SIM:JP - Lieutenant Karynn Ehlanii and Lieutenant Commander Ethan Brice -A Touch Deeper

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(( Fast Forward, Ehlanni's Quarters ))

::The place was still a "No-man's-land" of places on the ship. Ethan had walked in many a time now, but he'd never stayed formore than half an hour at the most. It was a fair agreement; he had his place, she had hers. It worked. They were together when they wanted to be and alone when they wanted to be. He walked inside, crossing the threshold of the door and had a quicklook around. She kept it really nice; his was a mess of Engineering parts and old technology. How he managed to see the floor in there was still a mystery.::

::The Canar stone was pride of place on the shelf below the large windows, reflecting the light from nearby stars into the rest of the room. He slipped his left hand into his pocket and ran the other one over his drying hair.::

::Karynn watched him closely. She was beginning to really know him; enough, even, to be able to often accurately guess his emotions even when she wasn't touching him. But sometimes it was good to ask.::

Ehlanii: How are you feeling?

Brice: Comfortable. Wet and comfortable.

::The Haliian smiled. She was still slightly damp herself, but just being with him... well that was something that made her comfortable almost every time it happened these days.::

Ehlanii: Would you like to dry off? I've got a replicator... and a bathroom. We could get you a towel and a dry change of clothes.

::Chuckling, he nodded and ropped his hand from his head.:: Brice: Thank you, that would be a very good idea.

::Tapping in his own authorisation code for clothing rations, he chose something simple; dark jeans, his "Ithassa Five" t-shirt and a pair of white socks, since his own could be rung dry. Not needing much direction, he looked for the simple nod of agreement from Karynn and went to get changed out of his own soggy uniform.::

::Karynn headed back to her own bedroom and grabbed a soft towel from a drawer. She always loved the way it felt against her skin, so even though she usually used a sonic shower, the only kind available in her quarters, she still kept a few towels around. Soon, she was heading back to the living area dressed in her own comfortable clothes. Taking a cue from Ethan, she had chosen a pair of jeans and a soft cotton t-shirt. Comfort was a must the first time one tried the canar.::

::After a few rubs with the towel he found in the bathroom, his once wet hair was now dry, of a sort, and he headed back out into Karynn's living quarters. He noticed Karynn had gone for same gear; t-shirt, jeans... He smiled to himself. He'd been told a few times he had an awful dress sense.::

Brice: This going to be our new thing? Copying each other's clothes? We'll be walking round with hands in each other's pockets soon enough.

Ehlanii: ::giggling:: It could be worse. I could have chosen your t-shirt. Or gone for one of those vintage-style ones that say "I'm with stupid."

Brice: ::grins:: You sure I shouldn't be wearing that one?

Ehlanii: Ouch! ::She mock pouted and then laughed.:: Anyway... did you still want dessert?

Brice: Depends, what are we having? ::he revised the statement:: What do you fancy? I hear Sarah programmed a mean... thing... something to do with cream.

Ehlanii: Sounds interesting... any idea what it was or shall we scroll through the many options in the replicator?

::He shrugged his shoulders and smiled.:: Brice: Your choice. I'd go happily with hot chocolate. ::he looked to the sofa:: Mind if I sit down?

::A flash of red began to creep up Karynn's cheek.:: Ehlanii: Yes, please do. Sorry for... ::she trailed off for a second before changing her approach slightly::'re really free to wander about, sit, stand, or cartwheel through here as you please. As far as I'm concerned you belong here as much as I do...

::Cartwheel, huh? His smile had an extra bit of luminosity at her reaction, the slight rush of pink to her cheeks. "You belong here as much as I do..." That stuck in his head. Did he really? Did that mean one thing or something completely different? Did she mean her quarters or the ship? He sat down on the sofa and relaxed into it.::

Brice: Cartwheeling isn't something I do regularly, you know. Just in case you expect that kind of display...

Ehlanii: ::giggling:: That's good. I was a little worried you might break something if you tried.

::The brown-haired woman moved to the replicator. She was interested in something sweet and light. Perhaps some cream puffs? A few key strokes later, a tray appeared bearing two mugs of hot chocolate and a plate of light fluffy pastries filled with various flavors of cream. She carried across the room and set it on the coffee table. Then she moved gracefully to the shelf with the Canar. Lifting it, and its stand, she carried it gently to the table and set it next to the food.::

::Sitting down next to Ethan, Karynn snuggled gently into his shoulder.:: Ehlanii: We can eat or talk or ... ::she paused, trying to figure out a concise word to describe it:: ...or share, using the Canar. It's really up to you, although if you have any questions, I'm willing to answer them before you pick.

::The Engineer hesitated for a second, but not because of Karynn or using the stone. It was more that it was another step into their relationship, another part of himself and herself that they were giving over to each other. To him it seemed strange that a stone would make him so thoughtful about what everything meant. He kissed to top of Karynn's head and with his lips still close to her crown, he spoke.::

Brice: Does it hurt?

::Karynn smiled and shook her head gently.::

Ehlanii: Not unless I'm in pain. It feels a bit strange, I suppose, but not physically. For you, I think it will be an approximation of my own gifts, although I'm not quite certain.

::She reached over and picked up the stone, cradling it in her hands.::

Ehlanii: Essentially, you'll feel what I'm feeling now.

::It looked like a large crystal. Ethan moved his hand until he could touch it with his fingertips, not sure what to expect. It felt a little like quartz; incredibly smooth reflecting the light in her quarters but with a few rough edges.::

Brice: I was expecting some kind of electric shock then. ::he smiled gently:: It's your decision. Do you want me to feel what you're feeling? I've never done anything like this before.

Ehlanii: ::nodding:: If you want to, I would like to as well. I rather... like... the idea of being able to share this with you.

::She shifted her body so that she was sitting cross-legged on the couch facing him. Resting her elbows on her knees, she held out the stone so he could touch it too.::

Ehlanii: You place your hands on it, close your eyes, and think of me.

::He did the same, only shifting the one leg underneath him, keeping the other foot on the floor. Was it heavy? He touched the stone again, properly this time, with both hands and closed his eyes, exhaling as if to shake off any knots that were tied up in his system.::

::As his hands touched the canar, the Haliian closed her own eyes, focusing on his presence and mind. She was already beginning to feel him. Focusing her thoughts a little tighter, she reached out to brush his mind gently with her own in a mental caress.::

::He'd never felt anything like it before. Never being one to dabble in the empathic in his life, Ethan felt the soft energy that was flowing, the feelings that were ocurring around them. He was scared and content; two emotions he thought he'd never feel at the same time but he knew Karynn could feel it all.::

::She reached up and gently brushed his fingers with her own, a reassuring touch to soothe any of his misgivings. She could feel his mind, his hesitancy about opening up, combined with his eagerness to do so, his comfort, his peace, his worries about the ship and her crew that were small but still present in his mind.::

::Karynn had an idea she wanted to try. Gently she reached out again with her mind.::

Ehlanii: <<Kiimosa. Can you hear me?>>

::It was like a voice in the back of his head; a soft and gentle voice sounding so far away. He was thinking about Karynn, all about Karynn and how she was feeling, but he couldn't reach that. He could feel her, feel her fingertips over his fingers, feel her emotions like a tingle under his skin. The voice got a little louder each time he thought about her.::

::She didn't exactly hear a response, but that didn't mean he wasn't hearing her. The whole experience could be quite overwhelming. Gently, Karynn tried one more time.::

Ehlanii: <<Kiimosa?>>

::This time it was loud and clear and sent a shiver ricochetting over his skin.:: Brice: <<Karynn?>>

::Smiling, Karynn opened her eyes gently, looking him over. It was amazing how close he seemed. Far closer than even his touch usually brought him.::

Ehlanii: <<Yes, it's me. I wasn't sure if you'd be able to... sense this or not.>>

::He inhaled deeply, keeping his eyes closed. He could see Karynn so clearly; every heartbeat was a shimmer of energy, nothing like he'd ever seen but it felt right, so incredibly right.::

Brice: <<It's strange... I can hear you but... it's quiet.>>

::Karynn carefully lifted the crystal out of his hands and set it on the coffee table. She chose to speak - for the moment it was easier.::

Ehlanii: Now that the link is established, it should actually remain for a few hours.

::She brushed her fingers softly against his hand and scooted closer to the brown-haired man.::

Ehlanii: How do you feel?

::He placed his palm against hers and interlocked their fingers, brushing his thumb against hers. His eyes opened and he smiled slowly, feeling her, feeling them.::

Brice: Warm. ::he moved his hand against hers:: Warm. I can feel you... ::he looked at her:: Is this how you feel me?

::The Haliian reached up with her free hand and gently ran her fingers through his hair.::

Ehlanii: I think it's probably close.

Brice: But more intense, right? ::he moved his head slowly, making full use of her hand:: It needs cutting.

::She shook her head.:: Ehlanii: If you could hear me, then it is more likely that you're experiencing something slightly more intense than I do on a regular basis. ::She paused for a second.:: But it's not bad, right? You... like it?

::He smiled.:: Brice: Yeah... Yeah I do. ::he raised an eyebrow:: Do you? Like this?

::Karynn smiled and reached up to gently kiss his cheek.:: Ehlanii: I do. It's nice... being this close to you. I... trust you... and this... I suppose this is a way to show that.

::Lifting his hand he touched her cheek and moved a bit closer, nuzzling her nose with his.:: Brice: I won't take advantage of this. It's... it's special. ::he kissed her lips and pulled back:: It's you and me.

Ehlanii: ::musing:: You and me... ::She smiled and kissed him back.:: I like that.

::She shifted again so she could lean back against him and gently guided his arms so they wrapped around her body, holding her close, her hands on his, fingers intertwined. Resting her head on his shoulder, she closed her eyes, feeling every every stray emotion under the calm of the peace that enfolded them.::

Ehlanii: Did I tell you I sent a message to Ben?

::He relaxed into the sofa, finding a comfy spot for his shoulders and felt calm, inexplicably calm::

Brice: No, you didn't.

Ehlanii: A follow-up, I suppose, to our conversation in my office a year ago. ::She turned slightly to look up at his face.:: I did tell you about that, right?

::Ethan closed his eyes and lifted his eyebrow playfully.::

Brice: Ben talking to you about me and Matthew?

::Smiling, she returned her head to his shoulder and closed her eyes.::

Ehlanii: It's just because he cares about you. Anyway, I told him that I had a better answer than I did way back then.

Brice: You didn’t have an answer back then?

Ehlanii: ::shaking her head slightly:: Not really. Although I suppose my answer now is very much similar to what it was then, just better articulated: that while I may not have a concrete answer about where we're going but I know that above all, I want you and and Matthew to be happy.

::There was something underlying her statement. Unhappiness. Ethan braced his arms around her and tried to make the cuddle a little more cuddly.::

Brice: We are happy. We’re all happy. Is there something we should be unhappy about?

::A small wave of sadness washed over Karynn, followed by a wave of self-consciousness as she realized he had felt that. Being so open with him, while comforting, was a bit unnerving.::

Ehlanii: No. I... I guess I want to know that your family, or at least the ones who know you best, approve of us... and... well, he seems like one of those important opinions.

::Smiling, Ethan braced his arms for a second then relaxed again.::

Brice: Ben will always be important to me and I'm glad you're seeking his approval but... on the other hand... the only one you need the go ahead from is me.

::Gently she caressed his fingers with her own, half-fidgeting, half-playing.::

Ehlanii: I know... I guess I... well...

::She paused for a minute, not at all sure how to explain why she wanted Ben's approval so much. Deep down she hoped that Ethan could understand it, even though she couldn't articulate it.::

::Confusion was in the mix somewhere; Ethan could feel it, but underneath was a loving warmth. She meant well by it. Letting her know he understood he kissed the top of her head.::

Brice: Well, you've got to ask Matthew yet.

::She glanced up at him, playfully grinning as she verbally backpedaled.::

Ehlanii: I don't know.... Wouldn't want to get his hopes up if we're not going to last. He's already part of one broken family. Besides... ::Pausing to gently snuggle into his shoulder:: do we explain this to him when we can't succinctly articulate it ourselves?

Brice: Pictures? He responds well to them, so I'm told. ::he smiled:: Full sentences, Rebecca tells me.

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: Full sentences? That's impressive... How old is he these days?

Brice: Nearly three. Small sentences, like "I want juice", "Can I have Addy Bear?" and stuff like that.

Ehlanii: So what are you going to tell him?

::Ethan grinned.:: Brice: Me? I'm not the one that needs his approval, Lieutenant.

Ehlanii: Ooooh. Is that how it's going to be? Well, do you at least have some advice about how I should ask for said approval?

Brice: Plenty of candy. ::he poked her side:: And other methods of bribery.

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: So... "here's a piece of candy, can I date your daddy?"

Brice: It might work. Toys would be a good start. There's always the pet puppy route as well. ::he grinned:: Or maybe that is just for Daddy.

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: I never knew you wanted a puppy. :he paused and pulled back slightly to look up at him.:: You don't think it's too late for me to be asking Matthew if I can date you?

Brice: Is that because we're already so attached, because technically we're already dating and have been for some time now or just because he probably already knows?

::Karynn looked him over with a look that was both serious and mirthful.::

Ehlanii: Yes.

::Trying not to break a smile, Ethan poked her side again and relaxed back, closing his eyes.::

Brice: Alright, we'll just see if he notices.

Ehlanii: ::wrapping her arms around him:: You have a point though. It would be good to know that he's ok with us... being together... and whatever direction this might go.

::His hand found her hair and wrapped his fingers loosely in it. The effects of the crystal was definitely different then the feelings that he was used to.::

Brice: Don't worry about it. He'll understand. If not, we can expect plastic bricks and such in our shoes.

::She was struck by how good it felt to have her hair played with. It was something that hadn't happened in a long time... ever since... Mentally she shoved the thought to the side. Why ruin an otherwise perfect evening talking about old romances. She tried to focus on bringing her Ethan-related feelings to the surface, hoping he wouldn't ask about the undercurrent. Breathing in deeply she took in the immense closeness she felt to the man next to her.::

Ehlanii: I suppose I'll have to check my shoes next time he's around here.

Brice: I always do, it's habit now. That and the bed. Being tired and having a giraffe poke me in the back is not clever.

::There was a spike of sorts, a soft prod that provoked Ethan's mind. Somewhere far away there was something else, like looking at someone waving in the distance but it was too far to see who. That was the feeling. However, as quickly as it had arose it was gonand warmth, comfort and happiness returned. Soon, it was forgotten about.::

Brice: I really think I could go to sleep like this.

Ehlanii: That can be arranged...

::He had to ask the question, opening his left eye.:: Brice: Tired?

::Karynn nodded:: Ehlanii: It's been a long day, and we'll probably have a few more long days coming up soon.

Brice: Getting sleep where we can then, huh? Forty winks here and there.

Ehlanii: :: sitting up slightly:: Probably not a bad idea. The chase is on, and no doubt all hell will break loose when we catch up to the Phoenix. Shall we?

::Ethan nodded, stood up and stretched his arms up to the relatively low ceiling. He picked up his padd from the coffee table and kissed Karynn on the forehead. He gathered that he would look and feel sleepy, but getting into bed was the though driving him onward.::

Brice: Tonight was... ::he smiled:: ...Eye-opening. Thank you.

::Stretching up, she kissed his cheek, while his head was still relatively near her own.::

Ehlanii: Anytime. I'm... so glad you enjoyed it. Now come on. Let's go catch a little sleep.

::He nodded again and went to the door.::

Brice: I'll see you in the morning, then.

::Laughing, Karynn grabbed the Engineer's hand and pulled him gently toward the door that led to her bedroom.::

Ehlanii: Wrong way, silly.

::Ethan cocked an eyebrow once more and looked from her to her bedroom door then back over his shoulder to the actual door he intended to leave by.::

Brice: That's the door to the corridor, Karynn. I go through door, door enters onto corridor, corridor goes onto my door...

Ehlanii: You did say you wanted to "sleep like this", right? As in... in the same room?

::He stopped and looked at her, hesitating to answer what could be a trick question.::

Brice: Well, yeah but...

Ehlanii: And I said "that can be arranged." I did mean tonight... that is... if you're still interested...

::He was tired enough to fall down where he was standing and he was sure that as soon as his head hit Karynn's Karynn-scented pillows he would be sound asleep and not very responsive for the next few hours.::

Brice: You sure? I don't snore... I think.

Ehlanii: ::with a grin:: Then I suppose I should find out about that snoring now rather than later. :: she cocked her head in the direction of the bedroom.:: Still want sleep?

::He smiled.:: Brice: Why not? It's a basic human need after all.

::A soft smile melted over her face.:: Ehlanii: Then come on <<Kiimosa>>.

::The door swished shut behind them, sealing them inside Karynn's quarters, maintaining the dwindling link long enough for the two Officers to fall into a peaceful sleep, curled around one another, together in the darkness.::

The End.

Lt. Karynn Ehlanii
Ship's Counselor
USS Independence-A


Lt. Ethan Brice
Chief Engineer
USS Independence-A

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Lieutenant Karynn Ehlanii
USS Independence NX-1776-A
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Lt Commander Ethan Brice
Chief Engineer
USS Independence NX-1776-A
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Fix You