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“I’ve uploaded your assumption of command orders into the computer,” Tigranian said as he walked side by side with Annabeth. She was in uniform. He was dressed in a leather jacket, t-shirt, and jeans. “There’s that stack of parts requisition requests that need to be submitted by the end of the week.”

“I’ve got it, Sir,” she said with an exasperated grin.

“Also, don’t forget, the weekly operations briefing with Starfleet Command is Friday at 1600 on subspace. The Admirals are already tracking you’ll be the one sitting in for me.”

“I told you, Sir. I’ve got it.”

“Oh, and don’t forget…”

Annabeth cut him off before they entered the door to the shuttlebay.

“Sir,” she said flashing him a look. “If you don’t shut up and get on that runabout with Laria in the next five minutes…I’m gonna punch you in the face.”

He smiled back at her.

“Thank you, Number One.”

“My pleasure, Sir. Just be sure you give thanks for having a first officer as good as I am during the Gratitude Festivities.”

“I’ll give thanks twice. Once for you as a first officer, the other for you as a friend,” he said walking through the doors. Annabeth followed. Laria was already inside saying her goodbyes to Katie, Phil, and Alex.

“Have a safe trip,” Katie said giving Laria a quick hug. “You and runabouts don’t exactly get along.”

“Very funny,” Laria said with a laugh. “I’ll have the captain with me this time.”

“That’s what we’re worried about,” Alex said seeing Tigranian walk in. “Oh Sir, didn’t you see there,” Alex said feigning surprise.

“You’re hilarious, Doc,” he replied raising his eyebrows.

“Safe trip, Kiddo,” Phil said giving Laria one last hug. “Good flight, Sir,” he said shaking Tigranian’s hand.

“Thanks, Gault’s not exactly a prime vacation spot,” Laria said. “But it’s home.”

“More importantly, it’s your home,” Tigranian said flashing Laria a smile.

“If you two don’t take off now, you’ll miss your launch window,” Annabeth said shooting Tigranian another look.

“Yes, Ma’am…” Tigranian replied with a smirk. “C’mon, L. Let’s get aboard.”

“Ma’am is right!” Annabeth continued with a joking tone. “Blackjack’s my ship for the next ten days.”

“Bye,” Laria said as she gave Annabeth one last hug.

“Bye, Sweetheart,” Annabeth said hugging her back. “Give the parents love from me.”

“Will do,” Laria said as she and Tigranian climbed aboard the runabout. Just before the hatch sealed Tigranian stuck his head back out.

“If something happens…”

“We won’t call you! Get out of here!” Annabeth said with a chuckle. He stuck his head back inside the craft just in time as the hatch sealed.

“I swear, that man needs to learn how to relax,” Alex muttered.

“Laria’s probably a good start on that front…” Katie said trailing off.

“Three days alone in a runabout…I wonder how they’ll pass the time?” Phil said.

The three women all looked at him with total disbelief.

“Right…stupid question,” he replied.

* * * *

As soon as the runabout cleared the Pershing’s shuttlebay, Tigranian set a course for Gault and engaged the warp drive. He pressed a few more keys and then leaned back in his chair.

“Computer’s got the helm, and now we relax…” he said looking over to Laria. She turned her chair to face his and then put her feet right in his lap.

“Hey! Watch wear you put those,” he said with a laugh.

“Trust me, I care about that area as much as you do,” she said with a grin. He flashed her a concerned look. “What?” she asked.

“Your parents just didn’t seem that excited for me to be coming with you.”

“Daniel, we’ve been over this,” she said slightly exasperated. “First off, you know how traditional they are. It’s gonna take awhile for them to accept that their daughter is dating an alien…especially one who thinks he’s a different species than his biology.”

Tigranian scoffed a little.

“Second, I’m their only child and their Laria-ga-ne. They’re still very over-protective of me,” she said with a sigh. “That one’s my fight.”

“Yeah, I heard them call you that. What does it mean anyways?”

“It doesn’t translate very well. Basically, it’s a way of saying ‘my precious little one.”

“Awww, that’s adorable,” Tigranian said pinching her cheek. He mostly did it because he knew it would annoy her.

“Stop that! I’m your par’Mach’kai! I don’t want you thinking of me that way.”

“What way? You mean adorable?”

“No, I don’t want to be adorable to you,” she said turning back towards the console. “Everyone thinks of me as ‘adorable.’ But with you, I only want to be beautiful, sexy, and powerful.”

“Hey,” he said turning her chair back to face him. He leaned in close and whispered. “You’re beautiful…” He then gave her a quick kiss. “You’re sexy…” he said with another kiss. “And you’re powerful…” he said with one final kiss. “But you can be all those things to me and still be adorable.”

She smiled and pouted at the same time.

“I guess I have to take what I can get,” she paused for a brief moment. “It’s gonna be hard sleeping apart from you again.”

“What?” Tigranian said with genuine surprise.

“I told you my parents are very traditional. I’ll be in the farmhouse, you’ll be in the guest cottage out back.”

“I don’t even get to be in the same building as you?” he said in shock.

“Nope. To Bajoran parents, their daughters have to stay as pure and white as a new snowfall until their wedding night….and sometimes for some of them, even that’s too soon.”

“We’ll be on Gault for four whole days! I don’t know what I’m gonna do without you for that long,” he said with a grin.

“Well, we have three days until we get there…we could make up for lost time right now.” She leaned right next to his ear and whispered. “There’s a reason why I picked out a special set of underwear for the trip this morning…” Tigranian’s eyes grew wide and he immediately stood up from his chair.

Laria laughed as she took his hand and ran to the aft cabin…


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