Talia Winters moved close, and spoke in a low tone. "Do you think we should talk?"
Susan Ivanova also kept her voice low, not wanting to share the conversation with the rest of C&C. "What's there to talk about?" She acted as if she was deeply involved with an information display, even though Talia noticed it was the same page of information that kept scrolling across the screen.
The telepath nodded. "If you decide differently, I'll be in my quarters after you get off shift."
Susan gave her an absent nod. "Great. I'll keep that in mind." With that, she returned to her mindless perusal of the file.
Giving a quick turn on her heel, Talia found herself almost face to face with the security chief, Michael Garibaldi.
"Come to see me?" Garibaldi flashed a smile. "Maybe grab lunch?"
Talia gave a quick glance over her shoulder towards Susan Ivanova. "I had business. If you'll excuse me, I have another appointment."
"Rain check, maybe?" Garibaldi shouted towards Talia's departing form.
Talia walked from the room. She did want to know if her exit was being watched. Not by the security chief, of course, but by the second-in-command, Ivanova. She resisted the urge to look, as difficult as that was. As she heard the door close behind her, she wondered if despite the cool reception she could expect a visitor this evening. Odder things had happened lately.
Back in C&C, Garibaldi most definitely watched the telepath leave the room. "One of these days," he muttered. "One of these days."
"One of these days what?"
Garibaldi turned to see Susan Ivanova standing next to him. "Just, nothing." Michael shook his head, focusing his attentions back on the duty at hand. "Still..."
Susan Ivanova rolled her eyes. "I assume you had a reason for coming."
"You mean aside from the experience of your charming company?"
Susan nodded. She was looking forward, for a change, to discussing some of the more mundane station matters with Garibaldi. She was almost ready to start watching his vids. Anything to stay busy. Anything to keep her mind off Talia.
* * * * * *
The past few days had been taxing on Talia Winters. The appearance of Bester, the information she gained from the underground railway, it all weighed heavily on her thoughts.
In the midst of it all, feeling lost, adrift from the security of the knowledge that she always had a home with the corps, Talia found herself drawn even more strongly to Susan Ivanova. Perhaps it was the Commander's strong dislike of the corps that gave Talia some odd sense of peace.
But Talia knew she'd be kidding herself if she didn't admit the main reason she wanted to see more of Susan Ivanova was for the blunt reason that she wanted to see more of Susan Ivanova. She felt a strong attraction to the commander, and hoped that by spending time with the other woman she could convince Susan to drop some of her defenses.
She had gone to Ivanova's quarter's the previous evening with a bottle of wine, hoping the two of them could talk. And they did, once Talia had agreed to Susan's request to remove her Psi-Corps insignia, and her gloves.
As they drained the wine the two found they had more in common than either would have probably initially guessed. And, as subtly as she could, Talia also made sure she moved as close to Susan as she thought the other woman would allow.
So it came as a complete surprise when Susan leaned close to Talia and gave her a light kiss.
Talia had sensed nervousness from Susan, but assumed it was due solely to her presence. She never expected that Susan might make the first move.
After the first brush of their lips, Susan pulled away slightly. Talia saw this as her turn to respond. She leaned in and gave Susan a deeper kiss.
Both were flushed when they finally separated. This time Susan moved back on the couch, clearly wanting some space. She muttered something about too much wine.
Talia knew that it was best not to press at that point. She quietly gathered her things and returned to her quarters.
That night, alone in her bed, Talia reflected on their moments, their kisses. She recalled the smell, the taste of Ivanova. She smiled as she drifted off to sleep, lustful thoughts filling her dreams.
She thought perhaps when Ivanova was more awake, and aware, she might be willing to discuss things. She might even need to discuss things.
Instead Susan was back to the cold, efficient officer. But Talia knew there was more, much more, than official business between them.
* * * * * *
Susan kept asking herself. Over and over, her mind churned with just one question. Why? Why had she kissed Talia? And why had she let Talia kiss her?
She tried to tell herself it was just the wine, but she knew that was just one more rationalization. The way she felt drawn to the other woman, the electricity she felt as their lips touched. The arousal she experienced thinking about Talia as she sat beside her. It was all far more intense than Susan had expected, far more intense than she wanted to admit.
Her relationship with the telepath had always been strained. But that didn't mean there wasn't something about the woman that she didn't find damn attractive. Something she couldn't quite... Susan growled with frustration, a sound that elicited stares from the crew working around her.
"What?" she asked, as if it was perfectly natural to make feral noises while on duty.
As the crew all quickly went back to their duties, or at least the semblance of performing their duties, she was even hoping someone would challenge her. Something. Anything to take her mind off the previous evening.
Having stared down those around her, Susan Ivanova returned to her own work. She knew the next move was hers. Was she strong enough to not take it?
* * * * * *
After her shift ended, Ivanova headed to the gym. She'd only completed a quarter of her circuit when one of the pilots entered. He was giving a tour to a woman who worked in one of the shops, making a show of using some of the different apparatus.
Watching the two of them together, talking, flirting just added to Susan's frustration. She'd come here to wear herself out, to get rid of some excess energy. Instead, she found herself more stressed and more annoyed. She shoved her stuff into her gym bag and headed out.
Feeling too anxious to be pent up in her quarters, Susan decided to talk a walk through the Zacolo, and settle in for a drink at the casino.
At least that was the plan. But while minding her own business, sipping her first vodka, a Drazi, trying to pick a fight with another Drazi, stepped on her foot. The offending Drazi didn't even stop to apologize. Instead, he went right on fighting.
Seeing an obvious impediment to the optimum functioning of the station, a station for which she had responsibility for said functioning, Susan decided it was time to step in and give security a hand. Not to mention, the Drazi made as good a target as any.
She almost felt regret at her actions when she caught her uniform jacket on a ceremonial decoration and, literally, dragged a Centauri into the fighting. The sharp corner of the pin ripped a long tear in the sleeve, from wrist to elbow. That would cost her. Earth Force didn't give much of a discount on uniforms, especially on outer bases. The thought of the credits wasted just made Susan fight harder.
Three Drazi, two Centauri and a few other species later, security arrived to mop up. She was still ready to go for another round, but Garibaldi convinced her it might be best if she just called it a night.
Susan downed the remainder of the vodka in one slug and headed for the door.
Wandering aimlessly, she found herself standing outside of a familiar door. Still hesitant, she summoned her courage and signaled her presence.
The door opened.
Talia greeted her with a smile, as if she'd expected Susan despite her earlier rebuffs. But Talia did give a querying look, given the state of the other woman's uniform.
"A little business," Susan said, hoping the explanation didn't sound as weak as she knew it was.
She noted that instead of the telepath's usual attire, tonight Talia was wearing a casual black dress, no insignia or gloves. Susan glanced again at her own state and wanted to shrink against the door, but Talia waved her towards a chair.
Nervously seating herself, Susan was quiet for a minute. "You're right," she stated, breaking the silence, "we do have things to discuss."
Talia pulled up another chair. She sat near Susan, but not near enough to make Susan feel threatened.
"But whatever this is," Susan continued, "and I don't think I know what it is, not yet anyway, I need it to move slowly. In that respect, I'm not sure I got things off to a very good start."
Talia leaned forward, her elbows on the chair's armrest, her chin resting in her hands. "We've got all night," she said. "That's as good a place to start as any." And she smiled.
To Susan's surprise, she found herself returning the smile. Perhaps this was the right move to make after all.