Previous Next

Finally Alone

Posted on 05 Nov 2017 @ 3:11am by Ensign Quinn Mackie & Ensign Kelly Khan
Edited on on 05 Nov 2017 @ 3:21am

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Personal Quarters
Timeline: MD 6 || 1800 Hours

Kelly walked into the quarters that she shared with Quinn, stripping her uniform off after carefully removing HG and her combadge to set on a small table before she headed for the sonic shower. "Computer, play Harlem Nocturne," she called out as she headed into the small bathroom.

The smoky jazz strains began to fill the quarters as a boot came flying out of the bathroom to thud against a wall, and a sigh of relief was heard a moment later.

Quinn entered the cabin a few moments later, finally rid of his Operations duties for the day. Both of his hands were full. In his left, Quinn carries his toolkit. His right hand, however, held something that wasn't work related, rather a gift he picked up from the ship stores, double chocolate-covered Oreos.

His ears picked up both the whine of the sonic shower and the jazz music that filled the room. Though he considered joining Kelly in the shower, he thought it best to have a little bit of "me" time before alerting Kelly to the fact that he was home. Therefore, he entered the bedroom and began to change.

Kelly stepped out of the bathroom in all her glory a minute later and nearly screamed when she saw the back of some guy in the bedroom until she saw his unique haircut. She clutched her chest to calm her heart and released a breath that she didn't know she was holding. "You know, Tiger," she said when she was able to speak again. "You could have said you were home."

Quinn's back was turned, but he was still caught off guard when Kelly had exited the shower and suddenly appeared behind him. He'd just finished changing into a pair of mesh shorts and a simple white T-shirt. Turning, he said, "I thought I'd..."

It was certainly very clear why he stopped talking as his mind was immediately elsewhere. Somehow, he collected himself and smiled. Though, he was certain that smile appeared when his mind had wandered. "Hey!" he greeted Kelly, crossing the room to embrace her.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned in to give him a kiss. "How was your day, baby?" she asked as she pressed against him. His smile was a very welcome sight and his solid warmth let him know that she was truly home and could relax. "I didn't know you'd be home so soon, but I'm not objecting at all."

"It was long," he said. "Aside from an afternoon shift here on the Black Hawk, I spent most of my morning on the Vasco da Gama, seeing what the Selubassari did to her." He sighed as he embraced her. "It's going to take a month to undo the damage."

"I can volunteer to help if they need an extra Engineer," Kelly said as she made no move to release him. "It may not be my major, but I can find my way through the systems easily enough with a bit of study. I'm sure there's a lot that needs replaced and I can run stuff to those with more experience, keep an eye on the monitors, make adjustments, or whatever. You look like you could also use a friendly face there so you won't come home sad."

"Scuttlebutt says Starfleet's sending a tug to take it back to Deep Space 11," Quinn said, still holding her. "Sabotage I can understand," he said, releasing her and sitting on the bed. "I mean, we saw enough of that with the Consortium. But this... the da Gama's crippled. You need a drydock to repair that kind of internal damage."

When he released her, she walked over to the wardrobe and pulled out a black satin robe and put it on before she moved to sit by him. "That reminds me of the Chimera," she said softly. "I'm probably going to remember that the rest of my life, but the de Gama can be saved. I haven't been over there yet, but if they're going to send a tug, that says there's hope for it."

Kelly paused when saw the package he had set on the bed. "Something your other girlfriend got for ya, Tiger?" she asked playfully and nudged him lightly with her shoulder.

The playful nudge prompted Quinn to sit up straight and look at the item he set on the bed. "Crap!" he exclaimed. "You ran into her, didn't you?" Chuckling, he picked up the package and handed it to her. "I know things haven't been as glorious as they were in the Hadyn Nebula, but this might make you forget about it for a while."

She accepted the package and opened it, her eyes going wide. "These....look....amazing," she said and tried not to drool as she pulled one from the container and examined it. "Milk chocolate. I'd say made from the Forastero cocoa bean which is very versatile and has a full bodied taste." She smiled at the musical notes on them. "I'd almost hate to eat them. Almost."

Kelly took a nibble and her eyes opened wider. "Oreo!" she said in delight after she chewed and swallowed the morsel. "Thank you so much, Quinn!" she exclaimed and offered him one. "Just for this, I won't steal your other girlfriend from you."

Quinn laughed, but only because he thought there was an element of truth to that. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wondered through the ship's stores before heading home just to clear my head." He smiled as he looked at her. "Though coming home to this would have worked just as well."

She smiled. "Do you like my robe?" she asked him. "I got it on DS 15 when I went over there to go shopping with Dani earlier. I got some other things that I think you'll like, too, but they couldn't compare to this." She leaned over and gave him a chocolatey kiss and bounced on the bed. "You're the best boyfriend in the galaxy, Tiger. I regret that I didn't meet you in the Academy sooner, but I don't regret chasing you once I saw you on the ship."

He grinned, watching her bounce on the bed. "See, I had to get you out here in space. I don't think either of us would have noticed each other back at the Academy. At least, I wouldn't have since I never left the labs."

"And I was busy stuffing my head full of so much knowledge that I was forgetting things like oranges," Kelly said. Then she looked over at him and raised an eyebrow. "Tell me honestly, what would you have done if you had seen me the night I Conga'd on the quad?"

Without waiting for an answer, she picked up another of the chocolate oreo treats and put half in her mouth, holding it with her teeth and leaned in towards him.

"Do you have any ideas how many parties I walked by and ignored on the quad?" Quinn asked, smiling as he caught her message. He leaned in, bit on the Oreo and broke it in half. He munched on it for a moment, and raised his eyebrows, impressed at the flavor. "Though, none of them had any dancers that were both drunk and nude. I probably... would have watched."

Kelly pressed her lips to him when he took his half and then ate her half. "Just watched, huh?" she asked with a tilt of her head with a raised eyebrow. She gave him a speculative look and chuckled. "What do you know, all that talk of studying around the clock in labs and you would have watched a nude cadet dancing drunk. There was a tiger in you even back then, but you didn't let him come out."

He laughed, enjoying what remained of the Oreo. "Tigers don't get good posts. Good grades do. Besides, it all worked out in the end, don't you think?"

"That it did, Tiger," she agreed as she wrapped an arm around his waist and laid a cheek on his shoulder. "I couldn't ask for a better boyfriend, either." She looked up at him with her cheek on his shoulder still. "I love you, Tiger. You make my heart burn brighter every time I see you."

"And you mine," he told her, wrapping an arm around her. "Deep Space 15, huh?" he asked, feeling the fabric of her robe. "Looks like you found a great deal."

"Mmhmm," Kelly said. "And I got some other goodies, too. Some of them would make a Vulcan blush if they saw them and make a Klingon read poetry." She winked at him. "I got a nice little selection, but I didn't have time to pick up more chocolates. I have you for the sweetness, though. So what do you want to do tonight?"

"I was thinking about heading down to the gym to do some laps," Quinn answered. "The idea was to try and clear my head, but this worked pretty well instead."

"Are you saying that I've made your mind go blank?" She asked as she reached up to caress his left cheek. "I could model some of the outfits for you."

"I'm saying you got my mind off my troubles," Quinn quipped with a smile. "But I can't say no to a good runway show."

"Put on some good music, Tiger, because once you seen, you'll never run away," Kelly said with a wink as she went to the wardrobe and pulled out a PVC outfit out which included gloves and boots before she removed her robe.

Time stood still during the incredible display of multiple outfits, of which Quinn enjoyed every second. "You've got excellent taste," he told Kelly when she finished. "Now I just wish I brought more chocolate."

"Like I said earlier, Tiger," Kelly said as she sat down beside of him in a steampunk outfit. "You're all the sweetness I need. Unless you want to go to DS15 with me on another shopping trip. There's always room for more chocolate."

He chuckled. "You know, I haven't seen the station yet. Who knows, we might find a good place to eat over there too."

"There's a good Bajoran place over there," she said. "Or we could go for some Klingon or maybe try something from this quadrant. Your wish is my desire, Tiger. I'm ready when you are."

"I could go for Bajoran," Quinn said, standing up from the bed. "I think I've had enough of the local cuisine for a while." He was, of course, referring to the sabotage aboard the Vasco da Gama and could really settle for a familiar taste to maintain his calm. "And Klingon doesn't agree with stress. At least mine. I ate gagh on a dare before midterms. Wound up spending a week in sickbay."

"Hosperat it is," Kelly said as she popped to her feet and held her hand out for him. "You probably got some bad or old gagh. If I had been there, I would have told you the quality of it at a glance. I love Klingon food."

That certainly did not surprise Quinn. They were several months into this relationship, and he was still discovering things about her. Quinn took her hand and led the way to the door. "Is there anything you don't know?" he asked jokingly.

"There's plenty I don't know," Kelly said as she grabbed her combadge from the table and slipped it in the leather side pouch she wore with the outfit. "If I knew everything, I wouldn't be out here among the stars and I'd be so bored that I'd be randomly slapping people with fish for no reason."

Quinn laughed as they stepped out into the corridor. "Kahn's Fish Slapping Service," he retorted. "You could probably franchise that. Forget singing telegrams."

"I'll mullet over," Kelly said as she tapped in the code to lock their quarters. "If you help me, we cod have a halibut time as long as we got get carp ratings, any fin is possible."

He kept laughing. "I love how you always keep me on my toes," Quinn told her with a smile. If only he was able to reciprocate that more often. Perhaps he still had a few surprises in store of his own. He arrived at a turbolift alcove, and thankfully there was a car waiting. "Transporter Room," he spoke.

"It's what I do," she said as she entered the turbolift. "Someone has to and you're stuck with me."

The doors closed and the lift began to move. "Stuck implies that I have no where else to go," he said, embracing her. "No. I've chosen you, just like you've chosen me."

Kelly leaned in to give him a kiss. "I can live with that, Tiger," she said. "And if anything ever happened to you, I don't think I'd ever want another."

He returned the kiss as the turbolift stopped and parted its doors. In that moment, Quinn was lost in the moment and hadn't noticed until he heard the feigned cough of a crewman, who stood in the alcove, waiting for the car to empty before boarding. "Sorry..." Quinn apologized to the young man, stepping out of the car.

She giggled at the cough and stepped out of the car with her boyfriend. "It's so hard to find places to be alone anymore," she said as she took his hand and headed for the transporter room. "Never apologize for what you enjoy, Tiger."

Quinn smiled as he squeezed her hand and led the way to the transporter room. It was just a few steps away, and like always, it was manned. "Two to beam to Deep Space 15," he informed the transporter chief.

"Authorization needed, please," said the Chief, who was acting under orders from the Captain to restrict access to the station following the Selubassari clean up. Personnel were allowed to beam over for personal reasons, but only so many could leave the ship at a time.

"Of course," Quinn said. "Mackie Eight-Kappa-Kappa-Charlie. Pass number Eleven-Zero-Six-Gamma-Gamma."

The chief checked the registry he'd been given by the operations department. "Confirmed, Ensign." He looked to the rather attractive brown-haired woman who accompanied him. "Ma'am?"

"Khan One-Nine-Delta-Echo," Kelly said. "Pass is Ten-Eight-One-Four-Victor-Victor."

The chief soon nodded his approval, allowing them to step up to the pad. "Your leave is now validated for a four-hour window. Enjoy Deep Space 15."

"Thank you," Quinn said as he took his position on the pad. He then looked to Kelly to make sure she was ready for transport.

The short brunette stepped onto the platform and got in position. "Energize!" she said with enthusiasm.

The chief slid the sliders up, activating the transporter. In just a few short seconds, the transporter room shimmered away, replacing it with a larger unit, one that could only be identified as that aboard Deep Space 15. With the transport complete, Quinn reached over and took Kelly's hand. "Off to the Promenade," he said with a smile.

"Promenade! Chocolate! Food! Tattoos!" Kelly said as she took his hand and headed in the direction she had been at not many hours before.

Quinn practically lept as he was more-or-less dragged out of the transporter room and into the corridor. "Slow down!" he said, trying to both keep up and not fall on his face.

"I'm not going that fast," Kelly said as she slowed down a few steps. "We only have four hours, and that's barely enough time to do a good walkthrough and get everything I want and need."

He managed to catch up and walk at a brisk pace beside her. "We're not leaving tomorrow," he cautioned her. "There's plenty of time to see the sights and run our accounts dry before we try to go into the zone."

"Yah, but I was already here once today, Tiger," she said as she restrained herself from bolting for the nearest stores. "Besides, there's no chance of your account running dry. You have more credits than some Admirals, I'd bet."

"All right then," Quinn said. "Let's go to the one place you're dying to go to most of all. Then, we do dinner after."

Kelly rounded a corner onto the promenade and stopped with a look of awe on her features, her bottom jaw hanging open a bit. "Look," she whispered. "It's paradise."

Were Quinn a diabetic, he surmised it would take an entire bottle of insulin just to balance the smell and taste that was in the air in front of him. Sure, the shop was small, but he had no doubt that the amount of chocolate inside the shop was enough to render the crew of the Black Hawk comotose ten times over.

"I wonder if it were named after B'elanna Torres?" Kelly wondered as she headed into the shop like an explorer finding greatness that would set her place in history in stone. "So. Many. Kinds. Look at chocolate from Betazed, golden chocolate from Pacifica...kinds I've never heard of and more...I must have a pound of each!"

Quinn could not help but find himself amused at her excitement. He began to browse as well, thinking of their shore leave when they'd visited several chocolate shoppes, attempting to rebuild her collection which had melted when the original Black Hawk became a permanent fixture on New Bajor's landscape. "We should get a couple trunks first," he remarked. "Or a larger stasis unit."

"Great idea!" she exclaimed. "Now to find a place that sells them. If not, I'll cut down on my order and make do until we get back here. Still...there's so many kinds I haven't tried."

"I..." he thought, pausing, "I might be able to replicate something. Mind if I step out and check?" he asked.

"Sure," Kelly said as she reluctantly backed out of the chocolate paradise. "What do you need?"

"Just checking replicator rations," Quinn said. "And cargo space, yadda yadda. Thankfully, I'm in Operations. It'll be easy enough to find, and the quartermaster owes me a favor."

"Oh, okay," she said. "I haven't used any of mine except for a few when we came back from shore leave."

Quinn hadn't a full accounting of his usage. Several credits had been used to furnish their quarters, and for various other things. "I'll just be right here," Quinn said, stepping under the door's threshold and tapping his combadge so that he might communicate with the quartermaster.

Kelly looked back at the mountain of delicious chocolate and imagined melting it all and taking a shower in it with Quinn. Of course, that was a waste of chocolate, but the clean up would be amazing. She shivered at the thought and licked her lips. "Soon, precious. Mama's going to get you soon. I promise."

After a couple minutes, Quinn returned to the shoppe. "All right," he told Kelly. "I've got a cubic meter of cold storage allocated for you. Hopefully, that'll be enough."

"That may work out," she said. "If not, I'll get an extra trunk before we leave here. I need at least a pound of each type of chocolate they have. Who knows when we'll hit another starbase?"

"May work out?" he repeated, somewhat stunned. Blinking, he asked, "How do you know that there's not some sort of exotic chocolate inside the zone?"

"I never count on it until I see it," Kelly said as she headed back to the store. "Besides, you know how much I love chocolate."

Quinn could not dispute that fact. In fact, there were times he'd wonder if she'd spontaneously develop a Midas-like power to turn whatever she touched into chocolate. She'd have a chocolate Quinn, a chocolate runabout... Who knew? "I do indeed," he said. "I bet you'll set a single day record for this establishment."

"Within a limit," she said as she began to tap the PADDs set up for ordering various kinds of chocolate and the amount of each. "I'm only an Ensign, after all, but the mess hall never closes."

Glancing over her shoulder at the quantities she was entering in the PADD, he doubted she knew precisely what the word "limit" meant. While she continued, he approached the counter to meander. That's when he saw a row of colorful items that he felt were slightly out of place. "Excuse me," he said to the attendant. "What are these, exactly?"

"Those are artisan chocolates," the Bolian replied. "A rich, dark chocolate prepared in unique ways. No batch is the same, nor two brethren in a batch."

Quinn nodded, impressed with what he saw. He purchased two of the multi-colored ones as a way to sample them, and took one to Kelly for her to try.

Kelly looked over and took one from him before she popped it in her mouth. "What's theeeeeeeese?" she started to say before the sugary sweet confection melted on her tongue and sent her into an upward spiral as the theobromine kicked her system into high warp and she looked at him as if he had revealed himself to be some sort of deity.

"I know, right?" Quinn asked, sitting beside her as his own chocolate melted in his mouth. The sensation, the flavor, the intensity were all unlike anything he'd experienced before.

"Oh gods, prophets and omnipotent beings, where hast thou hidden this miracle of the cacao bean all my life?" she asked while the sensations continued to rampage through her system. "This is the mostamazingchocolateIhaveeverhadinmylife!"

Quinn laughed. Had he known it would have made her go lizard-speed, he would have thought twice about purchasing those chocolates. "I'll pick up a few for the cabin, and extras for storage," he said, chuckling as he looked at her bright countenance.

Kelly looked at the order she had started to place, then at the display that held the Chocolate of the Gods and her mind started to calculate how many she could get with her pay grade. "I'm willing to sacrifice almost everything I have to get enough of these to fill a cubic meter," she said.

"And miss out on the Betazoid silk chocolate and the rare cocoa from Pacifica?" Quinn asked, looking back over to the various displays. "You sure you want to do that?"

"Okay, okay," she said finally. "I'll take fifty of those and a half a pound each of the others," she said after a bit of mental math. "That should leave me with just enough credits to get the basics until next month unless I can get in touch with my Papa." She'd never in a million years take advantage of Quinn, but her Papa was her Papa and she could and would try to get something from him to hold her over.

"Tell you what," Quinn said, picking up the order PADD she'd already filled out. Without even looking at what she'd placed, he affixed his thumbprint to the payment window. "I'll take care of the essentials. You enjoy our new discovery."

"Did you just..." Kelly's eyes darted at the PADD and her brain assimilated what he had done and formulated half a dozen responses before she turned and threw herself into his arms and gave him a huge, chocolate tasting kiss. "Thank you, Tiger!" she exclaimed. "I love you so much and I promise that I'll make it up to you in ways that will make your toes curl and your heart sing."

He chuckled during the kiss, savoring the sweet taste of both the chocolate and Kelly. "You're welcome, my love," he told her. Quinn could say that there was no need to thank him, but he wouldn't stop her from doing so either. "Now, go get your haul so we can beam it back and get some dinner."

"Will do!" she exclaimed happily as she rode the sugar rush into a transwarp conduit, her eyes shining like someone had glassed them and added a wax job to them. She made quick work of adding a hundred of the insane sugary treats to her order of fifty and pressed her thumb to it. "Done," she said before she gave the Bolian details for the transport of the chocolatey goods.

With the task complete at last, Quinn extended an elbow to Kelly. "My lady, our dinner awaits. Well... my body is awaiting dinner. Pretty sure we'll need to order first. And get a table. And pick a restaurant. We're doing Bajoran, right?"

"Right," Kelly said. "There's a nice little eatery not far from here. I had a light meal there with Dani the last time I was here. They have fantastic hosperat." She smiled. "And don't tell me you don't like hot stuff."

"I have you for a girlfriend," Quinn fired back, escorting her across the promenade. "If that doesn't qualify for hot stuff, I don't know what does."

"Smart man," she said with a smile before she gave him a hip bump and a smile. "You really know how to treat a lady, Tiger and I'm lucky to have you." She looked ahead and pointed to a small cafe nearby. "There it is," she said. "The Ha'dara."

It wasn't long before they were seated and menus placed in front of them. "Not a bad little place," Quinn remarked, examining their surroundings. "You'd almost swear we were on Bajor or New Bajor."

A kindly Bajoran woman approached them and smiled at Kelly. "You must have really enjoyed yourself to come back so soon," she said. "And brought another friend with you. I'll give you a twenty-five percent discount for the business."

"Thank you," Kelly said. "But you don't have to. Just keep serving the excellent food."

The woman smiled again. "At least let me offer a free dessert."

"We can't say no to free," Quinn said, looking up at the waitress, and then smiling to Kelly.

"What would you like, dears?" the Bajoran woman asked with a smile.

"I'd like the Tuwaly pie, please," Kelly said.

""Hasperat and spiced tea," Quinn requested, handing the menu PADD back to the waitress. "I hear the hasperat is the best in the quadrant."

"It really is," the Bajoran woman said. "Your lady friend here demolished one earlier."

Kelly laughed. "I"ll have another one and a piece of Moba fruit."

The Bajoran woman laughed with her. "I'll be back with your orders soon," she said before she turned and headed back behind the counter."

Quinn chuckled and shook his head. "Demolished? That's a fun word. I wonder what the post-mortem looked like on that one."

"I'm not sure I'd want to see it," Kelly said. "You'll see how good it is when she comes back with our order. She's really nice, too."

"I look forward to it," Quinn said, leaning forward in his chair. "That was a good find, that store. I'm surprised that you didn't go in the last time you were here."

"I was shopping for the outfits I showed you," she said. "Like the one I'm wearing now."

The Bajoran woman came back a minute later with their food and set them down. "If you need anything else, don't hesitate to let me know."

"Wow," Quinn said, looking down at the Bajoran meal. "It looks fantastic!" He picked up his utensils and began to dig into the Hasperat. The first bite was not as advertised. In fact, it was better than advertised. He moaned happily before going for a second and third bite.

"See?" Kelly said with a laugh as she picked up her own. "They're delicious and all natural hand made."

Quinn watched her eat as he continued to devour his own. It was an excellent illustration of their contrast, the methods of which they both ate their dinner. Still, though Quinn could pick his up, he remained just as he was. "Very delicious indeed," he confirmed with a full mouth.

She picked up her Moba fruit and took a bite. "You should have gotten some fresh fruit, too," she said. "It's even better than the replicated stuff."

"I honestly didn't even think I'd have room for it," Quinn said, finding himself wishing he had ordered some. He'd have to see if the waitress could bring over more when she came back over. For now, he settled on sampling the spiced tea, which was quite excellent.

Kelly offered him a piece of the fruit before she picked up her hasperat and took another big bite of it. "We should get some to take back with us," she said after she had chewed and swallowed.

"Definitely," Quinn replied, accepting the offered piece and sampling it. The taste and texture were equally unique and perfectly complementing the hasperat.

She dug into her hasperat burrito again and savored the spicy taste of it before she leaned back. "I think my eyes are bigger than my stomach," she said. "I'll have to get dessert to go. What about you, Tiger?"

Quinn couldn't help but sigh. "Me too," he confirmed. After all, when would they get fresh food again for a while? He caught the waitress's attention and made the request.

The Bajoran woman came back with two boxes for them and another, larger one. "Here you go, dears," she said. "One Tuwaly pie, a dozen pieces of Moba fruit and boxes for your meal. It's so good to see young people appreciate the all natural." She looked at the two of them. "Would you like me to feel your pagh?"

"Thank you for the pie and fruit." Kelly arched an eyebrow. "My Pa is on Earth," she said.

The woman laughed. "No, dear. Your spiritual energy."

"Sure," the brunette said as she remembered her Academy studies on the Bajoran people and religion.

The Bajoran woman reached out and cupped Kelly's ear and a warm smile spread across her face. "Your pagh is very strong, dear," she said. "The Prophets have surely touched you." She released Kelly's ear and looked at Quinn.

Quinn did his best to obscure his discomfort. A few days ago, he might have gone for this. But today, in front of Kelly, he had to avoid this. "Thanks, but I don't need the prophets to confirm what I already know," he said with a smile. "I have a blessed life, and the most wonderful woman to share it with."

The Bajoran woman smiled and inclined her head. "Then may the Prophets bless your path," she said. "And may the two of you have many wonderful days ahead."

"Thank you. He really is wonderful," Kelly confirmed as she reached over to give Quinn's hand a squeeze. "Perhaps when we come back through," she said affably. "Right, Quinn?"

He nodded in confirmation, assuming that they wouldn't be able to return for some time. "Thank you again," he told the Bajoran. And back to Kelly, "Shall we?" he asked, rising and extending a hand to her, offering to help her escape the confines of the chair she occupied.

She rose to her feet and picked up the to-go boxes with a smile as she pressed her thumb to the PADD the Bajoran woman presented to her. "Ready, Tiger?" she asked as she headed for the exit with her hand in his.

Quinn nodded his head, smiling. "After you," he replied, following her out of the cafe. "What's next?" he asked. "The chocolate cabinet's been freshly stocked. We've got dessert for when we get back."

"I've been wanting another tattoo," Kelly said. "And don't worry, I won't ask you to get one with me, but what would you like to do before that?"

He shrugged, unsure really of what to do. With all of the craziness of the day, the promenade was still visibly recovering from Starfleet's restoration of control. A few places were closed, including the Aketi junk shop that he wanted to go poke around in. "I wouldn't mind watching you get the tattoo," he said, his mind wondering where she might be putting it.

She looked around then saw a shop that looked like a tattoo shop by the colorful images on the front of it. "If you're sure," she said. "You must have things you want to do as well while we're here." While she spoke, she moved closer to what she thought was the shop she wanted.

"I did," Quinn replied, looking around the rest of the promenade. "Except my desires didn't really include gift shops or tailors." When he was finished with his visual search, he realized that Kelly was no longer standing next to him. "Where...?" he asked, looking for her, before spotting her near a tattoo parlor. "Can't turn away for a second, can I?" he asked.

Kelly laughed. "Sorry, Quinn," she said. "I wanted to take a closer look. Really, we can go somewhere else first. I don't mind. We have four hours and a whole promenade to check out. Lead the way, McQuack."

"McQuack?" he asked as they began to walk. Quinn slipped an arm around Kelly, hoping she'd walk close to his side. "If anything, I'm McDuck. You're McQuack." He hoped he'd got those references correct.

She happily slid next to him and wrapped an arm around his waist. "I don't remember," she said. "That guy who liked to shake spears at people wrote it. I slept through most of that class."

"You sure it's not from an old twentieth century cartoon? About a rich duck and his crack-jack pilot?" Quinn asked.

"You're probably right," Kelly said. "I think I broke parts of my brain by doubling my major and adding Command school to it. So where to, McDuck?"

"For now," he said, "this way." The promenade was quite vast, with several shoppes of varying types, most of which were manned by Gamma Quadrant locals. Sadly, none of them stood out to him. "Anything stick out to you?"

She held out a thumb. "This sticks out," she said with a laugh before glancing around. "No tailor shops. No gift shops. A couple closed shops. We've eaten and I've gotten chocolate. Hmm. How about that electronics shop?" she asked as she pointed ahead and to their right."

Somehow, his visual scan must have missed that one. "Now, you don't see one of those every day," Quinn muttered. "Let's check it out." He led the way to the storefront and then inside. Unlike the Aketi junk shop he'd thought about earlier, this facility was nice and clean, as it if tried to pass off the outdated electronics in the room as brand new equipment. PADDs, portable scanners, tools, even desktop terminals, as well as flip top communicators and other equipment were displayed on counters. Security tethers kept the samples close as a deterrent to thieves.

Kelly walked in behind him and looked around. "If I had a tricorder, I bet we might actually find a genuine piece of equipment in here," she said. "I wonder how many of these things actually work?"

An Argrathi male approached them and looked at the young human woman with disdain. "I will have you know that everything in here works, young one," he said in disapproval before he turned his attention to the human male. "You, Sir, look like you have a more discerning taste. Can I interest you in a scanner from the original Enterprise, perhaps?"

Quinn looked up from examining the flip-top communicators that were by the door. He was surprised that not only something like that was purchasable, but that it was available this far from the Alpha Quadrant. "Really?" he asked, his tone equally surprised and cautious.

"Right this way," the proprietor before casting a look at the female who was dubiously eying a tricorder. "Please don't steal anything." He turned and headed towards the back of the shop while Kelly looked at him in disbelief. "Like I'd steal junk," she muttered.

Ignoring his annoyed girlfriend for now, Quinn followed the owner to where he was leading. Along the way, he kept his eye on items on the counter, noting designs of Klingon, Romulan, Wadi and other natures.

The Argrathi went behind the counter and motioned for the male to wait a moment before he unlocked a door behind it and entered. He came back a minute later with a something in a package and laid it reverently on the counter before he entered a code in a security lock and opened it. Inside what was any historian of note would recognize as a scanner, but a sharp eye would note that the claim didn't match the age of the item. It was, however, a very, very good replica of one. "I present history, young man."

Quinn's eye was sharp, and he had a feeling the owner here would try to send something past him. Alas, Quinn was out of uniform, something that could come to his aid throughout this bartering. The classic tricorder in front of him was of a unique design, the traditional black box with compartment look. Of course, with it closed, there wasn't much he could do with it. "May I?" he asked, gesturing for a chance to open the device.

"Be very careful with it," the shop owner said. "It's quite old and if you break it, you bought it."

Kelly chose that moment to approach the counter where Quinn and the Argrathi were with a dramatic display of having her hands up in front of her. "Nothing up my sleeves," she said. "Not that I have sleeves."

Quinn glanced over at Kelly as he picked up the tricorder, only to shake his head and sigh with haughty derision. Carefully, he ran his finger around the edges, his nerves picking up some cracks and wear in the casing, mostly in the areas where wear was expected. Then, he carefully reached up to flip open the top lid. Instantly, the unit sprung to life, displaying sensor readings on the screen with the indicator lights flashing beside it.

The Argrathi watched Quinn inspect it carefully as if the human planned on smashing it against the counter or perhaps give it to the female with him. "See?" he said. "It's in perfect working order."

"But does it scan?" Kelly asked.

"These models require a handheld unit," Quinn remarked, looking at the other two openings on the tricorder. "This unit is the memory core and analyzer." He opened the middle section, revealing several disc-like memory tapes. Withdrawing one, he showed it to Kelly. "The isolinear chip of today can store the data held on more than a hundred of these little ones."

She looked inside of it when he opened the middle. "Technology has certainly come a long way since the first Enterprise took her maiden voyage," she said. "It kind of makes you wonder how they survived without all the things that we have today when we barely survive with them at times. What do you think, Tiger?" she asked him. "Is it authentic?"

The shop owner sighed. "Miss, if you aren't going to buy it, could you please let the young man inspect it so he may make an informed decision? He seems quite capable."

"She's all right," Quinn told the shopkeeper, placing the circle back inside the slot before opening the bottom.

"See?" Kelly said. "I'm all right."

"If you are interested, I can give you a very special deal," the Argrathi said as he ignored Kelly. "Ten thousand credits and a piece of history is yours."

Ten thousand! Quinn's mind screamed in total shock. For a replica, this would be quite expensive, even with one as carefully crafted as this one. He opened the lower compartment where the scanning wand was stored. Quinn removed it and waved it around a bit. Sure enough, it was in full working order... for a replica.

Quinn deactivated the wand and reinserted it. "I'm afraid I just don't have that kind of money," Quinn said. "I'm just an Ensign and Starfleet doesn't pay us that well. Do you have any other classic Starfleet items?"

Kelly looked at him and wondered if he just didn't want to part with what he had won on Earth or he suspected the scanner wasn't genuine. "It is a bit expensive," she said.

The shopkeeper ignored Kelly again and looked at Quinn. "You clearly enjoy it...for you, I could give you a Starfleet discount of twenty-five percent. That's stealing from my profits, of course, but if you don't want it, I'm sure a real collector would be happy to have it." He reached for the scanner to put it back in the box. "I do have cheaper items."

Quinn fought the urge to laugh. Even at twenty-five percent, that was well over seven thousand credits. Not even an Earth Starfleet-era communicator or phase pistol was worth that much. "I mean, it'd be nice, but I can't do anything over a thousand."

The Argrathi grunted and locked the scanner back in the box with a hint of disdain for Quinn's refusal and the low price he had just mentioned. "What would you have in mind for something so low, young man?" he asked him.

Kelly tapped Quinn on the shoulder. "How about this warp core lamp?" she asked him. "It looks cool and would fit into our quarters easily. Besides, we both like Engineering."

"That is pretty cool," Quinn remarked, watching it pulsate as if there were real deuterium and anitmatter being pushed along the magnetic constrictor coils. "How much for that?" he asked.

"Five hundred," the owner told Quinn. "It's a replica of the warp core of a Sovereign class ship to the best of my knowledge. It's also the only one I've ever came across."

"Galaxy actually," Quinn couldn't help himself from refraining. "The Sovereign core clusters seven magnetic coils above and below the intermix chamber. The antimatter ones especially glow red." He took another look at the lamp and said, "Three hundred."

Of course the human would know that, the Argrathi muttered to himself mentally. "Four hundred," he countered.

"Three fifty," Quinn said, giving the lamp another look.

"Sold," the shop owner said before he produced a PADD for Quinn's thumbprint before he gave the female another look.

Kelly rolled her eyes back in her head and sneered but kept silent.

Quinn applied his thumbprint almost immediately, double checking the terms of the sale. "Fine place you've got here," he told the shopowner, smiling.

"It would be better if everyone didn't try to haggle over the prices," the Argrathi mumbled.

"Are we all set, Tiger?" Kelly asked him.

He nodded. “I believe so.” Honestly he could stay here in the shop and spend more than ten thousand credits. He did have the finances, but his priorities were certainly elsewhere. “Shall we head for the parlor?”

Off to the side a battered looking box sat on a bottom shelf but a glint of something metallic caught the light as he nodded.

Quinn had been prepared to leave, but he was instantly distracted by what was on the bottom shelf.

Kelly didn't see the glint, her mind already on other things. "Do you think I could convince you to join me in getting one?"

"One what?" he asked, kneeling down to take a closer look at what caught his eye.

When she saw what he was looking towards, she stopped. "An extra head," she said to see if he was paying attention.

Inside the box was a shiny Phase-Conjugate Graviton Emitter which looked as if it had been pulled off of a starship not long before it arrived at the shop.

"Whoa," Quinn said, surprised to see the unit there. "What's this doing here?" Quinn asked, recognizing the graviton emitter.

Kelly looked closer. "That's a portable phase conjugate graviton emitter," she said as she recognized it. "I used one to help increase the tractor beam strength when we stripped the Chimera."

Sensing another sale, the Argrathi shopkeeper approached Quinn. "It is here because I was traded it by a another customer who was in need. However, it can be yours for five hundred credits."

Quinn always could use a phase conjugate emitter. It might even come in handy over the next few months. "Four fifty," he haggled, turning the device over to check for defects.

The shopowner debated haggling, then shrugged. "Sold," he said as he handed Quinn the PADD. "I got my credits worth when I traded it."

He paid for the emitter, and placed it back into the box for shipment. "Let's go before I see something else," he told Kelly, standing to leave.

"Let's motor," she said as she headed out the door at just under full impulse. As soon as the shop door was cleared, she turned a hard right and set her course for the tattoo parlor and smiled when she saw a piece of art in the window. "Ohhh...someone knows me," she said as she pointed it out to him. "A treble clef to match my other one!"

Quinn chuckled, relishing in the thought that the owner wasn't able to sense Kelly's thoughts, much less know her. "That'll go well. Where are you thinking about adding... Wait. Is that glow in the dark or something?" Quinn had noticed that the coloring of the treble clef was unlike anything he'd seen. Something about the ink was certainly different.

Kelly looked at it closer. "It does look like it glows and stands out," she said. "I want one on my left shoulder to balance me out. I already have one on my right hip, but you've seen that one. What do you think?"

"I think it'd be great," Quinn commented, brushing her bare arm right where she indicated. "And, if the ink is bioluminescent or whatever, then we'll have no need for a nightlight."

"That would be so cool! Let's go in and find out," she said as she entered the establishment and looked around for someone to help her.

"Can I help you?" asked a burly Orion who sat behind the counter. His typical green skin was marked with several tribal markings in brown and black, none of which represented the powers known in the Alpha Quadrant.

"Yes," Kelly said as she approached the counter. "I'm interested in getting the multicolored glowing tattoo of the treble clef you have in your front window. Is it bioluminescent and does it stand out from the skin?"

The shopkeeper nodded. "In its natural state, there is a very faint glow in a dark room. Under normal light, it doesn't show much. However, should your serotonin and endorphin levels increase, so does the glow of the tattoo."

"I like it," she said before she glanced at Quinn and back at the burly Orion. "Do you do the tattoos yourself or have an artist working for you? I'd like to see a portfolio of past work."

A scowl appeared on the 'keeper's face. "This is my studio, you short Terran." He waived his hands around the room. "All of these designs are mine, and I apply them only to paying customers who do not hurl insults."

"I apologize, Sir," Kelly said and meant it. "I meant no insult to you or your art. I was merely inquiring so I could have an idea of other works you've done."

The Orion just nodded. "Treble clef, then?" he asked, gesturing to a nearby chair where his stuff was set. "What do you play?"

"Nothing but I have a great love of music," she said as she went to the chair. "I have another treble clef, but the one in your window is clearly better and I'd be able to give it much more exposure than my other one."

He sat down and prepared his tattoo pen, starting with the bioluminescent yellow. "Any particular style a favorite, then? And where do you keep the other?" With an outfit like hers, there wasn't many places left to imagine.

"My right hip," Kelly said. "I want this one on my left shoulder in the style on the window in front, Sir. It caught my eye and I knew I had to have it. It's a work of art."

The Orion couldn't help but notice she was going out of her way to make up for the beginning of the conversation. "Thank you," he said, scooting over to take a look at his canvas. "I'm thinking about this size," he suggested, using a finger to trace a rectangle on her shoulder before he dared touch her with the needle.

She looked over at the rectangle he traced with his finger and smiled. "That would do very nicely," she said as she forced herself to relax. He may have been the first Orion male she encountered, but she wasn't going to show fear. Respect, yes because he was going to permanently mark her skin, but that was as far as it went.

He set to work while Quinn wandered around the shop. There were many different options, from Klingon House markings, to Argellian tribal tattoos to... was that Kermit the Frog with a banjo under a rainbow? Quinn shook his head as he continued to browse.

"You never did answer about your favorite style," the artist reminded Kelly as he started to work.

"I can't say that I have a favorite style," Kelly said. "I have an eclectic taste that runs from tribal, to techno industrial, classical, erotic and beyond. Well, no. I don't like noise music. I never got into that."

The Orion glanced up at her. "Noise music? What in the universe is that?"

"It's a compilation of various types of noise," she said. "You may hear the whine of a shuttle taking off, the sound of footsteps, wind blowing, machinery working, tools hitting the floor. It sort of meshes together in a strange way, but I still can't classify it as music. I've heard people with really sensitive hearing are the only ones capable of really enjoying it."

"Sounds more like white noise to me," remarked the Orion. "Though being too comfortable with the sounds that surround one can dull the senses. That's why I move my shop every year."

"Doesn't that make it hard to keep regular customers?" Kelly asked him before she glanced down to see what he had done so far.

"You'd be surprised," he said, filling in the final yellow sections and preparing to switch to orange. "Many like to just browse the promenade, and I wind up getting repeat business quite often because people realized I've moved."

"Oh," she said. "I thought you moved from base to base instead of just changing the location here on Deep Space Fifteen." She paused to admire the work he was doing. "This is going to look awesome. I can't wait to show everyone." She looked over at Quinn. "See any you like, Tiger?"

Quinn, who was still browsing the vast selection, looked back to Kelly and shook his head. "Nah," he replied.

"I'm not limited to what I have on the walls," the artist told the male human as he applied the orange to Kelly's body. "Whatever you can think of, I can draw wherever you want."

"It's all right," Quinn said. "I don't mind tattoos, I... I just don't think I'm ready for one."

"That's fine, Quinn," Kelly said as she looked back to the art forming on her arm. "Once you get one, though, it just won't be enough. They're addictive."

So I can see, Quinn thought, looking back to her with a smile. When he did get to see them, they were certainly fun to look at. This new glowing one would be fun at night too.

Meanwhile, the artist finished with the orange and inserted green into his instruments. "So, you new to Fifteen, or are you aboard a couple of those Fleet vessels floating around out there?"

"Nah, just passing through," she lied easily. "My folks sent me and my boyfriend on a tour before we head back to the Alpha Quadrant. This is as far as we got and I have a tattoo to remember it by."

"Hell of a place for a tour," remarked the artist. Naturally, he thought she was loaded, or at least her parents were. His mind wandered for a bit, thinking how easy it would be to create a musical sleeve tattoo from her shoulder all the way to her fingertips.

"They figured it would get the wanderlust out of my system so I could go home happy and raise a family or settle into a career," Kelly replied. "Although I think they know me better than that. I get a taste of something and I just want more. I'd never find that in Starfleet and with all the rumors flying around about ship fighting ship and officer fighting officer and everything else. I'll pass." She wondered why she was lying, but she trusted her instincts and the guy questioning if her and Quinn were Fleet set off her warning bells.

Quinn looked over at her, raising an eyebrow as Kelly spoke. Why would she lie about why there were there? There were a few holes in the story, but if he contradicted her now, what good would come of it, other than a potentially pissed artist and a half-finished tattoo.

"Settle into the family business, you mean," the artist implied, just trying to fill in the unspoken holes.

"Settle into anything, really," she said. "Although they'd be happy if I went into the family business, but I have my heart set on seeing all there is to see."

"Surely there's a way to do both." The artist changed inks again and prepared to work on the darker colors. "Find yourself some brown noser. Slave girls make excellent administrators too. They have plenty of... tactics to keep everyone in line."

"I prefer Klingons," Kelly said. "They're more straight to the point with less backhanded tactics."

The Orion chuckled, half desiring to joke that there was a transponder hidden deep within the ink. His present company told him such jokes would be in terribly bad taste and would cause serious repercussions. He had no choice, therefore, but to continue working.

"Although a nice healthy Orion like yourself would be very convincing to people that they needed to do their jobs," she added when she realized she may have inadvertently insulted him by mentioning Klingons. "But at the moment, I just want to live my life and have fun."

"If you want fun," said the Orion, "go back from where you came from. As for me, I'm saving for a one-way ticket back to the Alpha Quadrant. I'd rather put up with the Breen than spend another minute out here."

Kelly looked at her tattoo that was in progress and wondered if she should try to get information from the Orion. "I heard about the station being taken and retaken, but Starfleet seems to be in control of it now. Is there something I should know which would encourage me to leave faster?" She asked, sounding nervous.

He glanced up as Quinn moved just a little closer, curious to hear what the artist had to say. Looking back down at his work, the Orion said, "Something dark is coming. No one should be here when it comes."

"Something dark? Dark matter? Another attack on the station?" she asked while swallowing hard.

The Orion looked up from his work and faced Kelly. After a beat, he turned and looked at her companion. Finally, he shut off his tool and spoke in a hushed tone, "I've watched the Selubassari for the last few years. These last couple of weeks... they were preparing for something. Wanting to make something happen. The end of life as we know it."

Kelly blinked twice and now she swallowed hard in real worry. "Is that why they cleared out of here and didn't raise a fuss about the Finneans revolting?" she asked quietly. "This sounds bad. Really bad. Should we leave for the Alpha Quadrant today?"

He shrugged, looking down at the nearly complete piece of work. "I'd get out of here as soon as you can. As soon as I have the latinum, I will be too."

"Did you hear anything else about what it may be other than the Selubassari wanting to end life and summon something or whatever they're doing?" she asked.

The Orion shook his head. "The Selubassari are experts at keeping secrets. Whatever it is, all we can assume is that it's... bad."

"Well," Quinn said, shrugging and looking at Kelly. "We'll just have to cut the honeymoon short. Can't afford to miss Risa before the end of the universe."

"Thanks for letting us know," Kelly said before she looked at Quinn. "You're right, Tiger," she said before she glanced at the tattoo. "As soon as this gets done, we can head out again. Our transport should be leaving in a few hours."

The artist resumed work, looking down at his work once more. Quinn mouthed the word Wow! to Kelly. Oh, if he were only Betazoid...

She gave a slight nod to Quinn and arched an eyebrow as if to ask if he wanted to ask any questions. "This definitely deserves a big tip, don't you think?"

"Of course," Quinn replied with an uncomfortable smile. The whole day had gone from great to weird and now... whatever this was.

Kelly wondered what the weird smile was about, but since he wasn't going to ask questions, she decided to try for one more. "Did you hear when this is supposed to happen?" she asked the Orion.

The artist switched to the last pigment and began to polish up the work. “Tomorrow. Next month. Next year. Does it matter?”

“The end of the universe should always matter,” Quinn said. “Give someone time to enjoy what remains of life.”

"What he said," she said. "That and it would really help to spread the word to give people time to evacuate the area if it's true."

"Indeed," remarked the Orion shutting off his tool at last. "I think we're all set." He said as he brushed the top of the tattoo to verify its ability to glow.

Kelly shivered and looked at the tattoo. "That is amazing!" she exclaimed. "You did an excellent job and I'll be proud to show your work to others. How much do I owe you?"

The Orion produced a datapad characteristic to his species and held it out to her with the bill displayed on it. Before Kelly could take it, however, Quinn swooped in to intercept the bill. He scanned it quickly, added a tip, and paid for the service. “Heir to the family business has a mate that pays,” he remarked to the woman whose body he’d just enhanced. “No wonder you’re in no hurry to take up the mantle.”

"Why thank you, Tiger," she said as she came to her feet. "And that is why you get the special cookies," she added with a wink before she looked back at the Orion. "Do you have a business contact comm so that I could have to refer others to you while you're still here?" she asked him.

The owner exchanged it with the female just as a Hunter entered the shop, undoubtedly ready to emblazon his newest catch to his skin. "Shall we?" Quinn asked Kelly, gesturing towards the door.

With a smile and a nod, Kelly took his hand and headed out.


Previous Next