Episode 6: War Crimes
Location: Nogura Guest Quarters
Timeline: MD135, 1530 Hours
Hanson stormed through the doors of his guest quarters on the Nogura and kicked off his shoes, hurling them towards the window on the opposite wall of the private abode. He had come straight from the inquest into the recent events and had not enjoyed the process at all. He had been questioned, queried and had his orders and advice criticised. He had been (in private) chastised for not using his rank to take over and more specifically, his advice not to chase down the terrorists in the Corridor. Then of course there was the apparent pardon that had been granted to Nathan Hunter by the Judge Advocate General. How the hell would he justify that to Andrea? It had to come from him before she heard it on the grape vine somewhere. Walking into his bedroom, he noted that she was not present and slumped to the bed, laying staring at the ceiling.
It would be near an hour later that Andy would finally return to their quarters. Thalek th’Zorati had apparently done quite the number to Nogura, and even all these weeks later they were still finding evidence of his machinations, and as one of the Engineers who had helped build the Nogura, so it had fallen to Andy to inspect as much of the ship as she could to make sure that all was well with her baby. As she entered the doors of their shared quarters, her intent had been to grab a shower before going to get JP from school, but she saw the boots thrown across the room and knew something bad had happened.
“Mitch?” the former drone called out as she peeled her sweaty duty jacket off. She peeked into his room and saw him sprawled out on the bed, then she sighed. “That bad, huh?”
“Worse…” he muttered quietly without moving.
With another sigh, Andy entered the room and tossed her jacket and then her yellow shirt onto a chair in the corner. “Jacket, shirt, off,” she said as she kicked off her boots and approached the bed. “Don’t worry, I ain’t tryna get into your pants, just gonna help you work out some of this tension while you unburden yourself,” she assured him.
Mitch huffed and puffed as he hauled himself upright and pulled his uniform jacket off, tossing it onto the nearby chair, swiftly followed by his red uniform undershirt. Before long, the Admiral was face down on the bed, resting his chin on his hands as he stared at the bulkhead in front. “Sitak ended the inquest today,” he revealed quietly, subdued.
“I heard,” Andy replied as she climbed on the bed and straddled his backside, then she leaned forward and began to work the knots and tension out of the muscles in his shoulders and back. “Tell me what you can,” she said softly as her hands worked their magic.
“Drayton and Tara were cleared of any wrongdoing. The blame was firmly placed on th’Zorati,” the older man told. “Sitak and the others clearly felt there was more that could have been done by others involved,” he huffed.
For a while, Andy said nothing, instead pondering his words as she rubbed at tired old muscles, moving her metal-tipped fingers up to his neck to focus on some knots that were no doubt giving him a headache, or at least contributing to a headache already in progress. “Remember when we were back on the Lexi and sometimes you would get conflicted about how to chastise me?” she said. “And I don’t just mean because of our relationship, you knew why I was acting out, you understood it was part of the healing process, but you still had to discipline me. We both had to come to an understanding that sometimes things needed to be said that neither of us was gonna like. Is it possible that you weren’t being blamed in the inquest, that it was something that needed to be said simply for the record?” Andy offered.
Mitch abruptly turned his torso to face his woman and looked at her with scorn filled eyes. “I was criticised for not taking command and hunting the bastards down. A Vulcan wanted me to usurp command from Tara and hunt the traitor and his accomplice down,” he told before returning to his previous position. “I hate Vulcan’s…” he muttered under his breath.
“Wait, I thought you liked Surak,” Andy remarked as she resumed massaging Mitch’s neck and shoulders, her reference being to his first Executive Officer on the Lexington.
“I changed my mind,” he moaned like a petulant child who had been told off by his parent.
Andy chuckled at his response, but then she grew serious as she watched him for a moment. “Didn’t mean to minimize the implications of what they may have said and make you mad, just thought a different perspective would help,” she said as a way of apologizing. “We both know they have to be critical of some decisions to make sure that everything possible was being done. Maybe if you weren’t there, they’d have been more critical of Drayton for not taking command, it was just the luck of the draw that this happened while we were on board.”
“I don’t think I can do this shit anymore…” he sighed in response as he felt her working the kinks out of his back.
“Do what?” Andy asked cautiously as her hands slowed to a halt.
Mitch turned his entire body around so he was now being straddled and he was looking up at his partner. “The job, this job. I’ve been pushed from pillar to post for months, one assignment to another. Starfleet isn’t what it used to be anymore and I’m fed up,” he explained, clearly frustrated at the situation he found himself in.
“Wow…” Andy said with surprise. It wasn’t like she’d never seen Mitch doubt himself before, but never like this; although he wasn’t so much doubting himself as he was his commitment to Starfleet. “How long have you felt this way?” she asked as she resumed massaging his neck, the new position proving to be more favorable for the knot she was working out.
“A while,” he confessed, “I applied for a new posting on Earth a few months ago, before you guys were back in my life, to try and get a bit of stability going. Despite my past, I wasn’t the right fit for the role,” he frowned.
“To be fair, we did take you away from any chance of making a good fit,” Andy said meekly, but she understood what he meant. “So… are you seriously thinking about retiring?”
“Why not?” Suddenly, his frown had evaporated as he sat up and rested on his elbows. “Imagine, if I retired and you resigned, we could go wherever we wanted, do whatever we wanted. Not to mention the fact that we could give JP a better life than he is having at the minute, going from place to place,” the older man almost sounded excited at the prospect.
“Wow,” Andy felt herself saying; the whole moment felt disembodyingly surreal and eerily familiar to the offer he’d once made her a long time ago. “I… I don’t know… I won’t deny that it does sound tempting, but I was finally starting to work towards earning a commission,” she admitted. After a moment of hesitation, she then asked, “For my part in this, can I have some time to think about it?” It wasn’t the outright rejection she’d given him years before, but last time she’d known for a while that Mitch would be moving on from the Lexington so she had been somewhat prepared for his offer, but now she was completely blindsided and she needed time to process and decide what she wanted. And anyway, she still didn’t really know what was going on with ‘them’, because as much as she wanted to jump his bones, there was still a distance between them and she was afraid he might push her away again if she tried to broach that subject too soon.
“Of course,” he nodded, lifting a hand and running it through her hair as he smiled. “I’m not saying we have to do it tomorrow or anything… just… you know… I’m not getting any younger and I was looking to the future for once,” he assured her, or at least tried to.
Andy was surprised by the gentle but familiar contact, and she found herself leaning into the contact as her eyes drifted closed. She wasn’t normally the ‘affectionate’ sort, but she was so afraid to hope that he was finally letting his walls down to let her back in, and she longed to be close to him again. “If you do resign, you’ll stay with us until I can decide what I want?” she asked, letting him hear the vulnerability she felt in needing him so much.
“Of course,” he smiled again before realising he hadn’t told her all his news, “Oh! I forgot. Drayton was given command of Nogura. Him and Tara will be wanting to get underway soon so you need to decide whether to stay or return to Ha’dara. Either way, I’ll be with you,” he told.
Great, more decisions! “Oh, right…” Andy replied, her shoulders slumping; she’d been so busy, it never crossed her mind that she’d have to decide what to do after she’d finished the inspection. Then out of habit, she slumped forward to lay on his chest and rest her head on his shoulder. “I can’t brain anymore today, you brain for me,” she said bluntly, finally remembering how tired she was now that she wasn’t so focused on his problems.
Subconsciously, the Admiral lifted his hand again and stroked her head in a loving gesture but what he did next was purposeful. He lent his head forward as far as he could and planted a kiss on the crown of her head. It wasn’t much, but he hoped she would see it as the gesture he meant it to be - a sign of thawing tensions.
As much as she wanted to lift her head to search his eyes for signs of hope that he was finally working towards reconciliation, the ex-Borg was still too afraid; she had hurt him so badly keeping JP a secret all these years, she didn’t deserve reconciliation or his affection, despite how much she wanted both.
“I miss you,” Andy said in a small voice. “I miss what we used to be…”
Lifting both of his hands, the Admiral gently grasped the sides of her head and lifted it so he could look into her eyes. After a few seconds, he lent forward and placed a gentle kiss on her lips before pulling away slowly. “We’re getting there,” he grinned. In truth, he missed it too. The last few weeks in particular had seen the family become much closer, even if he had yet to play the zombie holodeck game with their shared offspring.
Andy was slow to respond to his kiss, unable to believe that it was even happening, and just as she started to melt into the kiss it was over, and she looked down at him torn between desire and the need to punish herself. Desire eventually won out as she closed the distance for their lips to meet once again; even if all they shared tonight was this one last kiss, it was all she needed to assure her that he was finally warming to her once again.
Whatever awaited them around the corner, one thing was for certain; Hanson had his family back and for that, he was grateful. The lingering kiss an even clearer indication that things were clearly on the up.
Rather abruptly, Andy ripped her lips away from his, her breath heavy and her cheeks flushed with desire. She stared down at him for a moment before resting her forehead against his. “Tell me to go,” she said in a hoarse tone. “Tell me you’re not ready, and I’ll go,” she pleaded with him, ready to tear his clothes off of him if he hesitated too long.
Mitch gazed into her eyes, his own breathing rate increasing as he contemplated where things were headed. Placing his arm around her waist, he flipped her on to her back so that he was on top and in the position of power for once. “If we do this, there is no going back,” he whispered to her.
“I just need to know that this is what you want,” Andy said, reaching up to touch his face lovingly. “I know what I want, but what I don’t want is for you to wake up tomorrow with regret or for things to be awkward again.”
“I’m still here aren’t I?” he smiled before lowering his head for his lips to meet hers once again. If there were regrets to be had, they would not be his… not this time.
As one kiss bled into another, it just happened; the words passed through her lips without any input from her brain: “Marry me.” Hearing those words took her by such surprise that she gazed up at him with fear that she might have pushed ahead too far. And yet, there was a euphoria racing through her at having said those two simple words, and despite her worry she couldn’t stop herself from smiling like a love-struck idiot.
Mitch stared down at her beautiful face and for a split second there was an urge to pull away but then, almost as quickly as she had popped the question, he found himself giving an answer which caught him by surprise also. “If you’re ready to be the wife of an old, retired Admiral, then yes,” he grinned. Their relationship had gone from nought to sixty in a few short moments but it didn’t seem to faze either of them. Surely the path to true love couldn’t be that simple?
“Not ‘an old, retired Admiral,’ just you,” Andy replied in a surprisingly tender tone. Rank had never been an issue between them; sometimes the chain of command made things awkward, but his rank had never been a selling point nor a deterrent, she had always seen through the rank to be with the man, and now was no different. “Just you,” she repeated, then pulled him back down to reignite their kiss. It seemed she was going to be a little late picking up JP from school, but somehow she got the feeling that the boy wouldn’t mind...