Cassiel Calhoun, Sorcha Johnstone and Hamish Ross
Sorcha liked the EMH, even if he was a bit strange looking and had a temper her grandfather might have called irascible, but she was thoroughly irritated by him at the moment, too. Renatus insisted she wasn't being transferred from the MASH because of the incident with the Klingon but it was obvious. Now, Izra'il was going to be looking at her with a jaundiced eye for sure. Nevertheless, she put on her best professional game face as she strode back into Sick Bay.
Cassiel forced himself to not flinch every time the damned doors opened but still...he allowed a small smile to crack his dried skin when he saw who came in. "Ah, Sorcha, I'm glad you're here. I need your help with something and your records look like you'd be the best one for this."
Hamish sat in his cell, because that's what it felt like to him: another cell, another place to put him to forget about him. His father had been called away. Probably had someone do that deliberately. No one would force themselves to sit in his presence for long, he was sure. Not of free will anyway.
Sorcha looked at the Xenexian doctor with a skeptical eye. He was a bit strange and very skittish but he usually made sense. "My records, Doctor? What did I do?"
"You did time in a rehabilitation hospital if I read right. That makes you our closest thing to a physical therapist. I've a friend aboard now," Cassiel began. Friend. Gods, now I actually know the funny talking Human's name. Must hate me now but what can be done? He's alive and that's what counts. "He's had his left arm removed and a hip regenerated."
Sorcha bit back a hiss of sympathy. The poor man If the doctor was calling him 'friend' he had to mean one of the freed prisoners. Brown eyes clouded with concern. "He'd need help learning to balance himself properly. To use the right hand if he was left handed..."
They were talking about him. God but he hated how they talked about him in such insipidly sympathetic tones. Hamish wanted to scream out, shout and cry and be unruly. He wanted people to stop feeling sorry for him. Biting back a small sniff, he felt a tear start in his eye. He wanted to stop feeling sorry for himself.
"Whatever it is, Sorcha," Cassiel said quietly, shaking his head, "I'm sure you're well versed in treating patients with dignity and respect."
"Well, yes, sir, except that Klingon grabbed my arm and Captain Swiftwind yelled at him," Sorcha explained.
"I can look at it later if you want but come with me. I'd like you to meet my friend," Cassiel said.
"Fuck," Hamish muttered as the curtain was pushed aside. He hastily wiped his eyes with the end of the left cuff of his pajamas. Not like he was using it for anything else. "Scuse me," he said with a smile that didn't get close to melting his eyes. "Got something in my eyes. Probably still sand from the camp."
"Well, I've got just the lady here to help you learn to use the eyewash station on your own, Hamish. I'd like you to meet another one of Tempest's very fine nurses, Lieutenant Sorcha Johnstone. Sorcha, this is my fellow freed man, Hamish Ross," Cassiel said simply.
Sorcha was no fool. She could tell from the man's eyes that it wasn't sand but she left him the dignity of the lie. "I'm pleased to meet you. Mr. Ross," she said as she held her hand out to him.
He looked down at the hand then up into her incredibly pretty eyes. Fool, he chided himself, don't look at her like that. She wouldn't thank you for it. His smile bright, he took the hand and shook it. "At least I can still shake hands," he laughed mirthlessly. "Can't write or play racketball anymore, but I can shake an attractive woman's hand. Yay me."
Before Cassiel could speak, Sorcha did. "Why not, sir? Certainly, it will be something of a challenge," she began, her delicate features not the least bit disengenuous, "but it can be done. You just have to learn how."
Tilting his head to the side, Hamish pierced her face with icicle eyes. "Why bother?"
"So that you can do whatever you want to do on your own," Sorcha explained. "Most people I've met in these situations don't want other people to always do things for them. It's Human nature for grown people to want to maintain their stature as grown people."
Cassiel carefully kept his mouth shut. He'd barely worked with Sorcha but the woman was looking directly at Hamish, not away from him in disgust or at his lack of an arm. She seemed to be looking at the man and not the injury. Good. Very good.
"Tape on a robotic arm," Hamish replied. "I'll learn to use that in my own time. I can pretend like I didn't lose the original and everyone'll be happy." He didn't mean to sound so harsh but he couldn't begin to understand how she was looking at him. Not a Human Being anymore, Ross, just a thing to be pitied and pandered to.
"I wasn't referring to a prosthetic device, sir. Whether you choose to have one put in place or not is certainly your decision but is there some reason you can't learn to do what you need to before then?" Sorcha asked. "It would be like learning two versions of a language."
"It would be like teaching a forty year old baby," Hamish snapped. "I'm not a child to be given lollipops when I manage to write my name intelligibly. As you so distinctly put it, I'm a grown man."
"First of all, I don't do the lollipop routine. Those things are no good for you," Sorcha said wryly. She pulled up a chair and sat so that she could talk to him eye to eye. "And you are no baby. Babies have no idea what they're doing. Adults have a harder challenge because they know what's supposed to happen. Your reward is the reward itself, the knowing that whatever it is--be it a signature, a winning score, playing a musical piece--is being done as it should be."
Beautiful eyes, he thought then thought, what the hey... "You have very pretty eyes," he told her softly. "I'm sorry I'm being so rude. Can't seem to get off the pity parade today."
"Well aren't you the charmer?" Sorcha said brightly, flashing him a smile. "You needn't be sorry, sir. You have every right to be angry and you have every right to grief." She patted his hand then gripped it slightly. "The thing to do is to get you to learn to swim well enough to get out of wallowing in the self pity so that you can get up and out."
"Help me then?" He sat up a little as he smiled at her and gave her hand a squeeze. "And call me Hamish. I'm resigning when I get the chance, so may as well start being a civilian now."
Cassiel finally cleared his throat. "That's actually why I brought her over here, Hamish. Sorcha knows how to teach people the things they need to know. I tell ya, man, they have some great nurses on this ship. Pretty and smart."
"So I see," Hamish said, not looking away from her. He was enchanted and he knew it. Just a silly crush. But oh what a crush.
She knew the doctor was teasing because it was clear to all of the nurses that his heart was for Sergeant Reynam but Hamish was certainly trying his best to be a flirt and she liked it. "Well then before you gentlemen let this all go to my head," she said with an easy smile, "why don't you tell me what sort of clothing you prefer to wear, Hamish? After all, it's the first thing most people do when they get up in the morning: get dressed."
"When I'm home, I dress in Ross tartan," he said with a fond smile. "I used to have the legs for the kilt, you know. When I'm on leave somewhere else, I go for slacks and a shirt of the Ross tartan over a t-shirt."
"With the amount of exercise you'll be getting from all this re-learning, you certainly get those legs back," Sorcha told him. "I might not mind seeing them either but let's go and get you up. First lesson of the plan is you're doing the choosing yourself."
"Doing the choosing?" Hamish slid his legs tentatively to the ground. He couldn't quite stand so he leaned against the bed. "I don't understand."
"I'm not familiar with Ross tartan. Certainly I could just look it up but they're your colors, aren't they? You'd be the better choice to pick them out of what's in the replicator's pattern buffers. Plus you'd get to pick the material," Sorcha explained.
"Get something softer than usual, Hamish," Cassiel suggested. The shirt and pants had belonged to someone else but so very soft. H's'l'ng had left him the dignity of putting those soft things on himself. "Anything too scratchy is...annoying."
"Silk," he said softly with a sigh. "My mother once made me a silk shirt from our tartan. And silk trousers, maybe black...."
"Alright then the first thing you need to know is that your balance is going to be off. If you lean where you feel the balance is missing, you'll fall or get dizzy," she told him. She stepped to his side then looked up at him. "Use your legs to push up and correct any balance issue by leaning the opposite way."
"My legs are like pins," he told her. "They won't hold me."
"You won't know til you try," Sorcha said gently. "And if you falter, remember the old saying that if you fall down seven times then you get up eight."
He laughed brightly, his soft scottish rumble echoing round the small space. "Right you are then. Ready with the dustpan and brush? I might need to be swept up off the floor in a minute." His right arm extended outwards, he took one tentative step and teetered but then another and another. "Bloody hell, I can walk."
"Well, any victory, however small, is a victory," Sorcha stated, staying at his side just in case. "Good for you."
"I might be crazy as hell but I do happen to be a decent surgeon, Hamish," Cassiel said with a snort. "Sorcha, I'll be in my office if you need anything."
"Wasn't your surgery skills I was worried about, Doc," he chimed as he took another step. "It was my living up to them. Okay lovely lady, where're you taking me? Paris? Risa? The jeweled cliffs of Lungiia Twelve?"
"To the replicator first to get you those silks, Hamish, but all of those sound good to me," Sorcha said with a twinkle in her eye. "We can go whenever you feel up to it."
"I wanted to take Una with me once to Lungiia but she hates space travel," he said as they made slow but definite progress to the replicator. "It's gorgeous. Almost like how I imagine prehistoric Earth to have been. The inhabitants are almost dinosaurs you know. I met lots of them but one in particular stayed with me. He was a Lieutenant in Starfleet, name of Tane. Really nice chap, very funny. He played the double bass in a jazz group. He was good too."
"Saurinoids then? How very interesting. I think our EMH is based on a Gnalish," Sorcha mused, still keeping a steady eye on his gait. "He's rather a cranky sort but they programmed him quite well. I think Gnala is a jungle type world, though. Lungiia sounds...desertlike."
"It's everything," he said with a deeply fond smile. "Like Earth. They have lots of different races too; ones that fly and ones that live in the vast oceans as well as the ones on the land. Their oceans cover more of their planet than ours do. I met their Federation representative too. Now that's one distinctive lady. She's a fish, over twenty feet long and so many colours that it leaves your eyes dancing in your head. She sits in a tank for the council meetings but when the council's not in session, she swims in Earth's oceans. She is one fascinating fish, got a sense of humour that just boggles the mind. I swear I've never laughed so much. And her best jokes are the ones about us land-locked bipeds. I'll introduce you to her if you like. Hey," he beamed, not even noticing that he was now managing to balance and walk with ease and without thinking about it, "maybe the Cairngorm'll be in when we get to DS9. It's my Dad's flag ship after all. Then I could introduce you to Tane."
"Now that I'd like to do. He sounds fascinating and I admire anyone who can play a musical instrument since I'm totally helpless at it." She looked up at him curiously. When he spoke about things and people he remembered, his whole face lit up and his eyes sparkled with life. Good, she told herself. There's a spark. "I wonder if the Fed rep ever spoke to the dolphins and whales then. I've heard they really can speak..."
They were at the replicator by then and Sorcha nodded with her chin toward the input panel. "Nothing's changed with these at all but don't lean forward. Most men have a tendency to lean forward with this for some reason. If your balance is off, you won't catch yourself properly."
"Hmm? Oh, aye, thanks," he smiled at her as he made sure to stand as she told him. "She has, you know. Spoken to whales and dolphins. She says the dolphins are fun and love her sense of humour but the whales are awfie dull." He frowned when he went to move his left arm and nothing happened. "Idiot," he muttered angrily.
"Not idiot," Sorcha corrected gently, "More like habit and it's one that's hard to unlearn." She slipped closer to him and slid an arm around his waist from the left side. "Now, you'd have to reach with the right." With her arm around him, she winked and said, "Even the orcas? I always thought they were beautiful."
"Orcas?" He blinked at her proximity and suddenly didn't feel much like moving or doing anything that would make her move. His right hand came round to touch her cheek and he sighed. "It's been... too long since I had a woman this close, Lieutenant. Are you sure it's so wise to stand like that? I could end up hurting you or touching you or... I don't know how well I can control myself."
"I said you were charming before," Sorcha told him. "You are. That tells me that, even if you have been treated like an animal like Dr. Calhoun says, you haven't become one." Soft brown eyes looked up at him steadily. "I'm not afraid of you, Hamish."
"I am," he whispered. "I'm petrified of what I've become." Almost in proof of his point, he leaned in and kissed her softly.
"Not an animal," she said quietly. "That was very sweet. I don't think Dr. Calhoun will mind if I tell you how he's been since he's come aboard. He's got a bizarre sort of temper but Sergeant Reynam says that's a Xenexian thing. He's skittish is the best word I can think of. Sometimes afraid of the slightest change in noise levels." She put her hand on his chest as she looked up at him, looking him in the eye as any being deserved. "If you've changed, it doesn't mean you've changed for the worst."
Leaning his forehead down and resting it on hers, he closed his eyes tight shut. "Everything scares me. Sleeping, because I might wake up and this was all a dream. Breathing, because it hurts a little. Drinking the tea, blinking, walking... even standing here and being held by a beautiful woman. What if, when I open my eyes, you're not there anymore? What if you are, but it's pity in your eyes? I'm so scared of everything."
"It's alright to be afraid, though. It's perfectly natural. And you will never see pity in my eyes," Sorcha said, patting his shoulder gently. "Sympathy, maybe, because I hate to see anyone in any sort of pain, but pity is for the helpless and you are not helpless." She reached to take hold of his hand. "And if you fall asleep and wake up and I'm not there, tell Renatus to call me. I'll come right over."
"You'd do that?" Hamish asked, opening his eyes tentatively. She was still beautiful and still there. "I'm no one special, but you'd do that for me and not the others?"
"Says who that you aren't special?" she teased. "Us nurses love Dr. Calhoun, quirkiness and all. He treats us so much better than the previous CMO, you know. He was very open about the people he knew in that camp, described them even though he didn't know names. You're one of the ones he talked about a lot." She still held his hand as she spoke, still looking up at him, still smiling softly. "I might have other patients to see to but you're special."
"Why?" he said, his eyes dropping away from hers as colour crawled up his cheeks.
She tilted her head slightly as she pondered her answer. "I find you charming, but you know that already. You're strong, too. Despite all you've gone through, you're still here. Anyone would have to admire such strength." She grinned up at him. "And I can see the sort of thing that Sergeant Reynam sees in Dr. Calhoun. You're a very fine looking man."
"Oh God," he sighed. "You're so sweet, so lovely." Placing his rough lips on hers again, he kissed her just as softly as he did before. "I'm married," he groaned. "I have two sons. I shouldn't... This is wrong... isn't it?"
Sorcha bit back a sigh. Of course he would be and some lucky woman would have a fine man to welcome home. That kiss almost made her weak in the knees. "I...it probably is but don't apologize for that kiss either. It was rather lovely, Hamish. She's a lucky woman to have you returned to her and I'm sure your sons will be thrilled." She gave him a quick hug. "This doesn't change anything I said, though. You're still stuck with me."
His right arm wrapped around her and held her to his chest, his chin on her crown so he could breathe in her soft scent. "Not stuck, blessed," he corrected. "To borrow a common phrase: you're a sight for sore eyes."
He probably would be quite broad shouldered and well built when he was back to health. Sorcha could feel that as he held her. Lucky, lucky wife, she told herself. "How about we use those sore eyes to pick you out those silks you need?" she asked quietly. "Better than walking about in Fleet issued scrubs."
"You're right." He stepped back a little then, on a whim, he kissed her once more, lingering more over it, pressing his lips firmer against hers. Once he let her go, he returned his attention to the replicator and made it list all of the Ross tartans on file. The one he wanted he recognised immediately. Its predominent colour was red with blues and greens running through it, mixing together to make thin lines of purple and turquoise. Grinning to himself, he ordered a shirt of silk Ross tartan and a pair of black silk trousers. "There you go, what d'you think?" he asked as he held the shirt up to show her.
"It's lovely," she said with a smile. "It'll be something of a challenge getting dressed the first few times but, once you get the hang of it, it'll become the second nature it always was." She slipped her arm back around him to turn him around. "Shall I take you to get dressed?"
"Please." Something had just occured to him and it made his cheeks colour with shame. "I... I need to order a new shirt. This one has two arms."
"No," she said gently, laying a hand on his chest. "You don't have to. First of all, it would make the shirt look off linewise. We can just pin up the sleeve. And besides, if you've got buttons on the other sleeve, we can use those for practice."
It was totally humiliating, the thought that he'd have to pin up a sleeve and everyone would see his disfigurement immediately. Worse was the sudden realisation that he probably couldn't dress himself properly either, so she'd have to help him. "I should have died down there," he whispered harshly. "I'm nothing but a nuisance and a waste of space back here. It'll be worse when I get home. I can't even pick my sons up anymore."
Sorcha led him to one of the sitting areas that was somewhat private and sat him down. "You are no nuisance, Hamish," she said gently, her hands resting on his arm. "Nor is anyone who's gone through so much a waste of space. Your strength of will is amazing. It's alright for it to falter now that you have some support." She slipped the hand around his waist and held him. "I'm sure your sons will be glad to have you home. Dad is dad no matter what."
Grief for a moment flashed across his face. "Una won't," he said sadly. "She's a good mother and a fine wife but she has certain... prejudices to those who aren't quite whole."
"That would be quite a shame," Sorcha told him. "This," and she touched his left shoulder unflinchingly, "does not make Hamish Ross who he is." She then moved her hand to touch his chest, laying it over his heart. "This does. But who knows? She may."
"M'by I don't want her to," he whispered. "M'by I left my love for her down there in that place. M'by..." He brushed her cheek as softly as he could. "I'm a married man... would you still let me kiss you?"
A slight flush climbed Sorcha's cheeks. "Only if you want to," she told him, looking up into his eyes, realizing how very blue they were. "But that's not the only reason why. I wouldn't let just anyone do that, y'know. I wasn't kidding before. You're charming and I can see the handsome man underneath. I can see him right now."
"If I hurt you, tell me," he said with all seriousness. "If anything I do scares you, you have my permission to get Cassiel's large escort to break me in half. Admittedly it'd only take a match stick to break me in half."
"I'll tell you if you hurt or scare me, Hamish, but that's hard t'do and Stan's not going to break you in half. He'd just pick you up and move you. I think that guy could move a whole house without even blinking," she said with a chuckle. "But don't be afraid to talk to me, either, or to anyone else. It doesn't make you weak to tell people you're afraid or angry or whatever. It takes strength."
"Or if I can't do something on my own?" he asked, feeling his colour rise again with his shame. "I don't think I can dress myself yet."
Sorcha stood up and nodded at him. "Let's get back to your bed area and I can begin your first lesson in that. It's always hard but I promise, sooner or later, it will be second nature."
Every joint he moved creaked so loudly he was sure Sorcha had heard it as he rose to his feet. He followed her like a lost sheep, his right hand settled around her waist in gentle comfort. "Tell me why you became a nurse?" he asked as they returned to his make-shift room and she closed the curtains for him.
"My father is a nurse," she told him. "There's not a lot of men that take that job but he's good at it. When I was little, I could see how much he loved his job and I figured that I might want to try it. He's always encouraged me, though he did make a face at Starfleet, saying he didn't want his daughter out in the middle of nowhere. He's gotten over it but he still grumbles now and then."
"You're a good nurse," he told her. "There's an unusually high number of good nurses here. I even met your chief. Unusual lady. Never met a Romulan with blonde hair before. Have to admit, it still rattles me a bit to think of one in Starfleet at all." He laid his shirt out on the bed and started unbuttoning it but the work was slow because the soft material kept slipping and sliding under his fingers. Once he was finished, he stared at it as if it was something alien and about to jump up and kill him. "I, err, don't know how to put it on."
"It's going to take a bit of leaning about at first," she told him. "What you need to do is slip your arm through the right sleeve then lean to have the left half close enough to catch the first closure. After that, it'll just be a question of getting the rest of them."
"Could you help me?" he asked as he shrugged out of his gown and was left in his shorts. Dear God, he thought, I'm a skelleton. "You shouldn't have to look at this," he groaned.
"I do things because I want to, Hamish, not because I have to," she replied as she picked the shirt up and stood behind him. "Hold your arm out and slide it through. I'll hold the other side up til you get the first closure done." Brown eyes smiled gently at him. "You know, I can see with Sergeant Reynam's eyes now. I can see what she sees in Dr. Calhoun but I'm not quite looking at him."
"I could love you for the rest of my life for that," he said softly as he felt himself dressed then used his hand to button the first button. It was even slower with the shirt on him, he felt like a little boy having to dress himself for the first time. "Tell me something else about the pretty lady who's dressing me?"
"You mean the one who's helping you dress yourself," Sorcha corrected him, firmly but kindly. "There's not much to tell, really. I love reading old, old books, fireplaces are the best part of a house to me, and I love your accent. It's very charming. Too many people try to hide regional differences and that's a shame."
"You met my father then," he chuckled. "He prefers to keep his under wraps and it only comes out when he's really angry." Okay, he thought, the shirt is done. Eyeing the trousers with obvious trepidation, he sighed. "This is gonna be interesting. I think I may just fall over if I try this."
"Actually, no, I haven't met him. The most I did hear about him, though, usually involved the word 'loud'," Sorcha said, wrinkling her nose in amusement. "And you won't fall if you sit down to put them on. You sit on the edge of the bed like you were putting on shoes and try it that way."
He gave her a dubious look but tried it anyway. "Dear God, I'm stiff as a board," he complained when he realised he couldn't bend far enough. "You got a gripper or something? Anything to help me get my trousers on. Maybe I should've gone for a kilt. At least that ties round my waist."
"Ought to try suspenders actually. A bit old fashioned but they stretch and give you something to grip," she mused. "How about I try and help you this time and we work on another strategy for next time?"
"I would be most obliged to a young lady if she would," he said smoothly, a twinkle in his eye. "Might even be as much as wanting to buy you dinner. You eat and I watch and have a pot of tea."
The matter of the trousers was easily handled then she gave him a tiny nudge with her finger. "I might just like that. I'm sorry about the just tea and supplements but you are definitely not the only one who'll be on that plan. If you shock your system too quickly, you'll end up sick." Warm brown eyes smiled up at him. "Can't have that, now can we?"
One arm snaked around to pull her closer to him and he leaned in to kiss her softly. "No, can't have that."
She marveled at his ability to be so tender and sweet when he was obviously so hurt and looking into such an uncertain future. "A girl could get used to this sort of thing," she said as she leaned into his embrace.
Long fingers curled through her hair as he placed another kiss on her nose then ducked back down to kiss her with a little more passion. "Where do you live? I have to know where to come to pick you up for our evening engagement."
"Most of the medical personnel live in the same area and I'm in the computer," she replied. "It seems a stupid idea to have us all in one place when we could have a problem on that deck, for example, and then we'd be out the whole medical staff. Dr. Tomilson wasn't too terribly smart."
"Tomilson... that the CMO that Cassiel replaced?" His hand drifted down her back gently, he was simply enjoying the freedom to hold her, touch her, draw in her scent.
"Mmm hmm. It's probably wrong to speak ill of the dead but she was a bit of a martinet and had the compassion and sensitivity of a houseplant. My dad would've quit if he worked for her. Maybe I'll drop a thought in Dr. Calhoun's ear about that, though. It'll be a good distraction for him to work on that with Chief Lynley," Sorcha mused. It was entirely too comfortable and perfect, the way he was holding her so she wrapped an arm around him, moving slightly closer. "His accent is a bit closer to yours to my ears."
"Another Scott? My God, is this ship inundated with us at the moment?" he laughed deeply. Burying his face in her hair now he could reach it, he sighed happily. "Soft," he murmured, "and you smell so sweet. I feel a touch of the Bard coming over me. Be warned, I may start quoting Burns to you at random intervals." Had Una smelled this sweet? Had he been this romantic with her? He couldn't remember. All he knew was she had the most piercing green eyes of anyone he'd ever met but that was all. And she was a good mother. That he knew for certain. He couldn't even remember if he'd loved her, though he must have done.
"No, I think Chief Lynley's English actually. He sounds like he walked out of some old time holonovel. The most absolutely perfect diction I've ever heard out of anyone but, you know, not the least bit pretentious or uppity." She wanted desperately to ask about his wife but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She didn't want this gentle, romantic flow to stop. Dad said this could happen one day, she told herself. Just you be sure it isn't pity, Sorcha, he'd said. That's worse than rejection and it's cruel. "Poetry? Now that would be lovely. Can I ask what you did before you were imprisoned?"
"I was a Commander," he said in a soft whispered, stroking her face then down her neck and arm. "I had my own small team of Security officers. We were ground troops, sort of like Starfleet's answer to the Marines. I've always been a Security man, never worked on a ship either. Before I had my own team, I worked in other people's, even did a stint as one of the President's guards. That was interesting work. If I stay in the 'Fleet, I think I'd like to go back to something like that."
"Impressive," Sorcha stated. "You know, I bet I could talk one of our Security people or one of the Marines into helping you learn to reshoot, if that's something you want." He was taller than her and she had to stretch on the tips of her toes to do it but she reached to kiss him lightly. "In fact, if it's still the same president as when you served on, I know the chief's got his ear and I'm sure he'd be glad to hear you're back among us."
"It was Sandreight, he still in charge?" Not that it mattered right then, all he wanted was to kiss her and hold her close.
What beautiful eyes, she told herself as she reached to kiss him again. She could feel almost all the bones in his body but she could also feel the strength that lay hidden in them and in him. This man is amazing. "My god but you taste good," she said, her lips barely apart from his.
"I do?" he blinked, a smile turning up his mouth. "Not all musty and disgusting?"
"No, not all musty and disgusting at all," she said, gently touching the dried, chapped skin on his face. "Sweet and spicy at the same time."
"You're so sweet," he sighed. "You know, I've never felt like this before. Never felt this connected or liked. Maybe it's just a symptom, but I hope not."
"Symptoms make it sound like an illness that needs curing," Sorcha mused. "You need healing but you don't need curing. D'you want to take a walk?"
"That would be good, now I'm all spiffy in my shirt and trousers." Easing himself back to his feet, he kept his arm around her and kissed her crown. "Take me somewhere beautiful."
"You're the man they were talking about in that old song: a sharp dressed man," Sorcha said brightly. She had been about to suggest the arboretum but she knew Mister J'Lan was there quite frequently and the thought of Hamish running into him at the moment was not an incredibly bright one. "Observation lounge or stellar cartography or holodeck?"
"Holodeck," he said quickly. Blushing a little at his speedy answer, he shrugged his right shoulder. "Might see that place from either of the others. On the holodeck, you can show me anywhere you like and I can pretend like we're just two lovers walking arm in arm."
"That's fine. I can show you my favorite camping place in the world but it has to be a fall season because the leaves are gorgeous when they change color," she said happily. "Have you ever been to what used to be called Dutch country in the old US?"
He shook his head. "Show me?"
Her arm comfortable around his waist, she led him out into the corridor. Quite a few of the faces they passed were understandably grim but they all had a kind word or gesture of acknowledgement for Hamish. That made Sorcha happy. She would have hated to have anyone shy away from him or say something she'd have to kill them for.
"It's in the countryside of the state that's known as Pennsylvania. The people that live there aren't actually from Holland, though. They were from Germany, arriving back in the 1700 era. Some of them still practice their old ways. They're lovely people and the countryside...oh, Hamish, it's beautiful in every season!" Her eyes lit up as she spoke. "I even went on a sleigh ride in the snow once. It was so enchanting!"
"Your home," he said with a smile. "That would be amazing."
She looked at him skeptically. "I like it but I don't know that it's all that amazing. It's been just me and Dad for years and we made the house look very lived in. Do you really want to see?"
"How is that any different to anyone else's?" he asked with a smile. "Mine was a small cottage made for two but housing four in the Grampian mountains. It was old and half rundown because I was never home long enough to fix it. Dad told me everyone moved into the family estate, which is a good thing." He sounded half convinced of it too. "Bloody great castle that my father never stays in for the same reason I never stayed at home. If I know my sister, it's been done up and refurbished and finally modernised."
"A castle? Really? How very interesting but there's also something to be said for the little houses. They'd be all cozy and close, practically demanding a big orange cat or a huge fluffy dog."
"How about two huge fluffy dogs and a tabby?" Hamish asked with a chuckle. "Irish wolf hounds, in fact. Huge great things and so gentle, you wouldn't believe. Arthur and Gwain. The tabby was a girl so she was Guinevere. We called her Guinny for short."
"Perfect then," Sorcha said, hugging him around his waist as they walked. "I always thought that pets made for a more soothing atmosphere. Our Labrador used to drag his toys to the rug in front of the fireplace and play in front of the warmth. Bozo tolerated Clara's playing with his tail."
"Clara?" he asked as they sauntered along.
"The great big orange cat in question," she said with a grin. "She was the boss of the pair and delighted in teasing that poor dog to no end. She even used to swipe at my dad's leg , even knowing he couldn't feel it."
"He lost his leg?" Hamish asked. He felt like a nosey kid, asking so many questions of her. "That why you're so good with someone like me?"
"Yes and no. I'm good with you because I like you. You're charming and rather attractive. But, yes, he lost his leg in a ground car accident when I was five. Watching him get used to the prosthesis and getting back to work was what inspired me to go into that side of nursing," Sorcha explained. She'd been asked that question before and didn't mind answering. She just wanted him to understand that, had she met him before the loss of the arm, she still would have found him attractive. "He makes faces about Starfleet but he's happy."
"He should be proud of you," he said, holding her to his side. "I would be. You're such a sweet, lovely woman. You care."
"I'm not perfect," Sorcha said, wrinkling her nose. "There's a Klingon among your fellow freed men who I'd like to knock on his ass for being an arrogant ..." She offered him an apologetic smirk and shrug. "I should be more understanding but it just ticked me off. Our head nurse is going to look at it like I did something wrong."
"How d'you know that?" he mused. "You can't always predict how someone else will react to things. She seemed fairly level headed when I saw her. Put up with my moping anyway. Just talk to her, see what she says."
"Oh I will but it just irked me, made me feel like I got sent topside because I did something wrong. I guess Captain Swiftwind did the right thing," Sorcha said with a slight snort. "He threatened to beat the daylights out of the guy when he felt better."
"Send the guy to me, I'll beat him with one hand tied behind my back." He laughed brightly, pulling her even closer with that one hand. "I'll give him what is known as a Glaswegian kiss."
She burst out laughing, her eyes dancing, at his response. For a moment, he sounded as if he'd actually made a bit of light of his situation and that lightened her attitude even more. "Do I want to know what that is or should Captain Swiftwind just turn a blind eye?"
"Well now, let me give you a hint," he grinned, adoring the sound of her laughter. "With no hands to punch him, it'd leave me with a bit of a headache, especially those ridges." His smile softened and he cuddled her again. "God, woman, you have the most amazing laugh. I could fight the known universe for it."
"Oh now that's good, that's very good," she said brightly, "but don't be hurting such a fine looking head, though. I suppose he was just being Klingon. Maybe I'll just go visit down there later and give him a chance to atone for his stupidity."
"Take me with you," he asked softly. "I'd like to see them all. Can I?"
"To the MASH? It's set up down in the shuttle bay," she began, looking up with concern in her eyes. "Hamish, are you sure about that? I'm sure they'll be glad to see you but can you take seeing them?"
"I saw them day in and day out for five years," he chuckled, kissing her on her nose playfully. "Seeing them in a better place would be a balm to my sore eyes."
"We could go now if you want," she said carefully. She understood that these men were familiar to him but she was afraid for him. "I'll introduce you to our EMH. He's...unusual."
"I'd like that, but I was promised pretty autumn trees," he said softly, smiling down at her.
"Your choice, my fine Scot," Sorcha told him. "All this walking is good for you." She reached up to kiss his cheek. "So's that."
"If I was but half the man I used to be, bonny lass, I'd sweep you up in my arms and carry you off," Hamish grinned. He couldn't believe himself, acting all poetic and romantic barely hours after liberation. "But then I'm not, so we'll have to settle for walking, talking and sweet kisses."
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll carry me off one day any way. Ah ha, here we are then." They'd reached the holodeck. Grinning a bit in anticipation, Sorcha said, "Computer, run PennDutch Johnstone3." As soon as it bleeped to indicate it was running, she took Hamish by the hand and led him inside.
His smile was soft until she led him in and then he froze, his jaw dropping. Trees. Proper trees. Rows and rows of them in autumn adornment. How long since he'd seen a tree anywhere except his mind? How many millenia had it been? He let her go so he could wander over to one and stroke a leaf through his fingers. It felt so real. Dampness soaked into his shirt and he realised he was crying. A great, rendering sob tore out of his lungs as he plucked the leaf from the tree and held it to his lips. He knew it wasn't real but it felt it. It was closer than he'd been to it in five years. Sinking to his knees, he cradled the leaf to his chest and let himself cry.
Sorcha knelt next to the man and simply put her arms around him. He had every right to cry. From what she'd heard, the prison camp was in a desert setting so hot during the day and freezing at night. He was a tall man but felt so insubstantial in her arms as she gently rubbed his back and shoulders. Very softly, she began to speak.
"I know for a fact that this place is still an active farm. It's been one since the 1700s, run by the Yoder family. They still follow the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch ways but the current Mr. Yoder, the head of the family, and my father are good friends. He lets us come and go on the farm as we please, saying even a fancy sort needs a plain place to set himself now and then." She was still gently stroking his back and shoulders as she spoke and even leaned to kiss the top of his head. "That's what they call us who don't follow their ways--fancy or English."
As his tears subsided, Hamish pulled her closer to him. "We have a farm on my father's lands, with sheep and some cows. At the edge of one of the fields there's a forest and it stretches out as far as you can see. It's pines and Scotch Firs but trees. I miss them."
"Mr. Yoder's got sheep somewhere on the farm. They actually spin the wool and make their clothing from it. And there are definitely cows, goats, chickens...not the sort of things too many people see these days," she told him. "There are mostly deciduous trees, no evergreens here, but then that's why they have this gorgeous color."
"Thank you," he whispered in a choke. "Sorcha, thank you for this. I know they're not real but close, closer than I've been in... too long."
"For what you've been through, for what you've had to endure, this is so very little repayment." Strong but gentle hands stroked his hair. "It's funny that this low tech setting is created by high tech wizardry but that's how it is. Don't thank me, Hamish. I'm happy to be here with you."
"Stay with me?" he asked quietly, shyly. "I know I sound like a scared wee boy but I need you."
"Of course I will." For some reason she couldn't quite understand, she felt her cheeks color but then she laid a hand on his face. It felt too thin and fragile, a veritable mockery of the vital, vibrant man he seemed to be. "And you've every right to be scared."
"Your touch is so soft," he noted. "I've never had cause to be touched by a nurse before, but even if I had I don't think their touch would be quite as soft as yours."
As if to answer him, she brushed his cheeks with the back of her hand then leaned to kiss him softly. "For all the pain you've gone through, and for all that's going to come, you deserve something soft and gentle in the interim." The setting seemed to remind her of something and she very gently squeezed his hand. "I've got something that's soft that you can have for as long as you want. They make handmade quilts in this part of the state. It's a down right art and I've got one on my bunk in my quarters. You need it more than me."
"No," he shook his head slowly. "I can't take that from you. That's just not fair."
"Who said anything about taking it?" she asked. "I want you to borrow it for as long as you need it. Or..." She clamped her mouth shut, feeling her face burn at her thoughts.
"Or what?" He frowned at her burning face, stroking it with his hand. "Sorcha?"
"You wouldn't have to borrow it if you shared it instead," she said quietly, looking up at him through long lashes.
"As in..." he felt his own cheeks darken, even as a small, shy smile curled his lips, "share your bed? You'd do that for me?"
"Not for you, Hamish," Sorcha said as she finally looked up at him. She knew her face was as red as his was but she was definitely neither ashamed nor afraid. "but with you. If I'm out of line, say so and I'll just shut up."
"You're not," he said firmly. "You're amazing. Please, never shut up." Leaning forward, he kissed her deeply, his hand losing itself in her hair.
Sorcha wrapped her arms around him, pulling him closer. She didn't want to overwhelm him and wanted to leave him a measure of control but his kisses were sparking incredible passion in her. As she pressed the kiss deeper, all she could think of was 'how could she even think of not wanting him?'
He laid tiny kisses along her jaw, forcing himself to stop when he felt the urge to nibble at her ear. "When I'm stronger, more me again, I'll lift you up and make love to you all through the night. I swear it."
"I think...no, I know I'd like that," she said softly, brushing his face with the back of her hand again. "How much more you are you then? I don't see you as, excuse me for this, the same sort of man your father is."
"My father?" Hamish laughed and it was a free, wonderful, joyous laugh that warmed him inside. "He's a stubborn old man. Grumpy too. No, my mother, god rest her soul, told me I was more like her father than mine. Happy, charming and a little on the roguish side. If you'll believe it."
"I think I can see that," she said with a wink. She happily snuggled a bit closer to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Now, my dad says I'm the other way around: like him and not like my mother. She left us when I was six, about a year after Dad lost his leg, but Dad still says I'm nothing like her. It, ah, wasn't a pretty split."
"She left you?" he asked softly, his brows drawing together. "I couldn't imagine it. My mother loved us, but she died not long after my sister resigned from Starfleet. That would be..." he sighed sadly, "over ten years ago."
"Left us," Sorcha affirmed, her nose wrinkling in disdain. "I think my grandmother once said the words 'social climbing bitch' to describe her. Not too classy to have a not perfect husband and a kid who isn't Miss Perfect. Her loss, I say." From her comfortable position, she looked at Hamish curiously. "Did you talk to your father yet then? News from home?"
"He comes to see me," he whispered, his eyes turning haunted. "Tells me about my boys and that I have a new neice. My sister's girl, apparently. He said he spoke to Una but won't tell me what she said. He's avoiding something."
Sorcha bit her tongue, considering what he'd said before about the woman's ideals of perfection. "It's up to you to ask him if you really want to know. He's got high enough clearance to make calls but I don't think they're letting anyone really call home themselves yet," she said quietly, holding him a bit closer.
"They're not," he replied, cuddling into her. "I don't even know if any of the other families have been told yet."
"I don't think they have. I don't think that Dr. Calhoun has even tried but I don't know if he has family or not. Do you suppose the worse of what you were thinking has come true?"
"What's that, love?"
"What, ah, you said about her prejudices..."
"Aye, that's what I'm assuming," he nodded gravely. "He's not the type to mince his words, my father. He's honest too. He wouldn't sugar coat it to make it sound better than it is either."
"Then flat out ask when you're ready to. I'll go with you if you want or you can ask Dr. Matthews, too." She kissed his cheek. "But that's when you're up to it."
"Not today. Today is for a little sweetness," he smiled, wondering at how easily he could move from fear to joy. "Show me around your home."
"I'd have to change programs for that," she told him. "We live a bit away from here. It's in the same county but it's more modern. We have artificial power."
"Show me anything you like then," he grinned as he climbed very unsteadily to his feet, sinking to one knee more than once.
Sorcha flowed to her feet easily then held out her arm. "Grab hold if you feel off balance. All of you men are nutritionally off so don't be surprised at a bit of weakness," she said matter of factly. "Computer switch in program Johnstone4."
She loved that the deck ran so seamlessly that way. The view changed subtly so that a road appeared a ways ahead, with a driveway leading toward an old one storey house.
"All work," he teased softly as he leaned against her. "Such a practical mind."
"Well, I can't have Dr. Calhoun thinking I wasn't taking proper care of you, especially when he had the funniest way of referring to you before he knew your name," she said brightly. "Besides, maybe a girl might not mind a man holding on to her."
"Now what did the Doc call me?" he asked curiously, sliding his arm around her waist.
"Umm...I think the exact words were 'the funny talking Human'," she said deadpan.
Hamish let out a bright laugh. "Crazy Xenexian," he chuckled. "It's a good name, though, don't you think?"
"Well, it certainly could apply but I think you sound lovely. You should have seen his face when he met Chief Lynley. I thought he was going to laugh," Sorcha told him as she lead him up the driveway.
"I'll have to have a word with this Chief Lynley. It'll be nice to chat with another Brit, even if he is a sassanach," Hamish grinned.
Sorcha mouthed the word silently then looked at him curiously. "I think he's English actually." She stopped at the foot of the front steps. The house had only one story but it also had a wrap around porch. "Welcome to the Johnstone homestead, in the hologram if not the flesh."
Giggling at her gently, he kissed her forehead. "It's lovely. Can I see inside? I don't want to intrude or anything."
"Intrude? You're invited so you aren't intruding, Hamish. Come inside. I had this programmed to have the cat and dog here and my dad but it's not quite the same. I only come here when I miss home very badly."
"He like Vic on DS9? Sentient sort of?" Hamish asked as he peered around at everything.
"That Las Vegas program? Sort of like that but Dad says it doesn't sound like him. He thinks it's funny, though," she told him.
"What's funny, Sorcha, my dear?" came the question. The hologram matched Evander Johnstone almost perfectly, right down to the graying brown hair, trimmed beard, and sparkling brown eyes. To see him walk, one would never guess that one leg was artificial.
Just a hologram, Hamish reminded himself as he flinched a little and moved to stand behind Sorcha. You can turn it off at any time, fool. He smiled at the man though, even if his eyes were slightly wide with fear.
"That the real you thinks you sound different," she said with a laugh. "I want you to meet a very fine man, sir. This is Hamish Ross, one of the freed men the Marines rescued."
"Welcome to my home, son, or maybe it's her home and I'm just holding a place. The name's Evander Johnstone," the man said as he held out a hand.
Hamish took the hand tentatively, wincing at how frail his was in the man's firm but gentle grip. "Good to meet you, sir."
Evander offered him a smile. "I'd offer you something to drink but that's a bad idea for you. Go on and have a seat if you want or maybe my girl will show you around."
"That would be entirely up to her, sir," Hamish said softly. "Though some tea would be wonderful."
"Tell you what then. Sorcha, take the man on a tour and we'll have some tea when you're done. I'd offer you stronger, Hamish, but my template would kill me and so would his daughter," Evander said wryly.
"As much as I'd kill for a wee dram, that wee dram might just kill me, so no thanks," Hamish laughed, warming to the fellow. He still didn't feel entirely safe, but he managed to make himself sidle out from behind Sorcha.
Sorcha barely concealed a happy shout when she led him into the living room. There was a fire burning in the fireplace. Despite the fact that it wasn't all that cold outside, it made the room comfortably warm and cozy. The sofa was comfortably plush and, on a braided rug in front of the fireplace, a huge orange cat snoozed.
"One of my favorite places in the whole house," she told him. "And that's Clara."
Hamish beamed at the huge cat as he sank down gratefully onto the sofa. "Give an old man a few minutes to rest, okay?"
Sorcha took the place beside him , snuggling closer as she beckoned the cat over. "You aren't that old, Hamish."
"Feel it," he chuckled as the cat leaped up onto the sofa and marched right onto his legs, turned around three times then two times in the opposite direction and finally curled up to fall instantly asleep. "Erm..." he laughed brightly as he stroked the creature. "I can't be comfortable, Clara."
The cat opened one gold eye and glared at him before moving to sit on the arm of the sofa. She curled back up in a ball to sleep , her tail occasionally flicking his arm.
"She'll be back," Sorcha warned She brushed side of his face with her hand. "Can I ask how old you are? I didn't look in the records..."
"Is it a bad thing to admit that I don't remember? I think.... I think I might have been in my thirties." He felt his cheeks colour with shame that he didn't even know how old he was.
"No, it's not a bad thing, especially if you've had precious little to differentiate between all the days you were held prisoner. Maybe the Vulcans could have but only the most disciplined ones I'm sure." She ran a hand through his hair, smoothing it even though it wasn't even ruffled. "I think you're a wonderful man anyway. Clara, the real Clara," she said when the cat lifted her head, "is ten now."
"Not very happy with funny voiced, boney men though," he grinned at the cat, stroking down her back.
"She's just ticked because you made her move. Her chief delights are torturing the poor dog and sitting on people," Sorcha told him, smiling at the way he petted the cat. Pets could be such soothing creatures at times, she thought. "You okay? I can take you to the rest of the house if you aren't comfortable."
"I am entirely too comfortable, I think," he said in a soft, dozing voice, tickling the cat beneath her chin. "If we don't move, I may end up asleep."
"If you're that sleepy, I can take you back to Sick Bay...or my place. You shouldn't sleep here," she said gently, brushing his face again.
"Mmm," he said softly, smiling lazily at her. "You could take me back to yours." Reaching over, he brushed her hair from her face then cupped her chin. "Beautiful lady, I could spend my whole life with you."
"The possibilities," she said, "are endless. I wouldn't mind."
"Neither would I," he grinned.
Sorcha's eyes were dancing with the same feeling she felt tickling in her chest. It was possible, she knew it was possible, but she never expected it. She stood up and held her hand out to him. "Let's get you comfy under that quilt then, shall we? We can always come back here any time you want."
"When we're both on Earth, d'you think you could show me it for real?" he asked with his head inclined, happily accepting her hand up. He was leaning on her more heavily than before, his tiredness making him weak and all of his joints ache.
"Of course!" she chimed as she wrapped an arm around his waist. It was no small wonder that he was tired. This was probably the most varied walking he'd done in years and he was physically frail at the moment. "There and anywhere else you want to see but you'll have to show me those places you mentioned, too, and maybe introduce me to that ambassador who speaks to the dolphins and whales."
"I'll take my lady anywhere she wants," he said with a weak smile. "Just need to rest before though."
"Computer, end program." She had her arm around him as she led him toward the exit. "Don't worry, the hologram will understand why we didn't say goodbye. Right now, I'm taking my fine Scot to bed so he can rest."
"Will you stay? Please..." he whispered hoarsely as they left the holodeck. "Please, don't leave me."
"Don't worry, I won't," she said softly as they walked toward a turbolift. "I was at the end of a twelve hour shift when Renatus sent me topside. I've been off shift since we left Sick Bay actually so I'm all yours."
"Thank you." The relief in his voice was palpable. Once they were in the lift, he pulled her to him and held her as if she was about to disappear. "Would it be improper if I said I'd meant don't leave me ever?"
There was that tickling in her chest again. Yes, as he said, he was married but if the woman was going to treat him the way he thought then she didn't deserve him. He'd said he wanted out of the service and she couldn't blame him for that. She could be a nurse anywhere really. She laid her head on his chest, careful not to bruise tender skin. "Only if you think it is."
"I don't know what to think anymore," he sighed, stroking her soft hair. "Half my thoughts aren't even mine anymore."
"Nobody can tell you what to think, Hamish, not now. You're a free man. If you want to know what I think, I tell you that any woman would be a fool to give up on you and that I'd have you in a heartbeat if you'd take me," she said fiercely.
"A ferocious warrior woman to protect me?" he chuckled weakly, clearly wilting a little. "I would be selfish and have you, keep you and never let someone else near you." Placing a gentle kiss on her brow, he sighed. "Can you trust a man who is willing to give up on a marriage of almost twenty years?"
"If you think she's given up on you then there's nothing for you to give up, Hamish," she said soberly, leading him out of the lift when it stopped on the right deck.
"And if I'm wrong but still want to leave her for you?" he asked.
A wistful look came into her eyes. "Would you leave your sons then?"
"No," he admitted quietly. "I'd want them with me. Just like I'd want you with me. If I couldn't have that, I'd live close enough that I could see them all the time."
"So long as you don't leave your children, never to see them again. I couldn't be with a man who'd do that." That old childhood hurt was still a sore point. "I'd love to meet them, too. They must be fine boys."
"They are," he grinned. "Handsome and smart. My boys," he sighed sadly.
"They take after their father then," she said soothingly. "They'll want to see you, Hamish. They might be afraid but they'll want to."
They'd reached her quarters by then and she led him inside. She didn't have to share but they weren't all that huge either. Still, she was pleased enough that she had her own private space. "Welcome to my small piece of the Tempest."
It was full of soft, female things and smelled of her sweet scent too. He smiled at the memories of soft things like women and their love of cushions and stuffed toys. "Are you allowed pets on this ship? I remember my sister had a cat when she last served on a ship."
"Pets? Oh, sure, the captain has this funny little duck," she said with a grin. "I'd love a kitten actually..."
"Then why not get yourself one?" Hamish asked.
"I never thought about it til now actually," she said as she led him to the bedroom. Small as it was, it was comfortable and there, on the bed, was the afore mentioned quilt. "Come on, let's get you into a real bed for some real comfort."
"I, er, don't have any pajamas here," he said with deep embarrassment. "And I'd rather not get my new clothes all crumpled. Can I use your replicator?"
"Absolutely! Don't even ask, Hamish. You can consider this your place, too, if you want," Sorcha told him.
That only made him blush even more. "In my own place, I wouldn't wear any," he told her, carefully avoiding her eyes.
"So don't then, if you don't want to." She reached to kiss his cheek. "I told you before, I can see with Sergeant Reynam's eyes now and see the man beneath the injury."
"You shouldn't have to look at me when you sleep," he sighed. "You shouldn't have to wake up next to this thing that I've become."
"You're no 'thing', Hamish," she insisted. "Things don't have feelings, they don't laugh at my silly holo Clara, they don't have beautiful blue eyes, and they certainly don't give the sweetest kisses...men do that. Not things."
"Men have the strength to make love to beautiful women," he told her. "I don't."
"And smart women have the patience to wait for good things," she replied. "Hamish, I would very much like that but there's more to you than sex. It'll be beautiful when it does happen but that's not all there is to you."
Using his right arm, he pulled her to him and held her as tightly as he could. "What use am I in your bed if I can't show you how I feel?"
"You know, there's the old saying that where there's a will there's a way," she said as she rested her head against his chest. "As for what use, do you know how good it feels to just be held sometimes? By somebody who cares about you...loves you?"
"Let me do that for you at least then?" he asked in trepidation.
"Please," she said simply. "I would like that very much."
"Err... I need to take my clothes off..." he blushed. He knew she'd seen him at least semi naked before but now it was something else and he was suddenly shy.
"Tell you what," she said lightly as she kissed his cheek then let go of him. "Girly thing that I am, I have all sorts of things to do before I go to bed. Pardon a lady while she changes and freshens up."
He sighed with relief and nodded gratefully. "Go and freshen. You look good as you are but I can wait for a lady to freshen."
She glided into the bathroom area, closing the door to give him the privacy he needed, Shedding her uniform, she went through the tiny storage closet there and plucked out one of her softest silk sheaths. Its soft plum color made it one of her favorites. She then brushed out her long dark hair then slipped on a matching wrap before returning to the bedroom.
"Nothing fancy," she said, "but it's my favorite."
Hamish was already in bed, the covered pulled up high on his chest, almost under his chin. He let out a soft sigh as he watched her sweep back in. "You're beautiful," he said softly. "Like a dream of an angel."
Ordinarily, she would have dropped onto the bunk and thrown herself under the covers but Now Sorcha took her time. She sat on the edge of the bed and slowly lifted the corner of the blankets to slide her legs underneath. "You are such a sweetheart, a real silver tongue," she said with a smile. Slowly, she reclined until she was at eye level with him and almost giggled. "You are a lot taller than me but it's more noticeable this way."
He reached out and slid his arm down the length of her body, sighing with the joy of it. "God, woman, you're the most amazing vision. You feel wonderful." His hand brushed the edge of her nightie but that was all, just a touch, almost a taste to see if she was as lovely as he expected. She was.
She leaned forward to press her lips softly on his, letting her hand rest on the bare skin of his waist. "This feels wonderful, just being with a lovely man and being so comfortable."
"Comfortable," he mumbled, kissing her deeply, his hand sliding under her slip and up her body to her waist. "Mmm-hmm, comfortable." As his fingers brushed her stomach and naval, he smiled into her eyes. "Stop me if I scare you. Don't let me do anything you don't want to."
How could she not want him? That was what Sorcha wanted to know as she smiled back at those blue eyes. Gentle hands wrapped around him and pulled him closer. "You won't scare me, Hamish. I have faith in you."