Chapter 12

It had been two days since the captain had departed. He had not called her or even sent a message. Teagan had thought about doing so herself, but had thus far resisted. She had been tempted to start seeing someone else while he was gone, but that kind of behavior was not really in her character. Lauralee had tried to get her to join her for dinner each night, but Teagan had declined politely. She remained in her quarters with only Stripes as company.

At 1814 the door chime signaled. She called for them to come and was very surprised to see Commander Brent stride into her quarters. Two feet in, he looked at her, as she perched on her couch and asked if her could talk with her for a moment. She bid him to join her on the other couch. He did.

"This is rather unexpected, Commander. Nothings wrong with Shelby, I hope." She had breakfast with his perky wife on average of twice a week. Mrs. Brent was now five months pregnant and Teagan knew that the couple was beside themselves with joy over the impending birth of their daughter. Names for the child had been flying fast and furious between the pair and Teagan had discovered that her name was one of the ones being considered. This had flattered her beyond words. Teagan didn't care if they really did name the child after her; the thought had been compliment enough.

"No Miss Teagan, Shel is big as a shuttle and edging towards starship, but just fine, thanks." The man beamed with obvious pride at the mention of his wife. This pregnancy had taken him by surprise as to how he was affected. Shelby seemed to grow more radiant as his child grew with in her. He had always adored her, but something changed with the realization that she carried within her body a child that they had created together. He had discovered that he cherished her even more.

"I'm relieved to hear that," she said, smiling. "So, to what do I owe this visit?" she asked. He pulled himself forward on the seat and clenched his hands between his knees.

"I came to check on how you were doing, Miss Teagan." Something in his tone told more that his words where saying and she blanched.

"He told you to check on me?" she asked, her defenses suddenly up. Brent sat straighter and shook his head.

"No, Miss Teagan. Well, not directly. He contacted me this afternoon and asked if I'd seen you. I wanted to be able to say that I had the next time he called. I apologize, I assumed that you wouldn't mind." He rose to go, but she stood too and put up a hand.

"Wait, I'm sorry, Commander. I have been on edge lately. To be honest, the captain and I had a disagreement prior to his leaving and I guess I'm still miffed at him. You know how moody we women can be even when we're not pregnant. Can you do me a favor?"

The Commander smiled down at her and nodded. "I will if I can, Miss Teagan."

"Tell the captain that his cat misses him." The Commander raised an eyebrow at her.

"His cat, Miss Teagan?" he asked her, looking very uncertain.

She grinned and tried not to blush. "Yes, I don't know what kind of night time ritual our captain shares with his roommate, but she obvious finds my night time routine to be totally unsuitable. She spends most of the evening crying for him." She extended her hand and the Commander took it for a formal handshake.

"I'll be sure to tell him, Miss Teagan," he assured her with a confused expression as he saw himself out.
Dr. Jewel was making his way slowly back to his room having just come from his final meeting with the top diagnostician in StarFleet Medical. The meeting had ended with the results that Jewel had anticipated and now the real test of courage was to follow. As luck would have it, Captain Data just happened to be walking in the opposite direction. It was just over twelve hours before they were to head back for their rendezvous with the Repulse. Thus far, the Doctor had been able to avoid running into his captain, no such luck now. Looking around, Jewel noted that there were no hallways to duck into. No bathrooms or open doors either. And the Captain had just spotted him.

"Good evening, Dr. Jewel. I hope you are well," said the captain once he reached him.

"I haven't spoken to her," said Jewel, looking frustrated with the captain's friendly greeting. The captain just looked confused.

"I do not remember asking you if she had contacted you, Doctor," he replied. But at the mention of Teagan, even without her name, the captain no longer looked friendly or confused. He just looked upset.

"I have found, Captain, that if you are not speaking to me about ship's business that you rarely wish to discuss anything but Teagan with me. Fine, I lied. She told me to tell you that the creature that you call your cat, misses you."

"Intriguing, you are the second person to whom she gave the message that Stripes missed me." He looked as though he was considering foul play of some sort and the doctor wondered what was going though that oddly built mind.

"Perhaps the pesky feline of yours is giving my red headed love a difficult time and that is her polite way of telling you that she will not keep her next time you leave the ship."

The Captain considered this and answered with a growing look of irritation in his yellow eyes. "Perhaps Doctor, and perhaps not." With his jaw set and his pace swift the captain strode away after reminding the doctor not to be late for their scheduled departure in the morning.
The captain met with his command crew immediately upon returning to the Repulse in order to give Commander Brent the details that he had received on their new mission and chatted with him about some of the other events of his trip. The timing had seemed to be an important factor in why the captain had been asked to leave the ship, but more in the timing of Dr. Jewel's meeting rather then the captain's. But apparently, StarFleet had thought it worth the time and risk to send them both off ship instead of waiting until the Repulse had finished her crew rotations.

The meeting only took 49 minutes and 41 seconds, but it felt like two life times to the captain. Still he needed to meet in private with Brent to go over some of the finer points of happenings that took place in his absence.

The captain listened carefully as his first officer told him of interesting events that had taken place and some things that would not make it into a ship's log. It had taken Data quite a while, but he had finally developed a rapport with this man. He believed it in part to his comment months ago about welcoming new members to this man's family aboard his ship. Even though biological procreation was not within the realm of possibility for the captain, hearing about his first officer's experiences was almost like living vicariously through him. Commander Brent's excitement over his upcoming promotion to 'father' had quickly become one of the captain's favorite parts of this man's daily report. At the end of their morning briefing, Brent would always tell some little anecdote about his wife or a thought that he had had about the already beloved child growing within her. The captain always found himself smiling brightly from the beginning of the story to its end. The commander became so animated as he spoke of Shelby Brent or of the yet unnamed child that one could not help but get caught up in his joy.

Today's report was only slightly different. It was longer. The tail end to Brent's story was that they had narrowed down the choices of names to four. Michelle, Tariela, Isabeau and Teagan.

The Repulse was on her way to the site of her next mission and the captain had once again retired to his ready room. His shift was almost over and he was allowing himself to wonder at the location of Stripes. Allowances that he had made months earlier made it possible that she was already back in his quarters. If she were not, he would need to go retrieve her after his shift was over and he was not certain it was something he could face.

He had just about decided to put a call though to the bio-chemistry lab when his door chime sounded. "Come," he called.

Commander Brent entered the captain's ready room looking very much like he would rather jump into a pool of plasma coolant. He held a PADD in his hand and by his stance, the PADD was a snake he feared would bite him.

"Captain," the first officer said and nodded at his captain.

"Commander, is there something you wished to discuss with me?" at this question, the Commander lost some of his colour. The snake must have large fangs. "You may sit, if you would prefer," the captain said, pointing to the chair in front of his desk. Brent nodded, still uneasy and took a seat. He fidgeted in the seat for several seconds before speaking.

"I always check to see if I have been sent any messages relating to ship's business that would need to be addressed before I go off duty," the commander began, still holding the PADD with distaste.

"I would believe that to be a wise practice. Please proceed, Commander."

"I checked my messages today as usual, but this request is...was...very unexpected."

Obviously, the request was on the PADD, so the captain held his hand out for the PADD, but the Commander looked very reluctant to surrender it.

"I think it would be better if I told you what it said, sir. I'm not entirely sure, but I think it would be better," the captain looked impatient.

"Very well, Commander. Please inform me of the content of the request." The Commander nodded and came to his feet.

"To Captain Data, commanding starship Repulse, from Lt. Commander (Doctor) Teagan Ann Shayza. Stardate - 68011.2. Pursuant to regulation 25.1.02, I here by request a transfer. Circumstances have been encountered that have caused me difficulty in performing my duty to the standard that StarFleet requires. I-"

"I think I have heard enough, Commander. May I see the PADD, please," the captain asked. He was trying to sound unruffled, but he knew he was failing. The Commander reluctantly handed him the PADD and grimaced. He looked like he was trying to decide whether or not to speak again.

"Was there something else, Commander?"

"Yes, Captain. If I may?" the man indicated the chair and at his captain's nodded, reclaimed his seat.

"Permission to speak freely, sir?"

"Granted, Commander."

"I know that you and I are not what one would call best friends, I just wanted you to know that if you needed to talk about it, I have some experience in this area. Miss Teagan did indicate that the two of you had been quarreling prior to your leaving the ship. I know I'm not ship's counselor, but Braccon isn't married."

The captain tried to smile. "I am complimented that you would make this offer, Commander. I will consider it, but at this moment I believe I would like to be alone, please." The Commander nodded and rose at once. "Commander, I would like to thank you for your consciousness and your thoughtful offer. I will not forget it."

The Commander smiled sympathetically and with a nod left the ready room.
His duty shift was over and the Captain could find no good reason to put off going to his quarters. As he made his way towards them, he felt as though the deck had become magnetized. His feet did not want to obey his commanded to step and then step again. This would be his first evening since taking command of this vessel that he would spend alone. He was not looking forward to it, but standing in the corridor instead of going to his quarters was not going to make him any less alone.

He entered the room and the door closed behind him. The room was dark. "Computer standard lights, please." The lights came up. The room looked empty and he could not hear movement or breathing. Stripes was not here.

She would be coming here then. Or was she waiting for him to come to her? He was not proficient at this kind of complication. There were so many questions for which he did not have answers. Should he wait for her to come here? Should he go to her? Would it be easier to just get a new cat? No, he loved Stripes and would not give her up. But why then was he considering giving up on Teagan? He walked over to his window and stared out at the stars. The answers to every question existed somewhere. Did one of the points of light hold his answers?

All he wanted was for things to have never changed and for her to be here ordering their dinner, as she should be. He moved away from the window and looked towards the replicator. He walked slowly towards the device that had not been used in almost a week. Would he ever use it again for an evening meal?

She should be here, damn it! Here with him, within reach. Telling this infernal device how he liked his potatoes. She should be here telling him that she had missed him and meaning it. And he should be less of a coward. He should have had the courage to confront his strong feelings of attraction to her and to admit them to her. He wanted things to change, but not in this way. Why had he continually failed to cross the barrier that would move their relationship for friendship into something more?

Because he was afraid. If he openly asked her if she would ever consider him as a....suitor he risked her rejecting him all together.

Friend. They were friends, but that was all. He meant no more to her than...Stripes.

He felt a serge of rage and he found himself cursing as he plunged his fist through the accursed replicator that he believed he would no longer truly need. His fist made contact with the front and penetrated seventeen centimeters of the inside of the replicator before he regained control of his temper.

He pulled his arm from the ruined device and wondered at himself. But a moment later he wondered if that was the only device that would suffer his wrath this evening. He had moved over to his glass coffee table and was considering smashing it when he heard his door chime sound.

"Come," he called, bringing his fist back to his side.

She walked in holding his cat. Stripes launched herself from the knee that Teagan lifted slightly to give the feline a stepping stone between her arms and the floor. Stripes came to yell at him for being gone so long. The captain wanted to pay attention to his roommate's admonishment, but he could not take his eyes off the red headed woman standing by his door.

"You asked for a transfer," he stated, having to raise his voice slightly to be heard over Stripes tirade. Stripes seemed to realize that now was not the time and with one finally 'yowl' pranced towards the door to the captain's bedroom and was gone.

"I thought it would be easier on both of us, considering..." she said, not moving.

"Considering what, Teagan?" he could not hide the smoldering rage he felt. Her eyes grew wider as she became aware of it. Shockingly, she moved slowly closer.

"You want me to be honest with you, Captain. But then there's that damned line and I can't be honest and stay behind it." She had a touch of fire in her words.

"Then move or remove the line, Teagan. You placed it there, it is up to you to remove it," he said just as forcefully.

Her jaw dropped and she just gaped at him of several seconds. Suddenly she moved very swiftly across the floor. "I sure as hell did not draw that line, Mister!" she said through grit teeth. She was in front of him now and brought her hand up to poke him in the chest. "You told me that certain lines must never be crossed." She poked him in time to 'must never be crossed' and glared at him. "I may not be an android, but I remember those words!"

It was his turn to gape at her. Was this it? Was this the place it had all gone wrong? Could it be that simple? One misunderstood word? Four misunderstood words? He took hold of the finger that had been poking him and flattening out her hand, rested it on his chest.

"This line must never be crossed, you must never address me disrespectfully or too causally in public. You must not strike me or raise your voice to me in public. If I count the angry poking you just did as a strike; you have done them all in private. What lines did you draw, Teagan?" he felt as though that question was one of the biggest risks he had taken in his personal life.

Colour came to her cheeks and the hand he was holding as well as the hand that had been clenched at her side, began to shake slightly. "I...I drew no lines. I was trying not to insult you. I thought...I only wanted to be friends. I thought you just wanted someone to talk to."

He could not understand how this had happened. He had been so sure that she had been pulling back because it was not her wish to get closer. Braccon had been correct. He should have told her how he felt from the beginning. Slowly he brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them gently.

"How did this happen? Even if I was stuck thinking that there was a line, why did you think there was one?" she asked, still searching for pieces to this puzzle.

"I had hoped that during the course of our relationship I could engender romantic feeling between us. It seemed that each time I thought we were growing closer, I saw something in your eyes that causes me to believe that I was not capable of that kind of relationship." His eyes still held a hint of doubt.

"What do you mean, 'not capable'?" she asked, seemingly offended on his behalf.

"It has never happened before. And if as close as we have become, if it is still not-"

'But it is. We do...right? I do! Do you?"

He grinned. Her words were confused and sounded silly, but he had still understood them all. "I do," he replied.

She nodded at this and grinned back. After a moment, she looked as though she was expecting him to do or say something else. He looked uncertain.

" would be a good time for one of those kisses that you claim you don't want to overuse," she told him finally and he jumped slightly.

"Yes, of course. I agree! I-" having grown tired of waiting for him to stop talking and take action, she took it herself. Grabbing his face in her hands, she pulled him down into a kiss. He had a very hard time not grinning at first, but as her arms slid up his back, he put his own arms around her and all uncertainty left him. It had been an unlikely misunderstanding, but it had finally been discovered and he had been wrong. She did care for him. He still was not sure how much, but those 'I do' s sounded very promising. He knew what his 'I do' meant, but he would not make an assumption about hers. He would ask her point blank. But not just now. Now he was just happy the line was gone. She was in his arms and kissing him without reservation. He intended to do everything in his power to make sure that this scene was repeated...often. Which reminded him...

He broke the kiss and looked at her. He had missed her so when he had been gone, but had never expected to be here now. "I formally deny your request for transfer, Miss Teagan, On the grounds that you cannot be the captain's woman if you are not on the same ship as the captain." She laughed and rested her forehead on his chest as she giggled.

Looking up at him again she said, "I here by rescind my request for transfer, Captain." She blushed and smiled up at him. "This might sound off the wall, but I'm starved. I haven't had a good dinner since my dinner partner left me, and I think I want to work on increasing the average amount of time I spend with him each evening."

Part of this statement sounded quite intriguing, but part reminded him of what he had been doing just prior to her entering his quarters. He gave her an embarrassed grin.


She tilted her head and looked questioningly at him. "Oops?"

He let go of her waist. Taking hold of her hand, he turned her around and pointed at what used to be his replicator.

"Oh, my god. What happened?" she asked, astonished at the gaping hole in the unit. Turning to look at him for an explanation, she caught his sheepish grin.

"I was not happy to hear of your request for transfer," he admitted reluctantly. She gave him an amused, but wide-eyed grin.

"I guess not." Chuckling, she moved to get a closer look at the damage. He was still holding her hand, so she pulled him along with her. She stood in front of the victim of the captain's wrath and leaned over to inspect the hole.

"You were a whole foot not happy. Remind me never to make you angry if I can help it." She looked back at him. "You didn't hurt your hand when you did this?" he showed her his left hand, as that was the one he had used. "You're made of tough stuff, Sunshine. Try to remember that the replicator isn't from now on, ok?"

He heaved a sighed. "At the time, I wanted to damage it. I would under no circumstances intentionally injure you." He told her very seriously. She came back to stand before him and wrapped her arms around his middle.

"I knew that," she assured him. She tapped the communicator on his chest and spoke again. He looked surprised at her actions. "Dr. Shayza to maintenance."

Why had she used his communicator, he wondered?

"Maintenance. Lt. Vilard here, Doctor. How can I help you?" came the response.

"The captain's replicator has had an unfortunate encounter that it did not survive. He needs to have it replaced. How soon could that be taken care of?" She sounded very professional, but was grinning brightly at the captain as she spoke.

"I can be there in three minutes and it should not take me more than another ten to have the work done. Is that acceptable, Miss Teagan?" the man asked, sounding as though he were speaking to the captain himself.

"Eminently so. Thank you, Lt. Vilard. We await your arrival. Shayza out." She tapped the captain's communicator again to close the signal and grinned up at him. He looked down at her with a slightly questionable expression on his face.

"May I inquire as to why you did not use your own communicator?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I think we have time for one more of those kisses before he gets here. So hurry." He wondered at her odd behavior, but did as she asked.

The captain had learned years earlier that there were times when having an internal chronometer took something away from an experience. After the second time he had kissed Teagan, he had decided this was one of those experiences. Before even touching his lips to hers, he switched the timekeeper off. This was most likely why it seemed as though it had only been seconds before the door chime sounded. He very much did not want to release her. He wanted very much to just stand here with her in his arms forever, but he did have a ship to command. With a sad sigh, he ended the kiss and let go of her.

She walked over to the couch, indicating for him to follow her with a crooked finger.

"Come," he called towards the door as he moved to follow her. He sat down on the couch facing the one on which she was seated as the lieutenant entered.

"Good evening, Captain. Miss Teagan. I hope you are both well this evening." The young man said, slightly nervous. Teagan wondered if it was due to the fact that he was, as far as he knew the only person ever to see her and the Captain during one of their private evenings. Jewly had seen one too, but this thin dark haired man would not be aware of that.

"Good evening to you, Lt. Vilard. We are indeed well. I thank you for your prompt response. Miss Teagan has informed me that she is starving, and I am at a loss to accommodate her." His words were conversational, but they still inspired the young man to move quickly to where he knew the replicator would be.

"I will have that taken care of in a snap, sir," the fidgety man assured his captain as he moved. Teagan turned around in her seat to catch the expression of the man's face as he caught sight of the damage to the unit in question. The man's jaw dropped, but he recovered quickly, sensing that he was being watched. He touched his communicator and gave orders for the new unit to be beamed over so he could install it. Meanwhile he pulled the ruined one. Teagan turned back to face the captain and grinned at him.

"Are we having dinner in my quarters tomorrow, sir?' she asked innocently.

"It would follow our established pattern," he told her.

"Good, I want to try a new dish on you. Its potatoes, but not the kind you favor," she told him. He shook his head at her.

"I fail to understand why you find my preference for the kind you normally make objectionable."

"I never said it was objectionable, sir." She countered.

"True, I believe the word you used was 'boring'."

She gasped and pointed behind a cover hand at the working lieutenant. "Please Captain. It would not be appropriate for me to speak so of my commanding officer's judgement." He just grinned at this.

This never stopped her before...well in a long while. "True. What are the ingredient in this new dish, if I may inquire, Miss Teagan?"

She gave him the list and he listened attentively. She then went on to list several other dishes that she had been thinking of trying on him. Some didn't even include potatoes. He made funny faces at the dishes that included ingredients that he did not care for, and she laughed. She was well aware of the food stuff items that he disliked. They were few in number, but after a few of his funny faces she came up with a dish that consisted entirely of things her captain despised.

"Yuck!" he exclaimed with feeling. Teagan was holding her sides and trying not to fall off her couch as she laughed. Even the young lieutenant looked up at this and threw them a confused glance. Teagan was still recovering when the young man presented himself before her and the captain informing them that the work was complete. The old unit had been beamed away and a new replicator graced the spot that the damaged one had recently inhabited.

The captain stood and walked over to the young man. "Thank you Lt. Vilard. Once again, I appreciate your attending to the matter so quickly. As you have most likely gathered, my dinner companion becomes quite impertinent when she is not kept to her expected meal schedule." A sound that closely resembled one of his own surprised 'humph' s came from the direction of the couch behind him. "I shall see to her at once." He assured the confused and nervous looking man.

"Yes, sir. Sounds like a wise course of action, Captain."

"I agree," the captain said, nodded. Teagan moved to his side and smiling gently down at her, he offered his arm. She took it and he guided her to his dinning area. The pair turned briefly back the face the man.

"Good evening, Lieutenant." Teagan called and the captain added his voice to hers.

"Good night, Miss Teagan. Good night sir. Enjoy your meal." With this the man retreated as quickly as would be proper and heaved a sigh of relief once he was safely out of the captain's quarters. As he made his way back to his post, the man found a grin slowly taking over his face. "He said yuck!" he mused. Vilard found himself chuckling softly all the way back to Maintenance.
Teagan kept stealing glances at the captain as they ate dinner together. She still couldn't believe that he had felt the same way she had been feeling all along. From her seat, she looked briefly over his shoulder and past him to the far wall. The only other door in his quarters was located just past his computer console. It was this door she was determined to discuss with him right this very moment. All she had to do was keep her nerve. The meal was all but gone and she didn't feel like playing chess or tag or walking in the arboretum this evening. Steeling herself, she took a deep breath and opened her mouth, hoping something clever would come out.

Instead, they both heard his door chime sound. They exchanged surprised glances as she closed her mouth and sighed. As the captain rose from his seat and gently tossed his napkin on the table, she opened her mouth again.

"Were you expecting someone else?"

"No one but you and Stripes," he replied moving towards the door. "Come," he called.

The door opened and Dr. Sidney Jewel walked thoughtfully into the room.

"Good evening, Captain. I'm glad to see you're here too, Teagan." The older man commented looking her way, his expression uncertain.

"That's a first," she muttered, rising from her chair and coming to stand by the captain. The captain gave her a disapproving glance and turned his attention back to the CMO.

"Is there something I can do for you, Doctor?" he asked the older man, with respect in his tone. The white haired man took a step closer to the pair and looked from the one to the other. His eyes came back to his commanding officer as he replied. Everything in his demeanor spoke of dread or nervous excitement.

"Yes, I had wanted to speak to both of you together, so I'm relieved...that you apparently have mended your fences." This admission looked to have been very difficult for the doctor to say, but Teagan was not appeased. She loved the older man dearly, but he had been behaving very badly towards the captain of late and she was now even more motivated to show her displeasure in this matter.

"Actually, it would be more accurate to say that we have torn them down." As she said this, she slipped her hand into the captain's. The captain sighed at her, but did not release her hand. Instead, he used his new grip on her to conduct her to one of the couches.

"Please have a seat, Doctor. I will do what I can to encourage Miss Teagan to show a little more courtesy to guests of her commanding officer." Dr. Jewel's expression was unreadable as he moved to take a seat on the couch across from the pair. Jewel took note that the captain now had his hands resting on his legs, as did Teagan. But he was perfectly well aware of what that handholding had signified. At this point, he wasn't sure if he should be furious or relieved.

"Thank you, Captain. There is a development of which I needed to make you and Teagan aware. In my spare time, I have been researching a treatment of Kedderman's Syndrome. Are you familiar with it, Captain?"

"Yes, Doctor. It is a condition that begins by affecting a victim's hand to eye coordination and depth perception. It progresses on to cause both blindness and total loss of muscular control." The doctor nodded at him, but had turned his gaze to Teagan. Following his gaze, the captain noted that she now looked almost as pales as he was, but was at a loss to understand why. Teagan met his eyes and frowned. Sadness was apparent in her golden eyes.

"My father was diagnosed with Kedderman's postmortem. It was what caused the crash that took my family from me." Her confession was given in a monotone, but no one in the room believed that she was untouched by the memory. The captain placed a comforting hand over hers. She just stared straight ahead, as though looking off into the distant past.

"I'm sorry to upset you, love. You were why I have been working on finding a treatment. You know I wouldn't bring it up to hurt you?" she nodded, still unfocused. The captain gave her hand a squeeze. "That was the reason for my accompanying you to Starbase 72, Captain. StarFleet Medical had decided that my work shows promise of a cure." This seemed to finally bring Teagan back to the present.

"A cure?" she repeated, stunned. Jewel's fatherly affection for this woman filled his expression as he nodded. He sat forward until he was almost on the edge of his seat and looked lovingly back at her.

"Yes, love. It will still take some time, but I believe I am close to the answer. But I can't find it here. As up to date as the Repulse is with her recent refit, my work needs to be done elsewhere. I have been offered the chance to continue my research at the StarFleet Medical facility on Carter's world. I have come to request a transfer, Captain."

The captain gave the man a meaningful smile. "Granted," he replied, without hesitation. "I would be grateful for your recommendation on your replacement, Dr. Jewel." The captain's voice made his approval clear. The older man rose slowly.

"I will forward a list to you by morning, Captain. Thank you, sir." Then he turned his attention back to Teagan. "Are you going to be ok with this, love?" he asked her. Teagan came to her feet, purposefully. She almost fell into a touching embrace with the older man. She small stature caused her to almost disappear in the man's arms. After several moments she released him and just looked at him. Her face was wet.

"Tears, my love? I never knew I meant so much to you." The doctor's teasing words produced the desired effect and Teagan blushed slightly and chuckled.

"I love you breathlessly, you old geezer. But I have a question." The doctor smiled at her response and with his eyes shining nodded at her to ask her question. "Why did you want to tell me this in front of the captain?"

"Besides the obvious that he would need to be told and I didn't want to say this twice?" She gave him an impatient look. "I wanted to ask him a favor. A personal favor." The older doctor now looked to his captain and simultaneously took hold of one of Teagan's hands.

"If it is within my power, I will try. What is it that you would ask of me, doctor?"

The doctor looked back at Teagan. Guiding her by the hand back to the captain's side on the couch, he placed her hand over that of his commanding officer.

"Watch over her for me. She listens to you. Or at least she's supposed to. Keep her out of trouble and out of sickbay." Teagan groaned, but her eyes twinkled as she looked from Jewel to the captain and back again.

"I will do as you have asked to the best of my ability, Doctor," the captain assured the older man.

"Thank you, Captain. Well, that's all I had. I'll leave you two alone now. Have breakfast with me tomorrow, love?" he asked, looking at the woman who's hand still rested atop of her captain's.

"Sure," she answered, smiling with a touch of sadness still in her lovely eyes.

"Wonderful, well good night to you both," he said, and turned to go.

The pair on the couch stared at him until the door closed behind him. Turning to look back at each other, they smiled. Slowly, the captain turned the hand that hers rested on from palm down to palm up. He now gave her hand and gentle squeeze and looked meaningfully back at her. For a split second, he was confused as she pulled her hand away. But a half second later when she snuggled herself into his arms, he relaxed. He kissed her forehead and then just held her. She closed her eyes and rested her head on his chest. They stayed this way for several minutes. Not a word was said between them.

Eventually she lifted her head and looked fondly into his eyes. This kiss was as comforting as he could make it, but after a time her need for comfort seemed to dissipate. Her kisses intensified and so did her response. Her heart rate increased. The temperature of her body also rose slightly. Suddenly she pulled away slightly and unexpectedly got to her feet. She took his hand and pulled him to a stand as well. When he stood before her, she wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him just once more.

"It has been a very emotional evening, hasn't it?" she asked in a voice just above a whisper.

He would have smiled, but he already was. "Yes it has. I take it that the evening is over and that you are planning to leave?" Oddly, his question caused her to blush profusely.

She broke eye contact, but kept her grin in place. "Actually, no. I was hoping to keep this emotional exploration going at lease a bit longer. Forgive me, Sunshine, Jewly's announcement threw me a bit. I think it's wonderful that he is doing this, but I am going to miss him when he's gone." She looked back up at him.

"Glad I'll still have you," she told him.

"I do not believe I can replace the doctor-"

"No, I'm not asking you to. I don't have the same feelings for you that I have for him." The captain looked relieved to hear this and she chuckled. "Still, this is the topic I wanted to discuss. Feelings, that is." She paused here and some of the flush left her cheeks. Looking him intensely in the eye, she continued. "Do you love me?"

Tenderness filled the captain's yellow eyes. It struck him that he had been planning to clarify this very issue. He was pleased that she had taken the burden from him.

"Yes, Teagan. I do," he answered. She smiled and released a breath she had been holding.

"Good. I do you, that is," she was almost stuttering with nervousness. He found it most endearing. He also found that he was reeling.

She loved him!

He had been fairly certain that she did...but he had been mistaken before. It was wonderful to know it for sure now. It was wonderful to feel this way and finally be able to believe that it truly was love and not the android equivalent. An equivalent that fell far short. He had worried for so long that it was not love that he felt and that the emotion was simply beyond him.

While his years of emotional growth had made him believe that he was at last discovering his long waited humanity, this kind if love had never been part of it. He loved his cat. He loved his friend. He even loved his life in StarFleet. But was it truly love that he felt or just a pleasure from things he was accustomed to?

Yes. Love. Was. Wonderful.

The woman he loved was speaking again....

"Well, now that we have that firmly established...and if you don't think it would be inappropriate...I was hoping I could convince you to go somewhere with me." Her voice was very shaky. He was still holding her and could feel that her voice was not the only thing effected by the sudden increase in nervousness. She was also barely breathing.

"Where?" he asked, completely puzzled. She broke her eye contact with him and looked just over his right shoulder. Pulling an arm free she pointed across the room at the door that did not lead to the corridor. He suddenly felt just as nervous, and at a momentary loss for words.

She was looking expectantly at him and he decided that if he did not speak soon, a very important moment would again slip through his fingers. But he had to make sure that he was not walking into another misunderstanding.

"Since our history has show me that assumptions can prove to be wrong on both our parts, I wish to be certain I understand your meaning. You wish to go to my bedroom and....look around?"

She started to laugh. It was just a chuckle at first, but grew into a full- fledged guffaw. She looked up at the ceiling at tried to regain some of her composure.

"I should have learned by now that subtly is lost on you, Sunshine. No. I don't want to look around in there. Well, maybe for a minute...but- no, I want to.." she stopped here, closed her eyes and tried again. "You told me once that you were capable of...intimate contact. True?" His eyes were slowly growing wider.

"Yes. I am fully functional," he answered, stammering a bit himself. Now her eyes went wide.

"Intriguing way to put it. Well, I want you to prove it to me."

He looked slightly offended. "You doubt me?" he asked, stunned.

She sighed and shook her head. "Captain, are you going to show me to your bedroom or am I going to have to go home and sleep...alone?" she asked with a challenge in her voice. This was not a difficult choice.

"My bedroom is this way," he said, quickly pointing over his shoulder.

He led the way, holding her hand and the closer they got to that door, the wider the grins on both of their faces became.

The door closed behind them and in the hours that followed, the captain of the Repulse proved to the captain's woman just how fully functional he was....repeatedly.