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Lessons

Posted on Thu Jun 20th, 2019 @ 12:47am by Ensign Jane Sinclair & Lieutenant Christine Descharmes

Mission: Between the Pages
Location: Jane’s Apartment/Garage
Timeline: After “Surveying the Bay”; before return to the Shanghai

ON:

Ensign Jane Sinclair sat alone in her one-Room apartment, reading a novel she’d found and waiting patiently for her friend to arrive. While there was always more to do in the garage, she was confident that anything she wanted to do would take too long. So instead she sat comfortably, wearing a simple flight suit, reading a book and waiting for one Lieutenant Christine Descharmes.

“Sorry I’m late,” Christine said, apologetically. She stood just inside the door, having let herself in. “I hope you don’t mind I let myself in.” She shrugged and waved her hand around with a smile. She lifted a canvas bag. “I also brought some things for after if you feel like hanging out on the beach with me. Non-alcoholic, sorry, I haven’t been feeling like myself.”

“No problem,” Jane said, standing from her chair. “As long as you’re okay to fly. If you’re not feeling up to it, we can reschedule. And I’d love to spend some time with you at the beach.” She opened her closet and, eyeing Christine a moment to judge her size, pulled out a flight suit. “Change into this, please? Can’t learn how to fly in any old clothing.”

"No, no, I should be fine," Christine said in reference to not feeling up to it. "Just.. don't do any crazy moves." She looked over the flight suit and raised an eyebrow. She set down her bag, crossed the room to Jane, taking the flightsuit and holding it up. "I thought I was flying a shuttle, not one of those...fighters that Lyn pilots. What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Christine glanced down at her clothes; a white tank top and a pair of khaki shorts.

"You are flying a shuttle," Jane assured her. "I'm not keen on fighters, either. They're fast and fun to fly, but they're also meant to rain death upon an enemy, and that doesn't suit my interest." She then smiled widely. "The flight suit is to get in character! You're going on adventure into the sky with your good friend Jane! Dress the part!"

"Fine," Christine said. She rolled her eyes as she pulled on the flightsuit over her regular clothes. "I'll wear the most unflattering piece of clothing someone ever came up with. Just to make my good friend Jane happy."

Jane smiled widely as her friend slid into the flight suit. She could not hide her delight even if she tried. "Come on, then! We have a date with a shuttlepod!" She guided her friend out of her apartment and into the shuttle complex. Some shuttles were being delivered back to the Shanghai now, but many were still available. One looked in terrible shape, waterlogged and smeared with dirt, while another next to it was pristine. "Wale and I took that one into the Bay earlier today," Jane said. "Have you spoken much with Wale yet? He seems like a good guy."

"What?" Christine said, shooting a glance over at Jane. "You talked to Wale?" A few thoughts along with implications of what she said ran through her head. She glanced at Jane then back at the shuttle. "He is a nice guy," she said after a brief pause. "What did you do?"

Jane couldn't help but chuckle at her friend's awkwardness. "I told you; I flew that shuttle with him into the Bay. He wanted to get a good look at the crashed Andorian ship." She eyed Christine suspiciously a moment before a thought crossed her mind. "Christine, did...did something happen between you and Wale? Want to talk about it?"

At the question, Christine gave Jane another glance, this one being a much longer one. She raised an eyebrow, then shrugged, shifting from one foot to the other. "Here and now?" she asked, looking away and somewhere else. Jane staring at her intently was making her uncomfortable.

Jane could tell she was making Christine uncomfortable, but she had no plans to back down. “You’re telling me everything, Christine, but it can wait until you’re in the sky. Come on, then. Into Shuttlepod St-Jacques.”

"Fine," Christine said, shaking her head but she had a slight smile on her face. "As long as we get to park on a beach somewhere and go swimming. It's okay if you didn't bring anything, I'm fine with us just taking our clothes off."

Jane grinned wildly at her lovely friend. “Flying, followed by skinny dipping and gossip? Sounds like a great day in my book. Now, take a seat in the pilot’s position. I’ll be your co-pilot. Start by closing the hatch.”

"The what now?" Christine turned to look at Jane blankly as she sat in the indicated seat. "I don't know how to do that." She shrugged and gave a sheepish grin. "Everyone usually does that for me."

Jane sighed. "Okay, we're really starting from scratch here, aren't we?" She sat in the copilot's seat. "The hatch is controlled by the small panel above your head and to the left. It will also seal the ship completely against the elements or the vacuum of space. Then, the engine startup is here, on your right." She pointed.

"So you want me to close the hatch first," Christine repeated. She glanced up at the panel indicated. "Which one closes it? This one?" She stared at it for a few minutes before she reached up with her left hand and pushed a button.

Jane held her breath a moment, uncertain what button Christine pushed, but then the hatch closed smoothly. “Excellent,” she said, wanting to help boost her friend’s confidence. “It’s hard but you’re doing well. The engine startup is on your right. It’s actually well labeled. You’ll want to turn it on and then slowly increase the power to about 50%, using the slider next to it.”

Christine glanced down at the console, looking over the different buttons. She stared at the button for a few seconds, unsure of whether or not to actually push it. She looked back at Jane for guidance and slowly reached over, pressing it while giving her a questioning look at the same time. She then moved her hand to the slider and slowly pushed it forward. "Seems easy enough," she said.

“Now, quick question,” Jane asked. “Are you left handed or right handed? The default is for right, but I can reverse it if you need. You’re going to have your dominant hand doing the pitch and roll, that’s up-down and left-right, while your non dominant hand will handle the engines.”

"I'm right-handed," Christine answered as she glanced to her hands, her gaze lingering a tad longer on the left.

Jane saw Christine put both her hands in front of her, and got up from her seat to better direct her where to put them. That’s when she saw it. Something most unexpected. “Christine...”

"Jane..." she responded.

“...what’s that on your left hand?” Jane asked with a wide grin on her face.

She cleared her throat. "Oh this? Just an old ring I had," Christine answered, avoiding eye contact. After a long silence, she added, "You know damn well what that means Jane. You're not that oblivious."

Jane’s smile got wider and her happiness shone through her eyes. “Christine!! Congratulations! When did it happen?!” She hugged her friend in the chair.

She gently pushed her away and gave her a stern look. "Nobody knows about this. It was supposed to be a secret," Christine said. There was another long pause as she considered how much to tell her. "Do you remember when we were all at the bar down by Shune Bay? After we got back from Cyen?"

“Vaguely,” Jane said. “I remember some strong, tasty drinks and wading in the bay with the Captain. The rest is a bit fuzzy, truth be told.”

"Yeah, you drank a lot," Christine said with a grin. "We all did. I may have drunkenly proposed to James that night. After, well, you know-" she cleared her throat and looked away. "Although, I do remember it clearly, so I may not have been that drunk at all."

“Oh, my,” Jane said, blushing hard as she pictured what James and Christine must have been up to on the beach that night. She shook her head free of idle thoughts and sat back down. “Your secret is safe with me though. Now, do you see a console that looks like a circle with a cross going through it? Put your right hand there. Then using your left, find the landing thrusters and activate them gently. Twenty percent thrust should do it. Then watch the altimeter here,” she pointed, “and tell me when it reads five hundred meters.”

"Where the hell are the landing thrusters?" Christine asked, glancing around the console and not wanting to hit the wrong thing. She placed her right hand where Jane told her to, but was still having trouble.

“Here,” Jane said. She had to reach across. She knew her friend would get it. She wanted to help but she also knew that the worst thing she could do is stand up out of her seat. This ride would be many things, and smooth was not one of them. “I should have labelled them better, eh?”

"I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry," Christine said apologetically. "This..is going to be slow. If I actually went to the Academy, I might have learned the basics already." She followed Jane's hand and slowly activated the thrusters. "Okay..." she said, nervously. "It's at twenty percent." She looked over at the alti-whatever it was called. "You know," Christine said, watching numbers rise, then decided against it, "It's nothing. I should probably focus on piloting." After a few minutes, she spoke again. "I think that says five hundred."

“Yep,” Jane agreed. “Tell you what. I’ll take control of the engines. You’ll just have the flight stick. Up, down, left, right. You can’t do any damage. If we lose control, I have a program installed that it will right us instantly. So breathe. I’m going to activate the aft thrusters and take us forward. Using that panel like I said. Just keep us straight and level. When you get the hang of it, we’ll do some turns.”

"That sounds like something I can do, at least. It's taking a lot of concentrating to do more than one thing," Christine said and smiled nervously.

“Thrusters at one-half,” Jane said as she slowly sped them to a safe speed forward. “You’re doing great. But tell me. What’s on your mind? You wanted to say something earlier.”

"Huh?" she said, confused for a second and looked over at Jane. Christine quickly looked back again. "I guess I was about to say something there. Sorry. My mind is literally all over the place. With...everything. But I guess that is not something you want to hear from somebody piloting a small craft." She shook her head. "If I think of it again, I'll tell you."

“We’ll stabilize ourselves in the air, find a nice view, and maybe it will come back to you when you have less things on your mind,” Jane suggested. “Try turning us a little to the left. Just gently, using that direction pad console. On our current heading we’re going to the Orion colony and we haven’t integrated air traffic control systems yet.”

"Like this?" she said, slowly maneuvering the shuttle. Her hands shook, betraying just how nervous she really was. "Oh, I remember now," she said, her eyes glued ahead and resisting the urge to turn and look at Jane. "I was going to say that all I had to do was bat my eyelashes and things would get done for me." Christine shrugged. "So I never learned to do anything on my own. Amazing how many come to your rescue when you play a damsel in distress."

Jane couldn’t help but smile. She also couldn’t help but agree. Not that she played damsel in distress; her mother worked her ass off to make sure her daughter could do things for herself, and chastised young Jane for ever trying to get others to do something for her. More that she found herself willing to save the blonde Frenchwoman from distress. She even did it now, when she took over engine control. “What wouldn’t we do for a pretty girl who needs us, eh?” Jane winked at her friend. “You’re doing great. I have an idea.” She activated a heads-up display that projected some numbers on the front window. “Turn the ship further to the left until we’re heading towards the number 255. There are two things I want to show you.”

"Okay," Christine said, a bit hesitantly but curious as to what Jane wanted to show her. "Are you taking me to a secluded spot?" She gave her a sideways glance and sly smile.

“...Maybe,” Jane said returning her smile. “A nice quiet place for a swim and a drink. But also, here. See that orchard of trees all in a row, with the field of corn next to it? That’s Shaila’s farm. She gave me a tour yesterday. It’s a gorgeous piece of real estate.”

"If you say so," Christine said. "It is just going to be just us right?"

“Nobody else knows about it,” Jane said. “It’s several kilometres away from any road or trail. I only found it while surveying from above. It’s also not near any air traffic lanes, so no one else will even fly overhead.” She began to reduce the shuttle’s speed. “Keep your eyes on those sensors,” she said, pointing to another screen. “We’re looking for a landing site, but there’s a wide space this course will take us over.”

"Stop telling me to do so much," she grumbled. "What exactly am I supposed to be looking for?"

“That!” Jane said, gesturing again to the screen, which glowed a pleasant green and showed an adequate landing site. Jane reduced power to the thrusters to almost zero. “Remember how you took us up? Slowly do the reverse.” She pointed again to the controls for vertical ascent and descent.

"Okay..." she answered. She reached over and slowly pulled back on the controls. When the shuttle landed without a problem, Christine sat back and let out a sigh of relief, a huge smile on her face. She spun around to face Jane. "Well, that wasn't so bad," she said.

“You did well!” Jane said clasping her friend on the shoulder. “I’m sorry for overwhelming you at the start, but in the end it was a smooth ride.” She stood from her seat and opened the hatch. She grabbed two towels that she’d kept in the shuttle’s storage locker and stepped out onto a beautiful sandy beach, with rock formations to either side, carving out a lovely cove. “Come on, then. I’ve got towels if you bring the drinks.”

Christine picked up her bag and slung it over one shoulder, following Jane out onto the beach. She stood with her hands in her pockets, admiring the view for a few minutes. "You sure know how to pick 'em," she said with a grin over to Jane as she wandered down a bit further. She pulled a blanket from her bag and spread it out on the sand. She pulled her tank top over her head and slid out of her shorts, tossing them into a pile on the blanket. "I"m not that great at swimming," she said, as she stripped down to nothing. "You might have to rescue me."

“I’ll do what I can!” Jane agreed. She put the towels on the blanket and began pulling off her own flight suit. She still wore the skimpy underwear that she wore in front of Wale, and as she reached behind her back to unclasp her bra, she looked up and saw Christine in all her glory. My goodness, she thought as she caught herself staring, so she looked away and continued to undress. Focus, Jane! You have a girlfriend now, remember? She looked back up to Christine as her panties came off, but that time didn’t realize she was staring.

Christine glanced over to Jane. She stood with her hands on her hips and noticed her staring. She gave her a grin. "What's the matter, Sinclair?"

“Nothing!” Jane said, blushing, looking away for a moment, and then up to Christine’s eyes. Her peripheral vision still took in Christine’s amazing body, and Jane struggled to keep her eyes up. “Nothing’s the matter! Why do you ask?”

"Oh come on, Jane. The blush is cute," Christine said and gave her a wink. "I know what your preference is. If I was into women in the slightest bit, I would be really tempted. I'd also tell you to take a picture but my husband might have something to say about that."

Jane grinned, flattered by the compliment and enjoying the joke. “Well then! Shall we?” She quickly tied her hair back and began wading into the water. When it got to her hips she crouched down until she was completely submerged. After a moment she emerged, trying her best not to show just how bloody cold the water actually was. “Come on in! It’s actually very warm!” Jane said, lying through her teeth.

Christine followed her in, gave a little gasp as waded up to her waist and dipped her entire body below the water. She came up a few seconds later. "It's not that bad," she said, wiping both hair and water out of her eyes. She gave her a grin and stood up out of the water.

“I guess I’m a bit temperature sensitive,” Jane admitted as she got used to the water. It was actually very refreshing and quite fun to be out here with her friend. “All right. We’re comfortable. We’re alone. Spill. What happened between you and Wale?”

"Really, Jane," Christine said. "I thought you forgot about that." She slowly sunk back in the water. "Let's just say we had a few great nights. And days," she said with a laugh. "A lot to do with water."

“My goodness!” Jane exclaimed. “When? When was this?! And haven’t you been married the entire time we’ve known Wale?”

She pales slightly when she realized what that implied. "I would never cheat on James. And besides, is it really cheating if you thought the other person was dead?" Christine answered and shook her head. "Oh, this was a year ago. I actually shouldn't probably even tell you but Wale already knows. It technically hasn't happened yet. For him anyway." She colored slightly. "I remember quite a bit though. Vividly. Does that answer your question?"

"I think so," Jane replied. "And I didn't mean to accuse you of cheating. I was just confused."

The water was a bit more comfortable now, and Jane was enjoying her time at this secluded beach with her best friend. "We'll need to keep this hideaway secret from the others. You can bring James, and I can bring Shaila, but no one else finds out about it." She stood up, water dripping from her upper body in what must have been quite a sight if her companion was the least bit interested in women, and surveyed the beach and the cove. "It's big enough that you and I should bring James and Shaila sometime. Though I imagine you might want us to bring swimsuits if your husband is present?" She stuck her tongue out at Christine.

"Sure." Christine raised an eyebrow as she also stood up from the water, her hands on her hips. "The only woman James is going to see naked is me, thanks. So yes, swimsuits please."

Jane nodded, still grinning. “Same goes for you, Christine! I don’t want Shaila to see you and get second thoughts about which Shanghai crewmember she wants!” She wasn’t actually worried about that; it was far too early in their relationship, if it could even be said that they have one, for Jane to be jealous or possessive. Though she was supremely jealous of Christine’s figure. Tall and slim though Jane was, there was something about Christine’s physique that was...part of her wanted it for herself, and another part wanted it in her arms. That second part was unobtainable. This was her straight, married best friend. She’ll make do with the occasional glance. And she was in something of a relationship herself, and while it was too early to channel her pent-up arousal towards Shaila, she would find some way to sort that out later.

In the meantime, she needed to relax. “Want to climb out, and lie down on the towels for a few? Let the sun dry us?”

Christine glanced up to the sun, shielding her eyes for a minute. She shrugged. "If that's what you want. You must not really like cold water. I think you would like swimming in the Mediterranean on Earth. Maybe I'll take you there, you know in two years when we are allowed to go home," she answered as she moved back through the water.

“It turns out I don’t have much tolerance to hot or cold,” Jane admitted. “I couldn’t handle the heat in the mantle base. I’m glad Captain Sun let me be among the first to return to Seppala.” There is one last thing I need to do before sunbathing.” With a mischievous grin on her face, she started splashing her friend with water.

She had just turned to see what Jane was up to when a wave of cold water hit her in the face, causing her to stumble backwards a couple of steps. "God damn it, Jane!" she exclaimed, once she caught her breath and brushed her soaked hair out of her eyes. She frowned. It only took a second before she decided to retaliate. Christine swung her arm towards Jane, her hand angled toward the water so as to get the most impact. It resulted in a neat little wave aimed for Jane's face. She followed it up with a one-armed tackle and lunged for her friend.

Jane laughed as the water hit her face, but gasped as her friend tackled her into the water. She wasn’t shocked by the water so much as a sudden touch she hadn’t at all expected. She looked up at Christine and smiled, keeping her current state hidden as well as possible. “That was fun. Now, let’s get warm, yeah?”

"What's the matter?" Christine teased. She straightened and let go of Jane. "Huh, should probably be more careful too," she added, more to herself and moved off towards the beach. She lay out the blanket and grabbed a towel.

Jane waited a few seconds in the water after Christine moved off her, and followed her gorgeous friend to the beach. She grabbed her own towel and dried off her face. “So how did you and James meet? I’d love to know more about the two of you.”

Christine glanced sideways as she spread her towel out on top of the blanket and lay on her back, letting the sun dry her off naturally. She propped herself up on her elbows. "It's weird," she answered, "Briefly, when I was 18. He helped me out of a bad spot. And again when I was a bartender on the original Shanghai. Four years ago, I think. It's confusing with the timeshifting from 2391 to 2389. It's been off and on. But now he's stuck with me for the rest of my life."

Jane spread her own towel next to Christine and lay down on her stomach, her arm barely touching Christine’s. She smiled at the implications of her friend’s last sentence. Romantic for her, but given his species, devastating for him in the long term, to be forced to outlive those he loves. Pain he suffers willingly to spend his life with the woman he holds dear. “I hope to find one day someone who loves me as much as he loves you,” Jane said. “I hope that’s Shaila, but if it’s not, I hope I find her.” She yawned and rolled onto her side, her back and posterior firmly in contact with Christine.

"You cold or something?" Christine asked, looking over at Jane and shifting her body slightly. "And I'm sure you will."

“I’ll get warmer as the sun does its job,” Jane said as she snuggled in a bit closer. “And thank you. We’ve not known each other very long but you’ve always been there for me.” Her eyes shot open as she realized what Christine meant by her question about Jane being cold, but she closed them again and smiled, contented by Christine’s body heat, secretly longing for a bit more.

She looked at Jane intently, the pause dragging out over a few minutes. She once again shifted her weight, but this time turned on her side towards Jane, now propped up on one elbow. Christine lifted her other hand and placed it on her shoulder, sliding it to halfway down her upper arm and gave her a pat. She wouldn't have been able to see it, but Christine gave Jane a slight smile before she rolled onto her back. With her right arm behind her head as a temporary pillow, her left hand rested on her lower abdomen. "Can I tell you something?" she asked suddenly and out of the blue.

Jane’s skin tingled under Christine’s touch, and she felt a yearning as her hand left her arm. She wanted to grab Christine’s hand and put it back to let it wander. She craved additional contact. But Christine’s words shocked her. Her tone seemed different, as if she truly needed to tell Jane something. Jane rolled onto her other side to face her friend. She lifted her head so she could look Christine in the eye. “Of course. What’s on your mind?”

Christine continued to stare up into the sky as her left hand absently wandered back and forth. There were so many things running through her mind right now, one thought circulated the most. She met Jane's eye contact briefly before she quickly looked away.

"I think I made a mistake..."

:OFF

Lieutenant Christine Descharmes
Chief Counselor, USS Shanghai

Ensign Jane Sinclair
Chief Flight Control Officer, USS Shanghai

 

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