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The Hobbled Horse

Posted on Sat Mar 25th, 2017 @ 4:36am by Major Storr Garlake

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: USS Vindex (Deck 11)- Sickbay
Timeline: Mission Day 70: 2100

Storr listened to the rhythmic rise and fall of his breathing alongside the soothing beeps and pulsating lights recording his every biological statistic. Oddly, Sickbay was mostly quiet as the injuries sustained during the hostage rescue were miraculously minor and the MCO was the only patient there with a skeleton staff manning the facility, especially at such a late hour. Given the serene nature of the lowered lights and cadenced electronic warbles, the opening of the doors was jarring.

Jaya had been debriefed from her away mission -- the first time ever -- and given emergency traumatic relief counseling to several crewmembers who were struggling to perform their duties. It was hard to believe that it had been an entire 24 hours before she had visited Storr, yet the chronometer didn't lie.
She flashed him a bright grin before she even got close to his biobed. "Hey, stud."

Major Garlake smiled as genuinely as he could at his fiance before letting it drop and rolling his head back to straight against the bed. The right side of his face was still bandaged as were various areas around his ribcage, all evidence of the fight back on Veloz Prime. The facility...

Jaya cast a look of sympathy over her beloved. Before she said anything, she cupped his cheek in one hand and caressed his chest with the other. Her hands all but sparked as she attuned their bond with a comforting resonance. "How do you feel?"

He rolled his head away from Jaya; he couldn't stand to be under her gaze. "I'm feeling fine...thanks. Should be out of here soon, I'm sure." The hollowness of his voice belied how much he didn't believe what he just said, though not for the expected reason.

"One thing we need to settle before we do this marriage thing is," Jaya paused, then reached down to give Storr's hand a reassuring squeeze, "is that you will never successfully lie to me."

Storr winced. She was right; the nurses had said that he was virtually healed but he had refused their offer to remove the bandages. He was glad that he was facing away from could he face her? His face burned red with conflicting rage and shame.

"My love, don't hide from me," Jaya whispered. "Not when you've won me. You will always be my hero."

"No, no I'm not!" the burly Afrikaner bellowed, flinging his thin sheet to the ground and stomping away in a huff, the door barely opening before he barreled through it. Jaya was right again but...she couldn't understand. And why was he storming away from the one person that truly connected with him and could possibly understand? What did this gain him? He growled and slammed a fist into the bulkhead at speed, leaving a spiderweb of cracks in the translucent piping.

*Fok this introspective perdedrolle* he thought as he reached the turbolift. Luckily for him (and the turbolift control panel), one was already there and he entered, facing the far wall and not turning. When the doors closed, he knew that his maat was there with him, even if their link was not already burning between them. As her hand gently touched and then caressed his shoulder, Storr bristled. "Leave me," he said in little more than a grunt.

"Never." Her soft whisper fell across Storr's back like a rolling fog. "I know you are angry with yourself, but--"

"How could you know?" he asked, a boiling cauldron of emotion churning over deep within his breast. "How do you know what it's like to demand individual combat to vainly try and save your crew and love but to fail? And fail in front of my men? And you? To only be saved by you!" he took a breath only to continue on with equal fury, his stare figuratively burning a hole in the turbolift's wall in front of him. "And what were we there for, really? By the time we arrived, the situation was completely in hand by the hostages themselves...we put ourselves through the gauntlet for what, exactly? I risked your life, for what? If no one on this ship needs rescuing or protecting, why am I even here?"

Jaya tisked in quiet disagreement but continued to press Storr onward. He needed to release his bottled up anger and shame. She simply embraced him with her petite frame and pressed her cheek against him. And listened.

His voice lowered in conjunction with his shoulders sagging as a ragged, voluminous breath escaped. "My one job is to be strong. To fight. To win. I failed at that and you know what? It didn't matter one whit. All I did was prove my inadequacy in particular and the Marine detachment here in general." Looking over his shoulder, he met her deep blue eyes with a contrite glance. "I failed you."

"In your defense, I missed," Jaya said plainly, then giggled. "Badly. If anyone should feel ashamed, it's me."

Storr sighed like a sail losing its gale, though the faintest of smiles cracking his otherwise stony countenance. "You also aren't trained in accurate and precise phaser fire, either." The turbolift finally reached its destination and the MCO exited at a sluggish pace, plodding towards his destination.

"I also didn't save the day," Jaya said. "Well, I kind of did at one point, but we all played our part. If any one of us weren't there to do what we did, then the death toll would have been catastrophic. Or worse--Saalkan could have accomplished whatever mad plan he had in store." She shivered at the thought.

Garlake stood outside his door, staring at the bifurcated panels. "I...I just don't know, Jaya," he intoned in a near-whisper, shaking his head.

"Then trust that I do know," Jaya said, slipping her hand from his chest up along his neck in order to draw his head down for a kiss. Her lips drew tenderly at his. "Women's intuition." She pulled back and winked. "Besides," she added while drawing her eyes to her engagement ring with a flutter, "aren't you forgetting about your most important victory of all?"

Storr's stony expression broke as he reached down and scooped Jaya into a massive hug, kissing her soundly. His reality blurred for a long moment before slowly drawing away from the embrace. "You know, before we do this marriage thing...we really need to address you being right so often. It's embarrassing, don't you know," he said with a wink and a squeeze of the Deltan's backside as he continued to hold her in his arms. Comfort, warmth and now desire flooded through their bond, the dam of his emotional fortifications bursting under her constant assault.

"You truly are the most important victory I could ever have," he continued with a smirk, greedily dragging his hands up her sides just before reaching her chest and following the same path back down "and unless you start walking away right about now, I have half a mind to take leave of our pre-marital celibacy."

Jaya giggled, though it turned to a moaning sigh near the end as she lolled her head in circle. "You aren't ready for this yet," she said, gesturing toward herself, then leaned in to whisper, "I'm an acquired taste."

She turned to the side as if to go, but stopped and grinned at him over her shoulder.

"Now that you're back on your feet, perhaps tomorrow we present our intentions to the captain? Make some headway toward legalizing our... selves." The last word lingered on her tongue enough for her to bat her eyes.

Storr licked his lips as he watched the feminine curves of the Deltan Ensign sway away from him, her words like sticky-sweet honey in his ears. She was the consummate tease but she was HIS tease, now in name but soon in completion. A droplet of sweat beaded up and trickled down his neck in anticipation, both over the lust and concern of her very real "otherness" that threatened to consume him. The MCO clenched his fist and drove it into his other hand as he turned and entered his dark room. The threat was real but he would conquer it; there was no other choice because death was not an option.

*Besides,* he thought, the sonic shower blasting away the dirt, blood, and humiliation, *I'm the only one capable of breaking that mare of a counselor.* A smile traced across his lips as he continued he mental train of thought. *I'll take one for the team, of course...thinking of others, don't you know.*

"Oh, and Storr..." Jaya said, peeking her head through the bathroom door. "You could do with a shower. Maybe a cold one." She winked before slinking away again.

Garlake blinked and then guffawed. That minx! Turning off the shower and reaching over the divider for a towel, he couldn't help but shake his head as he dried off. She was going to be a handful indeed...


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