Sunday, June 3, 2012

Your Enemy is Dead Part III


Your Enemy is Dead
Chapter III

It was the next morning.  Rand had just been released from sickbay, a huge smile on her face as she waved her insincere goodbyes to the medical staff.  With a fresh clean uniform on, Rand trotted down the corridor, anxious to get back to her duties.  Her head injury had not been serious, so she was mercifully discharged after one day of dealing with pills, shots, scans, McCoy, and Chapel.

“Hey Ny, wait up,” Rand called out.  She spotted Uhura, who was just a few paces away from her in the corridor among the morning bustle.

“Hi, Janice,” beamed Nyota Uhura as Rand caught up with her.  “I see you’re out of sickbay.  I know you’re happy!”

“You ain’t kidding, friend!” 

“Did McCoy and Chapel give you a hard time?”

“Don’t they always,” quipped Rand.

Uhura laughed and patted Rand on the shoulder.  “At least your out of there,” she said assuredly. “So, Janice, you headed to the bridge?”

“Yeah, but after my accident McCoy had an orderly return my recorder back to my quarters, so that’s where I’m going now,” said Rand.

“I can walk with you to your quarters, then we can walk to the bridge together,” Uhura offered. 

“Great,” said Rand.

“Yeoman Rand,” called a voice from down the hall.

The two women spotted Captain Kirk, who was heading toward them in the opposite direction.  He stopped in front of them and nodded curtly at Uhura before addressing Rand, with the same hurried lack of warmth.

“It’s good to see you out of sickbay.  Don’t forget, you’re to report to the bridge.  So, please bring your recorder.  That third class yeoman I had to deal with in your absence needed constant prompting,” he said. 

Rand opened her mouth, but the captain had cut her off before she could get a word in.

“Thank you, Yeoman.  I’ll be up shortly,” Kirk said.  He turned, walking away and down the corridor.

“Yes, sire--I mean sir,” chided Rand.  She covered her mouth with her hand and rolled her eyes in jest.

Uhura shook her head while she watched the figure of the captain disappear down the corridor. 

“You better knock it off, friend.  He may notice one day,” Uhura warned good-naturedly.

But then, abruptly, Uhura reached out and grabbed her friend’s arm.

“Wait a minute, I noticed something,” said Uhura, giving Rand an enquiring look.

“What?”

“You didn’t turn to look at the captain as he made his exit down the hall,” said Uhura.

Rand shrugged her shoulders.  “So, what does that have to do with anything?”

“Janice, you’ve always looked at the captain’s butt when he made his exits!  You didn’t even give him a second glance this time.  What’s going on?” asked Uhura, nudging Rand   in her ribs, a slick smile on her face.

Rand shook her head.  “I have no clue what you’re talking about, Ny.”

“Janice!”  Another voice called from behind the two women.  They both turned in unison to see Khobran angling his way through the passers-by, moving with a grace that was uncommon for someone his size.

“Hey,” he exclaimed with a huge smile on his face.  “I was just on my way to see you in sickbay!  This is a pleasant surprise seeing you up and about.”

Khobran gazed down at Rand.  Rand felt her hand unconsciously making it’s way to the bottom strands of her hairdo.  Uhura stood by quietly, her eyes moving back and forth between Khobran and her friend, her head never moving an inch.

“I was literally just released.   Dr. McCoy gave me a clean bill of health.  No more dizziness, no numbness, all good,” said Rand, twirling a strand of hair between her slender fingers.  She rubbed her upper thigh with her other hand, as a sudden self-consciousness took hold of her.  In spite of this, Rand returned Khobran’s gaze while he inched closer to her.

“You look great,” he began.  “But, then again, there’s probably never been a day when you ever looked bad.”  Khobran’s voice softened as they looked at each other, creating a tunnel vision that was obvious to any onlooker in spite of its seeming invisibility.  Rand had to take a deep breath so that her voice could come out of her throat.

“Well,” said Rand finally breaking the moment.  “I really have to get to my quarters, and then off to the bridge.  The captain calls.”

“Ah, the captain again,” said Khobran.

The young Orion bashfully lowered his head, biting his lip as if he was at a loss for words.  When he looked up again, his violet eyes held a yearning in them that made Rand catch her breath.

“It gives a man a reason to work for a promotion, with the promise of you standing by his side,” Khobran said gently.  He regarded Rand for a while before he spoke again.  “Let me let you go.  A lot of repairs need to be done since that space turbulence put everything out of whack.  See you later?” His question was eager, hopeful.

“Sure,” said Rand as she regarded the young Orion fondly.

Khobran smiled, placing his hand gently on Rand’s arm.  He gave her arm a little squeeze, and then turned away, leaving Rand grinning ear to ear as he left for his destination.  Rand placed her hands on her hips and tilted her head while she watched Khobran walk down the corridor.  She shook her head in utter disbelief, and took a long deep breath.

“Goddamn, he’s just too much man contained in Starfleet uniform,” she thought.

“Janice, who was that?” asked Uhura, her hand placed on her chest, looking as if she was trying to catch her breath.  When Khobran disappeared, Janice turned back to Uhura and shrugged her shoulders.

“Oh, him.  His name is Khobran, and he’s in engineering,” Rand said blithely, as she started to walk down the hall.

Uhura shook her head and chuckled as she leaned into her friend’s side.  “Suddenly so nonchalant,” Uhura teased.  “No wonder you don’t look at the captain anymore.  That smile, oh my God!  I noticed how he spoke to you, and looked at you.  Hell, the way you two looked at one another!”  She reached out and squeezed Rand’s arm with both hands, like an excited teenager.

“What?” asked Rand dismissively.

“Don’t ‘what’ me, Janice.  You two had a charge between you that could have been picked up by a conductor.  He didn’t even see me, or anyone else for that matter!”

Rand shook her head and smirked.  “Nyota, get this whole theory of love out of your head right now.  I’m not interested in Khobran, okay?” she said, exasperated at her friend’s insight.

The two women entered Rand’s quarters, where the recorder sat right on the dresser.  Rand walked over, retrieved her recorder, and looked it over while she pressed various buttons, in order to make sure that it was working properly.

“What are you going to do, Janice?  Continue to pine over Captain Kirk and fantasize over a relationship that will never happen?”

Rand looked up from testing her recorder, and eyed her friend steadily.  “You’re not going to let this go, are you?” she asked.

Uhura stood with her arms crossed over her chest, her resolution strong.  

“Look, I know that the captain is not supposed to have a relationship with any crew member.  Intellectually, I’ve always known that.  But, to be honest with you, the ‘pining away’, as you call it, has been wearing thin as of late,” said Rand.

“Oh, Hallalulah!” exclaimed Uhura, raising her hands up in the air.

 Rand snorted and rolled her eyes.  When she was finished testing her recorder, she took it by its leather strap and harnessed it on her shoulder. 

“But, what about this Khobran?  I can’t understand why you won’t give him a chance!  It seems to me as if an attraction between the two of you has already been established.  And, he’s not the captain of this or any starship.  The problem with you is your cynicism!”

“Cynicism, that’s my enemy!  Will Prince Charming come along and slay it?” Rand said,  affecting a dainty southern accent while draping the top of her hand over her forehead for dramatic emphasis.

“Seriously, Janice!”

Rand sighed and looked at her friend.  She knew Nyota meant well, and that she was only telling her what was true.

“Look, Ny, my luck with men has not been exactly sterling.  Besides, I wouldn’t even consider dating an alien,” she said, rather matter-of –fact.

“Oh!  And, why not?”  Uhura inquired with indignation.

Rand stood in her spot, shrugging her shoulders.  Suddenly, she felt confused.  “’Cause,” she began weakly.  She gestured about, as if doing so would enable her to find the words she wasn’t able to articulate. 

Uhura smiled compassionately, as she reached for her friend’s hand, took it in her own, and squeezed it.

“Gotcha,” said Uhura.
*********************                                               

Everything was as it always is on the bridge of the Enterprise.  The helmsman was steering on a course that the navigator had just plotted, Uhura was relaying messages to and from different parts of the ship, a young ensign was stationed at Spock’s console, and Janice Rand stood to the right of the captain’s chair.  There were no interplanetary hostilities, no turbulence, no planet to beam down to; nothing that warranted special alert was in progress.  The most unusual happening at this present time was the malfunctioning of Scotty’s console.

As he pressed buttons, flipped switches, and pulled levers, Scotty would throw up his arms and sigh loudly.  Indeed, Scotty’s frustration was loud enough that it diverted both Kirk’s and Rand’s attention from the wide screen.

“Trouble with the console, Mr. Scott?” asked Kirk.

The engineering officer swiveled his chair towards the captain, his face clearly showing his frustration.

“Aye, sir!  That turbulence we went through has really put this ship through a beating!  It’s done damage to my console!   I’m gonna need some help, sir.”

“Fine.  Do what you have to do,” said Kirk.

“Aye,Sir.”

Rand watched dispassionately from her spot as Scotty’s chair swiveled towards Lt. Uhura.

“Lieutenant, contact engineering.  Have them send up Lt. Shapiro and Lt. Khobran,” he said.

“Aye,sir,” said Uhura.  She turned to Rand and wiggled her brows, while otherwise keeping a straight face.  Rand smirked and pointed Uhura back to her console.  As Uhura smiled and turned back to her work, Rand felt her tough exterior give way.  Her face flushed, and the back of her neck grew hot.  She turned back to the wide screen and placed her hands on her cheeks, feeling the heat on her palms.

“Khobran up on the bridge,” Rand thought to herself.  She suddenly felt like a kid who was promised a trip to her favorite toy store, and she hoped that her enthusiasm wasn’t too obvious when Khobran stepped onto the bridge.

“Yeoman,” Kirk summoned, tearing Rand out of her reverie.  “Is anyone home?  Please, hand me the recorder.  I don’t want to snatch it off your shoulder.” His words came out clipped and impatient.

Rand blushed as she removed the recorder’s strap from her shoulder and promptly handed it to the captain’s open hand.

“There goes that open palm again,” Rand noted, wondering how his hand would look with a missing finger.  She smiled to herself at the thought.

Rand observed Kirk as he took the recorder in his hand, pressed the red button for record, and started speaking into it.  He looked straight ahead at the large viewer screen, relaying the inconsequential events of the morning, when the door to the turbolift zipped open.

Both Rand and Kirk turned to see Lt. Shapiro and Lt. Khobran make their entrance on the bridge.  They were both armed and ready to assist Scotty with his console.  Lt. Shapiro carried a huge flashlight in his hands, and Khobran carried a large silver toolbox with no apparent strain on his arm.

Scotty smiled broadly and got up from his chair.  “Aye, laddies!  We’ll get this thing done for sure,” he said with an expression conveying relief.

As Lt. Shapiro hurried over to Scotty’s console, Khobran strolled, taking easy slow steps while he looked eye to eye with the captain.  “Good Morning, Captain,” he said in his deep base voice.  Kirk nodded briskly as he continued talking in Rand’s recorder.  Then, Khobran looked directly at Rand, holding her with his eyes.

“Yeoman Rand,” he said softly with a slight bow to his head. 

Rand smiled radiantly, the butterflies kicking up in her stomach as Khobran strolled over to Scotty’s console.  Khobran and Rand’s eyes were locked into each other, like magnets.   Rand had never seen violet eyes like this before.  Khobran’s eyes were not the deep blue that is normally mistaken for violet.  These eyes were the deep color one found in flora.  She found herself looking into them, at their denseness of color.

Suddenly, Rand felt something hit her by the chest.  Dazed, she looked down. 

It was her recorder being handed back to her by the captain.

“Yeoman Rand, are you all right?!” asked Kirk in a didactic way.  It was actually more of a command than a question.

“Oh, yes sir,” Rand stammered, taking back the recorder.

When she looked up again, Rand saw Scotty bent on one knee talking to Khobran, who was lying on his back under the console.  His long, sculpted legs were extended outward, and Rand zeroed in on them.

“Oh,my,” Rand thought to herself as her eyes swept over how Khobran’s uniform pants molded onto him.  The fabric was not tight at all, but went along with his form in a way that complimented him.  Rand breathed deeply, lost in the beauty in front of her.

“Is there a problem, Yeoman?” Rand’s head snapped back at Kirk, who was looking at her with condescension.  “You keep looking over at Scotty and his men.  Perhaps you’d like to give them some pointers on their work?”

Rand felt like she was standing in her underwear.  “Asshole,” she thought to herself while she said aloud to the captain “No, sir.”  No one seemed to notice this obnoxious exchange, so she was at least thankful for that.

What Rand did notice, however, was that the female helmsman had been giving sideway glances over to Khobran’s muscular legs, before looking downward and returning her gaze to the ship’s screen.  Even Uhura had swiveled her chair for a view of Khobran, a little smile creeping at the corner of her mouth, which Rand had caught.  The two friends looked at each other and smiled knowingly, before Rand returned her gaze to the big screen--or tried to.

When Rand’s eyes wavered back to Khobran, she had found that he had changed his position under the console.  He was now flipped over upright, balanced on his hands and knees while he continued on repairs from a different angle.  This position made Khobran’s powerful buttocks face Rand.  She held her breath and placed her hand on her chest.

“Hold tight, Janice,” she thought to herself.

From her vantage point, Rand leaned in to get a closer view.  It was like feasting your eyes on something Michelangelo made, his master sculpting skills bringing life to something carved from jade stone.

“Mother of God! If that ass looks that way in pants, how would it look naked?” mused Rand as she lightly rubbed her thighs together, forgetting her decorum on the bridge.
 She imagined how Khobran’s naked glutes would look beading with sweat as they tightened in the throws of…

“Yeoman!  Helmsman! Lieutenant! Is there some private joke going on here between you three?”  Rand looked at the captain while he reprimanded her, Uhura, and Lt. Satori. 

“Need I remind you that we’re on the bridge, not Pleasure Planet!  Do I make myself quite clear, ladies?”

Kirk swiveled in his chair while he addressed the three women, like a king sending out a decree to his humble minions.  Rand, funny enough, was no longer embarrassed by this attention.  A smug amusement took over, as she looked at the captain in all his glorified indignation.

“God, I really hate the word ‘ladies.’  Last time I checked, this wasn’t a finishing school,” she thought to herself with some indignation of her own.

Meanwhile, the whole bridge went quiet.  Everyone had stopped their duties to look at the captain and the three women he was scolding.   Rand, Uhura, and Satori looked at each other, the expressions on their faces unreadable. 

Then, without warning, the three female officers started to giggle.

At first, it was a soft ripple, nervous and tepid.  Then, it built slowly until it became robust, defying, feminine laughter.  The other officers on the bridge looked at each other, some looking confused, others trying hard not to laugh themselves.  Scotty quietly instructed his men to keep working, while he and Shapiro drew their lips together in an attempt to prevent any mirth from escaping their mouths.  Khobran looked at Rand before scooting back under the console.  Kirk’s eyes narrowed as he got up from his chair and placed his hands on his hips.

“Ladies!  This behavior is very unfitting for officers on duty!  You are all dismissed to your quarters, all three of you!”

Rand, Uhura, and Satori filed to the interior of the turbolift, their laughter trailing behind them as the sliding doors closed shut.
*********************************************


Janice Rand was thankful for the day off, though unintended as it was.  She looked around at her various paintings and sketchings around her quarters half-heartedly, and had decided that she really wasn’t in the mood for any artwork just now.  So, Rand walked over to her small cubbyhole of a shelf where her nightlight sat on top, next to her bed.
She crouched on the balls of her heals as she fingered through her motley collection of second-hand paperback, leather-bound, hardcover, and clothbound books.  When she’d decided on the book she wanted, she got up, scooted onto her bed, and proceeded to prop up her pillow when the buzzer rang.

Rand, startled, sat up and looked at the door.  She didn’t move from her spot.  Normally, when an officer was dismissed, and there was no mention of “awaiting further instructions,” it meant simply that they were sequestered in their quarters for the rest of the day, and nothing more than that.

“It can’t be the captain adding more to my disciplinary action!” she thought.

Well, maybe not the captain, but a third-class yeoman coming around as messenger.  Rand hesitated while she sat perched on her bed, trying to decide on whether or not to answer the door.

The buzzer rang again.

Rand sighed, figuring that she had very little choice in the matter.  She tossed her book aside, got up from her bed, walked over to the door and pressed the control that opened the door.

“Just get this shit over and done with,” she said under her breath.

When Rand saw who was at the door, she was taken aback.  She had expected either the captain, or a messenger sent to deliver news of further disciplinary action.  However, it was neither one of these individuals.

It was Khobran who stood at her doorway, a look of concern on his face.

“Khobran, what are you doing here?”

Khobran stood there with his hands against the rim of the doorway, leaning in slightly.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Janice.  I came down here to see how you were.” 

Khobran hesitated at that moment, his eyes shifting sideways before they returned to Rand’s face.

“I saw what happened on the bridge,” he said bashfully with a tilt of his head.

From the way he stood, Rand saw that Khobran seemed sincerely embarrassed by the incident.

“I guess I’ve been causing some problems for you, and some of the other women, as well.”

Rand stood in front of Khobran and shrugged her shoulders, not quite knowing what to say.  She felt that old self-conscious feeling coming back, but she waved her hand carelessly, giving Khobran a little smirk as she tried to hide behind a nonchalant exterior.

“No, it’s not your fault.  You have work to do.  How can you help it when…”

Janice’s face grew hot, and she stopped herself in mid-sentence.  Now, she was the embarrassed one. 

Khobran smiled.  “I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said, his voice soft and deep. 

Khobran leaned further into Rand’s doorway discretely, peaking his head into her
quarters.  He looked around until he spotted a canvas Rand was working on, perched on a slender gold easel.  It depicted a female form merged within an abstract background of vibrant colors.  The female figure, and parts of the background, were only half-covered in paint, leaving the pencil lines exposed as it was a work in progress.

“Wow!  Did you do that?” asked Khobran, pointing to the canvas, a look of childlike wonder on his face.

“Yes, I did,” said Rand as she looked at her work.  “It’s not finished, though.  I didn’t really feel like painting today.”

“Finished or not, it doesn’t matter.  You’re pretty good,” Khobran said, impressed.

He looked at Rand and smiled as he tapped his fingers on the rim of the doorway.  It reminded Rand of the time when Khobran first visited her at sickbay, in all of his sweet awkward youthfulness.

Rand smiled, swaying back and forth on the balls of her feet.  Then, Khobran asked Rand a question that she wasn’t anticipating, and it took her off guard a bit.

“May I come in?” he asked.

Rand, at first, was unsure.  She was, after all, under disciplinary action.  But, then, after a little hesitation, Rand shrugged her shoulders again.  “Sure, I guess it’s okay.”

Khobran stepped into her quarters with long, easy strides.  Rand watched as he discovered more of her paintings and sketches, picking up a piece of her work, holding it first with both arms stretched out in front of him, and then bringing it in for close inspection.  He held her work with care, careful never to touch the work itself, his large hands gingerly holding the edges of the canvas and sketch pad before placing them gently in their original spot.  When he was finished, Khobran looked over to Rand and smiled, nodding his approval.

“Janice, you are amazing!  You give me something to aspire to,” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked Rand puzzled, yet pleased that Khobran admired her work.

“I create art, too.  Paintings, sculptures, illustrations, stuff like that,” said Khobran,  walking over to Rand.

“Really?”

“Yeah, perhaps you could see them some time.  Maybe we could swap some pointers.”

Khobran smiled slowly while he inched his way closer to Rand, his nearness sending waves of body heat to her. 

The butterflies in Rand’s stomach kicked up again, as Khobran stood from his great height and gazed at her.  She looked up, returning his gaze.  Rand, being a tall woman, had always been with men whose eyes were near level to hers.  She always enjoyed the sense of slight intimidation that she gave some of them, as she would meet them head on, eye to eye.  But, with Khobran, it was different.  She literally reached no higher than his shoulders.  It made her feel petite, and vulnerable.  She liked it.

“Have dinner with me, Janice,” said Khobran in barely a whisper, his eyes searching hers intently. 

Rand felt her heart jump to her throat.  “Is he asking me out?” she thought in a panic.

She backed away from Khobran, her shoulders folding forward while she covered her chest with her arms in an act of recoil.  It was a stance born out of fear, having been romantically involved with one flake too many.

“I don’t know, Khobran,” Rand said with hesitation, holding up her hands, like a shield.  “Me and guys don’t seem to mix too well.”

Khobran moved toward Rand, a roughish grin curling his lips.  “Oh, come on.  What’s the hesitation?  You know you like me,” he teased.

“Look, Khobran, you seem like a really nice guy…”

“You bet I’m nice, and that’s why you like me!  I also happen to be charming, funny, and some would say I’m pretty smart!”

As tempting as it was for Rand, she wouldn’t give in, her conviction being that any date for her would be an unmitigated shit in the pan!  She continued holding her hands up as  she tried, to no avail,  back away from her hopeful suitor.

“I really don’t know,” she said with shaky resolve.

Khobran gave her a pleading look.  “Oh, come on, please?” he whined playfully.

Gently, he took one of Rand’s upraised hands and placed it squarely in the middle of his chest.  With his thumb, Khobran stroked the base of her slender hand.  Rand experienced a stirring, her skin giving off small volcanic pockets of heat.  She looked into Khobran’s deep violet eyes, and wondered how eyes could be so ungodly--and yet so beautiful.  The two of them seemed to breath as one.  Then, something happened.  Khobran’s flirting was replaced by a look of sadness and defeat.  He cast his eyes downward, his long black lashes crowning his lids.

“No,” he said with finality.  “I won’t do this.”  Khobran slowly replaced Rand’s hand back to her side and released it from his grip.  Rand looked at him, feeling both rejected and confused by the sudden turn of mood.

“I won’t come off as a stereotypical, big, brawny Orion man who pushes himself on a woman.”

Khobran looked up then, his eyes meeting Rand’s.  “I’m sorry, I don’t want you to think that I barge into women’s rooms and force myself on them,” he said with regret and urgency.

Rand looked at Khobran, taken aback by this admission from him.  “Khobran, I wasn’t thinking of you as a ‘stereotypical Orion man’ at all, whatever the hell that means,” she said incredulously, forming quotation marks with her fingers.

“But, I know what people think of someone like me!  We’re the big, leering brutes who sell their own women into sex slavery.  Vicious, savage, pushy, amoral!  And our women? Well, they’re a bunch of oversexed, green animals!” he said, clearly hurt by these ugly images of his people.

“Wow!  You’re really sensitive to how people perceive you, huh?”  Rand placed a hand on Khobran’s shoulder lightly.  She looked up at this tall, powerfully built Orion, as he suddenly appeared vulnerable and self-conscious.  He directed his attention on his large hands, rubbing his thumb along his palm.  Then, without looking up, he turned to leave Rand’s quarters.

“Wait, where are you going?” asked Rand, following him to the door.

“Janice,” said Khobran, turning around to face her.  “I want to ask you out, but in the right way.”

“Khobran, there was nothing wrong with your approach to begin with!  I’m the one with the problem, here.  I’m something of a jerk magnet.”

“And you think that I’m one, is that it?”

“No, of course not,” assured Rand.

Then, she gave him a coy little smile and leaned into his big body, but just a little.  This startled Khobran, as he looked at Rand with wide eyes.

“However, I could let you prove to me how much of a jerk you’re not,” Rand said with a flirtatious pitch of her voice.

Khobran’s eyes blinked.  “What?” he asked, as if not believing what he’d just heard.

“What I’m saying is that I’m accepting your invitation to dinner,” Rand said, patting him on the shoulder.

God, she loved the feel of that shoulder.

Khobran’s face brightened out of his morass as he looked at her.  Rand didn’t want to say to herself how his smile made her melt, because that would be so clich√©. 

However, it did.

Khobran’s excitement was hard for him to contain.  He took a few deep breaths and then giggled.  It was so unbelievable to Rand that a man who was this charming and stunning was so afraid of being rejected by her.

“Wow, let me see,” he said excitedly.  Khobran looked around the room, tapping his chin with his finger.  “I know, the solarium.  I can prepare a picnic dinner.  Well, I’d get it from the galley, actually.  Remember the galley?”  he added, teasing her.

Rand blushed, recalling the coffee and buns flung across the floor in the supply room.  They both chuckled at the memory of their first meeting.

“It sounds wonderful,” said Rand with a dreamy smile.

“Can you meet me at 1900 hours?”

“Sure,” said Rand.

Khobran reached for her hand, took it in his, and gave it a squeeze.  “See you then, Janice,” he said, his voice soft and gentle.

He headed for the door, and turned to look at Rand one more time while they waved Goodbye to each other.  Then, he was gone, the door shutting behind him.  Rand walked over to the door of her quarters.  She stood there for some time while she considered what she’d gotten herself into.  She placed her hand on the door, and sighed.

“Janice, I sure hope you know what the hell you’re doing,” she said to herself.

********************

 “I don’t know, Ny.  Maybe I should have turned him down,” said Rand, propping her elbows on the cafeteria table. 

There were very few diners in the eatery at this hour, as small groups of crewmembers were spread out at their respective tables.  It was a peaceful time, and Rand felt fortunate to be able to have a quiet heart to heart with her best friend, who was sitting across from her at the round table.

“Janice, you have to stop beating yourself up when it comes to guys,” said Uhura. 

“I know, I know.  But, you know how it is with me.  Losers need look no further,” said Rand, pointing both thumbs towards herself in order to punctuate her point.

Uhura shook her head.  “So, what are you going to do?  Sit and hope that one day the Federation will allow captains to date their underlings?”

Rand let her forearms drop to the table in a gesture of exasperation.  She looked at Uhura incredulously.  “I told you I was getting over that, didn’t I?”

“Ah, but do you really want to?  That’s the question,” said Uhura pointing a finger in the air.

Rand smirked at Uhura, clearly annoyed by this “Me Thinks Thee Doth Protest Too Much’ line of questioning.  “What is this, Shakespeare?” quipped Rand.

“No, it’s common sense!  It’s much safer to love the captain from a distance, knowing that you’ll never get anything out of it, instead of looking at a possible relationship with an available man who obviously wants you.  That’s all I’m saying.”

Rand raised her forearms from the table, and placed her chin on her fists, pretending to contemplate on what Uhura was telling her.  She didn’t really need to, though.  She knew that her friend was right.  Her enemy of cynicism had become her companion for quite some time now.  It wasn’t just Captain Kirk, for he was just part of a line of romantic disappointments.  In the beginning, when she’d first met Kirk, loving him was fairly easy.  But, as time went on, the frustration put about by regulations and Kirk’s often pathetic deflections from their mutual attraction, had worn thin on Rand. 

“Well, when Khobran asked me out, I told him as much about my bad luck with men, and he seemed pretty understanding,” Rand said softly, dropping her hands from under her chin.  Uhura’s eyes brightened as she reached over, and placed her hand over Rand’s.

“That’s good,” said Uhura.  “Opening up to Khobran like that shows vulnerability.”

“You’re kidding, right,” said Rand in her most deadpan delivery.

“Well, well.  Look who we have here!”

Rand and Uhura looked up from their spots to find Chapel, along with three other nurses, surrounding their table.  They looked like a light-blue, highly starched posse invading their space.

“You don’t mind if we join you, do you, dears?’ asked Chapel as she and the nurses sat down without an invitation.

With the pushing of chairs, and the clanking of trays and utensils, Rand groaned.  The quiet and peace that she had enjoyed with Uhura was being trampled upon by these catty, self-satisfied, hypo-shooting biddies.

“Now, what’s this I hear about vulnerability to Khobran?” asked Chapel haughtily.

“Don’t worry about it,” said Rand.  Giggles followed, thoroughly annoying her even further.

“Showing vulnerability to that hunk of alien male sounds very promising,” chimed in Nurse Leigh, a petite redhead who was usually Nurse Chapel’s partner in gossiping crime.

“He’s an Orion,” interjected Rand as she leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms.  At least she didn’t have to touch the same table that these jerks were dining on.

Rand looked over at Uhura, and noticed how she was smiling at Chapel like an excited little child.  While she herself found Chapel insufferable, Uhura and Chapel got along pretty well.  But then again, Uhura got along with almost everyone.

“Khobran asked Janice out on a date, Christine!” said Uhura, barely able to contain herself.

Chapel and Leigh turned to look at each other, smiling smug, knowing smiles.  “We knew that would happen,” said Chapel in a light, flirty voice.  Cocking a manicured brow, she leaned into Rand’s direction.

“So, tell us where this little date is doing to take place,” said Chapel.

Rand turned to Uhura and wordlessly mouthed the word ‘thank you’ to her, before turning back to Chapel.

“Khobran is taking me to the solarium for a picnic dinner,” said Rand with a strained smile on her face, and murder on her mind.

“Isn’t that romantic?  I think that’s just about the most wonderful idea,” Uhura beamed.

Chapel nodded her head and pursed her lips.

“Impressive.  That’s a pretty setting for a date,” she said.

“That’s where they keep all those plants and flowers from the various Federation planets, isn’t it?” asked Nurse Patel, a short, plump, know-it-all.

Rand smirked and tapped her finger on her temple.  “You’re good!  Can you catch a bone, too?”

Patel cut her eyes at Rand, and Rand returned the sentiment.

“Oh, how lovely!  They have those amazing stalks from planet Ganymede,” exclaimed Nurse Leigh.

“Imagine a romantic little stroll amongst those long, green fertile things,” said the loud, dark haired, nondescript Nurse Rose as she gestured like a silent movie ham, pressing a hand over her heart.

“You play your cards right, honey, you’ll have something long, green and fertile pumping away inside of you,” quipped Chapel before she took a swig of her beverage.

Laughter broke out among the nurses while Rand looked at Uhura, who seemed genuinely stunned.  “God knows why she would be,” Rand thought.

Rand turned back to Chapel, who was peering at her over the rim of her cup, sipping her drink slowly.

“You mean potent, don’t you dear.  Sorry state of affairs when a nurse flubs on health definitions as basic as that,” Rand said with cutting dismissal.

Chapel put down her cup and raised both of her hands.  “Ooh, are we touchy!  Look, I was just trying to prepare you for what may happen on the date, Janice,” she said in a sing song tone.

“Yeah, you know what they say about Orion men after all,” boomed Nurse Rose, talking with her mouth full of food.

Rand turned to Rose, her blond eyebrows raised.  “No, I don’t.  What do they say about Orion men,” she inquired, expecting a stupid reply.

“I heard that Orion men really know how to bring out the animal in a woman,” said Leigh with a screeching giggle.

“In your case, that animal would be a lost bunny in the woods,” said Rand.

Leigh’s mouth opened while she passed glances at her nurse companions, who were in the mist of laughter.

“You asked for that one, Anna,” said Uhura through chuckles.  “Listening to you guys going by stereotypes is pretty adolescent.”

“Well, all I know is that Janice is in for a hellava treat with that green stud,” said Chapel.  Without taking her eyes off of Rand, Chapel gripped both hands onto the edge of the table and started to undulate her body.  All of the women at the table looked at her in anticipation, while Rand looked at her with dread.  Chapel suddenly threw her head back and made breathless squealing noises.  She closed her eyes, and opened her mouth in exaggerated abandon.

“Oh, Khobran, you’re the king!”

As the nurses roared with incontrollable laughter, Rand got up, rammed her chair under the cafeteria table, and left in disgust.  Uhura shook her head at a hysterical Chapel, got up, and followed her offended friend out of the dining hall.
*****************

The warm water rained gently down Rand’s body, saturating every crevice in blissful, soothing wetness.  She pushed back her hair with her hands while she let the nuzzle shoot water to her face.  The scent of the shampoo of her freshly washed hair sat at the edge of her nostrils, relaxing her.  Rand worked her fingers through her long, blond hair, making sure that the cream rinse saturated every strand.  As she finished up, Rand reached over for a shower cap and put it on her head, tucking in any straying golden strand securely behind the band.  Rand reached over for the shower gel and started to lather her body, the suds hugging her lithe curves and her full, firm breasts.  Her slender hands moved across her limbs, creating an undulating rhythm that hypnotized her.  The soap running over her body left slick moisture over her skin.

Rand reached behind her shoulder and lathered her upper back.  Then, a large hand ran the length of her back, massaging with powerful fingers, up and down.

Rand let out a breath, allowing herself to get lost in the sensation.  Another large hand ran the length of her leg, encircling her ankles up to her narrow hips.  The hands had a natural heat that pulsated out of them that, with the rising steam of the shower, set her world of flesh on fire.  When Rand looked up, a large muscular figure rose up slowly until it loomed over her.

Rand took in the beautiful chiseled features and the magnificent muscles under taunt emerald green skin that glowed in the heat of the steam.  Khobran’s blue-black hair was slicked back from the wetness of the atmosphere, emphasizing his long powerful neck and shoulders.  Rand could feel her breasts rise up and down while her breathing increased, her nipples peaking out of the thick foam.  Khobran reached for her nipples and gently tugged at them.  He cupped her breasts with the palms of his hands, caressing them firmly.  Rand threw her head back, abandoning herself to Khobran’s fingertips and palms.

Her nipples hardened and came alive and sensitive under his touch.  She moaned and sighed, calling his name softly.

Rand suddenly jumped up in the shower and realized that she was alone, the sudsy sponge in her hand pressed between her breasts.  Feeling her cheeks fill with the rush of embarrassment, she murmured something about getting ready for her date.  Rand pulled off her shower cap in a rush, and rinsed the cream rinse hastily from her hair.

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