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JL | Lt Cmdr Stacker, Cmdr Valeese | "Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again"

Posted on Mon Aug 26th, 2019 @ 4:08am by Commander Valeese

Mission: Dust Stirring

The Jericho wasn't exactly a luxury liner, as far as passenger vessels were concerned, but Valeese couldn't have cared less. It had been a choice of booking passage on that ship or waiting for the USS Mozart to appear, unload its cargo, and leave nearly a week later. In short, it wasn't really a choice, she was quick to gather her belongings and make haste to the shuttle chaperoning colonists and a handful of Starfleet personnel to the waiting ship. Sure, it meant taking greater precautions for her protection, namely sending quick word ahead to the station that she was on her way - word she knew would make its way across Stacker's desk. The effort was redoubled with the programming of a holoemitter set to disguise the tell tale evidence of her pregnancy and Vorta heritage.

It took time, but it was a worthy endeavor.

From there it had been three and a half days worth of travel, in cramped quarters no less, before the vessel dropped out of warp and the announcement came across the com-system that they were making their initial approach to Cold Station Theta.

It had been a sleepless trip, her ears plagued by every noise and every footstep down the halls. If someone coughed, she quirked an ear in its direction without thinking about it. Even when she tried to sleep, her senses stayed hot and alive - preoccupied by the paranoia that came with traveling alone, vulnerable, and Vorta. A bad combination if there ever was one.

But now, with her carry on hung on her shoulder - and the rest of her gear being delivered to her office - Valeese felt greater at ease the moment she passed through the airlocks and filled her lungs with the station's recirculated air. Home sweet home, if there ever was one. All there was left was a trip across the admittedly large and spooky promenade, and for that she kept the emitter working, buying time until she found her way back to the Ghost shed been forced to leave behind.

The clamor and bustle that accompanied a newly docked ship was not new. In many ways though the area was worse than the last time she’d been here. Some of the shops nearest the dock had changed hands. More open-air stalls had been erected. Scents and sounds assaulted the sense from all directions, whether it be the butcher in the corner market or the jazzed-up bar where the Klingon restaurant had been.

It was only a chance parting of bodies that exposed the station’s executive officer, up above where he could be seen by all yet ignored by just as many. He stood at the railing on the second level, one hand resting lightly on the railing while he spoke with a pair of security officers. His free hand gestured, rose, descended, pointed at them. Heads nodded. The two of them turned to go on their way.

James turned back to the railing, still lightly holding on with one hand as he surveyed the clamor below like one might eye the docks in a long-ago age. A captain or an admiral from one of his nautical paintings watching just-returned ships offloading dockside, perhaps. Just as soon as the image was complete however his hands detached from the railing and he moved away, moving out of view in the direction of the turbolift and his quarters.

The relative quiet of the lifts were, at least, a welcomed reprieve for the weary little traveler. They'd been worked on, realigned or replaced, and their newly minted speed was, at the very least, refreshing. Valeese sighed, releasing a bit of the tension that had accumulated, and allowed her scarf-like hood to slip from her head and pool a out her neck and shoulders. Her hands, however, were made busy tugging gloves off of one another.

With the hood fallen, the first of her holoemitters was taken offline, allowing her fan-like ears to shimmer back into focus as the digital mirage dispersed and freed them.

Traveling by common passenger liner meant blending in, especially out on the lawlessness of Cheydinhall, butt there in the regulated bits of the station she was free to begin reclaiming herself and ending the game of hide and seek she'd learned to play so well. Being a so-called spy had given her a fine edge indeed, or at least had delivered safely to the deck she called home and a corridor more familiar than most anything else.

Out of habit she paused in front of one door in particular, choosing between ringing the chime and simply letting herself in. Letting herself in, if only to save herself from the disappointment of him not being there if he was stuck on duty, won out.

There was a noise from a side room as she entered; a sound of rattling PADDs cascading to the floor. A crescendo of transplastic and various bits of metal crashed together. In the sound that followed came a sigh. “She’s going to come on back and wonder what the devil you’ve been up to, James,” his telltale voice muttered. Too low for human hearing, just right for hers. “Gone for all this time and now you’ve got PADDs stacked yay-high on a desk.”

The sound of their being stacked anew reached her ears. Two devices. Three. Four. Five. When it reached eight there came the sound of cloth brushing the carpet, followed by the faint stamp of a boot. And a pop. “God-damn man. She’s going to be able to track you just from the sound of popping joints.” Then he padded around the corner, still dressed in his uniform, finger and thumb brushing the sides of a beard that had been allowed to grow out another several inches in her absence, giving him a vaguely Earth Teutonic appearance.

It took a moment for his head to come up, so engrossed was he in the PADD held in one hand. At the last minute, however, something must have flagged his attention. The head snapped up, followed by an immediate blink of eyes. Which was swiftly followed by a broad grin that crinkled and disrupted the serious look on his face. The PADD clicked on the desk where he put it down, contents forgotten. Boots swished on the carpet as he swiftly crossed the room to her.

"James..." Valeese gasped when he finally came into view. The mess and the beard were secondary, they meant so very little in the grand scheme of things... Beyond being evidence of his life while she was away. Life was life. He was alive, he was there, and she was home.

Her bag dropped where she stood and she barely made two steps before he was there, less than arm's reach away, and downright perfect - if a little scruffy.

Something tugged at his awareness, just seconds before he was about to take her into his arms. It had all the subtlety of alarm klaxons pealing in the dead of night, demanding immediate attention. What ...? The view traveled lowered, lower. A moment later reality crashed down on him and his eyes raced up to lock on hers. He felt pain. Some horrific stab that went right to his gut with all the impact of a phaser hit. Under the torrent of cascading emotions and pain he didn't quite know he could feel, the only thing he could ask was "how." What had happened? Her messages hadn't said anything about loss. "Jesus Val, what ...?"

The little Vorta's nose wrinkled and her head shook in brief confusion before hey voice caught up to her lips and she uttered a single "What?". It didn't take long for her to figure it out, her eyes following his line of sight and back up to catch sheer devastation written across his face. "No, James, no." She gushed, holding up her hands to stop him, and his emotions, where he stood - but that was not unlike stopping a bull in a China shop or a fully loaded freight train. Each instance took patience of an act of the Gods.

Or, in this case, the swift - though fumbling - removal of her tunic.

The holoemitter's program halted the moment it no longer sensed her body heat or bio rhythms, its host having cast the garment it was hidden on to the floor in sake of a speedy reveal of her true, and very gravid, state. "I'm ok... we're ok. " she couldn't help but smile a relieved and wary smile of her own, it wasn't that long ago that she'd truly believed he wouldn't have cared less what happened to the child she carried. Now... There he was, looking like he was about to fall to pieces over a presumed loss, wearing his grief and heart ache all over his face. It both charmed her and threatened to break her heart.

Valeese reached to capture his hands and placed them over her belly, gently coursing her fingers over the backs of his hands as they stood there. "See? Just a little camoflauge." ... And stupidity on her behalf for not killing the program on the lift before it could terrorize the previously unflappable Ghost.

The changes played out across his face in some odd sort of rapid-fire picture show. Lines which had been gathering, bunching, and deepening suddenly reversed and began smoothing. Second by second they unraveled. The tension that had caused him to tighten up like a man expecting a killing blow blew out with each exhalation, letting his shoulders release and move more naturally. Away went the tight lines around the eyes, and the look in the eyes that betrayed a growing sense of alarm and gut-wrenching panic. His fingers spread wider, palm pressed to her, pressing so firm as to register but not so firm as to alarm. A more relaxed look swept across his face, taking his cares with them. It was a better look for behind closed doors.

He licked his lips as his other hand landed on her arm, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Never do that to me again. Unless you want to turn my hair completely grey." A flicker of a smile played around the corner of his mouth.

"Wasn't meant to scare you." A hand left his to cup his scruffy jaw, trailing her thumb over the bare skin of his cheek, "It was a trick that got us home safe." She nodded in gentle emphasis, quietly working to unravel those final lines of pain that lingered. Of course it likely didn't help that the child, their child, had been lulled to rest during her mother's stroll from the Jericho, "I promise. She's ok."

Promising such a thing pulled at some dark corner of her mind and feeling redundant given that he could feel the undeniable evidence of that statement beneath his massive, outspread hands. It was a quickly dismissed notion in favor of enjoying the moment.

Those hands, magnificent and rough from years of hard work, felt like heaven, warm, heavy, and intimately secure against her. She knew that the lingering touch was as much comforting himself as it was him beginning to reestablish his connection and the claim he undoubtedly held... and she relished in the flourish of sensations and feelings that bloomed. "Besides," her head canted to one side, "I love your hair just the way it is, but a few silver highlights would make you look extremely dignified, Commander."

A faint electric tingling was blossoming in his jaw as her touch moved along his skin. It brought with it a reminder of past days. Days that contained very good memories, which he'd held onto during her absence. Entire months had gone by where he'd walked these quarters alone. No voice to greet him in the dead of night. No body to wake up next to in the morning. Every breath carried with it the scent he'd long since come to associate with her. It seemed more vibrant now. More welcome. Thank God she's back! some part of his mind shouted in its echo box.

If it had crossed his lips it would have been quite out of character. But the quirk and sense of humor was well and truly alive even with that little modicum of restraint impressing dignity upon him. Which is why he winked at her and murmured how it was nothing that a little dye wouldn't fix. He paused to look at her, eyes flicking up-and-down her face, before he gave in to impulse and found himself pressing his lips to hers. It was a light touch at first. One that let him murmur a "welcome back" before his lips pressed to hers more strongly.

Humming a response, wordless as it was given the way he'd taken away any desire her lips may have had to form words, Valeese found herself melting... And wandering down a rather familiar rabbit hole. It was one dug strictly by the Ghost, seductively promising a wealth of warmth, pleasure, safety, and happiness should she capitulate and allow herself to free fall. Free fall she did, meeting his kisses, though his longer than normal whiskers tickled her skin, and wholeheartedly resigning herself to his touch even after the need for oxygen broke their lips from one another.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say you missed me after all," She teased, letting her fingers toy with his beard. Truth of the matter was she had missed near on everything about him and the way he piqued each of her senses, currying and tuning them until they were hyper focused on him and him alone.

"And what gave you that idea?" he murmured, reinforcing his feelings with yet another light kiss upon her lips. The feeling of her fingers in his beard continued to tease his senses; in truth he hadn't realized just how much he had missed that simple, albeit extraordinarily-welcome, sensation. Responding to this delightful stimuli, an arm slid around her back in an unconscious gesture both protective and meant to keep her close as he softly nudged her head to one side, forcing it to turn and letting him press another kiss home upon her sensitive neck.

She shrugged, coy and far more happy to surrender the tender skin of her neck to his mouth more than explain telltale giveaways in an answer to a sarcastic question, "Don't worry about it, worry about better things." Like the welcome home 'celebration' they were undoubtedly about to embark on.

"Ok." This was all getting to be too much. He needed her somewhere else in his quarters. Somewhere he could have full access to her body; where they could become entwined. It was becoming so very hard to resist that urge and resistance was futile, after all.


Lt. Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer


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