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JL | Cmdr Valeese, LtCmdr Stacker | "Nefelibata" pt 2

Posted on Sat Oct 28th, 2017 @ 3:53am by Commander Valeese Stacker

Mission: The Round Table

It was a candid admission: he had been worried, to some degree, that with his background and his history he might have scared her, doing what might be irreparable damage. Now, though, his head tilted a little to the side as he paused, wondering and considering; it was with pleasure that he realized and could safely add an "It seems I don't fear you either." It was only after saying that that he realized how ridiculous that might have sounded, what with his having taken a chair instead of being seated closer to her. His mouth quirked in amusement. "The chair looked comfy. It was nothing against you."

"I didn't think you did or it was." She answered with a small sigh, allowing the majority of her stress and anxiety to dissipate with the hefty breath. Her knees tucked up, allowing her legs to disappear under the heavy veil of her robe until only her toes peeked out from under it off to the side. The position meant she wasn't planning on going anywhere soon, it also left her vulnerable to attack... And subconsciously she knew it, even if it didn't blare and flash right in her face. "Fear and hate are separated by a very thin line, as are love and hate, and I can assure you that no one on this station adores me in any way, shape, or form." She allowed herself a small smile, "People hate and fear the Dominion. To them they only see the Dominion every time they look at me... I can live with that. What happened on the Promenade..." Her voice trailed off as she shifted her eyes away from him and tapped her lower lip with the pad of her index finger as she spoke and thought, "Well..." She shrugged, "what can I say other than that it's happened before, never quite as violent however, and I'm sure it'll happen again." Her head shook before allowing her eyes to find his again, "I knew that when I joined Starfleet. I can live with it, no apologies needed."

The saucer and cup clicked as he put them aside, eyes turning back in time to watch her thoughtfully tapping on her lip. It made him thoughtful, in turn, and he continued to be so even as her eyes found his. It was only when she fell silent that he finally roused himself. "I wish I knew what to say. Something about small minds. Inexperienced small minds, maybe. I-" his voice halted for a moment, and he glanced elsewhere in the room, focusing on nothing in particular. "I'd like to keep that from happening again." Momentarily exasperated with his inability to put stronger words to voice, he put his head in his hands, thinking, finally speaking after a moment or two had passed, not looking at her. "Do you think a grey collar would've been helpful, on the Promenade?"

"The day I feel the need to walk with a chaperone or security detail around the promenade is the day that the Federation admits defeat and Starfleet admits fear." The palm of her hands slid along the soft suede arm of her seat, allowing her fingers to round over the end as she spoke. "I won't let that happen, not on account of someone as trivial and inconsequential as myself." Her free hand reached to run her fingers through her still wet hair. She could have sworn she heard what appeared to be guilt in his voice and saw something morose in his eyes. It hurt to try and comprehend.

He took a breath, shaking his head and blinking his eyes as he looked at her and leaned back in the chair, that morose look in his eyes still there, but ... yet not there. His index finger tap-tapped on an armrest as he sat there, contemplating her in a moment of silence, eyes watching, smoothing, lines of concern and doubt fading away. Internally, however, was a different story. The old questions about what game she was playing threatened to reemerge, but this time James Stacker was there to stamp them into silence, in the back of his mind. No: he was not going to get trapped into this circular what-if logic all over again. There had been quite enough of that, thank you very much, and now he wanted to express himself with as clear a voice as possible.

"You're not trivial, you're not inconsequential, and I'm not asking to be your chaperone or security detail." He took a breath. "We've been circling each other like a pair of - of -" he momentarily fumbled for something, finally latching on to the warrant's words, "of moths to flames. I don't want to play these games any more. I want something ... else- something more." It was about that point that he ran out of steam and stopped. Now you've gone and done it some voice was whispering to him. Gone and screwed yourself over. Well done!

Stunned to silence, with a heady hint of suspicion digging at her heart, Valeese knew people we’re always one decision away from a totally different life. What she didn’t know, or rather come to grasp, is that important encounters were planned by souls long before the bodies ever saw one another. In many ways the paths between the young doctor and the ghost were meant to intertwine and lock. No one is sent by accident to anyone. He was there, sitting now with what could have possibly been his heart on his sleeve, arriving on her door step so shortly after what had been one of the worst experiences of her life – and all she could do was blink at him in response as if waiting for the other shoe to drop or for his mouth, that perfect mouth, to curve into a cruel smile and the richness of his voice to inform her that he was joking.

It didn’t come…

He was beautiful, she realized, beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful and she had been transfixed by him more times than she cared to admit. Like a moth to that flame, indeed. She had always been the type to fall in love with the stars, and everything that was beautifully unreachable. But he was there. “James…” Valeese started, her weight shifting as she chose to leave the warmth and safety of her couch. Tea was forgotten and left to chill on her side table as she padded across the floor to stand in front of him, “I don’t know what my future holds, but I’m hoping you’re in it.” Where she’d found the colors to paint him when the world had left him gray still remained a mystery – as did the reason why he’d chosen to come to her… To care. The cynical side questioned what he stood to gain, but the dreamer begged for it to be forgotten and him embraced for the imperfectly perfect man he was, “I just…” Her lips pursed for a second and she allowed her fingers to stroke through his hair, “You don't want this. There’s been so many atrocities committed in the name of the greater good. I don’t want you to fall into that trap or leave you chained to something like me because you feel some sort of guilt or remorse or need to serve.” The martyr within her rose its head again about the same time she let those fingers retreat from his head, “Truth is that you deserve better than having to be tethered to someone like me. I won’t let you chance missing your perfect fit simply because you’re trying to either save me from, or prove I am, the Boogie Man.”

Christ almighty what she’d give that moment in the sun with him. In a perfect universe it wouldn’t matter what she was or what he did for a living. In a perfect universe she wouldn’t feel horrible about embracing him or having to guard him from those who would hurt him just to give her a taste of ‘Vorta medicine’. She didn’t want him to know that brand of pain, of being shunned – and on the off chance this was a ploy to obtain information from her… No… She wouldn’t think that way. Now stroking his cheek, she bent to bring her lips to the bridge of his nose, “My advice to you… Know that there’s a difference between somebody who wants you and somebody who would do anything to make you happy even if it makes them miserable.” Miserable indeed. Her soul slapped her and heart threatened to break while the stupidity of broken logic took over in an attempt to untangle her from what it was certain would end, one way or another, in heartbreak. It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all! her heart shouted at that analytical mind that was doing everything it could to claw at and destroy this chance, however small, she had at finding something worthy of note in her lonely existence. Something that her heart desired so damn badly.

To Be Continued...

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

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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