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CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]


[Natalie Stark | Below Decks | USS Theurgy]

It had been a hell of a day. At least it started off on a good note, with breakfast, catered by her Chief of the Deck. Other duties had contrived to keep her from pitching in down in the fighter bay, much to her chagrin. Sten Covingtion was a surprisingly wise non com, and Natalie was sure that his suggestion of losing herself in grunt work, helping with the fighter clean up, would have been just what she needed. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and women often went astray, and today had been no different. Perhaps tomorrow, she'd thought.

One thing she did make sure to do, however, was sort through some records. She finally found a good news holo of Rory, and had pestered Thea into looking about the ship and seeing if either of the women could find the stray bartender. Natalie was sure that, odds are, he was on the Theurgy at this point. The Theurgy-class vessel had snagged up considerably more personnel than her Akira-class counterpart; unless Rory Callahan was dead, he was likely on the Theurgy. It was just up to Natalie to find him.

Thea had come through for Natalie, and sure enough, Rory was playing bartender again, this time in the ships lounge. In hindsight, the young Lt. Cmdr realized that this was the first place she should have looked. But she'd been worried, and not thinking straight (something Sten had politely hinted out, but managed to stop short of outright saying). Seeing that Rory was alive, at least, and clearly not in too bad shape if he were serving up drinks, Natalie allowed herself to finish her shift before rushing down to check in on him. After all, she wanted to make sure to see him before the gathering that evening.

So she was quite surprised when she walked through the doors to the Below Decks, having dodged a very drunk pilot in the halls, to nearly walk into the back of the  of another. The party wasn't to start for a short while yet! But Natalie was always good at not being noticed, and managed not to make a fool of herself, cutting to the left, away from the bar, while the officer in front of her swung right. The Chief of Ops lost herself among the crowed, found a corner of the wall, and watched the room for a moment, waiting for a chance to find, and talk to Rory.

Finding him didn't take long; his was a voice that carried across aroma and commanded attention - given his music career back in the Federation, that was hardly a surprise. The noticeable lisp to his words, however, made Natalie rethink her decision to not rush down earlier. Her dark eyes finally found the blond and even across the room she could tell he was quite disheveled. What the hell was I thinking, waiting? she scolded herself.

While the blond was still had that roguish charm - Really, Nat? - there was clear evidence that he'd gone through some very rough times since they'd last had dinner. Working her way through the crowd, she had to wonder if he'd slept yet. It was hard to tell. Then again, he likely didn't have a place to stay, as far as she was aware (Thea having not mentioned any quartermasters reports). We'll take care of that. Normally such a thought would send her blushing and running off to hide in a Jefferies tube somewhere, but right now, she was far too concerned about Rory.

The brunette slipped up against the end of the bar, opposite a pair of non-coms that could only be described as flirting, to the point that even someone as socially...out of practice as Natalie could tell. She bit the inside of her lip, watching Rory serve out the drinks, and then when he seemed to have a spare second, she coughed, and raised her hand to flag him over.

Those eyes drank him in as he approached, and she quietly applauded her ability not to visibly sniff. She could smell the sweat and ash, and the liquor from the drinks he served on him before he got close enough to talk. And she could see he was...well, drunk, yes, but nervous as hell. Embarrassed? Wasn't that her job?

"Mr. Ca - Rory," she corrected herself, softly. "I..." her words failed her for a moment, and she frowned. She was happy, truly happy and relieved, to see him alive. And yet the state he was in...she was prone to blame herself for it, because if she'd only bothered to look for him sooner, or come down a few hours ago...Shaking her head, she tried a shaky smile. "So, whats a Lady got to do to get a guy to go home with her around here?"

The second she said the words her face turned crimson. Oh god that sounded waaaay less suggestive in my head she thought to herself, not able to voice that just yet. Instead, she just kind of squeaked.


OOC: timeline continuity restored!.

Searcher, lemme know if that works for you. I can make more updates as needed.

Thnx -Bru


Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #1

Rory Callahan

He'd had a sonic shower and some sleep, even gotten a pair of trousers and a button down shirt but as Rory worked behind the bar of Below Decks he couldn't help feeling off kilter.  While the people of this crew had been friendlier, things still didn't seem right and he could only be thankful Natalie hadn't seen him last night when he looked ... and smelled ... so bad.  Even then it still would have been nice to at least say hello and know she was doing alright.

But he wasn't Starfleet.  Hell he wasn't even supposed to be here.  His smile was automatic though, even if it didn't quite reach his eyes, as he waited on those who came in for a drink.  Several were just getting a jump on some party thing they were having on the holodeck but the more he thought about things, the sorrier he felt for himself and figured he'd just curl up in that fancy room the blue woman had assigned him.

Before he could start feeling too badly for himself though, he heard that sweet voice but the words that spilled from her could be taken a very different way than he knew she meant.  He looked at her and the light returned to his eyes, one corner of his mouth quirking up to give that dimple in his right cheek.  "Well now I guess the easiest way would be to just ask," he replied with only a little tease.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #2

Oh that smile was trouble. Even just a little quirk of his lips, yup, Trouble, with a capital T. Natalie swallowed, red faced, and murmued something under her breath, before reminding herself that, yes, she was indeed a Starfleet officer. A department head, at that. People looked up to her, reported to her, and took their direction from her. She stood between the whole of the Operations department, charged with keeping the ship running, and its Captain. Which meant that she did not need to act like a blushing school girl.

Now if only my cheeks would listen!

Summoning up a smile, she ignored a few looks from the other patrons grabbing a drink before heading to the Holodeck, and looked up at Rory. She was slouching over the bar now, left wrist crossed over his right, drawing a small circle on the countertop. "Just ask, eh? Well then, what I meant to ask was, 'do you have a place to stay?'." Sure, take the easy way out. "Cause, I find out you're here, a guest on my ship, and it dawns on me that you might not have quarters. Thea didn't mention anything when she said she found you. Um...not that I'm having the ship stalk you, honest!" She insisted, straightening, "Its just, with internal sensors on the fritz, I couldn't be sure if you were on the ship or not, and I had to have Thea look around for me." She blushed, adding, "I was worried, yano? The planet went to hell, and I wasn't even sure we'd beamed you up. I tried but...hard to tell." She bit her lip.

"And you're just gonna let me ramble, aren't you?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #3

Rory Callahan

One of the many things Rory admired about Natalie was the fact that she didn't really know just how beautiful she is, especially when she blushed as she did right then.  He had many a girl fling herself at him, some devastatingly gorgeous but their personalities were harsh and he knew if he hadn't been part of the group that most of them wouldn't have given him the time of day.  Back then it hadn't much mattered and he had enjoyed himself then moved along when it was time to head to the next show.

Now though, he could appreciate the quiet and shy beauty that Natalie presented and found he definitely preferred her type.  She started talking and her nerves got the better of her, making her stumble around a bit.  If anything, his smile turned a bit goofy and more like a gawky teenager when she finally stopped talking.  "Well I was taught ye shouldn't interrupt a lady when she's talkin' 'cause ye might miss somethin'," he replied.  "I wouldn't want that, to miss hearin' such a pretty voice."

He didn't tease her more than that though, instead taking a more serious expression.  "It's nice to know someone cares," he admitted quietly.  "I was a bit drunk by the time I found m'self on board but I found my way here an' started tryin' to serve drinks.  Was doin' pretty good too until some blue lady came up an' said I was unsanitary.  She took me to a room jus' down the hall, said it's mine.  I swear it's big and someone really important belongs in there but I got clean an' was able to sleep a little."

He reached out and took her hand, looking at her.  "How 'bout you though?  Figure it was pretty rough getting' everyone on board an' away from Planet Hell.  Can I get ye a drink or maybe somethin' to eat?  Or ... if ye want ... there's that party everybody's talkin' about."  His inherent kindness was sneaking back out, worrying more about her than himself now.  "Whatever ye'd like, I'd like to spend some time with ye, Natlie.  Party loud or readin'-a-book quiet," he offered.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #4

While Lt. Cmdr. Stark certainly wasn't trying to fling herself at Rory, at least, not literally, she was having such a hard time talking to him like this because frankly, she was interested. Before a few weeks ago, Natalie hadn't been involved with anyone for more then a few years. Her last serious relationship was in the Academy, and while she had been hit on a time or two at other postings, nothing had come of it. People were difficult. Machines were easy to understand. And aside from a little hero worship of her now late boss, Lt. Cmdr. Hendricks, Natalie hadn't had anyone on the Theurgy that she was interested in - until now.

She had ended up buck naked, wrapped around the Chief Medical Officer in a Jefferies tube days after being forced into a traumatic encounter with the same plants that had nearly raped her on Niga. That was...still confusing. It had felt good, with Lucan, it had been liberating. But this was different. Rory was...gentle, not that the doctor had been rough exactly...she blushed and couldn't find the right words. She just knew that she was interested in Rory, on more of a personal level, then just a physical - He had looked delicious in that poolside bar

He thinks my voice is pretty? He's a singer and he thinks my voice is pretty? Little compliments like that, which as far as Natalie's limited experience could tell, were genuine. That's what set her off, got her blushing. Bits of kindness he didn't have to say and she didn't think he was faking. He was turning serious though, and she crossed her arms again, elbows on the bar top while she listened to him recount how he'd fared once he had been beamed aboard. She managed not to frown when he admitted to being drunk. She had enjoyed drinking with Rory that one time on the planet. That didn't mean she thought that being full on intoxicated was a smart move though. Then again, the planet had been falling down around him.

"Ah. Deputy zh'Wann," Natalie managed to interject. Rumor was she wouldn't be in charge of Security any more (she had yet again been serving in something of an unofficial intern capacity). Wenn Cinn seemed to be back from the grave, so the Androian junior Lieutenant would be taking a back seat again, as far as Security Command was concerned. She didn't have any other comment, glad that the imposing woman had found Rory a place to stay, even if a small, small part of her was sad that she wouldn't be able to use that as an excuse to have him stay with her. Which had her blushing again, almost ashamed. He might want his own space, after all. She shouldn't assume -

Or maybe I should. she thought, as his hand slipped under hers, folding around it. Her hand wasn't the silken smooth kind that most girls liked to have. She worked with her hands, every day, and they had the calluses to prove it. Still, she gave his a gentle squeeze and stared at it for a moment, before flicking up to him again, eyes shining from under her bangs. "Honestly, I didn't have any plans for the night at all, beyond finding you." she admitted, skipping for a moment over the horrible time that she had been forced to endure during their flight from, as he'd put it, 'Planet Hell.' She swallowed, then said, "I have no idea if I'd like a party or just...quiet with the right company. What do you think would be good?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #5
  Rory Callahan

For a moment Rory worried as she seemed to hesitate and blush, thinking perhaps he'd been too forward but then she looked at him and he could see she just needed a little time.  Then she mentioned the blue woman's name which had flown from his mind.  He always had a hard time with exotic names, even if they sounded nice he sometimes stumbled around them before finally getting it right.

"Honestly, I didn't have any plans for the night at all, beyond finding you."

There was no doubt that he perked up at that last bit, his shoulders squaring a little more and his eyes lighting up.  He even blushed a little himself and the way his bangs hung over one eye gave him that school boy look.  "Really?  Well 'm glad ye found me.  I was jus' gonna hang 'round here, maybe try to make some changes ... make it more homey.  It jus' feels a little ... impersonal," he stated.

He had been looking around at the place as he talked but finally his eyes settled on her again.  "O'course that can wait an' I might need to get permission first ac'shully.  I think maybe, if ye'd like, I could work with th' replicator thingie in m' quarters an' make some dinner.  Got my guitar so I could maybe sing a little for ye ... there's lots o' room an' it's not far from here.  It'd be a lot quieter than a party."

He was a bit nervous, which was strange because he'd hung out with lots of women before ... among other things.  Yet as he looked at Natalie, and thought of all the Starfleet men she could be hanging around, he worried that he wouldn't measure up to them.  He wasn't able to talk like they did, had no clue about protocols and then there were their physiques.  Next to them, he felt like a stork.

She seemed interested though and maybe she didn't want all that techno babble.  Maybe that could be a bit of an advantage for him even.  He knew he could sing and he knew he wanted to spend time with her so he just had to hope he didn't make too much of a fool of himself.  Though he didn't realize it, he was holding his breath as he waited for her answer.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #6

She was biting her lip again, she realized, and forced herself to stop. She had so many nervous ticks that she worked to repress while she was on duty - off duty however, she seemed to lose the will to keep it all under wraps. Or perhaps its just around men I'm attracted to? she positited, allowing that thought a few brief seconds to bounce around before tamping it back down to the recesses of her mind. She'd have time for self analysis and introspection later.

Right now, she had a dinner invitation to accept.

"I'd like that a lot, Rory," she answered, perhaps a tad more formal then she intended, but she gave herself points for using his given name this time, without stuttering. Baby steps Nat, baby steps. "Dinner, I mean. Not that I disagree about the bar needing a little something," she added, waving her hand in a small circle and smiling. "I didn't get to know the man that used to run this place very well. Drinking wasn't really my thing, even when drinking was what a lot of officers turned to, right after we left the Federation." She shrugged a bit, but smiled.

"And as for getting permission, you are currently asking the Chief of Operations to dinner. Quartermaster division falls under the larger blanket of Operations." She gave him a wink, "Treat a girl to a good dinner and I can put in a good word with requisitions." She was teasing him, and it showed that it wasn't something she was used to doing. It was probably equally transparent that she'd authorize whatever he wanted to do to this place, regardless of how dinner went. It was a good idea, and given Cpt. Ives decision to allow the Risian celebration to boost morale, Natalie was fairly certain that anything done to spruce up bar would go over well.

Ducking her head again, just a hint of blush this time, she smiled once more. "So, we have a deal?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #7

Rory Callahan

The breath he'd been holding let out slowly and his smile grew even brighter.  "Excellent," he said and then chuckled as she made sure he knew she meant dinner and not his plans for Below Decks.  "I've had m' rounds an' I admit when I was down there I thought I wasn't gonna make it.  Figured I'd go down like a proper Irishman.  Least it would'na hurt as bad if the lava got t'me," he half-joked but she could see he had truly been afraid.  "If ye don't mind me bein' a bit bold, I don' need the whiskey 'round ye 'cause I could get drunk just lookin' in yer eyes."

When she started to tease him a little about the requisitions, he took on a thoughtful pose complete with rubbing his chin which made him realize he'd forgotten to shave so had a bit of stubble.  "Well now, it would be tasteful I promise ye.  Maybe some rich wood an' stools, a little spot fer some dancin' if people wanted.  An nothin' makes a place homier than a fireplace.  I c'n maybe draw up a bit o' an example ... after tha' supper o' course," he tacked on and walked around the bar then offered his hand.  "Definitely a deal an' I don' think anyone else is comin' in here the rest o' the night."

"Now what would c'n I scrounge up fer dinner.  Anythin' ye got a hankerin' fer?  Steak, Italian, Chinese?  An' any kinda dessert ye'd like?"  He touched the the cuff of his white button-down shirt and then looked at her uniform.  "Would ye like to go change into somethin' more comfortable?  Not that ye don't look nice an' comfy," he added hastily and wanted to kick his own rear for making that sound bad.  "I just figure ye don't always have to wear a uniform, right?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #8

She had a small chuckle as he made a rather dark crack a bout going out like a proper Irishmen. Frankly, she was more then a little amazed that as many of them had made it off of the smoldering planet after the Calamity's nasty orbital barrage as had in actuality. It was a nightmare of a fight, but it was just one more in a series of nightmares that was plaguing the two Federation exile ships. So she could understand the mind set Rory had right then, even as she was more so glad that he was clearly willing to let her see the fear he'd faced. She wasn't sure if he was the kind of man to wear his feelings on his sleeve or not, and so she decided to take it as a personal boon on her part that he was letting her see that side of him, even wrapped in a musicians bravado.

"If ye don't mind me bein' a bit bold, I don' need the whiskey 'round ye 'cause I could get drunk just lookin' in yer eyes." He just had to go and say something like that. She was off blushing again, trying to get her cheeks under control after the small "meep" she squeaked out. Reminding herself to smile she ducked her head again, clearly still unused to such flirtations. It was clear to her he meant every word, that it wasn't just some ploy like some of the lads back at the Academy, or fellow officers on shore leave at many a starbase.

Forcing herself to focus in on his words again, the brunette found herself drawing circles on the countertop again as she thought over his small suggestions, and the idea of helping him put them into being rivaled for a spot in her mind with the debate of what to actually eat. It was a tough call, and she managed to get so wrapped up in it that at first she didn't realize that she'd taken his hand with little fuss, and was letting Rory lead her out of the bar, walking right at his side, hand in hand. Cheeks still red, she tilted her head up to his and smiled.

"I think I will change, actually. I don't often have an excuse to wear anything other then a uniform so...yeah, that would be nice." She gave his hand a squeeze, and said "For food, for food...Italian," she said, definitively, adding, "My folks took me to Italy once, back on Earth, a trip from Mars. It left quite an impression on me." A small, dazzling smile, and then in a bust of uncharacteristic boldness, asked, "What's your favorite color?" A question seemingly out of left field, as they reached the doors.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #9

Rory Callahan

He kept making her blush and while he kept telling himself to stop it, he couldn't help himself either.  He enjoyed making her smile and the beautiful young woman didn't seem like she'd had any genuine affection shown her and to him that was just all kinds of wrong.  Their loss, my gain he thought to himself as she took his hand and started walking with him.  It felt wonderful and while innocent still gave a bit of a thrill, the simplicity of holding hands something he'd always enjoyed.

He was completely attentive when she made a few decisions, pausing outside of his quarters.  "Italian it is an' I'll be getting' that ready while ye change.  It might not be Italy, but I'm hopin' I make a good impression m'self," he grinned.  Already his mind was working on a combination of dishes and a wine to go with and while she didn't mention a dessert, he knew of one that he had a feeling she would adore so had that locked into his mind.

She smiled then, the kind of smile that seemed to seize his lungs and take his breath away.  "There was a time I'd say m' favorite color was green, like th' grass of home but now?  It's blue, blue like th' waters an' sky ... the color of yer eyes," he said finally, standing there with that goofy boyish smile.  "This is where I am ... when yer ready," he said thumbing at the door then watched her walk away, longer than he should have but it was such a lovely view.

There would be a veritable feast though not huge portions of anything.  There was a bit of classic lasagna, fettuccini alfredo, manicotti, mussels with white wine and garlic over bowtie pasta and of course salad and bread sticks.  A bottle of red wine, filched after a mad dash back to Below Decks, sat on the table.  He rubbed his hands together, thinking it all looked fine and then frowned.  "Computer, lower the lights a wee bit ... a wee bit more ... there.  Annnnnnnnd .... maybe a little music played softly, smooth an' a little romantic."

If he thought about it, garlic and onions were not something he would normally treat a lady to for a romantic dinner.  Yet she'd asked for Italian and he reminded himself this was basically a first date and a gentleman wouldn't be trying any smooth moves.  That thought brought a bit of a laugh at himself.  Rory could be a gentleman but there were times he hadn't, turning into a bit of a rogue while on tour.  After being whisked away though, what he'd thought then was punishment now seemed like a gift.  He wanted to be a better person, all because he'd met Natalie.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #10


Charmer. If she had to use one word to describe Rory, it would be 'charmer'. because he had a way of keeping her on her toes and being, well, charming. "Like my eyes, eh?" she replied, smiling again. "Good choice." She had a vague recollection of a dress stashed away in her personal effects. It shouldn't be wrinkled, since it would be hanging in the small closet she had, provided it hadn't been damaged during their ordeals. It had appeared fine when she'd moved into her new quarters (still not as large as the one's that Rory had been gifted by the Deputy of Security).

She went up on her toes for a just a moment and planted a kiss on his cheek with an almost embarrassingly girlish giggle. "I'll be back soon," she told him, and turned on her heel as he entered his rooms. Was there just a hint of a sway in her hips? Maybe, just maybe.

It was a short trip down the turbolift, which was full of crew gearing up for the larger party in the Holodeck. Natalie smiled to the few people she did recognize from her department and encouraged a pair of noncoms to enjoy their break, while deflecting any questions about her plans for the night. Once back into her quarters, she went into a flurry of motion, stripping out of her uniform in a speed that would have made her Academy instructors proud. Mind you, it ended up all over the bits of furniture in her main room. Naked, she padded into the bathroom and punched up a quick sonic shower. The vibrations shook the grime from a day of hard work off her body while keeping her dry. Not nearly as relaxing as a full shower, or a soak in a tub - and being senior staff afforded her that occasional luxury. But time was of the essence, and she wanted quick and clean, not a long soak.

After all, she had a date!

Bouncing from the shower she padded back into her bedroom, diving into her closet. Strapless bra (such a pain to get into but totally worth the effect) would pair nicely with the off shoulder dress she had. IT was ...shorter than she remembered, and wondered if it was a bit too much for a dinner date. Then again, it was the only blue dress she had, so beggars couldn't be choosers. If she wanted something more conservative, she shouldn't have given Rory a choice in clothing color - not that he really knew that was why she asked his favorite color.

She slid into her dress, adjusting it here and there (having added some stockings and panties to the bra underneath - must be respectable she reminded herself) and looked in the mirror. It was...well, she looked like a different person. She blushed, and fussed a bit with her hair. Added a bit of color to her lips, but avoided eye shadow - she never was very good with makeup, and while she toyed with asking Thea for help, she realized that there was no guarantee the hologram knew how to deal with makeup - she needed some female friends.

Satisfied that she was pretty as she was going to get, she slipped into some practical flats and darted back out the door.


Adjusting her dress one more time, Natalie stood out front of Rory's door. She avoided a few pointed glances from members of the crew; most assumed she was meeting someone to go down to the Holodeck with, but she was sure rumors would be flying. Then again, if the Risans' party went off like she suspected it would, perhaps there would be far too many rumors for her's to gain any traction. She had a brief image of CPO Covington giving her a lecture over breakfast and blushed. Too late to back out now, Nat.

Keeping her nerves in check, she hit the door chime, waiting to be let in.


Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #11

Rory Callahan

Natalie was charming in her own way, a very real and pure sort of way.  He'd had plenty of ladies giggling and trying to act the way she did but now he realized they had just been flattering him for the opportunity to be with someone famous.  His status didn't mean a damn thing out here and it was good to be smacked down a bit.  Now he appreciated the smiles and gentle kiss on his cheek so much more.  He'd grinned big like a fool when she'd giggled, actually feeling the urge to giggle himself but managed to contain it just in time.

With everything ready, he looked in the mirror again and wondered if he should change.  He looked decent enough, not overdressed and not shabby.  The chiming told him he didn't have time anymore to worry about it and he walked to the door and answered it like a proper gentleman would ... to be greeted by a vision that left him absolutely speechless for a moment.  Those Starfleet uniforms had a way of disguising certain features and the dress she was wearing certainly did not disguise her abundant charms.  Gentlemen don't stare, no matter how lovely the valley he chided himself.

"You look beautiful, stunning really," he said and offered his hand to lead her inside.  "Not that you aren't stunning in uniform," he added quickly, nervous that he'd just put his foot in his mouth.  After clearing his throat, he led her to the table and pulled the chair out for her.  "I wasn't sure what your favorite was so I picked a few things I've had and liked."  He'd likely get a smacking later for all he ordered but she was worth it for sure.  Pulling the cork, he poured them both some wine, only about a half a glass, and then sat down across from her.  "I hope you enjoy," he said with that earnest smile.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #12


In all her days, Natalie couldn't recall one where she rendered someone speechless simply by showing up at their door in dress. Surely this wasn't the first time she'd worn a dress (Granted, it had been a while) but it was a shockingly nice feeling. A boost to her otherwise nonexistent ego. And ok, yes, this dress did show off a lot that her uniform hid. Plunging neck line, snug at the hips, short in skirt to reveal a lot of leg. Even in the 24th century, some things never seemed to change, and she found herself amused by Rory's efforts to force himself not to stare.

It was a feeling she decided she could get used to, even if he wasn't the only person slightly nervous in that doorway.

She took his compliment quite well, better then she thought she might, with a muted, "Thank you," and as smile that did indeed reach her eyes. Allowing herself to be led to the table, she barely noticed the hissing of the doors sliding shut behind them, or the way it cut off the noises from the corridors full of party goers. Instead, she heard the soft music, and admired the table spread before her in the low light. Rory had managed, in very little time really, to make quite a romantic little setting. Natalie was touched by the gesture, and might have commented on it had her stomach not made a small rumble when the smell of the feast before her fully hit her nose.

"So much to choose from," she responded, looking it all over with something akin to child like glee. "I can't imagine not enjoying it." Total honesty. With options like this, how could she not? One hand reached out for that freshly poured glass of wine, and remembering almost too late that there were certain things one did with wine, she paused, swirled the liquid in the glass and sniffed. It smelled nice enough, but she wasn't the kind of connoisseur that could tell good wine from bad by a sniff. But she understood there were motions to go through, and didn't want to look like a fool on a date. Then she sipped, found she liked the taste and decided that Rory likely new enough when it came to wine to have chosen something that would go good with the meal before her.

"Really, Rory, this is all amazing," her eyes flicked up to his as she settled a napkin about her waist and began to dig in, starting with the lasagna, doing her best not to spill any sauce on the rather...impressive expanse of bare skin directly under her chin.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #13

Rory Callahan

Allowing himself a moment to relax that he hadn't blundered with his compliment, Rory inhaled and caught the scent of her hair which was quite lovely.  "Tha's the beauty o' this dinner.  Ye don' have t' choose.  Ye can jus' take a little o' each an' if there's somethin' ye like best then ye can have all ye want."  He would forgo any of the dishes if she liked it enough to eat all of it, not minding giving up food if it made her happy.

He took up his glass and like Natalie gave it a little swirl and sniff then took a small sip.  It had time to breathe and was settled, the flavor not too sweet but not tart or acidic.  It had been a quick pick but he'd managed to do a decent one.  He'd just set the glass down when she complimented his choices, giving him a rush of warmth.  "I'm really glad ye like it, Natalie," he said in a soft tone, the light in his eyes shining brighter.

Once she'd taken a sample of things, he took a little bit of each as well.  It wasn't exactly like what he'd had back on Earth but it was still really good and like Natalie, his stomach had rumbled a little too.  He'd been too nervous to eat most of the day and now he felt like an idiot because things were going well.  While he was still a little nervous, he found her to be quite easy to be around and not just because she was beautiful.

For a few minutes there was a comfortable silence as they worked on their meal though a few times she would catch him just watching her, noting how her full lips slipped along the fork.  He couldn't help himself to think how soft those lips must be and felt a temptation to kiss away a little dab of sauce.  "May I be a little nosy an' ask what ye like t' do when yer not workin'?" he asked with unfeigned interest.  "I know lately it seems ev'ryone's workin' round th' clock but I figure there's a few things ye do t' unwind."

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #14


Natalie had moved on to some of the Alfredo, at this point, and was mopping up a bit of the sauce with a corner of a slice of garlic bread when Rory asked about her down time. Such as it was. She bit, and swallowed, enjoying the creamy taste on her tongue, and dabbed at those same plump lips he'd been eyeballing not a moment before. She used it as an excuse to ponder a proper response, and realized, to her dismay, that there wasn't much to tell the musician turned bartender about her off duty habits.

Looking over sheepishly, she answered him, "As you said, its true that we don't have much in the way of off duty time. Especially not given that I run a department." She toyed with a bit of pasta on the end of her fork, idly twirling it in circles, "I mostly end up working till I drop. Then its up in the morning, off to the gym, and back at it." While Natalie wouldn't go into the details of why she was going to the gym, or her planned exercises with the ships captain to bone up on self defense (and a bit of a backbone), she was a StarFleet officer - everyone expected them to hit the gym at some point or another during the day. If they didn't, the Chief Medical Officer would have their necks - on a normal ship, with a normal mission, in any case. On the Theurgy however...

A roll of her shoulders had her threatening to pop out of her dress, but she'd didn't notice, and the dress stayed mostly in place. "Honestly, I'm a quiet kind of girl," she continued, her voice soft, eyes downcast but a small smile on her face all the same. No one had really shown this kind of interest in her day to day affairs, "I read. I tinker. A lot. Got a whole work bench squirreled away in my office full of half finished projects." She glanced up at him, little bit of a blush in place. "What about you, Rory? Is it all drink mixing and guitar playing, or are there other ways that you...unwind?"

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #15
 
Rory Callahan

Finishing off the muscles in wine sauce, Rory listened as she spoke of her day to day life.  "On one hand, tha' all sounds like it should be dull but I imagine there's lots o' challenges an' things t' keep it interestin'," he reasoned.  "Still there's a sayin' 'bout all work an' no play," he said with a little sheepish grin.  Too often people thought he was all play and no work but he did his best to occupy his time in ways he could in this environment though it was narrowed down to bar tending.

When she shrugged, he couldn't help noticing the material slipping and giving him a little better view of the mountains and valley.  He shifted a little as his pants didn't feel as loose as they had moments before.  Focus man.  Focus he did, on the downcast eyes and sweet lips.  It wasn't helping much but he smiled.  "Nothin' wrong with bein' a quiet type.  I've seen more'n a few could stand t' be quiet."  Like a few of the fighter pilots but most he knew were just blowing off steam.

There was definite interest when she mentioned tinkering and having a work bench.  "Now tha' sounds interestin'.  I might not understand a lot but I'd like t' see them sometime."  His expression turned a bit when she asked about him, a bit of a wry twist turning his lips.  "Back home I used t' go sailin' a lot, fishin' too.  I learned t' surf an' did it every chance I got.  Here though, an' on th' other ship, there's not much fer me t' do," he stated with a little one-shouldered shrug.

He took a sip of his wine.  "On th' other ship, I asked 'em t' jus' drop me off somewhere an' I'd find m' way back home but they said they couldn't chance it.  There wasn't much need fer singin' an' I knew a bit o' mixin' drinks so I tried t' do that, make m'self useful.  No one would talk much t' me an' the few who did avoided answerin' most o' m' questions.  I'll admit there's times I'm scared pretty much shi--ahem, scared outta m' wits but it's tons nicer here an' I hope I can contribute some way."

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #16


For too often that 'saying' applied to Natalie very, very well. From an outside perspective (and from her own occasional musings) she was a rather dull girl. A lot of officers sought out physical activity after hours to keep fit, to cool their heads or let off steam. Natalie didn't. She didn't have friends to go out to dinner with (such as it was on this ship) or simply curl up and chat. Oh, she had Sten Convington, who did his best to keep an eye on the young officer, keep her in check and offer her a much needed sounding board and sense of comfort. And she treasured the older man far beyond what she could find words for. But that didn't meant that from a broader social point of view, she wasn't a very dull girl indeed.

And Natalie also knew that wasn't the point Rory was trying to make, so she didn't even hold it against him that the thoughts had popped up in her mind. Not his fault, after all. Besides, he was off already working on an answer to her question. So she leaned in and gave him her full attention, banshing any less than polite self reflections to the dark corners of her mind, while her fingers sent the fork in her hand idly twirling the fat, cream coated noodles on the plate before her. (Plus, he seemed to like that she was a more quiet girl! Surprises never ceased.)

She couldn't quite pin down what made her reach across the table, but she snagged one of his hands in hers. It was out of character for the Lt Cmdr, a bold action, but she felt a need to do just that. She gave his hand a firm squeeze, then smiled up at him, a bit sheepish. "Hey, we all get scared. Trust me." How many nights had she spent, curled in a ball with her back against the wall on the floor, hidden on the far side of her bed? Wrapped in a blanket like it would protect her from the horrors they'd all had to face? "And I for one, love the way you sing. So I can say without a doubt you'll have an audience here." He hadn't been lamenting an audience, not really, more a lack of something productive to do, so why had she focused in on that? Her mind worked in mysterious ways.

Still, Natalie didn't let go of that hand. She gave it another squeeze and glanced down, blushing slightly, "I'd love to show you around my office sometime, if you don't mind the clutter." her eyes glanced up, seeming to catch a light from the candles for a moment, "It would be a good place to plot out what you might need to spruce up that bar." She was doing that thing where she bounced around from topic to topic again, she could feel herself doing it and at the same time couldn't bring herself to focus.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #17
 
Rory Callahan

When she took his hand, he turned his so that he could lace his fingers with hers.  It felt so natural and she wasn't laughing at him when he admitted he was scared a lot.  He remembered that first time that things seemed to go to hell in a handbasket and how he'd cowered behind the bar.  He hadn't much appreciate being called a pussy but he supposed at that moment in time he counted as one.  Natalie was proving to be even more wonderful than he imagined, supportive and caring.  "Thank ye and I have t' say yer one of the bravest people I've met.

He did brighten when she said she loved his singing.  He knew his voice and style weren't for everyone but it reflected him and his upbringing, his culture all the way through the centuries.  For her to appreciate his voice was an extreme compliment.  "Well I'll sing as much as th' folks'll let me an' anytime ye wish to hear somethin', I'll be glad to warble around for ye."  She blushed and looked at their hands but didn't pull it away, something that made his heart beat faster and his smile warmer than it had been just a moment ago.

"I don't mind a bit o' mess.  If I had more stuff, this place wouldn't be so neat," he said with a sheepish grin.  "Me mum used t' threaten t' throw everythin' away," he said with a wistful expression.  "When I was older, she'd come by m' place 'bout ev'ry two months an' give it a good cleanin'.  I told her she dinna have t' do tha' but she said she missed th' good ol' days, that I grew up too fast fer her likin'."  Even though he was homesick, he could still find it in him to laugh.  It was, of course, because of his current dinner companion.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #18


[Natalie Stark]

She could almost picture Rory's mother (not that she had any idea at all what hte woman liked, but her imagination was already running wild), showing up at his place unannounced to clean. Even with so little detail, the sincerity in his voice painted a picture for her. She giggled, she couldn't help it. "So you're the type of man that needs a helping hand around the place then, eh?" She ran her thumb over his knuckles wondering how that question came off, and switched gears slightly, before any implications of looking after the bartender rose up.

"My mother," she swallowed a bit then, continuing, "My mother would be soooo mad at me. She rode me hard to keep my room straight. 'you'll get lost in your mess, Nat' she'd say. 'It'll swallow you whole." She laughed, "Woman tried to convince me that gremlins would hide in piles of toys." She rolled her shoulders back - somehow managing to not spill out of that dress - and smiled up at Rory, but it was more then a little bitter sweet. "Haven't thought about my mother in years. Wonder what she'd think of all this - this mess we've fallen into?"

Way to go Natalie, take the happy go lucky dinner date and turn it into a trip down depression lane she thought darkly, shaking her head. "I - that is...Sorry. Didn't mean to drag us down that train of thought."

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #19


[Natalie Stark]

She could almost picture Rory's mother (not that she had any idea at all what hte woman liked, but her imagination was already running wild), showing up at his place unannounced to clean. Even with so little detail, the sincerity in his voice painted a picture for her. She giggled, she couldn't help it. "So you're the type of man that needs a helping hand around the place then, eh?" She ran her thumb over his knuckles wondering how that question came off, and switched gears slightly, before any implications of looking after the bartender rose up.

"My mother," she swallowed a bit then, continuing, "My mother would be soooo mad at me. She rode me hard to keep my room straight. 'you'll get lost in your mess, Nat' she'd say. 'It'll swallow you whole." She laughed, "Woman tried to convince me that gremlins would hide in piles of toys." She rolled her shoulders back - somehow managing to not spill out of that dress - and smiled up at Rory, but it was more then a little bitter sweet. "Haven't thought about my mother in years. Wonder what she'd think of all this - this mess we've fallen into?"

Way to go Natalie, take the happy go lucky dinner date and turn it into a trip down depression lane she thought darkly, shaking her head. "I - that is...Sorry. Didn't mean to drag us down that train of thought." Things had been going so good. How to get back to the light and happy?

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #20

Rory Callahan

He actually chuckled when she asked if he was the type who needed a hand around the home, tipping his head to the side so his bangs were out of his eyes.  "Ye could say that though I can be a good boy an' pick up when I know good company's comin'," he replied with warmth in his eyes that said more than his words that he would welcome her anytime.   He shivered slightly as she ran her thumb over his knuckles, returning the favor though his thumb ran along the soft skin of her inner wrist.

As Natalie spoke of her mother and even mimicked her, Rory found himself laughing along.  "Gremlins huh?  In my home 'twas nixies an' pixies an' leprechauns, the last t' explain shoes I dinna remember gettin'," he joked along.  Their laughter eased off and they both sat there with similar looks, enjoying the reminiscing yet feeling the pain of their current situation.  She even started to apologize and he shook his head, pulling her hand up to kiss the top to quell her apologies.

"Yer mother knows ye, knows ye aren't the traitor ye been labeled.  We're gonna get through this, don' ye worry," he said soothingly then with one hand wiped his mouth with the napkin.  "I think before dessert there's somethin' I'd like t' do," he said as he stood and drew her up from her chair as well.  "Computer, would ye kindly play Unforgettable?" he said to the air and then bowed to Natalie.  "And would ye do me th' honor of sharin' a dance?" he asked her with that boyish smile.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #21


[Natalie Stark]

So many of her actions had been out of character that night, from the approach to Rory down in the bar, the fumbling burst of concern and the offer to take him back to her place, to showing up at his door in a dress - that dress - for dinner. And now this. But who was she to judge even herself? For tonight, at the very least, Natalie was willing to let herself be lost in the moment. Allowing Rory to help them both move past the unfortunate downturn in conversation, and letting the music sweep them into something else entirely.

Not that the kiss to her knuckles set her heart a flutter, nope, not at all. No chance, nope nope nope. Denial, in all its glory.

"I'm not a very good dancer," she admitted softly, as her hand squeezed his "But I'd be honored," she added, and was drawn into his arms, away from the table. The lyrical voice of Nat King Cole filled the room, and Natalie found herself smiling shyly all over again, wondering just what Rory was trying to say there. Subtle she thought, with a little blush.

Unforgettable
That's what you are,
Unforgettable
Tho' near or far.


She nestled in against him, one hand in his, the other draped across his shoulder. For someone who claimed to be bad at dancing, she certainly knew the positioning, if nothing else. Her hips met his, and she looked up at him, "Forgive me if I step on your toes?" She asked, swallowing softly. She'd let the man, and the music, push the darker thoughts from her mind.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #22
She said she wasn't a very good dancer but Rory simply gave her another of those roguish grins.  "Ye just haven't had th' right partner so far is all," he replied, perhaps with a bit of innuendo.  She stepped up to him and he took her hand with one of his own and reached down to place the other around her waist.  It was a slow song and easy to sort of shuffle to but as the lyrics flowed he eased her into a more proper dance.

He hadn't really thought about the song request much but as she pressed up against him he thought it serendipity.  She was unforgettable, from the way she smiled and laughed to the extremely good way she felt in his arms.  His eyes met hers and he chuckled lightly.  "Yer so light I doubt I'd feel it if ye did.  Even if I did, though, I'd forgive ye."  The hand in the small of her back shifted, not to grab her shapely backside but to lightly caress just that area.

"See," he said as she hadn't stepped on him at all.  In fact she moved quite well with him.  The computer took the mood and style and played another song so they wouldn't have to stop, something Rory would admit he didn't wish would happen as Blue Velvet played and then Unchained Melody.  By that point, he'd pulled her closer, trying to deny how much he enjoyed her breasts pressed against his chest.  As much as he wanted her, he wanted her to feel safe and special so he kept his hands in proper places.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #23
Of all her dance partners - few though they had been - it could easily be argued that Rory was indeed the best. In his skilled hands, she felt at ease as the two glided across the floor of his spacious guest quarters. Unfortunately for Rory, what innuendo may have been present went over her head. Having had only one (Two, if you count those blasted vines) - truly sexual partner in her day, she really had no idea there.

Three songs now, three sweet, romantic songs. The mood was certainly set, and her dance partner had done a rather splendid job of putting her at ease. "A girl could get used to dancing like this," she admitted to him. She swallowed a bit, and found that not only was her chest and hips pressed close to his as they danced, but to her amazement, her head really fit quite well on his shoulder, tucked in next to his chin. She could smell him then, so much different than earlier in the day. A nice smell to him, even if she couldn't quite name all the scents. What a damned odd thing to think about at a time like this, Nat!

Still, she was - she was genuinely happy. And he was right, she hadn't stepped on his toes, which made her feel unreasonably giddy. She turned her head up, still pressed to him, and factored the singer with a smile, a real, unfiltered smile - not the kind she gave most people when the social situation called for it. But the kind she'd found herself favouring the blond with from the moment they'd met in the hot spring bar. The happy kind with a hint, a promise, of something more, something they both seemed to be dancin around, as they danced together.

Re: CHAPTER 01: A Place to Lay My Head [2000 hrs.]

Reply #24
She didn't seem inclined to stop so Rory wasn't about to either, enjoying such a calm moment after so many horrific ones of late.  "A boy could too," he replied with one of those dimple-inducing smiles.  He'd always seen dancing as a chore before, learning from his mother and grandmother.  It was a lot different when it wasn't someone related to you and still had their natural teeth and hair.  In fact, Natalie was so natural that he imagined her like one of the fey, dancing naked through the trees ...  Stop yerself right there or she'll never forgive ye for pokin' at her, he thought to himself.

It didn't help that he could feel her intake of breath as her cheek rested upon his chest.  It was funny how the littlest of things could be so arousing.  This was no time to be thinking along those lines, not when he wanted to be a gentleman.  Then she looked up at him and smiled, something that made his heart skip a beat and he forgot to breathe for a moment.  He also stopped moving, just standing there looking at her with a stunned expression.  "Faith and Begorrah you are so beautiful when you smile," he whispered, looking quite awestruck as he reached up with a hand to caress her cheek.

"I promised m'self I'd be a gentleman, make this a special night for ye ... but I gotta admit I'm not feelin' very gentleman-like ... not when ye smile like that at me."  He swallowed audibly, the adam's apple bobbing a couple of times and he licked his lips.  There was no way she couldn't see he desired her and yet he was still holding back, trying his damnedest to be respectful because she deserved to be treated right and not like a one-night stand.  "I think ... no, I know I'm gonna need a cold shower," he said, actually starting to blush as his body reacted to her in a very obvious way.

 
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