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JL | Cmdr Valeese, LtCmdr Stacker | "What ARE They Doing?"

Posted on Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 @ 11:47pm by Commander Valeese & Lieutenant Commander James Stacker

Mission: Dust Stirring

It was a rare day when James was off duty at what might seem like a reasonable time to anyone else. A handful of times, not long after his promotion, he had in fact tracked it only to give up when each time it was revealed that he worked inordinately long hours. Hours that should have seen him feeling ground down by the end of each week, unable to do much more than drag himself vertical and relax in his quarters.

While the explosion of time in his quarters had yet to materialize, one thing had changed. Before he found himself attached far more firmly to his work, whether it by through paperwork, message traffic, or even inquiries while off duty, he had not engaged in much personal recreational activity. One day, however, he had been on the recliner and eyeing the wall display after a long shift. After setting it to scan the channels he had fallen asleep, only to wake several hours later to find a most unusual sport on the screen. They appeared to be using wooden bats to hit a ball around a field.

And thus, his indoctrination to cricket began.

It was to this cacophony of sound, and two fruitless months of trying to understand the sport and the rules, - James thought someone had done something good, but just what it was he couldn’t begin to understand - that she returned one night, not long after his return. As usual he was quick to eye the door as it opened, and at the sight of her a smile predictably turned the corners of his mouth upwards. “Well look what the cat dragged in.”

Valeese's ears pricked ever so slightly at the sound of his voice, homing in on just where it had originated from and slowly allowed the background noises of cheers and wooden bats hitting hard leather balls to filter in behind it. Sports weren't exactly her picnic or even a passing fancy. Many seemed barbaric, others incredibly boring, and all too often she'd patched up jocks back at the Academy that had senselessly injured themselves while chasing after some worthless ball or puck or another. In short, she chose to ignore whatever it was that he was watching and instead shed her jacket, then stepped out of her shoes.

"Dragged is a pretty good description." She replied, choosing to omit the fact that the later half of her shift had comprised itself of her stretching like a damn pretzel in an attempt to relieve the pressure and discomfort brought about by a drawn out series of contractions. Patternless and weak though they were, they remained an annoyance. One that chose to reprise its role as chief irritant and reminded her that seeking comfort had become her evening's top priority.

While greeting him with a kiss was her standard routine, her next feat was to be rid of her pants and she began to undo the confining clasp and zipper of her duty slacks as she made way to the bedroom in search of her preferred sleeping shorts.

Mission accomplished in record time, she decided.

Tying her hair up in a messy bun, the return trip was on the slower side - but she hardly could complain. The Ghost was still there, the game was still on, and she slid into place in the warm comfort of his lap as if drawn by gravity. The back of her head found his chest and finally, finally, she could relax. And she did so with a contented sigh. "Today.... Sucked. It's getting better, though." Something on the screen caught her attention, probably the movement of a ball sailing through the air and people running as if their asses were on fire. Had Valeese not been distracted by her own mild - though nagging - discomfort, she'd likely have snorted at the spectacle.

James, for his part, suddenly found himself distracted from the game. It was hardly fair. There he'd been, enjoying a relaxing evening trying to follow along with a sport whose rules he still didn't grasp - and not for want of trying - and suddenly there was this aromatic vanilla-like smell, along with other exotic ingredients, filling his head every time he breathed. There was a sudden weight in his lap, pinning him between the arm of the couch and a sudden warmth of alien body heat, and a head on his chest. Legs against his. The picture of perfect relaxation, taking full advantage of his respite to join him.

Not that he was about to complain, of course.

Unconsciously his hands found their way around her sides. One of them lightly brushed over the telltale signs of her - their - contribution to Federation-Vorta relations. Unable to focus on the game, he gave up and swiftly moved his attention to her. "Well I'm sorry to hear it sucked. Do you want to share, or does doctor-patient confidentiality apply?" The corners of his mouth flicked upwards in telltale signs of amusement. His beard brushed across her hair, heading turning to one side so as to let him look down at her. As much as those waves of hair would reveal at least.

"Nothing directly work related sucked... Figuratuvely, anyway." Her legs came up to fold in what the Terran's often referred to as 'Indian Style', freeing and opening up her hips and allowing her to truly relax. In many ways she was thankful for him and his physique. This time, however, she relished in the difference in size between them and how it allowed her to sprawl any which way she so desired.

Then there was the added benefit of his touch, his hands sliding along and across her body ever so close to her current source of contrition. Touch and relief that left her closing her eyes and all but purring her next sentence, "Things went down hill after lunch, I'm just happy to be off my feet and relaxing with you."

Had it been two months into the future, Valeese would have lended greater attention to the niggling little contractions that continued to slowly chip away at her good mood. Had she not been a doctor, she - like every other pregnant woman - would likely have started panicking. Sure, there was that lone little worried voice in the back of her head that defied her logical self and whispered that she couldn't possibly know what was 'normal' in a pregnancy of this nature.

Human and Vorta hybrids simply didn't exist... Except for one, and she wasn't quite ready to greet the universe.

Logic quickly pointed out that no other signs of labor existed, her hitch-hiker was active as ever as if protesting the interruption of her already ever shrinking world. Paranoia, in the end, claimed a small win - a loaded hypo lay snug in the pocket of her neatly hung lab coat, ready to deliver a dose of Brethine if it became absolutely necessary - but it all boiled down to that exact moment where she rested quasi comfortably in her Ghost's protective and loving - if not blissfully unaware - embrace. "Everything's better when you're around, cheesy as that sounds." She added, reaching up to cup and stroke his cheek.

"Yes, I've noticed I have that effect on you." There was a pleased note in his voice, which mixed contentment, light humor, and relaxation in equal measure. Part of it was quite obviously caused by her touch: his cheek seemed to press into her fingertips, and a sound of satisfaction rumbled in his throat. The rest? An argument could be made that she had an excellent and quite calming effect on him at times. This being one of those occasions.

"Strange as it may sound, I think much the same about you," he added before his head turned and a kiss was pressed into her palm. His own hands refused to still their movements; not that he had any intention of removing them from their unconscious pattern of softly palming and rubbing her belly in the lightest movements possible. So light that it should have been impossible for the sturdy marine and grey collar to perform. They whispered over her skin as the display on the wall was quite forgotten about for now.

"I'm glad the feeling is mutual, would be a shame if it wasn't. " Love was the most unique four letter word imaginable in that four letter words we often thrown as curses, but love chose to dip it's toes into two ponds as both a curse and a blessing. Either way, Valeese had come to know it... Intimately... And there was no denying that the Ghost, her Ghost, was the cause.

She loved the way he reacted to her touch and the feel of his lips against her palm - against any part of her anatomy for that matter - but there was something both magical and amusing in the way he stroked her swollen abdomen. "I won't break, I swear." She softly hummed, dropping her hand from his face to trace her fingers along one of his wrists in an attempt to add context to her statement. Those whispery, gossamer touches sought to soothe her weary soul, even if their tenderness was wrought with the perception of concern and unfounded worry on his behalf that he could, or would, somehow injure her or the life they created.

James would never have admitted it to her face, but truth be told there was an element of nervousness at the fringes of his mind. As a marine rifleman, and later someone with specialty in heavier weapons, he had been trained and conditioned in the fine art of breaking things. He had not worked in the medical field save only for basic first-aid and battlefield treatment. As a grey collar he had received more training that amplified this ability. Once again, no higher level of medical training. Over the course of ten years, he had been bestowed with an exceptional level of knowledge in how to end - not preserve - life.

To have his hands this close to something which instinct and logic jointly insisted as being frail and requiring protection was humbling. And for a moment he hesitated, even with her touch on his wrist. A worry of 'what if' loomed quite large. Eventually a breath escaped his lips and his hand began to follow her lead. "I know." But did he? From the way his brows moved, alternately furrowing and then smoothing, the question was open to debate.

"I know it's... Different, but this part of life... I find it beautiful, I guess it's not for everyone, but..." Valeese hummed more than actively engaged in speaking, melting away in earnest as a result of the tender moment being shared. The smile, filled with blatant amusement as much as it was with contentment, said it all and remained through another twinge of discomfort. They were becoming nothing more than background noise. She knew the dilemma, the concern, the all out worry. While she, in her opinion, had grown exponentially up to that point, the way his hands covered and dwarfed the burgeoning evidence of their child was - in many ways - an eye opening event. At any rate, it clad in iron the significant difference in size between them, but what it didn't do was cast doubt or fear in her mind about his ability to be careful and gentle.

"It's ok to enjoy this." She shrugged gently, not allowing self doubt to pry its snarky way into her momentary nirvana. Men were visual creatures. Some appreciated the pregnant form, others simply didn't. To her, the experience was the closest thing to touching magic or a miracle that she'd likely ever get and a chance to share it with him... Perfection. It left no room for things like irritation or decaying self confidence.

His fingers continued to softly rub across her skin, even if he said nothing. The look on his face suggested engagement in thought and focus; from the way his eyes moved to peripherally watch when she spoke, it was clear that he was not so far down the rabbit hole as to miss her words, though. He could get that way sometimes. Locked so much into thought and concentration that he was oblivious to everything taking place around him. Quite thankfully for his continued health and well-being it happened only rarely.

When he did, finally, speak there was more calm and reassurance behind the words. It was as if he had come to some certain conclusion. One that needed a few minutes to be processed. "I won't deny being nervous, Val. But I am starting to enjoy this moment." Which was true. Each movement of his hands and fingers without a complaint from her brought with it more reassurance that he was on the right path. Her encouraging words and evident relaxation furthered this development. And while James may not have been ultimately the type to love the pregnant form, he was still sufficiently-alive as to appreciate his role in contributing to the development of new life.

Of a different sort entirely, he told himself as he pressed a kiss into her hair.

His initial reward was the puff of a pleased little sigh and the lazy stroll of her fingers drawing random geometric shapes along the length of his arm. A secondary reward came when Valeese could finally muster up the energy to verbalize her thoughts, "Good, because it wont be too much longer before she's here and moments like this one will be gone and replaced with different ones." Maybe she should have saved it for later, let him settle in and enjoy life before throwing the curve ball of impending change at him even harder and faster than before. Truth of the matter was, he'd been either kept in the dark or kept away for the vast majority of the pregnancy and that sobering fact was the glaringly obvious key to her patience with him taking his time to acclimate as it were.

He was doing just fine at acclimating, that was one thing she'd admit off the cuff. And then again, certain aspects of the Vorta's playful and curious nature simply couldn't be curbed. "Wanna see something weird?" An ear twitched gently towards the barely there sigh of his beard catching bits of her hair and her nose wrinkled in brief amusement.

His hands had paused at the curveball, but only for a second or two. It was long enough to show that his thought process, now, had not fully caught-up to that fact. This wasn't to say that at some unconscious level he was completely blind to what was coming; just that he hadn't fully processed the very-much-oncoming change that would happen to their lives. Yet judging by how brief the pause was, the fact that he didn't so much as blink an eye, and how remarkably steady his voice remained after this startling introduction to the new and vastly altered reality that was coming, it seemed he just might cope with how upturned their lives would become.

"Oh, sure," he said as the beard continued to dance along her hair. In truth he had no idea, or seemed to have no idea, as to what she intended for him. The tone spoke of both slight resignation and vast and overwhelming comfort and good humor. Acknowledgment of her playful and inquisitive aspects with a slight tinge of acceptance of the fact that this alien who fairly crackled with energy, and with such a personality, would never change who she was.

Not that he wanted her to change.

"Alrighty then," Gently moving his hands away long enough seemed like such a crime the moment their warmth and strength left her body, but the 'party trick' she was about to engage in more or less made it seem worth it... If only because his hands would return soon enough. Her own paled in comparison as they ran across her skin until they found a particular point along one side of her belly, paused, and then moved to point, "Poke right there." She knew, from her own previous explorations and time spent getting to know her daughter, the reaction would be instantaneous.

The question that remained was whether or not said reaction would be explosive or lazy - each was proving to be an interesting scenario given the fact that she was far enough gone that overt movements were clearly visible in odd bulges and rolls of flesh when elbows, knees, hands, feet, head, or butt repositioned itself. At first, even she'd been slightly weirded out by the admitted alien sight - and she'd first noticed it while soaking in a tub while away with no one she trusted enough to call over and truly marvel at the phenomena with her - but now found it as a comforting reassurance that the child was well, happy, and safe. "Seriously." She nodded, waiting with both scientific and personal curiosity.

James ... well truth be told he knew a little about children and pregnancy. There was the reading material he'd started to educate himself with, in bits and pieces, in his off time. It was supplemented by a veritable body of 'hearsay' knowledge picked up in the decade's service he'd given the marines. Conversations involving men whose spouses were pregnant, who had ex's or current girlfriends were pregnant. Non-humans who had fifteen offspring at home. Denobulans, Vulcans, Bolians, Andorians, Cathar even. All these species that had nothing in common with one another save for locomotion on two legs.

So even though the little yellow light in the back of his mind was flashing like an overcharged alarm bell, he nevertheless followed her direction and poked. And found his head immediately tilting to eye in curiosity as the epidermis over his soon-to-be wife's abdomen was immediately roiled with turbulence.

In return, though well aware of what would happen in response to such stimuli, Valeese felt her breath catch as the child in her womb turned into a miniature bronco. Already unamused with the diminishing series of contractions that had spoiled her fun, the pestering poke had been enough to send her into a quick tantrum that ended as quickly as it began - aside from a lackluster roll from one side to another as if to pout and sulk... At least that was the impression Valeese received and the combination of it and the quizzical expression plastered across her Ghost's face was enough to send her into chortle of soft laughter, "Have I told you lately that I love you?" She asked, arcing her neck back to look at him as best she could while breaking the least amount of contact possible.

It was only with difficulty that he broke eye contact with what had completely flagged his attention for those few moments. Perhaps it was the sound of her voice. More likely it was the words finally registering with his mind. If the eyebrows that lifted and the raised corners of the mouth were any indication, though, her message had been well and truly received. A hand smoothed its way across her belly again, as if to still the stowaway, while eyes found hers and locked on. "Only a few times. In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, I love you - both of you," he belatedly corrected, before his lips found her forehead. Without radical movement, anything more would be a strain on both of them. There was instinctual knowledge, however, that the message would come through well and truly regardless.

"We know. Believe me, we know." The Vorta hummed, warmer than ever. Everything was as it should be and they were lost in their own brand of paradise while the unexplained game of Cricket raged on before them. The sharp sound of a flat bat cracking against a leather ball jarred her back from her quiet nirvana and Valeese rested her hands over his, once again setting in to watch whatever it was he was watching. "I think they got a touchdown..."

"I think they did too," he said, with enough of an absent-minded tone to suggest his mind was elsewhere. It was hardly fair to think that he was capable of switching back to rational and focused thought. Here he was with his fiance in his lap, her back firmly molded to his chest and their daughter now blessedly settling in from all sorts of contortions and somersaults. It -

"Operations to Commander Stacker." His eyes closed and the head tilted forward by several degrees. He would have rubbed his brow if able: of course operations would happen to call at a time like this. Faintly he was conscious of another call, which caused him to open his eyes as a frown creased the sides of his mouth. Two calls in a matter of seconds?

His index finger tapped the device, making it jump a hair on the table. "This is Stacker."

"Sir, a security alert has been declared for the Promenade. Your presence is requested in Operations." A chill of ice punched him in the gut. It had been months since the last security alert, but he could recall all-too-vividly the discovery of that corridor and the evidence of what had happened outside the arboretum. How helpless he had felt as he had found out for himself how Val had been attacked, and the open question as to whether she had lived. His eyes closed. When they reopened the Ghost looked out.

"I'm on my way."

Of course the Vorta sighed in slight frustration and peeled herself away from him and the bizarre Terran game on broadcast. A continental kiss was shared before he left - but for the most part Valeese knew better than to ask questions he didn't yet have answers to. This was the price they paid for the positions they served.


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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