Guada System: Federation Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space.
Laria and Teewa returned to the village. She was starting to resign herself to the fact that she might not leave Guada for a very long time, if ever, but Teewa’s words that night on the beach below the array still brought her some comfort. If she couldn’t get back home, she could still hold on to the memories of those she left behind and start making new ones with this remarkable group of people.
She lay on the sand staring out at the setting sun, the deep oranges and reds reflecting off the water in a brilliant, beautiful spectacle to behold. Ytana sat behind her, slowly braiding some white flowers into Laria’s dark curls. She had wanted try decorating’s Laria’s tresses since she had first seen them, as the bald Guadans had no experience with hair. Suprisingly, her long fingers were very adept at the task.
The sound of children playing the last games of the day, the smell of the cooking fires, and the sight of the waves bubbling against the shore mixed together into a soothing sensory menagerie that managed to set her mind a little more at ease. She just wished that the crew of the Pershing could somehow share this moment with her…
Two loud booms echoed across the lagoon. A flock of birds resting in the trees behind the village flew out of the branches, cawing in surprise. Ytana and Laria climbed to their feet.
“Could that be thunder?” Ytana said looking up at the clear sky.
“No,” Laria replied as she quickly scanned across the horizon. “That was something going subsonic in the stratosphere…” Ytana looked at her with confusion.
The sun’s fading light glinting off an object caught Laria’s eyes. She looked south over the lagoon at a rapidly growing dark speck. It quickly became larger and larger until finally its silhouette came into view. Laria dropped to her knees and started laughing with joy. It was a runabout and it was heading right towards them.
“You heard me!” Laria shouted. “You heard me!”
The rest of the villagers now saw the craft and walked out onto the beach to watch its approach. The runabout flew in low over the lagoon and gently touched down on the sand a few hundred meters away. Even before its engines shut down, Laria was running towards it.
The port hatch opened and Tigranian jumped down onto the beach. He saw a woman running towards him. Her skin was tanned by the tropical sun and her long dark hair adorned with white flowers bounced behind her. Before he could think, he was running towards her as well. They met right at the edge of the water and instantly were in each other’s arms.
Alex, jumped out of the runabout with a med kit and started heading towards the pair, but a hand from Annabeth on her shoulder stopped her.
“No,” she said softly. “Give them a moment.”
After a few wonderful seconds of happy silence, Tigranian and Laria finally looked into each other’s eyes.
“What took you so long?” Laria said with a smile. Tigranian couldn’t help but laugh.
“When we found the remains runabout and the Jem’Hadar ship, we feared the worst, but then we got your call. For my own sanity, you could have mentioned that you were on a tropical vacation and not being held hostage by fanatical remnants of the Dominion. I was prepared hit the beach with the marines to rescue you.”
“How valiant of you, Sir,” Laria said with a smirk. “How did you locate me on the surface through all the interference?”
“Luckily, my ship is equipped with the only sensor array in Starfleet sensitive enough to scan through a trillion metric tons of dolemite and find the only Bajoran lifesign on the entire planet.
Remind me to thank the woman who designed it. She made it so easy, even an Andorian could figure it out.” They both laughed again. Laria wrapped her arms around Tigranian once more and leaned her head on his chest.
“It’s good to see you, Sir.” Tigranian pushed his feelings down and replied with only.
“It’s good to see you, too.”
Back at the village, Teewa and Ytana stood together watching the reunion. Several more outworlders emerged from the sky canoe and joined Laria and the man together on the beach. Soon, Laria was smiling, laughing, and hugging several others who she seemed to know.
“It looks like she is very happy,” Ytana said.
“Of course, she is very happy,” Teewa said smiling back at his mate. “She has found the way back to the people she loves.”
* * * *
Saying goodbye to Teewa, Ytana, and the rest of the villagers was harder than Laria imagined, but they promised that she would always be welcome in their home. Tigranian had tried to leave them some supplies as a thank you for the care they gave his stranded crewmember, but Teewa had politely refused.
“Why would we take what is yours? We already have more than we could ever need.” Tigranian only smiled and said that they were as welcome on his ship as they had made Laria feel in their village.
Despite being given an initial clean bill of health, Alex still insisted that Laria be taken to the hospital on Starbase 371 to be seen by a specialist.
“You don’t know what kind of strange tropical diseases and parasites could be lurking in that jungle,” she had said concerned. As a Guada veteran himself, Tigranian obliged his chief medical officer over Laria’s objections.
However, Laria currently had more important things to worry about now that she was back on board. She was tearing her own quarters apart, looking for another missing shipmate.
“I know you’re here!” she said on the verge of panic as she ripped her pillows off her bed for the tenth time. “I left you right here!”
Suddenly, her door chimed. She went over and opened it. Tigranian was standing there holding her oldest friend.
“Rijo!” Laria screamed as she grabbed her pugabeast and hugged him to her chest.
“Sorry, he told me he was lonely so he spent the last few days in my quarters.” Tigranian said with a grin. “May I come in?”
“Yes Sir, please,” Laria said allowing him to step inside.
She walked over and placed Rijo back in his place on her bed. Tigranian stopped in the center of the room.
“I wanted to thank you…” he said looking in Laria’s eyes.
“Why?” she said with a confused smile.
“Because before today, all the memories I had of Guada were ones I’d rather forget, but now whenever I think of that world, I’ll just remember finding you on the edge of that lagoon, the sunset…” he paused. “…and the way you felt in my arms.” Laria froze, not sure of what to say.
“No,” he said abruptly. “Don’t call me ‘Sir’ right now.” He moved forward, wrapped his arms around Laria, and kissed her. After about five seconds of pure bliss, he leaned back and opened his eyes.
“I thought I lost you, L. Now, that I have you back, I don’t ever want to lose you again.”
It was her turn to kiss him. They stood there in each other’s embrace, both wanting to take things farther. Without letting go, they moved toward the bed and fell onto it. Tigranian lifted Laria and laid her down, but as soon as his hands started moving to lift up her t-shirt, she stopped.
“Wait!” she said suddenly.
“What?” he said worried he’d done something wrong. Laria jumped out from under him and grabbed Rijo. She carried the pugabeast over to a shelf on the far side of the room and made him face the wall.
“It’d be weird if he watched,” she said running back over to the bed and squeezing under Tigranian again.
“You good?” Tigranian asked through his quickened breathing.
“Yeah,” Laria said with a quick nod before finding his lips again. Then they picked up where they left off.
* * * *
Tigranian awoke the next morning with a pile of dark brown hair in his face. Laria slept peacefully, still wrapped in his arms. He smiled and started running the tips of his fingers over her bare shoulders. She stirred with a content sigh.
“Good morning,” he whispered in her ear.
“Good morning,” she said inching closer to his chest. “You know, of all the ways I thought I’d spend my first night back on this ship, waking up naked next to you wasn’t one of them…” They both laughed.
“I hope you’re not disappointed,” he said with a grin.
“I’d say it was a solid performance on your part,” she said grinning back.
“Ouch,” he said feigning insult. “Computer, time?”
“The time is 0649 hours.”
“ghay’cha’, I better get back to my quarters. I’m due on the bridge in an hour…”
Suddenly, Laria got a worried look on her face and rolled away from him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked concerned.
“So, what now?” she asked not looking at him. “Is this gonna be, thanks for the nice night, Lieutenant, now put your clothes back on and don’t ever tell anyone?”
“Hey,” he said pulling her close again. “I told you, casual sex isn’t my thing. Besides, do you remember what you told me that night on Risa?” She rolled over and glared at him.
“Is that supposed to be a joke?”
“No,” he said reaching up and brushing a strand of hair from her face. “It’s just, I think I’m falling in love with you…and I just really want you to love me to.”
She kissed him again. He ran his hands down her bare back and she melted under their touch. Then, she collapsed onto the pillow next to him.
“So, where do we go from here?”
“I want to be with you, however, I don’t think we shouldn’t tell the others for awhile…at least a couple weeks. You know, show them that we can still be professional while on duty?”
“Alright,” she said nodding her head. “As long as I get to have you.”
“L, you already have me,” he said before planting one more kiss on her lips. She relaxed and lay her head back on the pillow.
“Well, I’m ok with that arrangement…” she said running her fingers over the brand of the House of Torlek on his left arm. “…but on one condition.”
He raised his eyebrows.
“And that is?”
“If we’re gonna be spending a lot of time in your quarters…you’re getting a real mattress.”
Down the corridor in Annabeth and Alex’s quarters, the entire staff had assembled.
“Alright, everybody,” Annabeth said addressing the crew. “Thank you for showing your support for Laria. I’m sure she’ll appreciate a nice home-cooked meal that doesn’t come out of a replicator.”
Alex was putting the finishing touches on a tray that contained a breakfast in bed for Laria. Everyone had woken up early to cook part of the spread.
“Katie, great job on the bacon, Phil thank you for the fresh squeezed Kava Juice, However, Tren,” Annabeth said turning to Scharr. “Why are the eggs blue?” His antennae perked up.
“They’re Andorian eggs,” he said matter-of-factly. “Everything on Andoria is blue.”
“Ok…” Katie muttered. “Hey, where’s the captain?”
“I don’t know,” Annabeth said shaking her head. I dropped by his quarters last night to tell him about this, but he wasn’t in. He was probably training late on the holodeck and I know he doesn’t like to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.”
“Plus, he’s been really ground down lately,” Alex said placing a single Bajoran lily on the tray. “Probably could use a nice night of quiet sleep now that he doesn’t have to worry about Laria.”
The entire crew assembled and walked down the corridor. They stopped outside of Laria’s quarters and hit the chime.
“Hey, Little Castaway!” Annabeth said speaking into the intercom. “We’re all out here and we made breakfast for you! Open up.”
“Hey, Laria!” everyone said. There was no answer.
“Laria?” Annabeth said growing concerned.
Suddenly, there was huge commotion from inside her quarters. Everyone looked at each other. Then, they heard a familiar man’s voice whispering loudly.
“My shirt! Where’s my shirt?”
Everyone’s jaw dropped. Annabeth and Alex looked at each other with massive grins.
The doors parted and Captain Tigranian and Laria stood next to each other. He was dressed in uniform pants, no shoes, and a grey undershirt. She was only in a t-shirt and shorts, and her hair still showed signs of amorous activities.
The captain looked out at the rest of his senior staff and cleared his throat.
“Good morning, Everyone,” he said trying to sound sure of himself.
“Good morning, Sir…Good morning, Laria…” Annabeth said trying not to laugh at the situation. As usual, Katie cut right to the point.
“Laria, you…are…a…GODDESS!” The Bajoran’s cheeks grew bright red and she looked down at the ground. Tigranian took a deep breath. He put his arm around Laria and pulled her next to him.
“Everyone,” Tigranian began. “We were hoping to keep this quiet for at least a little while, but Laria and I have decided to…enter a…relationship.”
“Well, you definitely entered something last night, Sir…” Phil muttered under his breath with a chuckle. Laria buried her head in the captain’s chest and he gritted his teeth.
“PHIL!” Alex shouted at him.
“I got it,” Katie said before punching him hard in the gut.
“OW!” Phil screamed as he nearly collapsed to the ground with the wind knocked out of him.
“Thank you, Katie…damn fighter pilots…” Tigranian said.
“You’re welcome, Sir.”
“Anyways,” he said lifting Laria’s chin. “It’s obvious the secret’s out now. So, I promise that we will be professional while in the workplace and I ask the same from all of you,” he said looking down at his helmsman gasping for air.
“Not a problem, Sir, utmost professionalism,” Phil said still trying to catch his breath.
“Sir,” Annabeth said. “I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re all very happy for you both and you too are adorable together…”
“Adorable is not a word I usually use to describe myself, but thank you,” Tigranian replied.
“That’s why I chose it, Sir,” she grinned. “Anyways, this tray is getting cold, but I think we have enough food left in our quarters to make a second plate since it looks like you’ve both…” she paused to clear her throat. “…worked up an appetite. Why don’t you two get showered and dressed and we’ll have this up in the ward room.”
“Thank you, Annabeth,” Laria said smiling.
“Yes, thank you, Number One.”
“Our pleasure, now everyone let’s give these two some privacy.” Annabeth led the group back down the corridor. Katie grabbed Phil’s ear like a petulant child’s and started dragging him away.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” he repeated as she nearly ripped it off his skull.
“You come here! What the hell is wrong with you? I can’t take you anywhere,” Katie said scolding him before looking back over her shoulder. “You’re a goddess, Laria! A goddess!” she repeated as they disappeared around the bend.
“Guess it won’t be as quiet as we hoped,” Tigranian said finally relaxing a bit. Laria hugged him close to her.
“I’m glad they know because they’re family, and I hate keeping secrets from family.”
“In that case,” Tigranian replied softly. “I’m glad they know too…”
They kissed again.