Here is the very first meeting of Malcolm Reed and Jean Olenick. 'Twas alluded to very obliquely in "Accidental Spy", and now here it is on the internets for your perusal. 'Temptation' belongs to Tom Waits with a nod to Cote de Pablo's 2008 performance for singing the second verse in French. Reed belongs to Paramount/CBS, and everything else is mine.
Shepherd's Inn, Kent, England, 1948 hours, May 22, 2144
"Not many people know this, but in addition to other things, Lady Macbeth was cruel to animals. Really, it's true! She wouldn't even let the castle pets sleep inside at night. Late at night she could be heard yelling 'out, out, damn Spot!'"
The audience laughed appreciatively, and there were scattered groans and applause for the pun. The comic was pleased, but not nearly as much as the young brown-haired woman standing behind curtains at stage left. Grinning, she turned to her blonde friend and said in hushed but excited tones, "He used my joke! Will used my joke, and they liked it!"
The blonde's voice betrayed her strained patience, "Yes, he used it. What are we doing again?"
"We're checking out the audience, seeing if they're a tough crowd. If so, we'll change our song list in advance, so we can put on a good show no matter what. I'm gonna take a quick peek." Looking out through the curtains, she saw the typical scene; couples, groups and a few loners sitting at candle-lit tables, sipping drinks and nibbling at their food.
One of the loners caught her eye. Their comedian had just told a particularly dry joke, and a mildly handsome man in a reddish shirt chuckled appreciatively into his meal. Since he was sitting under one of the few ceiling lights which had remained lit for the performance, she could see him more clearly than most of the other patrons. He had rich, dark brown hair, a wide-set jaw, and something about him fascinated the brunette singer; before she could figure out what it was, she had unintentionally drawn his attention. She gave him a nervous half-smile, and after some intense silent flirting she let her gaze drop and retreated behind the curtains.
Shortly thereafter both women came on stage along with the rest of their singing group to start the show. The group started with an ensemble piece, followed by a few barbershop quartet numbers and duets with accompaniment by bass fiddle, drums and piano. About halfway into the set, the brunette had a solo.
Rusted brandy in a diamond glass
Everything is made from dreams
Time is made from honey slow and sweet
Only the fools know what it means
She came down off the stage and went over to the table where he was sitting, acting like a predator stalking her prey. He seemed to not want the attention of the entire audience at first, but when she circled around behind him, ran her hands lightly along his shoulders and then sat down in the chair next to him, he warmed up to it pretty quickly.
Temptation, temptation, temptation
I can't resist
He smiled and put down his drink, focusing his full attention on the woman singing to him and hardly listening to the lyrics. His calm grey-blue eyes raked over her as she serenaded him. She leaned towards him, switching to French for the next verse and singing into her microphone but ignoring the rest of the audience.
Oui, je sais.
Qu'il est fait de fumée
Oui, je me suis paumée.
Il sait que je suis fauché
Mais à moi de jouer, oui
She reached out and touched his face, lightly cupping his cheek in her hand and smiling as she kept singing. She imagined running her fingers through his chocolate-colored hair, and kissing lips which looked very soft.
Je peux pas résister.
Reluctantly, she left her seat with him and started winding among the other tables, stopping every so often to pay attention to the single men in the audience, but the whole time she kept looking over at her new friend, smiling at him and tilting her head to one side coyly, as though she were daring him to do more than simply follow her around the room with his eyes.
Dutch pink and Italian blue
He is there waiting for you
My will has disappeared
Now confusion is oh so clear
Temptation, temptation, temptation
I can't resist!
She headed back to the stage as she finished the song, pausing frequently to smile or wink at various men in the audience on the way, but still paying special attention to him.
Temptation, temptation, temptation
I can't resist.
Once she was back onstage, she replaced the microphone in the stand, holding the last note, and flashed him a flirtatious smile.
The man in the red shirt clapped enthusiastically along with the rest of the crowd, and the singer bowed slightly. The group did a few more jazzy numbers before their set ended, and after they had taken their bows the club's sound system switched over to some pre-recorded music. The musicians started packing up their instruments and a couple of the singers drifted over to the bar. The man in the red shirt was pleased to see that the brunette wasn't one of them; she headed straight towards him and motioned to an empty chair at his table.
"Mind if I join you?"
"Please." He smiled, nodding, and stood up to pull the chair out for her.
She seemed surprised and pleased by the chivalrous gesture and sat in the proffered seat, shaking her head slightly when he pushed the chair in for her. "Looks like I've found a gentleman."
He returned to his own chair, smiling, and gestured for the bartender to send over a waitress. "You have a lovely singing voice. I enjoyed your performance very much."
"Thank you." She gave him a mischievous grin, raising her eyebrows suggestively. "I had a feeling that you liked it." She preened slightly at the praise, and in spite of her forward manner, he got the feeling that she wasn't normally this flirtatious. "So, do you have a name or should I just keep calling you 'mysterious stranger' for the rest of the evening?"
He chuckled, leaning forward slightly. "I'm Malcolm. And you are…?"
She smiled and extended her hand to him. "Jean. Pleased to meet you, Malcolm."
He gently took her hand in his and brought it up to the level of his chin. "Enchanté." He lightly kissed her knuckles and then returned her hand, pleased to see that she was not only smiling, but also blushing slightly.
Jean tilted her head coyly and narrowed her eyes at him in an appraising way. "Are you always this charming, Malcolm?"
He shook his head with a rueful smile. "Not always. Hardly ever, actually."
A waitress had walked over to their table while they were talking and cleared her throat to get their attention. "May I take your order?"
Malcolm glanced up at her and then sat back, tipping his head to Jean. "Ladies first."
Jean smiled at him in thanks and looked up at the waitress. "I'll have a Shepherd's Pie to start, with a fruit tart and Shirley Temple for dessert, please."
The waitress nodded as she wrote the order down. "Anything else to drink?"
Jean glanced at Malcolm with a twinkle in her eye. "If you could bring a me a vodka and orange on the rocks at the same time as the pie, that would be great, and please make it with orange flavored vodka, if you have any."
The waitress nodded again and turned to Malcolm. "And you, sir?"
He cleared his throat, forcing himself to stop thinking about the way Jean had caressed his face during her solo, and shifted slightly in his seat. "Fruit crumble and a brandy for me, please."
Jean smiled and seemed about to say something, but she waited until their waitress had written down his order and stepped away from their table. "I've never tried brandy." She glanced at him shyly. "Maybe you could let me have a taste of yours?"
"Certainly. I'm surprised you've never had it before." He smiled reflexively and inclined his head, reaching for his glass.
She smirked back at him, eyes twinkling. "Bit too posh for me, as you Brits would say, but I'm curious to try a bit of-" She trailed off, looking disappointed as he finished his drink. There had only been a mouthful or two left in the glass, and she looked at him curiously. "I thought you were going to let me polish that off."
He shook his head. "What sort of a gentleman would I be, to give a lady the dregs? You can have the first taste of my refill when it comes."
"Thank you, Sir Galahad."
He chuckled. "I've always seen myself as more of a Bedivere, but as you like."
The waitress returned with their drinks. They thanked her and Malcolm added, "My friend here may want a brandy of her own before the night is out." The waitress nodded and left. When Malcolm shifted his gaze back to Jean, she was looking disappointed.
She picked up her drink and took a sip, sighing almost too quietly for him to hear. "I won't be ordering one, Malcolm. I drew the short straw in our group, so I'm responsible for making sure no one gets into trouble tonight, which means that I can't have more than one drink."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." Malcolm sat back, glancing thoughtfully from Jean to her friends. "Shouldn't you be over there, then?"
She made a dismissive gesture. "I can watch out for them from here. We're all staying upstairs, so I don't have to worry about driving us anywhere or pouring them into cabs, but I don't feel comfortable with getting drunk when I've been designated as the responsible one. It can be annoying, playing shepherd to a flock of drunken sheep, but seeing the looks on their faces the next day when I tell them the nonsense they got up to?" She grinned evilly. "That makes the inconvenience completely worthwhile."
Malcolm laughed. It was clear that she had a wicked sense of humour and enjoyed being in control of herself, and he was impressed with her sense of responsibility and self-restraint. He always admired those characteristics, but in a witty and beautiful woman, that combination was a killer. The waitress brought Jean's food over shortly and Jean nodded to her. "Thank you, this looks wonderful. The drink is perfect, by the way. What kind of vodka is in it?"
The waitress smiled at the praise. "Mango. I thought it would go nicely with the orange."
Jean nodded. "It does. Very nicely, but where is my friend's dessert?"
"I'll be bringing it at the same time as yours." The waitress stepped away and Malcolm fidgeted slightly in the silence as his companion began to eat. After a few mouthfuls she caught him worrying at his napkin and smiled gently at him, her voice soft and warm with concern. "I hope you weren't thinking about leaving."
He cleared his throat, not sure why he suddenly felt so nervous. This was starting to feel like a first date, and since he didn't have any food of his own, Malcolm wasn't sure what to do with himself. Should he try to make conversation, or would the effort not be welcome? They had flirted a little, but he didn't know if it was going to lead to anything, and he certainly didn't want to press his luck with someone who had other obligations. "You mentioned being responsible for your friends tonight, and I wasn't certain whether you wanted… company, or a distraction from that."
She set aside her fork, laid a restraining hand on his arm and smiled. "Yes, I do want company. As den mother I just have to make sure everyone is in their rooms by midnight." She looked around, nodding at the bar where most of her friends had gathered. "Which shouldn't be too hard. Most of them are paired off, anyway, so you are a very welcome distraction, and I'm enjoying talking to you." Her hand stayed on his arm and her mouth twisted to one side in a thoughtful way as her fingers played across the fabric of his sleeve. "Maybe you should do most of the talking, though. At least while I'm working on my dinner." She offered a crooked smile. "My table manners are bad enough without talking with my mouth full."
He nodded and his hands relaxed, releasing the tortured napkin. "What should we talk about?"
She shrugged as her fork dove back into the pie. "I don't know. Tell me about yourself. I haven't been able to spend much time in England, so maybe you could tell me about some of your favorite places."
They talked while she had her supper, and although he listened when she spoke, he caught himself imagining running his fingers through her brown-gold curls, and using his palms to trace the soft curves of her body through her dress. He shook his head slightly, trying to dislodge those thoughts. She was a very attractive and intelligent woman, and he found himself enjoying her company immensely, but shortly after her food arrived she had told him that her group would be leaving the next morning on a transport to France, so he couldn't see any way to explore the romantic possibilities with her. After all, for all her playful and flirtatious behaviour, she didn't give the impression of being promiscuous.
Malcolm told her about his sister and growing up near Leicester, although he was sparse with the details, and somewhere between Maddie and moving to Kota Baru he found himself giving her a brief history of Britain's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. He shook his head, admonishing himself for somehow stumbling into a topic which, more likely than not, would guarantee that this encounter didn't take any romantic turns. "I'm sorry, you probably aren't interested in British naval history."
She smiled, shrugging one shoulder in a careless gesture that was becoming familiar to him. Her dinner was mostly gone by this point, and she was just nibbling at it. "Actually, you're the first person who has explained it to me in a way that didn't bore me to tears. Maybe you can do the same for the wars of the Roses, since I've always needed a diagram or something to make sense of the struggle between York and Lancaster. So, what do you think of Queen Elizabeth the first's allocation of resources during the war with the Spanish?"
Malcolm gave a surprised laugh, smiling widely. "You didn't strike me as a history buff."
She tapped the back of his hand reprovingly with the butt end of her fork. "You didn't ask. I'm interested in all things English, but I'm really much better at ancient history and World War II than any other periods."
Their desserts arrived while he was trying to get his head around this new development. They continued chatting and eating, and at some point after Jean had finished off her drink, Malcolm noticed that her hand was resting on top of his hand. He reasoned that she must have put it there after setting aside her empty glass, which had happened a few minutes before. He looked at the hand, then at her in mild confusion. "Umm, Jean…?"
She raised her eyes from her half-eaten fruit tart and smiled at him. "Was wondering when you would notice."
He shook his head, trying to clear it of the brandy. He hadn't had all that much, barely two glasses, but for some reason his mind wasn't working properly. "Why is your hand there? Not that I mind, I'm just…"
"Malcolm," Her mouth quirked up into a seductive smile, "would you like to kiss me?"
His mouth went dry and he was dimly aware that he was nodding in answer to her question, but he couldn't remember deciding to do that. "Yes, I…" he cleared his throat. "I would like that."
She grinned, nudging her food out of the way with her elbow as she leaned towards him. "Something else we have in common."
Before too long, their food was entirely forgotten and a snog-fest worthy of ballad and song was well under way. Malcolm captured her lips, running his hand up from her arm to her shoulder, and then down over her back, pulling her closer as he plundered her mouth. She smiled against his mouth, making a pleased sound at the touch, and ran her hands along his side, her fingers skating around to caress the muscles of his back. She turned aside at one point, but Malcolm didn't think too much of it – he simply took advantage of the opportunity to kiss down her neck. She held him tighter and faced him again, kissing with renewed vigour. A short while later she turned aside again, and this time he went to work on her earlobe. "Malcolm…"
"Yes?" he asked her neck. There was something odd about her tone, but since her earlobe needed some more attention, he didn't waste too much effort wondering what was wrong.
Jean nodded over his shoulder at a large clock which read quarter of midnight. She sighed and ran her fingers through his hair, pressing a kiss to his temple. "It's time for me to start herding the sheep towards their beds."
He made an unhappy sound back in his throat and loosened his hold on her shoulders, sitting back so he could see her face. "Is this goodbye?" He couldn't manage to keep the disappointment out of his voice.
She looked sad as she nodded in answer, and then leaned in to give him another kiss and twined her fingers in his hair in what seemed like more of a possessive gesture than a farewell. When the kiss ended, she let her hand trail down to the back of his neck and smiled hopefully at him. "Maybe we'll meet again. If you're ever in the States, look me up. My last name is 'Olenick'."
He smiled back, trying valiantly to make his voice sound even. "I'll certainly try to. Until then, Jean, adieu."
She stood up, a sad expression on her face, and rested a hand on his shoulder. "I don't regret this… I just wish that we had more time to…" she grinned, moving her hand to playfully tap her thumb against his cheek. "To discuss English naval battles."
Malcolm nodded, standing up as well, since he was, after all, a gentleman. "So do I." He cleared his throat.
He watched her head for the door and only turned back to his neglected food after she was gone, muttering aloud to himself, "Malcolm Reed, you are an idiot." He shook his head, staring at the remnants of his fruit crumble and letting out a dejected sigh. "I should have gone after her." She was a top-shelf woman, no doubt about it, and deserved better than a tawdry one-night stand, which was doubtless what would happen if he went after her now. He wasn't in any position to have a long night, either, so perhaps it was just as well that he was letting her go. He had an early flight the next morning to San Francisco, where he would have his first in a series of interviews and assessments with Starfleet. His application had already been approved, and he knew that they would be able to use a man of his talents, so provided he passed the assessments he would most likely end up living in the States for quite some time. However, he doubted very much that he would have time to hunt down the beautiful woman he had met tonight and romance her properly. He smiled sadly to himself and finished off his brandy.
"With my luck, I'll never see her again."