Those That Stay Behind

Posted on 15 Feb 2022 @ 7:12pm by Lieutenant JG Molly MacHale & Lieutenant Commander Tiberius Grayson

Mission: Assignment II: The Layover
Location: Observation Lounge
Timeline: MD 1, 14:30

Tiberius Grayson hadn't noticed that Molly had lingered behind after everyone had left. His mind had drifted elsewhere as he focused on his future. He looked over and spotted her standing by the doorway and he smiled. Between the tribunal, receiving his first command at the age of twenty-eight. He felt like his heart missed a beat when the two of them made eye contact. The two of them shared their feelings for each other and decided to make a go out of it. He couldn't have been happier. He didn't know if she needed Tiberius her Captain or Tiberius her Boyfriend. They were the same man. He particularly felt in this moment quite boyish, immature and was surprised he had come out on top of everything today. He finished the coffee that he had brought from his Ready Room before standing to his feet.

Molly watched, waiting, a weird mixture of nerves and relief; anticipation and uncertainty rolling into one big ball of feelings. It had been something to see him in his element. In the time that they had spent together she'd seen evidence that he could step into this role, but never in a way where she expected to have a front row seat to it. In a strange way she was glad he had promoted her that day so that she could witness the bloom that was taking place.

It took him a moment to notice her... to see that they were alone now, after the fact. She didn't have a specific need of him at that moment, but she'd become so accustomed to talking with him and the day had been so emotionally intense that she felt like she just needed to see him -- to hear his voice -- to know that he was ok even as the evidence of that stood before her. His eyes met hers and for a moment it was like a spark leapt between them and she held her breath, letting it out slowly while he finished his coffee and stood.

"Hi," she said, when he finally came over to her.

He grinned when she simply said Hi. He approached her and drooped his arm over her shoulder brushing the side of his face against hers. Then the kiss she gave him before leaving his Ready Room earlier in the day replayed from his memories. He wanted to press his lips against the side of her cheek. He realized his arm was already hung across her shoulders so he moved in lightly pecking her on the cheek, "Hi."

Her cheeks flared a brilliant red at the brush of his lips--the casual-yet-not-at-all-casual way that he pressed them to her cheek like they'd been doing this for weeks instead of hours. "I wanted to... umm... check on you..." she said with a quiet self-conscious smile. "You know... since that was your first senior staff briefing. Good girlfriend stuff... you know?" She sort of half tilted away so she could look at him, nose wrinkled into a sort of apologetic uncertain expression. This felt like a grey area. They were technically on duty. But... they were also alone... and on this day... of all days... surely she could be both his girlfriend and the Chief Scientist.

That warmed his heart as he repositioned his head to burrow onto her shoulder while his hand drifted down to her mid-back. He nodded his head, "How... did it go? I know... you don't have much in terms of senior staff meetings... but I'm sure you've seen meetings ran... did Captain Boyfriend do a good job, Chief Scientist Girlfriend?" He raised an eyebrow wondering where that had come from.

She chuckled, a sort of surprised sound at the mishmash of titles he'd conjured. "Captain Boyfriend?" she asked, tone slightly teasing. Dear heaven her boyfriend... her boyfriend was the captain. It hit her a different way standing here in the conference room just following a senior staff meeting and she swallowed hard at the reality of it.

"I think... it went fine... I mean... we covered everything and... it's a lot in one day." She wound her arm underneath his, wrapping around his side. "I'm not sure it could have gone better per se, but it certainly could have gone worse."

He looked down at her hand wrapping around him and placing against his side. He looked over at her smiling as his head still rested on her shoulder, "I made a reservation for us tonight." He was excited to take her out on an actual date. Together. Not in their uniforms. Dressed up in civilian clothing and enjoying each other's company.

Her cheeks flushed again, but this time not in embarrassment as much as in excitement. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been on a date and the idea of getting dressed up for him was exciting, thrilling in a happy way that shone brightly in the midst of the recent dark they had been navigating. "I'm looking forward to it," she said softly, nerves in her voice.

He was happy that she was looking forward to their date. He was too and replied softly, "Me too." He stood there silent for a moment, "What's next on your docket?"

"I... don't honestly know..." she admitted sheepishly. "I probably need to go get a look at Commander Sitol's office. Maybe start moving some things form my lab over? Go over the science team roster to see what gaps we have? I... I'm not sure what needs to be done first."

He knew that he should do the same thing and get started on filling senior staff vacancies that would be required to be filled by the time they departed the Starbase. He didn't want to disturb... the ready room himself, there wasn't much of Captain Davies' personal effects except for the communicator on a pedestal on the desk. He never wanted that piece to move as he held on to, "Do... you want help? I could... shuffle some things around to help out my... Chief Science Officer."

She pulled back away from him a bit so she could look at his face. "I... would really like that..." she said meaningfully. "I haven't set foot in Commander Sitol's office since..." She trailed off, a tight ball of grief forming at the thought of what needed doing. "I would be glad for the company," she said with a sigh.

"I'll be glad to," Tiberius offered her a comforting smile. "Do... you want to show the way?" He had only been there when he reported himself to Commander Sitol when he attempted to kiss the very woman he had just offered to help. He didn't know Commander Sitol. She was the traditional Vulcan unlike T'Varis or even Decan.

Molly nodded, unthreading her arm and wishing it was a reasonable thing to take his hand. Instead, she let hers fall to her side and stepped out of the conference room, leading him down the corridor to the nearest lift. "I wish you had known her better," she said to him quietly as they exited the lift on the appropriate deck.

Tiberius stepped in front of her as he lightly caressed her cheek. He nodded his head in agreement, "I wish I had gotten to know her better too."

She had paused when he stepped in front of her chewing her top lip before his hand trailed over her cheek leaving behind a brilliant blush. For a moment her eyes darted behind him, wondering if anyone had seen. Inwardly she chided herself for that. They were on record and unless Tiberius said otherwise the only reason to worry about what others thought would be their own comfort. Still, she resolved to make sure they talked about it more at dinner. She wasn't sure what he felt was ok. They were both so different in their roles and perceptions that she wasn't even sure where to start.

She leaned her cheek into his hand briefly before offering a shy sort of smile and moving to his side so they could continue down the corridor for a few minutes before they stopped in front of the Chief Science Officer's office. The transfer of ownership had already been taken care of so with a quick identification the door parted for Molly and she led him inside, the door snicking shut behind them.

Tiberius looked around the office with the office. It was decorated almost spartan like with some artifacts and very few personal effects of the Commander's, "She has more of a decorative style than the Captain did." He looked around there were some knickknacks, if he could call them that around her office. He walked over to a photo frame on her desk which he felt was odd. He held it up it was a photo of Commander Sitol, Captain Jonathan Davies and his mother, "I didn't know Commander Sitol and my mother knew each other." He held it up to show Molly. There was so much he wanted to know about the Captain he never got the chance to. So many questions that he had for his mother.

She took the frame carefully, almost reverently, eyes scanning the faces. She stopped, her gaze holding on his mother and studying her. She could see the family resemblance. Whomever his father was he definitely favored his mother. She ran gentle fingertips across the image before holding it back out to him. "This should be yours then," she said quietly, "or your mother's."

He wasn't certain if it was something that he would want to keep. He would offer it to his mother, "I'll see if she wants it." He set it back down where he had picked it up on the desk and looked around, "Do you want me to make arrangements with the Quartermaster to come with some storage containers?" His hand raised to the commbadge.

Her hand came up quickly to stop him; resting on his wrist. For a moment she wondered at how comfortable she had become simply reaching out and touching him. "Not yet," she said quietly. "I... Need some time before I start to change it."

She looked around, eyes taking in each piece of the space that felt like Sitol herself was surely just outside the door. "I just need to figure out a workspace to start. Maybe we can work on clearing the desk and then go retrieve my things from my lab?"

He smiled when she took his wrist into her hands to stop him from tapping his commbadge. He didn't normally like being touched like this but the feeling of her hand around his wrist was different, "Of course. Whatever you need, you've got the Captain at your disposal."

She returned his smile with a small one of her own before dropping her hand and turning to the desk. It, like the rest of the office, was spartan, the necessities placed at deliberate 90 degree angles so that the whole of the desk appeared to be in alignment. There was a small pile of PADDs, a console built into the desk, and a small box filled with sand topped with a tiny rake. Designs that resembled Vulcan lettering had been carved into the sand with the rake and Molly stopped to admire them. She wondered, for a moment, if she ought to ask T'Varis what they said, but decided she would leave it as is. The sand, itself, was transient and in some way this felt private--if the deceased could be said to have privacy.

Tentative, she pulled the chair from the desk and sat on the edge of it, pushed back from the edge with her hands settled on the long edge of the desk itself. She sighed, looking from side to side as a build of heaviness filled her. She managed to stay seated for a full moment before she rose again shaking her head.

"How?" she asked, looking at Tiberius with sad eyes. "How am I supposed to replace her?"

Tiberius had set the photograph of Commander Sitol, Captain Davies and his mother on another surface that ran along the wall next to the door. He looked over his shoulder to Molly. His heart sank when he saw her with sadness. He walked over quickly sitting down in the chair he had sat in when he reported himself to her. His hand reached out lightly placing it on top of her hand. His hand searched for her palm softly placing her hand into his and lightly gripping on it, "You aren't replacing her, Molly. You are succeeding her. She would want you to carry on as Chief Science Officer in your own way. The Molly MacHale Way. You may not feel like you've found your voice but believe me, I know its in you."

Molly shook her head lightly, not disagreeing so much as trying to dispel the feeling of inadequacy that was working hard to take root in her chest. "And what if the Molly MacHale way just isn't a good way, Tiberius? What if it's..." she shrugged, the emotion working its way up her throat. Over the week that they'd spent traveling from Picton to the Starbase she had focused her energies on him. On helping. Supporting. Being strong in the face of it all. Just doing the next thing that needed doing. Very little time had been allocated in her head for actually grieving. That was for someone else. Someplace else. Somewhere else. There was no time for that when she was needed. And in that moment it became evident how significant of a miscalculation that had been.

She sniffed, a few angry tears escaping as she did. "The Commander would have told me that grief is illogical, particularly when the person being grieved did not place value on emotional attachments," she said a humorless helpless laugh escaping her.

"You're allowed to grieve, Molly." Tiberius felt a discomforting amount of anger towards this variation of Commander Sitol telling her how to grieve. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm here. You don't have to go about this alone. I know that the Commander and you were close, she knows that you are a great scientist." He let go of her hand standing to his feet. He moved around the desk getting down on his knees beside her sitting down and he wrapped his arms around her tightly, "I like to think I'm somewhat of an expert on Molly MacHale. She has surprised me, she has surprised a lot of others. And she's going to keep on surprising everyone including herself."

She let him hold her a moment, burrowing her head in his shoulder as she listened to him talk. She knew that his last statement was meant to be comforting, but in the moment it struck her as the tiniest bit funny and her lips curved slightly toward a smile some of the clouds of the grief departing as they did. "If you're an expert in Molly MacHale when you've been dating her less than a day wait until we've been dating a whole week," she mumbled the joke falling a bit flat when her tone didn't fully support the amusement of the thought. Still, it was enough. Enough to sit up and rub her eyes with the back of her sleeve and to let out a shuddering breath. "Seriously, Tiberius. Thank you."

"You're welcome," Tiberius' hands moved down to push him off of the floor and straightened out his pants and tunic while he placed a kiss on the top of her head softly. He shifted himself behind her chair with his hands settled on her shoulder, "We don't have to do this today. We can always revisit this at another time."

She shook her head. "You've faced much harder," she pointed out, "and we're a science vessel. I should at least evaluate the roster. Put in to fill any gaps."

"Then you focus on that and I'll set the Commander's things that are on the desk over on the surface over there. Sound good?" Tiberius hand pointed over to the bookshelf underneath the window.

Molly nodded with a sigh of thanks, settling into the chair a bit more and bringing the roster up on the desk's console. They worked like that, quiet and in their own thoughts until Molly finally swiped the roster closed and looked up at him.

"Four openings," she said. "My own, an astrophysicist, a xenoarchaeologist, and a botanist."

She stood, stretching and came around the desk to stand next to Tiberius, threading her fingers through his and meeting his gaze as she did, her expression a question, or perhaps a request for confirmation, that it was ok to do that.

He had taken all of the Commander's personal effects off of now Molly MacHale's desk. He had focused on the photograph of the Captain, the Commander and his mother for the past few minutes without realizing that she now stood at his side. He looked down at her hand as it entwined into his and he looked over at her. He smiled softly, "Do you want me to sign anything to make sure the request goes through quickly?"

She shook her head. "I already logged it. Maybe just check your messages in case any questions come up, but it looked like Starfleet would be able to assign or reassign folks to us pretty quickly." She sighed, fingers tightening to squeeze his hand.

"What time should I be ready?" She finally asked. "For our date, I mean."

Tiberius nodded his head he would of course keep an eye on anything for personnel requests to ensure that the Sagitta was running efficiently on their next assignment. He nodded his head, "Reservation is for 1930. I'll come by to pick you up a quarter to?"

She grinned, "I'll be ready."