d. William Roberts
They walked hand in hand after the sumptuous fare of the fine dinner restaurant. The scent of her perfume filled his emotions, robbing them of reason. There was the door to her quarters. Their eyes told each other of the fine time they had had and her green eyes told him of more to come. Closing his eyes, he leaned forward for the kiss her pouting mouth had just hinted at.
"Sir?" she asked in a man's voice.
"What?" he asked, his kiss forgotten, doubt and just a little disgust replacing his love. The male voice was familiar, too familiar.
"Sir!" This time there was a persistent tapping sound.
He pulled back, his kiss forgotten. "My God. You sound just like the chief of my torpedo battery."
"I am," the male voice said, eerily coming from the woman's mouth.
The room shook and disappeared. Lieutenant Shaun Kelsey found himself on the deck. The last thing he remembered he had been sitting at the control station of his torpedo battery, watching Chief Hchisherasch put the crew through yet another mock attack exercise. They'd been at it all morning and nothing seemed to satisfy the Tellarite.
He must have dosed off, though he didn't remember doing so, and Hchisherasch had caught him. Embarrassed, Kelsey picked himself up from the floor, hoping the chief didn't note his body's reaction to the explicit day-dream as it quickly ebbed.
"Yes, chief. What is it?" he said, ignoring what had just happened.
"Rutting animal, you went to sleep. Why don't you sleep when you're off duty, sir?" Hchisherasch demanded.
Kelsey ignored the apparent insubordination. He'd long gotten used to the Tellarite form of polite speech. "Dung of a slime devil, you interrupted something very important. I'm sorry, Chief. Being the junior officer of the command section has me jumping. They're giving me so much to do; I don't ever seem to get enough rest." But that's a personal problem, and Hchish doesn't want to know about that, he thought, changing the subject. "How'd they do?"
Hchisherasch snorted derisively. "Still too slow, but they'll outgun Tube One with their eyes shut and one arm tied behind their back."
Kelsey nodded and smiled. Lieutenant Kevin Riley commanded Tube One, and they had an on-going wager about the performance of their sections. So far they were dead even. "Good, Chief. Thanks."
Hchish sidled up close and talked just above a whisper. "Was the sow good?" he snorted slightly, his porcine snouted mouth pulling up into a Tellarite smile.
"Er-Hmm," Kelsey cleared his throat, embarrassed all over again, and just a little bit bothered by his using the derogatory Tellarite word for the female of their species.
"Lieutenant Williams, again?" Hchish asked.
"Er-Hmm," Kelsey repeated, unable to comment, but feeling his face color.
Hchish laughed out-loud. "Humans! You hide your feelings when you shouldn't and display the ones you should hide. Why don't you just tell her what you want? If there was a sow here I wanted, I would."
Kelsey noted the rest of the section listening in with more than just a little amusement showing on their faces. This had to end, though he knew he was giving Hchish more than a little satisfaction. Switching to Tellarite polite, he concluded the subject. "Because, son of a K'Leicharu, waste of a blood worm, that's not how Humans do it." Then, lowering his voice, he continued. "Because Human males can't tell if a woman--" He emphasized the Human word for a female, hoping Hchish would get the hint and stop calling her a sow. He didn't know why, but hearing Arlene being called a sow raised his hackles, even though he fought the reaction. "--wants to be with them, and they don't want to hurt her, or be hurt by her."
Hchish shrugged and snorted. "No matter, sir. If the woman," he also emphasized the word, "doesn't know of your wants, she cannot make the decision of whether to respond. Why don't you ask her?" he responded, refusing to let Kelsey off the hook.
Kelsey shrugged, embarrassed by his lack of courage. "I don't know." Lieutenant Williams' image flashed across his mind's eye. She had dark brown hair, dark green eyes and a figure that yelled at you across the room. He didn't feel adequate to even stand in her shadow let alone talk to her.
"So how do you know she will reject you?" Hchish persisted.
"You're right, you illegitimate son of a wallowing sow, I don't know. Can we drop this now?" Kelsey was tired of being embarrassed.
"Not until you tell me you will talk to her. You need to know, and until you do, your attention will not be here," his tri-cloven hand pointed to the deck, "when it needs to be."
"Okay, Mister Hchish," Kelsey acquiesced.
A chuckle from the rest of the crew drew Hchish's attention to them. "What are you dung looking at? Get back to work." Before he joined them, he returned to Kelsey. "Soon, sir." He walked away, mumbling something about Human traits under his breath.
One last glimpse of the dream scene intruded upon his consciousness. Kelsey smiled, thinking, He's right. I want her bad, and she'll never know how much if I don't at least introduce myself.He decided he would do just that as soon as his shift was over, then put it on the back burner, putting all his attention to the drills.
But all his reservations came back as soon as he walked from the battery at the end of his shift. Why would she want anything to do with me, the son of a nothing Irish family? He saw Riley leaving his battery at the same time. Remembering all the stories the other Lieutenant was always telling about his conquests in the realm of female interests, he decided to ask him what would be the best way to proceed. "Kevin?"
"Shaunie, boy. How are you today?"
Kelsey ignored the thick Irish accent Kevin Riley put on, choosing not to do the same. "Fine."
"And your battery? Are they ready to sit in the shadow of mine?"
Kelsey bristled at the challenge. "They've beat your battery nearly every drill Mister Sulu's put us through in the last week. What are you talking about?"
"Luck, me boy, pure and simple, beginner's luck. You'll see what a real torpedo battery can do during the next drill."
Kelsey's saw the mirth and challenge in the Irishman's eyes and laughed himself. "Yeah, we'll see," he said finally, then let his continence drop.
"What's the problem now, boy-o?" Riley asked, noting Kelsey's downcast look. "You've got to stop letting Mister Spock get to you."
"Nah, it's not Mister Spock."
"Then what could possibly fluster the hero of..."Riley started.
Kelsey cut him off with a swipe of his hand, then looked around to see who might overhear what he was about to ask. "It's nothing professional."
"Then," Riley said, his facing showing the confusion he felt. Then, a light seemed to go on in his eyes as he guessed at what was bothering his friend. "Ah, it's a lass."
Kelsey's face showed the surprise he felt at Riley's correct guess. "How ..."
"I'm right, aren't I, boy-o?"
Well, yes, but ..."
"What else occupies an Irishman's fancy if it's not his job, but someone of the fairer sex?"
Kelsey chuckled nervously, knowing his face was blushing a bit. "Well, ah, I guess."
"And you want ol' Kev to give you some helpful hints on how to proceed to woo the wee lass?" He started walking again.
And Kelsey followed. "Yes, I guess that's what I'd like. She's so beautiful, and I don't think she even knows I exist."
"She snubbed you?" Riley exploded. "A fellow Irishman? You aren't trying to cuckold a bloody Redcoat girl?
"Because she's not worth it, boy-o."
"No. You don't understand, Kevin," Kelsey stammered trying to get Riley to lower his voice, embarrassed by Riley's voicing the traditional prejudice of their shared Human race.
"What did she say to you when you ask her out?" Riley looked down, concern clouding his face.
"Well, I ..."
"Come on, Shaun me boy. What she say?"
"Well?" Kelsey couldn't figure out how to say the answer to that.
Riley sputtered with the beginnings of laughter. "You have talked to her haven't you?"
Riley exploded with laughter, guffawing like he was in a pub on a Friday night.
This wasn't going well and Kelsey felt more than a little bit embarrassed. He made a shoving motion with his hands at Riley and started to walk away. "Never mind, Kevin. I don't think you can help."
"I'm sorry, Shaun," Riley lurched forward, catching up with the retreating Kelsey. "Look, boy-o, I think I can help."
"How?" Kelsey stated, doubt filling his voice.
"Well, it just happens that I'm wooing a wee one meself right now and what works for me, will no doubt work for you."
Kelsey thought about that for a moment, wondering if it would be wise to use any of Riley's tactics. What should I do instead? he thought as he made up his mind. "Okay, Kev, what's first?"
"You gotta get her to notice you first."
"That's what my chief said."
"Well, not exactly, but ..."
"Well, for once I agree with 'poor excuse for swill,'" Riley made a mocking attempt at Tellarite polite speech, then continued. "To do that, you've got to give her something the wee lasses love."
"Hmm, I see, sort of like a ground breaker."
"That's right, only when you say it that way it takes all the romance out of it. Loosen up, Shaun. It's more like a thawing process using the warmth of your attraction."
Kelsey's eyebrows came together to form one dark line above his eyes.
"Send her a card, or some flowers. Roses always work for me. Red roses."
"Send them," Kelsey like the idea, but wasn't sure how it would get him where he wanted to be.
"Or give them to her," Riley added, watching his fellow Irishman's reaction.
That idea scared Kelsey, and he showed it.
"What, you'll fight Romulans hand-to-hand, but aren't brave enough to talk to a girl?"
"I know what to expect from a Romulan, but not--"
"And you're not sure who'll hurt you more."
"Right," Kelsey answered. "Physical wounds hurt, but heal. Wounds of the heart last forever."
"Are you so sure she would hurt you?"
"I love her so much already," Kelsey sorrowed, "I don't know what I'd do if she--"
"Isn't as lovely in person as you've painted her?" Riley interjected.
"I...I..." Kelsey pouted for a moment, deep in thought. "I've never thought about that, but maybe."
"Yeah, maybe she's some sort of harridan," Riley changed his voice into a mocking, high pitch falsetto with a typical witchy sound to it, "with a shrill voice that sends chills up your spine like scraping your finger nails on a chalk board."
"Yeah," Kelsey saw the mind picture of Lieutenant Williams that he carried in his head change. A wart formed on her nose, and her full-bodied black hair was streaked with grey.
"Maybe she's a gossip with the other girls of the ship, ripping her prey apart with her sharp tongue."
Kelsey continued to walk toward the dining facility as he contemplated this newest description by Riley. His mind picture changed again and claws formed on her hands, and an evil smile formed on her face. "Yeah, maybe."
"Maybe she'll latch onto you and before you know it, you'll be hitched, and she'll have three kids on her suddenly more than ample hips."
Again the mind picture changed, only this time he was coming to his quarters after a shift and she met him at the door, her shrill voice grating on his ears. He grimaced as the picture changed.
Riley saw the change. "Yep, you never know. Women can fool you."
They were just coming up on the open door of the dining facility, and they could hear the voices and laughter of the people already in there, and the chink of silverware.
"Yeah, you're right," Kelsey finally said as they both turned to enter the room. He looked up, his mind made up not to introduce himself to the woman that only moments earlier he'd worked himself up to approaching, and there she was, sitting at a table, not more than four meters away, with some of the other women of the crew.
"Yeah, maybe she'll..." Riley noted that Kelsey wasn't still next him and turned to find him staring. "What the--" He came up next to Kelsey and looked into the same direction his friend was looking and found what the other was looking at. "Lieutenant Williams, eh. Had me eyes on her more than once meself," he whispered to himself, admiring the raven haired beauty. He took hold of Kelsey by the arm and pulled him toward the food dispenser. "We've got to talk, boy-o."
"Yeah, of course, of course."
Riley pulled his tray of food from the dispenser and started to find an open seat. "There's one over..."Suddenly he noted Kelsey wasn't next to him anymore, but was standing in front of the dispenser, his back to it, his eyes still glued to Williams. He came back and shook Kelsey by the arm. "Boy-o, you've got it bad."
"What?" Kelsey stammered, finally blinking his eyes and focusing on Riley.
"Get your food, you twitter-pated fool and come with me."
Kelsey suddenly got angry. Pulling the tray of food from the dispenser, he charged after Riley. "What you call me?"
"I called you a fool."
"Why?" Now Kelsey was angry. "Because I'm in love with a beautiful woman?"
"No, because your cowardice is going to let her get away."
"Who are you calling a coward, you Irish clown?" Kelsey's voice began to get louder.
Riley noted the reaction of those at the tables around them. "Keep your voice down."
"You'll not be calling me a coward, Mister Kevin Riley. I'll have you know I've ..."
Riley stopped him with a finger pointing at Kelsey's nose. "It doesn't matter one wit what you've done up till now if you can't find the courage to do a simple thing like talking to a woman."
"But she's so beautiful," Kelsey said, his voice volume back down to barely a whisper. "I don't deserve even the slightest of her attentions."
Kelsey's hand clamped over his friend's mouth before he could finish the word. "Stop it."
Riley pulled the hand away forcefully. "Don't you ever do that again, boy-o, or fellow Irishmen or not, we're going to fight."
"I'm sorry, Kevin. It's driving me nuts."
"Then go over there and talk to her."
"I can't. What if I stammer, and she laughs at me? What if I trip over my own feet on the way over? There's no way I can expect her to want anything to do with me."
If I can't shame him into just walking over and talking to her, maybe a different tack, Riley thought as he watched his friend's misery play across his face. "Have you thought that maybe she's always wanted to meet you and was too afraid herself?"
Kelsey's face showed the thoughts that were playing through his mind. Then they set with his mouth turned down. "That's bull--"
This time Riley clamped a hand over Kelsey's mouth. "Shhh."
Kelsey ripped it away with no less vehemence than Riley a moment earlier. "I can't believe that," Kelsey asked forlornly.
"How do you know?"
"I just do."
"Have you asked her?"
"Nooo," Kelsey answered, his voice full of misery.
Riley nudged his friend's arm. "Well go and ask her?"
"What? If she's always wanted to meet me?"
"Of course not."
"You're a fool, Shaun Kelsey," Riley responded, his voice full of ridicule.
"Be careful, Riley. I'll smack that ridiculous smile off your face."
"Yeah. You and what Starfleet?"
"Don't mock me, Kevin; you know I can do it." Kelsey's voice was filled with threat, his anger building.
"It wouldn't take but one fellow Irishman to take you, boy-o."
"And you think you're the one, eh, me buck-o?" Kelsey stood up. "You want to accompany me to the gym and find out."
That's how I'll get him over this, the challenge sparking an idea. Though this has the promise of some pain on my part. "You go ahead and go. Warm up. Strap on the gloves. I'll be there shortly."
"You will, will you. What are you going to do, update your will first?"
"Nope, I'm going over there," he pointed at Williams, "and steal her heart away first."
"What?" Kelsey practically screamed.
The whole facility quieted with the threat of violence in the air.
"You heard what I said. If you don't, then I will, you fool of an Irishman."
Kelsey jumped to his feet, throwing his chair onto its back. Reaching across the table, he grabbed Riley by the shirt front and pulled him so close that their noses almost touched. "You do that, and I'll take you apart," he hissed threateningly.
"Then do it yourself, boy-o," Riley hissed back. "I have no real interest, but look at you. If you would use just one smidgen of the bravery your showing right now, you'd be over there, sitting across from her having a pleasant little chat, instead of embarrassing yourself by talking to the likes of me." Riley quickly looked around and said for the rest of the hall. "Sorry, you know the competition between our two torpedo batteries." Riley chuckled, nodding his head toward Kelsey.
The room exploded into nervous laughter. The competition was common knowledge.
Kelsey relaxed his grip on Riley's shirt and laughed. "That's right, Mister Riley, and they also know whose battery is best."
"That a fact?" Riley bantered. "Well we'll just see." Holding up his glass, he began a toast. "To our batteries, may the best team win."
"To our batteries," Kelsey offered.
They drank the toast and sat. Kelsey had to right his chair first.
Once the facility had retured to its normal din, Riley broke the silence between them. "Now go over there and introduce yourself."
"But, what if--"
"I'm going to--"
Kelsey was on his feet. "No, you don't, boy-o."
Riley did little but motion with both hands as to present Lieutenant Williams and mouthed. "Sic, em."
Kelsey's stride for the first two steps was filled with urgency, then he saw Williams and it slowed as his confidence quickly ebbed. Now, you've done it, Shaun, he thought. Let your big Irish mouth get you into another big fix.
He walked up to her table and stood next to her. Well, he it goes, he thought, the biggest clown act in the universe. "Ahem," he started, "Lieutenant Williams?" in a voice that sounded like a mouse's squeak to his own ears.
The big green eyes of Arlene Williams looked up, melting any resolve he'd felt a moment earlier.
"Yes," she said, her soft voice filled with invitation.
Not shrill or anything like what Riley said, he thought before continuing. "Excuse me, but is this seat taken?" he asked, indicating the empty seat next to her.
The two other women that a moment earlier had been talking to each other traded looks of appreciation at the question then looked at Williams to see her response.
"No, of course not. Be my guest," Williams answered, her style of speech tinged with a British accent. "Lieutenant Kelsey, isn't it?"
"Yes, ma'am," he answered. "Thank you, ma'am."
"You'll excuse us," one of the two others offered as they stood up.
"You don't have to..." Kelsey began, embarrassed.
"That's okay; we had to go anyway," she said, but both their eyes turning toward Williams. "Good luck," the one mouthed.
Kelsey saw the communication and turned to look at Williams in time to see her finish, "Thanks." He became even more nervous. "So," he said as he sat, putting his tray down.
"So," she responded.
"Nice day we're having," he said, regretting its stupidity almost as soon as he'd said it.
"Yes, it is."
"Are you from England?" Kelsey asked, taking advantage of the first thing he'd noted about her voice.
"Sort of," she answered, the continued when she saw his look of confusion, "Wales actually. You're from Scotland?"
"Nay, lass. Ireland."
"I wasn't sure."
"That's okay, many mistake the two accents."
There was a long pause.
Now what do I say? Kelsey thought as he wrung his hands in front of him. "I see you're in the science section." It was pretty obvious by her uniform, but it was the only thing Kelsey could think of.
"Yes, the botanical research center. You're in the command section?"
That's pretty obvious by my gold uniform, Kelsey thought. He then realized, She's as nervous as I am. "Yeah, I am, in charge of the Torpedo Battery Number Two."
"That's nice," she said, her gaze wondering to her plate.
"Are you off duty now?" Kelsey blurted out, not knowing why and now feeling like he was being to forward now for some reason.
"Yes," she answered.
"Would you like to go for a walk with me on the observation deck?" he asked. When he saw her start a bit, he felt way too forward and changed it to, "or the arboretum would be nice."
"No, the observation deck would be just fine," she said and stood up gathering her tray.
Kelsey followed her and deposited his tray. They walked toward the door together. Kelsey felt like he was floating a foot above the floor. She had said yes. Then he heard a familiar voice.
He looked over to see Riley with his thumb in the air, mouthing, "Good luck."
"Thanks," he mouthed back and followed Williams into the corridor, quickly taking up a position next to her. "What's your favorite flower, Arlene? Can I call you 'Arlene'?"
"Ah, yes, if I can call you, er, Shaun is it?"
"Roses, my favorite flowers are roses."
"Oh, yeah, yeah. How do you go about growing..."
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