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LtJG Jarkil & Ens Dragomirov - "All We Have Is This Moment"

Posted on 2020-07-21 08:03 by Lieutenant JG Cillian Jarkil & Ensign Veda Dragomirov

Mission: Grains of Sand

It was almost a perfect day in the city — after a warm midday, a breeze was pouring in off the ocean and fog sat just a little way off the coast. Veda was hiding behind her favorite large black sunglasses, wearing a red halter top and black capris, and was perched on a pair of wedge heels that almost put her eye to eye with Cillian. She'd elected to leave her hair down, and the breeze was making her second guess her choice a little, but they would be inside soon enough. She looked over her shoulder, glancing at Cillian with a smirk as she tucked her hair behind her left ear.

"You'd think a pilot wouldn't be so slow, and would be more agile weaving through a crowd," she teased.

Cillian smirked right back at her. "Maybe I'm enjoying the view," he quipped, most definitely not talking about the scenery. He'd not seen much of Veda in civvies, and the way those wedge heels were making her ass look in those pants? He wasn't going to waste the opportunity to look while he had it. He wasn't staring, that would have been rude, but keeping her figure in his peripheral vision was distracting him from keeping pace with her a little. Almost meeting his death in the mirror universe had certainly taken it's toll on him once he'd had a moment to sit down and let the experience really hit home. Some things though, he was fairly certain were for the better. He'd faced death before, faced almost impossible situations before, but for him the most recent had been the closest he'd come to meeting his maker as it were. He just needed to work out how to go about this without being a tool again.

She laughed, and intentionally slowed down to walk next to him. "You sure you didn't French kiss your other self? I heard rumors that he was a charmer, even dared to flirt with the Captain? I'd even say that tales of his tongue spoke of the Blarney Stone."

"Definitely not... far too weird fer me," he replied, holding out his arm for her to take. "And ye really did walk yerself right inte tha' comment, literally and figuratively," he chuckled. "I'll have ye know, I've kissed it meself," he added with a wink.

"You don't say?" Veda took his offered arm with an eye roll and a smile. "Oh, here it is." A gentle tug guided him inside the small shop. It was cozy, filled with small tables that seated between two and four people each, and a staircase indicating at least one more level above. "I'll order, if you'll find a table? The third level tends to be best. No one wants to climb two flights of stairs, but I like balancing my indulgence with a little exercise."

He followed her into the shop, looking around with a smile; it was a quaint little place and busy enough that he knew it had to be good. "Sounds like a plan," he said, stepping away and dropping her arm. He headed over to the staircase and started to climb, two floors was quite a way true, but with the promise of that red velvet cheesecake he'd been craving at the end of the climb he was more than willing to pay the price. She was right, that not many other people had made the climb, and there were plenty of tables to choose from. He picked one over by the window, looking out over the city. He sat down and rested his forearms on the table, looking out of the window as he waited.

It wasn't long before she arrived with two plates in hand, and her sunglasses pushed back into her hair as if they were a headband. She set his plate in front of him, before perching on the chair across the table.

"How did you know this was my favorite table?" She quickly collected a bite from her slice, and the fork disappeared into her mouth as she closed her eyes and a blissful look crossed her face.

"Figured yeh'd like the view," he said with a shrug as he picked up his own fork. He sliced off a bite and the moment the cheesecake he'd been waiting for hit his tongue he moaned, savouring the taste for a moment before he swallowed. "Now that may well be worth the brush with death," he said with a rueful smile as he loaded up his fork for a second mouthful as he looked at her. "Ye know, it's probably a good thing I didn't know about this place in me Academy days, even with the climb up those stairs I think it might've ruined me figure," he added, realising he probably needed to lighten the mood.

Veda chuckled. "If I hadn't self imposed a rule that I couldn't come unless I had someone who was going to split a slice with me, and I knew they were bold enough to actually defend their half..." She smirked and tapped her fork on the white ceramic plate before collecting another bite. "Leave it to a pilot to have a good eye for the areal view."

"And yeh're all grown up now so ye get yer own piece?" he asked, his eyebrow raised in amusement. "As long as someone recognises me talents," he replied with a wink and then dropped his gaze to the cheesecake in front of him. He had to keep reminding himself to back off, that he wasn't stuck in that moment with a blaster aimed at his chest wishing that he had the freedom to speak. He filled his mouth with cheesecake to make sure he didn't say something Veda wasn't ready to hear.

"Me, grown up? Hardly. I just expect they'll reassign us soon enough before my lack of self control destroys my girlish figure. That and my parents want me to visit before I'm reassigned." She rolled her eyes. "At least it's summer, but my mother–" A string of Russian rolled off her tongue, complaining about turnip eating, wood carving, bumpkin suitors she expected her mother to parade before her.

Cillian glanced back up at her, wondering if she realised she'd slipped into Russian. "Is that a cue fer me te remind ye what I said I'd do regardin' that?" he asked.

"Shut up. If you came with me when I went home to visit, mother would immediately start planning the wedding while picking you apart, telling me what scrawny children we'd make." She laughed, and immediately filled her mouth with another bite of cheesecake as she stared down at her plate as if it was the most fascinating thing in the room.

"I assure ye, I'm far fr'm scrawny," he added with a mischievous glint in his eyes, but he was only looking at her for a moment before he dropped his gaze again. This was so easy for her, at least it always seemed it, not so much for him. She could joke about her mother planning a wedding all she wanted but it didn't change the fact that he wanted that kind of future with her.

"You do not have enough body fat for my mother's tastes. My father is strong, but he's also got a nice warm insulating layer over his muscle, like a bear. It comes in handy during those cold winter nights, apparently. I swear, the last time I visited her, she tried to feed me a feast suitable for an tsar's court because she was convinced that I was dying of starvation. 'What are they feeding you at Starfleet? A bread crumb and a thimble of water a day?' And here I am, occasionally getting reminded by Costello that maybe I shouldn't indulge in burgers and alcohol quite so much." Veda scoffed.

"The difference is, Costello is only teasing," Cillian said reassuringly. To him, she was perfect, but he didn't think he'd get away with saying that to her without making things awkward.

"He teases because he knows I know the truth of it, and yeah, I could stand to moderate my alcohol during leave." Veda shrugged. "The burgers are mostly replicated, so they're not horrible for me. But if you listen to my mother? One's diet should be mostly wild game meat and fish fat. She'll probably try to feed you bear paws if I take you home... my father has a special permit that allows him to hunt for cultural reasons, so he and his brothers usually go for a weekend in the fall and bring home a bear and some boar."

"Bear paws?" he asked, a little weirded out by that one, and he knew people who boiled cows feet... So, ya know. "Nothin' wrong with having protein in yer diet," he said with a shrug before taking another bite of his cheesecake. He'd been planning to get some decent flying in while he was here, but hadn't been able before the debriefs, so now with the additional pressure to go home himself and see his family, which he wasn't sure he was ready for he had been hoping for an excuse to hang around. Maybe a familiarisation session in a new shuttle, or three or four... anything to not have to look his mother in the eye and not tell her how close he'd come to not coming home this time. He couldn't imagine how Thal and Borom's families were dealing with this; he'd not recycled that uniform jacket yet, it was like he couldn't bring himself to recycle the last kind thing Borom had done for him.

Veda took a long moment trying to decide how to explain the bear paws, but when she looked up she saw the look on Cillian's face.

"Hey, are you okay?" She reached over to lay a hand on his.

Cillian's gaze moved from the cheesecake to her hand on his as he swallowed his mouthful, he took a deep breath and looked up at her. "I've still got Borom's uniform jacket. I'm terrified te go home because me Mam is gonnae know something's up, an' she won't drop it if I tell her the bare bones. Fearg would, he'd get it, he always has. Saiorse, she'd take one look at me with those worried eyes o' hers and I wouldn't be able te stop meself tellin' her everythin'." His gaze dropped back to her hand over his, and he knew he couldn't say the next bit of what he wanted to, so he skipped it, hoping she wouldn't notice. "They've recommended me fer counsellin' an' I'm gonna take it, I know I need te go 'ome but, it ain't tha' simple, is it?"

"No, no it isn't." She squeezed his hand and tried to offer him as reassuring of a smile as she could. "I've been trying to not think about it. I felt so horrible, standing there as it happened and I didn't do a thing. If it had been a battle field and medical triage? I would have moved on auto pilot, done whatever I could and I'd be okay with myself even as I mourned those who died. But I feel guilty, and because of how it happened, there's only certain people we can talk to." She looked around and was relieved to see that the family who'd also been up on this floor had left. It was empty save for her and Cillian.

He looked up at her, frowning as she spoke. They'd both been in a terrible position, but... "Veda," he said, turning his hand over and gripping hers. "You stepped up and bought us seconds, and those seconds made all the difference. I'm alive because of you, you know that right?"

"I still don't know how I managed to do that. I just did." She took a deep breath. "It was bad enough watching sh'Teris and Borom, but if he'd–" Veda suddenly pulled her hand back, and pointedly filled her mouth with a large bite of cheesecake.

Cillian almost, almost opened his mouth and said something. He wanted to, it felt like it was burning in his chest as he forced his mouth to stay closed. He stabbed at his own cheesecake, and he couldn't hold it back any more. "If he'd what? Killed me?" It was the first time he'd said it out loud, or even typed it out for his report. He'd stated at the barrel of the rifle had been pointing at his chest and that Veda had stepped in before he pulled the trigger, saving his life. He'd deliberately focused on the positives, because that was how he'd coped at the time. Slept for a day the moment they were back in Federation space and then he'd written his report before he'd even been asked to produce it and went back to flying the ship. He hadn't meant to say it so harshly, but she'd been sitting there holding his hand, clearly almost having said more before she pulled it back, and yet she hadn't and did she not realise how desperately he needed her to decide if this was worth risking something for or not any more.

"Yes, if he'd fucking killed you." There, she said it. She hadn't even admitted to herself she'd done the stupid thing of stepping in between a mad man with a disruptor rifle and Cillian because she couldn't bear the though of watching him die. sh'Teris and Borom had been bad enough, but she didn't know them much. She'd had a meal with Borom once where he'd talked her ear off about his wife, and it was the sweetest thing, but she didn't know him. She set her fork down, pushed back from the table, and stared out the window.

Cillian sighed heavily, still poking at his cheesecake, not really hungry and at a loss for what else to say. "I'm sorry, I..." Fuck, shit and bollocks. He didn't want to push her, he couldn't, he knew that, he knew that they couldn't be more than friends and he had accepted that. He stood up, and as much as he wanted to round the table and wrap his arms around her... he didn't. "I should go... Thanks fer the cheesecake."

Veda stared after him a long moment, as if she didn't quite understand it. Then a string of Russian swearing spilled from her lips as she stood and quickly followed.

"Cillian, wait. Please. I'm sorry." She caught his arm, hoping to stop him.

He was mid turn when he felt her hand on his arm and he paused and looked down at it. His gaze swept up to her face and before he could stop himself he pulled her into his chest and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight against him, and he didn't want to let go.

Veda immediately wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his shoulder. How long the two of them stood like that, she wasn't sure, but there wasn't anywhere else she wanted to be.

One hand moved up to her hair as he pulled back a little to look down at her. "Veda." He paused, not knowing what else to say and then he realised there weren't words. "Fuck it," he muttered as he hooked a finger under her chin and lowered his head, bringing his lips to meet hers.

Veda sighed softly when the drew apart again. "Cillian, I..." She wanted to remind him she still needed counseling, that she still needed to deal with the Johnny baggage, but. She leaned in to kiss him again. This felt right.

She looked like she wanted to say something, but decided against it, kissing him again. When they eventually pulled out of the second kiss he smiled down at her. "I know we've got issues, both of us, but... we can work through them together, yeah?"

"We don't even know if they're going to keep us on the same crew..." She closed her eyes. "But I guess we can face that together too." She bit her lip and looked around. "Can we sit down again, before someone comes up those stairs and we're making a spectacle of ourselves?"

"Sure, if yeh object te the spectacle," he replied with a smile, placing his hand in the small of her back and giving her a gentle push back to the table. He retook his seat and picked up his fork with one hand, and reached for her hand with the other.

"If I object to the spectacle..." Veda repeated as she let him guide her back to their table. "I thought that was spy lesson 101 — never make a spectacle of yourself unless it's a planned tactical move." She rolled her eyes with a smirk as she grasped his offered hand.

"Well then... maybe I'll have te make sure it's going te give me a tactical advantage one day," he told her with a wink.

She snorted and shook her head. "Should I ask what sort of tactical advantage a spectacle like that would be?"

"Wouldn' want te ruin the surprise," he replied with a grin before pointedly filling his mouth full of cheesecake.

She drug her finger through a bit of the cream cheese frosting that decorated the edge of the cheesecake, and flicked it at him. It hit him square in the nose, and she stuck her tongue out at him.

Cillian went cross eyed for a moment as he looked at the glob of frosting and then looked back at her with a raised eyebrow. "Are ye gonna waste that, or are ye goin' te clean up yer mess?" he challenged.

"My mess? The frosting is on your nose." She smiled sweetly and took another forkful of cheesecake.

Oh Cillian was so tempted to put the frosting back on her nose and see how she liked it, but he was fairly sure she would object to how he would intend to clean up the mess he made. So instead he took advantage of his extra long and extra dexterous tongue and swiped the frosting off his own nose with it. He hummed and let his eyes fall shut as he pulled his tongue back into his mouth. "Yer loss," he said, his voice low as he opened his eyes again and looked into hers.

Veda bit her lip and shook her head before she looked down at the cheesecake. "See? I knew you had it well in tongue– hand."

"Spoil sport," he muttered, still looking at her for a moment before he looked down at his cheesecake again and ate another forkful. "Or were you just goading me into showing you what I've got?" he teased.

"Why would I need to do a thing like that?" She smirked.

"Fine, keep your secrets, but I know your game," he said with a grin.

She laughed. "Game?"

"No, no, you want te be left wonderin' what else me tongue can do, I get it... Jus' wait till ye see me highball trick," he told her, winking and going back to his cheesecake, his gaze drifting out of the window as he chewed.

Veda pursed her lips, fork in her mouth, as she considered. Then her eyes opened wide and she grinned. "I saw that movie! Earth Girls are Easy, right? My Earth History prof at the Academy loved it, offered extra credit for coming to a movie night to watch it during my second year."

Cillian laughed "Tha's why I can do it, one of me mates dared me te try it in the bar after we left," he informed her with a smile.

"You had Lieutenant Dalitso also? Gossip liked Vásquez better, but extra credit for watching a movie won me over to defending Dalitso when the gossip brigade struck up their slander. She went all out too, did she do the drive in or theater style with your class?"

"I snuck into the class for it actually, had a friend in that class. I bugged him to request drive in, I enjoyed selecting the vehicle I wanted," he admitted with a grin.

"You didn't!" Veda laughed. "I'd heard a couple of cadets tried to sneak in my year, and ended up with KP duty or something when they got caught. Me and Larisa opted for lawn seating, but that just gave us a great view of the movie and all the cars people selected. There were some sweet rides... someone found the specs for a Tucker in the blue. Another had a–" She pursed her lips for a long moment as she thought. "A Charger, that's it. They'd covered it with ghost flames."

"O.k. so maybe I'm used to saying snuck in because that's what I tell everyone and I was trying to impress someone, but actually I just asked nicely," he replied with a slightly sheepish grin. "Don't ask don't get..."

"You really must have worked that silver tongue of yours to talk your way in, but that was probably the tactically sound option... So, I gotta know, what car did you pick?"

"Soft top, E-type Jag," he told her with a grin. "Series 1, of course," he added with a wink. It was one of the sexiest cars ever made.

"Type E soft top Jag... series one." Veda repeated the words, but it was clear she wasn't quite sure what they meant. She knew what a pretty car looked like, but she certainly didn't get in the nitty-gritty of it. "I'll have to look it up when I can get some time with the Starfleet archives. With some luck, that'll be a while yet though." She grinned at him.

"I can show you some time, I've still got the code for the car, I may have made it custom so I kept it," he told her with a grin. "Might even be able to find a drive in program if you fancied it... first date?" he ventured tentatively.

She smiled back at him. "Or we can make a picnic lunch, and I'll find us a driving route. We've missed peak wildflower season in the Caucasus mountains—otherwise I'd insist we actually go—but I'm sure we can find a holodeck program and drive that?"

Cillian laid his hand palm up on the table. "Sounds perfect, though having a real E-type would be amazing," he said wistfully.

She laid her hand in his, giving it a squeeze. "Sounds like we have some leave, maybe that can be your project? You find or build it–" and show me in the holodeck you can drive it as well as you fly a starship– "and we'll find somewhere to take it for a spin."

Cillian squeezed her hand back, and pondered what she was saying. "Knowing my luck I'll be home just in time to get hauled into delivery runs for the wool..." he sighed. "Plus I've got to finish that Hilux I was working on," he shook his head. "Besides, getting the materials and putting it all together takes a lot of time, I'm not sure we're going to have that much leave," he said with a smile as he tipped over the end of his cheesecake and sliced off the side. "Holodeck would be simpler, unless you're planning on us delaying our date that long..." he teased.

"I'm not putting our date off to wait for you to build some classic car. Have you met me? I'm not that patient." She scoffed. "Actual car date would be a later thing. What's a Hilux?"

"Luckily for you, patience is in my DNA," he told her with a grin. "A Hilux is a vehicle from the 20th Century, they produced a version of it for over 50 years," he said with a smile. The invincible truck they'd called it. Some car programme had drowned one once and it had still worked.

"You'll have to show me. And if you want company when you go home, let me know." She squeezed his hand again. "I may ask you return the favor, if you really think you'll survive my mother and a one transporter town in the northern most reaches of Russia..."

"How many times do I have te offer before ye take me seriously?" he asked, more than a little amused. "Cause I'm takin' yers at face value," he added with a grin.

"You might come to your senses and realize no matter how awesome I am, no one's worth middle of nowhere Russia." Veda shook her head and laughed; she was pretty sure even that wouldn't stop Cillian at this point.

Cillian grinned widely and leaned forward as he lifted Veda's hand off the table; he kissed the back of it and looked into her eyes, his expression totally serious as he spoke. "I very much doubt that."

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lt JG Cillian Jarkil
Pilot
USS Joshua Norton - NCC-74819-A

Ensign Veda Dragomirov
Combat Medic
USS Joshua Norton

 

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