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[BACKLOG] JL | Cmdr Valeese, Lt Cmdr Stacker | "Your Flavor of Crayons"

Posted on Sun Aug 25th, 2019 @ 1:20am by Commander Valeese
Edited on on Sun Aug 25th, 2019 @ 2:08am

Mission: Dust Stirring
Timeline: Three months ago...

It was painfully silent outside of the noise of her own body. Valeese could hear the pulse of her jugular vein rustling softly against the pillow she rested against, the sound of her own breath as it worked through her airways in and out in careful clockwork. She could even hear the rapid gallop of her child's heart, very very faintly. None of them bothered her as she remained curled up beneath the perfect cocoon of no less than five blankets and the fort of pillows she insisted upon keeping around.

What did bother her, but not enough to make her stir, was the sound of the door coming open and closed, a jacket hitting a chair, boots being discarded and left by the door, and socked feet traipsing across the floor in her general direction. While she loved the person responsible, she couldn't help but wish he was more like T-Rex in-so-far that if she stayed perfectly still, he'd miss the lump beneath the blankets on his bed.

The silence extended for a few minutes more: in that time a few things could be determined. First, there was no sign of his being stressed or under pressure. This was important because like most humans he was good but not robotic. Had there been a meeting subsequent to hers, his heart rate even now would have been elevated. Second, he was either befuddled or regarding her with amusement. A "we need to talk" or even an instantaneous move to slide into bed with her might have signaled a different state of emotions depending on what was going on. The sight of five blankets and a fort of pillows, however, appeared to be holding him at a respectable distance.

Like any good siege commander, however, he was also capable of wearing down her defenses. The opening probe in the campaign came in the form of a creak as he leaned on the bulkhead, sock-covered feet crossing on the floor. "Okay, what happened?" An appeal to her communicative side.

Foiled.

The Ghost most definitely wasn't T-Rex and she'd most definitely been found. Small wonder what it was that gave her away... Blankets or pillow fort? Pick one. She sighed and considered rolling over to peek out at him, but thought better of it. If she was going to talk about it, it was either all going to come bubbling out in one tsunami-like gush of data overflow or it would trickle like a slow summer stream. Which would win out was entirely up for debate. "Things." Valeese finally replied and the pillows/blanket fort shifted slightly as she moved and coiled into a more comfortable position, hoping the growing ache in her hip would subside enough to where she didn't have to roll over.

There came a sign of thoughtfulness - a high-pitched faint whistling caused by intake of air between teeth and lip - but otherwise no sign that his vigil was about to be broken. No noises of the siege camp being broken down, of feet padding to the bed or from the room. No change of posture or position. It was understood, but not clearly seen, that his eyes were watching for any little tick or movement which gave away why she had retreated into her fortress of blankets and pillows. Finally came a sound of rustling cloth as if moving against something. A faint rustling that ended; adjusting his shoulder against the bulkhead perhaps? "Things?" he echoed back at her. "You need to clarify, my dear." The tone in the voice was respectful, but firm. She was evidently not going to escape this one so easily.

One of her ears twitched in response to the sound of the whistle, however faint, and the subtle rustling of his movement. He wasn't retreating and then his words most certainly cemented the fact that she was going to have to talk... Eventually... Soon.

Soon.

Even her hip refused to play nice, forcing her to roll over with a heavy, frustrated sigh and an avalanche of pillows that shifted to compensate for the sudden movement. A few hit the floor with an undignified 'splat' that only fluff filled fabric could dare hope to make. "Things like..." There was a resounding silence after those muffled words as she calculated just how to explain things to him, "Well... I have a week to recall all the medical data I deleted as it pertains to this pregnancy because, guess what? Fleet Admiral Red figured it out. Didn't take a genius level deduction on her part either considering I look like I swallowed a stupid ball or something."

Tsunami. It came out like a tsunami complete with the blankets moving in accordance to her coordinating hand motions emphasizing her words as she ranted, "I mean... Seriously. Commodore Ravnsson figured it out, came down to my office with some bullshit, pardon my language, story about his hands being arthritic. Well guess what?! Not arthritic. Especially not when he was pawing my abdomen like he was trying to select a melon or something. He knew. They all know. But you know what they don't know? About you. Because I didn't nark because... Reasons." Valeese breathed, realizing her lungs were screaming for fresh air and her voice was starting to sound strained. "Like the fact we haven't exactly advertised that we're an item, let alone expecting a baby in something crazy like seventeen weeks. I was ridiculously stupid to think I could hide this from people. I mean what the hell was I thinking? Just show up one day down at sickbay with 'Oh hey guys, yeah there's something you should know. I'm having a baby. Oh, when? Right now!' and then hide her in our quarters like she doesn't exist and play the 'what baby? I don't see a baby' game?" More silence. More rustling. Another ache and a wave of nausea forced her to prop herself up and draw long, even, square breaths, "I feel violated."

He was already off the wall and moving even before she sat up: alarms were ringing in his mind like church bells pealing, warning of a crisis somewhere. Strained arms and hands holding the ropes, every ounce of weight and muscle being applied to make the giant cast bells turn. Except in this case there were no bells and he thanked God - not for the first time - that his quarters were buried in part of the station not open to the general foot traffic of the upper decks. It was a location, a fortress, where they had peace and solitude to themselves. The bed shook as he roughly planted himself on the side, one leg up along the side with the other bracing himself on the floor. Close enough to eye her. To hold, should that prove necessary.

Unfortunately for the two of them, his mind had temporarily skipped the part about Fleet Admiral Red as soon as Commodore Ravnsson's name entered the discussion. Now the results became somewhat ... predictable. "What do you mean, he pawed your abdomen? He laid his hands on you, without your permission?" The voice had gone from the amused and pleasant personality from over by the doorway, to extraordinarily cold as if a switch had been flipped. "What did he say? And what the hell gave him the right to lay his hands on you?"

Finally she fought with the layers of blankets to emerge out from under them, her hair a mess of static and ruffled curls that had escaped her hair clip. It was a move made only to eye him, to connect and make sure she was hearing things correctly with the way he'd gone from tender, if not exasperated, to positively sub-arctic. "Something about playing on his field, I don't know, James, I wasn't exactly hanging on his every word. He just went from asking for help for his hands to saying he recognized that I was pregnant, to pinning me between him and the counter top in my office and yeah, hands, belly, didn't like it." Her arms folded across her chest as she spoke. "He's your boss and a Commodore. If I say anything he's going to make me look like an idiot because he's an 'old man' and he's just 'excited about new life' blah blah blah and we can't have him pissed off or else bad things for you." Her fingers air quoted around certain words, allowing them to hang as she ranted.

Should he tell her what had been said during her absence? He bit his lip and thought. The meeting with the Commodore was too vivid in his mind, even now. The Norseman questioning if Commander Valeese had made herself disappear. How he hadn't even blinked when the idea of genocide crept into the discussion. After a moment he grunted, deciding against saying anything. She had every right to know. But he was her shield and sword; a self-appointed role to be sure, but one which he had wholeheartedly embraced. She had every right to be shielded against the cold reality that the Director of Starfleet Intelligence was - in his estimation - a dangerous menace to them both. To say nothing of the Free Colony.

"You're right," he conceded to her, giving her a nod which signified that he agreed. The look on his face and tone in his voice screamed volumes about his displeasure about where this left things. His hands rubbed his thighs as if trying to wipe away something particularly vile. "You're right, but it's a hell of a spot to be in. I don't like it in the least bit. Nobody - nobody, Val - has the right to lay their hands on you. If only they could look beyond old prejudices. I know, I know, a fool's errand." His right hand came up, curled into a fist. Something popped. Then it relaxed. "Damn the man!"

"Yeah... Well... I know that he didn't exactly enjoy being told no." Her head shook, "You know... Vorta society celebrates new life, maybe a little more than we should, but we do because that capability was taken from us for so long. Something gave me the feeling that he wasn't exactly celebrating this, though. I felt more like he was confirming some suspicion and then... I don't know." Trying to finger comb her hair back into place, Valeese folded her legs and sat her hands in her lap. Sitting in what the Terrans referred to as 'Indian Style' served to help her back and relieve some of the growing pressure on her pelvis - little changes that were becoming habits. "Either way... Lesson learned. We can't hide things forever, or... If we do, it means going our separate ways which isn't something you were exactly keen on. I'm sorry I did this to you."

The last few words succeeded in pricking his conscious and drawing him back into the moment, instead of dwelling on a single encounter that had occurred months ago. "What? No, don't apologize!" came the indignant reply, accompanied by a shake of his head. For a moment it even looked as if he might put his head in his hands and sigh. Instead his lips just flattened and he shook his head again. "How many times do we have to go over this again? I did at least fifty percent of the work, and," he added as a finger tweaked her chin, "I haven't regretted having you in my life for a single moment. So don't apologize."

It looked as if he was going to continue, but he instead stopped and his mouth closed. Clearly something else was on his mind; something causing great internal debate and stress. It caused him to break from looking at her and turn his eyes to the floor, where they remained for a moment. Then they turned back to her. Once again there was another change in his voice. The anger was gone now. What remained was ... stripped-down. Kind, and caring, and tender. The Ghost was gone - for now. What looked at her was James. "I'm done hiding, Val. If it means leaving this command and transitioning back to the Marines, so be it. I'm tired of creeping around and hiding what we have from everyone and everything. I want this - us - to be permanent."

There was a gentle scoff, a shake of her head, and her hands wrung together, tangling with the fabric of the blanket setting at the top of the pack, "Don't you think you're a little smart to be a Marine? I mean I know we established that you have a favorite flavor of crayon and all... But..." Her teeth caught her lower lip, cutting off her teasing speech and with it the lightness she tried to press upon the moment, "It's not that simple. I wish it was, but it's not. We wouldn't be here if I'd been a bit more careful, you know that? I can't have you change your life, and I won't. No crayons for you."

A solitary index finger found her lips and pressed to them. Momentarily silencing her. "We've talked, and talked, and talked some more about this. Endless circles, over and over again. And yet here you are Val. Living in my quarters, carrying a child both of us want to happen. So yes, it's that simple. Forget what happened - just - just -" He sighed and looked down at his thighs and his other hand, then back up at her. The words came pouring out in a rush at first, slowing to a trickle by the end. "Hell with it. I never thought I'd ask this in a million years, and here we are. Make it permanent Val. Will you marry me?"

It felt like a balloon popped, sending glitter and confetti everywhere along with a little banner that said 'surprise!', leaving her silent as it all began to float down to reality and settle. While he may have never thought about asking such a question, Valeese had never thought about being on the answering end of it. At first she was ready to write him off as stressed out and maybe even a little territorial, acting because someone else had trespassed on his turf and this was the closest he could come to peeing on her and marking his territory.

So much so she almost said as much, including a joke about forever being a long time, right there with his finger butted up against her lips.

The not so subtle bump of a knee - or was it an elbow? - from within managed to jar her enough to where she considered other things while lightly settling an arm over her well blanketed middle. Where surprise had likely settled in her own eyes, she could find only sincerity, and a touch of worry, in his. Marriage was a bad idea. For both of them. Then again, so was bringing a new life forth and that choice had been more or less stolen from them. This choice gave them back a touch of control whether she recognized it or not.

Her lips moved, planting a kiss to the side of his finger before she reached to grasp it and move his hand away from her face, "Ok." She nodded slowly at first, "I'll marry you. I think you're a glutton for punishment, but I'll marry you."

He let out a breath that he didn't realize he'd been holding, as a feeling of relief swept through his bones and his eyes closed for a moment before reopening. Was it an appropriate time to say that this had more-or-less been a spur-of-the-moment thing? Had it even been? He examined his feelings for a quick second and concluded that no, no this wasn't some thing brought on. The two of them had been lovers for quite some time, she was living in his quarters now, and there were other factors at play. Safety. Security. A desire to above all else keep her safe. This all seemed to fit well together, now that he stood back and looked at it.

This was gradually - quickly - subsumed within a rising tide of feeling. It should've been accompanied by music and laughter, and quite possibly confetti (had he known she had thought that he would have laughed), but for now all he could do was slide a little closer to her and lean in to press a kiss to her lips. He did manage to whisper an "I love you" before they made contact, though.

Only when they parted from that kiss did Valeese reply, extolling her love for him as she rested her forehead against his and allowed a single finger to trace along his fluff covered jaw line. The question of happiness was a strange thing, especially when there was so much at play and so much at stake, but the answer - in its most simple value - was 'yes'. She was happy. Along with worried and a bit nervous, and still - of course - wracked with guilt over changing his life so very violently over the past five months.

He claimed he was happy, that this was everything he never knew he wanted, but there was suspicion where she should have just taken things at face value. That suspicion, never ending, was perhaps the best bit of evidence that she loved him. Now marriage. Somehow marriage seemed the least suspicious of he so-called wants and desires. Marriage seemed to have organically come about even if it may have been spurred a bit to reach them a bit earlier in the process of a relationship than it normally would have. Yes... Dangerous... But it pulled suspicion away at the same time. She couldn't possibly be a spy if the station's sharpest and most suspicious mind put a ring on it. Nor could she be such a vile beast if a former Marine, likely one that had put Dominion in the ground, had taken her as their own - the supporting evidence was downright undeniable.

With her mind racing at break neck pace, the itty bitty Vorta carefully freed herself from what was left of her fortress of solitude and managed to do so without having to claw and wiggle and wallow. A damned miracle, she thought, finding her feet and tugging the hem of her camisole down before it could ride up any further than it had. From there, clad only in underwear, she reached for his hands and had a little tug in her direction. "C'mon... Let's take a shower, get dressed, and go out." If that didn't scream trust and a feeling of safety, nothing else ever would.

As he let himself be tugged in the direction of the bathroom a trail of clothes fell in his wake. By the time he reached the door he wore only the bare minimum of a shirt and boxers. As he did his hop-skip-dance across the floor, shedding pants and overshirt in his wake, he couldn't help but feel a bone-deep and profound sense of relief and joy. Relief for her having said yes. Joy that the moment had led to this. James had never been married - at times had wondered if he ever might be - but upon further reflection he looked back to that moment on the bed and decided that it all felt ... right. As if a missing piece to a puzzle had snicked into place and completed a larger picture.

And why shouldn't it? he demanded of himself. Had he not gone through trials and tribulations to earn her hand, respect, and love? Storming a slaver-run space station. Providing that shoulder for her to lean on when the going got rough and it felt like the walls were closing in. Keeping her safe on an alien planet. And then there were all the little moments too. The tender moments of affection. The peaceful waking to find her against him. The peaceful care and ministrations. Even the eyepatch, he thought with a quirk of a smile about his lips. Those times when they knew something was amiss with the other, even if they didn't know specifically what. Surrendering control, even in a moment like this.

Yes, he thought as he reached into the shower and activated the water, it all felt right. He gently pulled her to him and - caught up in the exuberance of the moment, and not thinking clearly - kissed her again, much firmer than before.

The advance, while surprising, wasn't entirely unexpected. Valeese couldn't help but smile against his lips as she returned his affections, spreading her fingers out across his collarbone. There was something there, some sort of magnetism that kept her drawn to him like a moth to flame. Some would have said she was insane, her contacts on Apsha had often eluded to it each and every time she reported in with bits and bobs - mainly to hear feed back and assurances that the Vindicator and negotiations were in good spirits - but she couldn't have cared less. He was hers, now more so than ever before, and he was radiant in ways she could hardly begin to describe. Lighter. Airier. It was as if years of stress and life had been lifted from the titan's shoulders in mere minutes, and there - truly basking in his glow - she embraced that change and encouraged it to come further from its shell.

"When I was little I used to think about things like marriage and children and a future with a white picket fence," Her smile was almost shy as she parted from his lips and drew her fingers down his sternum, tracing the lines of powerful muscles hidden beneath warm, wet skin. "All that went away because the universe became a serious reality check and I wanted more in life than to remain with my own people, hiding. I never expected this... You..." She murmured, dropping a kiss between his pecs, "Us." The word came with a smile, far less shy, "I keep waiting to wake up, corny as it sounds."

"I know the feeling," he murmured as hands and legs slowly rocked them under the falling water. On the one hand he was acutely conscious of that telltale bump, yet on the other he craved that close and intimate feeling in ways seemingly new. Ever since he'd uttered the words and she accepted - had it been only minutes ago? - the world seemed different somehow. More vibrant and vivid. More buoyant. He was convinced that her acceptance meant something newer and better in both their lives. Giving that up simply would not - could not - happen. Not once.

His lips pressed to her water-soaked hair, feeling the fine droplets against his chin before he spoke. "I thought about a house when I was little. A place by the seashore. Growing old with a wife and a dog. Then I enlisted and went away to war, and all that disappeared. Never thought I'd find that reality. Guess I just needed to be more patient with life in the end." When he smiled it was both bittersweet and overjoyed. Bittersweet as he remembered those nights of lonely despair. Overjoyed that there would be no more of them. Another kiss pressed to her hair, then slid down so that his mouth could be near one delicate fan-like ear. "I've never once regretted finding you."

"I find that hard to believe," Valeese shivered, her eyes closed as she delighted in the nearly overwhelming sensations of heat and wet and breath on her ear and the rumble of his voice through his chest as he spoke and so much more, "Not the house and family part, but the regret part." It came as a half truth, but a tease, but a half truth none-the-less. It spoke volumes of her need to de-clutter his life, not complicate it further. Yet there they were... Engaged... Expecting... Caressing one another beneath the liquid heat of a shower all smiles and happiness, floating on cloud nine in preparation of coming clean to the world that they were a family whether people liked it, accepted it, or not.

"It's true. Not once." There was a slight pause. "Maybe my sanity was put to the test when you were stolen from me." Not gone, not abducted, not kidnapped. Stolen from him. At face value it might seem the height of sheer arrogance - to assume her ordeal with the slavers was a personal slight against him. Yet there was also that little voice in the back of his mind that whispered words of comfort when he said it. The one that told him they meshed well with each other and she would know what he meant. They were a pair of kindred souls, and as his lips moved lower and found that crook where neck joined shoulder he was found himself immensely pleased by the sudden awareness that ran though him: that their lives would be publicly enmeshed as well as they were in private.

With the gentlest of head bobbles, she agreed with him - at least she thought she nodded. Physical activity while he was studiously following such sensitive lines of of her body had never been something she'd managed to do with any real amount of grace or success. It wasn't that he touched her - kissed her - but the way he did so with such luxury and finite prowess behind his every move. There was nothing unintentional about him - this was something she'd come to realize in short order, "Not even that meeting in the arboretum?" Valeese managed to ask, her eyes shut and the fingers of one hand having moved to follow the stream of water coursing down the back of his neck. Memories were wonderful things. He hadn't touched her with his lips, not then, and he could have broken her wrist with the simplest flick of his own - but had touched and he had teased and she'd gone home with an entire colony of fire winged butterflies trying to escape her gut. No, she conceded, James Stacker never did anything unintentionally... And she loved it.

"I regretted parting company in the arboretum," he murmured in confession, hands reciprocating hers and exploring down her spine and to each side. There was a thin trickle curving around the side of her neck, joining with the droplets coming off her hair and then winding down between her shoulder blades. The pads of his fingers splashed through the little winding stream, causing it to divert due to the near-brush strokes that swept up-and-down her back. No sooner had it resumed its normal course than he did it again. "I remember my sanity also being put to the test. You and that damned leaf." Another murmur, low in volume and whispered near her ear before his head dipped back down and the water coming off his head resumed its interrupted course down the back of his neck. It went completely unnoticed that the glass was thoroughly steamed, presenting anyone outside only with the dimmest of outlines of their bodies. Not enough so they might recognize the moment when that dipped head pressed to her skin and he nibbled it softly.

"So that's why you destroyed it..." She was done. She could hear the smoke in her voice, the way her breath hitched as his teeth touched her heated flesh, driving her closer to him all the while. Her weight shifted from one hip to the other, allowing her calf and thigh to brush the outside of his and her body to rest more or less flush with his. Even that contact wasn't enough. "I often wonder what would have happened if you hadn't."

"I don't know." It was true in more ways than one. He really didn't know what would have happened had the leaf not been destroyed. But he also didn't know how much longer he'd be able to keep teasing her for, because it was rapidly becoming difficult to keep his concentration and focus. And all the reasons why were the right reasons, so far as he was concerned. The way her delightful scent filled his nose every time he inhaled. The fingers on his back and that voice. His hands worked down her back from neck to rump, molding her to him. When the growing evidence of his arousal brushed the inside of one of her thighs his breath hitched in her ear. "Val ..."

"I'm here." The response was nothing more than a whisper, and it came unbidden without thought. Natural as anything. Maybe just a soft reminder that she understood his wants and needs and, more importantly, reciprocated them. Maybe it was that she so desperately wanted to feel him within her, blending them as one entity for a brief, shining flourish of time. Either way her fingers pressed deeper against his skin as an anchor, feeling the insistent reminder that he - without a doubt - felt the same. It didn't take much from there - the leg she'd already brushed against him lifted to hook low on his hip, "I'm here..." She repeated, taking pride and relishing in the knowledge that she always would be.

---

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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