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JDL | Com Ivanova, LtCmdr Smith - "Make Believe" 2/2

Posted on 241803.12 @ 18:25 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Lieutenant Commander John Smith

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Captain's Ready Room


If half of the rumours about this Captain were true, she was certainly hard enough to make that call. Would he take it personally? Probably. Would he tell her how he felt? Probably not. Professionalism demanded he accept this level of compartmentalization as par for the course.

Did all this mean she was lying to him now, and just wanted him to believe she would never lie to him again? Did it mean she wouldn't lie to him, or omit information, even if it risked lives or violated direct orders? Or maybe, and this he considered the most likely, she was expressing a hope that she would never have to hide anything from him.

Hope was a wonderful thing.

Speaking of which...

"Captain, if you would excuse the presumption, your turn of phrase just now reminded me of someone at the masquerade ball last night. I attempted to locate her after the demasking, but had little success. Do you happen to know who it was? She would be a well-spoken Intelligence Agent, skilled at dancing, who was wearing a Winter Queen outfit, complete with holographic clouds."

The playing finger stilled itself against the PADD and the chill of the 'Gotcha!' brand of anxiety pooled in her belly before spilling itself over and draining towards her extremities. If ever the woman were to outright lie to him, now would have been that time. It wouldn't behoove her, however, to do so. it wasn't exactly a secret anymore who wore what during the night before - her noted absence had given her away the moment the clock struck twelve and ushered in a new day while waving goodbyes to the mysteries of the evening. The question now became just how she'd address the question and for a moment she allowed herself to consider him and just how dangerously unprofessional her actions had been during their time spent behind masks. He'd been a stranger. She feeling empowered and emboldened by his grace and intelligence - no rule had even been written that stated she wasn't allowed to have fun, especially when she thought she'd never see him again. He'd been assigned to a different ship. Of course, later, she'd discover the mistaken linguistics that head lead to them being deposited back in one another's circles.

"And snow... Yes, I know her quite well, actually." Rochelle finally found her voice, withdrawing her hand from the PADD to fold it with its mate, stifling a chuckle at the description he'd offered. An intelligence agent. Archer would be amused for sure when she shared, IF she shared, that particular tidbit, "She's not in Intel, though." Meeting his eyes was more difficult than she wanted it to be, but she did. An eyebrow risen as she sorted through every possible
response she could think of before settling on the truth and owning up to her actions somewhere between the two halves she represented; Rochelle Ivanova the woman and Commodore Ivanova the Commanding Officer, "She's in command."

"...I see." the man replied, wondering why the Captain wouldn't give him the Winter Queen's name. He wasn't aware of anyone in the Command team on this ship that shared her build, other than the Captain (though that thought was quickly dismissed as preposterous). He could only conclude that his partner from the night before was on another ship, or perhaps the station itself.

As to why his CO wouldn't name her, he could not say. Her icy friend might be inclined to privacy, freed from the bonds of shyness by the anonymity of the evening, and returned to her comfort zone in the morning. It was also possible that she had mentioned him in a recent conversation, and that he was to be excluded from her life deliberately. Could it be his dancing? Or perhaps something he had said? He couldn't know for sure, and now he was left with only one option.

"If you could, Captain, would you pass a message to her? I sincerely enjoyed our time together, and I would regret not seeing her again. Should she ever desire a moment's respite from the burdens of command, I would be delighted to provide a distraction. Perhaps afternoon tea?"

Her second brow worked upwards, mimicking it's mate as he spoke and her point was missed altogether. Had her reputation made it near impossible for people to accept her as she was? Or was it the idiotic work of fiction about butter and an Orca? No one in their right mind would have bought that one and he didn't appear to be daft. The dark cloud of confusion settling over his eyes spoke of genuine uncertainty, however, and that remained troubling as she sought to figure out just how her clues couldn't have been used to solve the puzzle unless he simply didn't want them to.

Closing her eyes, she could feel the ghostly memory of his lips gracing the back of her hand - encouraging her to come further from her shell regardless of how precarious the position she put herself in became. "No need for messages," Rochelle's eyes reopened and found his, "I rather enjoyed last night, myself. You'll have to explain the mix up of ship names sometime, maybe over that afternoon tea?" She asked, reaching to tuck a an errant lock of copper back behind an ear before it could become a problem.

"I'm glad to hear you enjoyed yourself last night Captain." he said, his subconscious suddenly jumping up and down, demanding his attention. "May I ask what...your....costume....oh. Oh." he stammered, taking a brief moment to put two-and-two together, and then beat himself over the head for his own stupidity.

Metaphorically.

"Yes ma'am." he asserted, feeling his personal side reel from the revelation, and taking refuge in the professional. "I would be honoured to accompany you to tea. Perhaps twenty-one hundred hours, Saturday?"

Rochelle nearly winced at the sound of the word 'ma'am' but somehow managed to steel herself away, remaining the picture of social professionalism as he recoiled and she mentally chastised herself for believing the veil of anonymity could last forever. "Twenty-one hundred hours on Saturday sounds fine." But would that song and dance continue? Should it?

Drawing breath she quickly offered a small smile, "I'll apologize in advance for whatever..." she drifted off, searching for the right word, "damper.... This little mix up has put on your mood, Commander. I felt it best to be honest and not leave you hunting for Cinderella." She explained, finding her feet in preparation to head to her replicator. After this mess, she'd need a hefty dose of caffeine to chase away the migraine she could feel building at the base of her skull.

"No need to apologise." he assured her, sensing the conversation take a turn for the depressing and forcing himself to refocus. No amount of self-disparagement would change the fact that he should have figured out it was her much earlier. Captain Ivanova seemed far more imposing than the petite snowflake he'd flirted with yesterday, and he'd forgotten that he wasn't the only one with a personal side.

"I did enjoy our time together last night, and I plan to enjoy our time working together as well. This is the first time that I've been...friends with a superior officer, so it's a little awkward now, but it will get better over time, I promise." he added, managing to smile without doing a deer-in-the-headlights impersonation. This was entirely new territory for him, so he was making it up on the go.

Stopping to order a raktajino, the firebrand couldn't help but look over at the man with a piqued brow and avid interest toying along the lines of amusement and the color of embarrassment that was trying to desperately paint itself across the greater frontage of her entire being. "Awkward is a good word for this." She nodded, once again trying to rid herself of the wayward lock of hair that continuously threatened to spoil her polished appearance. Silence seemed to win out as the two of them tried to figure out their footing in this rather uneasy dance they'd found themselves in. She, the itty bitty Commodore with the gigantic reputation for having the tenacity of a pit bull - he, the... Well... Marine turned diplomat with the kind eyes and elegant manner about him.

At least he had personality and zeal. Those were marks she could give him. Taking a sip of of her drink she sighed inwardly, determined to throw him a bone, "You know... That story about the butter and the whale?" Her lips pulled into a wry smile behind the large glass in her hands, "Complete fiction. So at least that can be given a rest." Rochelle couldn't help but chuckle and shrug from the absurdity of the entire thing. "I won't keep you any longer, Smith, pretty sure we've covered decent enough territory. Just send word as to who you'd like to post on the bridge and I'll see to it that it happens without push back."

"Yes ma'am." said the Lt Cmdr, giving the Captain a nod and heading out. His team would be here in minutes, and he wanted to sort out a few things before they docked.

---

Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

Lt Cmdr John Smith
Chief Diplomat
USS Vindicator

 

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