Chapter 1 - Insomnia
Statzia stretched her left arm over her head, draping it across the pillow. Her other hand softly stroked the fur of her sleeping companion. After their harrowing mission on the surface, she wasn’t horribly surprised that K’Naut had shown up on her threshold, unable to sleep himself. With their bond renewed, she’d half-expected him to arrive sooner. During their time on DS10, he would have spent several weeks after his p’rau following her around the station as much as their respective duties allowed. Out of respect for his need for proximity–and protection–she’d arrange their duty schedules to overlap as much as possible–which kept the need to involve Security to a minimum.
Things were just…different now. She wasn’t so sure she liked how different it was.
As if to punctuate that thought, K’Naut let off a soft, rumbling snore that felt almost like a purr against her chest. When had he started snoring? She sighed in the quiet of her quarters, feeling the weight of the time and distance and circumstances that had separated them for so long. She sensed that the distress of their separation was greater than he was letting on, given his stories of his separation post-bonding with that Caitian woman when he was at the Academy. They’d had longer together, and several years of releasing his p’rau to strengthen that bond.
Statzia swallowed back the rising bile in her throat. What had it been like for him to sit and wait for her at the replimat, only for her to never arrive for breakfast? She was sure he would have been the one to find her combadge left behind in her quarters, and likely the one to have figured out that it was her sabotage of the docking ring’s cameras to mask her departure. She’d studied the arrival and departure patterns of the station for weeks and had made sure to leave at a time with nearly a dozen departures scheduled within an hour. Between that and her false flight plan, and the subsequent planet-hopping she did for a month following her departure, he wouldn’t have been able to find her.
How long had he tried to look for her?
K’Naut’s hands flexed in his sleep, as if reassuring his subconscious that she was still in his arms. He murmured something, but the Caitian word was too soft or too far away from either of their combadges for the universal translator to pick it up, and it wasn’t a word she remembered. He’d laughed at her the several times she’d attempted to pronounce the purr-like rumble that saturated his native language, and he’d repeatedly insisted that she didn’t have to keep trying to learn Caitian. Statzia softly stroked the spot behind his ear and she felt his body relax again as his hands flexed a few more times, kneading her stomach as his snore resumed its gentle vibrations.
He’d been so apologetic when he’d arrived at her quarters, not venturing more than a couple of steps into her quarters. His fur was ruffled from an unsettled attempt at sleep and his ears were laid back. She’d heard his sigh of relief when she invited him to stay, and he’d been quick to wrap himself protectively around her body. He’d surprised her, giving her shoulder a soft nip–followed by several soft licks to soothe the skin. While they’d had a couple of romps together before releasing his p’rau on shore leave, there was a level of intimacy that had been absent–understandably–since their reunion. But the reassurance of his touch after such a harrowing away mission struck harder than she’d anticipated.
Which was why she was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.
He could have been killed today. How they’d escaped the fog and the shadowy beings without a single crew casualty was mind-boggling. The realization that things were going sideways and she only had a knife to protect those around her–and the one person she cared about more than anyone else–brought back a resurgence of panic she hadn’t felt in years.
You hurt the people you’re close to, Anastatzia.
And what next? She’d let K’Naut rekindle his bond through his p’rau, and if his ramp-up in overbearing behavior in the last couple of weeks was any indication, that hormonal connection to her was at full strength. He’d told her that he wanted to give her space, but space was far from what he would need over the next month as his urge to protect his mated partner waned and he returned to his usual bonded behavior…which she still wasn’t sure she wanted to encourage.
What happens when they send her back? When they decide that she needs to go back into the field? Would he let her go? Or would she have to destroy him yet again and disappear in the middle of the night without a word as to where she was heading?
Or is this even what she wanted? Would she follow orders if they called her back out into the field? If not Starfleet, and if not her undercover role, where would she go? There was no home, no family to go back to. She’d never put down roots anywhere in her life. Would she take the Rule Thirty-Four and–go do what with her life? If she were to quit, K’Naut would likely give up everything to follow her, and he’d worked too hard to make his way back to what he loved doing most–
Statzia sighed, tilting her head so she could look out the window at the glow of the nacelle. “Computer–” she said softly. “Play Liski file ‘Rains of Ferenginar, version four’, twenty-five percent volume.” Her quarters were soon filled with the soft patter of rainfall on a roof, paired with the gentle vibrations of the ship’s engines.
She pulled her hand from its place on the pillow and placed it on his hand resting on her stomach. “I’m sorry, Chief–” she whispered. “Someday I won’t be able to say it, so now’s as good a time as any.”