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INTERREGNUM EP 01-02: Beyond the 400Hz Range

OOC: Takes place before entering the Nimbus System, but after the events in "Low Profile & New Blood". A story written via email, closed as of now for other participants.  Enjoy!

[ Beyond the 400Hz Range | Part I ] by Taguiera & Auctor Lucan

For the past several days, since she'd last spoken with Jien, Nicole had considered his words carefully and come to at least a minimal amount of peace with what had happened.  It had helped to have her work about her, and the new quarters didn't hurt either, especially the larger-than-expected bath.  She'd lingered in the bath tub for hours, enjoying the way the water never seemed to get cold.  It was, arguably, one of the best perks of her new living space.

Discreetly, she'd taken the time to copy every entry she could of the security logs that contained her own actions, and, while she hadn't looked at any of them, not even tempted to do so, still wanted them if she ever did.  They were her actions, after all, even if she hadn't been the one driving, so to speak.  Still, she considered them to be her responsibility, whether it made sense to anyone else or not.  Odds were, all of the records around the infection would be mysteriously lost, she figured, and, while she'd never show what she'd copied, it felt rebellious for her to take them and she liked that feeling very much.

Much as she might have ordinarily avoided talking to anyone in authority, she had felt comfortable talking with Jien in Cartography, safe in the fact that of all the people aboard, he/she was one of the few she knew she'd had no carnal relations with.  And, it had been Jien's advice that she wanted to talk about anyway.  Trying not to fidget, she'd made her way to the captain's quarters, having already secured a reason to be there under the pretense of fixing his shower.  She knew it would take her a while to fix it, having cleverly broken it hours before in as unobvious way as she could manage remotely, easily accomplished for an engineer of her caliber.  Waiting until she knew he had returned to his quarters, she made her way there and tapped the button to let him know she was there.  If he'd asked those around him, T'Less, Edena, about their showers, he would find them non-functional, as well, Nicole's way of making sure it didn't seem like some obvious attempt to get him alone.

Inside, Jien had put his book aside to go to the replicator and order some Aldebaran Whiskey when the chirp from the door came.

Not having reached the Nimbus System quite yet, the slow travel along the edge of the asteroid belts that would lead them to the Klingon-Federation Neutral Zone served as unofficial R&R for the crew for forty-eight hours. A crew which by then considered regular duties as leisure compared to what they had been through since leaving Earth more than two months back. Odd, how great adversity caused such effects in people; forcing them all to appreciate what little peace and quiet there could be found in the monotone work of regular cruising - if Warp 3 along an asteroid belt and reoccurring nightmares could be called as such. Not even the Captain himself was unfamiliar to the idea of relaxation during those says, even if he also suffered sleepless night then and again. He had hoped that his sonic shower would have prepared him for a night where he did not dream of violence and rape committed by him or upon his female form, but since there was some kind of malfunction in the Senior Staff Quarters of Deck 05 as opposed to Deck 02, he had been forced to take his mind off things by reading. In his leisure hakama of black and grey and his feet bare, he glanced towards the door - changing his form so that he wore a white tank along with the iaido-fitted garment.

"Enter," he called and then proceeded to make his order - the glass with green liquid picked up in his calloused hand as he turned to the opening door.

Stepping into his quarters, Nicole paused and, once again, took in the sight of his masculine form.  Finding both his male and female forms appealing, she never the  less found herself encouraged to be in his room, the feeling of safety coming back.  So far as she could recall, despite feeling attracted to him, she'd never so much as fantasized about him, had never even considered it before.  Usually, their spheres of influence rarely touched, at least before she'd taken the task of chief engineer.  Now, though, she had no choice but to see him and speak with him on a daily basis, if for nothing more than to give him her updates.  Up until her most recent promotion, she'd considered herself lucky not to have to see him more than once a week, if that.  Since then, however, she'd come to look forward to them, curious to see what shape he'd chosen for his day, usually his male one when she was alone with him, though rarely she'd seen him in his female counterpart.  She still felt mostly uncomfortable with the rest of the crew, still withdrawn from interactions with them and her memories.  To date, she could name dozens of people she'd come in contact with aboard the ship that forced her to recall instances of sexual intercourse.  Even the person she'd gotten along with least had somehow managed to show up thrusting himself into her, with her encouraging him every moment, which gave her pause to consider that she was, at the very least, attracted to someone she'd always considered scum.

Noticing her own hesitation, she cleared her throat and gave him what she hoped was a pleasant smile, moving further into his quarters and towards his bathroom, "Y'r shoower's broke?"

Nodding, Jien smiled faintly and walked after her with his glass in hand.

"When I reported it, I had no idea that I would get the highest ranking engineer on board to take a look at it," he said, not helping the fact that he had to watch her from behind as she made her way into the Captain's bathroom - noticing the details to her figure. Being a Chameloid, he did have instincts towards noticing the permanent forms of the humanoids around him, and it just so happened he appreciated the form of the ship's new Chief Engineer. Her colours were as rare as they were fetching, and her willowy appearance did have a lot of feminine curves despite the regular uniform. "You might just as well have sent one of your subordinates. There was no reason for you to have to bother with something so simple yourself."

"'Twas the end of' the day," Nicole answered as way of explanation for her arrival, despite having arranged the whole reason for her being here.  As she moved into the bathroom, she glanced back for a moment and noticed where his gaze had settled.  She felt her heart flutter and bit her lower lip, trying not to blush at the thought that at least the male counterpart of her captain seemed to have at least a cursory interest in her lower anatomy.  Trying to ignore the feelings rushing through her, she moved into the shower and began disassembling the rear wall.  If she hadn't planned on it taking hours, she would be cursing having to do this work at all.  As it was, she sighed at the thought that she'd been unable to think of something easier to do.

In the bathroom, Jien came to lean against the door-frame and watched her, sipping his drink. While she set out to do her job, he noticed how the uniform of hers had smudges on it, and there was a discolouration along the side of her nose - probably from wiping some perspiration away after some other repair she had done. He watched how her hair moved when she did, and analysed more about her than what she was actually doing. Nevertheless, he made no comment and did try to not appear like he was staring. Being the gentleman that he was, he only pointed out something quite jocular about the uniform of hers besides its current state.

"I could not help but noticing that you still wear the same pips as some of your subordinates," he said and finished his green whiskey with a small smile, "I never did get to give your new, black one to you earlier, since you never came by my Ready Room to pick it up. It does seem, however, that you did not need it to make engineering shape up and get all the repairs after Niga carried out."

"Bloody 'ell!" Nicole cursed, one hand flying to her throat and the missing pips, her eyes flying to him.  She'd gotten herself moved to Deck 2, arranged and held a meeting introducing herself as the new head of Engineering, but somehow had forgotten to actually pick up the evidence of her new rank.  In the rank and file of important items she kept track of on a daily basis, the pips had fallen off somewhere between replacing Entomology's bio feed scanner and the Below Deck's water filtration system.  She blushed bright red, her skin coming close to the color of her hair and ducked her shoulders as she turned away from him.  It seemed like such a small thing, but it meant a great deal, nonetheless.

Her skin still flushed with embarrassment, she risked a glance at him and offered a chagrined smile, "Oi suppose Oi di'n't.  Still, Oi should see to that as soon as Oi can.  M'apologies, Cap'n."

Turning back to the shower manifold, she began disassembling it, carefully laying out the pieces to help her remember just where everything went.  She would need to get to the heart of the sonic equipment, manually adjust several of the pieces, reassemble the shower, electronically adjust it to perfection, then put the shower wall back in place.  All told, it might take her two to three hours.  In the meantime, since it seemed she had a captive audience, she started in on why she'd come to his quarters in the first place, her strong Irish accent distorting some of her words as she tried to control her nervousness as she approached the subject, "Oi was consid'ring y'r words in Cartography and, whoile Oi have accepted control ov'r Engineering, it does not seem as thau it has given me the peace o' mind being in control o' m'situation would bring, per y'r suggestion.  Oi'm still finding it a wee difficult to be aroond others, except you, it seems."

The impromptu change of topics to more serious matters after the pause, during which the 'Commander had made some headway in picking apart his bathroom, made Jien frown a bit in thought and look to the floor.

"While I do not know why I am an exception to the rule, merely guessing that you did not encounter me while the outbreak lasted... I am sure it is a matter of time," he said to her quietly, and felt like this should have been something that Nicole took up with the Chief Counsellor instead of her Commanding Officer. That he had some years of counselling during times of crisis did, though, make it his responsibility to say something to alleviate the problems until she scheduled an appointment with Lt. Nelis. The waiting-list, however, was quite long given the past incident. So Jien decided to speak of matters not entirely in his favour as the Captain on board.

"Of course, there is the possibility that control under circumstances resembling those that plagues you now would make a better recovery than simple command over personnel. Your issues stem from sexual nature, so perhaps you ought to - if there is someone you would consider a relationship with - try and ascertain control during the intimacy of that relationship."

Walking away to place his empty glass in the recycler, Jien raised his voice a little so that she might hear him from the main living area. "You must, however, know already that a relationship should not be initiated or based solely on the issues you have to come to terms with. Then again, a relationship - safe and nurturing - would not resemble the circumstances during which you were subjected to the trauma that you did, so it would still not be ideal either. Yours is not an easy situation to be in, but with time, and with visits to Counselling, I am sure it will become easier for you. At least your current duties forces you to deal with your issues, instead of hiding away as much as you might possibly could."

Walking back to the bathroom, Jien folded his arms and leaned against the door frame again. "I am heading up to Deck 01 to get your pip, since it is the least I can do for your help with the shower. Can I get you anything from the replicator before I leave? I won't be too long, though."

Having been about to question him regarding his advice, she was surprised when he said he was leaving.  It was frustrating knowing so little about him, his personality, and part of her felt rejected.  Rather than remaining in his quarters with her, he'd decided to go find something else to do, even if it meant he would be coming back.  Who knew what he might find to distract him?  He was the captain, after all.  With a sigh, she glanced at him, "Noo, Oi'm gud.  Oi'll b'here when ya return."

With that, she returned to the shower.  She'd certainly hoped for something more out of the evening than fixing his shower.  While his wisdom was not likely to be unique and probably something Nelis might have told her, she still wanted to speak with someone about her troubles, her issues, and she felt at ease around him, at least where her topic of choice was concerned.  While she waited for him to return, she pondered his advice, surprised that he'd suggested she find someone to have sex with.  It hardly seemed like something a superior officer would, or should, offer as guidance.  The more the she thought about it, though, the more it made sense, that finding control in a sexual situation might make up, at least a little, for the complete and total lack of it when she'd been infected.  As she kept working, her mind wandered over with whom she might experiment, but each time a face came up in her mind, she quickly rejected it, most of them having been ones she had memory of having sex with while infected.  Which brought her back to her captain, one of the few she'd never fantasized about and, now, one of the few she'd never had sex with.  Someone entirely outside of her normal choices for a bed partner.

Oblivious to such thoughts, Jien had - true to his word - left briefly to take the turbolift up to Deck 01 and retrieve the box with Lieutenant Howard's new pip. He had been stalled but briefly by people who needed his verdict or opinion in matters of odds and ends nature, but he had soon enough been able to return to Deck 05 with the box in hand. While he had been out of his quarters, he had altered his form to wear his regular Starfleet uniform, but once crossing the threshold again, he had resumed to wear his hakama and white tank - heading directly to the bathroom.

While not entirely comfortable in the role of playing counsellor again after so many years, Jien would - of course - try to help the Chief Engineer best he might. If she wanted to talk further, he would try to accommodate her, but first, he stepped up to her - signalling that he needed her attention for a moment - and then began to fasten the black pip next to her two golden ones in her collar.

"There," he rasped, and the top-side of his fingers were warmed by her neck in the delicate process. His eyes came to rest on her skin, appreciating the minor details of her texture and the light pigmentation of veins hidden underneath the skin. Once he was done, he raised his eyes to meet hers - his arms lowering. "Order restored. Pardon for keeping you waiting."

Eyes widening, Nicole's heart skipped a beat at his seeming boldness, Her breath grew harder the longer his touch lingered and she tried to calm herself.  Just because she'd been thinking about being intimate with him didn't mean he felt the same.  For all she knew, despite what the virus had forced him to do, he might truly find no attraction to anyone outside his species and his last touch meant nothing.

Jien's faint smile remained even though he - still ignorant - looked away to the disassembled wall next to them. "I might lack the finer knowledge needed to make these repairs myself, but I do know some things, so please, let me help you finish this," he commented, not really knowing why he was offering to assist her beyond how he rarely got to speak with people off the record, him having to keep the ship and morale in tight order all the time, "If you think I am in the way, I will remove myself immediately. Does that sound aright?"

"Oi doot y'd be in t'way," Nicole answered shyly, surprised he seemed willing to share such cramped quarters with him.  She probably smelled all right, but with everything she came into contact with on a daily basis, she often found herself smelling odd when she got back to her quarters, various oils and metals sticking to her uniform.  It was a worry as she made room for him to slide into the shower beside her.  Not that she needed the help by any means, the work easier than it might seem, but the opportunity to be close to him was too good to pass up.  Pulling off the focusing chamber, a thought occurred to her and she began plotting how to go about it as she waited for proximity to him, though her thoughts only made her more, not less, nervous.  If he chose to look, her nipples had hardened to two points against her uniform, and her breasts rose and fell a little heavier with each inhale and exhale.

Frowning, trying to get his bearings in the snake-nest of circuitry and relays, Jien stood behind her and reached over her shoulder - his hand brushing aside some parts that hung in the way for her. He watched what she did to try and figure out what might be her guess to the sudden malfunction. "I don't have a tricorder," he said in his deep voice right next to her ear, "but have you scanned the acoustic inverter? If you have a spare decoupler, I could try and isolate what relays are not behaving as they should."

He was supposed to be Captain of a Starship, so he did know the first few things about repairs, but even though he tried to focus, he found himself exposed to the close proximity of Nicole's fascinating hair and the scent of her skin wafting against his face each time she moved. Standing behind her, however, he did not see more than what their hands were doing.

"Then again, you probably know what's wrong already," he said and chuckled deep down in his throat, trying not to think about the bodily heat she emanated in the close confines. It would not be seemly for a Captain to think of such things, regardless how innocent their intentions might be outside the things he was imagining. Like her breathing, heavier just because of the fact that they were working. Nothing more. Granted, he did not know if he was actually was imagining everything, like his own arousal - something he could not afford to consider at all. Not with this woman, who admitted such harrowing consequences from the Niga incident.

She jumped slightly at the sound of his voice in her ear and the way his breath eased across her now-overly heated skin, blushing as she imagined she could almost feel his hard body against her back.  As he'd moved in behind her, her senses felt like they'd been cranked up a million times, the heat of him behind her causing her to shake with awareness, of desire.  Her mind wandered off course as she thought about him shifting again, finding herself curious as to just how large he could make himself, or if it was simply a standard size.  With a mental shake of her head, she tried to focus on her work.

"Oi tink it's not the inverter," she said, trying not to give away that she knew exactly what the problem was and what she needed to do to fix it.  With a shake of her head, she began extracting the innards of the chamber, setting them aside with care, as replacing them would be aggravating to say the least.  Taking up a tool, she began making her adjustments, fine tuning the sonic filaments used to create the cleansing pulses.  This part would take the longest, as the correct settings were integral to a decent shower, as well as what else she had in mind.  As she worked, she slowly, inexorably, shifted herself back until she was gently leaning against him, until she could feel his firm muscles against her back.

Blinking, Jien followed her actions in rapt attention - the quest for the missing piece of the puzzle quite puzzling in itself. The human seemed so very rapt in her thinking, in the analysis that she was making while she worked, that she did not allude to her thoughts. Jien could not do much than wonder what she had decided to try when she picked up a tool and began making adjustments on some part - his eyes searching the floor for the decoupler that he was familiar with. He was just about to pick it up from the floor, crouching down to do so, when he got the impression that Nicole was almost tripping backwards over his shoulder - gradually coming closer.

"Pardon, I am down here," he said, chuckling quietly as he simply straightened her balance and footing by laying his hands on her hips - fingers spanning around her in order to keep her from falling and hitting her head. She felt so light when he kept her upright, and one hand remained on her hip as he leaned out - reaching for the decoupler.

"There, I will do a sweep of the relays." With the decoupler in hand, Jien rose to his feet again and brushed away some perspiration from his forehead with the back of his arm. In order to reach the relays, he had to turn away from Nicole a little, but he also had to lean forward - legs spread for footing between the tools on the floor and his free hand grabbing the top of the glass door of the stall. "Let me know if I need to move," he said quietly and blinked away some sweat, trying not to think about the presiding scent of the human female in the shower with him.

Realizing he wasn't where she expected him to be, she barely managed to remain upright.  When she felt his hands on her, she gasped and stilled, waiting, wondering if he would withdraw.  Even with the layer of cloth of her uniform between them, her skin still tingled from his touch and all her thinking about him resurfaced in a moment.  He'd gone from one of the very few people aboard she'd never fantasized about, to the one who inhabited her thoughts at this very moment.  When she was set aright, and he'd ceased touching her, she inhaled deeply, disappointed and relieved at the same time.  Try as she might, though, she couldn't fully turn her attention back to the work before her, his proximity unnerving her.

Risking a glance back at him, she felt her jaw drop in surprise and whispered, "Y'r sweatin'."

Astonished, she reached out and, with a fingertip, wiped a drop of sweat from his brow, staring at it for a moment as she pondered it.  She'd never given thought to someone of his species sweating and was surprised he had pores to sweat with.  Her eyes met his and she sucked her finger between her lips slowly, swirling her tongue around to taste the salty droplet.  Another surprise, it truly tasted like sweat, as well.

Blinking, Jien was at first startled that Nicole touched him, then he put two and two together and realized she showed the same kind of fascination that she had shown when she touched the fabric of his uniform in Stellar Cartography. Both times he had been slightly taken aback since it was not the common thing to do to one's Captain, but being a Chameloid whom had grown up as a human on Earth, the adjustment to his explanatory role kicked in quite fast.

"Yes, given how loyal I am to my two chosen forms and that I..."

He came to pause when seeing her put her finger in her mouth, lips pursed. She had to be making sure it was sweat. Had to be. But the way she... Realizing he had fallen silent, he continued talking without really thinking about what he talked about - the words just an excuse to look at her over his own shoulder. What was going on?

"It is all because of my upbringing.., Given that I have not known any other kind of humanoids, and that my species need very little to mimic life forms, my two chosen forms are just as human as you in all essential ways. I have a morphogenic matrix that enables me to shift and regenerate basic wounds a little bit, but as devotedly loyal as I am to my nature as a dual singularity, there is next to no difference..."

Trailing off, having looked into her eyes for too long a time to be seemly, he returned to his work - all manner of strange thoughts in his head.

She paused for a moment when he stopped talking, then did her best not to giggle as she realized what had caused him to stop.  Not having meant to draw his attention quite that way, she blushed but looked at him with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.  Listening to his speech, she nodded, commenting, "Y'did a remarkable job.  E'en y'r sweat tastes human normal."

As he turned his head away from her, she couldn't hold it back any longer and grinned.  She'd had the thought that, biologically, they were very different species and the act of coitus might actually not be pleasant to him.  Based on his reaction, however, she realized it was the same as any human male might have, giving her hope.

For the next hour, she devoted herself back to her work, leaving him to his thoughts as she carried out her plans.  It was difficult, having to recall all the variables required, but as she finished reassembling everything, she knew she'd done the task adequately.  With a smile at him, she nodded, "Time t'see if it works.  If y'don't mind, I'll stand in the shower, see if I c'n get my hands clean."

Towards the end, it had been an easy enough task to help Nicole reassemble the Shower, yet Jien had experienced a long hour of contemplation and guess-work. Partially, trying to remember decades old training in engineering maintenance from the Academy and also trying to deduce just how much of a deception was at play - not to mention to which end he was being deceived. And, having ruled out the guess-work, Jien had come to consider the reasons, not to mention the means Nicole seemed to resort to for her personal objective.

An ambition, that seemed to involve himself.

Just as they were finished, having spent an hour in close confines and pretending at nothing despite how furtive glances and forbidden thoughts had been the accentuation of their work, Jien had reached the point where he might begin to consider what he wanted - and ought to - do in this laden situation, and not just what his Chief Engineer wanted. Oh, he knew what she might want, since he had happened to suggest it...

"Sure," said Jien and stepped back a little leaning with an arm against the stall, "Computer, activate shower." His gaze was a bit introvert given his musings, though his eyes flicked to and fro Nicole and the shower as it came to life.

Closing her eyes, Nicole took a deep breath and waited for what was to come, knowing it would likely be a little unpleasant.  When he commanded the computer, a hum started from the back of the shower, and started building up, the vibration setting her teeth to buzz for a moment as it passed the 400Hz range.  The shower began slow, then quickly ramped up to the frequency she'd set it at and, her eyes closed, she felt the moment arrive.  Her skin flushed under the intense vibrations, but she could feel it as the sonic waves began dissolving the molecular bonds of her clothing.  After a moment, she stood naked, only her work boots remaining, even her socks having been rendered into dust.  She gasped, then choked at the fine dust that had once been her uniform.  Despite it having been her idea, she was now stunned into immobility, still standing with her now rosy-skinned back to Jien and feeling aroused, embarrassed and just a bit silly, hands at her side.

Eyes widening, Jien saw - heard - that something was very wrong, and his instinct was to interfere and yank Nicole out of there, two steps was all that it would have taken - reaching into the fine mist of dust that had danced around her on the air-vibrations. "Off!" Only he just got one step, the the vibrations attached his cloth-simulated skin. For while he was organic, the texture of his tank and hakama bordered on complete resemblance, and it caused a searing pain that immobilised his legs and slammed the breath out of him.

He crashed into the wall of the stall next to her where she stood, perhaps startling her, with his 'clothes' partially melted back into his skin. Grinding his teeth against the pain, he heaved himself over onto his back - lying propped up against the wall with barely any modesty at all intact. Most of his attire had seamlessly sunken back against his nakedness, and as the pain subsided, he looked up through the dust upon the pink apparition of Nicole where she stood above him. Skin rubbed raw and coated in uniform-dust, she might have been an exotic sight, yet under the circumstances, he just coughed and reached for her listlessly. "Are you... hurt?"

With another sneeze, she shook off the immobility and sagged in defeat.  This had not gone at all according to plan, not that she was any good at seduction, never had been.  As the shower's hum sank into obscurity, she turned and looked around, then down, noticing him on the ground.  Her left hand flew up to her full lips and she knelt down, only peripherally noticing his manhood and the way the cloth, his skin, around his groin seemed to be growing back into place, the black fibers of his clothes swarming over to cover him, the barren parts of his form where skin showed covering back up with his hakama and tank.  She would have to ask about it later, a small amount of surprise at the appearance of it, but at the moment focused on his injuries, hardly bothering to cover herself up, simply turning her legs to protect a small amount of her privacy.  Touching his chest, she ran her fingers over his skin, "Oi'm fine.  Oi did'n think it'd hurt ye like that.  Are ya injuried?"

She felt guilty, now, and not just a little worried about being court-martialed for injury to a superior officer, even if unintentional.  Given what had just happened, she could be in the brig in minutes and he'd certainly be within his rights to do so... or, if they were to be considered at war, death.  Still, up to the point where he'd been injured, her plan had gone off without a hitch.

To be continued...

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Howard
Chief Engineer

Captain Jien Ives
Commanding Officer

Re: INTERREGNUM EP 01-02: Beyond the 400Hz Range

Reply #1
[ Beyond the 400Hz Range | Part II ] by Taguiera & Auctor Lucan

She felt guilty, now, and not just a little worried about being court-martialed for injury to a superior officer, even if unintentional.  Given what had just happened, she could be in the brig in minutes and he'd certainly be within his rights to do so... or, if they were to be considered at war, death.  Still, up to the point where he'd been injured, her plan had gone off without a hitch.

Jien might have become upset with the careless way she had gone about things, subjecting herself to danger and even himself - tuning the sonic shower the way she had. When she told him she was alright, a part of him wanted to scold her for the dangerous gambit. Yet another... the part that had come to realize what she had been after, the reasons for why she had gone through such hazard in order to stage a situation, that part of him admired the scheme. Looking at her, feeling her touch, his Sensei help him, but he realized that she was more successful that she might realize.

"My morphogenic matrix was jarred," he murmured, and he used the wall to help himself get back on his feet - his stare never leaving her in the progress - the lines of pain etched around his eyes subsiding. The touch of her fingers against his skin before his tank had covered his chest burned in his mind, and standing before her bare form in the shower - seeing how dusty they had become - he realized they ought to stay there. Actually, he did not want to leave. So he didn't. "Momentary thing, but I will have Medical take a look at it later, I feel fine now."

The silence lingered while he stood before her. It was a fine balance, to let her be in control of the situation and get what she truly needed from him, and to not make things too easy for her. Nevertheless, he had to let her know he did not hold her efforts against her. He decided on something cryptic. "You need to shower, but I would suggest the water spray this time. You'll only have to remove your boots first."

If she did, and unless she already saw it, she would notice the rigid arousal that she was making him grow - the throbbing bulge pressing more and more against the newly formed cloth of his form's hakama. As always, he let the layer of his clothes be as loose as he could - only connected to his skin where it had to. If she dared take control, to overcome her insecurities, he was only providing the opportunity for her - not giving it freely.

Actually, he was not sure what he was doing any more, only that the decision to remain in the shower was very easy to make.

Nicole's stomach began to churn nervously as she listened to him, his words not entirely clear to her, but showing he wasn't pushing her away.  Cryptic best described what his words meant to her, though he seemed to be leaving the decision entirely up to her, which helped not at all with her growing anxiety.  His earlier advice, about taking charge, came back, and she wondered if she could do it.  Aside from him getting hurt, everything she'd done had worked to bring her to this point, a success, at least partially.  Part of her, though, still wanted to run and hide from the embarrassment, the now-obvious manipulation she'd undertaken in her efforts to seduce him.

Kneeling as she was, her eyes couldn't help but be drawn to his growing erection, yet another oddity in the multitude of appearances he kept up.  For a human, the way his pants began to tent might seem entirely normal when aroused, but for him, it seemed deliberate, a way to leave no doubt he wanted her to know he was turned on.  She flushed at the thought, her already red skin, which had started to turn back to its usual pale peach color, reddened again, her heart skipping a beat and her breath coming in a gasp.  Standing in a rush, she felt momentarily light-headed and stumbled, her naked body touching his for a second before she righted herself, drawing away.  He'd felt good against her, hard and muscular, yet warm and welcoming, making her heart pause for a moment again.

Not daring to look in his eyes, but equally anxious not to look below his waist, she instead focused on his chest and nodded, "A show'r t'would seem apt."

Her voice dropped and she almost didn't ask, her heartbeat now thudding as she made her decision, fear that he might reject her almost silencing her tongue before she did.  In an almost inaudible tone, she asked, "Will ye be joinin' me?"

To feel her again against himself, how her front pressed against his, almost made Jien loose the restraint and passiveness that he maintained. She would not look into his eyes, yet he knew that she had come to realize how much he wanted her bodily. It was important, that she would know that she was very desirable to him, that she had made him want her.

The question came, and while asking was a bit bold - considering his rank aboard and how she may feel guilt for temporarily injuring him - it was not the ascertaining of control that she needed to do in order to feel the control over him and the situation. What remained was the most difficult part, for both of them.

For her, since she had to embrace her sexuality again after what happened at Niga, to come to peace with that side of herself. To accept that part of her being.

For him, because he would nothing rather than answer yes to her question and let his clothing fade away, to runs his arms around her waist and kiss her, to feel the hardened buds of her breasts scrape against his chest. He wanted to, but then all her efforts up to that point would have been in vain, and he would do her a disservice if he failed her needs now - at the edge of success.

"Do you want me to join you?" he asked in a quiet voice, breathing deeply but remaining where he stood. His eyes was wandering her body, his famished eyes feeding, his hands made into fists to keep himself from reaching for her. "Tell me what you desire... or show me."

To hear the need in his voice, the way he breathed, it made her want him.  She felt a trickle of sweat start at her hairline and slip along her temple.  Turning her back to him, she pulled a panel off the wall, fiddling with the controls behind it, enabling the water functionality of the shower.  It made her feel weird, exhilarated, but slightly uncomfortable, to be performing repairs in the altogether and she wasn't sure she would ever do it again.  Still, here and now, it was a unique opportunity, one she would savor.

As the water began to trickle, then spray, she held her head back, letting the water wash away the dust of her uniform.  Now was the time for a decision, now that she had his attention, was the sole reason for his arousal, at the moment anyway.  Did she continue, enjoy the moment, allow the hedonistic tendencies that this situation called for overwhelm her?  For a moment, she considered it, considered the way his hands would feel brushing down her back, cupping her buttocks and breasts, fingers kneading her firm flesh or teasing her hard nipples.  She trembled at the thought, then looked over her shoulder, through the blind of her hair at him, studying his features, the hard line of his muscles, his short hair and dark eyes.  Decision made, then.  With a sigh, she turned back to the water, "You may go.  I would enjoy dinner, though."

Still she held back, and Jien had to admit to the disappointment he felt - something that surprised him in its strength. Naturally, he would accept her wishes, only a very basic thing prevented him to leave. Well, at least, that was what he tried to fool himself with.

"I would enjoy dinner with you," he said in his deep voice, overriding the spray of water, "only let me wash off the dust first and I will arrange something."

Partially, as he made his clothes fade away completely - leaving him bare to her and to the spray of water - he did have to rinse himself from the dust before leaving. Yet also, it might help Nicole along, to embrace that part of her which she shunned so disdainfully. There were merits, of course, in a dinner, yet the root to her problem lay elsewhere.

Hence, he stepped into the spray, standing a hand's breath away from her as the water washed down his face and the hard planes of his chest. It trickled in small rivulets along the contours of his muscles and the veins on his arms, made a waterfall underneath his strong jaw, and cascaded off his rigid length. Standing so close to her, in the warmth of the water, and leaning out with his head a little to catch a breath, it was hard not to reach for her. Explicitly hard. he would nothing rather than turn her around and to face him and to split her mouth open with his own - to hold her against himself. Instead, he raised his calloused hands to brush the dust away underneath the spray - palms running over his own body.

The dust of Nicole's uniform made dark lines on the floor, spreading from their feet, and the tension of the silence dominated the scene more than the sound from the shower.

That hadn't been what she'd planned at all, him staying.  She'd expected him to go, to leave her in the shower on her own, instead he stepped even closer, close enough she could feel the heat of his body and know he could feel the heat of her own, a heat that seemed to grow stronger, more difficult to resist with each passing moment.  When he reached past her to the water, his muscular arm nearly brushing her skin, she couldn't help but lean slightly, almost touching him, her breath coming more quickly.  She had to resist, to not give in to the temptation he offered, much as the tingling between her legs and the blood pulsing through her breast might wish to give in.  There was no point than to prove she could, that she didn't need to give in, like the virus had made her do.  The desire to say no was almost as strong as the lust to give in.

Looking down, at the water trickling down the length of her torso, down her legs, the dust and sweat washing down the drain, the pinkish glow of the sonics having been replaced with heated red of desire, she admired his lower legs, the turn of his calves and the toes, each of them seemingly human perfect.  It made her want to suck on each, to tease him and show him what she could do before she trailed kisses up his legs to his groin and... she shuddered, her entire body quaking at the thoughts, even as she tried to push them away.  Part of her wished he would just take her, that he would stop allowing her to think and over think.

Aye, there was admirable restraint in Nicole, and it had occurred to Jien at some point that - perhaps - there were merits for her in such restraint. Not only to execute control during willing intercourse, but to deny herself her desires when most intimately exposed to temptation. Perhaps, either way she chose to exercise control, it remained the therapeutic element they needed in this roundabout manner they approached each other.

So, that made Jien face a very personal question. What did he want?

Washing himself underneath the spray, he frowned and crouched down in thought, scrubbing his calves and feet with his calloused palms. His aching desire for her was ever present, but his mind kept telling him that this... charade was for her, and not for himself. Yet as he crouched down, he was exposed to the sight of her bottom, and more so, he saw he water trickle in the minute opening between her thighs. Even with her feet rather close together, the play of water dripping off the swell of her nether lips mesmerized him.

When he had washed his lower body, Jien could not help but gently set his hands on her hips while he rose to his feet - his nose and chest brushing against her back. When he stood tall, his arousal happened to slide up between her thighs - brushing its way up along her slick skin. When he stood tall behind her, hands still on her hips, the ventral side of his length had come to rest against her swollen outer labia. He stood still there - the head from her coursing through him, and he said nothing.

He would let her decide. They were both clean. Either of them just had to step out from their chamber of madness.

She collapsed against him, the feel of his hard, hot length pulsing against her swelling labia making her groan.  She'd both wanted it and not, hungered for it and fought that hunger, but she couldn't resist the call of her body any longer.  She wanted him, and he had decided he wanted her, as well, as evidenced by his erection between her legs.  Throatily, she hummed lustily, hungrily.  Slipping a hand down between her legs, she ran her fingers over the tip of his length, still managing to marvel at how it felt human, long, hard, hot, yet soft to the touch, skin silky, but with veins like she would expect in any other lover.  His attention to detail aroused her further and she pushed him up against her vibrating quim, one hand slamming into the wall in front of them, pushing her back and buttocks against him.

Pulling her hand away from the wall, she reached behind her, taking his hand and pulling his palm to her breast, centering him over her nipple.  She turned her head and kissed his jaw, sucking lightly on his skin, tongue tasting him, tasting the water as it poured down from above.  It had been a while since she'd had sex, at least, from before the virus, and even longer since she'd had sex in a shower.  A bath would have been more comfortable, certainly, but she still enjoyed the water, the way, right now, it seemed colder than how hot she felt, as it streamed down them both.

Slick with water and enshrouded by mist, the Captain had leaned back a moment when Nicole had thrust herself back against him. He felt the water of the shower bombard his chest, making rivulets down his abdomen. Yet when she leaned against him, he accommodated her, he felt every divine touch she made, each stroke against his length and each soothing caress against his gland. Despite himself, a gasp escaped his pursed lips into the fog, and he ground his teeth to maintain his composure. His restraint no only to not claim her with total abandon. Her mouth against his jaw, it was no distance to lay his open lips to hers - to share in a kiss of passion unbridled with need for so much more - both hands cupping her breasts and feeling her hard crests scrape his wet palms.

Eventually, Jien released Nicole's breasts and guided her hands up, making her set them against the glass wall of the stall. His hands were splayed over hers and remained there, his breath now against her ear. He did not kiss her skin. He did not say anything, but his chest was against her back... and his arousal - so slick and hard - slid between her legs repeatedly.

Yet he did not visit her just yet. No...

He merely ran his member along the wet folds of the apex between her legs - skimmed across the opening of her sacred grotto. Slowly, he moved in their playful dance - the head nestled in her sex yet without claiming what was due. This suggestive treatment, however, was not only for her benefit. He felt his own urge to simply lower his hips and thrust at the desired angle. The feeling of her around his gland proved hard to deny from his mind. His fingers curled around hers - holding her hands hard. His breath was coming more noisily, and he had closed his eyes. The water washed down their heated flesh all the while - the nigh stillness of their bodies in sharp contrast with the bombardment they suffered. The sensation had overcome Jien, torn down the walls of his fortress momentarily, and he teased them both with the agonizingly slow movements of his hips.

He breathed over the din of the shower. "I suggest... we continue," he rasped to her with his deep voice.

As he bent over her, her back to his front, she found that they fit together nearly perfectly, despite their half a foot difference in height.  As she leaned slightly forward, her fingers clutched tightly around his, and her eyes fluttered shut, the feel of his length sliding across her hot sex driving her arousal higher.  And, she waited, waited for him to slide his tip into her, wanted to feel all of him within her tight sex, to feel him as he thrust in and out, his staff stretching and scratching the itch within, until she exploded with relief and pleasure.  But, he held back, held off, and she began to cool, to calm and realized she'd gone a lot farther than she'd intended.  The longer he held back, the more torn she became with the decision.  It seemed forever he kept up his simple motion, the sawing of his hips, the rhythmically gentle pressure as his groin bounced against her firm buttocks.  Part of her wanted to shout for him to take her, while part of her wanted to return to her original plan, to halt everything and take a step back, to regain some semblance of control.  He was her superior officer, after all, and, if this didn't work out, emotionally, physically, then things could get very awkward.  But, she wanted it to work between them, needed to know that it wasn't just sex for the sake of sex.  The could deny him, and herself, the release they both wanted right now, or she could try for more than just the sex, for romance and a relationship.  Could she?  Should she?

And, then he spoke, interrupting all her thoughts and her need came over her again.  She couldn't respond, couldn't think about anything but him at her back.  She wished he'd touch her breasts again, even as she tore one hand free of his and reached down between them, positioning his tip tightly between her labia.  She couldn't speak, but nodded for what they both wanted.

The shower roared in his ear, yet his blood already pulsed throughout his whole frame. When she was properly positioned, when she aided him with her fingers, Jien cupped her breasts from behind with rough hands - pinching her nipples. He pressed the head of his manhood against her now slippery vaginal orifice. She would feel something entering her finally, for it was inside her - the head making way for the rest of him. He had to ease it in three times before her inner muscles relaxed around him.

The feeling of her firm breasts in his hands, the taste of her skin when he kissed her neck and jaw, it was as near a sense of completion has he had ever felt. The steam from the water spray whirled around them as Jien moved - his surging movement making her stand on her toes with each thrust - forced her to use the wall of the stall for support. One of his hands slid down her abdomen, and his fingers lightly rubbed her clit - feeling his own length surge into her as he caressed her pink pearl.

He longed to kiss her again, to feel her breasts against his chest when he had sex with her, but at the same time, he did not want to stop either. His movements and his attention, his ministrations with kisses and fingers, they all became more erratic the more carried away they got in their joining.

It was with a whimper that she acknowledged his first push into her, a sharp almost keening coming from her throat as she felt his hard, hot length within her for the first time.  Much as she might later regret not sticking to her plan, of not having sex, she couldn't bring herself to do so in the here and now.  Indeed, she would have cursed anyone who tried to deny her the pleasure rushing through her, exploding from between her legs, where his length rode and rubbed against the seemingly interminable itch, her entire body responding.  She pushed back from the wall, forcing herself onto him, only her fingertips and her toes keeping her from falling over.  Her preference had always been for lovers, enjoying the way they seemed to lift her, the strength in their forms, among other things.  Especially now, the way his every thrust drove her to the very tips of her toes only to let her down just enough for him to withdraw before doing it again.

At some point, she wasn't sure how long, she collapsed forward onto the wall of the shower, arching her back a bit more and allowing him deeper access.  Her left cheek and breasts pressed against the wall, trapping one of his hands in the process.  She could feel it coming to her, her peak, and her own movements became more urgent, more desirous.  She began whispering his name, urging him on, driving herself harder back into him, hungrily.

Not able to resist his need any more, he pushed her up against the glass with his movements - his surging thrusts making her heels leave the floor entirely. It was not enough, despite how deeply he could get into her, for he wanted her to face him. So, he pulled out with a harsh grunt and spun her around in his strong arms - making her finally face him. He wrapped his arms around her at first to kiss her, yet he could not keep his hands still - they roamed all over her while he kissed her underneath the bombardment of the hot water. Their feet staggering in the throes of passion, the grabbing hands and the gasps for air filling the brief seconds of anticipation before they resumed, Jien pulled her down as he sat on the hard floor - her wet and warm tongue so enticing. He helped her seat himself in his lap, and he used his hand to make her come down onto him.

As he revisited her, he groaned against her lips, and his mouth began to wander her breasts and neck. The tight embrace of his arms held her close, and when his warm mouth did not find her hardened nipples, they scraped against the hard planes of his chest or was showered from above by the water. Her hot sex was tight and he was grinding himself inside her with the use of his hips and his embrace - hands sometimes raking back hair from her lips and eyes. His brown eyes found hers from time to time, as in disbelief of how well they fitted together. He could climax any moment, riding the threshold hard and as long as he could. "I'm... I'm..." he grunted in time of his thrusts, trying to make himself heard in the fogged over shower.

It was too late. He cried out against her wet skin, teeth scraping at her, and he came inside her - the warm feeling of his semen filling her up completely.

She did not fight him when he moved her, indeed, offered no resistance whatsoever when he turned her to face him.  Her first instinct was to move her mouth to his, sucking on his lips and nipping gently at his tongue.  Her hands roamed over his back as he pulled himself back into her, moaning lustily as he filled her again and again.  When he sank to the floor, she was only too eager to straddle his hips, reaching between them to ease his tumescent length back where she felt he belonged.  With every thrust of his hips, she bucked up, then down, their hips meeting with near thunderous applause.

She threw her head back as he suckled her skin, arching her breast harder against his lips, her turgid nipple pushed between his teeth, nearly begging him to pinch it between his teeth.  His hands tugged at her hair, and she bent forward, nipping at the neck along his throat, her own bites gentle and loving, tender caresses in their heated ancient battle.

Feeling him tense, she knew what was coming, or what would ordinarily if he were human.  Given his species and what she knew of them, it startled her to feel wet, hot liquid pour into her as he came, filling her tight channel, some of it squeezing back out between the walls of her sex and his pulsing staff.  And, she gave in, no longer able to think of anything except the explosion he'd wrought within her, her entire body clenching as she came, a silent screaming tearing from her throat as she threw her head back in ecstasy.

Feeling her vaginal muscles cramp around his cock in the duration of her culmination, Jien continued to grind her down upon him all the while with his embrace - sensing everything that happened.

Only when she was twitching minutely in the aftershocks did his movements came to a standstill. His cock was still hard and throbbing, not yet having come to terms with the finality. His hands ran up and down her back, but all that was heard now was the sound of the shower, and the noise of their laboured breathing. Not until Jien's euphoria abated did he shift his seat a little so that he might kiss her breasts anew - his turgid member coming free form her confines and spilling excess cum upon the smattering shower floor.

He lay her out there, with her legs still wrapped around him, and as the shower rained upon his back and neck, Jien sought out her mouth with his own - revelling in the taste of her and the feeling of having her beneath himself. Hands ran over her wet skin, and his mouth wandered languidly, tasting the salt on her skin before it was washed away.

To be continued...

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Howard
Chief Engineer

Captain Jien Ives
Commanding Officer


Re: INTERREGNUM EP 01-02: Beyond the 400Hz Range

Reply #2
[ Beyond the 400Hz Range | Part III ] by Taguiera & Auctor Lucan

He lay her out there, with her legs still wrapped around him, and as the shower rained upon his back and neck, Jien sought out her mouth with his own - revelling in the taste of her and the feeling of having her beneath himself. Hands ran over her wet skin, and his mouth wandered languidly, tasting the salt on her skin before it was washed away.

As she lay beneath him, she began to relax, her body twitching and spasming with aftershocks of her pleasure.  Languidly, she wrapped her arms around his back, her passion restrained but still present as her mouth met his.  The relaxation that set in was more than she could remember, more than she wanted to remember from the infection and as she returned his kiss, she thought over why she'd come here, to his quarters, how she'd planned on seducing him, arousing him, then denying him.  Much as she'd thought that was what she wanted, this seemed infinitely better, at least for the moment.

Slowly, she settled onto the floor of the shower, her legs falling away from his hips, releasing him.  Pulling her head back, she met his eyes and blushed brightly, suddenly feeling shy after what they'd done, how intimate they'd been.  Her mind still drew comparisons to the infection, and how this situation was similar, yet so very different.  Although it hadn't been her intention to have sex with him, in the end, she'd chosen to do so, whereas for the virus, she'd had no choice, driven, as had everyone on board the disease had come into contact with, to do nothing more than fuck.  Here and now, though, she'd made her choice and while it hadn't been her plan, it was still what she'd wanted, what she'd decided because it felt good and right and so damn pleasurable.  And, to top it off, she would still remember it tomorrow and the day after and the day after.  The memory might dim and fade, but she would still remember most of it, the way she'd bared her entire body before his eyes willingly and with only a brief hesitation, how he'd taken her, shown his own desire for her and proven it with passion and... she blinked, her embarrassment fading as a thought occurred to her.  Aloud, she asked, "Just how... um... functional are you?  Should I worry about getting pregnant?  I'm not exactly on any kind of protection."

Brushing her hair back from her face as it was sprinkled with water, Jien answered with a faint smile. "You needn't worry, for I cannot reproduce unless you have a morphogenic matrix of your own that - together with mine - can make offspring. It is one of the reasons why my species are so rare - nigh extinct as far as known civilization is concerned." He gave her a last long kiss before leaning back from her - sitting on his knees between her spread legs. In the spray of water, he leaned his head back and let it wash over him before he stood up - extending a hand to her so that he might help her up.

"If you would like that dinner, I am sure I can accommodate you with some Asian cuisine from Earth," he said quietly once she was on her feet, "but I understand if you have previous engagements, and you do not wish to rush into something too fast. I can replicate a new uniform for you and we can decide on a later time to talk about... well... about this intimate kind of therapy we have both undergone." He stood close to her, water running down the side of his head, and he had his hands on his hips while he thought about what to say.

"Tis a relief," Nicole said, answering his smile with her own, reaching up to touch his face as he bent to kiss her.  Her lips moved against his, sucking gently until he broke it.  When he sat back, she teased his chest with her toes, then let her foot trail down his stomach and leg.  Smiling up at him, she took his hand and gracefully gathered herself up to stand.  She kissed his chest, having to bend her head down only a little, given the different in their heights.  Nodding, she murmured, "Dinner would be nice.  It has been... well, since this morning when last I ate."

Looking down at her bare limbs and supple breasts, she added, flashing him an playful grin, "A uniform would be especially helpful, unless you should desire to hold me hostage in your rooms.  I could hardly make it up the multitude of decks to my own to retrieve one, without being seen."

She turned and faced the water more directly, increasing the temperature to almost scalding, letting the jets spray down her frame and wash away the signs of their mating.  In a way, it was disappointing they couldn't truly mate, could never have a family, though she had no way of knowing just how long he might live.  Certainly much longer than her; he would probably out live her by centuries, if not longer.  Still, she wanted what most did, to grow old, with her beloved by her side, and see their children grow, as well.

For the moment, however, she pushed the thoughts away and turned back to him, relaxed and pleased with herself.  She touched his face again and wondered aloud, "Would making love to your feminine side be as pleasing as it is with your male side?"

Chuckling quietly, Jien touched Nicole in kind, running a hand around her waist and the other trailing up her abdomen with its fingertips. With the water running down the Chief Engineers permanent form, he could not help but frame one of her breasts and lean down - encompassing the crest with his warm mouth. Hearing those words, what else was there to do for him... than to change to her female form? Lifting her head, her full lips leaving the warm and wet nipple noisily, Jien looked Nicole's eyes - her own long and dark hair wet already and framing her second face.

"How am I supposed to answer that?" she said faintly, lips pursed, and stepped so close that their breasts touched in the water spray, "that can only be answered by those whom have made love to both my chosen forms." Tilting her head, Jien sought Nicole's lips out while having to close her long-lashed eyes for the water. With lips and the slow twirl of her tongue, Jien kissed the other woman - their bodies pressed together.

Even as she kept her hand on Jien's face, she felt it shift and change beneath her fingers.  It was the first time she'd felt him shift while she was actually in contact and the tingling of it was odd, not unpleasant, simply unexpected, as was the way she had to lower her hand to keep in contact.  She kept her eyes on Jien's face as it morphed, growing less masculine and more feminine, until Jien's female half revealed itself before her.  Only then did she allow her eyes to roam down the rest of Jien's newly changed body, over firm breasts and taut stomach.  It felt slightly uncomfortable, being the taller of the two now, though only a little.  Their heights were almost the same, with Jien being only about an inch shorter than Nicole.  The shift gave Nicole an odd feeling of being in control, as though being the taller of the two gave her some kind of command over the situation.

As Jien stepped closer, Nicole gasped at the newly formed eroticism of their situation, her body once more aflame for her commanding officer's body.  The duality of it wasn't lost on her, the fact that she found herself attracted to both the male and female versions of Jien.  Ravenously, she wrapped her arms around Jien's smaller frame, pulling Jien more tightly against her, nearly flattening their breasts out where they touched, Nicole's hot and hard nipples just a bit above Jien's.  She suckled on Jien's tongue and slid a hand up into her long dark hair, while her other moved down Jien's back, cupping a taut buttock, kneading it slowly.  Her own breath began to come in shallow, quick gasps, and her heart raced.

Letting out a long and feminine moan as they kissed, her hands spanning Nicole's waist and running up and down her back, Jien relished in the intimacy underneath the shower spray - the fondling and the swirl of tongue hot and wet in their afterglow, the friction of skin and hard nipples brushing together, the arching of backs and the cupping of breasts and buttocks, teasing touches and licking tongues. It was perhaps not the start of a new session, but the languorous heightening of the one they had just shared.

When Jien finally parted her lips from Nicole's long enough to make eye-contact, Jien bit her lower lip and smiled faintly - hands still sliding over the engineer's skin. "I will look forward to getting to know you this way too, alas, I think we should eat something, and perhaps speak under more orderly circumstances first. Don't you agree?"

Before Nicole could voice her own opinion, her stomach rumbled rebelliously and she glanced at the chronometer.  It surprised her how much time had passed, not just from the repair work she'd been doing, but also the orgasmically intimate moment they'd shared.  She could do little else but agree that she needed to eat something, but, she took the moment to kiss Jien, brushing her lips against Jien's warm, supple ones.  Despite her desires to remain locked in amorous embrace with her Captain, she knew she needed food, if for no other reason than she wanted the energy to find out what other pleasures they could enjoy together.

With a low chuckle, Jien turned and stepped out of the 'repaired' shower and picked up two towels, handing one of them to Nicole once she followed her. As they exited the confines of the glass chamber of the shower stall, the real world awaited them, and to Jien, their mission and the rigorous need to maintain protocol and hierarchy in order to preserve the chain of command. Like when she had... indulged herself... with the fighter pilot in the gym before the Niga accident, Jien felt the oppressing need to make the same demand she had made to Nathaniel Isley.

"I am sure you understand... given what we are in the middle of... that I am not prepared to share what has just happened to the crew unless absolutely necessary," she said while she towelled herself, feeling bad for having to say it to Nicole, but also quite certain that she needed to. Her eyes, normally so hard, were soft, almost sad, when she asked Nicole to keep her silence. "Even if the events are unrelated, the crew might have a thing or two to say about your promotion in relation to the exquisite fun we just had - this therapy of ours. Would you please keep your silence about this for the meantime, until we both know what is... going on between us? Or at least... until the risks of our current situation allows for the Captain to show a bit of weakness."

She had already shown too much by becoming infected, but the weakness Jien held for Nicole was something far more enjoyable than the weakness she had displayed in the face of the virus - when surrendering to Nicole's predecessor's cock in the most dire hour.

Accepting the towel, Nicole dried herself efficiently, then, leaning forward hard, her breasts riding high on her chest to be thrown downward, she tossed her hair into the cloth before wrapping it up tight.  It might take hours for her hair to dry but the towel would help it be less frazzled.  As she stood upright, she listened to Jien and nodded solemnly, "Of course, Captain.  I would never betray the trust you place in me."

Oddly, he was the first superior officer she'd ever offered such a commitment to in her entire career.  At least, the only one she'd ever said it to and meant it.  Moving towards Jien, she took her Captain's hand and held it lightly, hesitantly, as she asked, "I hope, though, that this doesn't mean you are unhappy with what we did?"

She bit her lower lip uncertainly, then added, "Or that you don't want to do it again."

Returning the grip with her own hand, Jien smiled faintly to Nicole in reassurance and tilted her head - her own towel held loosely by the side. Her wet hair framed her face while her brown eyes held promises beyond her simple words. "I am not," she said to the first question, and as she raised Nicole's fingers to her lips in order to kiss them, she added, "and I do, as long as we take measures to keep it to ourselves."

Letting go of Nicole's fingers, Jien gave her another faint smile over her shoulder and wrapped the towel low around her hips like a man might before she stepped out of the bathroom, heading for the replicator in order to make a new uniform for the halfblood Bajoran. She added the measurements in the Quartermaster's log to the request in order to get the fit right, and then proceeded to request their dinner - soon enough setting the small table for them. She simply set the uniform down on a chair for Nicole.

"I was hoping you liked okonomiyaki," she said eventually and smiled faintly. She gestured towards the plates while removing her towel and shifting her form so that she wore her uniform once more, "it's a popular pan fried food of my native country that consists of batter and cabbage. I have selected some common vegetables and yam for toppings. Westerners often think this dish is a type of pancake, but it has nothing of the sweetness or fluffiness of such. A more accurate comparison for okonomiyaki would be pizza, actually. Please, have a seat."

The small leisurely smile remained on Jien's smooth features, and her wet hair fell forward as she poured wine for them - eyes following Nicole's movements.

"Oi know about keeping within constraints," Nicole answered, trying to be as reassuring as possible.  As she watched Jien's feminine backside retreat out of the bathroom, she couldn't help but want to caress her fingers down along her Captain's well-formed spine.  With a smile, she shook her head and followed, "Oi'm am an engineer, after all."

Her eyes followed Jien's movements, nodding as the requisite uniform showed up.  At least she wouldn't have to walk back to her quarters naked, though that might be interesting.  It might ruin their secrecy, but the exhibitionism of it made her quiver.  As the smell of fried cabbage filled the quarters, she moved to her seat and draped the uniform over the back, sitting nude as the plate was brought to her, feeling mischievous as she did.  As she didn't share a compartment with anyone, she often was undressed when she was alone, enjoying the way her body moved when free of its confines.  Her feelings were intensified as she sat across from the fully-clothed Jien, and she couldn't help but grin at her captain.  It seemed almost futile to dress, given what they'd just finished doing.

Taking her first bite, she chewed slowly, her eyes roaming over Jien's form as she pondered the seeming contradictions before her.  As she swallowed, she abruptly asked, "Why d'you do it?  Maintain the façade of being human?  Even doown to the texture of your 'uter surface, mimicking clothing the way y'do."

She gestured down to the plate, "And, to call the country this comes from 'y'r native coountry' is a bit of a... well, n't a lie, but certainly an untruth.  To be native, surely you need have been born there?  Why go through all the effort?"

For some reason, perhaps because of the intimacy they had shared, the prodding queries that questioned Jien's origin... agitated her. In truth, she felt a bit hurt that Nicole would not accept her for what she was. She had finished pouring and wore a slight furrow between her eyebrows when she seated herself.

"I have no native belonging besides what I grew up to know since infancy," he said, a certain flatness to her tone that came from introspection rather than the coldness that it might be taken for in the delivery of her retort. Yet in a sense, Jien felt like she was defending herself; trying to disprove some racial standpoint that she could never be accepted because she was born to be... other.


"Both in the biological sense," she said, raising her voice a little as she made her point and folded her hands underneath her clear brow eyes, "as well as the aesthetic, I am human enough to make anyone that lay their eyes upon me think me human. My nature as a person is human, and not of alien influences beyond what this day and age exposes us to be. My native land is somewhere I belong to, just like a human might claim the same if raised upon a continent that his or her ancestors do not hail from. A man from Africa raised in an Asian nation would - in his heart - belong to his new land rather than his old."

Picking up her glass and sipping it, she looked down to her plate, finishing her argument since she had already started speaking. "To deny him this... reflects more upon the... the accuser... than it does upon him."

Jien looked up to attempt a smile, to smooth things over... To take the edge of the sudden turn of their conversation. Yet...

For a moment, she only stared at him, both his tone and demeanor at odds with what they'd been doing up to a few minutes ago.  Her brow furrowed as she took spent a second collecting her thoughts, then crinkled deeper at what she thought of as self-denial on his/her Captain's part.  Even the smile she received was out of place suddenly, like watching a manic depressive have a mood swing and she rose, moving for her uniform.  As she began donning it, she glanced at him, "I am an engineer.  I speak in technicalities and you, sir, are not a native of Earth.  You may call it home, as an African may call China were he raised there, but he is still African, just as you are still Changeling and, as a consequence, not a native of Earth, technically speaking.  To be native, you must have been born in the place of origin.  I was born on Mars and am, thus, a native Martian.  You originated elsewhere, the Changeling home world perhaps, and are a native of there.  Call earth what you like, but you deny who you are by denying you came from somewhere else."

She finished dressing, pulling her left boot into place on one long, slender leg, then turned to face him.  Her tone had been cold up until now, but turned slightly angry, "I meant only curiosity in my questions and not offense."

Without another word, she turned to his bathroom and gathered up her tools.  She didn't want to leave, had, in fact, just begun to enjoy being with him/her.  It had been a long time since she'd had the opportunity to enjoy anyone's company, much less be enjoyed in return, and there had been a spark of hope that something might come of their continued intimacy, but now... now she just wasn't sure.

Jien Ives remained seated where she was by the table, listening to the Chief Engineer as she defended her argument. For which purpose, Jien did not know, but she could tell that there had to be some kind of misunderstanding. Had she really been so court in her standpoint? When Nicole came back from the bathroom with her tools, Jien had the choice to speak her mind or remain silent. Perhaps ill-advisedly, she tried to mend whatever transgression she'd made, even though she felt that she had been the one with the right to be offended.

"I am perfectly aware what I am, for I would be a fool to be in denial about my abilities and characteristics as a Chameloid," she said, sitting very still by the table even though her eyes followed Nicole as she moved through the room, "Yet it is my desire to be human. A desire you'd deny me, as it would seem. I have strived to become as human as I might, and you should know the extent of my efforts now. Do I not look like I might hail from Japan? Do I not appear like I am an Earthling to you? Did I not feel human to you when..."

Biting her teeth together, Jien looked away, realizing that she might - again - drive her point home too hard. Still, she could not just fall silent now. "Did you not taste my sweat? Did you not feel me come inside you? In what sense is my human nature any less than yours, besides the irrevocable and painful circumstance of my sterility?"

Listening to Jien speak, Nicole both understood and wondered why Jien misunderstood her.  Their argument, nothing new between her lovers and herself, did not seem to be going anywhere good and rather than end up in a deeper disagreement, she decided it was time to leave.  She had answered his her question, though not on as personal a level as she had hoped for.  Desire, he'd said, a pretty simple thing for any species, even Changelings, it seemed.  It was that desire she'd wanted an answer to, about if there was some other reason than just having been raised amongst humans that he'd decided to continue mimicking them, why he'd taken it to such extremes.  Yes, she'd felt him within her, felt his release, but it seemed odd to go into that much detail when there was no need.  Inefficient, somehow.  That inefficiency bugged her engineering side to no end.  She wouldn't deny him his desires, any more than she would expect him to deny her own; she only wanted to understand it.

As she walked to the door, she paused before it opened and looked at him/her.  She couldn't refute that, if she hadn't already known about his species, that she would have had no doubts as to his humanity.  But, much as she had with several of her previous paramours, she couldn't bring herself to admit it, not yet, her pride holding her back.  Her argument had weight, she knew, and she wouldn't give it up easily.  Right now, however, was not the time to hash it out, too many emotions had gone through her today and anger was one she enjoyed least.  With a step back, the door to his quarters opened and she whispered, before turning to go, "I wouldn't deny you anything."

After Nicole left, Jien sat alone in her Captain's quarters - rebuilding her frost-coated fortifications inside.

When she finally rose to her feet, the meals on the table had turned cold. Just like her heart.

The End?

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Howard
Chief Engineer

Captain Jien Ives
Commanding Officer

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