made it up, before reaching over to the nightstand and sliding the drawer open. What he saw there caused him to flare wide-awake in a few seconds.

His hand seized upon the device and thumbed the button, while he propped himself up on the elbow of his opposite arm. Tired eyes blinked as he thought. What had she asked? Was he awake? "I missed your last message. Yes, I'm awake," he told the tiny device. It was really no bigger than two of his fingers.

"Which is code for I woke you up." Valeese replied to the little dark box with a smirk. She'd almost given up hope, written him off as captured and held hostage by the Sandman for the next few hours. "I'm sorry for that." She added, rolling onto her back.

Finding comfort while being alone in bed was proving difficult and, in a word, unnatural. It was colder, less inviting. Her blankets were a poor substitute for a strong set of arms. She could just about picture his bleary eyes response complete with bed disheveled hair - right on down to the way those sharp blues sparkled brightly in spite of how tired he was. It brought a smile to her lips.

"No, you're not," he said with an amused chuckle of his own. He thought for a beat, then added "you forget I know you pretty well. And you know I enjoy time in your company. Even if it was via remote." The thumb let go of the transmit button as he swung himself upright in bed. Feet encountered the cool floor and he had to suppress a brief urge to pull them back into the bed. There's only one place I'm going, he thought as he sighed and rubbed the back of his head, leaning onto his knees and thinking just how goddamned tired he was. Coffee. Need coffee.

Her finger teased the button as she scoffed softly and shook her head gently in initial response, "Oh no, I haven't forgotten." She finally replied, studying the little receiver in her hand, "I am a bit on the sorry side, though. I shouldn't have shut you out all day." Who that bothered more was a horse race in a dead heat. Nose and nose, in stride. No one would ever know just who wound up being more pouty over the entire debacle. Even then, tired and nauseous, the desire to be with him was almost enough to compel her to leave the safety of her quarters. Almost. It would have won out had it not been for her stubborn handle on common sense and dogged determination not to let the odds swing in the favor of the little lime sized tyrant in her womb. There was a plan to stick to no matter how tempting it may have been to act on the contrary.

The door to the main living area hissed open as he padded out of the bedroom, bare feet swishing on the standard-issue carpet as he steered a course ingrained from memory. He toggled his end of the circuit. "I admit I was a little curious. It's not like you to shut me out like that. I'm guessing you had a busy day? Coffee. Two creams, two sugars," he told the replicator. It chirped in acknowledgement and hummed obligingly, flaring with yellow light of such intensity that his eyes squinted for a few brief seconds. The mug was welcome. The aroma even more. It wafted past his nose as he headed back across the room for a chair he'd turned to look out at the starscape. There was a ship coming in.

"Something like that." The sheets sighed as she rolled back onto her side, escaping the pressure of gravity as much as possible. The last thing she wanted, or needed, was to have to take a break from conversation to make a mad dash to the wash room to hurl up what little she'd managed to take down. Never again would she forget to eat something in the morning. Her eyes flicked up to greet the sleeve of soda crackers on her nightstand that now stood as proof and testament to that vow.

Didn't matter. Leaving things open ended would only result in his suspicion, and she knew it. Propping her head up on one hand, she allowed her gaze to travel off to the pale silver-blue light coming through her window - and beyond it, the yawning chasm of open star studded space, "I needed a personal day, you know... Catch up on sleep, reading... The stuff people who were smart enough not to join Starfleet do." It wasn't far from the truth at all. She really had caught up on sleep and had spent a great deal of time pouring through texts and journals for anything and everything that would abate the waves of sickness that came and left her laying spent on the bathroom floor like a twisted purple-eyed bit of flotsam in the wake of a flood.

He grunted in acknowledgement, although the transmit switch wasn't depressed, when he sat down. Personal days ... now those were a luxury, he reflected as he took a sip of the still too-warm liquid in the mug. The sound that came from his throat was one of appreciation. Granted, there would be hell to pay when he wanted to get back to sleep - could that early-morning meeting be rescheduled? Possibly - but at least he'd perk up enough to get through this conversation. Without looking like a damned fool. Oh the things we do for love.

"You mean there are smart people outside Starfleet?" he asked, half-jokingly, as he shook his head in rueful acknowledgement of the prior thought. "There must be at least a dozen people on the station who would object. Have you seen the Ferengi who've come aboard lately?" Dregs, the lot of them. The lowest knock-offs from a society of brilliant - and ruthless - merchants. Intelligence was full of analysts in disbelief at the poor business dealings that'd been negotiated. At least if the rumor mill was correct.

"No," Her head shook, chin rocking in her palm as she spoke, "Can't say that I have. I really do try to avoid them unless they have a book or trinket I happen to want." Or coffee... Sweet Jesus, or whoever happened to be listening, she'd have sold her soul for a decent cup of caffeine. The unleaded version, while delicious, was a poor substitute for the heavenly bliss of liquid energy provided by coffee. Valeese reached then, poking gently at her abdomen just south of her belly button as if to communicate that the lime-child should settle down, leave well enough alone, and be thankful of the sacrifices being made to keep her healthy and growing strong.

The only thing she got in return was the urge to yawn.

Pregnancy was a thankless job.

"But, I digress, there are actually intelligent life forms outside of Starfleet and that locker of horn-ball hostages you keep. Shocking, isn't it?" She grinned.

"Without a doubt," the speaker in the little comm-unit replied. "No doubt some of them will become lawyers and arbiters. In which case we will have problems on our hands in decades to come. Although, speaking of, is there such a thing as a lawyer in Vorta society?" The speaker went quiet so as to make way for her response, but not so fast as to leave her without hearing the faint chuckle of amusement that came through right behind the words. On his end of the line, James was watching the incoming ship more intently over the rim of his mug. Whomever she was, she was one of the broadest and fattest ships she'd ever seen. Passenger liner or cargo, I wonder?

That chuckle. Damn it. Her teeth found her lower lip, imaging the lopsided grin he undoubtedly wore. "It's become a need, yes." She finally replied in a gentle hum, "And yes, they're untrustworthy slimeballs just like in every other society. Worse than bankers, slightly less slimey than used craft salesmen." It was her turn to chuckle as she released the button and worked to fluff her pillow. It was a poor substitute for his chest, but it was going to have to do. Sooner or later she'd need to break away from him, and then that pillow - or one similar - would be all she had to look forward to at night.

Stop. she chided herself, poking away the gray cloud of melancholy that threatened to over shadow her happiness.

"Lovely," he replied in a tone that made clear just what he thought of that particular profession, still ignorant of the recent direction of her thoughts. Had he known what she thought of the grin, it might have spread a bit wider. It was something that came out, in private, only for her and both of them knew it. He was fine with that. "I suppose it's too late to recommend permanent exile? There must be some planet where only lawyers live." He reached out with a foot, hooking it around the leather footstool and dragging it closer. Enough to put his heels up on while he sat there in the chair. Bed - and thoughts of sleep - were well and truly forgotten by now.

Resting her head back on the pillow, she depressed the button with a sigh, "It's called Ferenginar. Land of the slimy." It was a quick retort... Maybe a little too quick, but honest often was quick to come to task when filters were more or less removed from thought and conversation.

There was a pause before his response came. "Tell me how you really feel, Val. Do we need to schedule you for training? A sit-down with a counselor perhaps?" He let go of the transmit button before he could add something ridiculous. Something like how he would far prefer to have an arm around her waist, in bed, while listening to her prattle on. The topic wouldn't particularly matter either. Just hearing her voice after having it absent from his life - even if it was for a short interval, all things considered - was enough of a boon.

Silence pervaded for an interval while she toyed with the thought of ignoring him, pretending to have fallen asleep. Something told her that he'd come searching for her just in case, and that was enough to compel her to answer. Last thing she needed was to explain the crackers and well poised trash bin kept close as a contingency plan. Viruses and stomach upset were slim outside of food poisoning and food poisoning meant an instant trip down to sickbay. She'd run away from sickbay. James Stacker was many things, but stupid and blind weren't among them.

Finally she depressed the button, "I'm tired." Valeese replied honestly, working to come up with a reason for ignoring her training, "I'm ok, but I'm tired. Stress genuinely sucks and I'm under a bit of it. Everything will be ok." Yep. Eventually it would be somewhat alright - mediocre, even - but not ok. She was going to lose him... Not yet. Not just yet... But soon.

The ship outside still had his attention, at face value. His eyes were flicking across its hull and the rounded pools of light created by external floods. The moving glow of a spotlight that wandered across its white armor plating. Internally was a different story. The mug was neglected, for now, on the small table next to the chair. Tap-tap went the fingers that formerly held it. He made a thoughtful sound after a minute or two and lifted the device. "Understood. Maybe we should resume this conversation tomorrow?" The part that went unsaid was that the conversation would be happening face-to-face. In private. Ideally in one of their quarters. He didn't say that aloud though: there was no telling who else might be on the line. Secure it may have been, there were still ways to break communication encryption if one was determined enough.

Again... Silence... Silence made up by a woman weighing her options and choices - one that nearly caved to cause of her fatigue. The only thing that saved her was the fact that it would have been cruel to share such news in such a manner. For a moment she was thankful for that, deciding whether or not she could somehow get away with hiding everything from him were they to see everyone face to face.

Sure she could.

Somehow.

Maybe.

A slender hand reached out and knocked the sleeve of crackers off her nightstand and into an open door, one she slid quickly shut as she rolled to hang half off the bed to move the trash bin back to a respectable space. Being on her belly, even for that short period of time, left a quick reminder that such a position wasn't welcome. The pressure against her diaphragm was downright painful, resulting in the decision to prolong that silence a bit longer until she'd rolled back onto her side, albeit stroking her lower abdomen apologetically. "James?" She finally returned his message, "Would it be too hard for you to get up here? Everything's ok... I just..." She sighed softly, running her tongue over her lips as she tried picking words that weren't so damn obvious and transparent, "Yeah..." So smooth.

The reply came swiftly enough. His voice sounded considerably more alert; more so than when the conversation had first begun. "Give me five minutes."

---
To Be Continued...
---

Lt. Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer
COLD STATION THETA, SB-1170

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer
COLD STATION THETA, SB-1170

 

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