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"A Most Peculiar Body, Pt. 1"

Posted on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 @ 8:11pm by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker & Commander Valeese

Mission: Dust Stirring
Location: Chief Medical Officer's Office | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241910.27

It wasn't often that the station's Executive Officer was seen on the medical decks. Like most personnel he seemed to take a healthy respect for the department, which carried over to visiting only when necessary (with rare exceptions). There were many reasons why this was the case: the Marine background of his formative years, personal unease with some of the more sensitive medical conditions and diseases known to exist in the Federation, the rarity of medical services in the Barolian hinterlands, et cetera. None of this, however, stopped him from making the occasional visit. Especially when his fiance was on duty.

In typical marine mentality, in the few weeks since the engagement had become known to the two of them (a slowly-expanding circle) the man had squared his shoulders, dug in, and 'committed to the position.' Whispered remarks suggested a few observations of literature on topics concerning child-rearing. Met with raised eyebrows and "are-you-fucking-joking" silent looks when asked who the lucky lady was. Several observations had been made of his features becoming vaguely thundercloud-like when negative remarks about the station's chief medical officer were made within earshot. The rumor-mill suggested an unfortunate ensign had received a Grade-A Certified Marine scorching, and transfer to another department, after several pointed warnings.

In short, his attitude could be best summarized as pointedly making clear that people could either get used to their being an item, or they could damned well find another location to reside in. Which probably went some way towards explaining why one day, at lunch, he suddenly popped into medical and was politely (after a request for her location) directed towards the Commander's office. An act followed by four or five junior personnel exchanging vaguely-knowing looks looks behind his back as he strode away, down the corridor, and tapped the control pad outside her office door.

"The liver's condition is not congruent with death by exsanguination suggesting that exsanguination occurred postmortem with evidence of the actual cause of death being the result of a toxin... Possibly a fast acting neurotoxin? The deceased was able to engage in a fight..." Valeese paused as the door to her office hissed open and revealed a rather familiar form standing just beyond. While the topic of her recording was - at best - morbid, she couldn't help but offer him a smile, the PADD in her hand finding itself discarded in kind. "Computer, pause recording." She ordered, not waiting for its telltale chirp of compliance before stepping out from behind her desk.

"Commander Stacker, to what do I owe the pleasure?" She grinned, greeting him with a kiss in just a few strides.

A little sound emerged from his throat when their lips came together; one that marked his contentment at the decidedly-welcome greeting. For a moment longer than was entirely by-the-book he let himself enjoy it and indeed reciprocate. Until that tug of mental professionalism kicked in and he extricated himself from their greeting. "Well I could say that I was in the neighborhood," he said by way of reply, before pausing with a meaningful and slight tilt-of-the-head and glance to the overhead. Central Operations was most decidedly not 'in the neighborhood,' what with all those decks in the way. The corner of his mouth quirked as he resumed looking at her. "Let's just say that I felt motivated to come down and have lunch with both of you."

Having said that, he turned and checked behind himself, leaning towards the still-open doorway. Seeing that the coast was clear, he stepped a hair closer to her and dropped his voice a tad. "There may or may not have been strong motivation to punt dealing with some supply reports until this afternoon."

"Has anyone ever told you that you're a terrible liar? I believe the second part, the bit about the reports," She replied, stepping around him. Her mission? End the chance of her assistants and nurses eavesdropping on their conversation. Already, rumor and conjecture flew with reckless abandon - almost all of it surrounding the nature of their relationship.

As the door slid back shut, Valeese couldn't help but smirk to herself, imagining their faces should they ever learn the truth of the matter. "We won't chase you off, though," she continued, slowly making her way back in his direction, "Namely because you mentioned food. Wouldn't want you getting the wrong idea, now would we, Commander?"

"I don't think you do. I may not be a doctor, but I know how to keep on you about eating right with the best of them." The off-center quirk in one corner of his mouth, that marked the beginning of a smile, deepened as he settled himself into a chair that bordered on being quite comfortable. It wasn't a term he would normally use to describe standard-issue furniture on the station, but in this case he found himself settling a bit more back than normal. Something audibly popped in his back as he did so: the man immediately froze, held it for a few seconds, and then turned his head to give her some side eye. "You didn't hear the sound of increasing age."

A quip about her steadily expanding waistline fell silent at the undeniable sound of his back popping and the expression it generated across his face. At first she bit her lip, trying her damnedest to silence half a dozen witticisms that threatened to spill out. It was a doomed mission from the start, a fool's errand, but to heft credit Valeese had managed to make it back to her seat before the proverbial dam broke, "On the bright side, you'll be able to get senior discounts at that little burger joint you like so much."

James' eyes narrowed in her direction, a finger tap-tapping on the armrest of the chair. "Keep going, Commander. I hear Medical might be due for a white-glove inspection." After a few seconds his eyebrows waggled at her, robbing the words of both sting and even the faintest possibility of coming true. White-glove inspections were the bane of Starfleet, and had been for many decades. Would he inflict one on her? Not unless I want to sleep on the couch for a month. Maybe two.

"Promises promises." Valeese sighed in return, lazily throwing a brightly wrapped piece of candy at him. Usually she reserved the sweets for her youngest patients, but in cases of extreme 'butt hurt' they had merit when it came to soothing the burn. Even if such cases were nothing more than playful banter and conjecture... Possibly even a long game of foreplay. "I've heard tale that you command types have your hands more than full dealing with murder on the promenade. Pretty sure that trumps the need to teach the mouthy doctor a lesson."

The candy was an easy catch, snagged from the air by an experienced hand before it could bounce off the jacket. "There is a murder investigation ongoing. But - not to trivialize it - a single murder won't stop me from dealing with other matters. For example, I could always find room in my schedule for dealing with a mouthy doctor," he deadpanned as the plastic crinkled under his touch. It was expertly unwound and popped into his mouth. The corners of his mouth were quirked upwards as he tucked the leftover plastic into a pocket and settled back into the chair again, eyeing her with evident good humor and amusement. The candy was tucked to one side before he spoke around it. "But do I deal with her before or after lunch, though?"

A single crow-black brow inched upwards in an undeniable reveal that she was truly entertaining the idea such conjecture tap danced around. There was an offer; delicious and wonderful, one that brought memories of another time he'd come to visit her in her office straight to the forefront of her mind. On the other hand, there was the matter of the dead Naussican to deal with and lunch to be had - or so a quiet gurgle of her gut reminded her. Food was a necessity, especially when growing a half-human life form. The child had long since turned her into a walking black hole that was almost never without a sleeve of crackers or cubes of cheese. Vegetable and fruit arrangements had become a staple to get her through the day - and then there was the matter of her recent affinity with bacon cheeseburgers topped with onion rings and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, pickle spears on the side. That one she uniquely blamed the Ghost for. "After." Valeese piped up, "She's decided she's famished and actually has news he may want before he goes about poking and prodding." Her smile was demure as she set her chin in her hands, "There's rumor that one of you command types did an extremely thorough job with poking, though, to the point where they're responsible for her currently rather round physique." She tutted gently.

He made a thoughtful sound, lips pursed and exhaling in a short puff, shaking his head afterwards. The look on his face could be best-described as a mock-glower. "About the only thing I can say in their favor is commendable vigor. Clearly there's no reason for them to fail their next physical-readiness evaluation." An eyebrow hiked up as he regarded her, a faint twinkle of good humor in his eye as the faux look retreated back to where it came from. "How about we worry about sating her hunger, though? Preferably while this interesting news gets told to me." From the telltale way his eyes had momentarily dipped, earlier, the man had probably heard something to tip him off as to her state of hunger.

There was a soft, rather unladylike, little snort of amusement that stood in as a response to his quip about vigor and physical-readiness. Any number of comments, most of them crass plays on words, could have been made in its stead - but Valeese refrained if only to protect her sense of propriety from coming completely and utterly unraveled. Especially with the way the Ghost's eyes positively glittered with hints of off-colored humor. "And where do you suggest we do that? Pretty sure the Promenade isn't the very best place to wander at the moment." Hell... He'd have to drag her, kicking and screaming, if he wanted her to be presented out in that portion of the station. Every fiber of the little Vorta's being prickled with anxiety and tension at the mere thought. Danger, especially when the fastest rate of speed she was capable of could only be described as a 'turbo waddle', was not her forte. Long gone were the days when she could book it at near warp speed at the slightest indication of a problem... Not that such a time had been the highlight of her career nor had it done any favors to her ego.

I want to take you somewhere, where I can make it clear that - the words died on his lips as he blinked. Where the devil had that thought come from? It was so ... deliciously wrong. Completely unlike him. Or was it? One of his eyebrows gave a slight jerk, as they together furrowed in thought before smoothing again as he shoved that thought back down. Later. He gestured to the door, coughing as if covering his thoughts. "We can eat outside, with your staff. Or in here if you feel more comfortable. There must be some replicators around." Truth be told he didn't actually know if there were, he realized a moment later. Logic suggested there must be some food replicators near medical. It didn't stand to reason that patients would be fed emergency rations. Did it?

"We'd bore them to tears." Oblivious to the Ghost's more off colored thoughts, Valeese found herself leaving her desk in favor of revealing her office's personal replimat, the flourish in which she opened the cabinet door worthy of any cabaret or game show girl's envy, "Besides... They have enough to gossip over. Our eating habits don't need to be included and," She held up a finger; pointing towards the PADD she'd left behind, "I'd rather that information remain on a need to know basis. Your victim was murdered, but the knife in the back wasn't what killed him... Chicken salad sound good?"

The telltale flick upwards in the corners of his mouth evidenced his being amused, most likely at the thought of boring her staff. Maybe it was because he recognized that having the station's executive officer sitting in the lunch area would put a real damper on conversation. Yet as she had continued, pointing to the PADD and changing tack, the telltale signs of humor disappeared. "Chicken salad sounds wonderful. Does my good health allow for croutons with that?" he said, as the PADD slid off her desk and into his hands.

"I'll allow it." The Vorta shrugged dismissively, ordering up their food, "Anyway, he was poisoned. Sort of," She continued, carrying over their plates before taking a return trip back to the replicator, "At some point he was exposed to something that caused extreme hyperstimulation of his cholinergic receptors which would have caused an increase in excitatory neurotransmission... He'd have acted in a strange manner, maybe enough to be seen as a threat as he convulsed and flailed, but he died from a reaction to being exposed to a nasty toxin and he didn't ingest it. No scaring or injuries to his stomach tissue." Her nose wrinkled at the thought, her mind a million miles away as she reconsidered her findings before being absolutely certain that what she'd found was true, "Lemonade?"

=/\= To Be Continued =/\=

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB - 1170

Lt Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB - 1170


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