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Redheads and White Knights

Posted on 30 Sep 2016 @ 3:11am by Ensign Aurilia Moretti & Lieutenant Lucas Abrams M.D.

Mission: Click Three Times
Location: Various
Timeline: MD 7 || 2100 Hours

Sleep eluded the slender redheaded pilot after the standby and stand down from earlier, but Aurilia still tried. She tossed and turned on her bunk with one thought after another going through her mind; what she would have done in a Peregrine against the gigantic Karemma ships; what it would be like to fly again after being grounded for so long; a certain doctor in Sickbay...

Where did that come from? Aurila wondered as the image of the incredibly large and undeniably gentle and handsome Doctor Abrams. He hadn't threatened to ground her if she didn't get some sleep and she had tried; that had to count for something, but sleep didn't want her. Finally, she decided to get up and wander the ship for a while in the hopes of tiring her mind out.

She got out of her bed and pulled on a pair of black pants and a dark sleeved half top which exposed her toned abdomen and a pair of heels which boosted her from her normal height to six feet. It wasn't much of a increase in height, but if she encountered Doctor Abrams again....there it was again. Why was she thinking about him again? She shook her head and decided to head out to the recreation rooms which were right down the corridor from her junior officer quarters. Even if he weren't there, she could...wait. Again? she questioned herself. You need to stop, Aurilia she firmly told herself. You are going out to wear your mind out, not to stalk a hot side of beef with gorgeous eyes and long hair that you could run your fingers through...stop it!

Still chastising herself. Aurila headed down the hall and entered the recreation room, wondering if anyone was up for a game of three dimensional chess or something else mentally stimulating.

Lucas stood in the rec room with a couple guys he'd gotten to know since being aboard the ship, leaning against one of the pool tables while he waited for his shot. He'd changed out of his uniform and into jeans and a black long sleeve shirt. The atmosphere around him and the others was more relaxed than it had been in a while, and he was actually laughing at something one of them said.

He looked toward the door and blinked when he saw Aurilia enter. The Behemoth of a man hadn't been expecting to see her again so soon, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. For now, though, he planned to continue going about his business and see what her intentions were. Just because he found her to be incredibly attractive didn't mean she thought the same about him, which, and he hated to admit it... would bum him out quite a bit.

Once it was his turn, Luc moved toward the table and placed the cue in his hands, then bent over to line up his shot. This was the make it or break it shot. If he landed the eight ball in the corner pocket, he'd be walking away with fuller pockets, but if he missed, scratched or got distracted... he'd be the one to pay up. Clearing his throat, the doctor lined his shot up and landed the eight ball in the corner pocket with a grin. "That's game, Johann. Pay up," he said, holding out his hand to receive what he'd been waiting for. "That's it for me, but you guys go ahead and keep playing." With that, he made his way over to a different area of the rec room and settled down.

Aurilia couldn't believe her luck when she spotted the tree-sized man that was standing near a pool table with several other guys. He had his back to her and she looked again to make sure that she wasn't seeing things based on her recent thoughts and was rewarded with the sight of him bending over the table. She had to admit he had a really nice behind and she smirked as she envisioned slapping it while tugging at his long hair.

Her feet had already started in his direction like a photon torpedo speeding to its mark when he suddenly left the pool table and went to another area. Crap! she thought as she came to a halt halfway to the pool tables and pondered what to do now. She spotted a jumja machine and went to get a bar of the sweet flavored glop on a stick and decided to see if she could meander his way without tripping over her own feet. When she neared him, she idly licked the jumja and wondered if she had made a mistake by getting something definitely unhealthy for her, but it was too late now. She felt the rush of the sugary confection as it entered her system and she knew she was dedicated to her course of action.

"Doctor Abrams?" Aurilia asked as if surprised to see the massive doctor there in the recreation center. "I never expected to see you here." Lame, Moretti! Real lame. Why don't you just ask him if he wants something sweet to lick on next?

Lucas looked over in Aurilia's direction and smiled. "Miss Moretti, this is certainly a pleasant surprise," he said, rising to his feet and gesturing for her to settle down wherever she saw fit. Definitely pleasant, he thought, noticing her attire. He shook his head mentally and pushed such thoughts from his mind. Aurilia definitely wasn't a piece of meat to be ogled at by him, or any other man on the ship. "I trust you were able to get some rest earlier?"

My, are are a tall one," she thought as he came to his feet. With very nice shoulders and a broad chest she added. "Does it count that I tried before we went on yellow alert. After that, I had so much adrenaline pumping in my veins that I couldn't sleep," she told him as she sat down near where he had been sitting. "And we're off duty. Please call me Aurilia." She gave her jumja stick another lick as she leaned back and patted the seat he had just vacated.

"If I'm going to be calling you Aurilia, then it only seems fair that you call me Lucas or Luc," he said with a smile, unable to notice the attention she was drawing to her mouth as he sat down. Get a grip, Abrams. "It does count, and I give you credit for trying. Hopefully, tonight will be a quiet night and everyone will be able to get some much needed rest. The entire crew needs it."

"Luc it is, then," Aurila said pleasantly. "I probably shouldn't be having this jumja stick, but they taste so good. I had to get out of my quarters after laying in bed for an hour or I'd go stir crazy. Bad things happen when I go stir crazy and I'd probably end up cleaning the rags the maintenance crews use to wipe their hands after fixing up fighters. If that happened, I know that I'd go crazy for real and probably think that I was a jumja stick or end up in the seediest bar on this side of the galaxy...." she suddenly stopped and looked down at the floor as she realized what she had said.

"Do you end up in seedy bars often?" the large man found himself asking, trying to hide a smile. Was it just him, or did the Alpha Three pilot allow her mouth to run away with her around everyone? "Aurilia... relax. I promise I'm not going to bite you."

"What if I wanted you to?" she asked before she clamped her mouth so tightly shut that she felt her teeth clack together. Blood rushed to her face until it matched the shade of her hair and she wished that she could will herself back to the Alpha Quadrant. "I....I didn't just say that," she denied quietly. "It never happened."

Lucas couldn't help but chuckle. "Sorry, Red, but I just can't let you off the hook that easy. If I did, I'd have to do it with everyone, and where would the fun be in that?" he asked, looking over at her. The first thing he noticed was her blush and how is matched her hair. That simple act only added to how absolutely gorgeous the woman sitting next to him was. What prompted him to do what he was about to was beyond him, but impulse took over. He leaned forward and kissed her. It wasn't long and lingering, but soft and quick. Over before he'd even realized it happened. Maybe, with that out of the way, she'd relax a bit more, and while it wasn't exactly the bite she wanted from him... it would do for now.

The photon torpedo that had impelled her forward earlier now exploded with an impact that was both gentle and tremendous at the same time. She felt the galaxy turn sideways, then twist around like a figure eight before it righted itself in some approximation of normal and she turned her umber eyes on him. "Umm....nice," she murmured as her mind decided it wasn't done spinning. He kissed me! she thought and unconsciously licked her lips.

That seemed to have work, Behemoth thought with a smile. "Yes, it was, and there's more where it came from down the road if it's something you might be interested in. I will leave that ball in your court, though, and you won't get any pressure from me," he said, shifting around a bit so he could look at her head on without having to have his head at such an odd angle. "We can hang out when time permits, maybe get to know one another, then you can decide if it is or not."

His words went in her ears and spent a few minutes being put through various mental blenders, stretched, reformed in different sentence structures and came back to the original words. There was no mistaking it, as if the kiss hadn't spoken a lot more than his words did. If she were honest with herself, she had to admit that it was the sweetest thing that anyone had ever said to her and her was as attracted to her as she was to him. That was a surprise to her and she smiled. "I'd like that, Luc," she managed. She was astounded that her mouth wasn't veering off on a different vector at high warp and thought she may have broken something in her brain when she had gotten hurt the previous day and it was never picked up by the medical sensors.

Lucas smiled, wondering what was going on in that mind of hers. She seemed to have a severe case of foot in mouth disease, but since kissing her, that seemed to have disappeared. He did have to wonder if she was thinking about it instead. "So would I, Aurilia. I'm patient, so you don't have to worry about me pushing you. We can hang out... get to know one another... see how things progress if you're interested. I'll even let you pick out what we do and when."

Aurilia held up a hand and licked her lips again. "Woah...Luc," she said. "I don't want this all to be just one-sided. I appreciate the offer, but it's really thoughtful, but how would I get to know about you if I pick out everything we do and when we do it? For that matter, what do you like to do in your down time?"

"Then we can switch off," he offered, looking thoughtful at her last question. "What do I like to do on my down time, huh? Well... I adore anything sports related. It doesn't really matter what it is or if I've done it before, I'll give it a shot. I work out at least twice a day... an hour when I wake up and an hour before I go to bed. Haven't missed a day doing that in the last fifteen years. And last, but not least, I'm pretty partial to my Command Sambo training. How about you?"

"Well, I love three-dimensional chess," she started. "I go swimming when I can, play Velocity and I'm proud to say I have a record of seventy-four wins and six losses at it, I play drums and I've been flying since I was old enough to reach the controls of anything that can fly. I can't say that I work out much other than to keep myself to the bare minimum requirements of being a pilot, but I have a massager in my quarters which is great for relaxing after a workout."

Luc arched a brow. That last bit had him more curious than he should have been, and now it was his turn to let his mouth run away with him. "A massager that's great for relaxing after a workout? This I've got to see and try out for myself."

"I'd be happy to use it on you," Aurilia volunteered. "It's okay if you use it on yourself, but you can't always get to all the spots like someone who was guiding it to those same spots. Besides, it's hard to groan in pleasure while holding it to an area." She stopped as she realized what the words she was saying sounded like. " your muscles."

He found himself laughing again. "I find the way your mouth runs away from you rather cute, and so you don't have to feel bad, I knew what you were talking about. Still... I think I want to see this device you're talking about. I just may have to get myself one if it's as good as you say it is. As much as I work out and exercise, I'm always straining my muscles."

She liked his laugh and joined him for a moment while she blushed. "I'm sorry," she told him. "I seem to have foot in mouth disease and don't have a cure. Do you want to come back to my quarters and I can show it to you?"

"I'm going to assume you mean the massager, and yes, I do want to see it," he said, rising to his feet and offering her his hand to help her up. "You'll have to lead the way since I don't know where your place is, though."

"I'm just down the corridor in room zero seven-three," Aurilia said as she accepted his hand and came to her feet. "Keep in mind that my mouth has a tendency to say things without my consent, though."

"I have definitely noticed, and I promise not to hold it against you," Lucas said, helping her get to her feet. "I'm in room four-sixteen if you ever feel the need to see me. Shall we?"

"We shall," she said with a bright smile as she headed for the exit without letting go of his hand. It didn't seem to bother the young pilot at all with the looks a few people were casting her way, at least the few who believed the rumors about pilots. Well, they're not all rumors," she thought before she opened her mouth once they were outside the door again. "By the way, I don't know what you've heard or haven't heard about pilots, but we're not all whores. Just some of them."

Lucas arched a brow at her admission, following behind her with his large hand wrapped around hers. Truth be told, he hadn't even heard anything of the sort until she'd just said something about it to him. "I, uh, I've never heard anything like that before, so that's kind of news to me. Besides... if anyone ever called you that, I would gladly put my fist through their face without question." He even balled up his free hand into a fist and held it up. Oh, the Doctor meant every word of what he'd just said, too.

Aurilia eyed the massive fist that looked as if it could punch through a duranium hull and shivered. "I, uh...that's a big fist," she said. "I bet anyone who meets that doesn't remember much afterwards. At any rate, I can take care of my own reputation, but thank you for making so generous an offer. I wouldn't want you to lose a rank or anything by assaulting someone on my behalf." While she talked, she walked next to him, still holding his other hand.

"Verbal assault is just as bad as physical assault," he said, lowering his hand back to his side. Now he had to wonder if he'd freaked her out with what he said. It was in his nature to be protective, and if they were going to take the time out to get to know one another, he felt the need to want to protect her, too. "I'm sorry, Aurilia."

"Don't be sorry," she told him quickly. "I can dish verbal assault out like the worst pilot in the seediest bar in any quadrant. It's just that some pilots seem to have a different partner at every starbase, ship and planet they're at and never go back to the same one twice. I'm not like that, though. Still, it's really sweet that you're so protective."

"It's part of who I am. That's one of the very reasons I started working out like I did. I was a bit on the lanky side, and just couldn't take it anymore, so I started working out. One of my older sister's was assaulted by her boyfriend at the time, and he learned very fast it wasn't going to fly."

"I'm surprised you didn't go into Security," Aurilia said as they arrived at her quarters. She keyed her access code into the panel and the door hissed open. The first thing to get anyone's attention upon entering her quarters was a large red and black patterned Turkish rug which took up most of the floor space in the living room area. The second thing would be a case of clear material which had dozens of different types of miniature fighter craft, shuttles and runabouts in it sitting on clear shelves. There was also a collection of empty liquor bottles in a small display off to the left and a plant that looked as if it had given up the will to live at some point in the ancient past. "Welcome to Chez Moretti," she said as she kicked her high heels off and pushed them to the right side of the door after she stepped in.

Lucas looked around and smiled. "You certainly do appreciate all things that can be piloted, don't you?" he asked, moving farther into the living room so he could look at the miniature collection she had. The Behemoth had to wonder if she'd appreciate the aircraft from days gone by. Of course, the only want to know that for sure was to start the collection up for her, which he planned to do the second he got back to his own quarters. "This is pretty impressive."

"Thank you," she said as she walked with him over to the display. "They're all made of duranium alloy and the case is transparent aluminum," she told him with a bit of pride. "I have everything from a twenty-second century shuttlepod to a Sovereign-class captain's yacht. Would you like something to drink, Luc?"

"Sounds good," Luc said, moving to the collection of bottles next. "These are all pretty original. I don't think I've seen anything quite like them before. Where'd you get them?"

"Mainly at bars around the dock front in San Francisco Bay area," Aurila told him as she picked up one bottle that was twisted from the bulb at the bottom all the way to the neck. "This is Cardassian Kanar," she told him. "There's four varieties of it, but the bottles are mostly the same." She pointed to another bottle that had what looked like blunt glass spikes coming from it. "That one held Romulan ale." She set the Kanar bottle down and turned to him. "So what did you want to drink?"

"Whatever you're having," he answered, making his way over to the couch. "Did you get the chance to fly today? I know we were under yellow alert for a while."

She went to another cabinet and opened it and pulled out a pyramid shaped bottled with a cork in the neck and set it on the table. Next, she grabbed two thick glass tumblers and filled them with a dark green liquid before she put the cork back in the bottle and set it aside. Lifting both tumblers, she brought them back to him. "I hope you like Aldebaran whiskey," she said as she handed one to him and sat down beside of him.

"I've never actually had it, but I'm willing to give it a try," Luc said, taking the drink from her and bringing it to his lips. "Have you eaten anything? If not, you might want to so the alcohol doesn't make you sick."

"I did eat something earlier," Aurilia said. "I think I did, but I have a high tolerance to booze. I've won a few contests when I was at the Academy, so I'm used to drinking." She realized how that sounded and set her glass down. "Oh...the massager. Give me just a moment." With that, she headed out of the living room and felt her face burn with shame when she passed the collection of liquor bottles.

When she returned, she held a curved device in her right hand and held it up like a trophy. "Tada!" she said. "The Vibrolax Twelve Thousand. It's guaranteed to relax muscles on ninety-six different species."

Lucas looked to the device in her hand. "That looks interesting. I can't say I've ever seen anything that looks quite like it before," he said, holding his hand out to see if she would let him give it a once over.

Aurilia handed it to him as she sat back down beside of him and reached for her drink. "It operates sort of like a deep sonic shower, but instead of massaging and taking dirt away from the surface, it sends pulses under the skin to where muscles are tense and performs a massage that way."

"That's rather impressive. Did you replicate it, or were you able to find it somewhere else before you got here?" he asked, looking back over to her just after taking another sip of his drink.

"I won it in a drinking contest when I was on Earth," she told him after taking a drink of her whiskey. "Although I'm not certain who I won it from, but I've had a Engineer friend check it out for me and he found the specifications for it and told me how to use it and everything it did. Would you like me to try it on you?"

"Do you drink often?" Lucas asked. The doctor in him couldn't help but notice she'd mentioned drinking quite a bit the past few minutes as they spoke. He had to wonder if there was a problem there, but didn't want to say anything for fear of offending her, and that was definitely something he didn't want to do. Sadly, he couldn't help but be a bit concerned, and now he'd opened the gates to territory she might not have wanted to venture into. Chance were, the evening would be cut short, and she'd want nothing to do with him anymore, but that was something he'd live with if he needed to.

For a moment, Aurilia was confused; she had just offered to massage him and he wanted to know about her drinking habits. She set the massager down and started to raise the glass to her lips, then frowned at it and set it down again before she looked at him. "You deserve to know the truth, Luc," she said quietly. "You'll probably leave when you find out, but it's already a matter of record if you look in my files. I got a two year lockout on promotions for showing up drunk for duty while on Unity and lost my wings for six months. I just got them back. I'm trying really hard to stay away from booze, but it isn't that easy. I don't drink on duty now, though."

Luc set his own glass down before leaning back once again. He has to give her credit... admitting something like that took courage, especially to someone she barely knew and a doctor to boot. However, he didn't plan on judging her. It wasn't his place. "I know that took a lot of courage to put out in the open like that, and no, I don't plan on leaving. The fact that you don't drink on duty now is something for you to be proud of, and if you're serious about wanting to stay away from it, there are things you can do to turn your focus from the alcohol and put it on something else. If... that's something you want to do."

She looked at him for a long moment, then looked back at the glass of green whiskey on the table and back at him. The fact that he didn't judge her was a bonus, but he was a doctor and they didn't judge unless it was something that was affecting your body. Like booze makes do stupid things? she asked herself. She bit her lip and looked at him again. "I...I would like that, Luc," she said a bit uncertainly.

"I'll help you any way that I can if you want it," he said. "Once in a while isn't a bad thing, but the damage excessive drinking does isn't pretty. I mean... there's not much we can't fix up these days, though, that's not the point."

"I know," Aurilia said. "I just...I don't even know why I drink anymore. I got myself in so much trouble with it and keep going back to it. You'd figure that after I lost my wings and any hope of getting a promotion for two years...." She shook her fiery mane. "I'm just stupid, I guess."

Lucas shook his head. "No, it doesn't make you stupid. It's familiar, and often times people turn to things that are familiar to them... especially in times of discomfort or crisis. You're going to have to think of alternatives to that for the future. It won't be easy, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it."

"It's something I've been doing for eleven years," she admitted even as her right hand strayed to the tumbler and wrapped around it. I started hanging out pilots and like-minded people when I was sixteen and they included me in all of their fun. It got me in trouble more than a few times, but I keep going back to it. When I was in the Academy, I spent most of it in a alcohol-fueled haze and don't even know how I managed to graduate. Now I'm a pilot and I was doing the same stupid thing until it got me grounded."

"So, you got an early start with it, then? How old are you?" Lucas asked.

"Twenty-five," Aurilia answered him. "I got started when I was sixteen and hid it from my parents. I cleaned up enough to get into the Academy, then it was right back to partying again."

"That's pretty young," the large man observed, but he still wasn't going to judge her. "I'm glad that you got your wings back, though. That's a definite sign that you're heading down the right path, though, you have to be careful now. If you go out drinking with friends, or whatever, and an emergency comes up, the Squad Commander will ground you without hesitation."

Without thinking, she raised the glass and started to take a drink of the whiskey.

Lucas looked to the glass, then straight to her eyes. "Are you sure you really want that?" he asked. In fact, he'd taken a single sip from his own whiskey, then set the glass on the coffee table where it was going to stay.

Aurilla looked at the tumbler in her hand as if she had no idea how it got there. The strong scent filled her nostrils like a whiff of home and she fought the urge to take a comforting drink and reluctantly set it down. "I wasn't even thinking about it...and I was still going to drink it." She covered her face in her hands and shook her head. "I'm going to end up washing out of Starfleet and it'll be my fault," she muttered.

Sadly, she was right. If Aurilia kept on the path she was currently travelling down, she would indeed wash out, and there wouldn't be another soul to blame for it but herself. Lucas' concern was what would happen to her if that did actually happen. He couldn't let it. Plucking the tumbler tumblers from the coffee table along with the bottle, the big guy rose to his feet and made his way toward her bedroom with it. He didn't stop there, though, but continued on to the bathroom where he began to pour the contents down the sink.

She wanted to scream at him or jump on his back or something, but she sat on the couch and watched as he took the bottle and glasses to the bathroom. She felt as if he had torn a part of her out but his words, his offer to help her was there in her mind. He was a kind, caring man and she couldn't be mad at him so she forced herself to sit there and let him do what he would.

Once he was done disposing of the liquid inside the two glasses and the bottle, Lucas walked back into the living room. "How serious are you about wanting to stop?" he asked, locking his eyes on her.

"Well," Aurilia said with a sad smile. "I didn't stop or stab you when you went to dispose of booze that cost me nineteen strips of latinum. That has to mean something, doesn't it?"

"It does," Lucas agreed, reaching into his pocket to pull his winnings from pool out and placing it onto the coffee table. There was enough there to cover what he'd just disposed of and then some. "Aurilia... there's only so much twenty-fourth century medicine can do for people, and yes, it's even been known to bring people back from the brink of death before. But... what happens if you were here alone and got so drunk you couldn't really walk? It's no secret alcohol makes people feel as though they're invincible, but they're not. You could hit your head and bleed out before anyone even knew something was wrong." Maybe he was being harsh, but he preferred to call it tough love.

"It wouldn't be the first time that happened, minus the bleeding out," she told him truthfully as she put her hands on her legs and looked up. "Wouldn't be the first time that I woke not knowing where I was, either." She sighed. "I know, Luc and you keep your latinum. I wasted mine the moment I bought that bottle, anyway. I need help. I know I do and I'd like to take you up on your offer. By the way, I would like to keep the bottle for my collection. Aldebaran whiskey is incredibly hard to come by in the Gamma Quadrant and I do collect the bottles of various types I've had."

The large man shook his head. "No. As a matter of fact, all of the bottles are coming down. They won't be disposed of, so you don't have to worry about that. I'm going to pack them up and take them to my place for now. Those..." he said, gesturing to the collection she had. "They symbolize the very thing you're trying to walk away from. Their presence here can only hinder your ability to make yourself healthier, Aurilia. I'm not doing this to be an ass. I'm doing this because I'd like for you to be around so I have the chance to get to know you properly."

"Just...just don't break them," Aurilia told him. "No matter what you think they symbolize, they're still a part of my They represent a part of my life that I'm not proud of, but I'm not going to hide from it. If I were going to do that, I wouldn't have told you what I have. I think I could grow to like you, Luc, but please don't give me a reason to hate you. I have no friends and I don't leave my quarters often and you're a genuinely decent guy and haven't tried to take advantage of me."

"I would never give you reason to hate me, Aurilia, and taking advantage of you just isn't an option. As for the bottles, you have my word that they won't get broken, nor will I dispose of them. You will get them back someday, I promise," Lucas said, moving over to them and very carefully removing each one of them to join the other on the coffee table. He'd have to find something to transport them in before he left, but he didn't need to worry about that just yet. "I'm going to help you get through this however I can."

"You could have left them in the display," she said. "It's made for easy transportation and it's unbreakable. I pay extra to store my collections just so they have a chance of surviving in space. It's kind of funny," she laughed. "I protect things that try to kill me and fly things that don't really protect me."

"I'll put them back soon," he said, settling back down on the couch to look at her. Something wasn't right, and it didn't take a counselor to figure that out, but he wasn't going to pry. "I'm proud of you, Aurilia. I mean that."

"M..Moretti Seven One Alpha," Aurilia said quietly and jerked a thumb towards the cabinet that she had gotten the Aldebaran whiskey from.

Unable to help himself, Lucas arched a brow. "What is that for?"

She took a breath. "It's the code for my liquor cabinet," she said. "I wouldn't trust me alone in here with it after you leave."

"You want me to take it?" he asked, unable to hide his shock.

"Please, Luc," Aurilia requested. "If you want to help me, it would be for the best if you took it, too. I'll even help you move all of this stuff to your quarters. I don't want to be sitting here with the knowledge that I could get up and get drunk whenever I wanted."

"I'll take it, then," He said, moving over to the cabinet. Once the code was set, he opened it and began to empty it of the bottles, hoping she wouldn't try to stab him now.

It was hard to sit there and watch him take her other collection of bottles out of the cabinet, but she knew it had to happen. When he pulled the last bottle out, she came to her feet and went over to him. "Luc?" she questioned a bit tentatively.

Lucas looked over to her. He felt bad for doing what he was doing, but if he didn't, she was going to drink herself to death based on what she'd already told him. "Yes?"

"Can..." Aurilia started and licked her lips. "Can I kiss you?"

The large man blinked. He'd never been asked permission from anyone to be kissed before, but there was a first time for everything. Now, he was feeling a bit guilty about kissing her the first time, though it did seem to do the trick when it came to ending her foot in mouth disease. "Yes," he answered softly, leaning forward a bit despite her wearing the heels that made her taller.

She placed a soft kiss to his lips for a moment before she pulled back and offered him a hesitant smile. "That was to say thank you for helping a stranger that you don't know. No one else has ever reached out to me and if it seems like I have trust issues, it's probably because I don't really know how to act or react."

"I don't know what your past is aside of what you told me, Aurilia, but can't help but feel it has a lot to do with what's going on now. If you ever feel like you want to talk about it, you can talk to me," he offered, smiling down at her. "I promise it will never go any father than me, either."

"Why?" Aurilia ask him. "Why are you helping me?" She searched his face as if looking for clues that would help her understand why the gentle giant would do what no one else had.

"Because it's the kind of person I am, and if you didn't really want the help, then you would have never told me what you did. Plus... I'd like you to stick around for a while so I can get to know you better," Lucas replied.

"Really?" she asked him before she took his hand and backed toward her couch. Of course, with his size, it wouldn't be hard at all to resist the petite pilot. "I'm nothing special, Luc."

"Really, Aurilia, and you being 'nothing special' isn't for you to decide. I think you are, and that's what matters," he said, following her when she took his hand. The last thing the freakishly large man wanted to do was spook her.

Aurilia took a seat back on her couch and patted the seat beside of her. "I've never really had high goals in life, Luc," she started. "Sure, I knew that I wanted to be a pilot the first time I ever saw shuttles being flown by professionals, but fighters...that really got my attention. They were sleek, fast and filled with glamorous tales told by daring, dashing pilots who couldn't be stopped by anything."

She paused to take a breath. "What none of them told me was the constant strain and stress they felt each time they went out. Or the fear that the smart ones had. No one prepared me for what it was really like until I went through the Academy. After each simulation or actual run, I would go back to my quarters, get a bottle of something alcoholic and hide from the fear and stress and strain until it all became a blur until the next time. I don't think I ever did or ever will get past it, but now it's going to be a little harder and a little easier at the same time."

"If you ever start to get to that point, come find me," he said, settling down next to her. "I'm serious. It doesn't matter what time it is... day or night. You come find me, and I'll help you get through it. I promise, Aurilia, now I want you to promise me, too."

"I can't do that when I'm in the cockpit, though," Aurilia said. "The rest of it....I think I'd like that. As long as you aren't on duty. I don't want to get you in trouble by walking into Medical blubbering."

"You can still come to me when I'm on duty. As long as we're not swarming with patients, I'll be able to talk to you," Lucas stated. "If you don't want to interrupt, you can hang out or follow me around. I wouldn't mind."

"That would make me feel like a puppy," she said with a laugh as she pictured it. "I may be little, but I have a bite. Anyway, I'm really glad that you decided to take a chance and aren't prejudiced against us crazy pilots."

Lucas couldn't help but chuckle at that. "Aurilia, no one is ever going to mistake someone as gorgeous as you for any kind of puppy. As for deciding to take a chance, everyone deserves one, and nothing you've told me tonight is going to chase me away. No matter what happens, I'll always be around."

Aurilia smiled and leaned over to kiss him again, the same touch of lips as before. "You are an awesome man, Luc," she told him. "Thank you for everything you've done so far. I have a feeling that I'm going to like getting to know you."

"You're more than welcome, Aurilia, and I know I'm going to enjoy getting to know you as well," he said as he leaned forward to embrace her and press a kiss to her temple. "Remember what I said, though... day or night... even if I am on duty. I'll make it work out."

"How did you get to be so sweet?" she asked him as she leaned against him.

Lucas shrugged one of his shoulders and gave a sheepish smile. "It's how I was raised, I guess. I'm from Texas. Chivalry isn't dead in my family."

"Chivalry?" Aurilia asked him curiously. "I don't think I've heard of that word before." She seemed curious as to the meaning of it and looked up at him with her umber eyes.

"Well... let's see if I can explain it," he said, trying to think of the wording he wanted to use. He'd never had to explain it to anyone before, so this was going to be a challenge. "Chivalry is... kind of think of a white knight who is full of courage, honor, courtesy, justice and ready to help those who might need it."

"I thought nights were dark," she said. "How would the opposite of day have any of those attributes? It's just an absence of light."

He could help but smile, and getting to his feet, he extended his hand to her. "Come on... your terminal will show you exactly what I'm talking about."

Aurilia took his hand and came to her feet, then headed to her terminal where she activate it. "Computer," she said. "Show me a white night."

"With a 'kay'," Lucas stated, smiling when a few images popped up on the screen. "This... is what I was talking about. Completely different from the night you're thinking of. They're from a time long ago."

"They....look very impressive," she admitted and tried to picture him wearing the armor and carrying a giant sword. "Although, why are they wearing all of that just to display all the attributes say go with chivalry?"

Luc smiled and shook his head. "It's more of a symbol than anything. Me for example. I don't need to put on a ton of armor to display the attributes of chivalry. They're already in me, and have been since I was a little boy."

"So does that make you my white knight, coming to save the damsel in distress from something only she can truly fight?" Aurilia asked him as she looked from the screen to him.

"If that's how you wish to see it," he said, reaching out to take her hand so he could pull her against his large frame. Lucas didn't kiss her, but instead, slipped his arms around her in an embrace.

She lay her head against his chest and wrapped her slender around around his waist, marvelling that her hands barely met at the small of his broad back. This was a man who could help her confront her fear, a man who could help her stay away from booze. A man who believed in her and a man who she wouldn't let down. She knew she had to be strong and meet him halfway because she felt if she didn't, then she would be worse than she ever was before. "Thank you, Lucas," she said softly. " are truly a good man."

Lucas couldn't help but smile again as he lowered his head to press a kiss to the top of her head. "You're welcome, Aurilia, and you are truly a good woman. You just got a little lost along the way," he said softly, giving her a gentle, yet reassuring squeeze for someone his size. "I promise to help you out any way that I can now, and in the future. You don't have to do anything alone anymore... not if you don't want to."

"I don't want to be alone, Luc," Aurilia told him. "It's not a good place to be and no one should have to experience it because of personal choices made. I want to see the light again and know that there's hope. To know that there is something more than an empty quarters and endless bottles of booze to drown the fear. I want to live."

"Go pack a bag," he urged softly, thinking about nothing but wanting her to be comfortable. "You're going to come home with me tonight. You can take my bed, and I'll take the floor." There was no way he was fitting on the couch no matter how hard he tried. "We're going to get you there, Aurilia, I promise. It's not going to happen overnight, but it is going to happen. It will be a long road to travel, but you won't be travelling it alone. Go on. I'm going to get this taken care of while you do that."

She shook her head, her fiery locks swirling behind her. "No. I am not taking your bed and having you sleep on the floor, Luc," she told him firmly. "You need rest and you can only get that on a bed. People depend on you to save their lives and you won't be able to do that if you aren't well rested. I'm small enough for the couch and it wouldn't be the first time I woke up on one. I'll pack, but promise me that you won't sleep on the floor."

He wasn't going to argue with her about sleeping arrangements at the moment. "Okay. I'll get this ready to go while you pack a bag, then we'll be on our way. Sound good?"

'It does," Aurilia smiled before she headed into the small bedroom. There, she rummaged through her night clothes and picked out the least sexy pair she had, a pair of old jogging shorts and a t-shirt from the Academy and tucked them into a small carryall. She looked at the small black bottle that nested in the drawer where it had been hidden and she bit her lip before she pulled it out, too. With the carryall in one hand and the bottle in the other, she went back into the living room and offered him the bottle. "My stash," she admitted. "I don't want it."

Lucas was, once again, impressed when she brought the bottle out to him. It showed him she wanted to live, and he couldn't be more proud of her. The road ahead was going to be a hard and bumpy one, but with a little support and determination, she could do it. "I'm proud of you, you know. This can't be easy for you, but it's clear to me that this is something you really want to do."

"It isn't easy," she admitted. "But it's the right thing to do. Let's get out of this place for a while. The air in here needs to recirculate and get purged. I probably need to change everything about it once I come back."

"Let's go, then," he said, grabbing the bottles of booze and the collection.

"Maybe I should get something for you to carry all of that in," Aurilia said before she set her carryall down and went back into her bedroom. She returned in under a minute with a small cargo case and popped the lid. "This is what I had all my stuff in when I came from Academy. It should fit."

Lucas put everything inside and smiled. "There we go. I'll get this back to you as soon as I can. Are you ready to go?"

"I'm ready," she said as she picked her carryall up again and headed for the door. She stopped to look wistfully at the nearly dead plant and shook her head. "I'll talk to you later, Thibor."

"Thibor, huh?" the large man asked, making his way to the door with the cargo case in hand. "Any particular reason you chose that name for your plant?"

"It was the name of a Flight Instructor I had," Aurilia told him as the door opened and she stepped out. "He refused to bend no matter what we tried, and the plant is just as stubborn."

"I take it Thibor doesn't appreciate the simple things in life... like water?" Lucas asked, unable to hide the smile as he made his way down the corridor.

She had to laugh. "It's a Betazoid Muktok plant," she told him. "They're supposed to have several small blooms that have an almost fuzzy appearance with pinkish petals which make a light jingling sound when shaken. They're supposed to live thousands of years, so this might be just a phase. Or knowing my luck, it needs empathy to survive and I've been killing it."

"I suppose anything is possible," he said when they got to the turbolift. Lucas stepped aside so she could get on first, then moved in behind her, giving the order to go up to deck four. "I'm sure you'll plant will be fine, though."

Aurilia entered the turbolift behind him and stepped to the side. "It doesn't seem to die but it doesn't seem to get better, either. I've taken it to a botanist and he has no idea what's wrong with it, either." She sighed. "Still I haven't given up on it and I know you won't give up on me." '

"I won't," he said, stepping off of the turbolift after they reached the deck his quarters were on. It didn't take long before he was standing in front of his door and keying in his code, then gesturing for her to go on inside. "We'll get you through this, Aurilia."

The petite redhead stepped into the room and couldn't help but look around to see how a doctor kept his place organized or lack thereof. "I know and I want you to know that I wouldn't lie to you on if I backslide or not."

The doctor's quarters weren't any different from the day he'd moved into them. All of his personal effects were still packed away and tucked in the corner of his bedroom. He hadn't really had a whole lot of time to unpack anything considering how busy he was as of late. "Someday... I hope my living space will look much different than this," he said, bringing the cargo case into his bedroom to tuck it away in the closet before returning. "I just haven't had any time."

"You came aboard at Unity like I did, right?" Aurilia asked him as she moved to set her carryall on his couch. "What's been keeping you from unpacking, Luc?"

"I came aboard a week ago, and I've jumped into my duties in medical the second I got here. That's what has kept me from unpacking. As soon as there's a break in people trying to kill us, I'll get around to making this place a bit more homey."

"Rule number one is get comfortable because if you die before you do that, you'll be tense forever," she made up. "No one likes a stiff stiff." She paused. "Sorry. Bad joke. Anyhoo, let me get changed and then if you have a blanket, I'll take the couch."

Lucas laughed. "I'm not a... stiff stiff... as you called it. Go ahead and use the bathroom.. make yourself at home. You can have the left side of the bed since I sleep on the right side. I'll be sleeping above the covers, so no arguing."

"I can live with that," Aurilia said with a smile, and I'm glad that you aren't sleeping on the floor. That would really bother me." With that, she took her carry all and went into the bathroom. She returned a few minutes later wearing the grey Academy t-shirt and shorts with the carryall packed with her regular clothes. "To the bedroom, my chivalrous one?"

By the time Aurilia returned, Luc was already dressed for bed. He smiled at her and gestured toward the bedroom. "Don't mind the hair. I put it up so neither of us would inhale it while we were sleeping," he said with a laugh. It actually happened to him a time or two in the past, but he wasn't about to say that out loud. He walked into the bedroom and pulled the covers back on the bed. "I hope you're able to sleep tonight, Aurilia. If you need me for anything, just wake me. If you get thirsty or hungry, help yourself to the replicator. Don't worry about changing out the account."

Aurilia looked at Luc's shirtless, musclebound chest and her jaw dropped. Well, damn, she thought. I guess uniforms can hide some things. She licked her lips and it was an effort to raise her eyes to his. "Uh...yeah. Thank you again, Luc," she said with a smile as she moved for the bedroom. "If I move around too much in my sleep, just give me a nudge and I'll settle down again."

When she saw the size of his bed, she goggled at it for a minute. "Now this is a bed that I would expect a Captain to have," she said as she moved towards it. "Do you want the inside or the outside?"

"I normally sleep on this side," Behemoth said, making his way over to the one with the nightstand next to it. He set his combadge down on it, then settled onto the bed and tucked his hands behind his head. "Normal beds can't accommodate me for obvious reasons. I've tried."

Aurilia walked around him and then crawled onto the bed, unable to hide her backside from doing what it was doing while she crawled across the huge bed before she lay down on her right side so it faced the wall and she could see him again. "Good night, my giant champion," she said with a smile.

"Goodnight, Red," Lucas spoke just before ordering the computer to turn the light off. It was a weird sensation having company for the night, but he'd never in a million years dream of taking advantage of the situation. With a smile, he closed his eyes and hoped she wouldn't be spooked in the morning when she saw him. The last thing he needed was for her to try to stab him with the nearest object she could find, and in this case, that object would be a pillow.


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