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Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall, PO Johns & Lt. JG Josett (Parts I - VII)


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Lt. Sienelis & Lt. Marshall - Road Trip (Part I)

((Bridge, USS Azetbur))

Sat in the pilot's chair on the bridge, Bear had angled the ergonomically designed seat back as far as it would go, enough to kick his crossed boots up onto the console. A cup of coffee in his hand held to his chest, his mind was elsewhere as he stared out of the viewscreen, watching the space tunnel created by warp as the yacht sped ever forward through the dark. Memories of the last time he'd done this played on his mind, drumming a beat on his heart like a timpani. 

Only Lena had been within reach, recently married, indulging in a chunk of wedded hilarity while on their way back to the Gorkon. 

Scratching the underside of his chin, Bear inhaled heavily, deep chest rising and falling as he listened to the hum of the ship, that rhythmic undulation of the engine underneath, the faint sound of the deflector shield vibrating and pulsing containing them in their own little bubble. What he missed was Lena's voice; singing as she did in that breathy conversational low range, the power behind it, dream-like and beautiful, effortlessly flowing through those atmospheric tones he could listen to for hours. 

The husband might have received a summons to where his wife was, but he wanted her on his skin and his bones, alone together with no rush in it, wrapped up in one another and taking their time.

The door swished open and Bear jumped out of his skin, leaping up from his relaxed composure and straight into what the hell mode, sending his mug of coffee splattering to the floor in a clang of enamel on corrugated metal. He rolled his lips between his teeth, [...]s of beard tickling his skin as he did so, a terse exhale through his nose and looked to the interloper. 

O. Marshall: Aren't you supposed to be asleep?

It looked like she had been; hair askew, a tank top and loose pyjama shorts under a light robe. She took a moment to regard him in his startled predicament with a glimmer of sly amusement in her eyes, rarely failing to find amusement in catching people by surprise. Observation concluded, Valesha padded barefoot toward the replicator at the back of the bridge.

Sienelis: I was. Do you want another?

O. Marshall: That would be great. ::Enunciating every word, he scooped the mug up from the floor and tossed it up to deft Romulan hands.:: Black, like my heart, with a five percent sucrose factor for the spirit. 

Bear slumped back down into the pilot's chair as the small scurrying floor cleaner came whizzing out of a slot in the surrounding bridge bulkhead. Within a matter of seconds, the device had cleaned up the spill, beeped a merry tune, and flitted back into the alcove it came from. With a roll of his eyes, Bear groaned. The technically minded Admiral would have some kind of device to clean up after her five-year-old… and swiftly ignored the fact it had to clean up after him

O. Marshall: What's got you up? I'm not due to play the 1812 Overture in your quarters for another few hours. I thought ballet boy would get a kick out of it. 

He received a scowl for his intentions. A muttered request to the replicator followed by a whirl of energy into matter and the Romulan was walking toward him with a mug in each hand. She handed the black-hearted sunbeard his coffee and planted herself cross-legged in the chair beside him, pulling her robe around her. Hunched over the spices evaporating from her drink, she was tired and she looked it, yet sleep was proving evasive.

Sienelis: What's with you two, anyway? You're like a pair of strutting viyssae, hissing at each other every time you catch sight.

O. Marshall: Entirely professional reasons. ::Said with a quick flash of a grin as he resumed the position, kicking up his boots to the console, relaxing back, mug on his knee.:: Did he ever tell you how he got that black eye?

Sienelis: Not really. ::She shrugged, eyeing him across the floor space between them.:: We'd not long woken up from the Skarbek. We were still trying to figure out if we were friends or strangers at that point. ::Mug held in both hands, she took a sip, tapping her thumbs against the replicated ceramic.:: So how was it your fault, then?

A blond eyebrow arched upwards as Bear took a drink from the coffee mug, tilting his head toward his Romulan friend. 

O. Marshall: What makes you think it was my fault?

Sienelis: I've met you.

O. Marshall: Point taken. ::He tapped the outside of the cup with a clipped fingernail.:: If you want to get technical about it, it wasn't me; it was Ollie. Your Russian worked out a bit too much and got himself slung in the Brig with me. The Iotian ensured it didn't go any further. One delicious shiner for the trouble. 

Valesha closed her eyes, a procession of conflicted emotions marching across her face: understanding, anger, resignation. She unclenched her jaw a moment later and ran a hand through her tousled hair, slumping back in the seat and narrowly avoiding slopping hot tea over her hands. No wonder Chris had said nothing at the time, how dare Bear be complicit in the whole thing, the next time she saw that bloody pirate he'd best be grateful that she didn't throw punches herself.

Then she sighed, too tired to maintain a temper for any length of time. And what was the point? It was closing on two years since it had happened; there was no changing or undoing it now.

Sienelis: That would do it.

Bear's lips thinned as he nodded, eyebrows lifting, recalling all too well the events of the evening which ensured his release from the confines of the brig cell, while Chris received a talking to. Looking back at the orchestration of it, he could have intervened, stopped the Russian taking a blow to the face to keep his mouth shut, explained the nuances of keeping his nose out of others' business, but that was hardly as satisfying. 

O. Marshall: Added to what happened in the brig the second time we were in there together and, ::he sucked in air through his teeth as his head bobbed from side to side,:: turns a simmering grievance to a raging grudge. 

A quiet, disgruntled noise ground in Valesha's throat, not needing or wanting any reminders of exactly how that scene had played out. The whole affair — from its origins in conspiracy and false accusations to an ending written in a poison which left her sliding into the grave — was a series of events she tried her hardest not to think about.

Sienelis: Which you're content to prod.

O. Marshall: Not maliciously. He just makes it so easy, especially when you're there. Like a red flag to a bull. ::He chuckled, taking a sip from the mug and shrugged a shoulder up as the mug came back to rest on his knee.:: How are you, anyway? Recovered from your pounding on death's door? Lena's copilot seat still has your fingerprints in the arm. 

Sienelis: Something to remember me by. ::Her eyebrows twitched upward.:: I'm recovered. If you're going to almost get pollened to death, do it when the Admiral plans shore leave on Earth. You get the finest Starfleet Medical has to offer, and the opportunity to fend off a dozen requests to write papers on your case because apparently Melanth poisoning isn't a thing they get to see very often.

O. Marshall: I can't imagine it is, strangely enough, being a wonder product of Romulan assassination. ::He took another drink and his jaw stiffened some, enough to take note it was his teeth clenching.:: I should've seen it coming. 

That was the kicker he'd carried around with him, even when Valesha had come around and recovered. Taking the case back to their temporary quarters and opening it was asking for issues from the start; then again, a secure and sterile environment with environmental suits were scarce. One couldn't just sling one out of a pocket like a pop-up hologram screen. The bearded one lifted his mug to her. 

O. Marshall: I'm glad you didn't die. ::Deliberate or not, a note of affection was there.:: I didn't want to have to explain that to everyone.

 

TBC

 

----

 

Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall & PO Johns - Road Trip (Part II)

((Bridge, USS Azetbur))

The thought of Chris keeping secrets was still spinning around in her head, turning and whirling as the dancer himself did in their studio time. She could understand him choosing not to disclose back then  — they had been trying to figure out what they were to one another, and what point was there talking about it months later? — but it had reminded her of other secrets he'd kept. That Christopher Johns was an assumed name, how long he'd held on to a belief instilled under the Moscow sky...

Sienelis: "Fired her sarcasm at the wrong person." Simple. Believable. Probable.

O. Marshall: Definitely not unlikely. I'll take note for future reference. 

Supping another mouthful of sweetened black coffee, Bear glanced up at the lights of space in front of them, taking the pair — and the sleeping dancer — toward the Shoals. When he looked back to his shuttle theft partner, the glint of a midnight blue solitaire caught his eye; one with a constellation baked inside, as though a relief of space itself. Settling a little further into his chair, Bear pointed a finger to the band. 

O. Marshall: I heard you'd got engaged. Going back was worth it after all. 

Her gaze darted down to the ring, currently worn on its "proper" hand and finger, at least according to the human custom, though she did tend to swap it around when the mood took her. A sliver of frost slipped into her belly, the guilt that it was a promise left unfulfilled because of this very trip. There was nothing in the universe she wanted more than to be Chris' wife — except find her beloved brother. It wasn't as though she was choosing between them, after all. Just prioritising one event over another.

Sienelis: It was. ::Her green eyes flicked back up toward him, with a wry glint behind them.:: I heard you got married.

O. Marshall: A terrible idea, really. 

Bear chucked as he echoed Lena's words following his proposal in the [...]pit of her shuttlepod. It was amusing; two people who shouldn't be married — to anyone, let alone one another — but there they were. He moved the ring on his finger in a slow circle with his thumb as he thought about her, then covered the small smile inching onto his lips with a drink from the mug. She knew what she wanted, he knew what he did, and for the time being, it fit. That was all. 

O. Marshall: Planning the big day? Do I get to wear a big hat and tell everyone how I knew you when you were a Starfleet fugitive?

Sienelis: You make that request after cheating me of the opportunity. ::She shot a smirk at him.:: Why did you get married?

O. Marshall: Her voice. ::The answer is quick, delivered with a sigh and a small nod.:: She was singing in the [...]pit when I woke up and it was the first time I've ever felt like I wanted to marry anyone. ::His shoulder shrugged up and with the slight realisation he'd been a touch too soft, Bear raised his mug for a drink.:: Her hips are great, too. 

Sienelis: Yes, the most important trait of a life partner. A fantastic pair of hips. ::She sent the droll barb back, then found a flare of amusement in the irony that she, of all people, said it.:: Though it explains Chris.

O. Marshall: If only more species judged by the curve of an iliac crest. Divorce rate would decrease exponentially. ::Drink finished with a loud exhale, Bear looked to Valesha for a long moment, his eyes narrowing just slightly.:: Why are you getting married?

Sienelis: Are you really asking me why I'm marrying the man I was pining for while we were risking our lives playing pirates?

He smiled with a tilt of his head and ruffle of the blond beard, remembering all too well the forlorn Romulan he had to drag into the shuttlebay and onto the Unicorn, and try not to spontaneously combust under the glare burning through the back of his head. There were things he would do differently if they could; though the way they left wasn't one of them. He still believed, now more firmly than ever, that the sodding Russian would've stopped the universe where it was to get her back if they hadn't sold it like a lover's escape. 

O. Marshall: Yes, I am. 

Her ring finger tapped against the ceramic of her mug in a soft chime of a rhythm, ticking away the time as she debated her answer. It seemed obvious enough and she couldn't quite figure out why he wanted to hear it.

Sienelis: Because I love him. ::She lifted her shoulders and shook her head.:: I want to be with him.

Her answer brought a small smile to Bear's face — not that he'd ever admit it, ever — for the simple knowledge he hadn't hashed it up for them. He had enough riding on his conscience at any given moment, he didn't need their future on there, too. Deciding he'd had enough of thinking about his own feelings for the night, he rolled his shoulders back and exhaled. 

O. Marshall: And now you're off to pick your brother up in the Shoals. ::His eyebrows flicked up.:: Big changes since we were on the Scream

Sienelis: Doesn't seem like a year ago. ::She thought on that, sipping from her tea.:: I wonder where we'll be in a year from now.

The door to the bridge swished open, revealing a tired and barely awake Russian, pyjama pants hung around his waist and hair in a kind of disarray it hadn't seen while short. Weary fingers rubbed the sleep from his eye socket and he looked through bleary eyes at Bear and Vee. Leaning his shoulder against the doorframe, he scratched his stomach. Whatever prejudices he held against the blond one while conscious didn't telegraph to that in-between time of awake and asleep. 

Johns: Did I… ::He yawned silently but widely into his fist.:: Did I miss the alarm?

A faint flush of olive colour crept into the Romulan's cheeks at the sight of her Russian, flicking a scowl toward Bear as if to warn him against comment. Bear, taking the hint, rolled his lips in on themselves and said nothing, though the act of which included his eyes opening a little wider and attention shifting to the viewscreen. A small mercy, but one his friend appreciated nonetheless.

Sienelis: No, it's still early. I couldn't sleep.

Her Russian nodded slowly, some semblance of life coming back into him bit by bit, but not by much Fingers brushed in his growing fluff of sleep tousled hair. As he spoke, the soft rumble of his tenor sounded broken and gruff through sleepy vocal cords. 

Johns: Is everything okay?

Sienelis: Just one of those nights. 

She unfolded her legs, rising from the chair, and scooped up Bear's empty mug. Depositing both in the replicator, she padded over to her fiancé and pressed a kiss to his cheek, sliding her hand into his. Chris smiled lazily in return, eyes refusing to open any more than they absolutely had to, and his stubbled cheek nuzzled against her temple. 

Sienelis: We can go back to bed.

Johns: Mmkay.

A sleepy hand raised from Chris' shoulder to Bear in the most languid wave anyone could muster and Bear sent one back; a salute of two fingers from his forehead. With a deep sigh as the couple headed out, the blond bearded one threw a grin to Valesha of the absolutely incorrigible as he hummed the 1812 Overture, complete with cannonade in a flourish of composer's hands. Her answer was silent, a finger pointed in warning, eyebrows raised in a death glare. Both vanished from sight a moment later as she tugged her sleepy Russian from the bridge and the door sighed shut behind them.

Bear turned back to the helm console and relaxed into the chair, thinking about the next few hours until he could go to bed, and trying not to think about who he wanted to be there. 

 

TBC

 

----

Lt. Sienelis & PO Johns - Road Trip (Part III)

((Conference Room, USS Azetbur))

Sat with his dancer's backside perched on the edge of the expansive conference table, in the middle to get a full view of what was taking place outside the ship, Chris gazed out of the observational windows. The huge red freighter — like a massive rectangle of metal and instruments — moved off slowly into space. It didn't bank or turn; just slid away backwards, heading in the other direction as the Admiral's Yacht slipped out from the vibrating wake of the enclosing tractor beam.

They'd hitched a ride with one of the Red Carrier cargo ships courtesy of YanCo — for all your conglomerate needs — as it headed out into the Shoals on the Mother Road. Meridian was apparently the destination where the freighter would make a drop off or pick up and return to their location now, at Esperance, where it would once again break out into the regular swim lanes of the galaxy and head back to whence it came.

A life sitting at the helm of that empire. What would it be like?

For a moment, sitting there, Chris imagined it. 

Endless nights of parties and hedonism, without a care in the universe for what went on outside of the fashioned bubble. If he questioned any of the beliefs, he would keep quiet, live on the luxury of a family entrenched in everything around the galactic atlas. 

He'd never have known the sense of adventure that came with an enlistment in Starfleet Academy in his tender formative years, content instead to cruise around on a yacht built for having a good time.

Maybe he would've stayed in Russia and carried on dancing for the troupes, seen the new wave in artistic revolution, spent the better part of his years introducing new age techniques or sticking to the old rules. Perhaps he could've one day taken on the roles of a Principal Dancer; twirled around the best Primas of his time, looked longingly into faces of ballerinas as the orchestral music played on, concerto after concerto, each enticing the dancers to act on conjured feelings and emotions. It was no small wonder why their world was rife with broken hearts and unrequited love; each headliner out to get what they wanted and hell hath no fury like a dancer scorned.

It felt it like a process of evolution; as though breaking free from that life had come like a blinding flash of inspired thought. 

Chris took a breath of recycled starship air, considering how different his life would be if he had stayed under the wing of the family, if such journeys like the one he was now standing on the deck of the Azetbur for would have ever taken place, if he'd ever have met Valesha and in what context, if there was a set path in life to follow and he'd just pick it up again at some random point.

He wanted to believe that was the case, and as he watched the red freighter move away into the darkness of space — where the whorls and constellations dazzled in an array of colours that only reminded him of the Romulan he shared his life with — Chris allowed himself to. 

Wherever he was on that journey, in the masses amounts of parallel universes there were out there in timeless mists of spacial entities, there was one where he had stayed behind.

With a small smile on his face and a glint in his hazel eyes, the young Russian slipped off the edge of the conference table and headed for wherever his fiancee was. Tension needed a release and tempting her into a dance was the way forward.

 

((Guest Quarters, USS Azetbur))

The door to the small cabin slid open and the couple stumbled inside, already grinning to one another as though they'd never quite been able to stop. A sweet tang of sweat hung in the air from their drilled routine; their movements on their makeshift dance floor, the close proximity to one another, the rapid ascension of hearts beating fast, deep breaths and flushed faces looking into pupils dilated with the heady sense of want. A need for skin to be on skin, moans swallowed by chasing lips, whispers to entice groans, hands to roam flesh and find one another in the sheets.

With a murmur, the door closed. Chris reached for Valesha, his hand slipping to her nape to bring them back together, never content to be too far. Under the edge of her ballet top, his fingers slipped, finding abdominal muscles flexing in exertion. His palms found her waist, then the small of her back, her hands running through his hair and across his shoulders, crashing and pulling, anchoring one another to the moment as each passionate kiss only sent them spiralling further. 

O. Marshall: =/\= Attention, passengers. This is Captain Marshall speaking. =/\=

Chris groaned into Valesha's shoulder, though he didn't move, remaining suspended with his hands climbing her back as the disembodied voice continued from the ceiling. She was less restrained and grumbled a Rihan vendetta, her eyes narrowed and taut.

O. Marshall: =/\= We're cruising at an altitude of not very far from Esperance. The temperature is a cool absolute zero, and if you look to your left, you'll see the edge of the Shoals in the distance. All crew please report to the bridge as we're about to experience some turbulence on entry to the station zone and I've only got one pair of hands. Bridge out. =/\=

The one-way announcement communication cut off, allowing the sound of laboured breath to fill the air again. Chris dropped his head back to look at the ceiling and, licking lips still tasting like his Romulan, he grinned to Valesha, a sense of humour lingering. Her expression remained flat and unimpressed for a few seconds, then she sighed and shook her head, unable to stop the corners of her mouth ticking upward in turn.

Johns: Was it good for you, too?

Sienelis: If he survives this trip, it's going to be a miracle. 

Mood utterly murdered by the blond [...] on the bridge, and dopamine hormones yet to dissipate, Chris smiled in amusement and leaned down to steal a slow kiss from his wife-to-be; a contrast to their breathless embrace of moments before. A small noise of frustration rumbled in her throat as they parted, pinching the fabric of his dance top between forefinger and thumb, pulling it toward her a short distance before letting it fall back into place.

Johns: Later?

Sienelis: Oh, you can count on it.

 

TBC

 

----

 

Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall, & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part IV)

((Promenade Section, Star Station Esperance))

Much time had passed by since Bear had been on that station, looking through those windows, down at the expansive planet beneath them. The transport hub stuck up out of the surface like a needle and accompanying spinning top, ships coming and going all the time, staying for no longer than they needed to. They'd reached there in less than twenty-four hours, hitching a ride with a cargo transporter, depositing them less than a few hours from the station. This was the Gateway to the Federation, or in their particular case, the gateway to long voyages confined on the Admiral's Yacht. 

His arms folded across his chest as he looked down on the swirling marble of green and blue, beard fluffing each time his jaw moved from one side to the other as if chewing on something invisible. Mustache moving with every terse exhale. 

O. Marshall: She said the station, not the planet, right?

Valesha twitched into a frown, throwing Bear a look askance. It grew into something else in a few heartbeats; amusement glimmered in her eyes, a corner of her mouth tugged up as the sentiment spread. It was a side of him she'd hardly seen, the heart under the swagger, and she couldn't stop grinning.

Sienelis: Who knew that adorably anxious waiting for your wife was a mood you could channel.

Narrowing his eyes at her, he shook his head with a mocking sneer. Not exactly the picture of someone refuting the claim. His arms crossed a little tighter over his chest as he returned his gaze to the planet and the reflection of the lithe Romulan in the giant window, expecting to see the small shuttlepod belonging to Lena zipping past to warp. 

O. Marshall: I'm being diligent about the rendezvous location. ::He glanced at the reflection of the pointy-eared devil.:: Where's ballet boy? Didn't want to stretch his legs out here?

Sienelis: Not in your vicinity. It's almost like you're really annoying and I only put up with you because of that one time you saved my life.

O. Marshall: Almost. If it wasn't for my winning personality and undeniable charm, I'd believe you. 

She rolled her eyes, valiantly keeping a grin from surfacing. Amused she might be, aware of that fact he might also be, but Valesha had no intention of being obvious about it. Bear, in turn, tried not to smile, once again tightening those arms like a drawbridge.

Sienelis: What ship is she coming in on, anyway?

O. Marshall: That's the other thing. ::He ran a hand through his short crop of blond hair and sniffed.:: She didn't mention it. Last communication was from the Veritas and she'll have cargo.

Sienelis: What was she doing on the Veritas?

O. Marshall: We're married, what makes you think I know?

The Romulan opened her mouth, inhaling to reply, only to find that she had no immediate answer to that. Instead she shrugged, hands wide, shaking her head. She could hardly imagine a scenario where Chris would leave her with only shreds of information, guessing as much as knowing what was going on.

Sienelis: You and I are going to have very different marriages.

The blond annoyance flicked an eyebrow up to her as he glanced to the side and Bear let that roll around in his mind for a second before the corner of his mouth turned upwards. There were elements of her work Lena couldn't tell him; things it was easier to not talk about, even as colleagues in Intelligence. She had her way of living and he had his. Marriage didn't mean they were beholden to one another. Their marriage at least. 

O. Marshall: Not so much. They're both of convenience in one way or another. 

Sienelis: What's that supposed to mean?

O. Marshall: Mine will be fun until one of us leaves, and there's no questions asked. Convenient until it's not. ::He thinned his lips as he gave her a long look.:: You're going to outlive him by what, two-hundred-fifty years? 

A frown carved its way onto a Romulan brow, the reminder of their mismatched mortalities unwanted at the best of times. Here, she couldn't quite wrap her mind around the point Bear was trying to make, except for the fact she was fairly sure she didn't like it. What was convenient about having to watch Chris grow old and pass on?

Sienelis: That's the opposite of convenient.

O. Marshall: Not for you. ::His shoulder shrugged up.:: You get a whole second life after. Can't be bad. 

Sienelis: You get that I've already outlived most of the people I love, right? It's not an experience I'm looking forward to repeating.

Conceding the point, Bear tilted his head and grunted his agreement. There they were, in the [...] end of nowhere, about to go looking for her brother further out in the [...] end of nowhere, made him think of his own family. Whether Jo would go to such lengths do the same for him stuck in his gut.

O. Marshall: Can't change those genes, kid. ::He caught her reflection in the window and tongued his cheek.:: Enjoy it while it lasts. 

Sienelis: That's the plan. ::She looked at his reflection in turn.:: I guess we have that part in common, at least.

O. Marshall: And we'll always have Hai Tac. 

Amusement flicked on his lips as he leaned to her, bumping her shoulder with his, content to change the subject before he dug an even deeper hole and she let him take a long walk out of a short airlock. Lips pursed in an attempt to contain a sigh or a smile, perhaps both, she started to look toward him — until something in the window caught her gaze.

O. Marshall: Speaking of, she did mention that bloody Iotian was with her. 

Sienelis: So I see.

Her inflection flat, Valesha pointed at the reflection, past their shoulders where a familiar pair approached. She turned and there they were, the pirate duo advancing upon them and somewhat worse for wear. The Cardassian-Bajoran hybrid was walking with noticeable limp, a healing cut over one eye and bruises grazed across her knuckles... and of course, that infernal eternal grin.

Josett: If it isn't my favourite pair of spoons.

Zuccaro: We do have to stop meeting like this, in the strangest of places. 

Said bloody Iotian didn't look too clever either; a thick bandage wrapped around his upper arm somehow making him look even more dashing for it, and bearing a large shiner around one eye, which Bear couldn't say he was sorry to see. Ignoring him with a creased brow for Lena, Bear looked her up and down with an incredulous look adorning his face, marred only by the concern in blue eyes. 

O. Marshall: This is that quaint little job you talked about.  

She breathed out a chuckle, letting her momentum carry her forward until she stood between Bear and Valesha, spinning around to slide an arm around each of their waists. Bear got a kiss on the cheek, the Romulan ducked away from an attempt to land one on hers — although it was quite remarkable that she saw it coming at all, given the intensity of the glare she was directing toward the other pirate. 

Josett: Like sipping [...]tails on Risa. ::She grinned, quirking her head to the side as she acknowledged the state of them.:: Well, maybe Qo'noS.

Zuccaro: With a slight detour through Rura Penthe, and safely we return. 

His smile didn't lose any of the effortless heroic intensity, coat swishing with natural swagger, catching the look from both laundry loads as he greeted Bear with a slap on the shoulder and avoided touching Valesha lest he lose a limb he liked. Jaw tightening, Bear gave the pirate a momentary flicker of a scowl and wrapped his arm around Lena's waist to aid the limping hybrid in her endeavour to walk. 

O. Marshall: Sounds like you both had the time of your lives out there. What pleasure cruise vessel did you roll into port on?

TBC

----

Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part V)

((Promenade Section, Star Station Esperance))

Josett: She's a beauty, the good ship Swishbuckle. ::She paused, and then added with a grin,:: The second.

A continuing source of amusement, Lena threw a laughing smile toward Ollie. It was a tale for later, of how two pirates had come to work with the crew of the Veritas in tracking down another pirate. Stories of seedy space stations, corrupt watchmen, angry Orions, determinedly sour Starfleet officers, heroic boarding actions and a close shave with a warp core breach. Stories that the Romulan had no interest in hearing, extracting herself from Lena's embrace and squinting in disbelief at the pair.

Sienelis: Swish..?

Josett: —buckle.

Zuccaro: The second. 

The Iotian repeated the addition while holding a relevant number of fingers up. Bear exhaled a terse breath from his nose, unimpressed by the particular brand of nonchalance Ollie exuded like a cologne, while the Iotian could do no more than simply be himself, avoiding spontaneous combustion under Valesha's molten glare. It took Bear a second or two to remember why the annoyed Romulan might wish the man would crumple like a barn in a hurricane. 

O. Marshall: Can I assume you're coming with us? Or disappearing into the night on the… Swishbuckle

Amusing as the name might be, it didn't conjure up any kind of reliable mental image, instead it made the blond think of a small boat in the middle of a large ocean, rocking back and forth, one raindrop away from plummeting beneath the waves. Or, in Ollie's case, from slipping into a black hole of his own creation. With a shake of his head and the dark locks of his hair on the invisible wind, Ollie sighed heavily. 

Zuccaro: Unfortunately, my newest vessel has acquired more holes than I can plug alone, so Esperance is where we part ways. ::Throwing a glance to Lena, he chuckled.:: Then, back to Hai Tac. Investments to look after, frothy vodka to drink, and a bunk or two to free up. 

Josett: Until the next time, love. ::She grinned.:: Look after Charger, won't you? 

Zuccaro: I will, but Charger cannot replace you in my affections, darling. 

A brief flicker of the pirate's eyes darted to Bear with a knowing grin growing on his features, then with a blown kiss from his fingers to his hybrid pirate in arms — both arms open widely to Valesha, a flushing face of deeds done recently and flourishing bow from his waist — Ollie strode off toward the port authority. Bear couldn't say he was sad to see him go, memories of receiving a fist to a glass jaw as poignant as any, and his eyebrow curved up to the hybrid pirate with his arm wrapped around her. 

O. Marshall: Charger?

Josett: Charger. ::She smiled cheerfully at him.:: Kept me company on some cold, lonely nights, at least when Ollie didn't steal him. 

A flicker of an amused smile was there as the cogs worked behind blue eyes, trying to discern whether Charger was their new code word for a bottle of good rum, a pillow or a person. Even if he asked, he doubted Lena would give him a straight answer, and then he wasn't sure he wanted to know. Rolling his eyes to a chuckle from his wife, Bear inhaled the fresh, clinical smell of a station in the midst of a torrential influx of visitors, and forged ahead.

O. Marshall: Is there anything else we need to pick up from here before we go? Aside from a limping pirate, ::he sent a tiny smile her way, then to Valesha,,:: and wherever your dancer got to. 

Josett: Maybe a crate of that Meadows whisky. ::Then as an afterthought, tonguing a cut on the inside of her cheek,:: And a good first aid kit.

It was Valesha's turn to roll her eyes at the request for booze, though she had to admit she was a little jealous of Lena's indomitable good cheer. Part Cardassian, the pirate had to run into the same kind of suspicions and prejudices that the Romulan did — perhaps more so, given that there were plenty of people still alive who remembered the Dominion War and the conflicts that preceded it — and yet she never seemed to care. 

And where was Chris, anyway? As much as she'd needled Bear about it earlier, she realised she wasn't entirely sure where her Russian had scampered off to. 

Sienelis: Just the whisky, then. The Azetbur's got a small medical station.

Josett: The captain's yacht? We are travelling in style.

O. Marshall: Who knew the Admiral had a soft spot for this science officer. ::From around Lena, Bear reached to prod Valesha's shoulder.:: It'll still take the best part of a week to get to Ketar V and the Shoals isn't the most forgiving of places. 

If only he was just speaking about the many, many dangers in space. Time spent there in his early days of Rangerdom had brought him into contact with the less savoury occupants of the region, not limited to colonists, and more than his fair share of pirates. 

His own arrest hadn't occurred far from the station, either.

TBC

----

Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall, PO Johns & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part VI)

((Promenade Section, Star Station Esperance))

As if he'd heard his name on the wind, Valesha's dark-haired dancer appeared when a crowd of Bolian traders moved, one hand hooked into his pocket then other on the strap of his bag, and wouldn't have looked amiss as a backpacker making his way around the Shoals. Whatever he'd got into in his brief separation from the pack had involved food, and whatever he'd found was tart enough to make him wince as he chewed on it. Falling into step with Valesha, Chris held out the small dessert, a wrapped candied fruit peel resembling the head of a rose, only considerably bluer. 

Johns: I found osol twists. First one made me tear up, the second made my tongue tingle. 

His Romulan met the offer with a grin, the change in her mood swift and apparent. Valesha took the sweet with a faint tug of nostalgia, memories of her and her brother daring each other to eat the most sour twist as quickly as they could. The faces that came about as the result of the dare were long forgotten, but not the hilarity and laughter that ensued, especially once the twins had got their mother in on the game.

Sienelis: Sounds like you started with a green one. Bold.

Johns: Green has always been my favourite colour. 

He smiled brightly despite the sour-sweet revolt taking place on his taste buds. The bag slung over his shoulder contained more of the prize haul from the station, for later snacking while they did their bridge shift. The station managed to surprise the Russian with its diversity. A transport hub without a doubt, it seemed to try to cater to all tastes coming and going, with several small cylindrical stores dedicated to souvenirs of the Shoals. 

Johns: There was also a strange conversation going on about cross-pollination with citrus fruits. An attempt to make them less sour. ::He shrugged a shoulder up, then noticed Lena had joined them, finally a distraction for the loneliest Bear; a phrase he kept in his head for later use.:: It's good to see you, Lena, but what the hell happened and why do you look like you've been fed through the customs door backwards?

Josett: Introduced a rhinoceros to a Nausicaan. ::She grinned at the dancer, endlessly amused by the twitches the sour snack impressed upon his expression.:: It went about as well as you could expect.

That earned her another screwed-up look from the Romulan, trying to determine exactly what that was supposed to mean. Given that she had no idea what a rhinoceros was, her attempt met with little success. Meanwhile, Chris chuckled at the thought of it, the inside of his cheek decidedly aflame. 

Johns: Now the limp makes sense. 

O. Marshall: None of that sentence makes sense. ::Grumpy as ever, Bear frowned, looking around.:: We'll get some information on Ketar V while we're here. Starfleet libraries don't give you the real feel. 

Sienelis: Is that code for you'd like to be alone with your wife?

The green-eyed Romulan received no small amount of side-eye from the blue-eyed blond, though whether it was annoyance that she'd said it aloud or annoyance that it had hit on a nerve was up for debate. Bear didn't know himself. Chris suppressed a snicker by biting on his lips and slipping his hand into Valesha's with a gentle squeeze of a proud partner. Bear sighed and rubbed his forehead.

O. Marshall: I'm saying we'd cover more ground if we split up. Four of us together look like an Andorian family going on a sightseeing vacation. Help with the effort, go find us the necessities, scamper off to the ship to get it ready to go…

Sienelis: Alright, the necessary local whisky and warming the engines up while you... ::She shot a sly smile in his direction,:: gather information.  

Narrowed eyes shot back at her and Bear grumbled with a shake of his head, clearly not winning the battle taking place between words. He had peace and quiet in his Ranger days, none of the smartassery. Accept it or don't, there was no middle ground to be had. Tightening his arm around Lena's waist, he leaned across to kiss her cheek, perhaps the smallest hint of pink touching skin beneath his beard, and whispered something terribly scandalous in her ear. 

O. Marshall: ::Low,:: Please, save me.

She laughed, leaning into the feel of breath and beard against her skin, inhaling the scent of him while he was close. Stealing a kiss right back, sending a flurry of feeling down his neck, she sighed into his ear and murmured back. 

Josett: Seems to be a theme. ::Patting Bear's chest, she grinned at him and then the Romulan, her voice returning to normal volume.:: The whisky's easy to find and I'm sure you know how to rev up his engine. ::She grinned, shamelessly correcting herself.:: The engines.

The flush was quick and obvious, blossoming like an olive dawn Valesha's cheeks, her amused grin turned into a scowl. In sharp contrast, Chris' boyish grin only widened, laugh bubbling up in good humour, mind casting back to the situation they were faced with only hours before. He bit his lip and squeezed her hand, tilting his head toward the rows of vendors where the confectionery came from. 

Johns: Come on, before he abandons us here. 

O. Marshall: Oh, you know it'll happen. 

Sienelis: Fine. See you back at the ship.

Valesha's lips thinned with a last glance toward Bear and Lena. It reminded her of their time on the Labyrinth's Scream, the back and forth between Romulan and human which often left the hybrid woman s[...]ing into a mug or glass of something. Only this time Lena had picked a side instead of simply enjoying the show. With a final huff, she stepped away with Chris, the pair heading toward the stalls and shops he'd indicated. 

Lena breathed out a chuckle as she watched them go, turning to grin at Bear.

Josett: Best wife.

He grinned back, hand slipping into waves of curls, and kissed her crown. 

O. Marshall: The very best. 

TBC

----

Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part VII)

 

((Small Medical Station, USS Azetbur))

Boots cast aside on the floor, jacket tossed over the back of a chair, trousers left in an untidy pool of cloth, Lena sat back on the small medical couch and hitched her t-shirt up over one hip. There was the source of her limp, a deep, ugly bruise in violent shades of midnight and wine, skimming across the curve of her iliac crest, down to the middle of her thigh. A palette of bruises littered the rest of her skin, angry shades of ruby around the cut on her brow, healing green across her knuckles, fading honey on her arm and collarbones. 

None of which dimmed her mood in the least. The hybrid grinned, extending a finger toward the most impressive of her collection, with no small amount of amusement.

Josett: Stings a bit.

O. Marshall: Not much though.

A disbelieving eyebrow arched in blond toward the hybrid as Bear's jacket joined hers over the back of a chair. The hint of a smile appearing, he crouched down beside her. The medical kit made a dull thump on the deck, the hinged lid springing open on command, giving access to a small selection of analgesics and anti-inflammatories, and all the fun mild narcotics and stimulants. Retrieving the hypospray from the inlay, he clicked a vial of metorapan — five-hundred milligrams of — into the receptacle. 

Never one to pass up an opportunity, Bear patted Lena's leg with the back of his fingers for her to roll a little further to her opposite side, and pressed the hypospray into the dip of her hip. The drug seeped through veins and capillaries, silencing razored nerves, and pulled a long sigh of relief out of her lungs. A lazy smile took up residence and she ran her hand through his blond hair, letting it come to rest on the back of his neck.

Josett: Ollie did have to pick the one shuttle without a first aid kit.

O. Marshall: Judging by the state of you both, he picked the one without a decent deflector, too. 

With a smile and a soft exhale, Bear brushed the back of his fingers over the skin of her thigh,  lightly touching one of Lena's darkest bruises with no small amount of reverence behind it; the tug of concern slipping through his innards. Gaze pulled at the corners, they dropped to the dermal regenerator and he reached for it, adjusting the setting with his thumb, and began the slow process of running the red light over the painter's palette she'd thrown together in skin and bone. 

Josett: Getting caught up in a warp core breach within the designated blast area is not an experience I intend to repeat. ::She grinned, absently slipping her fingers under his collar.:: Then again, I said that after the Scream as well.

O. Marshall: You did. ::Despite the lingering concern there, he echoed her grin.:: Where you orchestrated the explosion, if memory serves.

Josett: Broke my heart, too. 

Grin still clinging on, hard to dislodge even with the itching burn crawling through her skin courtesy of the dermal regenerator, Lena watched him work. An odd feeling curled through her chest, flowers blooming on vines that wrapped between ribs, and Bear moved his neck beneath her fingers, into their gentle press as though he'd missed it.

Josett: What have you been up to while I was charming the terminally humourless, dodging core breaches and upsetting Nausicaans?

O. Marshall: Sounds like it was just a run of the mill mission for you. 

The dermal regenerator moved slowly in small circles around the bruised skin of maroon and mauve, yellow around the dulled edges of some but not all. Bear made an effort to be soft with each pass of the device, watching the array of colour peppering her hybrid skin melt and change, concerned blue eyes watching small cuts knit back together. 

O. Marshall: I ate far too much Romulan food and caught up with an old friend from my Ranger days over some Romulan ale. ::He dipped his head to place a kiss on her bent knee.:: Who was terminally humourless? Not that bloody pirate, surely. 

Josett: It seems dealing with pirates makes some Starfleet officers very [...]ly. ::Her gaze darted down, amusement dancing through her copper eyes and she grinned.:: Thankfully others are a touch more... friendly.

O. Marshall: Infinitely more so than “[...]ly”. ::His smile turned sly as he cupped her calf in his hand, clearly examining the length of her leg for added contusions.:: Something tells me you'd get to Captain, have your own ship, and still be running around the quadrant wearing the pirate cloak for the kicks. 

Her grin broadened, both at the idea she could ever be a captain and that he was absolutely right if she ever was. As often as she delighted in being unpredictable and unknown, her motives and goals obfuscated by good cheer and an irreverent attitude, she found she didn't mind that Bear had a sense of who lurked underneath.

Josett: Did you save any of that Romulan food? I've been eating ration packs for days.

O. Marshall: I might have saved you an osol twist or two. We've got a perfectly working replicator on the bridge, and seeing as we've got a good week now between here and Ketar IV, it's going to be worth its weight in latinum. 

As the dermal regenerator finished on the smaller bruises and cuts, with a gentle touch, Bear moved his fingertips over the larger wound adorning her hip and down to the middle of her thigh, barely skimming the surface. He frowned at the sight of it, how her skin changed with the mottling of the blood beneath, and it drummed like a torpedo misfire inside. It would've hurt, though he suspected a great deal of rum had passed through those lips in the time between. Shaking his head with a deep sigh and a thinned smile flecking in amusement, he looked up to amber eyes. 

O. Marshall: Damaging these hips is grounds for divorce, you realise. 

Josett: That too? It's such a long list I didn't bother reading it all.

O. Marshall: I'm sure that one was somewhere near the top. 

She shifted on the couch and instantly regretted it, the movement overcoming the dulling efforts of the metorapan. A grimace twitched around her eyes, fingers pressed into the back of his neck for a half-second. Her teeth dug into the corner of her lip and with a little more effort than usual, she recalled her grin.

Josett: Ah well. Divorce it is. Just let me get some food and sleep first. 

O. Marshall: Seems inevitable. I'll have the forms drawn up while you're napping. 

Like an intricate spider web of capillaries and blood beneath her skin, the large and wam bruise began to fade with the tingling application of the regenerative properties of the tool. Bear stroked down her leg with one hand with unconscious reassurance as he watched her skin repair, bit by bit, but the thick bruise wouldn't be entirely removed; the body needed to do some healing of its own. 

When the tricorder decided what could be repaired in stimulated nerves and epidermis, Bear moved his attention to the cut above her eye, and smiled as he brushed his fingers through her hair to move the dark curls out of the way. She continued grinning, ignoring the shivers that trickled down her temple and neck as his fingers grazed against skin.

O. Marshall: Or maybe we'll let this one slide. First time offence, hardly seems worth it. 

Josett: It'd be a [...] to file them in the middle of the Shoals, after all. 

O. Marshall: Would take weeks to get back, better just to wait until the opportune moment. 

Amusement sparked in his blue as Bear looked into Lena's amber eyes, affection wrapping around his core, and he couldn't quite hide it. Held in that gaze, it softened her smile and sent a thud echoing through her chest. With a hand curling into the fabric of his shirt, she pulled him close for a kiss, fingers sliding into his hair, and Bear let himself get lost in her. Lovers coming back to one another, mutual need, tender connection, unsaid sentiments slipping through, stolen in a second. 

O. Marshall: ::Quietly,:: You were gone forever. I know. I counted. 

She exhaled a soft, short laugh and stole another kiss, brushing her nose against his. Her reply was just as low, whispered like secrets not meant to be spoken, and the ripples it sent down Bear's spine were felt in his kidneys. 

Josett: Next time you'll just have to come with me. 

O. Marshall: While I'd love to, ::he shook his head gently with a smile, nose to Bajoran nose, inhaling her again,:: I'd be depriving you of your pirate time. It just makes you coming home worth it.

Josett: So you're saying I should leave more often? ::Her forefinger ran along the length of his jaw, gently catching the hair on his chin between finger and thumb.:: Give you more opportunities to appreciate my return?

O. Marshall: To give you more opportunities to thoroughly, ::he pressed his lips just beneath her jaw,:: appreciate coming back, I think. 

The hybrid pulled in a sharp breath, sparks surging down her neck and past the soft chuckle that rumbled in her throat. She pulled him closer, seeking his warmth, a zerak to a flame, and wrapped her legs around his waist. Lips brushing against his ear, Lena murmured a response, feeling the thrum of her heart ricocheting through her chest.

Josett: Mutual appreciation. I can live with that.

Her husband hummed his agreement into the hollow of his wife's throat where the soft ridges of her Cardassian markings started, lips fought between grinning and kissing skin, hand moving down her bruised thigh to bruised hip, and the familiar intoxicating fire creeping over his shoulders as he lifted her up from the couch. 

O. Marshall: Let's mutually appreciate those two being out. 

Her response was a wordless one, any notion of further conversation lost with the press of lips against lips, fingers sliding beneath clothes to hunt bare skin. Wrapped up in one another, muscles and tendons ready to dance, burning and surrendering to a longing, colliding back together as though neither had left. 

TBC

----

 

 

Lieutenant Valesha Sienelis
Science Officer
USS Gorkon
T238401QR0

&

Lieutenant Orson Marshall
Intelligence Officer
USS Gorkon
G239304JM0

&

PO First-Class Christopher Johns
Operations Officer
USS Gorkon
G239304JM0

&

Lieutenant (JG) Lena Josett
Intelligence Officer
USS Gorkon
T238401QR0

Edited by Ayiana Sevo
fat-finger submit before it was done
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