Author: Pink Rabbit Productions
Author's Notes: What can I say, someone challenged me
<wink> to do something that's never been done.
Disclaimer: It's for adults who can handle the thought of
two women in intimate situations and won't go to jail for
reading it. If you don't qualify, make all of our lives easier
and don't read it. The characters are the property of other
folks, I'm just playing with them for a little while.
Comments: Floggings, beatings, and bribes may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
MARIANIS UNDERSEA RESEARCH STATION
Katherine Hitchcock reread the message
she'd just received from the seaQuest--the hi-tech submarine on
which she normally served--one more time, then sighed heavily. She and
Doctor Kristin Westphalen, the chief of science research aboard
the ship, had been deployed to a deepwater research station under the
Arctic ice floes to track a series of odd warmwater currents that were
threatening several species of fish. After dropping them, the seaQuest
had gone ahead to Charleston for a refit of several key sections damaged
in an rather unexpected firefight with a small ring of undersea pirates
that had been hitting colonies along the Icelandic Rim. The refit had
been expected to take no more than ten days, plenty of time for the
doctor to get her research done, but not so long that the rather limited
amenities offered by the tiny research base--which was unmanned most of
the year--would become too stifling. Hitchcock had been sent along to
offer any technical services, just in case anything wasn't working
right. That had been fourteen days ago. They'd been informed of two
expected delays already, and now another one, which meant that seaQuest
wouldn't be picking them up within the next 24 hours as had last been
promised. Apparently, the submarine's self-healing skin was proving more
difficult to repair than expected. Hitchcock folded the printout of the
news-- sent by broadband since they were so far under the ice-- and
headed off to break the news to the doctor.
* * * * * *
Hitchcock dropped into the chair opposite
Westphalen, her expression mildly morose.
Kristin peered over the edge of her
reading glasses at the younger woman as she looked up from her report.
Hitchcock shrugged. "Nothing
serious, but I just heard from Jonathan. The seaQuest has been
delayed. We'll be here at least another week, maybe two."
Westphalen winced. "Please tell me
you're joking," she begged. She'd read every book she'd brought
along, plus what little she'd been able to download from the base'
limited link with the outside world and boredom was very fast becoming a
serious threat. And it was never a good idea to let Kristin Westphalen
get too bored. Bad things happened when she got bored. She knew that
about herself and had learned to avoid allowing it to happen.
Hitchcock shook her head, her expression
no more thrilled than the doctor's. "If it were an emergency, they
could arrange transport, but since it's not...."
Kristin massaged her temple. "This
is getting bloody ridiculous," she complained.
Hitchcock didn't argue, just idly ran her
fingers over the surface of the table. "I just thought I ought to
let you know."
"Gee, thanks..."the doctor
Hitchcock shrugged. "The good news
is I found a couple of old vids and a bottle of brandy in the supply
room. They must have been left by the last team that was here. Care to
join me for a movie later tonight?"
Kristin shrugged. "What the hell?
It's not like I have anything better to do."
"It's a date," Hitchcock
agreed. "I'll be finished with what I'm doing in about three
"See you then."
* * * * * *
Sprawled on the couch in the crew lounge,
Kristin stared at the brandy she'd been drinking for the past hour. She
wasn't drunk, but she was definitely pleasantly buzzed. The movie was
wretched, but Hitchcock's company had proved to be pleasantly enjoyable.
Away from the stiff confines of the seaQuest, the young woman had
a dry wit and a knack for a quick one-liner, something Westphalen was
more than able to appreciate.
Katie abruptly batted her legs aside, and
settled on the other end of the couch, responding, "I got tired of
the floor," when Kristin turned a mildly testy look on her.
"Oh," Westphalen sighed, and
shifted her feet so they were hooked over the back, putting herself half
Katie noted the position with a lopsided
grin. "The rest of the crew wouldn't believe it if they saw you
"That," Kristin explained,
proud of the fact she managed to keep most of the slur out of her voice.
"Is because I don't particularly want them to see me like
this...have to maintain that...professional aura. Otherwise...Ford,
would...walk all over me..."
"Jonathan?" Katie repeated
disbelievingly. "Hah! You have him completely buffaloed."
"Yes, I know...and that's how I plan
on keeping it," Kristin agreed merrily. She rather enjoyed the odd
game of pushme-pullyou that had grown between herself and the seaQuest's
oh-so-very-military first officer, but more than that, she enjoyed
Hitchcock snickered softly, then fell
silent for a long time.
In the background, the film finished and
Finally, Katie cleared her throat, and
inserted into the quiet, "Can I ask you a question?"
"Probably," she allowed.
"Are you and the
"Intimate?" Kristin offered
when the younger woman trailed off and flushed in embarrassment,
suddenly regretting even asking the question.
"No," Kristin sighed.
"But?" Hitchcock prompted,
sensing there was more to the story, and more than a little curious for
her own list of reasons.
Kristin pushed up on her elbow, peering
at the younger woman blearily. "He's thinking about being
interested...I'm thinking about being interested...it's one of those
shall we consider a tango things...though, frankly, I'm inclined to
think we'd be better off just staying friends. I seem to do better being
friends with men than...well...other things." And God knew, she had
the ex-husbands to prove it.
Katie absorbed the answer with a
Westphalen continued staring at her for a
long moment, before asking, "So, are you and Ben?"
"No!" Hitchcock denied
instantly. "We're just...I mean....I don't know what we
are..." she admitted at last.
Kristin chuckled. "I'm glad you
don't know, because the rest of us have been completely mystified by the
"You mean people have been talking
Kristin shrugged. "About like
they've been talking about Nathan and I."
Hitchcock winced. "Bad as that, is
Kristin shrugged. "Depends on your
point of view."
"It's just that we're just
friends now...not...well, not what everyone is speculating."
Hitchcock ran a hand through her shoulder-length hair, brushing it back
from her face.
"Just out of curiosity," the
older woman drawled, her expression knowing. "Are you sure Ben is
aware that you're just friends?" She'd seen the way the young man
stared at his former wife, and he looked like a man still carrying a
Hitchcock looked uncomfortable. "I'm
not sure...sometimes...he doesn't always seem to accept why we got a
"Ah," Kristin exhaled without
pressing for reasons. If the lieutenant wanted to share she was welcome
to, but Westphalen understood the value of personal secrets well enough
not to push. "Well, I can see where the two of you might not be the
most ideally suited couple," she murmured diplomatically. More than
a little unsuited as far as she could tell. Hitchcock was a by-the-book,
ambitious officer, who was as ethical and honest as anyone could ask
for, whereas her ex-husband, Ben Krieg, had so much larceny in his heart
that he simply lived on report.
"In more ways than one,"
Hitchcock exhaled and leaned her head back against the couch, massaging
her temple tiredly. Westphalen swung around enough that her legs were
draped over the side of the small couch rather than the back, a position
only slightly less undignified than her previous one, though somehow,
she managed to do it with regal dignity. Probably the accent, Hitchcock
decided. That luscious British drawl could make almost anything seem
classy. She swung her head back so she was staring straight ahead once
again. Boredom was not sitting well on her shoulders. Too much time to
think. "Sometimes I can't wait until my tour is over and I muster
out," she admitted and heard the doctor's startled gasp.
"I just assumed you'd sign on for
another tour," Westphalen murmured when piercing blue eyes turned
Katie shook her head. "No...I'm
tired of the military," she admitted, then rolled her eyes.
"Tired of the command structure, of having men with half my skills
advanced ahead of me, tired of the jokes and being ogled--"
"So, you're planning on going
somewhere where there are no men?" Westphalen enquired dryly.
Hitchcock's answering laugh was more of a
snort. "Point," she murmured, holding up her glass in an
ironic toast. "Sometimes I wish I could," she added a beat
later. "I could do without most men."
Westphalen's brows lifted as she looked
up at the younger woman. "Feeling a bit bitter?" she asked,
then answered her own question. "I suppose marriage to Ben Krieg
could do that to anyone--"
"No," Hitchcock inserted
instantly. "I mean, it wasn't Ben's fault. He tried to make our
marriage work." She shook her head, staring into her brandy as
though it might have the answers to some eternal life question. "If
it was anyone's fault, it was mine."
Westphalen rolled into a sitting
position, folding one leg underneath herself as she peered at Hitchcock
with a curious frown. "Now why do I find that very hard to
believe?" she said softly.
"Believe it," Hitchcock
whispered almost inaudibly without looking up from her drink. She jumped
when a gentle finger hooked under chin, tugging her head up and around.
Westphalen's voice was soft, her rich
brown eyes sympathetic as she whispered, "Care to talk about
Hitchcock blinked away the threat of
tears, thinking that she should never have touched the alcohol. It never
did anything good for the thoughts in her head. "I should never
have married Ben, that's all. It wasn't fair to him."
Sculpted brows drew into a confused
frown. "Wasn't fair...to him?" Westphalen questioned. She was
having a hard time imagining this lovely and oh-so-serious young woman
doing anything unfair to anyone, but most especially Ben Krieg. She'd
always just assumed their breakup had been Krieg's fault. In her
experience, if Krieg was around, and someone was at fault for something,
it was bound to be him.
"No," Hitchcock confirmed
sadly, then glared at the drink in her hand. She really shouldn't touch
the stuff, she decided right then and there. It just wasn't good for her
mental processes. "Despite everything, he's a good man." She
felt the need to defend her ex-husband, then fell silent for a long
moment, while Westphalen just sat and waited, letting her decide what
she wanted to say or not say. "I'm gay," the young woman
whispered at last. She didn't look up, just continued staring morosely
into her drink. Finally, when no answer was forthcoming, she risked a
glance at the doctor, who was simply sitting and silently watching her.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Kristin
apologized politely. "Was that my cue to let out a girlish squeal
Katie blinked. Whatever response she'd
been expecting, that wasn't it.
Kristin smiled gently. "Lieutenant,
I'm not some military drone. Half the people I've worked with in my
career were gay. It's not that big a deal."
Hitchcock heaved a sigh of relief as she
realized the other woman wasn't going to react the way so many of her
fellow crew members would have. "Maybe where you're from..."
she exhaled. "But in the navy--"
"Yes, yes," Westphalen said
impatiently. "I know all about the navy...quite schizophrenic on
the whole subject...all things considered I'm surprised you chose it as
Hitchcock shrugged. "I wanted to
make my father proud."
"I can't envision he wouldn't
be," Kristin said softly as she continued to study the beautiful
young officer. They had never been friends, instead both adhering to the
odd schism that had developed between the science crew and the military
crew from the first moments of the ship's mission. But she had a
daughter not so many years younger than Hitchcock, and couldn't help but
feel a bit motherly toward the younger woman. Besides, in the time
they'd been locked under water together, she'd found she quite liked
Katie sighed softly and leaned back
against the couch cushions. "Then you don't know him," she
whispered, then carefully set her glass aside. She was definitely going
to give up the alcohol. It just wasn't helping. She was surprised by how
soothing it felt when Westphalen began gently petting her hair. It was
nice, comforting, reminding her how much she'd admired the other woman
when they'd come into contact. It was reminding her of other things too,
like the fact that she'd found Kristin Westphalen appealing from the
first, enjoying the British woman's wicked sense of humor, not to
mention her utter refusal to be pushed around by anyone. Hitchcock had
found herself admiring Westphalen's passion for the sea, her rigid sense
of right and wrong, and her absolute integrity.
"Then he's a fool," Kristin's
soft voice broke into Hitchcock's thoughts. She reached out and rested a
hand lightly on Katie's. "Any parent who wouldn't be proud of you
has his head up his...well, placed in a very difficult to reach
place." Dark eyes twinkled as Kristin avoided the obvious curse,
leaving little doubt that she had no problem using curses where
appropriate. She'd just decided making the comment humorous was a better
approach. "And if you like, I'll tell him that when next we
Despite herself, Hitchcock chuckled,
trying to envision this woman, with her perfect upper crust British
accent, and her perfect manners talking to her beer and curses father.
The image simply did not compute. "I don't think that would
work," she said after a moment.
"Oh, I don't know. I've been known
to charm men now and then."
Hitchcock let out a bark of laughter.
"I've heard that," she said through a cough when Westphalen
"Brat," the doctor complained
"Well, you have to admit,"
Katie defended her joke. "You have...um...well..."
"Yes?" Kristin drawled
Hitchcock was sweating now. Westphalen's
temper was legendary on seaQuest and she had an awful feeling
she'd just run afoul of it. "It's just that you...um...well...I
mean...you like men," she squeaked at last.
Westphalen's brows lifted, but her temper
didn't blow, then suddenly, she chuckled. "Yes," she agreed
dryly. "Unfortunately, I do. God knows, most of the time I'd be
better off if I didn't." She shook her head. "Perhaps I should
follow your lead."
Hitchcock felt her pulse pick up despite
knowing it was nothing but a joke. Still, she couldn't hold back a
flirtatious, "Anytime you want to give it a try." Katie
suddenly remembered the hand resting over her own, soothingly brushing
the knuckles, as it abruptly stilled.
Westphalen's mouth opened, then snapped
shut again as a rather unsettling and very non-motherly group of images
flashed in her head.
"I'm sorry," Hitchcock
apologized instantly. "I shouldn't have--"
"Don't," Kristin cut her off.
"Don't apologize." She paused, using the time to draw a breath
and let it out slowly. "You haven't done anything wrong. If I were
down here with any of the men, I'd expect at least a dozen passes and a
hundred offhand mildly flirtatious remarks..." She didn't specify
which category Hitchcock's remark fell into. "...and I've certainly
never let that bother me."
"Even Ben?" Katie questioned.
"You mean did he make a pass, or did
it bother me?" Kristin questioned politely, using the brief
distraction to gain some equilibrium.
"I think that answers the
question," Hitchcock muttered, not liking the idea at all.
"Yes," Westphalen agreed,
surprised to hear a slight quaver in her normally steady voice. "He
Katie didn't have time to wonder what
demon was pressing her as she heard another question leave her lips.
"And did it tempt you?"
Kristin blinked, not quite knowing what
to make of the look in Hitchcock's pale blue eyes. "No," she
admitted breathlessly. She swallowed hard, surprised to find her
normally unflappable self-control in dire danger of becoming very
flappable indeed. Suddenly, she set her drink aside. "I should
probably be going to bed now," she said abruptly and pushed to her
feet, surprised to find that she was actually nervous about the subject
of sex for the first time in a very long time. So much for her derisive
dismissal of girlish squeals.
"Kristin," Hitchcock's voice
caught her before she had gone more than two steps. "Would you be
tempted if I made a pass?" It was an insane question to ask, Katie
knew even as the words left her mouth, but it was like there was some
kind of devil driving her. Maybe it was the fact that being with an
attractive woman after months of nothing but macho men for company felt
really good. Or maybe it was the fact that Westphalen's clothes always
seemed to cling to nicely rounded curves in all the right places.
Westphalen pivoted back, russet brows
drawing together in a frown. "Lieutenant," she said softly.
She paused again to take a breath a let it out slowly. "You're a
very attractive woman," she allowed. "And I'd be lying if I
said I wasn't in the least bit tempted."
Hitchcock pushed to her feet, suddenly
wanting the other woman more than she could remember wanting anyone in a
very long time. She could feel the blood rushing through her veins and
the familiar burn of desire making her pulse pound. "I guess that
means I'm doing better than Ben did," she drawled, eyes gleaming. And
where is the cool, collected, Katherine Hitchcock--a distant part of
her brain mused--because you didn't have that much to drink.
Westphalen nodded, her expression wry.
"Much better," she admitted, surprised to find that she really
was far more tempted by Katie than she'd been by any of the men aboard
the seaQuest, except perhaps Nathan, and she wasn't even sure
about that comparison. She liked Nathan, respected him, and enjoyed a
whole list of shared interests, but there wasn't this burning allure. It
was tempting to chalk it up to the danger and excitement--God knew that
had been her downfall on more than one occasion--but there was a
niggling suspicion that there was something else there as well.
"But," she said pointedly, and with more than a little regret,
"I don't think it's a good idea."
Hitchcock was more than a little
surprised by the disappointment that welled in her chest. Where in the
hell had this sudden lust come from? Had it grown during their enforced
captivity together? Or had it always been there, just hidden below the
surface? In any event, it hardly mattered, since it clearly wasn't
returned. She straightened her shoulders, her expression deliberately
bland. "You're right, of course," she said at last, so
involved in her own thoughts that she missed the brief expression of
regret that crossed the doctor's fine features. "We should both
probably be getting to bed."
"You go on. I'll check the systems
and make sure everything's battened down," Hitchcock said coolly,
suddenly back to being the all-business lieutenant everyone aboard seaQuest
was used to. She grabbed their dirty glasses, automatically planning to
secure them before going to bed. Like any sailor, she always made
certain that anything that could break or be dangerous was locked up
tight when not in use. The silver flask, however, couldn't do any
damage, so she left it alone. "Don't worry, I'll take care of
these," she added before Westphalen could say anything. A moment
later, the lieutenant turned on one heel and fled, leaving the doctor
staring after her in bemused silence.
"Damn," Westphalen whispered at
last as she ran a shaking hand through her hair. "Well, that went
bloody well. Tell me, Kristin, could you have handled it any
worse?" And normally she was so good at neatly fending off unwanted
passes. "Which, of course, begs the question about how unwanted
this one was," she murmured, then suddenly realized she'd spoken
aloud and glanced nervously around herself to see if the lieutenant was
anywhere in sight. Finally, she shook her head and turned in the
direction of her quarters. Hopefully, time and sobriety would smooth the
whole mess over.
* * * * * *
Kristin Westphalen came awake to the
pulse pounding, ear shattering terror of an emergency klaxon rending the
air. Cursing as she rolled out of the narrow bunk that had been her
rather uncomfortable nighttime home since being dropped off at the tiny
research base, her voice trailed off into a pained yelp as her feet
splashed into at least two inch layer of ice cold water.
"Shit," the doctor gasped in shock. That was not good. Not
good at all. Undersea bases were not supposed to have ice cold water
running across the floor. That sort of thing was never good news. She
didn't even bother to grab for a robe or try to yank her discarded
blankets out of the swirling water as she ran for the control center,
scrambling to maintain her balance as her feet threatened to skid on the
water slicked floor with every step. She grabbed the doorframe to regain
her equilibrium as she finally found the base's control station and
stumbled inside. Hitchcock was already there, her fingers dancing over
the keyboard that controlled the base's primary computer.
"Lieutenant?" the doctor gasped, fear thickening her voice. If
the base's seals were giving way, they were in serious trouble. SeaQuest
was too far away to stage a rescue and there were only the most
primitive of survival pods installed on the base. The likelihood that
they would survive both the ascent and the subzero temperatures outside
was limited at best.
Katie didn't glance back, just kept
working. Suddenly, the klaxon died away. "It's okay," she said
after a moment, then heaved a relieved sigh. "We lost one of the
water storage tanks." And then she did look back. "We haven't
blown any external seals."
Kristin leaned heavily against the
doorjamb as she felt relief shudder through her muscles. "So we're
"Yeah." Hitchcock leaned down
and dipped a finger into the thin layer of water swirling around her
feet, then lifted it to her tongue, tasting it. "It's purified
water, not seawater."
"Oh thank God," the doctor
exhaled and dragged sleep tousled hair back from her face with a
trembling hand. "I thought we were in trouble there for a
Hitchcock shrugged. "Well, we're not
going to drown, but I'm afraid things are going to be pretty
uncomfortable for awhile. I've shut down the purification system that
was hooked up to that tank, so it's not trying to refill it with
seawater, but I don't dare vent the tank into the ocean, so it's got to
finish draining into the base. I've got the bilge pumps on full, but by
my calculations, it's going to take at least another six hours before
the tank is fully drained and the bilge's have a chance to pump out all
of the water."
"Charming," the doctor sighed,
shivering as she suddenly became aware of the cold. The base tended to
be chilly at the best of times, with several hundred gallons of purified
seawater leaking into the place, the temperature was downright icy.
Hitchcock noted the other woman's
discomfort with a worried frown. "You can go ahead and go back to
bed. I'm almost done here and there's nothing I can do to fix the tank
until it's empty."
Kristin paused. "Small problem. I
think all of my blankets are rather soaked at the moment. They kind of
hit the floor when I scrambled out of bed."
Hitchcock allowed herself a small smile
as she went back to manipulating the system. "Well, you can tell
you're not a long term submariner." She glanced up and grinned.
"We never let anything fall on the floor during an emergency
muster. Too much chance of tripping in tight quarters."
Westphalen shrugged. "What can I
say, I'm not used to emergency drills."
Hitchcock glanced back just as Westphalen
shuddered again. She turned back, punching up the base's specs, noting
the flow patterns shown on the base's water sensors. The doctor's
quarters were right off the science labs and directly in the path of the
worst part of the flood. "Go ahead and take my quarters," she
said at last. "I can bunk in the rec-room."
"I can't ask you to do that,"
Westphalen disagreed instantly. "I'll take the rec-room."
Another hard shiver shook the doctor's frame.
"And promptly get hypothermia. No
way I'm reporting that to the captain. He'd have my hide." The
lieutenant's hands continued skimming over the keyboard, locking things
down and making sure they were safe for the remainder of the night.
"No, you take my cabin. It's not exactly warm and sunny, but it's
comparatively dry. You won't freeze to death." She punched a key
with considerable authority, then slowly pivoted the chair around to
face Kristin, ignoring her own frozen toes as she eyed the other woman.
"Consider it an order," she added when she saw the doctor draw
breath to argue. "And when it comes to emergencies, I have
Kristin's mouth snapped shut and a frown
creased her brow. She hated getting orders and hated having to take them
even more. And judging by the determined look on the other woman's face,
she was going to have to take this one. She folded her arms across her
chest and tried valiantly not to shiver, but did anyway. "Very
well," she grumbled at last.
Hitchock's lips lifted in a small,
triumphant smile as she pushed to her feet. "I knew you'd
eventually see things my way," she drawled. "My bed it
Westphalen's brows lifted as she tried to
decide whether the double entendre was intentional or not.
It took a beat for Katie to realize how
her comment could be taken and when she did, she felt her cheeks flame
scarlet. "I...that is...that didn't come out quite right."
Kristin decided to take pity on the
younger woman. "Don't worry about it," she assured Hitchcock.
"We're both a little...on edge."
They were facing each other, standing
only a short distance apart, both intensely aware of one another.
"More than a little," Katie
Kristin swallowed hard, surprised by the
violent pounding of her heart as she felt the lieutenant's pale gaze
slide over her body. She was wearing a nothing more than a damp,
thigh-length nightshirt, standing in ice cold water nearly to her
ankles, her breath fogging the air as she shivered with the sharp cold
and somehow she was suddenly warmer than should have been possible.
"More than a little," she confirmed. She tensed ever so
slightly as the younger woman lifted her hand, thinking for a moment
that she intended to make contact. Then Hitchcock yanked her hand back,
letting it fall to her side. "Go on to bed," she instructed at
Kristin blinked in surprise. Whatever
she'd been expecting at that point, that wasn't it. She seemed about to
say something, but no words came.
"Go on," Hitchcock repeated as
she turned away. "I want to check on some things anyway."
* * * * * *
She was dreaming, shivering somewhere in
the arctic, when the sweet smell of strong coffee touched her nostrils.
Which made no sense. Perhaps the polar bears had decided to take pity on
her. It took a moment for Kristin to wake enough to realize that the
coffee part at least wasn't a dream. She blinked sleepily and pushed the
blankets aside, careful not to let anything fall to the floor as she
swung her legs over the side of Hitchcock's bunk. The floor was cold and
clammy, but there was no standing water, which was a vast improvement
any way she looked at it. She was about to go in search of the heavenly
smell when Hitchcock appeared at the hatchway to her cabin, bearing a
mug of something steaming in each hand.
"Here," the young lieutenant
said as she held out a cup to Westphalen. "I thought something hot
might taste good."
"Thank you," Kristin murmured
with heartfelt gratitude as she wrapped her fingers around the warm mug.
Hitchcock's bed had been far dryer than her own, but the leaking water
had left the whole place damp and she'd spent most of the night
uncomfortably cold. "It tastes wonderful."
Hitchcock took a sip from her own mug,
warming her hands on the heated porcelain. "Mmm...I checked on all
the systems. We're still doing fine. I'll need to dig in and repair the
bad joint on the tank...shouldn't take too long with the arc-welder. I
also contacted seaQuest. Unfortunately, since our situation's not
"They're not going to send
anyone," Kristin filled in for her.
Katie nodded. "That would
right." She took another sip of steaming coffee, giving herself a
moment before she spoke again. "Look, Doctor, about last
Kristin's chin lifted. "Don't worry
about it," she said softly.
"I just wanted to apologize. I
didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. I just...well..." she
shook her head, uncertain how to describe the temptation she'd given way
to without making things worse.
"You've done nothing to apologize
for, Lieutenant," the doctor inserted into the uncomfortable
silence. "I'm sorry if I made you feel as though you were in the
wrong somehow. The situation just startled me a bit, that's all."
"Look, you don't have to--"
"Yes, I do," Kristin disagreed.
"I like you, Katie...and I respect you. I don't want you thinking
Hitchcock froze, uncertain what to say in
response. "Thank you," she husked at last. It was tempting to
blame it all on the alcohol, but Hitchcock knew that wouldn't have been
fair. The alcohol might have made it easier to make the offer, but it
hadn't been the cause. She considered several responses, then finally
just straightened, her tone becoming all business as she informed the
other woman. "I really should get on the repairs for that tank. We
have enough water for now, but I'm not comfortable having one of the
Kristin drained the last of the coffee.
"I don't suppose you could use some help?" she said by way of
Hitchcock looked momentarily surprised,
then nodded. "Actually, it would go faster with a second set of
* * * * * *
"Eyes," Hitchcock snapped,
checking to make certain Westphalen had dropped the heavy protective eye
shield over her face. Like Hitchcock, she'd stripped off the sweater
she'd been wearing when the temperature had started to rise, and was
just wearing a light t-shirt.
Westphalen was braced in position,
holding the containment pipe straight, so Katie did a quick tack weld to
make sure things stayed put, then went back and ran a stronger bead.
Pale blue eyes narrowed behind the mask as she tried to keep track of
the joint line through the dark green glass and the haze of the
arc-welder's bright flare. Finally, she triggered off and flipped her
mask up, leaning in to check the weld. "I think that does it,"
the engineer pronounced at last and glanced back at her companion.
Kristin flipped the welding mask up.
"We're done then?" she questioned, sounding enormously
relieved by the idea. She was sore, exhausted, filthy beyond belief, and
rapidly acquiring a dusky redness on any exposed skin that Hitchcock had
merrily referred to as "welder's suntan." On the plus side,
she was no longer cold. She slid out of the thick leather gloves hiding
her hands and dropped them on the welder.
"Well, we need to put this stuff
away, but after that...yeah," Hitchcock assured her as she reached
over to toggle the power switch on the welder. She flicked off the heavy
leather gloves protecting her hands, then closed the unit up, coiling
cables and replacing them with automatic ease. "You made things go
a lot faster," she told Kristin as she watched the doctor
straighten. A brief flicker of discomfort crossed the older woman's
features as she slowly stretched out abused muscles. "I appreciate
Westphalen did a slow stretch, reaching
for the low ceiling as she felt her back pop back into place after being
in one uncomfortable position after another for the previous several
hours. "It's the least I could do," she exhaled.
Hitchcock snorted softly. "Believe
me, plenty of members of the science staff wouldn't have bothered."
"Oh, come on, we're not that
bad," Kristin wheedled.
Hitchcock shrugged. "You're
not that bad," she said pointedly. "And Levin's tolerable, but
I could generally do without the rest."
Considering that most of the science team
felt exactly the same way about the military members of the ship's crew,
Kristin couldn't restrain a smile. "Well, Halliard and Benton
are...well, rather useless actually, but most of the rest of them just
don't quite know how to deal with your lot." She shrugged.
"All spit and polish and following orders. It's a way of life that
doesn't compute for them." She reached for the welding unit to help
Hitchcock. "Here, let me give you a hand with that."
"Well, all I know is that you're
about the only one of them I think I could stand being locked up for
several weeks down here with," Katie growled as between them they
hefted the heavy equipment and began packing it away in the storage
Westphalen offered a cheeky grin.
"Oh, that's just my scintillating personality."
"I knew it was something."
Hitchcock grunted under the weight of the welder, pale eyes glittering
with teasing lights as she tucked the last of the equipment away then
closed the locker. She turned back too abruptly, realizing too late that
Westphalen was still standing just behind her and nearly knocked the
other woman over. Katie caught Kristin's hand, steadying her when she
might have slipped backwards. Standing almost toe to toe, the two women
"Thank you," Kristin exhaled as
she stared up into Hitchcock crystal blue eyes, startled to realize just
how pale they really were.
"It's the least I could do,"
Hitchcock knowingly repeated Kristin's earlier comment.
"Well, I do appreciate it,"
Westphalen said, surprised to find herself at a loss for words.
"The last thing I need is to take a tumble and add more dirt and
bruises to my already considerable collection."
"Happy to help...though you needn't
have worried. You make the dirt look good." Katie was amazed to
hear the smooth words sliding from her lips. God, a distant part
of her mind chastised, soon you'll
be stealing Ben's lines.
"Not half as good as you make it
look," Kristin demurred, and reached out, trailing a single
fingertip along a well-delineated bicep. She didn't know what demon was
driving her--no, that wasn't true, she did know and she wasn't resisting
its siren's call well at all. "The look rather flatters you."
Katie swallowed hard, her heart suddenly
roaring in her chest. "Well, the look may, but the smell doesn't. I
think a hot shower is in order," she said to cover the sudden
influx of nervousness. And then suddenly she remembered that, while the
officers quarters all had private bathroom facilities, the showers were
"Yes," Kristin agreed with
heartfelt sincerity. "That does sound heavenly..." and then
she trailed off as she too remembered their bathing circumstances.
They were both silent for a long moment
and then Hitchcock spoke. "You go on. I should probably check on a
couple of things first."
Kristin blinked. "But that's not
fair. You did most of the heavy work. You shouldn't have to wait."
"It's okay," Katie said to
dismiss the subject and started to pull away.
Kristin's hand on her bare arm brought
her back around. "You know, we could share," the doctor
pointed out and tried to ignore the frisson of awareness that slid down
her spine at the thought.
"I really don't think--"
"There are separate stalls and we're
both adults," Kristin added perfectly reasonably. "You
wouldn't think it would be a problem."
Katie swallowed hard, wondering if she
was the only one who's hormones were tending to carbonate at the
thought. "Yeah...adults..." Hitchcock dragged a hand through
sweat damp hair, scraping the loose tendrils back from her face. It was
a problem. A big problem.
Kristin's dark eyes tracked the movement
and she was painfully aware of the lean figure of the lieutenant
standing so close--actually, not that close, if she was honest with
herself, it just seemed that way. Unfortunately, a part of her brain was
insistently complaining that it wasn't nearly close enough.
"The problem is," Hitchcock
exhaled, "that's part of the problem." She lifted a hand to
finger a stray lock of russet hair that fell across Kristin's brow, half
expecting to have her arm knocked away. Instead, the doctor only
continued to watch, her intense brown eyes focused and tracking Katie's
hands. "If we weren't adults, I wouldn't want to do this," the
lieutenant exhaled and slipped her fingers back into sweat damp hair,
ducking her head slightly as she leaned forward to taste the doctor's
warm mouth. She waited for a hard shove that never came. Instead
Kristin's mouth opened on a soft gasp, unconsciously inviting a deeper
exploration and Hitchcock couldn't resist taking advantage. She tasted,
teased, learned the competing textures of silky lips and sharp teeth.
She pressed the shorter woman back against the cabinets, hands sliding
hungrily over graceful curves. They were both smelly, dirty, and
exhausted beyond belief...and somehow--against all odds-- it felt better
than anything had for either of them in a very long time.
Finally, breathless, her heart hammering
as if to escape her chest, Katie tore her mouth away from Kristin's,
gripping the cabinet pulls on either side of the other woman's head to
steady herself as she pushed back just far enough to stare into eyes so
dark they were nearly black.
Kristin tipped her head back on her
shoulders, exhaling heavily as she reached up and back to clutch the
cabinet pulls with white-knuckled strength, looking like she might have
collapsed without that tenuous support. It startled her to realize that
she missed the feeling of the lieutenant's body against her own; the
feel of both rounded curves and taut muscles molded impossibly close. It
had never occurred to her outside of her most private fantasies that the
sensation of a woman's body against her own could make her tremble and
want to beg for more.
"Kristin?" Hitchcock's voice
was a ragged whisper of its normal self.
"I'm still here," Westphalen
exhaled, unsurprised to find that her voice was no steadier. Their
fingers brushed where they both held the scant support of the door
handle and both women shivered with awareness. Kristin tipped her head
down, turning it to one side so she could feel the cool metal of the
cabinet against her heated cheek, only to find herself face to face with
a well-muscled bicep. As a doctor, she could name each muscle, explain
how it interacted with the other muscles in the arm, give whole lectures
on the veins and arteries that supplied the blood that allowed them to
flex and move, write papers on the smooth skin that covered them, and
probably put together a whole symposium on how it all worked together to
allow the human body to function the way it does. In that moment,
though, all she could think about was the simple wonder of another human
being. She released a door pull to slowly reach out and trail a single
finger along the curve of Katie's arm, marveling at the mix of softness
and strength. Hitchcock shivered hard and Kristin turned her head, eyes
lifting to meet the younger woman's crystalline gaze. It had been long
enough since she'd been this close to anyone that it was tempting to
just attribute the nuclear blast furnace of arousal burning through her
veins to an overextended bout of celibacy--something Kristin Westphalen
had never been especially good at--but the expression in Hitchcock's
eyes challenged her to look deeper than that simple answer. Silently,
Kristin reached up, running a tentative fingertip along a high
cheekbone, then trailing her touch down to outline full lips, quivering
with awareness when Katie's tongue slipped out to stroke her thumb as it
passed by. "This is dangerous," she breathed at last.
Hitchcock nodded in understanding,
knowing Westphalen was absolutely right and not particularly caring at
that moment. "Haven't you ever wanted to live a little
dangerously?" she groaned, leaning forward to taste the point of
the doctor's chin, nibbling gently before running her tongue over the
tiny pink spot left by sharp teeth.
Kristin could barely restrain an aroused
groan as she lifted a hand to Hitchcock's shoulder, pressing just hard
enough to break the sweet contact. "I've got a daughter nearly your
age," she gasped in a last ditch attempt to put a damper on the
hormones raging out of control. It was an effort doomed to failure.
"Let her find her own date,"
Katie groaned and then covered Kristin's mouth with her own. One of the
doctor's hands was still upraised and blindly clutching the door pull,
her fingers just touching Hitchcock's. With aching slowness, the
lieutenant released her grip on the cool metal to trail her fingers down
the length of Kristin's bare arm, then down the length of her torso.
Finally, she tugged her grimy t-shirt free of her jeans and slid her
hand under the soft fabric to lightly stroke the flat plane of Kristin's
stomach, enjoying the feel of muscles as they clenched and rippled in
response. "Admit it, it feels good," she pleaded when the
raging kiss finally broke.
Westphalen nodded dazedly. "It feels
good," she groaned, sliding her free hand under the bottom edge of
Katie's t-shirt and mimicking the fingers gently stroking her own body.
They shared another kiss, a tender, languid caress this time. The
pressure was off suddenly. In that last confession, the decision had
been made and they both knew it. There was no turning back, and as a
result, no need to hurry beyond the demands of their excited bodies. As
the latest kiss broke, Kristin tipped her head forward until her
forehead was just touching Katie's shoulder. Her nose wrinkled as the
thick smell of their mutual dirt and sweat reached her nostrils.
"Feels good," she panted. "Smells bad."
Laughing softly, Katie reached up and
gently tugged Kristin's remaining hand from the door pull. "You
have a point," she allowed, then leaned in to kiss warm lips again,
pressing Westphalen back against the cabinet in her eagerness.
"Which is why," she groaned through the blending of their
lips, "I think we should go with your idea of sharing the
"This wasn't quite what I had in
mind," Kristin admitted raggedly, but allowed the younger woman to
lead her from the room. The short journey to the communal showers took
place almost total silence, slowed only by their occasional pauses to
share fresh kisses and curious caresses. As they stepped inside the
steel lined room, Katie flipped on the hot water, then turned back to
face the woman she intended to make love to, gasping softly when Kristin
hooked a hand behind her neck and drew her head down to kiss her
hungrily. Katie groaned through the blending of their mouths as she felt
agile fingers slide down her torso, then hook into the bottom edge of
her shirt, peeling it upward. The lieutenant pulled back just long
enough to finish tearing the garment off over her head before tossing it
aside. A moment later, Kristin's t-shirt followed suit and then the rest
of their clothes joined the growing pile while the water heated and the
air grew steamy. Together, they stepped under the spray, letting the hot
droplets slide over their skin, while curious hands stroked and traced
slick curves, enjoying the wicked slide of flesh against flesh.
Katie drew her hands up Kristin's sides,
then stroked the rounded outer curve of her breasts. "You feel
good," she praised, then ducked her chin to wash her tongue along
the smooth arch of a slender shoulder. Reaching past the other woman,
she retrieved the soap and began slowly trailing it in erotic circles
and washing the inky grime away.
Kristin covered Katie's hand as it passed
between her breasts, guiding the bubbly path of the bar.
"Yes," she drawled knowingly. "I do." They kissed
again, moving the soap between their bodies, then sliding against each
other in slow frictionless thrusts. It felt so good the doctor could do
little more than mindlessly whimper as she trailed her hands over
Katie's sleek curves. "You are so beautiful," she gasped when
their kiss broke.
Bodies pressed close, limbs wound
together, they touched and explored as they washed away the sweat and
grime of the day's activities, pushing themselves almost to the limit,
but never past it.
"God," Katie whimpered and
buried her face in Kristin's shoulder, shivering as she skated the edges
Kristin petted the younger woman's dark
hair tenderly, combing the wet strands back from her face as she kissed
her cheek softly. She tucked her fingers under her chin, drawing her
head up to kiss her lightly on the lips. "I want you," she
exhaled, startled by the fierceness of the emotion burning in her chest.
She stroked Hitchcock's cheek. "So much."
Pale blue eyes slid closed for a long
moment. "Thank you," she breathed when she opened her eyes
Kristin outlined Katie's soft lips with a
delicate touch, shivering as it occurred to her that those lips would be
touching her everywhere, kissing, caressing, tasting, ranging over her
body with total freedom. "No," she whispered, her rich British
drawl washing over Hitchcock like a warm wave. "Thank you."
Her dark gaze locked with the lieutenant's paler one, and the doctor
reached back and shut off the water, then snagged a towel and began
gently buffing her new lover's skin dry. Her lips tipped up in a wicked
smile as she saw the way Hitchcock's pupils expanded and her breathing
grew even rougher. Unable to resist temptation, Kristin leaned forward
to taste the coral tip of one taut breast, washing her tongue around the
Katie whimpered low in her chest and slid
her fingers into thick russet hair to drag Kristin's head up, kissing
her wildly as she snatched the towel out of her hand and pulled her
close. She wrapped the towel around the doctor's narrow back, rubbing
the rough terrycloth against her silky skin to blot away the streamers
of water running over lush curves. "My cabin," she rasped
through the heady kisses.
"Yes," Kristin breathed, not
even remotely doubting her choice. She'd always been one to leap head
first when it came to lovers, never holding herself back once she'd made
Short minutes later, they tumbled into
the mussed sheets, instinctively fitting their bodies together, legs
twining, rounded curves dovetailing neatly.
"I've never done this," Kristin
panted between kisses.
"Yes, you have," Katie
disagreed and rolled the doctor beneath her, muscles flexing with
controlled strength. "Just not with a woman." She threaded her
fingers together with Kristin's, drawing her arms up over her head.
"And certainly not with me." She ducked her head, leaning down
to taste the upper curve of full breasts.
Kristin arched her back, whimpering
softly as she tried to press even closer to the sweet caresses that
floated over her chest. "But I'm finding that makes all the
difference," she gasped.
Hitchcock laughed low in her throat, the
soft sound vibrating against Kristin's skin as her lips danced lower,
weaving wet trails in erotic patterns. As the sensual caresses
continued, Kristin's breathing grew harsh, sweat beading on her fine
skin while she writhed and pleaded for more. Finally, Katie braced her
hands on the mattress on either side of the doctor's hips and pushed up
to stare down at the other woman, taking in every nuance of her arousal.
Her own body was throbbing with erotic intensity, the sensations pulsing
heat through her veins and leaving her breathless. She reached down,
twining her fingers with Kristin's once again, letting the doctor pull
her down until they lay breast to breast.
"Together," the doctor breathed
and began sliding her hands over Katie's lanky frame, her touch
infinitely sensitive, finding responsive rises and hollows, then
slipping through slick heat.
The lieutenant gasped, her body arching
this time. "Yes." She scissored her legs together with
Kristin's, slowly moving to increase the sweet friction heating the
space between their bodies as her own fingers sought and found silky
erogenous zones. And when the hot rush of pleasure flared through them,
they tasted each other's cries, and shared the harsh shudders of raw
pleasure that wracked their bodies.
In the hours that followed, the air was
thick with the scents and sounds of their lovemaking--soft entreaties,
tiny cries, the sound of flesh sliding on flesh, the heated musk of
sweat and arousal--as their passion ebbed and flowed, the rush of orgasm
followed by the languid aftermath and the slow rebirth of passion.
* * * * * *
Kristin awoke coiled safely in her new
lover's arms, very aware of the press of smooth skin against her own,
the slow steady rise and fall of Katie's breathing, the pleasant ache
throbbing through her muscles. She sighed softly as she peered at
Hitchcock's striking features, the sometimes harsh angles of her face
softened in sleep. She reached out, brushing silky dark hair back from
the younger woman's brow.
Katie blinked sleepily in response to the
gentle caress, momentarily uncertain until she remembered their
lovemaking of the night before. They shared a knowing smile and then a
Kristin stroked Katie's cheek tenderly,
then let her fingers slide down her throat and shoulder. "No
regrets?" she exhaled, soothing the flicker of worry she saw in
Hitchcock's eyes. Strong hands curved to Kristin's narrow back as Katie
drew her closer.
"None at all," the lieutenant
agreed, not pressing for anything past what they had already shared.
Kristin continued gently stroking Katie's
hair, then closed her eyes and turned into the hand that lifted to pet
her cheek. "I don't want this to be all there is," she
Katie's eyes slid closed, relief
softening her expression. "Then it won't be...we'll just take it
slowly." She kissed her lover softly. "And see where it take
us." And then she rolled Kristin beneath her, eyes glinting with
wicked lights as she grinned lustily. "But right now," she
continued as she pressed Kristin's hands over her head, stretching their
bodies together as desire heated anew. "I know where it's heading
for the next little while." She trailed her lips down Kristin's
throat, tasting and teasing.
It was only the beginning.
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