Location: Deck 4 - Lt. Sepanova's Quarters
Millie smiled to herself as she pulled the pan of Guluptsie out of the oven, steam rolling off the meat-filled cabbage rolls. It felt nice to be...well, she wasn't entirely sure if she could call it 'home' now that she'd purchased a permanent place of residence near the Bolshoi. That, itself, felt like an oddity. She had...roots. For the first time in her life, there was a hint of permanency.
But here she was, leaving it all behind. She'd moved back into her quarters on the Mercutio a few days before, and had settled in quickly. She'd brought a few food items with her from home, and the dinner she was setting out on the table was part of the resulting 'personal cargo' she'd brought aboard. The rest? Well, a bottle of it was chilling in ice on the counter.
Templar hit the door chime, eager to see the counselor again. He had regretted her departure before their last long disappearance from known space. Her skills would have been greatly utilized considering the stress the mission had put on everyone. It wasn't just that, though. He valued her as a friend and wanted to welcome her back.
"войти!" She called over her shoulder. The doors opened, revealing her dinner companion on the other side. "Vox! I am glad you were able to come!"
Vox stepped through the door and smiled as he gave her a friendly hug. "It's great to see you again, Millie. I trust your quarters aren't as cold as Moscow is this time of year?" He took the opportunity to angle himself to hide what he held in his hand while he waited for her to respond.
"Oh but I miss the snow!" Millie chuckled, returning the hug. "There is something magical about running out into the flurries, and feeling the sting of winter on your skin." She stepped back, smiling. "And how have you been, мой дорогой друг?"
"I've been well, thanks. It's good to be back at Earth. I was beginning to doubt that I'd see it again." He walked further into the room and twirled around to face her again, bringing around his back a bottle of very rare vodka. "Would you know where I'd find a good home for this, by chance?"
Millie laughed. "Great minds think alike, you know." She gestured with her head to the bottle already chilling on the table. She reached out for the vodka, looking over the label. "This is...not an inexpensive gift, Vox. It is...very much appreciated. Shall I..put it on ice?"
He nodded and agreement. "By all means. It was meant to be enjoyed." He took the liberty of stepping over to the couch and having a seat. "Have you run into anyone else since you came aboard?" Obviously, they all knew of her return but that wasn't the same thing.
Millie nodded. "I ran into several of the crew at the wedding, but I have been reacquainting myself with the others since we returned. I have a lot of catching up to do, da?" She began to set food on the dinner table. "And how have you been?"
Vox's mind wandered to thoughts about Stacey and their separation briefly. Few crew knew about it but then again he kept his matters to himself as much as possible on a regular basis. "Oh, just enjoying being back at Earth. I visited San Diego which is beautiful as ever. It is rare to have a bad weather day."
Millie gestured to the table. "Dinner is ready. Will you join me, and maybe you can tell me more about the last year?"
Vox walked over to the table and sat down, placing the napkin in his lap. "Well, I think the big thing was being hurled into another universe without a clear path of getting home. That was... troubling, to say the least."
The Counselor nodded, starting to plate up the 'Russian home-cooking' she was known for. "I had heard. Starfleet contacted me when they lost contact with the Mercutio. I was very relieved when I heard that the ship made it home." She finally seated herself. "Starfleet Command was quick to recall me from leave and reassign me to this crew." She looked up with sincerity. "I am sorry that I could not be here with all of you...to help with the disconnect from home."
"Risk is our business, Millie." He pondered what she said for another moment. "On second thought, just imagine all the 'missing' ships or situations that cause mental heartburn only to have a situation reversed. It can be very stressful on the mind, definitely."
"I am well aware of the risk that comes with our occupations." She gave a gentle smile across the table. "But it is not easy to be the one at home, finding out that the people you... you care about," she paused, "may have been lost."
She cleared her throat, averting her gaze to her food. "I am sure that your family appreciated knowing that you were safe."
Vox avoided responding to that with a simple nod. As the night wore on and the dinner plates became empty, the feelings from the vodka were definitely taking hold as he let out a contented sigh. "That was an amazing dish, Millie. I had no idea that you could cook so well."
Millie refilled her vodka glass. "That is because you tend to avoid coming when I have the senior staff over for dinner gatherings. Perhaps next time, you will--"
A chirp interrupted her thoughts. "Communications to Lieutenant Stepanova."
She tapped her combadge. "Millie here."
"You have an incoming call from Earth."
"Put it through to my quarters." She stood, smiling. "Excuse me for just a moment, Commander. It's probably just the Bolshoi." Millie stepped away from the table, and made a quick dash to her desk. A tap on the console...and her cheerful expression quickly fell.
"Вы знаете, что сделали, маленькая шлюха?" The voice on the com spat.
"Мама? почему ты--?"
"Это было недостаточно для того, чтобы вы уничтожили нашу жизнь вместе, не так ли? Ты порочный маленький--"
Millie's eyes flicked up to her guest, and then back to the screen. "Mama--"
"что? Я держу вас от чего-то важного? Это не похоже на то, что вы делаете что-то важное--"
"У меня есть гость, мама."
"Гость? Ты его трахаешь?"
Millie gasped in shock. "Мама, нет, мы не ... он просто ..."
The caller laughed. "Я знал это, ты наглая маленькая шлюха! Готов поспорить что вы не можете держать свои маленькие шлюзовые ноги закрытыми со всеми мужчинами--"
Millie slammed her hand down on the console, abruptly ending the call. She sat there for a moment, her hand shaking. Taking a deep breath, she walked quickly to the table, grabbed her vodka glass, threw her head back, and downed the whole thing. Pulling the bottle from its ice, she quickly poured another glass, splashing vodka on the table from her rapid pour, and just as quickly downed the second.
She gripped the edge of the table, not sitting. Her eyes locked on her empty glass. "How... how much of that did you...?"
"Bits and pieces... Russian isn't my strong suit. I take it she didn't like that you had company over?" He set his empty glass down on the coffee table and draped one arm over the backrest.
"No." She filled her glass yet again, and downed it in one shot before depositing herself unceremoniously on the other end of the sofa, still not quite making eye contact with Vox.
Vox was trying to come up with something to say to lighten the mood but the alcohol was making things a little fuzzy. "Maybe her opinion shouldn't matter so much... You're an adult. Break the chain that binds you." He smirked to himself and refilled his glass before placing the vodka bottle back on the table.
Millie spun the empty glass between her fingers. "I did. I fired her from the Bolshoi school almost a year ago. It's why I went back to Russia."
“Taking care of business can be difficult when it involves family. A very messy business,” he said as he took another sip. He glanced at her and noticed how lovely her curves were.
Millie snagged the bottle off the table, refilling her glass. “And she was my only family. A vile, venomous woman...and one that will be unable to find a job in any ballet company in this sector.
“And just like that you are free!” He chuckled softly and added, “You can move onward and do whatever you want. Don't let anyone else hold you back in life.” He let out a contented sigh and looked her in the eyes.
Millie’s eyes met his, and she gave a nervous giggle, her cheeks flushing. “And so, now that I am free…”
Vox’s breathing became deeper as his mind swirled in circles. It had been a while since he had really consumed vodka and he may have been a little overzealous in how much. “Yes? What will you do with freedom?”
Millie couldn’t tell if the heat from her cheeks was from the vodka or not...but she downed her whole shot, just for good measure. “Well, for now…” she gestured to her quarters around them, “it looks like you’re stuck with me.”
He leaned in close to her excitedly and nodded several times. “That, my dear counselor, is a big understatement!” He kept smiling as the room turned around the couch ever so slightly as he breathed in her scent.
“And what is that supposed to mean?” she asked with a snicker, poking him in the chest with her index finger.
The verbal and mental filter usually present had long walked out the door as he uttered, “I'm leaving my wife.” He held up his hand to stop her from speaking as he giggled. “Shhh… it’s okay! We are splitting on good terms and all that.” He sighed again and gave her an exaggerated wink.
“Vox…” Millie reached out and took one of his hands, holding it gently. Her doe-brown eyes met his. “I--I don't know what to say.”
He kept his eyes locked on her lips, tracing every curve as he held a finger to his own. “You don't have to say anything, Millie.” At this point his face was mere millimeters from hers. He could feel her breathing on his skin as he then lowered his head faintly to touch his lips to hers for just a moment.
Millie hesitated for a moment, her head swirling with both the emotions and the alcohol. In a brief moment of impulsivity, she pressed up into the kiss.
Her lips sent electricity through him as he tried to breathe in between kisses as he wrapped a hand softly around her waist. This definitely wasn't his intention but it felt so good. And the hesitation inside seemed to disappear.
Millie trembled at the hand around her waist, but slipped her hands around the back of Vox’s neck.
He pulled her gently toward him as he placed his forehead against hers. Letting a breath escape, he drifted his kisses to her cheeks and neck. “I'm sorry if this… is too bold, counselor.”
As the kisses trailed down her neck, Millie felt herself slowly starting to melt. “Don’t… call me ‘counselor’,” her voice whispered.
Saying the word ‘counselor’ suddenly brought a little clarity to the spinning room. He slowly paused the kissing and pulled his lips back as he let out a long sigh. “I probably shouldn’t have done that,” he said with a chuckle.
Her heart pounding in her chest, Millie let her temple rest on his cheek. “It’s… it’s alright.” Her face flushed an even deeper shade of red. “I just--”
He nuzzled her face against him as he closed his eyes. His heart was pounding inside his chest as he felt her warmth. “You just what,” he asked in barely a whisper.
Vox’s whisper made her heart flutter again. “I--” Millie swallowed back the lump in her throat. “I’m not sure that I wanted it to stop.” She let a hand slip around to rest on his chest.
He searched her eyes for answers to the questions within himself but he couldn’t stop the room from spinning. He nuzzled her cheek softly and said, “What if we’re rushing things? This vodka is a little too good.” He grinned to himself and continued, “Maybe we should try something else next time…”
Millie swallowed hard. “Is it because of the vodka?” She paused. “Or… because I’m the ship’s counselor?”
“Maybe a little of both?” He looked away for a moment. “I don't want to push into a situation that we might regret later.”
She reached her other hand up, brushing a strand of black hair from his face, her fingers pausing to trace along one of the implants on his temple. “I am old enough to make my own decisions, Mr. Templar. And if you are concerned that I will be the one to have regrets…” Millie looked into his eyes, shaking her head.
Vox slowly slid his hands to either side of her face and cupped her jaw as he pulled her lips to his again, with the sensation being amplified by how soft hers were. “I’ve learned in life that regrets only hamper the future. It’s a lesson that never ends.”
Millie admitted to herself that she was most certainly feeling the buzz from the alcohol… and that she had probably consumed far more than she should… and that perhaps it was slightly clouding her judgment. However, she really didn’t care in that moment. Her arms slipped back around Vox’s neck, and she slid herself closer as she pressed into the kiss.
Vox let out a faint moan of contentment as he slid his arms to her waist and pulled her onto his lap. Their kisses were very soft but they grew longer and more forceful. A hot exhale escaped his mouth as he gripped her tight and stood up with a slight wobble. He felt really good… And as he carried her toward the bedroom he slapped the light control.
The Next Morning:
Millie could hear the soft chime of her morning alarm. Her eyes opened, her face pressed into the warm body next to her. “Computer, silence alarm.” She said softly.
Vox gave a soft snore in response.
She lay still for a few moments, not sure if he was going to awaken. Her hand lifted, and she brushed her hair out of her face. Millie was still curled up against Vox, in the crook of his shoulder, exactly where she had fallen asleep the night before. Carefully, she slid his arm from around her shoulder and crawled out from under the blankets, taking care not to wake Vox.
Millie slid to the edge of the bed, shivering in the cool air of her bedroom. “Computer, lights to ten percent,” she said softly. The lights illuminated, just barely, so she could see a bit around the room. Vox lay still, snoring softly, his other arm dangled over the edge of her bed. His bare chest exposed, the sheets covering the rest of his body. She gave a hint of a smile, before slipping away to the bathroom. She quickly showered, dressed, and was about to slip out the door...when she paused.
She stepped to the replicator. “One glass of water, cool.”
Millie took a step back into the bedroom, and quietly set the glass on the table beside Vox’s head. Without another word, she slipped quietly out of her quarters and headed to her office for her first appointment of the morning.
Vox awoke to the door hissing shut behind her as she left. He blinked a few times to get his bearings as he looked around the room. These aren't my quarters, he thought. Slowly, the realization of the current events dawned on him. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face. That wasn't on the original agenda. He sat up and rolled to the side of the bed. Quickly, he put his uniform back on and then took a direct path to the turbolift. "Deck two," he barked softly. The sooner he made it back to his quarters, the better off he'd be.
Commander Vox Templar
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Mercutio
Lieutenant (j.g.) Millie Stepanova
Chief Counselor, USS Mercutio