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JL | Atarah, Comm Ivanova | Reunion

Posted on 241712.28 @ 00:20 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Commodore Andrea Levine PhD & Danielle Atarah

Mission: Ballynamony
Location: USS Vindicator

The hallway was well lit, but Dani's eyes -- both the technology and the Engineering sense behind them -- could recognize the subtle difference in the luminescence that suggested some internal damage. She shook her head and continued down the hallway. It was only a few months ago that the Vindicator was a brand new ship, pristine and shining, off to its mission... and now, a few months later (or was it 150,000 years later? damn temporal dynamics) and the ship bore the evidence of damage.

She turned the corner and glanced at the walls, mentally collecting information about systems that looked a little off, as if making a mental list of what needed to be worked on. She smirked, and stopped in front of the door she was looking for, reaching for the chimes. Old habits die hard.

Paperwork. Always paperwork. It may not have been made out of paper anymore, but that's what it was. Three PADDs lay out in front of Rochelle, but the one she worked on was the one that left her mood the most foul. She was maybe three thumb prints, and a signature, away from finalizing the divorce. Landon had fought, but he wasn't in a place to do much of anything about anything. In many ways, the Trill had lost it all. The betrayal still stung... An affair of the flesh she could have learned to forgive him for, but an affair with narcotics? No. That was the final cut in what she was slowly realizing was a series that had altered the course of her life - and not for the better.

The ring of the chime caught her attention, and pressing her thumb on the bottom of the page she was working on, she sighed. Two more and a signature to go and there it would be... Years of devotion summed up in one stoic and sterile little PADD on her coffee table. "Enter!" She called.

The door opened and Dani marched in, a familiar lopsided smile gracing her face. It was clear Rochelle was in the middle of unpleasant reading, whatever it was, and Dani was hoping that won't sour the reunion. She let the brass take first stabs at greeting the fierce Commodore and her returning ship, and allowed some time for the woman to breathe -- an act Dani considered supremely graceful and patient. Perhaps she was growing up after all.

As she walked into the room, her lopsided smile evolved into a purely happy, content, grin. It was good seeing her friend back, safe and sound. Very good. With a wink, she raised a hand in a wave that was half a salute, and then gestured at the door. "Look at that. I used the door this time."

"Holy shit, I never thought I'd live to see the day." Rochelle replied in greeting, astonishment tainting her voice as she looked up and over her shoulder. The expression melted away into a brilliant smile, the genuine happiness to see her friend dissolving the storm cloud of depression and anger that had been hanging over her. At least temporarily.

Andrea also turned the corner towards Rochelle's quarters, but unlike Dani's Engineer mind, her gaze didn't concentrate on the improvements needed. Instead, her eyes traveled across the space as she walked, drinking in the atmosphere of a spaceship. She was happy being home again, on Earth, with a job she loved and surrounded by family on solid ground that was covered with permanent natural atmosphere -- but space is not something you get away from for long. The stars still called, even though quietly, and the memories of being in such a ship surfaced, filling her with emotions.

She paused in front of the door, almost missing it entirely in her reverie, then shook her head to clear her mind, smiled to herself, and hit the chimes, adjusting her posture to hold the bottle of wine she brought with both hands.

"That must be Andrea," Dani noted, not waiting for approval to open the door, watching with self congratulatory smirk as the older woman walked in with a wide smile that touched her eyes and lit her face. She seemed to ignore Dani - giving the younger woman only a quick nod as her attention shifted and her eyes looked for Rochelle. They found her, and the smile grew warmer, full of relief, as if it took seeing the woman sitting at her desk to convince herself that she was okay. Andrea walked over, placed the bottle of wine in Dani's lap without a single comment, and wrapped her arms around Rochelle. "God, it's good to see you well."

Dani looked at the bottle that appeared in her arms and smirked, giving the two women only a few seconds before grinning again. "Good, the band is back together. I have a surprise for you two for dinner. We can catch up." She walked over to the two, feeling slightly excluded from the hug she wasn't quick enough to offer.

"Good to see you again." Rochelle replied, returning the embrace. It was hard to swallow, just how close she'd come to never interacting with them again - how close the Vindicator as a whole had come to just not returning. In the time they'd spent traveling back from the expanse to Cold Station Theta, Rochelle hadn't been able to help drawing parallels between how her own mother had disappeared, vanished with an entire ship without a trace, and what had happened to her own crew and her own ship. How easy it had been to become lost, and how cocky they'd been in thinking they were untouchable with their new ship with all of it's new technology. Space had reached out and proven, once again, that she was a cruel mistress and wouldn't let them forget just who it was in control.

Dani's voice ruptured her thoughts, and the redhead released Andrea with one arm in order to fish through the air until she reached the other woman's arm. With fingers wrapping around what she assumed was a wrist, she drug her towards them and squeezed them both, "I'm not exactly surprised that you have a surprise with you, Dani. I'm just happy to be here to see it."

They stayed there for a long moment, embraced, smiles pushing away lines of weariness on each of their faces. To Andrea, at least, this felt like more than just a reunion. It was a reminder of the bonds that they've shared, and that cannot be broken, regardless of the time that passed. It was a reunion of more than just visiting one another; it was family.

It was Dani, of course, who freed them from the embrace that could otherwise have lasted hours. Or maybe it had lasted hours; time seemed to have melted. "We seem to have a tendency to only do this after one of us almost dies," she pointed out, a smirk that was half amusement and half sarcasm blooming on her face.

"No one dies." Andrea scoffed, but her expression was tinted with the same humor and relief. "We need to make sure we meet more often and break the streak."

"I'm game. And now that I own my own chain of restaurants, I can even guarantee good food!" Dani grinned, and turned towards the table to examine it.

Rochelle huffed a soft half-laugh, half-sigh and nodded gently while fingers reached up to rakes through and worry her hair. It was loose for once, rest unfettered against the middle of her back. Uncharacteristic, but a change she'd found necessary to alleviate the headaches of that 'paperwork' that, now, had been forgotten for the sake of enjoying the company of her unflappable, infallible duo of friends. "I'll pass on the dying part, double down on the good food and meeting part." She grinned, "Especially if it means you two will be around more often." Smoothing those hands down along the sides of her jeans out of habit, she was thankful for the way the rough textile brought her back from the edge once more and allowed her to remain in the here and now instead of locked away in the doldrums of her own head.

"I owe you guys my life... The lives of my crew." Her voice was small as it rose in reprise, "I don't know where to begin or how to start saying thank you because thank you just sounds so hollow." She shrugged.

"You gave us quite a scare," Andrea nodded, not unkindly. Dani huffed a laugh and slipped into a chair, smirking. "I was just happy to see you don't have a habit of throwing away my gifts."

"With your gift, I wouldn't be surprised," Andrea muttered, shaking her head as she lowered herself onto the sofa, letting the plush pillows swallow her body. "You're lucky your little device didn't get you into trouble."

"Bah," Dani waved, "everyone's acting as if I devised a plan to spy on the flag ship. It's not like I sent a camera-clad rat into the XO's bathroom or anything," her smile expanded into a winning grin, and Andrea coughed a laugh, remembering the adventure her own daughter embarked on in an attempt to help find her when she -- and Dani -- were the ones in trouble.

"Please don't." Rochelle piped up, "One camera-clad rat barging into my bathroom is enough for me... More than enough." She chuckled. It felt good to laugh, felt good to be around them again and able to remember good times instead of dwelling on the bleak one standing at the forefront of her mind. "Regardless, I wouldn't dream of throwing away anything you give me..." The redhead paused in thought as she drifted towards the replicators in search of beverages for herself and her friends, "Aside from glitter. Glitter gets tossed and then it shows up again six months later when and where I least expect it. Coffee?"

"Damn," Dani grinned, "one surprise foiled! No glitter, fine. How about dinner, instead? The Bristol's chef is Earth-renowned. I thought you'd appreciate."

Andrea glanced at the younger woman and shook her head, "You just had to bring 'staff' with you, did you."

"Not me," Dani smirked, shrugging, and placed a small combadge-sized device on the table, "Zett sent them over. She wouldn't take no for an answer on having the Bristol join us, and I didn't really mind pampering the crew with a good chief. Now stop busting my ass and let's sit for a good dinner." She pressed her wrist watch and spoke to it. "Dani to the Bristol. We are ready, target the beacon and transport."

Before anyone could say anything, the table filled with newly materialized carefully assembled dishes, two bottles of wine, and a small array of side dishes. "If it helps," Dani raised a hand to shut Andrea's audible snort in its tracks, "the Bristol crew is eating the same thing."

"Show off," Andrea smirked, still, and walked over to sit at the table. Dani grinned, and didn't bother saying anything.

Paused by the replicator, Rochelle's eyebrows lifted as she watched the food and setting appeared. It was almost like magic, and deeply touching that Dani had taken the time to remember her favorite food. The scent of garlic and sauce and hot cheese and chicken wafted through the air and convinced her, finally, that coffee, and only coffee, was not the nourishment her body so desperately craved. "You remembered." She smiled, making her way over to Dani and gripping her friend's shoulder, "Never knew you to be so sentimental, Dani, it's a good look on you." She added, taking up a seat as she passed.

"I wish I could take credit," Dani winked and sat in front of her plate, "but this one's all on Zett. My plan was to bring you guys wrapped hamburgers from Shake Shack."

"Thank goodness for Zett," Andrea shook her head, reaching to pop open the bottle of wine and fill three glasses around the table. "I have a feeling your plan also involved bombarding us with confetti when we unwrapped--"

"It would've been edible," Dani groaned, sounding genuinely sorry she had missed the opportunity. Andrea shook her head again and leaned forward to pour wine into Rochelle's glass.

The smile painting itself across Rochelle's face was both sad and thankful, warm and filled with sorrow. Strange as it was, it still managed to light her eyes - a credit to the company she kept that evening. She watched as the rich red hued Merlot filled her glass and she nodded her appreciation to the woman pouring. Seconds later she had it gathered in her hands, her fingers worrying the stem a bit, "Even Steak Shack would have been awesome," She piped up, "This?" She gestured to the spread, "รจ magnifico."

It had been Chicken Parmesan the night that Landon had proposed - albeit by hologram and helped by Cecil, but he'd taken the time to remember her favorite dish. How fitting it was that she sat on the eve of the finalization of her divorce enjoying the same meal... This time in the sanctuary created by good friends who hadn't the foggiest clue anything was wrong. At least not yet... If they were suspicious, they were presenting Oscar worthy performances at keeping it hidden and she, she was sure, was beginning to fail. She held the glass up and out towards the other women, "To those who have seen us at our best and have seen us at our worst, and can't tell the difference."

Dani raised her glass, nodding, her signature grin expanding on her face, her glass tilting as she nodded. "Hear hear."

Andrea smiled too, but her smile was more nuanced, her eyes reflecting something deeper, thoughtful, almost rueful. Of course she saw, of course she knew. Not the details, to be sure, but the symptoms, the pain, the sadness -- she could read that on Rochelle's face since the moment she's seen her march out of that injured ship in the landing bay. She will ask. And offer, and explore, and listen... privately. Quietly. After the food is consumed, the reunion is over... and they're alone. This evening was about taking a break -- each from their own troubles, lives, and concerns -- and concentrating on the friendship and love that surrounded the table, peppered with lighthearted fun that spread -- like confetti -- from Dani's side of the table.

"And to those who pretend not to," Andrea finally lifted her glass and tipped it slightly, giving Rochelle anything but an actual wink before bringing the glass back towards her lips and sipping, carefully, tasting the wine.


Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer

Commodore Andrea Levine-Grant, PhD
Dean of Science, Starfleet Academy

Danielle Atarah
Privateer, Ex-Starfleet Engineer
Earth Syndicate


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