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Rita Skeeter

Posted on Wed Aug 15th, 2018 @ 3:40am by Lieutenant M & Stephen Spires

Mission: Preflight
Location: Ship's Lounge - Mara's quarters
Timeline: MD 64 | Evening

It was a nice night for a concert.

Well, a gypsy jazz trio was really more background music than a concert, but Mara didn't care. She enjoyed the music while she read Timeline by Michael Crichton. It was an old book, but she was enjoying it. Old science fiction tended to lose it's luster as time passed, but this one involved time travel, which was still not very well understood, so it was still fascinating.

From a dark corner, Stephen stalked the room with his eyes. The music was blandly quaint, which made for perfect carousing. Several souls had gathered to enjoy it, but most of them were in pairs or trios of their own. If he wanted to form any new contacts, he'd need to prey on a lone individual.

And, what did luck have it, that his gaze fell upon one. A familiar little spark-plug that had taken him for a ride, and how. Stephen finished his drink, then approached the small circular table where Mara was reading her book.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked.

Even before she looked up, his voice stirred something inside her. She clenched her jaw to quell it quickly. "I suppose," she replied. "Since you asked nicely. See what asking nicely gets you?" Not that telling you to bugger off would make you leave, anyway, she thought to herself.

"I'll keep that in mind," he said with a wink, "for later." He held up two fingers to a passing server. "Since we're being copacetic tonight, how's if I get you a drink?"

The server brought over two double-shots of bourbon, same as Stephen had been drinking in the corner. "That was quick," he said. Nudging one over to Mara, he took up the other and offered to clink glasses. "To fast times and good company."

She gave him an annoyed, but indulgent look and took the other glass, raising it and touching it to his. "Not so sure about the good company," she retorted, tossing back the double shot in one gulp. "You're going to have to convince me. Hey, that's really good," she added, wrinkling her brow at the glass. "Wish I'd made it last."

Stephen grinned and ordered two more doubles. "Nothing's been than a true bourbon," he said. "Lots of whiskeys, even a couple good imitators, but there's nothing like the real thing."

When the server arrived with two more, Stephen went ahead and tossed his back like Mara had. He groaned through the soft burn. "You know, I enjoyed the time we spent together the other night. 'Tis a shame it ended so abruptly."

Two more double shots were placed in front of them. The glass in the empty glasses clinked as they were taken away. Stephen took up the fresh one and offered another toast. "To happy memories."

This time, Mara took her time to savor the drink. "It was quite fun, wasn't it?" she replied. "It's been a while since I met a man who can keep up with me."

Stephen let a little blush show in his cheeks. "Good for a man to know he's still got it. You weren't so bad yourself, you know." He watched the motion of the lone ice cube in his drink as he swirled it around in circles. "I've been trying to think of an excuse to run into you again -- your service record, your paper from the Starfleet Engineering Journal on the Odysseus... Then we just happen to be here together."

He stared at his drink, considering a third toast for a moment. With a light chuckle, he held the glass up yet again. "To serendipity."

She studied him for some time before slowing raising her glass to meet his. "Just happened," she echoed disbelievingly. "Mhm."

"Oh, I planned to meet somebody," Stephen said from behind his returning grin. "I just didn't know who. Lady Luck smiled on the both of us tonight, it seems."

"Perhaps," she replied. "That remains to be seen." She sipped the bourbon again, purposely licking her lips slowly.

Stephen winked in acknowledgment, but otherwise let the subject die. He sat back in his chair, turning his attention briefly to the musicians. "So tell me about the Odysseus. Did you leave anything out of your paper?" He twitched an eyebrow suggestively. "Did they make you leave anything out?"

She grinned despite herself. "Nothing was classified," she replied. "Nobody really understood it. I didn't even understand it. I've been studying my collected data since then and I've got a bit better insight, but not enough for another paper." She paused, gazing at the guitarist's flying fingers. "No, the only thing left out was personal experiences. Scientific papers don't care about the strange heart-in-your-stomach feeling I got from the transport tubes or the fact that the rumbling hum of the ship matched Mount Etna perfectly or the song. Oh, the song. The ship seemed to sing softly, just out of hearing. It was oddly soothing." Her eyes had taken a far-off quality as she spoke and now, she shook herself. "That stuff isn't usually interesting to scientists. Or Engineers, for that matter," she added ironically.

"A singing ship," Stephen quipped. "Sounds wonderful. I can see why you miss it." His eyes sparkled in captivation of Mara. A wordless moment passed as he continued to study her. "Thank you for the company, Miss Mara."

Something resembling respect passed across Mara's eyes. "You're welcome," she replied civilly. "And thank you, too."

Stephen chuckled at the reciprocity. "Oh? What for?"

"For actually talking to me like an equal instead of trying to butter me up with outrageous compliments," she replied. "I appreciate it."

"You say that like I am normally some boorish monster," Stephen said with wry chuckle. His tone was tinged with either teasing or umbrage. Or perhaps both. The look in his eye challenged a definitive statement of confirmation or denial.

"I can't say always," Mara allowed. "But, it seemed that way to me. And it didn't help that I caught you sneaking into Main Engineering."

"I know I'm tenacious," Stephen admitted, looking Mara straight in the eye. "It's part of this business. I have to go for gusto or I might as well stay home. When I see my target, I have to be relentless." He heard more emphasis in his voice than he intended, so he looked down at the small table with their near empty glasses. "But I can be thoughtful, too. Caring. Tender. Vulnerable, even." He raised his eyes back to meet hers. "Just so long as it's the right person to let my guard down."

"And you think I'm the right person?" she asked doubtfully. "I'm kind of a bitch, in case you hadn't noticed."

Stephen gasped. "Whoever mentioned you!" He laughed deeply and favored her with another wink. "I'm not proposing or anything. I just meant what I said the other night--I like you, Miss Mara."

"I can't fully return the sentiment," she replied. "But, you're a lot of fun, that's for sure." She didn't say it, but she could probably be persuaded to have another go. She sipped the last of her drink and licked her lips again. "Delicious," she said, but it wasn't clear if she was talking about Spires or the drink.

"'Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.'" A mischievous smile slowly spread over Stephen's face.

"Be honest, Mr. Spires," replied Mara. "Is love really what either of us is after tonight?"

"Probably not," Stephen said, finishing his drink and stamping the glass back onto the table, "but I'm willing to give it a shot if you are."

"Your place or mine?" she asked, leaning slightly closer to him.

"How about your place?" Stephen suggested. "As I recall, you were a messy house guest."

“I cleaned up after myself!” she protested. “But, my quarters are closer. As long as you’re not allergic to dogs. Ravioli likes to cuddle new people.”

Stephen smiled at the mention. "I had four dogs growing up as a boy. Used to run with them through hill, vale, and bog. Sounds like he makes good company."

"She does," answered Mara, standing. "Let's go." Without looking back to make sure he was following, she walked towards the doors, making sure her hips swayed enticingly as she went.

Standing to follow, Stephen straightened his shirt and smoothed it over. He gave a wink to random person at the bar whom he had caught staring. It took a few trotting steps to catch up to Mara, and he goosed her on the backside as he did so.

<<< Some time later...>>>

Stephen threw himself back against the bed, heaving desperately for air. "I think we broke our old record," he said breathlessly.

“Mmmph,” agreed Mara from her place face down on her pillow. “You may be right.”

"I do that a lot," Stephen chuckled. "Be right."

Right on cue, there was a whimper outside the door. "Oh, good grief," laughed Mara. "She knows we can hear her. Do you mind if I let her in?"

Stephen chuckled back. "I think we're done for now."

"Open," she called. The doors swished open and Ravioli bounded onto the bed, tail wagging. She excitedly licked her mistress once, then turned to the new man, who smelled quite a lot like Mistress, and alternately nuzzled and licked his face frantically.

"Easy, girl, easy," Stephen said, putting his hand between his face and the wagging tongue. "You're almost as friendly as your mama over there, you know that?"

Ravioli gave a soft “ruff” of happiness, which caused Mara to giggle. “Okay, RAV, that’s enough,” she told the dog. “Bedtime now. Go on.”

Without complaint, Ravioli went to the foot of the bed where she curled up on the new person’s feet, tail still wagging furiously.

"Bedtime, huh?" Stephen slid a over Mara's shoulder and began massaging her neck. "S'pose I could interest you in a bedtime story?"

“Depends on what it’s about,” she replied. “And how long it is. Alpha shift comes early, you know.”

Stephen smiled again, then drew Mara into an embrace. "Once upon a time," he began, cradling her head against his chest, "there was a beautiful principessa who dreamed of the stars."

“Oh, gee, lemme guess,” laughed Mara.

"Young and fair and strong was she, and brilliant, too," Stephen continued. "For the principessa took to building her own ship to dance among the stars she dreamed of every night. But there was an evil, ol' witch in the Engineering section. She locked the poor, beautiful principessa away inside the warp core, never letting anyone else come near her."

“Damn straight,” agreed Mara. “Gotta protect the Princess, after all; she can’t defend her own virtue now, can she?”

Stephen chuckled lightly before going on. "One day, a valiant, dashing, and debonair journalist challenged the evil, ol' witch, right in the heart of her lair. He snuck his way through her defenses, wriggled free the captive principessa, and together that smashed that evil, ol' witch to kingdom come. They then made sweet and passionate love together, right there on the Engineering floor, happy and valiant and free. Together. Fin."

“That was the cheesiest story I’ve ever heard,” she laughed in reply. “Which means you should definitely write it down and have it illustrated. Change the love making to a marriage ceremony and little girls will just eat it up.”

"Can I tell you a secret?" Stephen leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "That story was about us."

“You’re kidding!” replied Mara sarcastically. “I never would have guessed.”

"Guess that's why you keep me around," Stephen said, his sarcasm matching Mara's own. "My ability to state the obvious."

“Is that the same story you told the girl you were with last night?” she teased. “Or do you make up a new one for each girl?”

Stephen arched an eyebrow. "How many principessas are you hiding down there in Engineering?"

Mara rolled her eyes, but in the dark, it couldn’t be seen. She didn’t believe for a second that he didn’t have a different girl every night, or perhaps five or six that he rotated through, but of course it didn’t matter; the sex was good and that was enough. “I suppose you’ll have to find out,” she said cryptically, snuggling into him. “You’re welcome to stay, but be warned: I sometimes talk in my sleep. At least Remy always used to tease me about it. Bella never admitted that I did, but he was... different. Anyway, if I annoy you, just tell me to go back to sleep. Remy always said that would shut me up.”

"Sounds good to me." Stephen wrapped an arm around Mara and held her close as they settled in for the night.

It didn't take long for sleep to come. Stephen was a light sleeper, though, and true to Mara's word, he found himself awakened by her mumbling.

But, of course, Mara wasn't asleep at all. She had been, but Ravioli had shifted and awoken her. It was then that a brilliant plan came to her. It was true that she used to talk in her sleep. And it was entirely possible that she still did. She didn't know. Remy had always told her it was nonsense stuff that she muttered, but why couldn't she mutter about work stuff, too? And feeding him interesting bits about the ship that weren't classified might just keep him from snooping around in Engineering.

"Bring the warp core on line," she muttered softly. "Careful... don't overload the.... How is the new antimatter containment unit holding up? Mmm.... No. Uses minimal power." Was that too much?

That perked Stephen's ears, forcing him nearly wide awake. His reporter's nose refused to let that scent die.

Ah-ha! She had him. She could tell by the way his breathing went quiet and he went slightly tense against her. Good, good. "No. No. Lots of security. Plenty."

Stephen knew it was wrong. The ever-present part of his mind locked away inside his subconscious dungeon, that moral nuisance most people called a conscience, told him to close his eyes and go back to sleep. But, like usual, he ignored it.

Reaching into his mouth, Stephen knocked loose a false tooth. It came free with a light pop that he hoped wouldn't stir Mara. After a few seconds of waiting, he was relieved to hear her breathing return to normal.

It was a trick to slowly shift and roll his body around so that he could reach under her bed. The adhesive that had held to his jawbone would hold just as surely to the bed frame. Attaching it as far out of sight as his fingers could reach, Stephen then returned to his original position and wrapped another arm around Mara. The poor woman kept murmuring in her sleep. Stephen kissed the back of her sleeping head and whispered, "Everything's going to be just fine."


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