Previous Next

JDL | Cmdr Valeese, LtCmdr Stacker | "All of That" Pt 2

Posted on Sat Dec 2nd, 2017 @ 2:46am by Commander Valeese Stacker

Mission: The Round Table

He had initially been poised to respond to her take on the marines - which wasn't terribly far from the truth - until he found himself sidetracked by a topic that he had ready and firsthand knowledge of. When he did speak it was in a much calmer voice that hinted at wisdom gained. Some of it had been easily-won, some not-so-much. "If my own experiences out here are any judge, their tempering is going to come over time. Some of what they learned is going to be thrown out and discarded. They'll find themselves lacking in other areas and scrambling to adapt. And still more is going to be familiar," he added, a thumb unconsciously making circles in the trimmed beard as he thought aloud. He chuckled, eyes dropping from the wall back to hers. "Training can only take them so far. They'll have to get there the rest of the way on their own. By the end, they'll be more honed. I just hope the Captain isn't expecting miracles anytime this decade, though. Otherwise we'll all be screwed." By the time he finished, the teasing hint was back in his voice. No, the station wouldn't be screwed. A little dinged, dented, and scorched in his department, maybe. But there wouldn't be holes punched in exterior plating. Not if he had anything to do about it.

Valeese grinned brightly, "Probably preferred, though I doubt Captain DiAgessi expects anything more or less." She chuffed and sighed, "Besides... As of right now there's no real need for them to truly worry." The Empress drifted across the station more or less placated and enjoying her time as they all awaited news about the USS Vindicator and her crew. So long as that trend continued, there was no other imminent danger threatening existence as they knew it. Valeese, for the time being, was free to relax. Then again... There was always something out there. Something lurking in the dark. Her ears sunk tighter to her scalp at the very thought as if something greater niggled at the edge of her psyche. Dismissing it was proving to be relatively easy, her attention transferred back to him and the way he played with the flourish of his beard. "Even if there was, I have faith that you'd be able to get them together enough to solve the problem."

Some distant part of him was immensely flattered by the praise, yet at the same time troubled that she thought so highly of him. Would she still think that in years to come? There were terrible reasons that he'd gathered up the parts of the man that would become the ghost, subsuming himself much like wet-navy submarines had once sought shelter and safety in deep waters. Even now, at high and lofty moments of flattery like this, they teased the back of his mind like faint echoes reverberating in water. It was easy to dismiss them, yet - he jerked himself back to the present, flashing her a smile. "We'll have to see. Your confidence is both flattering, and slightly disturbing." The thumb, which had temporarily stilled, went back to its circular and unconscious gesture as his mind righted itself again and shook off the water.

"Isn't that just me in a nutshell?" She asked, blinking and tilting her head slightly, "Flattering and slightly disturbing?" The dig at herself was carefree and easy. Valeese knew well enough what lurked beneath the surface of the seemingly calm and together spook. She knew what great atrocities men of his caliber were forced to commit on a near daily basis in order to protect Starfleet, the Federation, and their assets. However, the fact that she remained alive and free after all the ammo she'd given him to condemn her, gave her hope that those years to come would be filled by something other than terse pain and discontent. The more she came to knew, the more she saw, the more she wanted to be his soft place to fall. Doing so, however, meant compromising him. Why couldn't her path, their path, have been something different and less complicated? Why couldn't she be able to offer him normalcy instead of the grievous darkness and mystery that swirled around her? Why couldn't she have been born anything but Vorta? She blinked away the thought, satisfying herself with simply watching him and learning little things - like the way he continued to play with his beard. A perfect little tick that gave her hope for the humanity still left within him.

He couldn't resist the bait, even knowing full well as he did that it would only serve to draw him out a little more. In a way it was slightly welcome. Was he really becoming so accustomed to these conversations, that he had come to expect such a thing from her? He put it aside, silently marking it as something to be revisited at a later date and time, for he knew that there was such a thing as being familiar with someone's ways - or wanting to be familiar with their ways and mannerisms. And that was something he was sure to bode on later, in the dark of the night, when he was laying in bed staring at the ceiling and thinking to himself and only himself.

An eyebrow quirked at her, that edge of humor returning to his voice as he spoke. "That depends on whether you come brandishing hyposprays filled with exotic concoctions. Preferably the multi-colored kind with all the colors of the rainbow." His eyes darted to the desk, raking over the surface with exaggerated and well-feigned caution.

"I can neither confirm nor deny that I have any, or all, of the rainbow elixirs you speak of..." She deadpanned in response, "With or without glitter." The game was back, the players more than happy to continue where they left off in their verbal sparing. Dinner over candles, nearly dying because of the suppression systems, had done little in the way of tempering the way they balanced with one another. Along that razor's edge she was starting to enjoy so much. "Speaking of glitter..." The Vorta's mouth curved in an almost wicked grin, "You going to the Masquerade or are you going to tap out early and leave the sappy dancey prancey stuff to everyone else?"

He eyed her, eyebrows raised. At the same time he came to the conclusion that it was the sort of thing that she might well enjoy. Masquerades - at least the few he'd experienced, on Barolia - were a far cry from some of the more raucous parties his distant cousins liked to describe, in such vivid detail as to make one wince and wonder just why the youth and teens preferred such mind-numbing affairs that consisted of little more than music, drinking, dancing (and even that was a charitable description), and hints at various substances. Yes, he swiftly concluded, a masquerade of a more subdued nature - and it was likely that this might be one - would be more her style. And there was a certain inner delight that made his bones shiver and ache: the thrill of the hunt, of guessing who was who, in a far more peaceable setting than with a sniper rifle, at high elevation in fading light, straining for that one last identification. He could almost feel the cold of the mountain again.

"I'll be going," he heard himself saying as he drew back to the present. The corners of his eyes crinkled in amusement, as a certain amount of merriment played around them. "I can't promise the involvement of glitter, but I may have an idea or two in mind." Indeed, he did already. There were a few thoughts already rattling around with considerable eagerness he hadn't realized he possessed - at least, when it came to this subject.

The colors of those eyes shifted with the changing tide of thoughts and emotions. Valeese could see them slowly metamorphose from ice to sea and back to something richer with hints of silver and a rich hint of green resting beneath the surface of those admittedly beautiful irises. What each tone meant was still an enigma, but she was slowly getting the idea on how to read him. Either way, he was radiating and nearly buzzing with a degree of interest and mirth that was almost infectious. "That settles it then. You in costume is something I can't miss." She teased on a sigh, "Guess I'll have to clear my extremely busy social schedule and all just for you and your costume." A masquerade - a chance to be something and someone else - wasn't something she'd ever dare miss. It was a chance to be free, and freedom was a damn good feeling. The fact that he'd be there, dressed in some ridiculous get up, was simply icing... Albeit delicious icing, but icing nonetheless.

"Well then ... now that that's settled I suppose I'll have to find something suitable. Clearly not my armor plating ... I think I'm going to go plot in secret, while you clear that busy schedule," he said, heaving an exaggerated sigh as he slid forward on the chair, then slowly got to his feet. It did little to conceal the amusement that he could feel radiating outward, fueled still further by the note of acceptance he thought he'd detected in her voice. The one that told him his initial suspicions about her being willing to go, if only to blend in and be something else, were in all likelihood correct. God bless Tolkien, he thought, mind momentarily flicking back to the half-reread tome laying on the desk in his quarters. "I'll be in touch about that extremely-inconvenient training time for my department."

"Yeah... You do that." She snorted in jest, shooing him away with a rapid flurry of her hands, "All of that." But the bright shine of her eyes and the smile that refused to fade would give her tease away each and every time. Stacker had a thick skin, gave as good as he got, and the Gods knew that Valeese was all too willing to keep on giving even though she knew how taboo it was for them both.


Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer

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


Previous Next