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PRO: S [D01 | 0600 | Making a splash

CM 1 Nara Nueva | Deck 06 | Public Baths | Exercise pool Attn: @Dumedion

Nara was excited about her morning swim, her duty shift didn't start for a few more hours, and there was plenty of stress to look forward to. So the athletic redhead needed to exhaust herself physically well before she got sapped mentally and didn't have the energy for a workout after her shift in the labs. Her workout with Talia weeks ago had lit a fire under her and had provided more motivation to spend her time training. Though the Arabic woman's physique intimidated her slightly, she'd been avoiding the weight room and had primarily stuck to running the corridors and the lap lanes in the baths.

I need to get that woman out of my mind, she's too pretty, too distracting.

Looking around the empty exercise pool in the baths made her smile. She took some time to stretch at the poolside, doing some mobility exercises for her legsbefore jumping into the pool. Feeling her muscles stretch and warm made her smile. The calm before the storm, before duty, and before she would eventually run into Talia again. It had been weeks since she'd seen her on board, and she'd struggled to focus while thinking about training, imaging what her 'gym rival' was working on, and how her fitness was improving.

No, stop thinking about her, she's a weight's person, you won't see her... I really shouldn't neglect the weights though. Fine, after this, I'll go do squats and get it off my to do list.

So Nara had been obsessing over her physique, hitting the gym in every spare moment she'd had recently. The obsession fueled her mental dialogue was clearly stuck on her rival, and that tension warred with her need to follow an established routine. The stresses of figuring out a counter to Thalaron radiation had necessitated extra stress relief, and the gym and track were where she'd spent that energy. Through that effort and a carefully controlled diet, her body had begun to change, slowly getting back into something close to her Academy shape. Her muscle tone had started to improve, and she'd lost about a half-centimeter at her waist, small changes that only a keen eye could see in a mirror.

Finishing her mobility Exercises, she stood up and stretched out her arms slightly. While the pool area was empty, she almost wished there was someone to see her. She felt proud of the small changes to her physique, and while modest, the emerald green two-piece she was wearing did an excellent job showing plenty to be proud of. And there it was, the pneumatic hiss of the doors opening. With a glance over her shoulder, she dove forwards into the water would a loud splash, clearly not an experienced or skilled diver. But the point was to swim laps, not dive and try to show off that way.  Maybe whoever had entered would do a few laps with her, today felt like a thousand meter day, maybe they'd be up for a challenge?

Re: PRO: S [D01 | 0600 | Making a splash

Reply #1
[Ens. Talia “Shadow” Al-Ibrahim | Public Baths | Deck 6 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Tae
The humid air of the baths hit her as she entered, scented with the lingering tang of water treatment chemicals; dark eyes blinked as she scanned the scene, not surprised to find at least one swimmer. As Talia walked, she watched the slender, athletic red-head – a smirk pulled at her lips at the less than graceful dive – while her hands reached up into the mop of her hair to pull the ponytail there free. Once accomplished, Shadow rolled her shoulders, still feeling stiff after spending the few hours of sleep she managed to get in her ship.

Note to self, she grimaced at the pops from her neck and joints, don’t sleep in the cockpit again.

The previous night’s party had been fun, regardless; well worth a few hours of missed rest. It was a chance to get to know her fellow pilots better – something she should have been doing all along – but hadn’t. Still, she hadn’t indulged in alcohol, hadn’t gotten herself (or anyone else) in any kind of trouble, so counted the night as an absolute win. Her lips stretched into a grin as she entered the lockers; a hand tossed the mess of frazzled hair as her mind replayed the collective antics of the Wolves. Can only imagine the havoc we’ll unleash on the rest of the fleet someday – if we ever manage to get back. Pretty sure we’ll all get grounded within a month after rotating off this boat.

She shook her head at that, opening a locker with a quick glance around, eyes narrowed as she froze. “You better not be in here Goldie,” Talia growled under her breath, dark eyes darted around the room, searching for her prankster wing-mate. After a few seconds, when Tessa didn’t emerge or materialize, Talia pursed her lips and stripped, snorting at her own paranoia. Wolf hoodie, Get Shit Done Tee, leggings, socks, shoes, sports-bra, undies; all came off to get stuffed in the locker, then the pilot padded across the tile floor to the replicator for a swim suit. A few taps into the console later, Talia tugged the two piece on, which clung to her muscular form with surprising tenacity. Black and silver, the material closer to spandex, it was designed for swimming, not fashion; she had to take an extra second to adjust, grunting with effort. Fuck sakes, her dark eyes rolled after finally managing to separate her breasts.

“Let’s rock,” the pilot nodded to herself, then grabbed a towel on her way out to the pool. Her eyes almost instantly locked on to the only other occupant as she padded towards the opposite end, the towel tossed onto a lounge chair. Talia blinked, nearly frowning as she tried to make out who it was. Is that, her head tilted, Doctor Nueva? Surprise flashed across her features; as far as Talia knew, the Doctor was an avid runner – yet there she was, swimming her heart out. What are you doing off the track, Nara? Shadow smirked as she remembered the unexpected reunion with her Academy mentor, not long after the pilot had woken from cryo. Dark eyes watched the swimmer’s progress as Talia stretched her legs and hamstrings, wondering how many laps her old friend had committed to. It’s not a competition, ace, Shadow reminded herself, but the smirk on her lips grew anyway.

Once she felt properly limbered up, the Wolf shook herself out as she approached the edge of the pool, choosing a lane on the far edge. Hm. 1000 meters first? Maybe two, if there's gas left in the tank? Talia mused while she waited; once Nara turned and kicked off, the pilot took a breath and launched herself into the water as her mind locked into gym mode; when her head broke the surface, she was utterly committed to the task at hand – burning hard to the other end of the pool - as the pilot threw herself into the challenge with abandon.

By the second turn, Talia knew she needed to ease up her pace. Muscles were stinging, quickly becoming laden with lactic acid buildup; her heart-rate was already up, a steady pounding rhythm in her ears. By the time she reached mid-lap, the Wolf knew that 2,000 meters wasn't in the cards, not until she put some serious work in. It felt like she was dragging another body as she pushed through the fatigue, finally reaching the end of the pool, resting her arms out over the tiled edge, trying to catch her breath. One hand flung the mop of hair out of her face, then wiped the water from her eyes. Shadow was panting hard, shoulders heaving as she rested. Fuck sakes, she groaned mentally, pulling herself up out of the pool to roll on her back. "Yeah," she panted, "great idea, ace."

Re: PRO: S [D01 | 0600 | Making a splash

Reply #2
CM 1 Nara Nueva | Deck 06 | Public Baths | Exercise pool Attn: @Dumedion

Nara didn't have the endurance in the water that she did on the track, and by the time Talia joined her, her muscles were already burning, her lean body aching as she pushed herself harder because Talia was there also. Each of the 50-meter splits made her burn more and more. It was only by sheer willpower and what felt like more than one sprained muscle that Nara managed to keep up with her swarthy companion. The 'anything you can do' mentality she had for competition with Talia had caused a few minor injuries that she wouldn't let Talia see.

Barely a few seconds after Talia collapsed on the pool deck, she joined her, her auburn hair sticking to the ground in a wet mess. She'd heard Talia's utterance, but it didn't register as she gasped for breath, her face nearly as red as her hair. As much as Nara wanted to be suave and flirt with Talia, she lay there gasping for breath for a good minute or two before Nara finally broke the pattern of deep, ragged breaths and spoke.

"Looks like you also wanted to mix things up?" Her breathing was rough as she recovered, but a smile came to her face at the end as she said what she wanted to. No, that was dumb. Of course, she'd changed things up, and she needed to be mature with how she felt about Talia.

"I want you to know you've been stuck in my head. Between you and my work, I've been hitting the gym harder than I did even in the Academy. I didn't train this hard, even for the marathon. I still have a crush on you, and I was hoping we could share a meal."  And there it was, something she'd dreaded saying for the last week. And maybe Talia would take her seriously after pushing each other to exhaustion like this. At least Nara knew what to expect from sharing a meal with Talia, something nutritiously perfect to fuel their bodies, but it was an excuse to share company.

Re: PRO: S [D01 | 0600 | Making a splash

Reply #3
[Ens. Talia “Shadow” Al-Ibrahim | Public Baths | Deck 6 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Tae
She'd managed a grin as Nara collapsed next to her; the svelte runner seemed just as spent as the pilot. Talia chuckled slightly, not because she was amused at Nara's efforts – in truth, everything about the Doctor impressed her, and always had; the stifled giggle was simply a cathartic release between pants of breath, shared between people who understood the struggle. Shadow flexed her torso briefly as she rose to rest on her elbows, tossing a nod to her former mentor's question. Her chest rose as she inhaled to answer, but Nara continued – her voice pitched in the serious, clipped tone that reminded Talia of the way she used to sound at the Academy, before they had gotten to know each other. It was the voice she used during her initial tour, the one she’d used while rehearsing a presentation or quoting research sources; tense, matter-of-fact, almost rushed in a way.

Talia blinked at her, brows knit fractionally, as her brain tried to process the woman’s tense body language and words. She’d spoken quietly enough that they wouldn’t be overheard, even though they were the only ones there. She’s…nervous? Shadow realized, confused at the very idea. Nothing rattled Nara Nueva; Talia had seen her stare down peers and professors alike without so much as a flinch. A crush? On me? Dark eyes blinked again, unsure if she understood.

“I…,” Talia tried to form words, but her brain was still chewing on everything she’d just heard, leaving her looking quite like a fish out of water. Shit, say something you idiot, her brain barked as blood colored her face. Clearing her throat quickly, Talia sat up fully, offering a hand out to Nara to help her do the same, then scooted close enough to bump her shoulder into the scientist. “Ease up, Nara,” the pilot grinned, “I know that took a lot to say.” A giggle-snort. “Trust me, I know,” she repeated; putting her own feelings out into the world wasn’t exactly Talia’s forte either.

“I can certainly eat, you of all people know that,” Shadow smirked, then tilted her head and raked a hand through her dripping hair, taking a deep breath. Her mind was running into overdrive, but Talia fought through, past the rationalizations, to focus on how she felt; confused, concerned, excited, flattered.

Another grin dawned, as dark eyes held Nara’s. “I always thought you were just being nice. Humoring me,” a shoulder shrugged. “I mean, you were – are – brilliant, beautiful, successful at everything…,” Shadow chuckled a bit, breaking her eyes away from the Doctor’s to gaze into the water. “The Academy was a long time ago though. A lot has happened since then,” she added quietly, then shrugged and smiled softly. “I’m sorry if it seems like I’ve been avoiding you. That isn’t the case; life on this ship is just insane, you know,” she asked, tilting her head back at Nara. “And why the hell are you pushing yourself so hard? You’ve got nothing to prove habibti, not to me. So what’s really going on? Work?”

Shadow grimaced mentally at the deflection – but was also concerned for Nara. She hadn’t seen her at all these past weeks, and something was obviously eating at her. Talia couldn’t imagine what that could possibly be, but she was ready and willing to listen and help however she could.

Habibti – my dear/darling

Re: PRO: S [D01 | 0600 | Making a splash

Reply #4
CM 1 Nara Nueva | Deck 06 | Public Baths | Exercise pool Attn: @Dumedion

Nara laughed weakly at her situation and reached over to Talia's hand, giving it a firm squeeze. Out of all that, she needed to address the last point first. So reluctantly took a deep breath, smiling to Talia, the barest trace of humor on her face.

"I'm pushing myself so hard for three reasons, Talia, but you're right that work is up there for some of the stress. They're having me redo all of the work I spent the last few years in exile for, and I have to work with a Romulan, a Savi, and an Ensign that doesn't understand the first thing about my field. A fucking chemist, of all people. Useful, yeah, maybe, with what I need to do? No."

Her words had come fast, her strange accent flowing from her, making her speech nearly unintelligible. She got like this when she was mad or stressed, bits and pieces of the languages she knew working their way into her speech. After a moment, she took a deep breath and counted to ten.

"The other reasons are one, to impress you and impress me. So the easiest way to do that is to get back into competition shape. I can probably make a decent attempt at a marathon again with a few more kilos down. But I'm not exactly successful at everything, and it just looks that way. Besides, my career certainly shows that it isn't true. Anyway, here I am, working myself to death in the lab and the gym, all to impress this woman I have had a crush on since the academy. Even if there isn't or can't be anything between us, I know you respect the effort. I mean, Talia, I know you understand the grind with personal fitness. Not like there's an actual bodybuilding competition on board, even if we could put together a decent mixed-class show. You still put in the effort, and I know for a damn fact that it isn't all for your job."

Nara blinked then and slowly took in a series of breaths. She'd gotten herself worked up again and had hit Talia with a veritable fountain of word vomit. A deep flush ran across her features as she closed her eyes, counting to ten twice, once in English and again in Arabic, her lips moving softly while she formed the words.

"And if that didn't scare you off, let's get cleaned up and go get something to eat. Casual if you don't mind, I just pulled an all-nighter, so I need coffee and carbs."

Re: PRO: S [D01 | 0600 | Making a splash

Reply #5
[Ens. Talia “Shadow” Al-Ibrahim | Public Baths | Deck 6 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Tae
The look on her friend’s face combined with the tone of her voice told Talia she'd been less than successful at comforting her old mentor. Nice, ace, the pilot winced mentally. Still, she listened to the barely controlled tirade, even as her eyes and head fell. Dark eyes blinked as she tried her best to keep up with what was said, trying to focus on the words and not the tumultuous emotions behind them. Her head shook slowly as Nara paused, unsure what to say, so the Wolf remained silent and simply breathed. She'd never seen Nara like this – not even close. Shadow’s brows knit and jaw muscles bulged as she clenched her teeth, not in anger, but in concern.

When Nara continued, the concern on Talia’ face shifted through a range of emotive responses; understanding, pained sympathy, sorrowful disbelief, and finally, acceptance. The Doctor had dropped a literal bomb of emotion straight through Shadow’s shields and armor, hitting her harder than a plasma torpedo. Fuck, the Wolf grimaced as her head hung, elbows resting on her thighs.

While Talia certainly understood the gym grind – the similarities between their mentalities rocked her to the core. Nara seemed to be stuck in almost the exact same rut Shadow had been in, for years. Buried in work – utterly focused on pushing through imaginary barriers, while building impossible walls around everyone else. She’s consumed with fighting demons of her own making. A fight she’ll never win alone, and she doesn’t even know it – just like I didn’t. The pilot's lips pulled to the side to chew the inside of her cheek as faces of everyone she’d met and let in over the past weeks flashed in her mind, people that showed her how to have fun, how to live; some more than others.

Nara paused again, her tone shifting again…in embarrassment? No, Talia shook her head, sitting up as she squeezed Nara’s hand and met her eyes evenly, her face set in calm determination – the same face she wore when facing down a new sim, outnumbered and outgunned. Friendships had never come easily for her; life had never been easy, either, but Talia knew now that was mostly on her. She chose the hard roads, she chose to be alone, to face everything carrying a load she should have set aside long ago. I won’t let her walk that lonely road.

“Do I look afraid to you, Nara,” she asked quietly, calmly, but laced with iron. She let the moment ride out, blinking slowly for several seconds, then pulled her legs up out of the water to stand and held her hand out to help Nara up.  She helped her up without any difficulty at all, drawing her lithe athletic body close intentionally. Her fingers entwined with Nara’s as her free hand came up to swipe a dripping red lock of hair from her face with a soft exhalation, head tilting as her eyes searched her friends face.

“I can’t tell you what will happen with us,” Talia breathed, “but I do care about you. I’ll always be there for you; best as I can, and I do understand. More than you know,” her head dipped, as her hand slid to hold the side of Nara’s face gently. A small smile curved her lips then, as a decision was made – ignoring her mind, it’s doubts and irritating rationalizations. This was a time for the heart, for the best of intentions. “Nara,” Shadow whispered through the smile, as her thumb reached up to tap the scientist's temple. “Try to turn this off for awhile. Come on.”

Without another word, Talia stepped away, pulling the Doctor along by the hand towards the showers. She didn’t hurry, didn’t try to exaggerate her movements; Talia led her to the relative privacy of the showers, chewing her bottom lip, considering how to play out the plan in her head. She needs this. Hell, I do too. Probably Kali's lingering influence, the pilot grinned to herself as she shook the mess of her dripping wet hair out, all to aware of the view offered to Nara.

After they entered the communal lockers, Shadow continued past, heading straight to the shower stalls with their veiled glass doors. Only then did she release Nara’s hand; her left activated the water setting, before she turned to face her friend as her hands gripped the bottom of the stretchy fabric covering her bust. The Wolf pulled it up and over her head with a satisfied sigh, then dropped it at her feet. A brow twitched at Nara, her lips curling as a mischievous look gleamed in her eyes; nimble tan fingers looped into the thin band of her bottoms, tugging it down over her hips, revealing the taunt lines of her lower abdomen, to fall down sculpted thighs and land at her ankles. Talia hooked it with her toe to kick it aside, then cocked a hip as she leaned a shoulder onto the frame of the stall, lifting her head and gaze to her former mentor, hands resting on her hips.

“You look great in that, by the way,” Shadow told her in a throaty purr, her eyes glanced down Nara’s beautifully lean body, still clad in a suit she didn’t need anymore. “But you wont need it in there,” her head jerked to the side at the shower with a smirk, as a finger tapped the door controls. Her eyes lingered on Nara, conveying her intentions plainly, as she sauntered into the steamy shower, leaving the door open.

After a few moments of peculiar silence, while Talia soaked her hair, she realized that Nara had disappeared entirely. She blinked with a frown over her shoulder, head tilted to try and listen for the other showers. Well, nice job ace, Shadow sighed, and closed the door. Guess I could have handled that better, she frowned at herself, rolling the tension from her shoulders; whatever the day held in store, Talia knew it wouldn't be the end of the conversation between her and Nara.

Her mind blanked, trying not to worry about it, or the damage already done.


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