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Tea And Tattoos

Posted on Fri Jul 16th, 2021 @ 3:01pm by Commander Arianna Frost & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: Arianna Frost's Quarters, DS9
Timeline: MD 2 - A little after 'Think Like A Criminal'

It never ceased to amaze Arianna how exhausted and how wired she could feel all at the same time. After the second part of the inquest and the conversation with Jarsdel and Chakma, Frost returned to her quarters.

Nearly immediately back found wall and slumping commenced as feet gave way to pent up emotion. So many things were going on all at once, too many almost for daily consumption.

Arianna slid down until she was sat, head leaned back touching the wall and closed her eyes, letting out a loud exhale.

"What a fuck of a day..." She muttered to noone in particular as the room still remained darkened.

Her stomach growled, making her realize she was hungry, but she was also craving a drink. First though a shower was in order. It could help with the tension, or so she hoped. Shower, food, alcohol, that was the way, maybe some sleep before going back and diving into it.

Technically, her part in this was done, but she didn't feel right leaving yet. She felt she could still help, make sure that the inquest didn't drop around on Theta in her absence.

Or so she hoped.

She'd need to report to Rahal at one point again.

Blocking the 'will-have-to-do's' out of her mind, Frost clambered to her feet and started taking her clothes off as she headed for the washroom.

"A kingdom for a real shower..." Ari thought to herself as she stepped inside and activated the sonic shower. "A fuckin' kingdom indeed..."

Just as Ari had situated herself in the shower, the chime to her quarters sounded off.

"Oh you are kidding me!" Ari muttered as she nearly stumbled out of the shower, her hair messy. She wrapped a towel around herself and stumbled again out of the washroom. "I'm coming, keep your shirt on!"

Taking a moment to compose herself, still wrapped up in nothing but a towel, her hair and make up mussed up, Arianna called. "Come in!"

Jaya walked through the door with two cloth bags in hand. Not even pausing at the sight of Ari in a towel, Jaya helped herself to the nearest sofa and folded her feet under her legs. "Hello, friend! I've brought sweets..." She pulled out a smaller bag of fudge squares from one of the larger bags. "I can't stop eating these," she said as she popped one into her mouth. "They...tho... good." Her words were slurred by chewing.

Arianna blinked at her friend as she shamelessly strolled past, then broke out into a chuckle at the display. "They are ripper, I tell ya." The russian/aussie said as she looked around the room.

Where were clothes when you needed them?

"So...if you give me a moment, I'll rug up and join ya." Without waiting for acknowledgement, the human dashed into the bedroom. "So, uh...yeah. How you going?" Frost called over her shoulder as she quickly got dressed.

"Fat and pregnant," Jaya said. "Fortunately I'm not much showing yet, but Storr..." She actually blushed for a moment. "... says there is more cushion for the pushin'. Hopefully he still feels that way a few months from now." She stared at another piece of fudge and shrugged before popping it into her mouth.

Frost stepped back out, chuckling. A simple pair of black running pants and a long, sleeved shirt, barefoot. "Ah, the Colonel adores you in any form. She'll be right."

That said she gave herself over to her friend's hedonistic influence and plopped next to the Deltan and stole a caramel fudge morsel.

"Fo..." she said mid chew, waiting.

"Try the one with a white stripe," Jaya said as she put a fudge square against Ari's mouth. "I don't know what a buckeye is but it's delicious fudge."

"Mnhm...wai..." the fight was lost and another morsel touched Ari's taste buds. Enjoyment continued for a few moments in silence.

"I'm sorry I left so suddenly." Ari finally said as her mouth was cleared of the chewy fudge. She reached over to pick up the suggested buckeye. "It wasn't on purpose."

She genuinely felt bad about it. If they only knew the urgency and the scope of what she was involved in again. In a game of priorities Castermer had to win. It had to. It was too important.

"Of course it wasn't," Jaya conceded. "And of course I know that. But the knowing and the feeling aren't always the same." Beaming at Ari, she said, "Besides, how could I enjoy our reunion without acknowledging how much I missed you?" She squeezed Ari's hand with both of hers, and in doing so transmitted an empathic burst of pure joy.

Arianna blinked for a moment as she experienced an onslaught of a feeling she had forgotten how to feel. She could hardly believe even that she had this effect on someone. "I'll take it," she thought to herself in happy amusement, letting the happy feeling wash over her and envelop her in an emotional embrace.

"I missed you too. Especially your wise advice." Frost said, squeezing the Deltan's hand back. "And how you make me feel."

"Aww." Jaya's eyes lit up at the compliment. "It feels like so long since I've counseled anyone in any meaningful way. Lately I've been helping Calderon reacclimate to life as a free man, but that's less counseling and more monitoring his progress." She made a face. "It's a shame Gwynne isn't around to see how far he's come, given how instrumental she was in freeing him from the Lethean's influence. She disappeared not long after you did and I've been unable to find her. What was it you call people in your line of work? Spooks?" Jaya let out a chuckle. "Even so, it was a battle to get him where he is now. What I wouldn't give for a patient with insomnia or PTSD or erectile dysfunction, like the good, old days."

Arianna nearly choked on her piece of fudge as the wistful words flowed from her friend. A small coughing fit did occur as she was trying not to laugh at the same time. After a few moments of cough-laughing, Frost managed to compose herself.

"What working at Theta ain't PTSD mecca anymore? Pfft, I'm disappointed." Ari said in jest, adjusting so that she was half leaning on the back rest of the couch, one arm sprawled along it's top but not touching Jaya.

Truth be told, Ari's emotional walls were barely holding lately, ever since Donnager. Whilst a part of her longer to talk about it with someone, she couldn't talk about it with Jaya. Damn clearance levels. If the Deltan had held her hand again...Frost wasn't sure she could keep the emotion from spilling out. So, she kept a polite distance, just enough not to offend.

"Of course it is," Jaya said, enjoying Ari's laughing-coughing fit with a mischievous grin, "but with everything being so classified, there's no way to have a counselor on station to support anyone. Everything is hold-close, which means people develop mental illness, neuroses, addictions..." She shook her head as her grin faded. "You know the turnover rate. It's atrocious." Letting out a sigh, she confided in her friend, "I'm questioning my role, in all honesty. It's not like we've had any field missions involving psychotropic technology or telepathic threats that would call on my expertise. With Cal... at least I get to know I'm making a difference."

"Jaya," Arianna's expression grew serious, "without your light, we would all be a lot worse than we are. Myself included. I know it doesn't look it sometimes, but you are the glue that holds Theta together. At least the Command Levels...without whom the Admirals on the panel would have won already. And god knows you've given me plenty of reasons to smile. So you made a difference in my life, my friend."

Her kind words made Jaya beam with delight. "Thank you, Ari. I don't mean to be so glum. Truth be told..." With hands over her womb, Jaya got down to brass tacks. "...really, I'm thinking of the future. With triplets on the way, it's hard not to."

Arianna nodded, smiling softly at her friend, "of course. It's not just you and the Colonel anymore. It's so much more. Have you thought of names yet?"

Ari couldn't quite believe that she was actually indulging in talk like this, but it was distracting and carefree and nice. With that thought, she popped another morsel into her mouth.

"Yes and no," Jaya said. "Despite everything, it hardly seems real." She ate another fudge square and gave Ari a pensive stare. "It can take some doing before we can truly realize reality, especially when our feelings are too big or burdensome or inconvenient to acknowledge." Pausing for just a moment, Jaya went ahead and laid her cards on the table. "I know that you kept in contact with Akiva after your mysterious transfer. Only Akiva."

Palm met face as Arianna pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. A subconscious tactic to avoid that all knowing stare from the Deltan. "Uh...yeah." Frost sighed again as she looked back over at her friend. "Where I'm assigned to there is very little contact with the world outside..." she paused for thought, so as to say something but to say nothing that could compromise the Project, "outside what I'm involved in. I needed an ear..."

She needed more than that, but she couldn't tell either of them, not yet at the very least. She needed a safe space for the Castermer data. At that thought, she felt a rush of guilt. Even a genuine conversation and a connection was under some sort of pretense in her life.

"And Akiva had the only means of communication that couldn't be traced." There, she'd said his name for the first time since...ever, in the presence of others. He was always either The Captain, or ben-Avram, or a variation of the two. She'd never addressed him with his name to others. Until now.

Then another thought...what had he told Jaya? Anything? Or did she deduce something? Thoughts swam through her mind and her expression as well.

It was the truth though, what she had said. Another one that felt like a lie. Seemed to be the trend.

"Uh huh..." Even though Jaya's face remained pleasant, the knowing look in her eyes said she wasn't buying it. "I love that we get to spend time together and catch up, Ari, but why are you still here on DS9?" Her brow flared provocatively. "It's not to secure data, is it?"

Arianna reached over and plopped another morsel in her mouth, though her face remained serious, "I've not been released from the inquest yet. That and this is too much of a clusterfuck to make a beeline away from. Too much is going on for me to just go back to my assignment."

A part of her longed to open up to Jaya fully, the other part feared if she did so Jaya and the others would end up further danger possibly. Most of all though, as much as she hated to admit it to herself, feared they would be put off by the truth.

Everybody had their secrets. Jaya knew this both professionally and personally. Even Storr had cards he kept close to his chest, though not many. She just had to do her best not to see what she wasn't supposed to see. "Like I said, I'm not complaining." She took the last of the fudge and then started digging around in her bag for more. "Let's see. I've got something called toffee and another something that looks lemony. What's your pick?"

"You're asking me to choose between heaven and sour? I like both but I'll take heaven any day." Ari smirked, pointing towards toffee. "What's really on your mind, Jaya? I'll answer what I can as best I can. I'm not trying to be facetious or an ass. I just have to be really careful with certain things...things I'm not allowed to discuss."

Jaya squared up on Ari and looked at her with a penetration that was almost tangible. "You are conflicted, Ari. Even if I weren't empathic, I'm still a counselor. Everything from your body language to your shifting vocal inflection to your hypervigilant stoicism that forces eye contact even when your visual focus is peripheral to avoid eye contact... your entire being is screaming internal conflict to me. I understand there are things that you can't tell me, but I hope that for the things you can, you would trust me with them."

Frost bit the inside of her cheek as she felt her eyes sting a bit. Words threatened to spill over, but she managed to fight them back. Somewhat. Arianna opted for a nod as she held her friend's eyes. "You're one of the few I would trust things with, Jaya."

Then, she did something her gut screamed was a bad idea, but she did it anyway. She placed the hand that was on the back rest of the couch on Jaya's.

A gasp shot up from Jaya's throat. She had suspected, but now she felt it. "You're..." No, she ought not say it. If anyone did, it should be Arianna. But, in Jaya's mind, there could no longer be any doubt. Arianna was romantically attracted to Akiva. "Your confidence is safe with me," she said.

"I won't be in the way," Frost said, "I've said this to the Colonel as well. I won't be the cause of someone's marriage falling apart."

Faces of Aeneas, Gol and Tarani flooded her mind, the guilt and worry, the blame she held for the deaths of her team and the betrayal she missed. Then just as quickly they were gone.

"Believe it or not I value those institutions too much to break one up for my own wants." She added with a cracked voice.

"Your secret is safe with me," Jaya said with assurance. Truth be told, Ari was not the only one who was conflicted. Akiva would be a lucky man to be with a woman like Ari. And, for a time, he had been happy with Laena. In truth, Jaya deeply cared for all three individuals, and that care meant that she was concerned more for their individual well-being than with their romantic pairings. "But you are important, Ari. That means your feelings are important too. Even if you choose not to act on them, those feelings are still valid and you should not feel ashamed for having them." Risking the possibility of giving her blessing for something that she dare not intrude upon, she smiled and said, "You are quite the catch. Akiva is a lucky man that you care for him even in secret. Whether or not it is requited, that care has already brought out the good in you."

Arianna was relieved that Jaya either didn't notice or didn't touch on the survivor's guilt trip she was barely secretly nursing.

Then she chuckled at the onslaught of praise from her friend. "Thanks for that, Jaya. Even if I don't fully agree, I think I needed to hear it. I'm not ashamed though. I'm just...not wanting to entertain them fully yet. Partly because after this, who knows if I'll ever be in the same room with you lot again." She raised a finger at Jaya, "and this time I promise to find a secret way of talking with you too," then she set it down again.

Then a sigh, "there's also the fact that he needs to sort himself out first."

"I look forward to that," Jaya said with a coy grin. "Secret chats and Akiva sorting himself out."

"Oh I nearly forgot the fact that your husband will likely kill me if I step out of line." Ari chuckled as she got off the couch. "I need a drink, what are you having?"

Jaya let out a giggle. "Don't you worry about Storr," she said with a mischievous grin. "He can't ever stay mad at me for long." Her boast was punctuated by a wink. "I would love some Seyalian tea."

"Seyalian tea and Prince Vladimir Kusmi tea, no sugar." Arianna ordered and when the orders materialized she gingerly made her way over to Jaya handing her her own cup.

Deeply savoring the smell as she did every time--like it was the first time--Jaya closed her eyes and smiled with the cup held near her mouth. "Always takes me back home," she said.

Ari took a sip of her piping hot tea and smiled at Jaya. "If you ever have the chance to go back, and they won't arrange an orgy marathon for the outsider...will you take me to visit?"

She had no idea why she'd suddenly wanted to know an answer to the question she didn't know she wanted to ask. Perhaps it was the subconscious desire for normalcy, or at least a pretense of one in this crazy time and world they lived in. Perhaps she just wanted a distraction. She didn't know.

Throwing her head back, Jaya let out a rueful laugh. "You heard about that, huh?" She grinned at her friend. "That was a ritual reserved for immigration purposes, something very rare for a human. Suffice to say, I'd be happy to take you for a visit. Just..." Jaya chewed her lip. "Anything you've heard about the casual attire is probably not exaggerated." She gave Ari a wink. "Bring a swimsuit if nothing else."

"Sweet as! Might as well show off the ink." Ari chuckled, taking a sip of her tea. "I read the case-file when I did the original inquest back at Overwatch. It was a shit thing to do to one of their own, and their family who are Starfleet to boot." Frost shook her head. "I guess superiority complexes and bigotry never really disappear, even in would be utopias."

Yet still they fought for them, people like herself, Jaya and Storr, Akiva and even the Taskmaster and Karna Zsan and the crews of the Blacksites, people in the Service. They were hardly blind to the reality of things, yet still, they fought. Was it still hope? Or did it become habit by now?

"Yeah... I can't believe Kontos had the nerve to come here and continue his vendetta," Jaya said. "After he got fired from the Deltan Foreign Ministry, he could have gone anywhere and done anything. To think... he went to Starfleet and begged for a job from JAG just to get at us." She sighed and shook her head. "Just goes to show how deep some prejudices go. In the minds of many Deltans, we should never even be alone with humans, much less have relations with them." As she spoke, she realized that she had totally glossed over something of import. "Wait... you have a tattoo?!" Jaya grinned mischievously. "Can I see?"

Arianna waggled her eyebrows at Jaya as she stared at her over the brim of her cup. "I've got more than one." The blonde woman said as she set the cup down.

Then she adjusted her posture, rolling her sleeves up. She turned the insides of her wrists up. At first, they seemed unblemished. Then Ari touched the bases of her wrists with the opposite index finger and within moments decorations appeared on each wrist. On her left wrist, in black ink was a small constellation of stars in the shape of a cross, or a question mark, depending on who you asked. The stars were only outlined, rather than filled in.

"Southern Cross." Arianna said. The symbol of Australia.

On the other, a small triangle, within it, touching each border a circle, with a line bisecting the triangle and the circle down the vertical middle, all only outlined, not filled in on a bed of what looked like a silvery/grey mist.

"The Deathly Hallows." Frost said, holding both of her wrists out so that the Deltan could see better.

"Wow..." Jaya stared in awe. "That is amazing! And you can make them go away and come back as you please?"

Arianna nodded, chuckling, "yeah it's a little trick we picked up from the Orions over the last century, nano-tatoos, you can hide them on demand if needed. There's more..."

She decided modesty was out the door and took off her shirt, remaining only in her pants and a sports bra she'd hastily thrown on. Turning her back towards Jaya, she reached under her right shoulder and tapped on her shoulder blade. Thin lines, chains and circles began to appear. Twirling and twisting, the image soon formed, that of a dream catcher. A simple design with several beads intervowen through the web, feathers, almost leaf shaped dangling from the chains.

There was no such thing as Deltan modesty, so Jaya didn't think twice about the shed clothing. She was all eyes on the mystery tattoo. When it began to appear, her eyes widened.

"Ari, you are amazing! I don't even know what that is but I love it!" She started fervently clapping her hands in excitement. "Do you have any more?" Her voice nearly squealed. Learning new things about old friends was euphoric. "You are just full of surprises!"

Arianna laughed sincerely at that. "Is that a good or a bad thing?" She asked as she adjusted again, hooked her right leg under her left then brought the left up and rolled the pant leg up her calf. She touched the top of her ankle joing and another tattoo began to appear. This one presented an Eye of Ra, incorporated into the middle of an ankh, done in a tribal style.

"So a dream catcher..." she pointed to her shoulder, "it catches bad dreams in the web, while the good dreams trickle down to you down the chains. And the ankh and Eye of Ra are symbols of my home town and its namesake on Earth. The ankh is said to represent eternal life and the Eye of Ra repels negative energy and restores harmony."

"How interesting," Jaya said with a playful and intrigued arch of her brow. "Almost spiritual even. And here I had no idea you had that side to you."

Ari grinned as she reached for her shirt while rolling down her pant leg at the same time. "I'm not a cloak and dagger automaton, mate." She said with a chuckle. "Granted sometimes it would be easier..."

A thought came suddenly to her. She did know someone who was almost that, a cloak and dagger automaton. The Taskmaster. She wasn't quite sure as to the reason for that thought surfacing now.

As she put her shirt back on, she leaned sideways again. "Begs the question, what is the image you have of me? If this semi spiritual side of me is a surprise to you?"

Jaya giggled at the question. "It's not that I see you differently. You're still you. It's just not every day I meet a human with religious themed tattoos. Or, if I do, they never let me see." She still grinned with delight at the intricate designs. "Thank you for showing me. What I saw was a beautiful and unique individual who took the bold step of permanently marking her body with symbolic art that holds meaning to her. Not unlike monogamy, which is another taboo for Deltans." Waggling her eyebrows, she added, "And I expect a special someone, whoever they may be, will find you just as beautiful and unique."

Arianna shook her head in amusement and took another sip of her tea. Jaya saying these things was just adorable. Frost hardly ever had these things spoken to her, even before she joined the ranks of Intelligence. It was both strange and comforting to hear at the same time.

"You're showering me with praise and compliments here," Ari said, realizing that she didn't quite know how to take this compliment. "You've got to give me something juicy back so I can return the favor, mate. I feel bad just taking and not giving back."

"Really?" She mentally face palmed at herself.

Was she really that used to cold hard fact and sequestering her 'self' that all of this seemed so foreign to her, and yet her rational mind knew that this was what normal people did?

"All right..." Jaya actually blushed as she thought of something to share. "I've never told anyone this before, besides Storr and the other person, but one time..." She closed her eyes and willed herself to say it to the point it came out as a blurted exclamation, "I once accidentally came to orgasm through an attempted mind meld!"

After the words were out, Jaya peeked one eye open to gauge Ari's reaction.

Arianna stared at Jaya, blinking as she processed what the Deltan had just said. It sounded unbelievable and insanely intriguing. How it must have felt for your mind alone to trigger a physical sensation such as that.

"Wow..." Arianna mouthed quietly, still staring at Jaya. "That must have been a whole new level of feel! Was it solely a mental trigger? Or an enhancement? did it feel? Better than regular? Same? Come on you need to dish!" Word salad sputtered out of her mouth and mind, curiosity taking over. "Also I am legit jealous." She added with a nod.

"It was... different," Jaya said, struggling for words. "Psychology's effects on physiology are well-known, so it's not unreasonable to think linking minds could result in sensual overload." She couldn't help but grin through her crimson cheeks. "The context was very inappropriate. I was attempting to help a patient face regressed memories, but the nature of the mind seeks out pleasurable memories when faced with traumatic ones, and, well..." Chuckling, Jaya said, "We relived a very pleasurable one together." The recollection brought a conflicted sigh. "It was actually what led me to Storr. I was worried that I had come too close to breaking my Oath of Celibacy, and so I thought a sham marriage would be an umbrella that would keep me from being exiled. Storr wanted to make an honest woman out of me, and together we fought the Foreign Ministry. Now, here are we, pregnant with triplets." Her eyes roved to one side as she pondered the last couple years. "And, to think, it all resulted from... that. I imagine it might have something to do with the general lack of mind-melding among my people. Why link minds when you can link everything else?"

Arianna chuckled softly, "you know what they say about the mind and it being the biggest organ." She took another sip of her tea. "I didn't know that that had sparked the whole idea though. Life really does have a plan of its own, doesn't it? If I hadn't been assigned to investigate you guys, I would never have met you and Storr," and Akiva, a silent thought added, "...looking back, that would have been such a shame had I not been. You have made my life better." Frost added with a genuine smile.

Sadly Jaya could not know the true reason why she of all people had been assigned to run the investigation. Nobody knew at the moment, save for the Taskmaster, Commodore Rahal and Zora.

"And you've brought such joy to me," Jaya said, returning Ari's smile with a beaming grin. "I almost hope that Mrazak's screws up again so we could have you spend another stint investigating Overwatch."

Frost chuckled, "careful what you wish for there." Then it happened, an undignified, unceremonious yawn. One of those that you felt in your whole body. Then there came the bone deep tiredness that followed such a yawn. "Shit...sorry." Arianna said finally as she collected herself.

"No, it's late," Jaya said. "I should go and keep Storr out of trouble." She gave a mischievous smirk which indicated what sort of trouble she had in mind with him. "But it was so nice sitting and talking with you. I really hope we get to do this again."

Arianna nodded, wordlessly reaching over and enveloping Jaya in a hug. "Thanks for hunting me down, my friend." She whispered into Jaya's shoulder.


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