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[BACKLOG] Jl | Cmdr Valeese, Lt Cmdr Stacker | bye bye

Posted on Mon Aug 26th, 2019 @ 2:16am by Commander Valeese & Lieutenant Commander James Stacker

Mission: Dust Stirring

Dust.

Her saliva had turned to dust, dry, parched, dust. It made swallowing the growing knot in her throat near impossible, and breathing more of a chore than it had been in a good long while. It had been a little over her week since her conversation with Fleet Admiral Red, more importantly, a little over a week since she'd agreed to marry the Ghost... A little over a week since they'd made a vivid statement by walking the promenade as a couple... As a family.

And now?

Dust.

Proof that she 'belonged' to Starfleet and the Federation as a whole perhaps more than she belonged to the Ghost or even to herself had come waltzing along in the form of marching orders. Sort of. She didn't have to march, but she did have to leave on a medical mission to a small world three sectors over. The joke was on her, it would seem, for studying genetics as thoroughly as she had - she was the leading expert in a little known genetic anomaly that wound up calcifying ligaments and turning them into frail bone and, worse, she was one of the few that knew anything about the appropriate therapies to help alleviate the symptoms and stall them from progression.

Curse being a nerd... But it had kept her alive and had kept her useful in an environment where being both useless and a Vorta would have landed her dead a long time ago.

"I can't catch this, you know, neither can the baby. It's a genetic thing." She sighed, finally allowing her pursed lips to part, and looked up from her packing to briefly catch the Ghost's grim face, "It's a couple of months, just long enough to set them on the right path..." Her voice trailed off. Leaving was bullshit, but she'd be back.

A grunt came from his side of the room, through deeply-set lines in his face and a look that shared commonalities with the monstrous summer thunderstorms of his homeworld. He'd been this way for a while. When the news had first arrived he'd regarded it as a joke. Surely the universe wouldn't be so cruel as to play this card? It seemed like he'd only just convinced her to stay and remain part of his life. Now this?

It had only been later on that logic hit him upside the head with two blows. The first being that she was going into a medical contagion situation with their unborn child. That was enough to set his heart racing for a moment, and prompting a moment of pause in the middle of a department staff meeting. The second revelation had come later, when he was holding her in the quiet of the night. For the first time since their first meeting she would be off the station for several months. Not even her abduction and the subsequent pursuit-turned-gunfight had lasted nearly as long. By comparison it was a mere blip.

He rubbed his short-cut beard and sighed, now, before giving up and pushing off the wall. "I know. It irritates, but you'll be back." Where the hell had his sense of duty gone? A year ago the first words out of his mouth would have been something about Starfleet, duty, and a job to do. Now he looked upon them with the same look one might give a recruiting poster, after experiencing the life.

This isn't something they train you for, he thought as he picked up some folded clothes and passed them to her, focusing less on the clothing and more on the errant thoughts zipping around the inside of his head. "It's not as if I won't have things to do." Truer words were never spoken. The promotion to Executive Officer had only come through mere days before, and he was still adjusting to a role that had only seemed to become more and more daunting the more engaged he became with it.

Engaged. That singular word almost made his head start to spin, again. He pushed the thought aside and came back to the moment, handing her ... what was he holding? Right. A PADD with some medical text on the screen. "I'm assuming this is going with you. Either that or I'm just picking up random things and losing my mind."

"Actually... Yes..." Valeese took the PADD from him, barely looking it over before turning it off and tossing it beside her bag. It bounced unceremoniously on the bed, nearly finding its way to the floor. She wouldn't have cared - it wasn't like she didn't have the file backed up on her private server just waiting to be retrieved because it needed to be uploaded to yet another PADD. It was beyond her scope of caring, though, in shadow of the sobering reality that in just a few short hours she'd be off in the black and heading to a relatively primitive world filled with people who couldn't figure out that screwing their first cousin wasn't tradition, it was causing a bevy of genetic disease... She paused, closing her eyes and blowing out a slow breath as she steadied herself and worked to get a firmer hand on the anxiety coursing through her system.

Another shirt wound up stuffed, almost violently, into the bag. Scrubs, mainly, a few lab coats... Everything spoke of business and only business. Cold. Sterile. The only hint of comfort coming from one sweater and a pair of soft shorts she'd curl up in for bed, "I wish I had more to say that hasn't already been said, James," She shrugged, "This wasn't my choice." The zipper sang sharply as she closed that final bag and tucked an errant curl back behind an ear, "Especially not... Now... Not given the circumstances or timing or any of it."

One of his hands made its way to her shoulder, landing there and giving it a soft squeeze. The gesture was in and of itself cold comfort, given that he'd be unable to do it again for several months, but it was the thought that counted. It wasn't something that he had to think extensively on: it just felt right. "I know," he said with a voice that sounded unusually husky. He cleared his throat and continued speaking. "I know Val. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already looking forward to your return. But for now ..." There was little more he could say, or wanted to say for that matter. The lines on his face were easing and smoothing with obvious effort, but his thoughts and feelings were already known. The hand squeezed her shoulder again.

"Just promise me you'll stay safe. Both of you. I know what you said about being unable to catch it. It's just ... locations like this aren't always the most stable." He was acutely discomfited by the fact that medical contagions were not his area of specialty or expertise, but he was willing to defer to her expertise and judgement. Both of them knew what she was going into. His professional side, however, warred with logic. It insisted that she be well-protected and guarded. That every effort be made to keep her safe.

Shucking her bag over the shoulder he wasn't occupying, Valeese finally had nothing left to concentrate on other than him - even if she wanted to fully avoid looking him in the eye. "You don't have to worry." She nodded as if to cast her words in stone. He'd worry. He'd probably pace. He might not go to pieces the moment she left, but there'd be a disturbance felt in the force... Without a doubt.

"Anyway... I don't really do good byes very well and I can't show up on this ship with red puffy eyes or anything like that because any credibility I had would be stuffed out an airlock pretty quick. So, I'm gonna head up there and get settled." With that, she afforded him a sad little half smile and reached to stroke the fluff at his chin ever so briefly.

What needed to be said had been said, and now .. logic insisted it was time to let her go. Surrendering to what was, on the face of it, inevitable, he pursed his lips and gave her a half-smile which didn't come close to being like his normal self. The hand on her shoulder gave it another soft squeeze and he bent over to give her a soft peck on the lips. "Safe travels," he murmured as he straightened again and released his hold.

Returning his kiss was the hardest easiest thing she'd ever had to do. It came second nature, her lips instinctively working against his and, when parted, tingled in an unanswered demand for further contact. "Don't do anything I wouldn't." Her half smile returned, but it wouldn't last. Stooping to grab the discarded PADD on the bed, Valeese made the trip from the bedroom to the door without crumbling. From there it was the briefest wave before she simply began to follow her feet down to where the research vessel, Arcana, waited.

---

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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