Previous Next

JL | Cmdr Valeese, LtCmdr Stacker | "Nefelibata" pt 3

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

Mission: The Round Table

The single 'James', from her, was enough to make the trip worthwhile. Lieutenant Commander James Stacker had a reputation for his work; his personality had gotten buried and lost somewhere along the way. Not deliberately, mind you, but in little bits and pieces. With it had gone everything that was not work-related. Friends other than those he worked with and saw every day, lovers who were more than just casual. Colleagues who moved on to other duty stations. He had even grown a little distant from family - not entirely, but enough that it was sometimes weeks between messages. The way in which she had pronounced his name - and the immediate words that followed! - made him acutely aware of what he had missed over the years. It was such a savage turn when she started pushing him away.

And that was what she was doing, he saw. Stacker may not have been the most acute of individuals when it came to close personal relationships, but he didn't have to be in order to see what she was up to. He felt, in a way, broken and yet tense and wrapped up in this horrible idea that maybe this was a wasted trip. But this was offset by gentle fingers brushing through his hair. Caressing his cheek. Warm breath on his face. So at about the time that her voice trailed off, having tried to give him what was otherwise-sound advice about the difference between somebody wanting him, and somebody willing to do anything to make him happy even if they were miserable, he was breathing a "no" under his breath. It only gained in strength as he went on.

"No ... no no no you are not going to do this," he heard his suddenly-insistent voice saying as he leaned forward in the chair, hands going to her arms. "You are not going to push me away on account of atrocities others waged, or wondering if I was going to 'chain myself to you.' I want this Valeese." There was a measure of fervent and strident urgency in his voice, something that had not - and to his knowledge, had never - been there before. "I refuse to accept that tethering myself to you is bad. You are a good soul Valeese. And I hope that I won't make you miserable if I stay a part of your life. A close part of your life." Somewhere along the way he'd gotten up from the chair, standing, looking at her, hands gently resting on her shoulders. Was that ... anxiety on his face? Jesus, she'd really gone and broken his shell wide open.

An eyebrow went up at the first audible no and it was followed by its neighbor about the time his hands found her arms. His grasp was nowhere near as intense as the Bajorans, and he certainly didn't dig his nails into her flesh or shake her like a rag doll. It was a brutal contrast, night and day, fire and ice. By the time he was standing, his hands on her shoulders, Valeese was left completely at a loss. Looking up at him with eyes touched by confusion and a degree of pain that stemmed from the inside, a place deep down that begged him to stay and pleaded with him to go all at the same time. Heart sat poised so close to leaping, but remained hidden by logic that brought her back to times when her emotions had been used against her, to cut her deep, leave her bleeding and bare – though begging to remember all those nights that she promised herself that her time would come. That one of those days she’d meet eyes with someone that made her feel so very at home in the world… Her soul seemed to sigh ‘Ahhh, there you are. Finally.’ How? How could he be it? How could he be after she’d been so certain he’d thrown salt on her name? Oh but the way he said it… There wasn’t disgust in the way it rolled off his tongue and lips.

Her head shook, “Don’t fall in love with someone like me, James. I’ll drag you to museums, and parks, and monuments across the universe. You’ll be bored, but they’ll be ruined for you because you’ll never be able to go back to them without remembering me.” Her hands, so small in comparison to him, found his chest, toying with the lip of fabric beside the zipper of his tunic, “I’ll destroy you, James, and in the end you’ll be ruined and have no doubt why they name storms after people.” She could feel his heart beating beneath those practiced, warm little palms. Hear it echoing in each of her delicate ears, throbbing as she closed her eyes against the sight of his anxiety.

Incredibly, he chuckled. It was a slightly-weary sound, as if he'd aged almost twenty years in a matter of minutes. In truth he felt a tad weary. This was not the type of disagreement he was used to. He had always thought of himself as stalwart: head down against the rain, slogging through the mud and the muck in hopes of finding a better day around the next bend. Now that he'd found it, he was damned if he was going to let this better day escape him. "Valeese, don't you know they name storms after people like me?" His hands stroked her shoulders, a tad firmly but not disrespectfully nor with malicious intent. "Why are you doing this? Why push me away? Let me show you who I can be: that I can stand alongside you in a storm, and be more resilient than you ever knew."

He leaned in closer to her, feeling her hands toying with the fabric. They felt tiny and he was suddenly conscious of how overpowering he must seem at times to her. At the same time, he would not - could not - step away from her. That fervency drove him on and demanded that he keep trying to explain himself to her until she either kicked him out or fled. "Valeese, I want to be with you. Here, on Theta, and yes museums and parks and all those places that ordinary civilians see and I've never seen in all my years in Starfleet. I don't know all the reasons why I want you there with me, but I do. Let me stay. Let me-" he paused, and swallowed, and suddenly his voice felt hoarse and throat dry. "Let me love you."

Valeese could feel the chuckle roll within his chest long before her ears picked up even the faintest hint of its existence. He didn't laugh to mock her, but perhaps at the irony of the situation, and it made her ears prick in his direction as it was hammered back into words deep within the smelter of his heart. Even with her eyes closed she could see him, the shining of his eyes as they searched her for signs of something anything. The closer he leaned, the higher her hands slid until she became acutely aware of them resting on either side of his face, her thumbs following the lines of his cheek bones. "Because..." She tried, but her voice caught and her head shook. She didn't have a reason that truly made any sense any longer. Each and everyone felt weak and powerless, capitulating both to his insistence and that of her own desire, and rendering her speechless and silent within his grasp. Life was meant to be lived, not stuffed away in a little box simply because people thought she didn't deserve the chance to live based on the genetic makeup that, ultimately, left so few differences between them. Like it or not, she knew that the secrets between them were slim. He knew. He knew and he didn't care, didn't let it taint him or his want of her. That alone made her heart ache.

Gently drawing his head low, she rested the tip of her nose and forehead against his and let her hands find their way to the back of his neck, kneading against the soft hairs at his nape. "Tell me this isn't about politics. Tell me that this is about you, the man, and not about the ghost Commander. I respect the ghost... But the man... The man is the one I think about when it's quiet."

Now it was his turn for his heart to ache, as they stood there pressed nose-to-nose and forehead-to-forehead. This had begun as politics. Suspicions and mistrust. Some deep-seated part of him had been troubled that a foreign agent was here, aboard a station he was in part responsible for the security of. But then came the leaves. The book. The words. The understanding of where they were from, and what trapped them, and the contemplation of what it meant, the confusion that had erupted deep inside him as he realized that there was in fact someone who could understand what he was, other than a grey-collared ghost, and now he was standing here feeling alive as she had slowly drawn his head down and he let her and- "It's not" he was whispering to her as he shook his head slowly, slightly, hands and arms wrapping around her shoulders, feeling just how small she was by comparison. "I'll never be rid of the ghost, but I want to be the man. Eight years Valeese. I've been that ghost for eight years and now I've got something more to be again. Something more than him."

There was silence between them for a beat then two before Valeese nodded, softly, "You are something more than him." she whispered, warm in his embrace. In so many ways he was more than just the ghost, than just a piece of sentient steel and hawk eyes. He was greater than that, and she knew it. Had known it from the first time she'd interacted with him. He was that degree of star dust that blurred lines and alerted the trajectory of realities and beliefs enough that she knew she couldn't bear to be without him. When her lips found his, soft, pliant, Valeese knew she was lost... Our was it that she'd been found?

He enjoyed the moment, such as it was, standing there in her darkened quarters and still holding her close. If anything, he held her closer, his arms shifting and drawing her against him, despite the obvious difference in their heights that led to a position that threatened to become increasingly awkward the closer she was. As it continued, although he had no idea of the direction of her thoughts he too wondered something along similiar lines. It felt too good to be anything other than an affirmation of the fact that he was human, and had found himself again. And that was good enough for him as it kept going on ... and on ... and on.

Freeing him came when it hurt to remain standing on tip toe and she knew his back must have been screaming for release. It was only a partial freedom, though, as she remained in his embrace. Breathing. Head swimming as she processed what had happened and began to recognize that she wasn't simply dreaming or lost in her own head space. "Promise me," she started, moving only enough to bare the Bajoran's handiwork to his eyes. The bruises that remained across her collar bone and shoulder, reaching to leach across the paleness of her chest where the robe still guarded, were black and plum in defiance of her fine porcelain complexion. A shock of color and intent that held firm even when the bone had been healed and shoulder placed back in its socket, "That this won't ever come by your hand. That I'm safe."

The few moments they had enjoyed had brought with it a sort of welcome peace, but seeing the extensive bruising was now a shock in the opposite direction. To Stacker, it had a level of impact that was nothing short of being hit in the face by the butt of a compression rifle. Horrified and appalled in equal amounts at what he was seeing, it threatened to put him off balance. By comparison, he thought she looked terrible, but his ears heard a plea for honesty underscoring her voice. "My god, is that what happened to you?" were the first words out of his mouth, eyes wider than normal and eyebrows raised. After a second in which his mind caught up to what she had said he rushed out a hastily-added "No, no, my god I won't do that to you. Ever." His eyes wanted to cling to the extensive patchwork of bruises but he wrenched them away, forcing himself to look her square in the eyes. "Not even in the worst of times. I may have special training, but this -" he gestured with one hand to the bruises on her collarbone, shaking his head firmly, corners of his mouth flat. "No. Absolutely not."

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


Previous Next