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DL | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | "Midnight in the Heart of the Station, Pt. 2"

Posted on Thu Sep 20th, 2018 @ 8:30pm by Commander Valeese Stacker & Commander James Stacker

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Chief Intelligence Officer's Quarters | Deck 681 | Cold Station Theta

In the time since Valeese's rescue, life on the station had gone on. Maintenance continued, hull panels were closed up, cargo shipments continued, people lived, people died. In the considerably-smaller world of Lieutenant Commander James Stacker life had also gone on. Where it differed from the station-at-large was that two small changes had been made: small by station standards, near earth-shattering by James'.

The first had been the granting of clearance to access his quarters to Valeese. No longer would she have to stand at the doorway and press a key to request admittance. Now she was able to come of her own free will, which admittedly might create hardship were someone to ever delve into his security logs and wonder just why this setting had come to exist. And there was also the fact that this was no small thing for a man accustomed to being on his own for so many years. It was a remarkable degree of trust that was shown.

The second change had been of a smaller nature. Every night - at least during the nights where he was in his quarters - the lights were adjusted to a level that was too low and subdued for a human, but plenty for a Vorta. It was a simple solution which guaranteed she would find herself welcome. It was also intended to prevent her from making the accidental acquaintance of pesky things like furniture and doorways.

And so now he slept on his side, although still able to wake quite easily and rapidly when she inevitably came into his bedroom.

"Blueberries." Valeese hissed under her breath, pausing by the replicator long enough to rid herself of most of the rest of the crushed fruit, seeds, and pulp that remained on areas of her exposed skin and clothing. The juice had long since oxidized, tell tale blue rivulets had created a water-color painting of horrible proportions across her face, throat, neck, shoulders... Anything that hadn't been covered by the thin tank top and jeans she'd thrown on for the occasion of wandering down to sickbay from Stacker's quarters earlier that night. The machine in front of her whirred to life, ponying up a hand towel she scooted over to the sink to wet and that's when the scrubbing began. The last thing she wanted to do was have to crawl into an actual shower, risk waking him when sleep was what came logically and was so very needed by them both. "Damned Kelpian." she grumbled. Scrub as she would, the stains laughed at her. Hot water and soap would be the only way to rid herself of her new paint job.

This was not how she intended life to be. All the changes they'd made to their lives, to their standards, to their living... Wasting it on the removal of blueberry juice and pulp seemed such a waste. But that was Valeese failing to see the forest for the trees or realizing that moments like this were what life was designed to be; intriguing skits that threw you out of your comfort zone and forced one to live and share in that life with someone who desired the chance to come along on the ride. This was a glimpse into a future where they didn't have to hide. A glimpse into coming home and needed to wash up before engaging in other activities. It was a peek at life, a normal lie - even if it came about through means that were anything but normal. Someday she'd look back at it and smile fondly, maybe even giggle. Maybe... If she ever managed to get it out of her head that she was going to destroy him by simply being and that loving him as she did was the most ignorant thing she'd ever done. This was an affair. Somewhere deep in her womb, a child stirred as if to sigh at her mother's ignorance.

How blind the little Vorta truly was. How blind to the facts that rested, clear as day, before her. The trees... Damn them... Always getting in the way of the picture of the forest.

Her shirt hit the ground near the bathroom door, likely ruined and splotched and needing to be recycled, about the same time that she undid the fly of her jeans. The shower began to run when she took the time to study her remaining bruises in his mirror. The blueberry juice highlighted the depth of them, bringing out the purples and greens and yellows of the worst of them. It was then that she heard a ruffling and a sigh, the sound of a man being roused from bed. She herself sighed. Hardly bashful of her state of undress, but reached for a towel none-the-less as she peeked out to watch his shadowy figure, "I didn't mean to wake you, go back to sleep. There was a minor incident, it's been handled, just need to take a quick shower and I'll be there with you."

"Val, words like 'incident' and 'minor' hardly do anything to settle me these days," came the reply from the shadowed man. There was truth behind them: by anyone's standards a successful rescue and return to the station was indeed justification to say that one should have been able to relax their guard. But James Stacker was, if anything, the cautious and careful sort who had found himself on something of a hair-trigger both before and after the rescue. That would never change, he conceded to himself as he sat there on the edge of the bed, rubbing his face with one hand - then two. Only when convinced that he wouldn't fall back asleep in the few steps between the bed and bathroom did he get to his feet and walk across the room, to lean against the doorway into the bathroom with two hands and look around it with his face.

Predictably, he blinked at the sight through eyes still not entirely focusing. There was a certain element of what the hell? that rapidly became apparent as he studied her, noting the new coloration around her bruises. He found himself having to cover his mouth with a hand, lest the smile that wanted to tug on the corners of his mouth become all-too-apparent. "I know you like your healthy foods, my dear, but plunging headfirst into a bowl of grapes is not the way to stay healthy," he finally said. Almost immediately afterwards he sniffed the air, hand dropping away from his mouth as he leaned farther in towards her, brow furrowing in apparent confusion as he logically traced a scent that had wafted past his nose. "Why do you smell like blueberries?"

A slender crow colored brow quirked at the sound of his voice. Amusement wasn't something she often heard ringing within it, but she couldn't deny its presence after such a gruff greeting. She met his gaze only in the mirror, doing little to try and conceal the abstract dye job left behind by the fruit in question - and she could see him studying her just the same, "Because Parsuv's guilty after midnight pleasure involves blueberries." Valeese replied as deadpan as possible, reaching to gather the waves of her hair in an attempt to pin them high and spare them from the onslaught of a shower... That was until her fingers encountered yet another smashed bit of berry. Her nose wrinkled and the tips of her ears pinned back to her scalp in certain irritation as she freed it from her sullied locks before holding it out for him to inspect, "Like I said... It was a minor incident. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going and he was enamored with his fruit. There was a collision and the only casualties were my ego and his preciouses." The towel dropped as she snorted in sheer disdain towards the entire situation, "For the rest you can thank the process of oxidation... Which I hope decides to relent to soap." Mutters about Jackson Pollock paintings and Kelpians barely made it to the surface as she continued to mutter and eyeball the paintwork. Some of it had made it down her shirt, a long rivulet had nearly made it to her navel before it had been caught and smeared in an interesting swatch of purple-blue that blended to lilac against her pale belly. She hated it.

There was no denying by now that he was thoroughly amused as he continued to watch her, head having retreated a small distance as he continued to lean against the doorjamb. Fingers curled around the metal as he reflected, watching her in so doing, that compared to what she'd been through recently this was - for all extents and purposes - pure nothing. It was the way in which she was responding, though, that made him think how good it was to have her back, safe and sound. Just how hard would it have been to go on, eventually forgetting the little things when she got upset like this? The ears, the wrinkled nose, the muttering, studying herself in a way that was almost vain, even holding out the hair for his inspection ... yes, he would've forgotten them in time. And that would've been a damned shame.

He shook himself as he was about to delve into might-have-been's, choosing - perhaps wisely - to avoid adding fuel to this particular low-grade fire whose name was Val. It took only a few paces until his arm was reaching inside the stall to start the shower. The water, predictably, erupted to splatter the glass, instantly covering it in droplets and a fine stream of water that ran down to the floor. Mist showered onto his arm as he adjusted a controls setting, telling it to raise the temperature to one he knew that she preferred - rather than the far colder one that he often caught himself using. And yet even as he did this he was glancing at her over one shoulder, admiring what he saw, catching her eyes in the mirror. "Well the sooner you get inside, the sooner we can work at scrubbing you down. And for the record, Parsuv often is out and about at this hour with blueberries. Says the walking improves the taste, or something like that."

Something along the lines of so would my foot up his ass may or may not have been muttered at about the same time the sudden spray and hiss from the shower head caused her eyes to close and body to stiffen. Sudden noises, sudden motions - these were things she was learning to ignore once more... Or at least to filter by level of alarm. Showers weren't alarming, not in the least, unless they failed to remove blueberry juice stains before she needed to be back under the public eye. "That would have been a great bit of intel to share," Valeese quipped back, tilting her head as she turned to face him, "You know... Since we're trying to fly below the radar. Kelpians are rather observant and this wasn't exactly a low key 'oh hey!' passing in the hallways moment." She continued, trailing off with a little sigh as she regarded him - completely unaware of his train of thought or the gentleness that accompanied them - thinking twice about reaching to touch his face with her blue fingertips just in case he'd be marked as well. There'd be no explaining trailing blue finger caresses down the cheek of a man who was supposed to be a patient taking the luxury of a house call. A small little huff of air marked her disappointment that the stupid berries would deny her even her most basic desires.

And that lead her into the shower and under the liquid warmth that enveloped her all at once. This time her sighs and vocalizations were ones of contented pleasure - little bits of relaxation that she'd allow herself even thought she was exhausted and grossly disillusioned to the values of blue berries, Kelpians, deep dark secrets, and sneaking around after midnight.

From somewhere nearby came the gentle sound of a door being closed by a hand. Normally a latch would have fallen after that to ensure there was no risk of it popping open mid-shower - admittedly something of a precaution, for the seals tended to work quite well at keeping the door closed. But there was that ever-present risk of inducing that feeling of trapped confinement. A clawing and overpowering desire to get out! of a confining space. He'd seen it before, in more than one rescued prisoner, when they were suddenly overpowered within their own bodies and reduced to little more than blubbering and panic-stricken messes. It was impossible to predict just how she might react were it to ever sweep over her.

Mentally, of course, he was kicking himself for having startled her. He'd seen it, and realized his mistake immediately, when she'd stiffened in alarm. He should have remembered it, he told himself. She was not him. He could quickly adapt to a life of calm and quiet after hair-raising experiences, but she wasn't trained like him. She hadn't had his upbringing in the MACOs. It would be harder for her. And so he did the next best thing, which was to make his presence known - as opposed to startling her with a sudden feeling of a hand on a shoulder, or wrapping around her waist. "Hope you don't mind a little company in here," he said, as the water splattered off her and onto his broad chest. "I did say something about scrubbing you down, after all."

Another sigh, this one deep and relaxed, and her shoulders began to droop away from their rigid square posture. "No," she hummed, her ears having flicked back to catch the pattern of the water reverberating off the new obstacle of his flesh. A simple, slow step back and she was easing herself against him and forging the contact she didn't quite realize she'd needed so very badly, "I don't mind at all, actually. Just don't want to paint you blue in the process." She couldn't help but huff the slightly laugh at the thought, though when her eyes reopened she could see the water running from her body already carrying away some of the tincture. Hot water was as good for the skin as it was for the soul, opening each and drawing away toxins that would otherwise rest and fester - it even manged to render a jumpy little Vorta near boneless as she allowed herself to succumb to the lull of it. The sound and sensations associated with having him near only compounded the effect, convincing her she'd found nirvana.

The only problem with relaxing was that it brought about thought. Thought that was otherwise shielded and repressed - thoughts of inadequacy and the panic that surrounded situations. At times she would have sworn she could feel the Orion's hand slowly closing around her throat, beginning to squeeze and choke the life from her yet again. A shift of her hips and brief lift of her chin proved otherwise, of course. The man behind her wasn't that monster and they were far away from where that particular brand of opposition had lost his life and allowed her to reclaim hers. His ghost, however, remained in the shadows and lurked in wait of times like these when she let her guard drop. "I'm not really all that angry with Parsuv..." She finally voiced, letting the back of her head rest against Stacker's chest and tilt a bit to allow her to look up at him, "I'm angry with myself. I was lost in my own head like I was when... ah..." go on... Say it, if she couldn't even voice it, she couldn't begin to heal from it. "from when I was grabbed near the arboretum."

A thoughtful sound rumbled from his chest as hands and arms slowly wrapped around her upper body. It was a gentle gesture, slow and calm, which announced its presence in such a way that meant he would have stopped if he saw panic in her eyes. But he didn't see it. Or, at least, he didn't think he saw it. By the end he could feel the swell of her bust resting atop his arms, which almost made him laugh as he again noted yet another disparity between them, but the sheer gravity of the situation guaranteed that the urge to find humor died almost as quickly as it had arrived. Which, in the end, left him standing there and looking down at the ivory-skinned Vorta, eyes unconsciously noting a slight stream of blue that was swirling its way into the water on the shower's floor.

So how best to redress her concerns? he asked himself with a second exhalation and slight purse of his lips as he leaned back against the glass and brought her with him. There was no concern about it shattering in his mind; the stuff was made to withstand a level of force that he'd never be able to apply on his own, and besides, the position allowed him to equal out the height issue. So as he thought his legs were allowed to slide forward a little, until his head was resting comfortable atop hers while his mind turned over this thorny problem. Reassurance would do little to help her: all the words in the galaxy wouldn't suffice to fight off ghosts that were evidently plaguing her mind. Counseling, well ... she knew best if she required counseling, and he was no expert in the subject. But then a little lightbulb went on, helped in no small part due to the helpful warm water that sometimes did seem to jar things loose in his mind...

"What about training you?" he asked, hands and arms unconsciously sliding a little up-and-down, sliding freely across her wet skin. "Self-defense training? Granted, I don't want you beating up any of my personnel, but I want you free to move about the station and feel secure in the process." There was little doubt of a second abduction ever happening, some little reminder said in the back of his mind. Not with the couple of agents that were keeping an eye on her. The ones she doesn't know about, and which I'll never tell her about.

The shift of his position warmed her heart as much as it did her body. Always so considerate, so gentle... James Stacker was a mystery and this was the side of him that belonged to her. She knew it, loved it, cherished it for everything that it was. She didn't care how awkward it was, how much of a difference there was between them in height or stature. All she knew was that when she was with him she was safe and secure and free to dream and want and breathe. She was free to do everything she prohibited herself from doing during normal hours. How strange it was... How strange, and wonderful.

"I suspect you know a bit more than Starfleet's basic edition hand to hand combat." Valeese nodded, allowing her arms to fold over his - the spotting noticeably lighter even before soap could come into play. Asking him to fight all her battles was something she'd never do - or ever want- simply because she'd always envisioned herself as a self rescuing Princess... Of sorts. She didn't need rescue from high towers and evil Queens... Just slave stations and giant Orions with anger issues, it seemed. Even still... She could have saved herself had it not been for Si'a's condition. They'd have been long gone, long headed for home, but duty and honor blurred lines and culled the devious devices of knowledge that could have been deployed. In short, she knew that she'd need to admit defeat and start anew. "If I promise not to use anything you teach me against... Say..." Her fingers drummed gently against his wrist in a manner most flippant, "Parsuv in the middle of a blueberry run... You'll teach me?" She asked quietly, demurely enjoying all that he had to offer in those moments no one could steal from them.

He didn't answer the first question. First because it was unnecessary to do so, in his opinion; had it been anyone else asking he would have deflected the inquiry with humor or something else. Secondly, because they both knew that she was right. And he simply wasn't disposed to leave her unprepared. Despite all his preparations, and everything he'd said and done to keep her safe ever since she returned safe and sound with him, there was still that chance that something might slip through his safeguards. He'd never admit it to her, either in public or private, but that thought did sometimes nag at him. It was like a persistent fly in the ointment that simply refused to go away. Which was why he was so thankful that she assented to his idea so rapidly.

As to the second question ... his head slipped from atop hers and slipped down, down, down ... right there. The thought ran through his mind as he pressed a kiss into the side of her neck. It was impossible to miss the murmured sound of assent, from his throat, as he did so. Nor the slight tightening of his arms around her. All the while the water steadfastly continued to pour forth its warmth on them, enveloping the shower in a slight but growing layer of steam that fogged the glass.

This time he was granted a hum and a shiver. A deep, resounding, full body shiver that shot like lightning from the point where his lips connected one down until it curled her toes - and she loved it. It was almost predictable the way her eyes closed and her head dipped off to one side, giving him better access to the sensitive line of her neck, jaw, and ears. Trust. Invitation. Maybe a tiny tint of submission - she was suddenly reminded of just how alive both of them were. Where sleep had won and comfort roamed, now rose the desire for some deeper reassurance that this wasn't just another dream where she'd wake up and find herself face down on the cold deckplates of some crumbling slaver. "I look forward to it." She managed to murmur, "lesson one that is."

"Oh is that so?" he asked, gently, before pressing another kiss home. This one was slightly higher, taking advantage of her unspoken invitation to continue, and before he retreated his teeth grazed her skin. It was an unspoken hint of his possessive side where she was concerned - underscored by the hand that slipped across her stomach and lower still with each second, while the other rose to clasp at her. There was power behind those gestures, restrained and caged but still pacing like a beast that wanted to be free, and with each hint of submission from her its own power grew correspondingly. He could feel rivulets of water sluicing down his arms and flowing over her shoulder from where the water was landing, and didn't give a damn at this moment in time.

"It is..." Valeese all but purred, pressing back against him, "So very so." The nagging, begging reminder to leave, to run, and why, slipped away for sake of sensations curried by his magnificent hands, lips, and teeth. Once again, she was completely malleable to his desires - if only because they echoed her own - and once again she'd fallen down the rabbit hole that was James Stacker.


Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer

Lieutenant Commander James Stakcer
Chief Intelligence Officer


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