Taking Time – It's Always Sunny Space Diving With Earlond
by Lieutenant JG Hannah Andeti & Commander Earlond

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Title   It's Always Sunny Space Diving With Earlond
Mission   Taking Time
Author(s)   Lieutenant JG Hannah Andeti & Commander Earlond
Posted   Thu Jan 28, 2010 @ 10:58pm
Location   Docking Ring, Starbase 386
Timeline   Shoreleave 2, 1620
The silence that had started between the Counselor and Commander was not an unpleasant one as they continued through the station to the waiting ship. Hannah ran a hand through her hair as she focused half-heartedly on her previous sense of discomfort, but it seemed to have evaporated and although she was grateful that she was no longer unconsciously trying to kiss her XO, she couldn't help but be curious about a potential alternate life. She took a breath as they continued, the commander was certainly a comfortable man to be around and she was glad that she had invited him along.

As though continuing a conversation, Hannah spoke up. "Do you mind if I ask what the special agents said to you, sir?"

"They asked me redundant questions," Earlond replied, his lip curling at the memory. He did not like those two agents. "Simple things they could have gotten from my report."

"But didn't tell you anything, I would assume?" Hannah provided a half-smile.

"What they told me and what I learned are two different things," Earlond said, offering one of his rare smiles in return.

"I should have known." The counselor felt herself grin. "Would you care to share, sir?"

"If I do that, I'd have to kill you," Earlond said, looking suddenly dead-serious.

Hannah laughed, although she was uncertain as to whether or not he was joking. "Wow, that is a tough call, then."

She was beginning to get excited about the jump and wondered, as she always did, why she had left it so long. "I think we're here." She motioned to the airlock and allowed the Commander to precede her towards the ship. The Captain had apparently been waiting for her and he came towards them as they approached. Hannah reached past Earlond and shook the man's hand in greeting, uncomfortably aware of their proximity but telling herself she wasn't.

"Ensign Andeti, it's good to see you again." He took her hand and Hannah grinned, but didn't correct him.

"Captain Haddock (NPC), I hope we're not late."

She watched as the man's eyes drifted to the Commander and she released his hand.

"This is Commander Earlond, we were hoping you might have room for one more?"

The Captain seemed to be eying the Commander more skeptically than Hannah thought was probably safe, but nodded once with a wry smile from behind his dark beard. "That shouldn't be a problem." He turned and swept onto his small ship. The two officers followed and Hannah saw at once that it most certainly wouldn't be a problem - they would be the only two going out that day.

The Captain called to them from his small compartment. "I've just got to clear our departure with Ops and we should be right out. It'll be about ten minutes to the moon, so you might want to get ready."

Hannah felt herself grinning around at the empty bay and pointed the Commander towards the empty suits that were securely attached to one wall. She turned away, allowing him to get into his suit and began running the usual checks on her suit. After a few moments the drive hummed to life and the hull lurched them away from the station.

Certain of the oxygen and pressure settings in her suit, she twisted the helmet off and turned to Earlond. "Do you remember all the checks, sir?"

Earlond was already fully suited, now minus the helmet, having already completed a full battery of his own extensive checks. "I think I might," he said dryly. "It's been a while, but I don't usually forget things easily."

"I should have known better, sir." The counselor nodded, with a small smile. "And I guess that means you won't be forgetting my lunging at you any time soon."

"Probably not," Earlond agreed. Something as strange as that could not be easily forgotten. Though some small part of him....no. Absolutely not.

Hannah stumbled as the ship gained speed and steadied herself against the wall. She opened her mouth to say something further when Captain Haddock called back to them. "Five minutes, people." It sounded as though he were eating and hadn't bothered to swallow before calling back to them.

She turned to the Commander. "Haddock runs a pretty high-tech ship so we don't need to strap ourselves in. When the time comes the bay door opens," Hannah pointed behind them. "And the containment field is partially disengaged so we . . . jump through when we're ready, sir." She grinned, noticing the slight tremble in her fingers that meant the adrenaline had begun to flow. Earlond looked as staunch as always and Hannah wondered passingly if he had ever been nervous about anything in his life.

"Why not now?" Earlond asked, calmly calculating the factors of the jump. He wondered if treating it all as just another operation would spoil Hannah's fun. Then, a thought following almost right on the heels of the first: why would he go out of his way to make sure someone else had 'fun'? But somehow he didn't like the idea of Hannah not having fun while he was around. Maybe it was just Iluvar's inisistance that Earlond interact more with others beginning to take effect.

"You want to go fast, don't you? Haddock's good, he knows just where to position the ship so you're going faster than . . . well, is probably healthy." She laughed at her own simile's failure. "Besides, there's a lot of traffic in the area and the last thing we want is to be bug spatter on someone's deflector dish. Sir," she quickly amended.

As if on cue the ship rumbled and the bay door began to open. Hannah lifted her helmet and locked it into place. She watched Earlond follow suit and the Captain's voice came over the suit's comm system. "Alright, Andeti, Earlong, you're good to go." Hannah chuckled at Haddock's mistake. He really did seem to be asking for the Commander's wrath. She motioned for him to precede her and flicked on her own comm unit. "After you, sir."

"Let Mr. Haddock know I'll....be in touch," Earlond said with more than a hint of malice in his voice. Without another word, he was out the open door.

Hannah shook her head as she chuckled, waiting a moment as the Commander disappeared down towards the blue of the moon. She probably shouldn't find him so amusing, but somehow she couldn't help herself. With one movement, the lieutenant threw herself out the open door. Her stomach jumped into her chest as the silence and darkness of space overwhelmed her and she did three somersaults before her suit stabilized her motion and she snapped her arms against her side. This was her favorite part, when that horrible dropping sensation had passed away and her speed shot upwards as she plummeted down. It was almost undetectable with the moon looming below her and the blackness of space all around and for the first time in longer than she could remember the counselor was flushed with silence.

As Earlond fell, he became aware of something...off. He couldn't quite figure it out, though, so he turned his thoughts to Hannah's strange behaviour. Undoubtedly, it was linked to the visit from Temporal Investigations, but for now Earlond was still unsure as to the actual source.

In less time than Hannah had wanted, the blackness faded to deep red as the moon loomed and the atmosphere burned around her. The heat of it was detectable even through the suit and the silence disappeared, overcome with the roar of her own speed as she passed through the upper atmosphere. The adrenaline hit in full force then and she felt the cold sweat of it, slick between her fingers and she began to laugh, long and hard for no particular reason.

At first, Earlond didn't realize that Hannah was laughing, and he found himself unduly concerned. It was odd to be so concerned; perhaps if Iluvar had been in imminent danger, but even that would be different.

Another few moments and the red and orange fire that had all but burned her up faded to the deep blue of ocean. The counselor settled her laughter. "You still alive, sir?" The mirth was still apparent in her voice.

"If I weren't, I would hardly be able to answer," Earlond replied dryly.

The counselor smiled. "And if you weren't I'd hardly be able to do anything about it."

Now the dark blue had lightened and the islands of green in the expanse of blue became visible spread out beneath her. The dot that was Earlond was clear as well and she watched out for the flower of Earlond's primary chute. She took a breath and checked their altitude . . . if he was playing at something he was cutting it awfully close. The roar of wind rushing around her suit was muffled and the computer voice announced mechanically "Height 900 metres, deploy primary chute." The counselor paused, her heart beating fast but after only a moment's hesitation pulled the chute and felt the jerk as it unraveled behind her. There was a slight sense of dizziness as she leveled out and checked over her shoulder to ensure the parachute had deployed properly. Her eyes returned to the ground below her, certain she would see the white square, showing her that the commander was in one piece. There was nothing.

"Sir?" The tremor in her voice was obvious even to her and she felt another rush of adrenaline. She could feel her hands growing moist again and her heart seemed to drop into her stomach. "Sir pull your chute!"

There was a crackle over the comm. "Sorry, didn't copy that," Earlond said. "What?"

There was nothing Hannah could do and she felt the helplessness acutely, her heart pounding in her ears. "EARLOND, PULL YOUR DAMNED CHUTE!" If she had somehow managed to kill him . . . she didn't want to think about the consequences.

Suddenly, the chute appeared far below her, almost too close to the ground to be of any use. The comm crackled again. "Oh, that chute," Earlond said calmly.

She bit her lip, hard, trying to resist the urge to laugh. Why did she react that way to every single situation? She didn't want to encourage him. Actually, she wanted to hit him hard. Several times. With a bat. Either that or she wanted to . . . She interrupted her own train of thought. "Sir, if you're too close to the ground, you should ask for a beam out." She wasn't going to make that move for him.

"Hmm...." Earlond said. "An interesting choice. I wonder if I'm far enough up..." His tone had turned mock-thoughtful.

Hannah sucked in the air as she grasped her own toggles and steered herself towards the ground. It rushed up towards her and her heart continued to beat, but she took several deep breaths of oxygen as the trees grew larger. The ocean's waves became more distinctive and she straightened herself, preparing to land. Something about the focus and control of that moment made her anger begin to slip away. With a thunk she landed on her feet and ran a few metres as she pulled the chute to the ground behind her.

"Ah, you made it," Earlond said, already packing up his chute not far from where Hannah had landed. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd stayed behind on the ship."

With a quick movement she unclipped her chute and pulled her helmet free. Her hair was tinged with sweat and she could feel the strands clinging to her neck as she tossed her head. She stalked up to the Commander. "You . . ." her voice was trembling as she jabbed a finger at the man. "You are . . . unbelievable!" She was trying to sound angry . . . she was angry but something about the look of casual innocence made her lips twitch upwards. After a moment of silence she gave into her instincts and laughed a deep, stomach wrenching laugh. "Next time you do that to me . . ."

"Next time?" Earlond asked. In truth, though, he supposed it wouldn't be terrible to spend more time with Hannah. Iluvar had said that he needed to interact more.

"If I don't kill you first, I mean." She was still grinning as she returned to her chute and quickly rolled it up. "You had fun, I take it?" Her sarcasm was transparent.

"The jump went well, yes," Earlond replied. "But I don't forsee you killing me in the near future. You have neither the physical nor mental capacity to beat me just yet."

She playfully glared in his direction as she sealed up the chute. "You never know. We counselors have a wide range of secret weapons at our disposal." She grinned. "You ready to head up to the ship?"

"I have been ready for quite some time now," Earlond said. "As I indicated earlier, it took you a while to catch up."

Hannah lowered her chin, speaking into the comm unit. "Captain Haddock, we're ready to come aboard."

"Alright." He didn't sound overly enthused. "Standby." Hannah took that opportunity to glance around the tract of land that they had alighted on. It was a beautiful planet, but maybe that was just the draining adrenaline from the jump. After only a moment it all shimmered in light before the less than aesthetically pleasing ship appeared before them.

The Captain poked his head out of the command unit. "You guys in one piece?"

Hannah grinned at the man and nodded, but he didn't even seem to notice as he turned back to his controls. "Alright, hold on to your hats, we'll be back in ten minutes."

Grateful that she was wearing something beneath the suit she began dismantling it. The ship lurched beneath them as it zipped off towards the station.

Earlond quickly and efficiently removed the suit and neatly stacking it, then turned to watch Hannah.

Focusing on her own task, the counselor dropped the last bit of her suit into a heap before turning back to the Commander. "Well, thank you, sir, you made that even more entertaining than usual." She flashed a smile and offered him her palm before thinking twice. She looked at her hand and then dropped it back to her side. "Oh, better not risk that, I guess."

"It was quite entertaining, I must admit," Earlond replied. "But I don't think I would have gone out of my way to do it on my own." He had almost said 'without you'; why would that phrase come to mind? Certainly he wouldn't do it alone, but was Hannah really the only reason he'd come?

"You didn't have any plans for shoreleave, sir?" She wasn't surprised that he hadn't, but wasn't going to give up the opportunity to tease him about it.

"I did," Earlond said sourly. "But Iluvar crashed them."

She hadn't heard three words of what the Commander had said when she felt her mental blocks plummeting and a groan of frustration rose in her throat as her vision faded.

"So you're getting married?" The tone was one of blatant disgust and the counselor resisted the urge to fold her arms together and look crossly at the comm-unit. The woman on the other end was wearing a red uniform, four pips adorning her collar.

"Yes." Hannah nodded at her sister and Elle reached behind her head, twisting her long red hair into a tight ponytail. She usually did that when she was facing something particularly frustrating and Hannah tried not to take it too personally.

"To this . . . Earlond fellow?" They weren't making eye contact and now Hannah allowed herself to cross her arms.

"Yes." She nodded again and there was a long silence.

"You're not pregnant or something are you?"

The counselor laughed out loud and shook her head. "No, definitely not."

"Well, there's that at least." Elle sounded only slightly relieved. "I would have had to kill him if you were." She was smiling slightly as she said it and Hannah allowed herself the same.


Andeti blinked rapidly and opened her eyes. She could feel the rumble of the ship and wondered for a long moment where the hell she was. "What?" It came back to her and she scowled at her apparent inability to block these memories out as she tried to steady both her mind and her equilibrium.

"Counselor?" Earlond asked. "Are you alright?" He reached out a hand to help steady her.

Hannah blinked at the Commander, his hand was warm on her shoulder and helped to pull her entirely back to reality. "Sorry sir. It was another memory." She felt a rush of frustration, but didn't put voice to it. Instead she forced a small smile. "I take it I didn't try to kiss you this time?"

"No," Earlond said, somewhat relieved. "You just seem a bit...shaken. We should go talk to Michael."

"I'm not sick, sir, I just need . . ." the Counselor trailed off. What did she need? "I just need to figure out how to block these memories out." Her lips quirked upwards at one corner as she eyed the Commander. "Bu at least you don't think I'm crazy."

"I'll reserve judgement on that," Earlond said dryly. "But blocking memories, you say? I might know someone who can help."

OFF

Commander Earlond
Executive Officer
USS Tethys

and

Lieutenant JG Hannah Andeti
Chief Counselor
USS Tethys