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Blue Skies

Posted on 17 Jan 2020 @ 12:18am by Ensign Kelly Khan & Ensign Quinn Mackie

Mission: Epilogue
Location: New Bajor
Timeline: July 2389

The sun shone down on the small meadow that Quinn and Kelly found themselves in, the product of a picnic during the vacation they found themselves on while the Black Hawk was being repaired. The brunette had been unusually subdued but she still tried to be like her former self as she set down the blanket and basket of food, drink and snacks she had coerced from the chef of the station. She wore a simple white dress with her hair done in a French twist, and no shoes as she settled down on the blanket to look up at Quinn.

"Care to join me?" she asked.

It was liberating. After five months of living with another voice in his head, and three months having to live with a security escort, Quinn finally had a chance to live as a free man. Quinn, strangely, didn't know what to do with himself. The thought of hiking or swimming or kayaking was undesirable. While he had jumped on the chance to leave the Black Hawk for a few days, Quinn still felt uneasiness despite his liberation.

He'd carried a basket to the meadow from the hotel in silence, trying to find the beauty in life around him. Colors and feelings were still muted, save for his love beside him. "Gladly," he replied to Kelly, joining her on the blanket.

Kelly fidgeted and smoothed her dress out as he joined her. "It almost seems like we should be waiting for something to happen. It's too peaceful and quiet here."

Quinn knelt on the blanket and opened the basket, which contained a bottle of wine, crackers, finger sandwiches, and a couple of the artisan chocolates that had survived the ordeal in the Zone. "Boarders. Consortium. Dolmoqour. Aside from finding each other, the only positive thing that has happened in the last year is not having to take our Academy finals."

"Taking command of another ship, piloting a runabout through a warzone, and finding that the person you're talking to isn't that person," Kelly finished. "And you're right. Finding each other is about the only positive thing, but...I have to wonder."

“Wonder?” Quinn asked, a bit surprised by the thought. “About what exactly?” He pulled out a pair of glasses and opened the wine.

"Did I go too fast for you, Tiger?" the little brunette asked as she forced her attention back to him.

“Too fast?” Quinn clearly didn’t understand the question. By now, one glass had been finished and he moved onto the other.

"Yes, too fast," Kelly repeated. "You weren't really left with much choice when I came after you, and now I'm wondering how much of your agreeing to do things just to keep up and how much was because you wanted to."

Quinn didn't know how to answer that. He handed Kelly her glass in silence as he repositioned his stance on the blanket, trading kneeling for sitting on his posterior. "Did we start fast?" he echoed. "When we started dating, I wasn't exactly looking for companionship, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for what you did. My feelings were and still are my own. And, I'm not ashamed to admit that I love you, Kell."

"I love you, too, but I'm starting to realize exactly how fast I move," Kelly said as she toyed with her glass. "I had to stop and remember that you're not a starship that I'm putting through the paces."

"Are you suggesting that you think that you feel guilty about us?" Quinn asked. He took a sip of his wine and savored it for a moment. "I haven't really had a problem at any point, except when I was being used as a puppet and only permitted to see you, but never talk or touch you for five months. But that wasn't your fault."

She shook her head. "Never that, Tiger," she quickly said. "I just don't want you to feel that you have to do everything I want, or go at my pace."

Quinn smiled, and looked at Kelly. "Tell you what. I promise that if there is a problem, I'll let you know immediately. I won't lead you on and allow you to have any doubts."

Kelly met his eyes and seemed to search them for a long time before she spoke again. "I believe you," she said finally. "And if I ever do anything to upset you, please tell me. I haven't realized it, but you're the best thing to ever happen to me, Quinn."

“It’s a rare honor,” Quinn joked with a hollow smile. “To be the best and worst thing to have happened to someone. You, my love, have only brought out the best in me.”

"Best and worst?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

He paused, realizing what he accidentally implied about her. “That’s not exactly what I meant. I-I-I meant what I have been to you. But I am very much ready to finally put that all behind us.”

"You've never been anything but good to me, Quinn," Kelly said. "Except when you weren't you."

"Well then," Quinn said, raising his glass to make a toast. "Here's to us... always being us."

She raised his glass to hers. "So where do we go from here, Tiger?"

Quinn sipped his wine and looked around. "Well, it looks like we've got the entire meadow to ourselves. I think there's a creek in that direction that we could go check out."

"I meant for you and me, but we can explore if you like," Kelly said.

"Oh," Quinn replied. He looked down into his glass for a moment. "Honestly, I haven't thought too much about it. I've been so focused on the here and now, trying to get past the months of hell that I've barely even looked ahead of my own nose."

"So the next level was the...thing.." she said softly as she remembered his last words before he put the Dolmoqour in her ear.

Quinn held his head in shame. "It was how it lured you. It used my love for you to ensnare you." In this moment, he started to reconsider their entire relationship. Maybe the best way to love Kelly... to protect her... was to push her away.

Kelly reached to take his free hand. "Quinn, you had my love before that. We've been through hell and this thing has pushed most of us to the breaking point, but I want to make things more solid between us."

He smiled weakly. Quinn knew she was right, but he just couldn't help but doubt his every move. "What... uh. What did you have in mind? Exactly?"

"How about a commitment ceremony?" she asked but didn't think he'd go for it.

"Commitment ceremony?" he asked, a bit puzzled by the term. "I've heard of promise rings, engagements, and even shotgun weddings, but never a commitment ceremony."

"It's just a public declaration of our love and commitment to each other," Kelly said. "It's not binding, but it's a step or two below marriage."

Quinn nodded his head, considering the idea. "What exactly happens at one of these things? Have you been to one before?"

"We get someone like the Captain that welcomes guests to a celebration of the love and commitment between the couple. He will probably also say a few words about our relationship, or about commitment in general. We declare our love and commitment to each other and then we party," She told him. "And no, I haven't been to one."

"Do you know anyone who's had one before?" Quinn asked. "I'm definitely open to it. I'm sure the Captain would do it, but I don't know of anyone who would come... for my sake."

"I really don't care who comes," Kelly said. "As long as you're there and we can get the Captain to do it. I bet Missus G will show up, Dani, and maybe a few others."

For a heartbeat, Quinn swore Kelly had a New Jersey accent when she referred to the Captain's wife. Quinn was a bit jealous that Kelly had so many friends, but then again, she hadn't spent the last five months with a membrane wrapped her skull. If Elisha was nearby, maybe she would come. "Then let's do it for sure. As soon as everyone's back from their furloughs."

"I like how that sounds," she said as she took a sip from her glass. "And we can even get a subspace link back to our parents. I hope."

"I'm sure they'd like that." Quinn smiled, taking a generous drink from his glass. "If we ever do the real thing though, we'll have to make sure they're there in person. Maybe your parents could get us a good deal on a cruise around Alpha Centauri."

"The real thing?" Kelly asked with a raised eyebrow.

"You know," Quinn said, looking at her. "Rings. Vows. White dress. Maybe in a couple years."

"You mean....a wedding?" Part of her wanted to jump up and down and part wanted to find the nearest transwarp conduit and boldly go at nope speed.

He shrugged and smiled. "Maybe. We'll have to see how this commitment ceremony goes first. We already know that living together isn't too bad. We just need life to throw us a decent curve for once."

"We're part of the Black Hawk," she said absentmindedly. "You'd really marry me?"

"It depends," Quinn said, a hint of humor and sarcasm in his voice. "I love you, Kelly Khan. Don't change one bit of who you are. I won't be the one who holds you back from being you."

"You know that I'm always going to be me," Kelly said. "But I'm talking about you, Quinn Mackie."

His smile was no longer hollow. "One day, Kelly. One day I will marry you."

"Then I won't murder you while you're sleeping," she said happily before she leaned over and kissed him.

He gladly and passionately returned the kiss. In that moment, all of his fears and doubts melted away. For the first time in months, Quinn finally felt like himself again.

Kelly finally broke the kiss and came up for air. "That's the Tiger that I was hoping to find," she said.

Quinn chuckled. "Me too," he said softly, before leaning in to kiss her again. "Me too."

She kissed him again and leaned against him. "No matter what, Tiger, it's you and me against the rest of whatever the galaxy has to throw at us."

"And hopefully it's already thrown the worst." Quinn looked down at his wine glass and saw that it was empty. "What do you say, Kel? Should we find a place in the forest where no one can find us?"

"I like the way that sounds as well," Kelly said as she reached over and snagged one of the artisan chocolates and popped it in her mouth before she got up. "Let's go!"

Quinn rose to his feet first, leaving the picnic basket and wine where they lay. If they came back for them, great. If not, the items, with the exception of the wine, were all replicated anyway. They would not be missed. "On to the next adventure," he enticed.


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