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Pencil Me In

Posted on Sat Oct 29th, 2022 @ 1:35am by Fleet Admiral Sturnack & Commander Marlena Glenn & Captain Jocelyn Blake

Mission: Episode 3: Conflicts of Interest
Location: Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco & The Horseshoe Cafe
Timeline: Mission Day 6 at 1430

[CinC's Office]
[SFC Complex]
[MD 6: 1430 Hours]

It was with an odd mixture of excitement and trepidation that Jocelyn entered Marlena's office just before 2:30 in the afternoon. She met the the aide-de-camp's greeting smile with one of her own, but couldn't keep her eyes from darting to the door that led through to Sturnack's office. This felt precipitously close to the sort of thing that Whitford had advised they not do.

Yet, as they'd gotten back into the routine of the office, everything had been even busier than before and any time they might have had to see each other, to have a conversation even, had been limited at best. They'd so quickly slid back into routine that there were moments where Jocelyn wondered if she had misunderstood her Vulcan paramour's intentions barely a week prior when they'd agreed to give a relationship a try.

Adding to that Jocelyn hadn't been sure when or if Sturnack might want to spend time together outside of work and, in the rush of things, failed to ask him. Of course he hadn't asked her either which only added to her uncertainty about how to proceed. So she'd resolved to do something about it and that morning had sent a note to Marlena begging her friend's help.

"Does he know or is this going to be a surprise?" she asked Marlena as she turned back to her friend, some of the uncertainty she felt telegraphed on her face.

"Oh, he know's he's about to have a strategy meeting," Marlena smirked back, "he just doesn't know what the strategy planning is for." The woman rose from behind her desk and came around, extending her arms and pulling Jocelyn into a hug. They had that kind of relationship, even on the clock. But then again, she wasn't the one dating the CinC: she didn't need to maintain separation like the pair of them did. "You ready for me to let him know his meeting is here?"

In an almost perfect impression of Sturnack, Jocelyn cocked one eyebrow upward at Marlena's explanation before being enveloped in her friend's hug. At least she didn't think it was silly for Jocelyn to do this, even if Jocelyn herself felt off kilter in the moment. "Not gonna get any more ready if I wait," she said as the other woman pulled back. She squared her shoulders and then, as a shot of nervousness hit her, she snagged Marlena's hand.

"He's going to want to see me, Marlena. Right?" she asked, embarrassment coloring her cheeks at even asking the question.

"Of course he will," Marlena squeezed the hand affectionately, offering her friend an encouraging smile. "I get the feeling he just doesn't know how to do all this, you know? I've worked with him for a long time and never seen him so much as hint at interest in anyone. I mean, there was a guy once who liked his ears," she commented mischievously, "and Sturnack, I think, appreciated his 'efficient haircut,' but that's pretty much as far as it went," she chuckled. "Just...give him time and be direct with what you want and need. Don't keep him guessing, ok?"

Jocelyn's head bobbed a hesitant nod of ascent. "Direct. Ok. I can be direct," she said as she released Marlena's hand and moved to sit in one of the waiting area chairs. She snagged her bottom lip with her teeth, worrying it slightly, but nodded her confirmation that the aide-de-camp should go ahead.

Marlena nodded and moved back behind her desk, tapping her combadge as she went. "Glenn to Sturnack, your 1430 is here," she said, lowering into her seat. "Don't forget: this is a walk-and-talk meeting, so wear comfy shoes," the aide-de-camp chuckled over the comm line.

"Understood," came the cool response of the Vulcan Commander-in-Chief.

A few moments later, the frosted-glass double doors of the office swung open, admitting the Fleet Admiral into the anteroom. Sturnack acknowledged Marlena with a nod before his eyes swept across the reception area, landing on Jocelyn. "Captain Blake," he greeted with another slight bow of his head. "I did not realize my strategy meeting was with you. Am I walking you to the Press Room?" The man seemed absolutely confused for a moment but smoothed out the wrinkles in his demeanor, clasping his hands behind his back.

For a moment, as the doors opened, Jocelyn held her breath and, true to form a wiggle of nerves and excitement dueled in her stomach when his eyes finally landed on her. "Or you could walk me to the Horseshoe?" she offered, the explanation coming off as more of a statement than question. "Fewer listening ears," she added before he could respond to her suggestion.

"I blocked you off for an hour," Marlena smirked again. "You kids have fun. Don't do anything I wouldn't do," she cautioned, not looking up from the work she'd returned to.

"I suppose that is sufficient time," the Vulcan replied with a nod. "I will need to procure my tum--"

"On it," Marlena piped up again, producing the CinC's coffee tumbler from somewhere under her desk. She held it up as Sturnack swept by, taking it from her hand. "This is why you love me," she said, looking up at the Vulcan with a smug look.

"Indeed," came his reply. Sturnack turned back to Jocelyn and, with a nod, waited for her to rise and then set off on their walk. "I must admit, Captain," he said, walking out of the office's reception area and into the hallway, "I am surprised to find a meeting with you on my agenda for today." While it was true that they often saw each other several times a day in briefings and other meetings, this particular meeting was just the two of them. No Whitford, no Andolini, just the Vulcan and his human paramour. Passing several sets of ears -- attached to hard-working officers in their cubicles -- Sturnack maintained an air or professionalism and distance.

Drawing in a slow breath Jocelyn kept her eyes forward, but let the hand closest to the CinC drop down beside her. Her other hand held her own coffee tumbler. "I would be lying if I said the strategy being discussed had any direct impact on our day to day work," she said choosing her words carefully while they were still within earshot of several others. "But there are some things it seemed pertinent for you and I to discuss privately and," here she glanced quickly up at him, a furrow of worry on her forehead, "I am trying to keep Admiral Whitford's advice in mind while also acknowledging my own..." They stepped out of the rows of desks to a more bustling space where her final word was covered somewhat by the noise. "...needs."

Weaving through the crowd Jocelyn allowed her hand to brush Sturnack's only briefly, the movement appearing to any casual observer to be an accident for how quickly it happened, though the bundle of nervousness and hope she felt flashed briefly across their link like a splash in a pan. Though nervousness and hope were the predominant feelings there were a myriad of others as well muddying the press secretary's emotional landscape. Everything from a distinct appreciation for his physical appearance to a preoccupation with her word choice bubbled up to the surface in that simple expression.

"Ah, I see," came the CinC's reply prior to the hand touch. As skin came in contact with skin, however, the flowing rush of emotions transmitted easily to the touch-telepathic Vulcan. Sturnack processed what he was feeling -- or rather, what Jocelyn was feeling -- as the emotions cascaded over and through him. She was worried about something. Something focused around their relationship, perhaps? The moment of contact was brief and only carried so much information. What came back from the Vulcan was a flare of worry with a tinge of dread, though Sturnack's face, of course, betrayed none of this.

Their feet kept them moving all the way to the turbolift. They slipped inside and Sturnack turned to Jocelyn, intending to speak more personally than in the hallways, but at the last second, Commander Jerys Reynhol entered as well. The man was a fixture around Starfleet Command, working as a liaison between Command and a number of other agencies outside the Starfleet structure. The Vulcan nodded to the man, who smiled a greeting but turned to face forward. Behind him, hopefully unawares to the Commander, Sturnack turned to Jocelyn and arched an eyebrow as if to ask if everything was alright.

Pressing her lips together, Jocelyn returned the arched eyebrow with a nose wrinkle and a small smile, wishing for all the world that Reynhol were literally anywhere else in the galaxy but in that turbolift. Still, they were standing behind him and so she slowly shifted until her pinky brushed and then hooked around Sturnack's own.

The dread she had gotten from Sturnack had curled like a stone in her belly and shot back through the link as an increased uneasiness and confusion. She made an effort, though, to focus on the things that had most driven her to seek him out--the feeling of missing him, of longing for his company, and for the way he made her feel, the safety she felt when he was nearby.

Sturnack, for his part, squeezed his pinky around Jocelyn's, the telepathic connection between them once again flaring to life. Only this time, they had more than a passing moment to hold the contact. As the lift lowered, the link fire-hosed the woman's emotions across it. The Vulcan took a calming breath, somewhat unprepared for the sheer strength of the feelings coming off his would-be lover.

With each connection point, it was becoming more and more clear that Sturnack would need to teach Jocelyn how to lower the gain on her emotional broadcasts. That particular notion came through the link like someone plugging their ears against an incredibly loud sound and then removing said fingers as the volume lowered to safe levels. In addition, there was Sturnack's own reassuring desires: a wanting of closeness, the hope for time spent together, and the satisfaction he drew from being in her presence.

Bare moments later, Jocelyn released his finger, switching her mug to the hand closest to him as the Turbolift doors slid open to reveal the vaulting main lobby of Starfleet Headquarters.

Many people were coming and going, sliding into and out of the various turbolifts banked into the walls. As Sturnack and Jocelyn followed in Reynhol's wake, the Vulcan was satisfied to see the Commander veer off in an alternate direction, leaving the pair alone and able to speak in their small bubble amidst the noise of the lobby. However, as the pair neared the front doors, they caught sight of the open grounds beyond; it became clear that they were not prepared for their walk: it was raining and neither carried an umbrella.

"Sir," came a voice from the Security checkpoint nearby. "Make that Sirs," he corrected himself, realizing Jocelyn was with the Vulcan Fleet Admiral. "I uh...I've only got one, but if you're going outside, you may want it?" The source of the voice was Bob, the much-beloved Security officer who ran the checkpoint and knew just about everyone who passed through it. He was holding out a singular umbrella in striated black and grey check patterns. He'd apparently ran over from his desk, handing off the line duty to another.

Jocelyn was the first of the two to react, a broad appreciative grin blooming on her face and making her eyes crinkle slightly at the corners. "Thank you Bob," she said, the genuine appreciation in her tone clear as a bell. Bob nodded his response before excusing himself to return to his post.

She accepted the umbrella, taking note of its size before looking up at Sturnack, almost apologetically. "We'll have to walk close," she said. The feeling of repelling, protection and also a shrinking back, that she had felt from him in the lift made her hesitate. "If we're careful then I can... keep my hands to myself," she said cheeks flaring hot with embarrassment. "So I'm not too much," she added hastily.

The Vulcan gave Bob an appreciative nod before the man ran off, then turned at Jocelyn's offer to tamp herself down. "Even shouting in a room," Sturnack enunciated a reply above the din, "I would still wish to be close to you." He pushed the doors open then, allowing Jocelyn to shuffle out in front of him as she deployed the umbrella.

Sturnack held the door open for the person streaming out behind him, then followed in the Press Secretary's wake. He met her under the umbrella: their own private island of protection from the falling rains. The large drops of water made a soothing plop-plop-plop-plop as they fell against the material of the umbrella.

Together they walked forward, turning east towards the Horseshoe and letting a few moments of silence fall between them. The walk was pleasant enough -- the rain making it more so as it ushered them under close cover together. Sturnack's right shoulder touched Jocelyn's left, though without skin-to-skin contact, there was no mental connection webbing between them. Instead, the Vulcan used his words to communicate.

"You do not have to schedule an appointment to take a walk together," Sturnack elucidated, stepping over a puddle in front of him. He gestured to the pool of water for Jocelyn's benefit.

Jocelyn's response was slow in coming, trying to find the best way to elucidate her actions while keeping the temptation to simply let all of the bottled up feelings and thoughts all come tumbling out in an incomprehensible jumble. "Admiral Whitford recommended against... stealing... time together at work," she said, referring back to something the man had said on their first day back once his intensely choleric response had simmered down to a furtive frustration from full blown anger. Deftly dodging another puddle she continued, "and we haven't had any time together since that first night back. It's... It seemed like the safest way and I couldn't go another day without... I don't know... without you. Talking to you and... just..." Frustration took over in the midst of her explanation, bringing her thought to a stammering halt. "I missed you," she finally said sheepishly.

"I have felt the absence of your presence as well," Sturnack commented dryly. Coming from a Vulcan, that was as good as it was bound to get -- at least, verbally. "And you and I are both wise to heed the Admiral's advice. However, we both do need to break away for lunch. Perhaps we could share the lunch period one or two times per week." Sturnack walked on, not waiting for a response before adding additional commentary. "Given that you did not wish me to stay for an additional night once we returned, logic dictated that you needed time and space to examine and process your feelings. Have I allowed you enough distance to do so?"

This was asked as the pair approached the intersection of 18th and Constitution. Sturnack stiffened as his thoughts turned towards the assassination attempt that, thwarted as it was, still claimed the life of one of the Vulcan's security detail. Thinking to look back, the CinC was satisfied to see two security officers tailing them, though keeping a respectful distance. They, too, carried umbrellas to shield themselves -- and most importantly, their necessary eyes -- from the rain.

Jocelyn, too, recognized the intersection and with that recognition came a deep rooted desire to run, or maybe to hide. She felt painfully exposed. For a long moment the feelings of anxiety rolled through her and she tamped them back slowly, trying to let the feelings move through her rather than crash over her. When she felt as though she had control of her voice again she darted a glance over at the Vulcan. "You were giving me space?" she asked, confusion in her voice now. "I didn't not want you to join me. I thought you wanted space."

"What need have I of space?" the Vulcan replied, looking at Jocelyn with a quizzically upturned eyebrow. "Once one of my kind commits to a relationship, we are full-time partners in it," Sturnack remarked. "I was ready to spend that night and," he stressed, "each that followed with you. I would not have given that interview about our relationship," he intoned, "if I was not ready to share space with you." He fell quiet then, the sound of their footsteps sloshing in the rain a staccato to pace their walk by.

The confusion that registered on Jocelyn's face was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the confusion she actually felt. It struck her that being romantically entangled with a Vulcan took more than simply learning social and cultural expectations... reading body language was going to be like learning a whole new language in itself. "I thought... I mean the first night... you said about maintaining separate lives in our own individual spaces and... and..." she stammered a moment, trying not to sold as ridiculous as she suddenly felt, "I'm sorry. I am trying to separate some of my humanness... the gut reactions... from... this." She gestured between them with her free hand as she said that.

They'd nearly reached the top of the hill by that point and the Horseshoe was visible through the rain a few blocks ahead. "I thought... since you weren't exactly comfortable with physical affection... that you might need more... space..." she finished lamely.

"It is possible to exist in the same space without being physically affectionate," the Vulcan offered. "I did not intend to intimate that all physical contact was out of bounds. It is just that..." Sturnack grew quiet then, the staccato of their feet splashing in the rain filling the silence, "beyond Pon Farr, I have not experienced relations with this kind of intimacy before. I admit," he said, arching an eyebrow, "the intensity of touching hands and...other parts of our bodies is a somewhat overwhelming experience for me. It is something I am working on. I had intended to simply define boundaries to a degree but it is, perhaps, possible that I influenced you in the wrong direction entirely." He referred, of course, to giving him such a wide berth even outside of work.

If Jocelyn had been confused before she found she was more than a little bit mortified now at how immensely wrong she had interpreted him. They were at the doors to the Horseshoe before a clear response had even formed in her mind and she was thankful for the extra moment they had to pause outside under the umbrella while a security officer stepped inside to make sure the small coffee shop was safe.

She could feel the blush that colored her cheeks as she spoke, but knew there was also no helping it. "In... other... relationships I have had affection is an unspoken indicator of comfort and openness." She was careful with her words as she said it. "In other... human... relationships. It's almost instinctual to equate withdrawal from affection as rejection." She chewed the inside of her cheek a moment, looking up at him as the rain sluicing off the umbrella in fat droplets created an illusion that they had their own personal private bubble. He met her gaze and she found, quickly, that she both didn't want to look away and couldn't stop her cheeks from flushing an even darker red. "I'm sorry for misunderstanding," she said softly. "And I'm sorry I'm so bad at this. I want you around. It's something I want so much that it scares me a little bit. And I don't want it to scare you too."

"I think, perhaps," Sturnack's eyebrow somehow arched even further, "we are both operating from certain biases and assumptions. Beliefs that, at this juncture, are serving only to confuse us. We should not berate ourselves for these missteps but, instead," he inclined his head, "learn from them." The security officer returned, giving the nod that the cafe was secure. With a nod, the Vulcan opened the door and waited for Jocelyn to lower and collapse the umbrella, then enter in front of him. The pair moved to the sizable line, though both knew the queue would go quick as per usual. "I will apologize for my own part in the confusion. Perhaps we should create lists of our individual needs and compare them?"

Cheeks still flushed, though the blush of was dying off now, Jocelyn shifted so they could stand next to each other, rather than one after the other in queue. She found herself wishing for the simple ease of holding his hand, something that would be so immensely normal in a human relationship, but in this one came with such significant consequences. Sturnack's suggestion drew forth an almost surprised giggle. "That," she said, eyes glinting with amusement as she looked up at him, "is one of the most Vulcan suggestions I think you've ever made." She was grinning now, the pink of her cheeks now down to levels that looked less like mortification and more like the result of normal exertion. She was tempted to let her hand fall between them knowing it might bump his own, but instead she pulled it up, crossing her chest and wrapping her fingers around the opposite bicep. "I'll do that if you'll agree to spending the night with me. Dinner, relaxing, talking, whatever we feel like is fine. And I can take the couch if we need to be extra careful on the affection front. Deal?"

At Jocelyn's mention of making a very "Vulcan" suggestion, Sturnack regarded the woman with a quizzical gaze. "Of course. It is only...logical," he said, inclining his head and waiting a beat. When Jocelyn did not respond, he almost imperceptibly waggled his eyebrows. Was Sturnack trying to be...funny? As for her suggestion of the deal, the Vulcan mulled that particular idea over for several long moments as they moved ahead in the line. "Spending the night together is an amenable idea. Perhaps you would like to see my apartment this time? It is...spartan," he explained, "compared to yours but, in the interest of knowing each other, perhaps? Sleeping apart will not be necessary," he added. Stepping up to the counter -- as it was now their turn to order -- the Vulcan deferred to Jocelyn to place her order first, though he did set his tumbler down on the counter in anticipation.

"Skedaddle!" The shooing came from the matron of the Horseshoe, Marie, who had spotted the two in line and waited until they'd arrive at its front to pounce. As if Marie shooing them out of the way of taking orders was something of a regular occurrence the young Bajoran man behind the counter nearly shrugged, giving the two a half grimace of a smile, and moved over to the shop's espresso machine, starting on the last order of drinks he had taken.

"I was starting to think you'd both left me," Marie said, a joyful sort of scolding in her tone.

Jocelyn hadn't had the opportunity to answer Sturnack's suggestion before Marie appeared and so she glanced between the two of them for a moment before shaking her head at the other woman. "We've been... busy..." she said carefully. "But it's not on any account of not wanting one of your lattes."

Marie's eyebrows rose and she gave Jocelyn and Sturnack each a knowing look in turn. "Busy, eh?" she said, eyes sparkling mischief. "I watch the news..." She let that trail off meaningfully.

Jocelyn's cheeks, which had very nearly returned to normal, flared deep red again. "I see," she said with knowing look of her own. "Then you'll know from that interview that we'd like to be discreet if we could."

If it was possible Marie's grin widened. "Of course. And I'll happily turn away any soul you tell me is a nuisance to you two. I can't imagine you've got many places you can go in public without the danger of a palm camera these days."

"And as you can imagine I've made sure that they wouldn't work in here anyway," Jocelyn commented, alluding to a practical step she'd taken prior to this visit. Making places safe to talk was something of a necessity for a Press Secretary so she'd taken the step to make sure she and Sturnack could do so in peace while they were there.

Marie nodded, appreciation rather than annoyance in her expression. "Your usual then?" She asked.

Jocelyn nodded and then glanced back at Sturnack so he could confirm or order something else if he chose.

"The usual will be sufficient," Sturnack bowed his head respectfully to Marie. "Your...discretion and kindness is appreciated," he offered to the woman. Once the woman had taken both of their tumblers with a promise to fill them in short order, the Vulcan offered his arm to Jocelyn and led her towards the arrangement of tables. They had multiple spots they enjoyed but, today, their old standby in front of the window was occupied. Instead, Sturnack pulled out a chair for Jocelyn at their second favorite table and then lowered himself into a chair of his own. While the cafe had been proofed against listening and other recording devices, that didn't stop curious onlookers from glancing their way. "It is...curious how people pay attention to matters that do not concern them," he noted, looking around himself. The security guards had taken up station at multiple points around the cafe, ensuring the CinC and his paramour were in no danger.

The curious looks they garnered confirmed, for Jocelyn at least, that much like Marie several other folks present in the cafe had also seen the news and were aware of the pair's relationship status. If they hadn't seen it already those who had were undoubtedly filling them in. She sighed and turned her attention to Sturnack, taking a moment to really look at him before she spoke. For a Vulcan, Sturnack kept his hair in something that could be very nearly considered a stylish cut. The front of it spiked upward into a mass that was simultaneously unruly and very clearly carefully manicured. His beard was neatly trimmed as well and framed his mouth... She pulled her eyes back up.

"People... humans at least, and I imagine any number of other races, enjoy a good love story. If it succeeds then it gives them hope. If it fails then they have something to talk about. Something that gives them a distraction, perhaps, from things that they are experiencing." Her eyes drifted slightly again and she sighed before shaking her head. "Have I mentioned that you're quite handsome in uniform?" she asked, the question one part warm affection and the other almost painfully shy.

Sturnack noticed the way Jocelyn regarded him; her look was thoughtful, as if the gears in her brain were slowly turning and churning through her thoughts. He wondered what was going through her mind -- cognizant that he could take her hand to feel what she felt -- but the Vulcan chose to let Jocelyn express whatever she was thinking herself. And, as it turned out, she didn't keep him waiting long. As Jocelyn explained peoples' susceptibility to a good love story, Sturnack simply nodded, even if he disagreed with dithering in other people's business. "I suppose that makes some amount of sense," he conceded, thinking it through. But then Jocelyn was complimenting him and it brought the Vulcan up short. He thought carefully on how to respond and then said, "Thank you, Jocelyn. I am gratified that you enjoy the sight. You enhance the aesthetic of your uniform as well," he nodded.

Full lips pressed against each other as Jocelyn tried to hold in the giggle of mirth that threatened to escape her. She knew, intellectually, that he was complimenting her, but his choice of words was so far from what she would have expected to be almost comical in their delivery no matter how earnestly they were meant. "That's the first time someone has said that to you, isn't it?" she asked, curious.

Sturnack was opening his mouth to answer just as Marie swung by their table with their carafes in hand. Normally they would be prompted to come pick up the tumblers from from the bar, but it seemed Marie was firmly determined not to require any more interaction with others than necessary. "Thank you Marie," Jocelyn said, graciously accepting the tumbler and bringing it to her lips before giving an animatedly appreciative sigh.

"Thank you," Sturnack echoed Jocelyn, dipping his head to Marie in appreciation of his own. As the woman waved and moved off, the Vulcan looked back at his companion. "Ovrora used to say I was handsome," he said, his thoughts casting far back through the years. She hadn't meant it enough to do anything about his supposed handsomeness but the Andorian had stated it all the same, usually in combination with some affirmation that he would, indeed, find love some day. He reached forward then, letting the tips of his fingers brush against Jocelyn's: there was a wash of lament there, hiding behind his Vulcan walls. But also there was a blooming trace of delight at Jocelyn referring to him as such.

At the revelation of feelings shared Jocelyn found herself drawing in a quick breath. She shifted her hand so that the tips of her own fingers met his and, softly, she ran them down to his palm and then back to their ends. Her own sadness at his memory came across their link, an echo of the lament he had felt. There was also an intense desire to be quiet--as if she were tiptoeing. Whether she was successful or not was another matter, but the awareness of how loud her emotions were acted like a restraint as if she were trying to physically reign in the excess. There was pleasure too, at the compliment he'd paid her but also at the simplicity of touch. It was such a small thing and yet her whole self relaxed into it and that appreciation would have come across loudest of all the things she felt.

"She was right," she said softly. "Seems like I'm lucky that she never did anything more than tell you." Her fingers slid softly down to his palm again and back and she was quiet, settling into the flow of his feelings and hers as they moved back and forth.

"So..." she said after a long moment of quiet. "I'd love to see your place tonight. I can run by my place and grab pajamas once work gets out."

The Vulcan gave Jocelyn's comment some thought, finally nodding. "It is difficult to say how the present would have turned out if the past had differed. But I am gratified by current events," he said, allowing his own fingers to more deeply insinuate themselves amongst hers. "You should be prepared," Sturnack replied, "to be quite underwhelmed by my home. I'm afraid the...cheerful lodgings of The Fortress were all Admiral McGarry's doing. My apartment is much less...cozy," he chose the word with care. Across the link, feelings flowed without abandon. There was a thread of embarrassment there, as if the Vulcan lamented how spartan his accommodations were when compared against Jocelyn's apartment. "I do, however, have quite a collection of wine to show you."

"It is yours and I will be there with you," she said, voice still soft as if the words were accents to what flowed between them. "We will make our own cozy." She didn't know what that would be exactly, but the relief she felt now that they were talking like, acting like, a couple again washed through. Relief and reassurance, warmth and still growing affection. "So we have a date?"

"I believe we do," Sturnack nodded deeply, some of his own satisfaction dispersing across the connection they shared. "But first, there is much to do before the end of the day. Now that we have our drinks, we should return to the office, yes?" He rose then, allowing his hand to become disintwined from Jocelyn's. Peering through the window nearby, the Vulcan noted that it had stopped raining. Gesturing ahead of him, Sturnack allowed his paramour to lead the way, the various Security officers falling into formation around them as they exited the coffee shop and set course for the SFC Complex.

=/\= A joint-post by... =/\=

Fleet Admiral Sturnack
Starfleet Command


Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary
Starfleet Command


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