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Moving Day
Posted on August 10th, 2016 by Kathryn Harper and Alexis Wright

by Alexis Wright and Kathryn Harper

Captain Kathryn Harper had stood in this very suite a day earlier, when it was still filled with the belongings of the late Vice Admiral Ian Blackthorne and Captain T’Kirr, left undisturbed since their deaths. She’d needed to see it for herself once more before giving the authorization to have it cleaned out, for all of their possessions to be put into storage ahead of eventual distribution to their families. It had seemed such a grim finality, a dismantling of two deeply intertwined lives, and the last goodbye to them.

She had found a book laying on their bed, out of place from the others, and at first, had incorrectly assumed it belonged to T’Kirr. It was an easy mistake to make, since the book was an original printing of Skon’s The Teachings of Surak, but upon opening it, a neatly-written inscription corrected her: To My Bondmate, in an effort to aid your understanding of the Vulcan people and therefore me. Kate had taken that book as a memento, and now clutched it to her chest while standing in the same room that had once been so representative of them, but was now full of her things, unable to stop herself from feeling guilty for having disturbed the place.

It was while she was thus engaged that the door chimed, jolting her from her thoughts. Noticing that she had become teary-eyed at some point during her reverie, Kate ineffectually wiped at her face as she exited the bedroom, still clutching the book. “Come in!”

The panels slid open and Lexy stepped inside, but her immediate recognition of the subtle signs of Kate’s distress made her linger in the doorway, fearing that she was intruding. “Is… I’m sorry, is this a bad time? I knew you were dreading this, so I thought… we can talk later, if that would be better.” Her words were hesitant and accompanied by a gesture at the door, indicating her willingness to exit through it.

Lexy’s unexpected arrival coaxed a smile from Kate despite her still-wet eyes. “No, please, come in! It is just, well, difficult.”

Reassured that her presence was welcome and hoping to provide comfort, Lexy drew closer and silently held out her arms to offer an embrace, which Kate accepted. “This transition has been really challenging for everyone, you especially,” she offered softly, searching for the right words. “But the galaxy keeps spinning and life goes on, I guess, so here we are.” Her brows were drawn together in concern when she finally pulled back to look Kate in the eyes. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“You already are, just by being here.” Looking around her new quarters, Kate mused, “It is fortunate that Commander Vallero was so patient in waiting for me to move out of the XO’s suite. I delayed this for too long, since it seemed so final.”

“I’m sure he was sympathetic to your position. It was probably awkward for him, too.” Lexy smiled warmly and reached for Kate’s hands, but was surprised to find that one of them held a book; she hadn’t noticed it before, focused as she had been on Kate’s emotional state. Bending down to look more closely at the spine, she read aloud, “The Teachings of Surak? I didn’t know you were interested in Vulcan philosophy. I tried to read it once—” She stopped abruptly and stood up straight, a mortified expression on her face. “I’m sorry, I should have realized… this belonged to Captain T’Kirr?”

Kate reflexively clasped the book to her chest once again, then tilted it outward to show the cover to Lexy before opening it to the page bearing the inscription. “I found it on their bed yesterday. It was a gift from her to the Admiral.”

Lexy closed her eyes against a brief wave of sadness before leaning in to read the tender words written in T’Kirr’s precise hand. Seeing such an intimate side to the Vulcan conjured to mind an oft-imagined future in which she had actually worked up the courage to make an attempt at befriending T’Kirr, or at least to ask that she mentor Lexy’s doctoral studies… but these long-held dreams would now never come to pass, and only added fuel to the smoldering grief in her heart. Adding further to her regrets over companionship not pursued was T’Kirr’s desire for the Admiral—Ian—to understand her, which echoed Lexy’s own wish for Kate’s love and understanding. She wondered if such disconnects were universal to interspecies couples, or pairings between dissimilar personality types, or… perhaps simply relationships in general. With an air of reverence, she reached up and gently closed the cover of the book. “It’s like a little piece of them,” she said softly, lightly tracing the embossed letters of the title with her fingers before letting her hand drop back to her side. “It feels strange to trespass in their private lives, but I suppose it doesn’t matter, now. What will you do with it?”

“It probably should go to one of their families, but it represented them both in one object so perfectly, that I could not help myself. It may be selfish of me to want to keep it, but Blackthorne was a mentor to me, and a woman as accomplished and skilled as T’Kirr was just had to be admired. I wanted a memento, and it seemed only right that something of theirs should remain in these quarters.” Kate carefully pulled the book back to her chest before continuing, “I certainly never expected to be living in them.”

“It does seem strange, but if anyone has the capacity to adapt, it’s you,” Lexy said almost absently as she continued to study the book’s cover, considering the moral ramifications of Kate’s action. “As for the book… it’s a bit of a gray area, I think, but I do agree that it would have more value to someone who knew and admired them both. Though in retrospect I suppose you didn’t ask for my opinion.” Lexy tipped her chin upward and briefly met Kate’s eyes with a sheepish smile before craning her neck to look around the room for a way to change the subject. “Can I help you unpack, or have you already finished?”

“It is all done,” Kate answered as she turned away to place the book on the dining table. “What the moving crew did not take care of was minimal, just a few ends and odds. They did quite a good job of putting everything in a roughly equivalent place, though that does leave some gaps since these quarters are a bit larger. Let me show you the rest of it and you will see what I mean.”

Guiding Lexy on a grand tour through the more spacious CO’s quarters, she pointed out the sparseness of her own belongings. “This is everything!” Kate said as they returned to the living room. She gestured around her with both hands, then let them fall and clap against her thighs before wistfully adding, “It sometimes surprises me how little I actually own—the result of a military life, I suppose.”

“I find that people tend to behave like gases in their living spaces,” Lexy remarked as she stepped past Kate into the living room and studied the space appraisingly, “Expanding to fill the space available. I’m sure it’ll feel like home in no time. Have you considered perhaps a painting here?” She held her hands up to the wall in L-shapes to indicate a size and location, looking questioningly back at Kate over her shoulder.

“Actually,” Kate began, sensing a perfect opening into a subject that she had found herself considering quite a lot over the past few days, “I was thinking that something from your quarters would look nice there…” She trailed off, hoping Lexy would pick up on her meaning.

Lexy blinked, then turned back to regard the wall in front of her. After a few moments of silence, she began to nod. “Yes… Yes! I think that’s an excellent idea, and I have to admit, I’m honored.” Turning back to Kate with a sunny smile, she added, “I’d be happy to give you one of my pieces as a housewarming gift! Did you have one in mind? If not, I think the one of Tamolitch Falls—”

“No,” Kate interrupted, since her meaning had not come across correctly. She stepped forward to take both of Lexy’s hands in her own and then began to clarify, “I would like it very much if—” Biting her lip as she found Lexy’s eyes looking up at her expectantly, Kate hesitated as a realization hit her. Since she had stopped drinking herself into oblivion and been able to see their relationship with mental clarity, the reason she was now feeling comfortable enough with it that she found herself about to ask Lexy to move in with her came into focus. Her true feelings were probably obvious by human standards, but her own were a bit more rigorous, and even through her mind’s constant issues with the flowery idioms of the English language, the word to describe what she felt was suddenly unambiguous.

In anticipation of what she was about to say, butterflies flooded her stomach with an intensity that she had not felt since her first relationships as a teenager. Willing her knees not to buckle as she fell into those eyes, Kate finally confessed, “I love you, Lexy.”

With those words, the puzzlement on Lexy’s face was immediately replaced with radiant joy, like a flower opening to the morning sun. Thoroughly unable to formulate words, she squeaked with pleasure and threw herself into Kate’s arms, her elated exuberance proving somewhat detrimental to Kate’s balance and ability to breathe. She eventually pulled back her arms, instead reaching up to cup Kate’s face and look into her eyes, wearing the most incandescent smile of her life. Drawing Kate down toward her until their foreheads were touching, she managed a whisper, “…Could you say it again? Please? I need to make sure I’m not dreaming, this time.”

Having said it once, she now was eager to repeat it, or even to yell it, but Kate managed to keep to the tender tone of the moment. Her knees were still weak and her stomach continued to flutter as she softly repeated, “I love you.”

Lexy’s heart yearned to jump, to sing, to shout from mountaintops! But instead, she simply breathed, “I love you, too,” and found her lips inexorably drawn toward Kate’s as if magnetic, the resulting kiss so passionately intense that chills raced up her spine. She had thought their first kiss could easily be the most deeply satisfying she would ever experience, but this one was far and away superior.

Some time later, as they lay together in contented blissful relaxation at the end of a trail of haphazardly discarded clothing that led to the bed, Kate regarded her lover from under languid eyelids. “That was wonderful,” she purred, “and I wish I had realized it sooner, but I love you.”

With a broad grin, Lexy dropped the lock of Kate’s hair that she’d been idly twirling between her fingers and snuggled up against her instead. “I’m never going to get tired of hearing you say that,” she vowed, holding Kate close and reveling in the scent and softness of her skin. “Never ever ever. I’d be literally jumping for joy, if I was confident that my legs were functional yet.”

Stretching luxuriously, Kate answered, “It is good then, that there is no pressing reason to leave this bed.”

Lexy giggled, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Anna will be expecting dinner in a few hours, I’m sure she considers that pressing… but that still gives us plenty of time before then to work on breaking in your new place, hmm?”

“Mmmmmm, yes, but there is still so much more of it to, as you say, ‘break in.’ If only we had even more time…” Kate trailed off, looking coy.

“O Captain, my insatiable Captain! I can just run down and feed her and pack an overnight bag, then we’ll have until morning.” Laughing, Lexy gave Kate’s backside a playful smack before adding, “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to wear you out by then.”

“While that does sound like a challenge I am willing to accept,” Kate started before willing herself to not be distracted by the prospect, “there was something I intended to ask when I first told you that I love you.” She sat up in the bed and offered a welcoming smile before continuing, “But then I realized why I wanted to ask you this, and that made me understand my love for you. What I am trying to say is that I would like it very much if—” Kate took a deep breath and started again, finding the fact that she was so nervous to be quite odd, since she was usually quite confident in this aspect of her life. Butterflies returned to her stomach as she finally gushed, “Lexy, I want you to move in with me!”

“Really?” Lexy beamed, her eyes lit up with surprise and excitement that dimmed almost immediately as though a cloud had passed before the sun, bringing with it a more pensive mood. This was not the first time that emotional impulsivity had warred with scientific rationality within her, but it was rarely such a close contest. Aware of Kate’s flagging smile due to her lack of response, Lexy sighed. “Kathryn Harper, I love you more than I ever thought possible, and I can’t even tell you how happy I am that you love me back without using idioms like ‘over the moon’ that don’t make any sense, that’s how ridiculously thrilled I am about it.” Realizing that she was beginning to babble, she took a breath and forced herself to make her point concisely. “It’s because of this that I’m not sure moving in right now is a good idea.” Chewing on her bottom lip to keep herself from saying anything else, she watched Kate and worried over whether she had said the wrong thing.

Kate’s face fell, being as unaccustomed to rejection in romance as she was to nervousness. The sting was also evident in her voice as it grew quieter. “I do not understand, Lexy. We love each other, yes? At least among my people, this would be enough, but perhaps you are not ready?”

The pain in Kate’s tone cut Lexy to the core, and her hands hurriedly scrabbled for Kate’s. “Please, don’t misunderstand me,” she pleaded, panic creeping into her tone with the conclusion that she had indeed said the wrong thing, “I want this so badly that it almost physically hurts. It’s just that there has been a lot of change in the past couple of months, and introducing another variable at this stage is simply bad science. It’s so important to me to have this with you that I’m willing to wait until everything else settles down. Do you see my point? It kills me to do this, believe me, but… I think I should say no today. But please,” she begged, willing Kate to understand her, although she lacked an appropriate book in which to inscribe those wishes, “Please please please. Ask me again in six months and my answer will be different.”

Her initial reaction was to be hurt by Lexy’s response, and she even opened her mouth to voice a protest, but Kate forced herself to think a moment on the rationale behind it. While the scientific approach to their relationship as some sort of experiment with variables to control seemed a bit clinical for Kate’s tastes, she had to admit that Lexy did have a valid point. So much had changed aboard Atlantis and in their lives over the past few months, and perhaps it was best to let things settle down a bit first. The impulsive response faded somewhat as she concluded that Lexy’s reasoning did make sense, and Kate slowly nodded in reluctant understanding, despite herself. “That is… an incredibly rational and reasonable answer. I must admit that it hurts a bit now, but I do understand.”

“It’s not the answer I want to give you,” Lexy replied wistfully, intensely frustrated with how badly she seemed to be botching things, “And I never want to hurt you. I’ll freely admit that you have so more experience with this kind of thing than I do, so I really need you to tell me if I’m making a terrible mistake. I can see that ‘rational and reasonable’ wasn’t what you were looking for, but…” she gave a helpless shrug, “It’s… it’s all I know. This thing between us is so important to me that I have to protect it, you know? I just want to be careful.” She squeezed both of Kate’s hands, her eyes full of sincerity. “But we can do whatever you think is best. If you don’t think we should wait, I’ll go start packing right now.”

“No,” Kate answered, returning the hand squeeze as she closed her eyes. Despite having admitted that she understood Lexy’s reasoning, Kate still wanted this whether it was rational or not, but while unaccustomed to rejection from her partners, her insistence would not be fair, either. Throughout her life, Kate had always plunged headfirst into relationships, but none of her previous loves had ever lasted past the whirlwind romance. Her usual penchant for moving through a quickly-fading intense burst of hedonism and fiery passion had ultimately left her alone, until now. Perhaps she was being too hasty, and following her usual pattern while expecting a different result was not only unscientific, but doomed to failure. Kate didn’t want that again, not this time, especially not with Lexy, and even if there was just a small chance that she was right, it could be worth trying it her way.

Finally opening her eyes, Kate spoke softly and, in contrast to her voluble nature, slowly. “I appreciate that you are willing to defer to my experience, but upon reflection, I now think… that you may be right about this one. And I also think that we are fortunate, as a couple, that at least one of us is so rational about such things.” Somewhat ruefully, she added, “I never have been, about matters of the heart.”

Encouraged that the hurt in Kate’s voice had faded, Lexy now clung to a burgeoning hope that she hadn’t just destroyed the thing she held most dear. She’d been accused in the past of having no feelings, of being a robot… but Kate saw her relentless rationality as a positive thing? Never before had she been shown that kind of love and acceptance by someone outside of her immediate family. At that moment, she was filled with absolute certainty that she wanted forever with this woman, a fact that made her acutely aware of the sensitivity of the present moment. She swallowed awkwardly to combat the sudden nervous dryness in her mouth before speaking, but once she began, what felt like a million thoughts tumbled out of her in a rush before Kate could address any of them. “So… you’re okay with waiting? You’ll ask again? This doesn’t change anything between us? Please say yes. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you.”

“Yes, of course I will ask again, and it certainly does not change anything between us,” Kate hurriedly responded while caressing Lexy’s cheek in an attempt to calm her girlfriend down. “When we became a couple, I promised to take a slower pace with you, but then things were immediately thrown into chaos. Somehow we are still here, but I apparently forgot that promise since I have fallen into my old habits. That I was still alone to make such a promise to you at my age shows how successful those habits have been.” Kate slid back down into the sheets and pulled Lexy close before adding, “Perhaps it is time to try something new—with you, my love.”

Lexy beamed happily, though somewhat surprised that this had ended so well. “I don’t see why I couldn’t start moving some things over before then, though,” she suggested, cuddling into Kate. “I really do think that would be a great place for my print of Tamolitch Falls.”

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1 Comment

  • Atlantis Patch Daniel Vallero says:

    T’Kirr had no idea her gift to Ian would be treasured so by anyone other than him. =)

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