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Brave Faces

Posted on Fri Jul 1st, 2022 @ 5:02am by Delaney O'Callaghan & Leiddem Kea (*) & Jeassaho Kea (*)
Edited on on Fri Jul 1st, 2022 @ 5:27am

Mission: Adrift
Location: The party!
Timeline: The party!
3984 words - 8 OF Standard Post Measure

"That was not my idea."

The protesting squeak from the folding chair as Delaney flopped herself into it, doing her best not to spill any of the bright red concoction held outstretched in one hand, was barely heard over slightly-tinny thud of bass from the portable music player. She had weaved her way through the gradually-assembling crowd to seek refuge, having spotted Jeassaho sitting on her own. It seemed a safer bet than lingering on the dancefloor because, if she had to predict, she had been seconds away from Leiddem dragging her into whatever it was he thought he was currently doing. It seemed to involve a lot of stepping and then kicking and jumping around to start the process all over again.

She was not drunk enough for that. Yet.

"I think Benji dared him. Or Cami did. Or, actually, maybe Lei' actually started it. What's a nutbush anyway?"

In typical fashion, the redhead was talking a mile-a-minute but Jeassaho, having been to enough girls' nights to build a decently accurate impression, was unlikely to mistake normal levels of Delaney-hype for drunkenness. The Irishwoman was a self-proclaimed disgrace to her heritage and got very messy, very quickly if she didn't pace herself. The size of her red drink didn't hold out much hope but, for now, Laney hadn't fallen over.

Yet.

“He isn’t even drunk.” The Betazoid commented as if it was practically normal and not at all strange to see her brother doing what he did. She glanced up at Delaney and smiled softly as she sipped on her own red drink. She had no idea what it was but it was freely available and she needed something to take the edge off what she was feeling.. “You are a good influence on him but I am sure you can not stop him doing all the silly things he does to avoid being sensible.”

"I don't want to stop him." Stretched out, Delaney crossed one leg over the other and allowed her free arm to dangle over the side. From this exaggerated resting pose, she settled her glass on her stomach and tilted her head to the side to smile at the dancing security officer through a gap. "There's enough sensible in the universe for us all to drown in it, give me silly any day." Having somehow located a straw from somewhere, Laney stuck out her tongue to battle with it several times before drawing it in for a long sip. Then, glancing over at the older woman, she hunched a shoulder. "At least at appropriate times," she conceded. Turning her head back to watch, Delaney smiled faintly as her eyes tracked another kick-kick-spin. "It's actually nice to see him relaxed."

Jeassaho was glad the woman conceded there was a time and place for those silliness. “He isn’t relaxed. Still a coiled spring ready to jump into action the second there is any hint of mischief. More the pity. Nothing anyone can do right now. Have to rely on a shuttle and the ship ability to tug us through the storm.” Jeassaho said with a shrug as there was a moments vibration before it disappeared.

Keen eyes studied the woman as a sideways glance before Delaney looked back towards the impromptu dancefloor with slightly more intent. Having already raised the topic of psionic awareness with Leiddem several times, Laney had not really kept it a secret that the concept fascinated her, nor that she was perhaps a little frustrated that such a potent and, above all, informative means of conversation was likely beyond her skill-set. She had no desire to intrude, just as Leiddem kept himself bound by strict personal protocol, but a lifetime of not caring what other people thought of her hadn't prepared Delaney for suddenly having a very specific reason to care what people thought of themselves. One person, at least. He looked relaxed. Apparently he could still fool her. She smiled, a little on the rueful side.

"When I first arrived, I don't think he even pretended to relax. So I guess it's progress of sorts."

“He is doing it so others relax I believe.” Jeassaho said with a shrug. “I know my brother. He might be a complete jock most of the time but he is a sweetheart under it all. Why he winds people up so often cause he is good. There are many reasons why he was a good marine.” Jeassaho was surprised after the incident with Roberson that he had not left but it was becoming obvious why he had not now.

"I know he is."

The soft agreement was accompanied by an even softer smile as Delaney kept her gaze fixated on the dancefloor, and the sudden change in movement that seemed now to involve the flailing of arms accompanied by the waving of hips. Finding the soft heart beneath Leiddem's intensity had been her favourite part of this entire adventure, which had elongated well past what Delaney had originally assumed would be her tolerance for this kind of lifestyle. It was rustic, if that's the way you wanted to look at it, and it came with the risk of cabin fever if the scenery didn't change frequently enough, but she'd been serious when she'd demanded Leiddem drag her along if he ever chose to leave. As much as she was still trying to process her own sincerity, Delaney had reached a point where she at least accepted she wouldn't be okay if he was gone.

Which was a nerve-wracking rabbit hole, if she was honest.

Glancing back across at the older woman, Delaney took a long sip through her straw and, in the interest of not dredging up old baggage to ruin her mood, considered instead what it must take to keep a relationship together when home base was a ship that was constantly in motion. Back home, her family was part of the landscape, dug so deep into the peat that you could dig for generations and still not reach the end of the line. The concept of 'home' was a very concrete, fixed point. Out here, there was the constant threat of relocation, continual momentum, and whilst that actually suited Delaney's personality, it was also...odd. Confronting at times. She hadn't been successful in preserving a relationship 'long distance' when they'd both been on the same planet; how the hell did people make this work when they were galivanting all over the galaxy?

A spark of revelation, quite a feat for Delaney at times, drew her attention back to Jeassaho. Studying the Betazoid's profile didn't reveal much, except perhaps a very familiar fatigue that could have been attributed to any of them. Laney had never really interacted with the engineer on a one-to-one basis, which seemed silly now that she considered it because Jeassaho's skillset was very similar to her mother's. Not for the first time, and certainly no the last, Laney was confronted by the sensation of pieces clunking into place and she arrived, as she always did, at a sense of sudden empathy feeling foolish for not having considered things sooner.

"How are you holding up anyway?," she asked gently. At least she had practise making up for lost time.

Jeassaho had been enjoying the sudden silence that came with people thinking through thoughts and turned to look at the woman as she finally spoke up. She raised an eyebrow as that was not a question that was asked of her often not because people did not care but because they simply assumed she was fine. She offered a small smile and nodded.

“I am fine. Worried about Reuben but that is something that happens more often than he cares to think anyway.” Jeassaho answered honesty. She was fine, things could be a lot worse on the ship but it was just annoying in a selfish way that she had not been able to celebrate a birthday without some event causing issues.

As Delaney was wont to do when struck by a completely new consideration, she paused to stare, several slow blinks the only interruption to the obvious churn of her thought process. Most of the time, Jeassaho seemed to be built of solid composure. Delaney had never known her to panic or openly fret or display anything other than the utmost confidence and poise. It made complete sense that she'd be preoccupied by her husband's absence given their current situation but Delaney hadn't really expected the other woman to admit to it. She nodded gently.

"It must be hard not having him here."

“Course. Who else in the universe would put up with me.” Jeassaho joked lightly. They have been through to much to just not find it hard without the other on a daily basis but she knew he was safe. The Captain was a lot safer than what they were right now that was for sure.

To hear sentiments that so closely resembled the way she felt about Leiddem at the moment made Delaney grin. Taking another long sip of her drink, she asked, "So, any tips for making relationships work in deep space? Is there some magical recipe for not driving each other crazy?" Though her tone was light, there was a keenness to Laney's eyes that hinted at genuine concern. The more she thought about it, the more she realised this was all brand new to her; conducting a relationship is such close confines wasn't the same as dating a long-time friend and then separating to different universities. That had ended in a rollercoaster of emotional turmoil, though for once Delaney hadn't been the one to hit the self-destruct button. There was less margin for error on a ship, it seemed, and she'd never noticed any friction between the Captain and his better half.

“There is not a magical way to do it. I don’t have any tips or tricks to help you it is just going to work so it does not. Me and Reuben... Well we are a lot more complicated than people realise on the ship. We started in Starfleet and then complications happened that I really do not want to talk about happened.” Jeassaho abated taking about them. “It is only in the last three years that we’ve made things work.” She it was not a situation that came though lack of work or anything.

It was too much not to expect that to immediately pique Delaney's interest. She certainly wouldn't have guessed at those kind of complications, not that she supposed she could have claimed to have watched the pair's relationship with any specific intent. Laney liked the Captain, in that he'd never given her any reason not to; now she was suddenly more curious than she probably ought to have been about who he was beyond the distant authority figure he'd always resembled. "Wow. Okay. Well, whatever you're doing must be working because I had no idea." She glanced back towards the dancefloor, her brow furrowing over another sip. "Part of me is freaking out," she eventually admitted. "My last serious relationship collapsed in a spectacular mess and that was when there was enough distance between us to hide for a while."

“I like to think it is working.” The Betazoid said with a laugh. Rarely anyone onboard other than Leiddem, Dixoho and possibly Nollel who had been onboard for awhile when they had been fighting. “Relationships take work and ours did but we got there. Married and happy apart from right this moment with a universe between us.” Distance is their case made the heart grow fonder. “Leiddem has not ever been this settled in a relationship if that helps. He had grown up recently.” Jeassaho said suddenly feeling like his wingman.

"He's a big part of why I'm still here," Delaney admitted, eyes still trained on the dancefloor as she drew another sip through her straw. "When I signed on here, it was initially just for the 3 months. Rosie's really my first attempt to work in space, I wasn't entirely convinced I'd like it." She turned her gaze to regard the older woman and offered her a half-grin. "You're a pretty decent bunch though and nobody's booted me out of an airlock yet. And he," Delaney returned her gaze to watch her boyfriend attempt to teach a group of others the dance he barely seemed to understand himself, "Has somehow seemed to figure me out. So much for mystique and allure."

With a fond smile, Delaney finally set aside what remained of her drink, since she'd promised herself that she wouldn't over-indulge, and turned in her chair so that she faced Jeassaho better. "So, no advice on how to make a relationship stick out here. How about advice on how to avoid throttling your brother every time he sticks his head into the lion's mouth?"

Jeassaho laughed just a little as she observed Leiddem the ever teacher despite his best efforts to not be a grown up. She knew the woman was watching her and waiting but Jeassaho did not not overly have an answer to that. “You do not need my advice on making a relationship stick Delaney. You caught Leiddem without advice, just keep doing what you are doing. Oh I throttle. It is easier.” Jeassaho admitted. “Or set Reuben on him. He seems to find him scary. Might be the Starfleet in them still or the male thing.” Jeassaho could not claim to understand it all.

"Is that why he doesn't argue with him more about being given proper command of Security?" Having already attempted the conversation a couple of times with Leiddem, Delaney knew well enough that she wasn't likely to make him budge but, even from just the point of view of someone who had to work in the department, it was frustrating enough to bring up in the company of someone who might at least be able to knock both their heads together.

“He does not argue because he knows Reuben will never back down from that rule. I am not chief engineer though I was chief engineer and Executive Officer on a Starfleet vessel whisky he was off swanning around the universe..” Jeassaho had made peace with it a long time ago. She had thought Leiddem had to or was this a case of his girlfriend pushing the subject.

"He says he doesn't mind," Delaney confirmed without realising she was answering an unspoken question. "So I suppose I'll have to let it go. It's just that the department runs so much better when it's basically him in charge." Watching the distant dance lesson for a moment, Delaney gestured towards it and hunched a shoulder. "I mean, look at him. I know he worries that people dismiss him as a soldier with a thick head, but there's plenty of good brains there." Her lips curled into an impish grin. "Even if you do have to dig a while to find them."

“He really does not mind.” Jeassaho assured. “If people dismiss him it is on them and their own insecurities or jealousies.” She knew that had happened in the past but that was not on him but on then. “Oh you have to dig for sure but it is there.” The woman was still not sure what in the universe the man thought on sometimes between wanting to explore Holoworld to meet an attractive voice or the fact he went up against the former armoury chief on principle.

"It feels safer when he's calling the shots."

This admission was not perhaps something Delaney would have confessed to Leiddem but she was half-a-glass of 'red stuff' down and erring towards feeling grateful rather than melancholy. The sudden rush of warmth, coupled by the sense of being slightly overwhelmed that accompanied it a lot lately, lulled Laney into a reflective silence for all of several seconds. Then, reaching for her drink again, she regarded the other woman over the top of an overstated slurp. "So, why engineering then?"

It was, of course, the kind of complete change of topic anyone who had ever drank with Delaney had come to expect.

"I think Lei' said your family is full of doctors? Nurses? Something medical?"

“Oh they are all doctors other than me and him.” Jeassaho assured quickly. It was easy to see why it was a question to ask from her, she was trying to understand the family dynamics. “A lot of Betazoids are more in healing professions within in Starfleet due to our nature but I never could stand people to much. I always preferred fixing and playing with technology. So I went with engineering and Leiddem had the brains for nursing to be fair he got the qualifications but decided he wanted something more so became a medic in the marines.” It was easy to forget the man had nursing qualifications alongside his kick ass abilities.

Wide-eyed, Delaney allowed her gaze to flit from point to point, lifted upwards towards the ceiling to fossick through her memory. "You know," she eventually said, "I think he did tell me that once. No, right, he did!" Her face scrunched, exaggeratedly animated, which was the performance aspect of her descent into tipsiness usually. Once an actress... "Oh man, you know, I haven't thought about that for a while but it was about the time he and I stopped communicating entirely via fake insults and actually swapped personal information. I remember thinking it explained a lot. He's such a soldier until he isn't." Not entirely in control of the goofy smile of deep affection that followed, Laney sighed happily as she slouched back down with her drink to watch the end of the dance.

“You are drunk.” Jeassaho said simply with a smile. It was adorable to hear someone talk about her brother in that way that she did. It was nice to hear someone else felt so strongly about him like she did.

A single index finger was extended in protest, a correction that was of the utmost importance. "No, because I'm still mostly coherent." Sloshing around the last of her drink, Laney nevertheless peered into the bright crimson contents, and the stained remains it had left behind in the sides of her tumbler, and conceded, "Though it's probably best I don't have another one."

Pulling out the straw, Delaney sucked the drips from the end and then finished the rest of her drink in one gulp. "For what it's worth, engineering is preferable to medicine any day. Got this close," she indicated with a thumb and forefinger, "to following mother dearest down that path myself but, call me greedy, I like being able to do everything. Not that anyone's really let me fly the ship yet."

“Reuben just still have a point where he says to everyone.” The woman advised with a smirk. Everyone deserves a chance to try something new but even her husband knew some points that not everyone could try something new there was a point where even the most robust personality couldn’t fly starship with out specialist training.

"Come on, what's the worst that could happen?" Delaney grinned, more than aware of at least several things. Nevertheless, she gestured with a hand around the room. "We've already got some emergency procedures training in, and I probably won't drive us through a neutron star."

“Still pretty sure the answer is no. If he won’t let me he is certainly not going to let you.” Jeassaho snorted taking a small sip from her drink as she thought about the worst case scenarios. “You might want to go get him before he starts a new dance.” Jeassaho hinted as the song ended and Leiddem looked around for his next victim.

"What, and spoil all his fun?" Regardless of her seeming lack of concern, Delaney groaned at the effort to extract herself from the chair and snatched up her empty cup and straw. She hesitated, lingering long enough to smile and say, "Come bug me if you ever want to talk." Already walking backwards, Laney added, "We can swap guess-what-he-did-this-time stories," before bumping into someone and then weaving her way to rescue the rest of the dancefloor from Leiddem's nefarious plotting.

"You're sweaty," she protested playfully, arms wrapped around his neck from behind. In less cramped confines, she probably would have claimed the piggyback, having developed the tendency over the past months of obvious flirting. Instead, Delaney slid around and ducked under Leiddem's arm to grasp him firmly around the waist and settle into an embrace with chin tilted back. Perhaps at some point it would occur to her that it was a very open and public display of affection but the nice red drink was telling her it was fine. "Hey. Having fun?"

“I’m always sweaty and a bit smelly at the moment.” The man commented slightly surprised with her almost claiming him in an embrace. It was a subtle change in them but he did smile at the change and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Course I am. Get to show off.” Though he did wish he could have a sonic shower or even a water shower it would make him feel better but he could imagine that everyone was feeling similar but he was trying to put on a brave face. He glanced over as he saw Jeassaho and waved at her.

"Ah, your favourite hobby." Grinning, Delaney tracked his gaze and gave a sideways glance to check Leiddem's expression. She was less concerned that the siblings were swapping silent updates than she was simply curious. "She's pretty brave," the redhead observed quietly. "You wouldn't know to look at her that her husband is knee-deep in his own mess somewhere else."

“A guy has to have a hobby.” He said simply. “Bravest woman I know, Lan. Even more so than you.” Leiddem could not help but admire his sister. She really was the biggest badass he knew. “We don’t know, he might not be in a mess.” The Betazoid said brightly as he looked from his sister to the woman.

Delaney smiled at that, for no other reason than the affirmation that his first impulse was always to choose the glass-half-full was exactly why she was hugging him in the middle of a crowded room. "Whatever he's up to, I'm sure he's got it well and truly in hand," she agreed. "You tried the punch yet?" She dropped an arm from his waist to hold up the plastic tumbler dangling from one hand, waggling it to prove it was empty. "I don't know what's in it but I'm sure not having any more." There was a slight possibility her choice of drinking vessel was slightly bigger than a standard drink.

“Pretty sure it’s just a combination of whatever they could find.” Leiddem admitted taking her tumbler moving to where the punch was and refilling it. He looked at it testing the smell before having a sip. “Yeah…” he cough as the small amount burned slightly. “I hope Gregnol has way better booze than this.” He added not having ignored what she had said about his brother in law but it was hard to answer when all he knew was it was Fenris rangers related.

Rising on tiptoe to steal an ill-advised sip, Delaney nevertheless moderated herself to just the one act of liquid theft and then turned, one arm still around his waist, to get a better scan of the room. "Everyone seems to be having fun at least." Allowing her gaze to settle on a distant figure hovering on the outskirts, Delaney frowned. "Well, almost everyone…

 

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