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Take a Hike Pt. 2

Posted on 23 Oct 2018 @ 4:16pm by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Senior Chief Petty Officer Alexander Rylan
Edited on on 24 Oct 2018 @ 4:48am

Mission: Fractured
Location: Holodeck
Timeline: MD 4 | 1650


As for Jayla, she couldn't stop grinning. With a sigh, she wrapped both arms around his waist and leaned into him. This was nice and she didn't want to spoil it with words, so she just stood there, enjoying the feel of his arms around her.


Finally, though, it was either stay here and make out or convince him to continue on their way. And, she had promised herself she would take things slowly with Alex because they had to work together. "Shall we continue?" she asked softly. "As much as I'd like to stay here, I'm sure there are even more lovely places to see. Plus, you've got to earn more kisses."

Alex smiled. "And I will. Okay, let's keep walking." Alex handed Jayla her sunglasses and her canteen. He took a drink from his and then clipped it to his belt. "I can clip yours to my belt as well, if you'd like. Oh, and 'The Tartar's Sword'. My favorite book when I was a kid. Read it over and over again and imagined myself a Cossack, fighting for freedom. I later learned what bastards they really were, but still, that book is a favorite."

"I'll carry it for now," she replied. "Hm. I'd have to say my favorite book was The Ocean and a Boy. It was about a boy who lived on the same white cliffs where I grew up. I haven't read it in ages, but I used to read it constantly. And then I'd jump into the sea and pretend I could breathe under water just like he could until I'd have to come up for air. And even then, I'd pretend I was just coming up to see what was up there and go right back down. To this day, I can hold my breath for about five minutes straight."

"Wow," Alex said. He refrained from making the obvious sexual innuendos about the benefits to him of her being able to hold her breath for five minutes or vice versa for her, since his record was eight. "Not bad. You’d have done really well at the 'Amphibious' part of being a Special Amphibious/Aerospace Reconnaissance Corpsman. Of course, the Amphibious part is mostly a holdover from when the Raiders were a unit in the old United States Marine Corps, but man did they make us spend a lot of time in the water. It was learn to hold my breath and otherwise control my breathing, or grow gills."

"I'd have made a miserable SARC," she pointed out. "I'm a sissy. Most officers are sissies. We just don't like to admit it. Oh, sure, we can throw orders around and put on a good show, but to be perfectly honest, if we had to face what you've faced, we'd probably wet our pants."

Alex laughed.

"You might be right at that," Alex said. "And thanks. It's nice to be recognized for what I've done. But, to be clear, you're an excellent officer. You have my respect and loyalty, both personally and professionally. Just have faith in yourself. You have the right instincts. Just follow them."

"I'll try to keep that in mind," she promised. "Quokka. My nickname at the academy. There was a girl from New Zeeland who said I had the same cheerful disposition as the little creatures crawling all over her homeland. And, as a sort of bonus, they're also marsupials, as are Trill. Anyway, she started calling me Quokka and the name sorta stuck. For a few years anyway."

"That's funny," Alex said. "Computer, show me a Quokka. Thank you."

As requested, a Quokka appeared at their feet. Alex looked at the furry creature. The furry creature looked at Alex. They both looked at Jayla. Then looked back at back at each other. Then the Quokka kind of shrugged and scampered off. Alex laughed.

"Well," he said. "I kind of see the resemblance--JUST KIDDING! Anyway, I was famous for bad puns and otherwise terrible jokes. So I got stuck with Joker."

"Yeah, I can see that," she agreed. "Resemblance to a quokka, indeed! Well, I guess I shouldn't complain; they're awfully darn cute. I should be lucky to be half as cute."

Alex slipped his arm around Jayla so they could start walking together again. "Then you're doubly lucky because you're easily twice as cute as any Quokka anywhere."

"Okay, hold on," she said, placing a hand behind his head and drawing him down for another quick kiss. "You totally earned that one."

"Hmmm..." Alex said as they fell back into walking together, his arm around her shoulders, her arm around his waist. "For more of those, I'd do just about anything. A college graduate. That's what my parents wanted me to be when I grew up. Preferably Piled High and Deep. That's what Dad used to say 'PhD' stands for. As in piled high and deep in the excrement of a male bovine. They were disappointed when I chose to enlist in Starfleet and more so when I didn't take advantage of part-time degree options, Mom more than Dad. I think they're over it, though I also think that Mom hopes I'll stop 'playing space hero' someday and go back to school. I have nothing against a college education or graduate school. I don't resent people who are good enough at being students to achieve goals like that, not so much anymore, anyway. But it's a struggle for me, and I've chosen to devote my energies to the training opportunities Starfleet has offered me. Those are challenging enough for me."

"Happy," replied Jayla, then she shrugged. "I don't know if there was anything they actually wanted me to be because anytime I would ask them what I should aspire to be, they would tell me I should try to be happy. Mum always jokes that that's why they named me Jayla. Jayla means happy," she explained. "Apparently, I was a grumpy baby." She grinned. "They seemed surprised when I got into Starfleet Medical. I'm not sure they had me pegged for a doctor. Nor my sister for a primary school teacher. But, there it is."

"Some people," Alex said. "Some people you can just tell what they'll be when they grow up. Others are so... changeable, varied, interested in so many things, that nailing them down to one thing when they're young is impossible. You, though, I'm not surprised that you got into Starfleet Medical or that you've come as far as you have. One of the reasons I was so awkward with you back then was that I knew I wasn't as smart as you. I never, not once, wished you weren't so smart, never once thought something like that might make you like me. I thought your brain was as hot as your body. I did spend a lot of time trying to be smarter. Ha! I tried reading books I saw you were reading, or being interested in the work we were being assigned. It just... wasn't me and that was really frustrating. It wasn't until I joined Starfleet that I really started to discover ways that I could feel smart, interests and career choices and on-going training that were suited to me. Don't get me wrong. The Enlisted Academy is pretty damn tough. We have a different course of study than you do, but they work us just as hard. I struggled at times. But it paid off. It still pays off every time Starfleet sends me to some new course or training or school for something new. Once I accepted myself for who and what I was, and learned to apply myself in areas where I could succeed, I actually succeeded. Dad accepts me as I am. Mom, being mom, wants more for me. Sometimes it hurts, feeling like I'm not enough, but I try to remember that she just wants what's best for me and that we just have a difference of opinion as to what that 'best' looks like for me."

"Finding yourself is definitely important," Jayla agreed. "But, yeah. Mums want the absolute best of the best for their kids. Take the bartender on this ship; she's actually pretty brilliant but loves bartending. The way she talks, her mother keeps pushing her to do more, but she's happy where she is, so what would be the point? Don't worry about your mum. She'll come around eventually. Once she realizes how happy and fulfilled you are, she'll either accept it or resign herself to the facts."

Well, Alex thought to himself. Being here with you, Jayla Kij, like this, is making me feel a whole lot more fulfilled.

"You're right, of course," Alex said out loud. "I know that, but sometimes it's nice to hear the same logic coming out of the mouths of intelligent people you respect."

The sun was starting to go down. Sunset was a ways off, but the position of the sun changed the view and Alex stopped them so they could take it all in. He took a deep breath in and let it out, letting that simple action help relax away the negative tensions of recent events.

"Thank you," he said after a moment. He gave Jayla a squeeze. "For giving me a second chance, a chance to make a better impression than I did before. For the other night. For today. For every smile you've thrown my way. For making me feel welcome. Thank you."

Settling her head against his shoulder, she slipper her other arm around his waist and gave him a squeeze. "And thank you for trying when we were kids," she replied. "I didn't realize it then, but it was good to know I had at least one peer on my side."

"Of course I'm on your side," Alex said. "No place I'd rather be."

He grinned.

"I remember while I was in Australia, I went to this incredible outdoor bar and restaurant," Alex said. "And I remember thinking, wouldn't it be great if it was up here? I think I was more than a little tipsy at the time. But...this is the holodeck. We have complete control of the environment, and I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get a little hungry. What do you say? Should we do a little world bending and put that bar or one similar to it up here? Sun's headed down, and again, the holodeck, so we can keep out any dangerous critters."

“How about a picnic instead?” she suggested. “I’m not ready to share you with anybody else right now. Not even holographic restaurant staff.”

Alex grinned broadly. She didn't want to share him! He barely restrained himself from bouncing around in some kind of happy dance.

"That is... a fantastic idea," he said. "Describe to me your perfect picnic meal and I'll have the computer put it together for you... or, you know, you can just ask the computer yourself, if I'm starting to make you feel like I think you're helpless."

Before Jayla could speak, Alex stole a quick kiss.

"Sorry!" he said. "Couldn't help myself!"

“Never apologize for kissing me,” she told him. “Hm, perfect picnic... let’s see.” She ordered fried chicken, Cole slaw, maccoroni and cheese, and cheesecake for dessert, along with forks and plates and a blanket for them to sit on. “How’s that?” she asked as everything appeared. “Did I miss anything?”

"Something to drink?" Alex said. "Lady's choice."

“Oh, um..... computer, two bottles of Dragon’s Breath,” she said, and two bottles of dark beer materialized as well.

"Looks good," Alex said, walking over to the picnic blanket and sitting down cross-legged. "And it smells really good. And I'm a lot hungrier than I thought I was. This is a really good idea. I'm only sorry I didn't think of it myself."

“Sometimes the really good ideas take a woman’s mind,” she teased with a wink as she chose a drumstick and opened the bowls of mac and cheese and cole slaw. “Just one younger sister,” she added. “The number of siblings I have. We’re pretty close. Everyone says we look alike, but they all think she’s older.”

"Sister, huh? I hope we get along when we meet," Alex said. He reached into his shirt and pulled out a necklace with a bird pendant. He kissed the bird, put the pendant and necklace back in his shirt, and took a thigh and put it on his plate, while letting Jayla take what she wanted from the mac and cheese and cole slaw before taking some himself. "Dating a woman whose close sister doesn't like you is... problematic. I'm an only child. After me, Mom decided she'd been fruitful, she'd multiplied, and then she was done. She was driven to succeed at her career and even with Dad's help, one child was enough, even after crew members' families were allowed to join them. So, it's just me."

“Don’t worry about Jessa,” she assured him. “She likes everybody. I’m sure she’ll think you’re the best.” She tasted the mac and cheese and found it delicious. “Okay, your turn,” she added.

Alex's face took on a somber expression.

"A planet I'm not allowed to tell you the name of," he said, a distant look in his eyes. "At a time I'm not allowed to be specific about. That's where I sometimes go, when I'm alone with my thoughts in the middle of the night, or when I'm having a bad dream. Not all the time, but often enough. I can't talk about the details, but suffice to say the whole mission went sideways and the team I was assigned to...we got cut off some place we weren't supposed to be in the first place. What we call a 'denied area' as in, our access to it is denied. We were one our own for almost forty-eight hours. We were full blown SERE for the whole forty-eight...sorry, SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. We weren't supposed to be there more than a few hours, but we were prepared for as many as eight. Everything just went...wrong. I'd never seen such a perfect storm of problems on one mission. I...I did my best with what I had, with what we were up against, but...Our team had fourteen members alive when it disembarked. Four of us were extracted alive. Sometimes, in the dead of night, or even just in a solitary moment during the day, I go there. I can smell it. I can taste it. If I listen closely, I can hear it. Anyway, when I have a really bad dream, that's usually what it's about."

Jayla had no idea how to respond to that. For several moments, she said nothing and then she abandoned her plate of mac and cheese and her drumstick and scooted over to wrap Alex in her arms. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” she said softly.

Alex let Jayla hold him for a bit until the darkness passed.

"The other night, the one I spent holding you," he said. "I felt that dream coming on. Then I felt you in my arms, soft and warm, I caught the scent of your hair, which, despite practically 24 hours straight of activity, smelled amazing. I heard you snoring ever so quietly. I held you just a little tighter, and the dream went away."

“Glad I could be of service,” she replied, pulling away, but leaving one arm slung around his shoulder. “I can’t say my dark place every comes close to that, but it would have to be shortly after I was joined. I didn’t know how to handle it, as you know. Either that or the time I thought I might have killed someone in self-defense. It was just a Hunter, but even so... I’m a Doctor! I’m supposed to be saving lives, not taking them.”

Alex winced a little inside at the 'glad to be of service' comment, at first anyway, but when he saw the light in Jayla's eyes when she said it, he realized she really was glad to have been able to be there for him.

"Your life is worth saving, too, Jayla," Alex said. "To me, to your friends and colleagues, to the countless people you'll go on to save because you're still alive and here to help. You have a right to protect yourself. It's nice when you can do that without hurting or killing your assailant, but that just not always possible. In a situation like that, it's normal to choose your own life over that of the person trying to cause you harm."

Alex sighed, and then kissed Jayla on the cheek, slipping his arm around her.

"I'm sorry," he said. "You don't need me to fix your problems for you. My job is to be here and be supportive."

"No, that's actually just the sort of thing I need to keep telling myself until I believe it," she replied. "I have to remember that he meant me and my shipmates harm and whether he was dead or just incapacitated, I made the right choice." She sighed. "It's just really hard to convince myself of that."

"I'm here," Alex said. "Whenever you need me. And if you ever need me to remind you that you made the right choice, just ask. Because I have no problems saying it over and over and over again. Now, I apologize. Because I brought the mood down. I honestly don't know where the idea to share that stuff came from. I guess, I guess I just felt comfortable around you, like I wanted you to see all of me, the light and at least some of the dark. I guess that led me to some dark memories. But, as I look around, I notice that I'm in a beautiful place, with the woman of my dreams cuddled against me, and there's food and beer. These things make me happy. Look around, Jayla. Tell me what makes you happy."

"It was good," she insisted. "It's part of who you are. Let's see. What makes me happy. Painting, obviously. And sitting on the top of the white cliffs and staring at the sea below. And then impulsively jumping from them and sinking down into the water and startling a school of fish. Watching a play. Acting in a play. Musicals. Cream colored ponies. Crisp apple strudels. Doorbells. Sleigh bells. Schnitzel with noodles." She grinned. "What is schnitzel, anyway?"

Alex laughed.

"It's a food from Germany on Earth," Alex said. "I only know what it is because one of my fellow Raiders grew up eating it and would make it for us, in its various forms. Basically, you hammer a cut of meat until it's pretty flat, bread it, and fry it in oil. It's actually pretty good...if you're burning thousands of calories a day in Raider training or even just serving with the regular Marines. At the time, I could put away a bunch of it. Now, I'd have to eat it sparingly. It is good, if I'm being honest, when it's the real thing, it's really good."

"It sounds good," agreed Jayla. "And very unhealthy. Probably worth it. Anyway," she continued, staying where she was, but retrieving her mac and cheese and chicken. "What are some ofyour favorite things? And please don't include bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens," she added with a grin and a wink.

"Well," Alex replied. "Thankfully, some of the same things as you. Live theatre, musical and otherwise, live music, even street performers. Something about that feeling of... uncertainty? Even if the performers are really good and perform the show to the same level of quality every time and repeat everything that works well, even with all that, each live performance is unique. When I see one, I know that particular performance will never happen again. And I'm a part of that. If the rest of the audience and I weren't there, there'd be no show. Seeing a live performance requires my participation and it takes me out of myself for awhile. And my job. I love my job. Even when I have to do it in rough situations, dangerous situations, I still love it. Risk is our business, right? I thought these things were my most favorite things. Then I came to the Black Hawk, reconnected with you, and now... when we share a smile, when we touch and kiss and hold each other, when we're close in even the most subtle of ways, these are my favorite things now, Jayla."

She beamed at him for a moment before leaning over and kissing him gently again. “That was the sweetest thing anybody has ever said to me,” she replied. “I think this is the first time I’ve been someone’s favorite thing and actually known about it at the time. It’s a bit... it makes me feel almost giddy.”

Alex grinned.

"Me, too," he said. "Me, too."

Alex gave Jayla a gentle squeeze with the arm he had around her, the one he'd refused to let go of her with, choosing rather to fumble with his food one-handed, rather successfully, if he did say so himself. The sun was lower in the sky now, changing the colors of the canyon and it's walls. The temperature was dropping a bit and Alex pulled Jayla in just a little closer for warmth.

"Are you getting cold?" he said. "Should we order up another blanket and stay awhile longer? Or finish up our food and go someplace warmer?"

Alex almost added a disclaimer about not trying to get into her bed, but didn't. By this point, Jayla had to know that he desired her, but also that he wouldn't pressure her. So he left his statement open for her to take as she felt was appropriate. If she was ready for them to be physically intimate, great. If not, well, Alex had waited twenty years for just a genuine smile from Jayla, let alone an opportunity to make love with her. Today they'd spent time alone together, held hands, held each other, kissed, shared things about each other. He'd waited twenty years for those experiences, too. If Alex had to wait a bit longer for physical intimacy, he was fine with that. He'd rather wait and make love to Jayla regularly and often, than rush and turn what could be his final romantic relationship in to a tawdry one night stand. If that meant they went back to one of their quarters and talked and cuddled some more, or cuddled and listened to music and got a little drunk, or cuddled and just about anything (Jayla was being really warm and affectionate and Alex wanted to take advantage of every bit of that), that was just fine by Alex.

For her part, Jayla was torn. Her heart wanted to be intimate with Alex right then and there, but her head reminded her that they’d resolved to take things slowly. In the question of head verses heart, Jayala always listened to the one that was loudest and right now, her head was screaming at her. So, finally, she said, “let’s replicate a blanket and watch the stars come out.” Nothing said she couldn’t change her mind later, of course, if her head shut up and let her think.

Alex smiled.

"Sure thing," he said. He asked the computer for another blanket and put it around the two of them. "There. That's better."

“Definitely,” agreed Jayla. She scooted a bit closer and leaned her head on his shoulder. “It’s really nice right here,” she added softly as they watched the sun disappear.

"Yes," Alex said, his voice a little hoarse. "It is."

He turned his head and kissed Jayla on top of hers, taking in her scent. It was intoxicating and she was so warm and soft and close that Alex didn't want to ruin anything by talking too much. He rested his head on top of Jayla's, took her hand in his free hand, and just sat there with her.

Maybe it was stupid, but at the moment, Jayla’s heart was drowning out her head, which had retreated to a corner and was mumbling incoherently. She turned her head to nuzzle his neck and before she could stop herself, her free hand was pushing its way under his shirt and she was kissing his neck gently.

"Hmmm..." Alex was surprised when Jayla started kissing his neck, more so when she slid her hand up his shirt. He released her hand and maneuvered himself so he could kiss her, this time more deeply. Somehow, despite the rock under them and the temperature around them, they got it into there heads that Alex's shirt should come off. Doing that caused the kiss to break long enough for Alex to exchange the environment to the bedroom of a cabin his family owned in California. The time stayed the same, and there was the image of a beautiful sunset through the sliding glass doors. He didn't waste time saying anything more, but began kissing Jayla again, in between helping her out of her clothes....



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