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[BACKLOG] JL | Lt Sha'mer, Lt MacLeod | "Merry Meet Again"

Posted on 242004.17 @ 13:02 by Lieutenant Craig MacLeod & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Lacuna
Timeline: Shortly after Rochelle became ill

Leaving the Ready Room left Craig feeling... Well he wasn't entirely sure. Perhaps lonely, perhaps relieved, maybe even a touch jealous to realize that he was still alone. He wasn't envious Almar, per se, much more the fact that Almar had found that degree of companionship. Then again, he warned himself, it could all simply be one sided. Rochelle had been out cold and Almar left to his own devices and allowed to essentially get away with murder the way he doted over her. In which case, it left him envious more of Rochelle than the Cardassian, that is until he caught sight of the one person that chased all those ugly thoughts away.

"Ra'lin." He greeted as the turbolift doors opened. She was coming out, he was stepping in. "If they reports are for Commodore Ivanova, ye'll tae hauld yer horses. She's oan lea for th' next couple days, my orders." He nodded, folding his hands behind his back and dropping his head a bit. "She'll be right, though. No worries." He added quickly, well aware of how close she was to the skipper.

Ra'lin froze in her tracks, as much at the sight of him as well as because of what he said. The first evoked a sense of yearning, she longed for his companionship and, in the deep dark recesses of her shy heart, she hoped for more. But all those feelings were chased off when he spoke. "What's wrong with her?" she asked, heart suddenly hammering in her throat. An accident? It had to have been that. She hadn't been ill. She'd seen her yesterday, and very briefly early this morning, and she'd been – she'd felt fine.

The Scot's head shook quickly and he reached for Ra'lin's hands to hold them and help quiet her fears and worries, "Nothing horrible. She just needs tae actually sloch something more than say once a week. Her blood sugar dropped 'n' she fainted is all and Commander Dahe'el found her 'n' he's keeping an eye on her." Craig's explanation seemed so watered down, but it was the quickest way to allay fear and he knew it. Make light of it and people would breathe. Become morose and clinical and people would be rushing in that room with casserole dishes filled with their grandma's shepherd's pie (the force feeding of which would wind being being counter productive, causing the poor woman to have a hurl like no other). "I'm sure th' commander wull let ye see her when she wakes up 'n' haes had a bite. I skelp her wi' some insulin tae help bring her aroond."

It still felt off. Wrong. Not something Ra'lin could put her fingers on, just a kind of feeling. She sighed. "Maybe you can give these to the Commander, then," she muttered, indicating the small stack of PADDs she was holding. "Nothing really critical." More was the pity. If only they held something useful. Information regarding Si'a's whereabouts, for instance. But there was still no news, and though there was a saying about no news being good news, Ra'lin was very certain that didn't apply to kidnappings. "Give him my regards."

She just wanted to pull her hands out of his (warm hands, large hands, strong and self-assured ones) and rush off, and at the same time her treacherous mind wanted her to stay and wanted time to freeze, just to be able to enjoy this simple sensation without the complex situation which prompted him to take hold of her.

"Why dinnae ye set them on his console, ha'e one o' th' ensigns tak' them tae him when he's duin for them?" He suggested, smoothing his thumbs over the backs of her hands without thinking about it. Ra'lin had always gathered his mind and taken it to places far more serene than reality. Memories of heather and the stag bubbled up and he wasn't one that wanted to tamp them back down, "Join me fer dinner?"

Ra'lin looked up at him. Even without the stag's crown, he was so much taller than she. It was odd to see him in a Starfleet uniform, she was used to seeing him in other outfits. It was a weird blending of worlds. She had brought him from his dying world into hers, and now he wore the clothes that went with it. They did suit him, but she had the feeling, seeing him like this, that he was playing dress-up now and that the outfit he'd worn during the ball had been his true nature.

"Dinner?" Was it time for dinner already? Rochelle wasn't the only one who lost track of time and meals, it would seem. She smiled shyly at him. "Sure."

It was his turn to smile, and his was anything but shy as it spread across his features and settled in his eyes, lighting the emerald fathoms bright as anything as he nodded, appreciating that she'd accepted his invitation. Out of everything that felt truly 'alien', Ra'lin was by far the most comforting facet of his new life. It wasn't that she was predictable, but that she was kind and true to her heart (qualities that were often so very lost on and in people regardless of race). So many held their cards close, but with Ra'lin she was ever willing to let her team take a peek from time to time. Craig found it refreshing just as much as he found himself pleased as punch to have the chance to spend time with her again. The ball had been a brief, though intimate, encounter, It had left him craving more.

"That settles it then, ye pat th' padds doon 'n' we sit doon fer a proper meal fer th' foremaist time sin..." He paused in thought, going through memories as best he could, "Weel... Sin ye were Ray." The smile never died, it simply soften with a chuckle and shake of his head, "Good times, nae?" How awkward he felt, the song and dance that came with courting so rusty in his brain it left him mentally kicking himself.

There had been good times down on his world in a distant past, and bad, and between getting beaten up and trying to get prisoners to escape before they could be hanged by requiring Rochelle to act as the adultrous wife, there had been more bad times than good. But nearly all the good ones involved the man smiling down at her. He had managed to find her while she was slowly freezing to death in a back alley and had brought her back, and she had touched his mind, an experience she could never forget. And even now, the barrier between her mind and his seemed paper thin, she would only have to lower her shield, relinquish control and they would be there again, far away from Starships and Captains suddenly falling ill.

She placed the PADDs she was holding carefully on the desk and touched his face in return. "Good times indeed…"

The bridge crew, skeletal as it was, was non-existent or at least forgotten about by the burly young highlander. Forgetting place and time was an easy mistake, and a familiar rabbit hole he found himself tumbling down more often than not. Now was one of those moments. Under her touch he found himself dipping his head, making it easier for her to do so, "Fair warning, tis bin a long time sin I've courted a'body. I'm, uh, a bawherr rusty." He explained sheepishly, "'n' my idea o' courting kin be wey far offae what's... Weel... Normal... Fer this time I mean." The fumbled advance apology made, he couldn't help but shrug in his strange feeling of helplessness. The question of just how people operated during this time and age remained so much a mystery, but he couldn't help but wonder just how much of it had really changed. At that point he was aware of them taking leave towards the lift and, beyond it, the dinner he'd offered. Doing right by Ra'lin was a priority the same way that in a few hours he'd be running new labs on the stricken Captain.

"Um." Ra'lin blushed. "You still have more experience than I have, I can tell you that right away." She had never been one to court relationships. Before she left for the Academy, she had been too young, and the daughter of the Colony's CO put a crimp in even a hint of puppy love. Besides, she'd always had Michael: best friend and brother in one, she didn't need anyone else to fill the spot. During the Academy days, there were always girls who were more popular, more adult, prettier and more outgoing than she was, so she hadn't had much of a social life there, either. A few friends which were more acquaintances or roommies, people to go to a holosuite with or have a quick bite out to eat, but nothing nearly as fancy as a real dinner, or a true date. She never had the sense that she missed out on things, at least not until she left the Academy at last and joined the Vindicator crew. And even then, it was a vague absence she'd felt – until she met Craig, who filled her with a desire she was afraid to even admit to herself.

"Maybe." He replied as the doors to the lift slid shut behind them and he called for the lounge. Food was a bit better there, the ambiance so much richer and quiet. He'd take that for what it was worth; it's weight in gold. The question of romantic prowess was one met with introspection clearly based around how things had gone throughout his own life. As a young buck, son of the Laird, he was always surrounded by women wanting a piece of the pie. Fun as it was, it didn't last long and he never truly had to 'court' anyone, they'd come to him. His wife had been chosen for him, clan negotiations had seen to that when it was certain the two would survive infancy. That was just how the world was back then... Way... Way back then.

He'd had a family. It was gone. The world he'd known... Gone. But what he did know was Ra'lin, at least a little, and that left him with a bit of hope that he wasn't completely and utterly screwed when it came to the dating game. The lift ride was quick, but spent with small talk and awkward pauses, mainly on his side as he tried to straighten himself out, "I , ah... I Picked th' lounge acause o' th' stars. I haven't gotten a chance tae get tired o' keekin at thaim 'n' ye belong tae them sae it mak's sense in mah mind, at least." He explained, gesturing that she take the lead with a sweep of one hand.

"Plus there's this chicken salad bit that's pure braw. Hae ye tried it? o' course ye hae. Ye bide 'ere." Shut up, Craig.

"That still doesn't mean I've tried everything on the menu," Ra'lin said with a smile. "And as for the stars… I live amongst them now, and I never get tired of looking at them. But I've grown up on a planet, just like you. The stars were just a bit easier to reach from there, though." She entered the lounge as she talked, and was pleased and surprised to find it was still empty. "Table near the window?" The stars were there, scattered like diamonds, and the nearby nebula could just be seen from here.

"Och aye, perfect table." Craig nodded, altering his course accordingly. It truly was a perfect table. The vantage point it afforded was one that left him in awe, if not a slight bit mystified. Somewhere out there floated the remnants of his home world some 15,000 years after he was rescued. It stood to reason that before the Vindicator had cut through the anomaly that had brought it into his life, that he'd been dead for centuries. Go back again, he'd be there. Or would he? "I keep wondering... If... If I've been erased fae history back there. If tis lik' I ne'er existed if say I went back tae th' time afore th' star or sun or whitevur exploded." He heard himself speaking, soft and a touch melancholy as he gazed out upon what they could see of the nebula.

His head turned gently, allowing him to catch Ra'lin's eyes. Craig's own brows were furrowed with worry that she'd misunderstood and he fumbled, tripping a bit over his own words to try and convey the origin of such thoughts, "Dunnae get me wrong, I dinnae wantae go back, nae at a', bit I wonder nonetheless. Philosophical details, I guess."

Ra'lin frowned. "As far as I've understood temporal mechanics – and mind you, I'm not a scientist, let alone an expert in time stuff – I think you existed there right until the moment you left, and that in itself hasn't erased your existence. If nothing had happened, people would've noticed that you just disappeared one day, along with the rest of us…"

His head shook slowly as he listened, trying to absorb what it was she had to say. It was ripe with reason and he had no reason to reject it, and he didn't. Nor did he reject the sense that she was working to comfort him and soothe his weary soul. Craig was grateful for her, as he always was, and those he remained quiet for a time, his mind and emotions whirled about the inside of his skull at at least a thousand miles an hour. "I dinnae ken how come we a' hing on tae something we ken we're better aff letting go o'. Tis lik' we're scared tae lose whit we dinnae even pure ha'e. Some o' us say we'd ower ha'e something than absolutely nothin, but th' truth is, tae hae it halfway is harder than nae ha'in it at a'." He finally said with the softest of shrugs, well aware that he was entering the deep end when it came to emotional and philosophic topics that should have been left for a time or two later, not a first date sort of affair.

But that was how it worked with Ra'lin. Nothing was simple, but it wasn't exactly difficult either. It was decidedly perfect and ripe with intelligence and easy speaking no matter what the topic was, "Normally, one life is a' that we git, whither tis enough or nae enough, 'n' the ob'ious conclusion would seem tae be that at th' vera least we are fools if we dinnae bide it as fully 'n' bravely 'n' as beautifully as we can." He nodded as the waitress came to take their orders and went away to put them in, returning only briefly with drinks to help keep them hydrated. Craig found himself watching the way the light of the nebula played upon Ra'lin's hair, watching it radiate and shine like some sort of angelic aura, and smiled softly to himself.

Ra'lin was silent for a few moments herself, thinking about how to reply. That this was not really a subject for a first date didn't occur to her at all. "Culture shock. Homesick." She said the words slowly, glanced up at Craig, then stared at the table. " Some people never really understand what those words mean. Others get a hint of it, or more. For instance, a roommate of mine in Starfleet Academy came from a small science colony, maybe five hundred people there, all in all. She knew all their faces. Never travelled beyond it. Then she joined Starfleet and was suddenly thrust into an environment where we sometimes had as much as five hundred people in one college hall. That was culture shock."

She looked up again, placed her small hand on his. "You've left everything behind that you've known, and unlike my roommate, you can never get back to it. It's no wonder that you're often thinking about it. It's… You grew up there, had a past, you've cared for people, loved them, lost them… And suddenly you were torn away from it all. If-" she bit her lip, then continued. "If your sun had been stable for another hundred, five hundred, thousand years, you would've had to leave the area where we had been, but you'd still be there in your own world, surrounded by all the things you've known, you could've started another life somewhere else." Her eyes, large in her elfin face, reflected the stars outside. "But you'd never have seen the stars and travelled beyond them… So, yes, you're part of two worlds, two lifes…"

His eyes brightened somewhat as he peered at where her hand lay upon his, proof that he was still alive and not stuck in some corporeal dream. She was so very warm in spite of being so very tiny and filled with life and knowledge that broadened horizons much more than just seeing stars from within the starfields ever could. "Aye... That I did. Ha'e a past, tha' tis." Craigs answer came slow as he considered thoughts and options within his life. At some point his hand, the one she rested hers on, rotated slowly to bring her palm against his and his fingers gently coiled over hers. "That's a' weel 'n' grand, bit in that hypothetical world I wouldn't be able tae ken ye th' wey I dae... Th' wey I'm waantin' tae, ye ken."

Ra'lin nodded. She knew exactly what he meant. "Yes. And in that hypothetical situation, I'd have to let you go… And I would have, of course… but part of me would always have remained behind." He had seen her, really seen her. Her true appearance, and her mind. And he hadn't thought her ugly, or plain, hadn't turned away from her. And in return, she had allowed herself to dream. Of something beyond friendship, something she had only witnessed from the outside, never experienced herself.

"Wid hae bin a cryin' pity. " Craig breathed on the softest of sighs, quietly stroking her fingers with his as they spoke, "I'm glad o' this, ye ken, o' bein' 'ere, o' ha'in ye in mah life. Juist thought ye should ken afore ye think th' worst o' mah blubbering."

"And I'm glad you're here," Ra'lin said quietly, but with a gentle, radiant smile. "Selfishly glad." She didn't have any idea how to proceed from here, but right now, that didn't matter. 'Here' was enough for now.

In return, he offered her a smile and was about to open his mouth to say something else when the waitress showed back up with their food, setting the plates down and instructing them to let her know if they needed anything else. Craig immediately packed whatever it was that he was going to say right back down where it came from and nodded, gathering up his fork to mess with the chicken salad in front of him, "Here's tae th' future then, mo ghràidh."

Ra'lin didn't know exactly what that meant (though she had the feeling that she did know, at some level, and it made her blush), but it was a sentiment she could get behind. The past was the past – very much so, in Craig's case – but the future was the future, and who knew what secrets it would hold. "To the future."


Lieutenant Ra'lin Shamer
Captain's Yeoman

Lieutenant Craig MacLeod
Chief Medical Officer


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