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[BACK LOG] JL | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | CMO, CIO | "Five Minutes, Pt. 3"

Posted on Fri Aug 23rd, 2019 @ 3:55am by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker & Commander Valeese
Edited on on Sat Aug 24th, 2019 @ 2:37pm

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

That next morning, while the cobwebs of dream-time thoughts and sleep should have been slowly disappearing, Valeese felt the tips of her ears twitch, honing in on unnatural sound. There was no lazy sound of sleep; soft breathing, sedated heart rate, but rather of someone wide awake and laying in wait. It wasn't predatory, but it was certainly strange. Stacker had always been one to relish slow and lazy wake ups and now, here he was, thwarting her quick to escape for robe and food.

A single eye cracked open, assessing the situation through a thick veil of dark lashes. Yep. He was awake. It was still dark, the lighting not altered, but he was awake... And he was between her and crackers. Not a big deal given that she could likely offer him breakfast and replicate a bagel with cream cheese for herself. The thought made her stomach rumble quietly in approval. She'd been running on empty for the majority of the last twenty-four hours and now it was ready to play nice... For now.

"Morning," she hummed softly, reaching to stroke the fluff on his jaw and chin, "Did you get any sleep at all?"

He made a sound in the affirmative as his arm finally found itself free to move - the hesitation prompted by the concern of possible awaking her now alleviated. There was no lie behind the sound: he had, in fact, managed to get some sleep even though it was a close-fought thing. A good part of his mind had been so thoroughly startled by the still-unproved revelation that sleep had seemed at first impossible. But then logic - and good discipline - had won out. Sleep was a necessity if he was to confirm or disprove his suspicions today. A single wrong word choice, a bad look ... if he was right and she was indeed carrying his child, this was a matter best handled delicately.

"Did you sleep well?" he countered, both politely and with interest. His lips pressed to her hair, conveying both tenderness and affection while his fingers stroked her hip.

She nodded, a contented little smile curling the sides of her mouth upwards, "Many thanks to you, yeah." Her head dipped to deliver a kiss to to his clavicle a smidge before she rolled to stretch languidly beneath the warm sheets and her pillow. Something popped in her lower back, releasing what little early morning discomfort she may have had.

He was content to watch. He'd always enjoyed both her personality and body; in this case her stretch seemed ... like her. It was hard to put a word to it. Sensual, perhaps. It made him want to cuddle her close and hold her like that for most of the day. But that clashed with what he wanted to know. Hiding under sheets and blankets wouldn't help his cause. "That's me," he quipped. "Your human pillow." The quirky smile in the corners of his mouth robbed it of any sting it might have otherwise possessed. Besides, it was a frequent position for him - one that he'd never protested.

"And a damn good one at that." Valeese quipped in return, slowly prying herself from the comfort of bed and forcing herself to sit up right, swinging her legs over the edge of the mattress, "I'm gonna grab a bagel. You want one?" Yes yes. Food first, rest of life later - then she'd have a shot at normalcy for the day. Her robe, however, was oddly missing. Peculiar, but missed out of knowledge that it could have been tossed somewhere out of reach. The need to get on with her morning overrode everything else.

Padding across her quarters in the nude wasn't anything new. They'd often engaged in the practice to grab food, drinks, dart to the shower... Not a big deal. But now, even in the dark, she wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect. The greatest of changes hadn't happened yet, but they were starting - and she knew it. Things fit differently, often resulting in the top clasp of her pants being undone and hidden under a shirt or closed lab coat to keep her from being busted for being out of uniform. The dark was fine camouflage. It just took reminding herself that humans had shit for eyesight in dark environments. Shadows and general shapes at best and even that was iffy. It wasn't long before she had ordered up her breakfast and stood waiting for whatever he may have wanted.

He ran a quick self-check and found he wasn't hungry. That was unsurprising: it normally took some time for his appetite to kick in. And despite his lack of hunger now, a particular piece of hard-won knowledge was that if he skipped breakfast he would pay for it later. He could be a real bear sometimes. Lack of food did that to him. "Absolutely. A bagel sounds great." As the replicator hummed he momentarily wondered if she'd missed the robe yet. It was in a different location; getting out of bed to move it had been damned near excruciating. There had been more than once moment where she'd shifted and made some sound that made him think that he'd been busted. But no. If she knew he'd been out of bed she was doing a masterful job concealing it from him.

Securing their food, she made the return trip and handed his to him as she took a seat on the edge of the bed, "Not quite as good as back on Earth, but it'll do." Bite one came with a shrug, but a small thrill knowing victory against the surge of nausea would... should... be won. It was food. It was decent. It was a bit of a lifeline when it came to spending time with him. In short, she'd take it and probably follow it up with a tall glass of orange juice now that she was thinking about it. Even running on three-quarter impulse, her brain was acutely aware of her new nutritional needs and how certain scents and flavors no longer jived with her. A glance was stolen in the ghost's direction, as if wondering if he could hear the hustle and bustle of thoughts running through her head. "You're quiet."

He waited until his mouth was clear before speaking to the dark silhouette. If it hadn't been for the voice - and that he knew her silhouette pretty damned well, thank you very much - he might have been hard-pressed to guess who he was speaking to. But at least it was her. They were talking. Life was good. For now. He gave a slight shrug, knowing full well that she would see it. He might not necessarily have the greatest eyesight but she downright thrived in these sorts of low-light conditions. Sometimes he was almost envious. But not now. "Got a lot on my mind right now. Sorry." He flashed her an apologetic smile as one hand reached out to - oops. Nope. That wasn't an arm. "Okay, I feel like I'm playing a bad game of tag," he said with evident humor in his voice and a rueful shake of his head. "I swear I was reaching for your arm. Not trying to feel you up."

She laughed in return, genuinely amused by his honest mistake. It was proof positive that in the dark she was all but invisible to him. Taking hold of the bagel with her mouth, she moved her hand to his thigh and patted the top of it as if to signal that he was once more in less awkward territory, "Not that I mind, but I'm pretty sure I'm more intrigued by what's on your mind and whether or not you want to talk about it." Valeese chuckled softly once she'd removed the bagel from her mouth. The absence was short lived in favor of a bite being taken out of it.

He took a bite of his own and scooted closer. One leg went around her, heel and calf against her hip while the other spread out and hooked over the edge of the bed. This close, at least, he could make her out in marginally-better detail. To say nothing of being closer to her. The plate was set aside while the bagel crunched in his mouth. There would be apologies later if it resulted in crumbs in the sheets, he was sure. He was man enough to do that. As for the rest... his hand rubbed her thigh in response. "Thinking about you," he replied, honestly enough. The bagel was put aside on the plate - and yes, he knew where he'd put the plate - as he continued. "Actually about us. Today. This." He gestured to the darkened quarters, but not with ill intent. "There's a lot we can do in the dark." He gave her a wink and reached out to the side, successfully re-acquiring his bagel. It made a satisfying crunch when he bit down on it.

At first she blinked at him in a quizzical fashion, questioning just how serious he was as he flirted and dined. It didn't take long for her to smile and shake her head, pausing before taking another bite to egg him on with an "Oh yeah?" After that, all bets were off and the bagel wound up having another bite-sized chunk taken out of it while the rest of her torso leaned against him. Crumbs could be damned. She'd invited them in by bringing breakfast back to bed.

"Mmmm" he hummed, both appreciatively at the contact and in agreement with her inquiry. His bagel had gone back to its plate, freeing hands that now settled first onto her shoulders before lightly sliding down her arms. He knew what he wanted - more than one thing, in fact. One was the answer, and he was not above playing dirty - a pleasant form of dirty - to find out what he wanted to know. The other ... well. It was her quarters. He'd know if she was receptive soon enough. His hands lightly ascended from her arms, snaking between them and her sides to brush around the sides of her chest. Somewhere in there he was still able to press the side of his face to her head, as if providing support.

The bagel in Valeese's hand went forgotten for the moment, hanging in the air prone and useless as she settled in and enjoyed the soft, smooth caress of his hands. They begged and coaxed her to relax, melt within their embrace as they worked down her arms and along her sides. The rumble of his response reverberated through his chest and, by proxy, her back as it rested against him and she, lacking a better response, sighed out of sheer contented pleasure and murmured; "Feels so good."

"Then I'm sure you'll like this," he softly replied. 'This' being the hand that slipped around even further, finding itself cradling one of her breasts. It was larger; he knew her body almost as well as the back of his hand, and this wasn't one of those details easily dismissed. But that didn't stop him. An index finger found what it was looking for and gently twigged her nub before encircling it with lazy slow circles on her skin. His other hand, in the meantime, had dropped to her thigh. Where it was gently rubbing and lightly dragging fingertips along her skin. Slowly working its way higher. Once upon a time those hands had been far rougher. It had been a concession to her that he started using lotion. Nobody liked rough palms on silky-smooth skin. It wasn't a pleasant feeling. And he was grateful, now, that he'd been man enough to admit that it was needed. He slid back, a little, on the bed to let her recline a tad.

"Uh huh..." The little Vorta purred, her eyes fluttered closed. Everything was so very sensitive, and his touch so very careful as it worked over her body. Even as she slid down a bit, resting more comfortably in a rather prone position, she hadn't a care in the universe to give about much of anything at that exact moment in time. Had she been aware of his ulterior motives, she'd probably have scooted away under the guise of accomplishing some activity... Like finding her robe, finishing breakfast, or getting that glass of orange juice that was still lilting her name. She didn't. Those motives were perfectly masked and hidden beneath the guise of selfless pleasure and she'd fallen into that trap without a struggle.

A hand brushed across her belly and slid down. It may not have paused in its motion, but what it felt ... something flickered across his face and he knew. There was no other option, no alternative. The stretched, firm, muscle was the last piece of the puzzle. How best to- his fingers dipped between her legs, and any thought he had about his 'original' plan flew completely out of his mind. There was growing proof there that she was enjoying this. And so was he. Best to leave it for afterwards, when they had both had their fun. There was no sense in destroying the moment, was there? He let out an involuntary hum of pleasure as fingertips stroked between her legs.

Her breath hitched in her throat and hips instinctively rocked against his touch. While she'd half-anticipated a shoulder or back rub, this turned into something better and invigorating. It confirmed her earlier thought of sensitivity - something she hadn't stopped to think about during earlier romps in the dark with him - mainly because she'd always been so bent on giving as good, or better, than she got. The bagel dropped somewhere beside her and the fingers of one hand ran heavily along the forearm and wrist attached to his busy hand.

And it was a very busy hand, to be sure. Rubbing, teasing, it turned at the wrist and plunged his long middle digit into her, confirming what he already knew of her arousal. Knuckles were soaked with her evidence in short order. And the hand on her breast cupped her a little tighter as he found himself listening. Moving with her. Reacting and responding to those little cues and signals she was unconsciously sending him. Any thought of food had been long forgotten.

A moan, muffled by her teeth catching her lip, praised his actions. Her hips, having a mind of their own, lifted to meet him and her breath picked up to match the pace of her heart. In his grasp, she was spineless and lost to the torrent of sensation that threatened to overwhelm her beneath extremely talented hands. The fingers on his arm were about to follow lower, to join and cover his as he worked on driving her over the edge when the first hint of trouble made itself known.

The rocking, the flexing undulation of her hips and his finger within her, was stirring up more than just orgasmic bliss. She was beginning to feel sick. The discarded bagel came to mind, only a few bites taken from it as it mockingly slid across the sheet to press against her outer thigh - reminding her that she'd, essentially, fucked up. "James." She panted, trying to convey urgency, but it was the wrong sense of urgency she realized. Her thighs closed on his hand, trying to still his ministrations. "James... Stop." That one killed her.

So did the knowledge that she'd have to explain herself. Somehow.

It took a bit of struggling to untangle herself and roll up and off the bed - her core was no longer a point of flexibility given that it was harboring another life that required room to stretch out and grow. When her feet finally hit the floor, she took a few stumbling steps as she hastily established balance and raced to the restroom just in time to save herself from making a mess of the bed or her flooring... Anywhere that it couldn't just be flushed away and forgotten. Either way, once done with and gone, it left her on her knees, resting against the vanity with her head back and eyes closed as she sucked in lungfuls of cool, comforting air. She'd been so damned stupid.

He may not have been the most visually-acute individual in low-light conditions, but the route to the bathroom had been long since committed to memory. Several late-night incidents of feet kicking into furniture had seen to that. And at the same time he wasn't the type to stand idly by when someone was in distress. Combine the two, and what one had on their hands was one slightly-blind - from a perspective of lighting - intelligence officer fumbling their way from the replicator to the bathroom, praying all the while that in his haste to get into her bed last night he hadn't missed some rearrangement of furniture.

Thankfully, he had not.

The backs of his knuckles rapped against the closed door to the vanity. "Got some water for you, if you care to open up."

An eye cracked open to study the door, and beyond it the unseen man. She could deny him, send him on his way with a curt 'I'm fine' and come up with some bizarre excuse later - but something warned her that wouldn't work. Not even the slightest bit and not on her best day. She was screwed, and not the fun way. "It's not locked." she rasped, her eye re-closing as she cautiously coiled one leg closer to her to make way for the door swinging open. Standing up wasn't an option quite yet, but she'd get there in the next few minutes.

It cracked open and swung to the side. A slight breeze blew across her body from head to toe as it moved, until it bumped into the wall and stayed put there. He stood there for a moment, eyeing the dark silhouette next to the vanity, sniffing and smelling that odor that confirmed what he'd heard, one hand staying on the door to make sure it didn't swing shut. Finally, he made his way into the too-small room and knelt next to her. "Here. Drink." He took a seat, making sure not to accidentally tip the glass and let water spill out. "And before you say anything ... I know."

Valeese's fingers wrapped around the cool glass, drawing it to her and letting it rest against her lips for a second until she had the fortitude to comply and take a sip, "What, that I'm sorry about this morning?" She asked with a soft huff. There was a familiar tingle of anxiety somewhere inside that warned her that she was off the mark and ridiculous for hoping that her little secret was still kept.

He sighed and shook his head, backing up against the vanity next to her with knees up off the floor. It was a comfortable position for him. To the contrary, he could hear how unsettled she was: recognition made him stop to consider whether to be blunt. After a slight pause he decided to bull ahead - to hell with the consequences. "That you're pregnant. I've - well, I've had a few suspicions. It all clicked into place last night." His head turned to look at her as a questioning tone entered his voice, and a hand reached out to brush her thigh. "For the love of god, Val, why didn't you tell me?"


He knew.

She was an idiot. Of course he knew. James Stacker wasn't a stupid man - to the contrary he was rather brilliant and extremely adept at finding answers to questions and solving problems and mysteries. It was his damned job, after all. Careful as she'd been, it hadn't been enough to slow him down or stop him from being as astute as he was. She sighed and shook her head, running her tongue over her lips as she tried to find the words for an answer. She didn't need to look at him to know his eyes were on her, and the touch of his fingers against her thigh prompted her to do and say something. "Because..." She breathed, still sewing up her thoughts, "Well... We're two very different beings and you have one hell of a career path to follow that could be destroyed by something like this." It hurt worse to say than to think, "We can't even be official outside of our quarters. Not exactly the best situation to bring a baby into."

She would never know how deep that cut him. The rational part of his mind knew that she didn't blame him for what he was, and what he did, but it still stung nonetheless because the words reminded him of other choices. Career over family. Duty over living. Even the damnable Ghost that had kept him closed off from the world around. There had been other branching paths over the years, different courses he could have taken whose outcomes might have been similar to this. Not many, but a few. None had been as serious - had gotten so far - as this. Never had there been an unborn child in the mix. Certainly there had been none like her.

He went to open his mouth and, astonishingly, found himself at first unable to speak. Only when he had cleared his throat, which he now realized to be tight, did he realize just how emotional he felt. Why? He knew the answer as soon as the question came to mind: because she was carrying his child. "No." An insufficient answer, the Ghost coldly told him. Clarify. "No. No, goddammit Val, fuck my career!" His hand, lingering on her thigh, squeezed as he turned and managed to get up on his knees. His other hand landed on her shoulder as he pressed on. "Val, I love you but you are the most bone-headed woman I know. I am staying with you. Permanently. You are not going to be rid of me that easily."

Heaving a sigh in hopes of settling her stomach and ridding her head of the clouds of doubt and grit that threatened to turn to tears. Nope. No crying. There was absolutely zero to cry over. "Stop." She ordered softy, reaching to cover his hand with one of hers, the other still held the glass of water as if it were a lifeline. "your career is an important part of who you are. What else would you do? You'd be transferred somewhere if you dropped it." Damn logic, she chided, drawing breath as fodder for additional words, "I didn't, and don't, want to compromise that. I figured if I kept it to myself, we could be happy together for awhile and then there was a tiny part of me that was somewhat concerned that you'd think it wasn't yours or was a product of when I was taken..." Her head canted to one side as she considered her next words, realizing some needed to come, "Which I swear to you isn't possible. No one touched me." Plus there was the medical knowledge and genetic typing that had already been done when she was being both doctor and mother and making sure their little girl was perfectly healthy and well.

He looked at her as if she'd suddenly pronounced affection for the inhabitants of The Locker. "What would I do? I'm sure the MACOs would find a use for me. Preferably here. I think I've got enough seniority under my belt," he added. His easygoing tone masked the fact that this was a topic he'd thought long and hard on, ever since realization of what she was - and what she, conversely, meant to him - had sunk in. It was something that sometimes woke him up at night, even though the days where that happened had been diminishing to the point where it might occur one night in every thirty. No, he had closed out the file appropriately and left no loose ends that he could think of. And by comparison to that entire mess, having a child and relationship - one not hidden behind closed doors - with her was downright welcome. Which he why he was relaxed in his attempt to reassure her, and could gently squeeze her thigh while he regarded her with a mixture of sympathy (for what she was going through) and affection.

"I don't think you're hearing me," Her head shook as she huffed gently, "If what I do behind the scenes ever got out, you'd be taken out and lynched no matter what you were doing at the time. You could be peddling fried vole on the promenade and you'd still be taken into custody because you were an Intelligence Officer and you knew." She sniffed, her lips pulled tight in a wry sort of smile. "Anyway, I made the choice to continue on with this pregnancy and have this baby. She deserves a shot at life and experiencing everything it has to offer." The hand still lingered on, and squeezed, her thigh.

A sharp eye homed in on it, watching the careful way it worked over her skin and muscle with gentle and practiced ease.

Valeese had expected him to come a bit unglued if he ever figured out her not-so-little secret, but the man she was faced with was pragmatic and relatively calm. Instead of exploding, or worse, shutting down, he had easily slipped into an active and participating role. That made things far more difficult. It would have been easier if there were shouting and shit being thrown around - but no. That wasn't his style, nor his apparent opinion on the topic of her carrying their baby no matter how awkward a situation it was.

"And who's going to tell? You?" he asked with a snort. He paused, then sighed and ran his free hand through his short-cut hair. The logical part of his mind said that she had a point: were Starfleet to find out what he'd done there would be repercussions, and very little sympathy even if there was a baby in the mix. At most? The occasional visit to whatever penal colony he was sent to. Now more than ever he found the idea of that sort of enforced, distant, separation from her - and their unborn child - to be acutely disturbing. Far more than he was openly prepared to admit.

"I want to admit that you're right," he finally confessed as the hand slipped out of his hair. "But you and I both know that that isn't going to happen. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. Finding you was the best thing in my life, and I refuse to give you up." As he spoke his words had hardened: verbally and mentally he was digging in. It was almost hard to believe that the man who'd come to the station fully-prepared to discharge his duty had softened this much since arrival. Softened enough to desire her in his life, permanently, complete with all the baggage that came with.

One of the Vorta's brows quirked skywards in response to his words. At least he'd conceded that she had a valid point - something human men were notoriously unwilling to do when it came down to the stands they took and arguments they made. Once again, James Stacker wasn't a stupid man. "Whoever shows up next will be pretty fucking suspicious if you just up and leave your post and shack up with Starfleet's persona non grata."

His hand slid up her thigh and slowly turned over, letting his fingers gently capture her arm as he thought. "Then it would be best if I didn't leave my post. It's the best way to protect you. Both of you," he added after a moment. He almost chuckled in amusement, because this was going to take some getting used to, but the seriousness of the moment intruded again and killed his good humor. It was at about that point that a lightbulb started flashing in the back of his mind. Leaving his post ... shacking up ... hiding ... His eyes widened a tad as a connection was made between them all. "What if ... No. No hiding. We don't give them the proverbial string to pull on, if you move in with me. Or I move in with you. What'll there be to investigate, if we're living together?"

Good lord, was he seriously considering this? In another day and age he would've thought himself mad for even bringing up this idea. But here he was, sitting naked on the damned bathroom floor, with a woman who was an agent - clandestine observer, more like - for a foreign power, who was pregnant with his child. The whole world had gone crazy, he ruefully admitted. Even the Ghost was, momentarily, amused.

Valeese sighed heavily and reached to scratch at her cupid's bow. Silence was both awkward and overwhelming, there couldn't be much of it without either party overthinking the meaning behind it even if it was simply designed to allow for intelligent thought and the mulling over of words and ideas.

Over the course of her life, Valeese had never been one to act rashly or without vacillating back and forth between the options presented before making an educated decision. She didn't have time to do that here. This wasn't exactly a 'let me think about it' moment given the severity of the implications. She was pregnant, that wasn't going to change any time soon, and that baby's father wanted to be in their life. She could have laughed at how ironic it was that she was more or less dreading that fact that wanting to embrace it when so many women in the same position were praying for the exact opposite. Meanwhile, he struck a hard bargain that seemed, for the most part, to be logically and socially sound even though people would think he'd cracked and question his life choices.

"What about Parsuv? Don't you think he'll be suspicious if we suddenly shack up and announce a pregnancy?"

"I wasn't expecting us to send out an all-hands memorandum announcing a pregnancy. Were you?" The question came with a raised eyebrow, and to him at least was a rhetorical one. He'd known beings of various species over the years who'd done precisely that. Big, flowery letters and decorative cards. Balloons. Cake, in one case. But that wasn't him: he never would be the type to go out wanting to trumpet his personal life to one and all in an over-hyped way. Just the very thought of it almost made him give her a look that was somewhere between 'fucking seriously?' and 'I feel like something died in my mouth.'

Before she could answer he shrugged, though, and leaned back against the vanity. "But yes, he'll be suspicious. Do I expect him to start digging into our lives, though? No. Not without damned good cause. And he sure as hell doesn't have one, Val," he said with a reassuring stroke of her arm. Because really, what did it all boil down to? That the Stenellis wanted her on the station to monitor the Federation from a diplomatic and military perspective? In his opinion that only marginally classified as spying. It was more like the action of a concerned neighbor. Being prudent, and keeping an eye out. He couldn't even fault the Stenellis either.

"I'm not saying we should shower the promenade with three thousand units of pink confetti, James, but this is something that announces itself pretty damn quick." The thought that she'd wake up, any day now, and go from a little bit of a belly to looking like she swallowed an entire melon rode high and began waving flags to grab her attention. It wasn't baseless paranoia, it was fact. "Something tipped you off, right? I covered my ass pretty damn well these last six weeks." She was grumbling. She could hear it in her own voice. Grumbling because she'd been caught and because there was soon to be zero denial that she was, indeed, pregnant.

Vulnerability and showing weakness were both extremely dangerous things when you were a Vorta serving Starfleet in a yet tamed portion of the galaxy that had already tried to kill you, and succeeded in fucking up several days, already.

Setting her water glass down, she rested that cool hand protectively over her belly - shielding the child within from thought and the yet to be seen boogiemen that she was near positive would come to try and harm her. That may have been paranoia, but she preferred to call it being proactive.

"You're right. Something did tip me off, but I only figured it out because I was seeing you almost every day," he said as his eyes closed. Not in sleep, though, but rather in thought. It wasn't long before one of them cracked open and looked her way, peering into the darkness at her silhouette. "Let me ask you this: do you doubt my ability to keep you safe? Do you think I don't fully appreciate the need to protect you? Dammit, they took you away from me once. It's not happening again!" Had he known that her thoughts were on the frontier, and its lack of civilization, he might have agreed. He might also have told her a single truth: that he was exceptionally motivated to grind up and weed out every last bandit, outlaw, pirate, and smuggler who might raise hell in his little world. A world that consisted of precisely three individuals.

"No. I saw what happens when things go pear shaped and I know the lengths you're willing to go to in order to guard the flock, so to speak." That had been proven thoroughly. The man next to her had blood on those wonderful hands all because he'd felt the need to put a permanent end to those who had taken her from him. More to the point, he had no regrets and hadn't thought twice about doing it. To some that may have been seen as a problem or cause to fear or be at least leery of him, but for her... She knew better. She knew the man was more than capable of great acts of violence, he had to be, but she also knew that he was capable of great acts of love and even commitment. Had he wanted to end her, he would have. Hell... He had more than enough cause given that she was what she was. Vorta. Spy. Bad combination. Yet he'd chosen to love her and had told her as much on more than one occasion.

She'd never reciprocated verbally.

How could she? She'd been planning to leave. Did she love him? With all her heart. Was she in love with him? With all her soul. In many ways their unborn daughter was proof positive of that commitment. She'd been conceived during any number of times spent reassuring one another that they were alive, back on the station, safe - making her a testament to his victory when it came to bringing Valeese home safe and sound. Physical proof of his commitment to her mother and Valeese was almost certain she could hear the itty bitty being crowing her own victory over being discovered.

Was that paranoia or schizophrenia or both?

Another sigh and the thought was dismissed, leaving her gather herself up and get to her feet now that she felt the ability and need arise. Plus there was a bagel to finish and orange juice that was now screaming for her attention. "Is this what you really want?" At some point she'd captured the hand that had been settled against her thigh and now that she was standing, somehow gaining some bit of confidence, held it against her abdomen in nearly the same place she'd cradled herself moments earlier. "It's not going to be all roses and unicorns, James. Not much ever is, but this is going to be a rougher road than most."

"I know. Still doesn't change my answer," he said from his position on the floor. His hand spread wide, fingers gently pressing to her skin as if silently acknowledging the critter. He was silent for a moment before he started to move, getting up onto his knees with his free hand using the edge of the vanity for leverage. "This is what I want, Val. I want you at my side. I may not be an expert on raising a child, but I can learn. I will learn. And protect you." The last was said as he - finally! - got to his feet and was able to brush his fingers against her cheek. Surprisingly he was able to find it on his first attempt. No eyes were poked out or fingers brushed against other parts of her anatomy.

A short lived snort of amusement and shake of her head - though not strong enough to unseat his hand from her cheek - paved the way for her response. "I knew it. You're insane." The humor would at least help alleviate the growing tension, or so she hoped. It was a least a small show that she was starting to consider her point of view and leaning towards being amiable to deciding in his favor.

"I know. Certifiable. Now let's go missy. Something tells me there's a bagel with your name on it," he said, taking the hand from her cheek and pointing back out towards the bed. At least in its general direction. As if in support of this argument his own stomach made its hunger known. Nothing too impressive: just loud enough to be heard without sounding as if a wild beast was about to come through the door from parts unknown. The sound made him pause, for a moment, before he continued speaking. "Guess I have to find my bagel, too. I think it's somewhere in the sheets..."

She could have argued and put up a fuss, but what purpose would that have served? None. Valeese wanted that damn bagel... and orange juice. "We'll chuck those, get fresh ones." He may have had her hand, but she was more then happy to leave the bathroom on a mission for sustenance before the lime-sized one could make their displeasure known in ways rather unpleasant.


Lt. Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer


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