NCC - 81102
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The Hawk and The Cockcrow

Posted on Tue Apr 13th, 2021 @ 11:03pm by Lieutenant Aurora 4827/A & Commander Magnus Hawkins

Mission: Mission 1: Dirty Little Secret
Location: Officer's Lounge
Timeline: MD 16

A few days had gone by since the away team went to Dahlia Station and Hawk could not shake the way it had gone down. Any away mission you returned from was a success, but there were still several ways where events had gotten away from them.

The fact he had taken on a coarse persona in order to blend in did not help matters either. It was shaping up to be a longer posting aboard Odyssey rather than a shorter one, and if Hawk were honest, he felt bothered by the look Aurora had held in her eye on more than one occasion.

As first officer, he needed the trust of the senior staff. If in the course of the mission Aurora's confidence in him had been shaken, then that was something he needed to make right.

Normally he would ask the computer to locate an officer for him, but seeing as how there were technically three Auroras on board...

"Commander Hawkins to Lieutenant Aurora," he said with a tap to his combadge. "I need to speak with you at your next convenience. Please advise."

Aurora Gray was in the engineering office going over a seemingly endless stack of maintenance reports, personnel reports, reports on how reports should be submitted, etc. At the same time Violet was jogging and Green was painstakingly working on a model of a particularly tricky model ship, it's the pylons of its eight nacelles mounted at the tail of the narrow hull. She had played around with the design in computer simulations and it looked promising for a long range fast courier.

Gray reflexively glanced up at the ceiling at the sound of Hawkins' voice and she wondered what he could want. That wasn't fair, she mentally amended. The man had duties. She tapped her comm badge and replied, "Aurora here, Commander. You would actually be saving me from the bureaucratic night mare of-No, you stop that! I don't want it!"

The chief grinned and placed a pair of padds on the growing pile, then promptly retreated. Sighing, Aurora continued, "Actually, Commander, any distraction, official or otherwise, would be most welcome at this time."

"Great," Hawk said. "I'm on my w-"

"Actually, sir, I think it best if we meet in the lounge," Aurora replied as her chair slid back away from her desk, "Aurora out!" The chief blinked in surprise as the CEO marched out, Aurora said over her shoulder, "I'll be back, Chief. Try not to let the warp core fall out the bottom of the ship while I'm gone."

A few minutes later in the lounge Aurora was tempted to order up a coffee, but the caffeine would be felt through her connection with the others and there was all that delicate modelwork. She settled on a juice and found a seat near a window...

As Hawk made his way to the main lounge -- a short step only a couple of decks away -- he wondered if he was truly prepared for the indomitable energy of the gestalt being that was Aurora. Too late to back out now. And, besides, it was a matter of honor.

When he entered the lounge, Hawk's eyes immediately picked out Aurora. Her profile stood out in stark relief to the starlight beyond the window next to which she was seated. The way she sipped her juice was like a reel cut from a holovid where some stupid dope saw a woman and proceeded to act like she was the first one he'd ever met.

No, his breath didn't catch in his chest. It was only a hiccup. Nothing more than a random pulmonary glitch. His spiked heartrate was because he'd hurried here to be polite. Apparently he needed to up his cardio regimen.

"Hello," he said as he approached the table and seated himself across the table. "Thank you for meeting on such short notice. There...there is a matter I wanted to discuss with you. It's about the away mission."

Uh-oh, Aurora thought as the modelwork ceased and the jogging turned to a slow walk. She took a moment to compose her thoughts behind a sip, then Gray said with what she hoped was feigned innocence, "Oh? Was there a particular incident or element of the mission you wanted to discuss, sir?"

It's informal, she reminded herself. He didn't call you into his office to stand before his desk like some delinquent midshipman. So far it's nothing official...

Hawk cocked his head. "You.. aren't the one who went to Dalia. That one had green eyes. But it was still you somehow?" He chuckled and shook his head. "I'm sorry. You must get that a lot. I don't mean to be dense." Another chuckle, a sidelong glance to break eye contact, then a firm stare. "I just wanted to apologize."

There. Now it was out. Why had that been so difficult?

"...I beg your pardon?" Aurora blinked and was taken aback by the apology. Of all the things she had expected that had been quite possibly the last thing she had thought she would hear. Before the Commander could say anything else Aurora chuckled ruefully then realized that he might get the wrong idea. She held up her hands and said, "I'm not laughing at you, I promise! I just hadn't expected the apology, that's all.

"Look, we all have a past, and it can be pretty ugly. If someone had tried telling me we had to make a deal with the people who used me as a test subject for half my life, that I had to trust what some of them were saying or we might owe them a favor? I would have probably been every bit as angry as you. I mean, there I was, suggesting we be friends with that woman, and it's obvious that you and her..."

She sighed, "Well, maybe I should be offering you the apology, Commander."

"I didn't actually know the woman," Hawk said. "I'm afraid my antipathy was more internal than that. Bear had prior dealings with her, and his mistrust confirmed my own instincts, which prompted..." He took a breath and wondered how to best summarize his life before Starfleet. "Before I was a citizen of the Federation, I was an orphan on the streets of Galorda Prime. A Klingon world." The way he said "Klingon" made it sound like profanity. "I cannot deny what I am, as much as I may try. Starfleet has provided the discipline necessary for me to hone my humanity over and against my baser self." His Klingon self. "But the away mission called for me to pose as the man I could have been... would've been... had a Federation diplomat and his wife not taken pity and adopted me."

But that wasn't the crux of the problem. Hawk hesitated as he forced himself to admit failure to this gracious woman.

"Commander Jasper has a background not wholly dissimilar to my own. Before we were trained in Security, we already knew our way around a brawl. I... I unfairly dragged you into a situation on Dalia where you could have been harmed. You warned me. Repeatedly. And I repeatedly ignored your advice. We came home all right, but that does not excuse my decisions to break protocol and knowingly endanger you with brash judgment and snap decisions. And..." He gave her a weak, grim smile. "I need you to know my regret and my commitment to... to protocol. Should I lead another away mission, I want you to feel confident that I will keep you from harm."

Aurora hesitated a moment, then she soberly replied, "An instructor at The Academy told us flat out the first day that when we joined Starfleet likely we would be putting ourselves in harm's way. It didn't matter if we were doctors, scientists, engineers; wearing the uniform came with a singular responsibility. He quoted one of Starfleet's greatest captains and said 'risk is our business'.

"I know you, or Bear or Captain Inahri can't always protect me. Out here I could get killed by a stray meteor as easily as a new disease. What I do know is if my life gets put at risk it won't be in vain, and you and the others will do right by me."

She smiled, "Besides, if I have to be perfectly honest it was all rather exciting!"

Hawk frowned at first, then let a smile overtake him. "I'm relieved that you see it that way. It's very gracious of you. Even so... I promise to do better."

"Well, thank you, sir," Aurora replied after a moment, feeling a touch self conscious. In some ways the bear and the hawk were somewhat alike, 'alpha males'. And in a way it was a touch amusing that Hawkins seemed more bear-like than lt. commander Bear Jasper. She had idly wondered what it would be like to date either man. Was it permissable, within regulations? How did one ask a superior officer if he was available without sounding like a silly middie...?

"Is something the matter?" Hawk asked, noticing the subtle change in her disposition. Had he offended? Did something happen with her other bodies? The thought of multiple Auroras was a tantalizing thought that his mind did not fully tamp down. "I will help if I can."

"Hmmm? What?" Aurora blinked and realized that she had let her attention drift. She smiled and said, "No! No, nothing's wrong at all. I was just..."

She nervously rubbed the back of her neck, "I was just thinking, is all. And my other bodies are fine; when I'm in a meeting they usually just quietly."

The upcoming mission would require a great deal of focus and Aurora imagined Hawkins would not have much time for...extracurricular activities. But perhaps after, when there was some more down time...

"Permission to speak freely," Hawk said with a smile, realizing that Aurora may be feeling more formal than the personal meeting required.

"Granted," Aurora replied with a smile, caught off guard by the almost playful nature of the request.

The way her smile made her face beam, Hawk couldn't help but laugh. "I meant the other way around," he said with a grin. "That's what this was about. Open honesty and trust. Feel free to speak whatever was on your mind just now."

"All right," Aurora replied as she felt her cheeks flush, "I was wondering if you were...ah...available..."

As her cheeks flushed, Hawk forced his mouth closed as his jaw had fell slack. Available? As in... romantic interest? Or purely physical? Either prospect made Hawk's chest pound with desire. With his unique Klingon representation below the belt, most human women had proven disinterested beyond a certain point.

But a woman who inhabited more than one body? Well, that sent his mind racing with carnal possibilities that tempted him to bend rules of protocol.

"I am... unattached," he finally said with a careful choice of words. The very admission felt like a threshold of sorts. Should he nip this in the bud? She was the one inquiring. "What exactly did you have in mind, Aurora?"

The use of her name without rank felt like another threshold, one that he could justify crossing. But would that make it easier to cross the next one? Hawk didn't know, but curiosity had already gotten the better of him. There was no harm in exploring what this might be.

"I'm...not sure, to be honest," Aurora confessed, blushing, "I'm not very good at this sort of thing; I've left a string of false starts and bad ends in my wake since my academy days. And it's not just people misunderstanding my...condition. I'm good with machines. People? Not so much...Magnus..."

"Call me Hawk." Another threshold but he wouldn't have it any other way. "Magnus was my adoptive grandfather. It's an honorable name but I never met the man. Doesn't feel like my name."

It occurred to Hawk that Aurora was the first crew member with whom he'd shared that.

"And... I've not had much luck either," he said, adding his confession to her own. "Aside from the morbidly curious and the occasional Klingon fetishist, not many are..." He was going to say interested, but he didn't like how that made him sound. "... compatible."

Was he seriously considering this? It was a temporary assignment. If it was a mistake, it wouldn't be one they would have to live with for long. And what if they found something? It was worth exploring. But cautiously.

"We could start slow," Hawk suggested. "Get to know one another better, find common ground if not common interests, see if there are any premade points of connection." He let the suggestion linger in the air. "Or we could be more creative. What would be the best way to date you? One at a time or all together?"

"Well, you will have to get used to all of me sooner or later," Aurora noted, "I suggest you diving right in and having dinner with all of me."

She felt a particular thrill in her belly, not unlike the one she experienced when she heard she had received her assignment on Odyssey. A leap into the unknown, new experiences.

It's just a date, she told herself. It didn't mean all that much.

But the sensation remained...

"Dinner is good," Hawk said. This meeting had taken quite a different turn, but not an unwelcome one. He paused for a moment before speaking again. "Under the circumstances... I think we should be discreet. At least, to start out." How can he convey his meaning without also conveying the wrong idea? Private dinner, not a booty call... "I just think it would be best to try this out, whatever this proves to be, before letting the crew"--or Inahri specifically--"in on it."

Aurora nodded, "I agree completely. Last thing I want are rumors flying and speculation, people poking their noses in where they aren't wanted."

She smiled, "That being said, perhaps we should cut this particular meeting short before people at other tables get...ideas. Let me know when you are free for dinner. I can actually cook a decent lasagna."

"Actually..." Hawk paused for a moment and appreciated the line of no return which he was crossing. "Tonight is good." His dark stare fell upon her with all the weight of the curious wonder that had been tempting him from their first meeting. "Unless that's not good for you?"

Aurora felt her heart race. All of them.

It's just dinner, she thought. Just dinner. Nothing untoward is going to happen. Nothing.

"Actually," she replied, attempting to sound nonchalant and knowing she was probably failing, "I was going to settle in with a good book, model making and ab crunches. But honestly dinner with you sounds far more appealing..."

Hawk allowed himself a grin as they parted. "Then I'll see you tonight, Aurora."

Aurora smiled and felt a slight tremor of anticipation a the thought...

Commander Magnus Hawkins
Executive Officer
USS Odyssey

Lieutenant Aurora 4827/A
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Odyssey


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