Friday, February 12, 2010

Shore Leave

Title: Shore Leave
Author: Ranger

The office was discreet without even a name marked on the door, and the room inside contained only leather chairs, a desk on which stood a rather ostentatious flower arrangement, and a large distance transmission screen. The office in fact belonged to whichever senior officer happened to be transmitting through the screen at the time. The secretary waved Scott to the nearest chair and fired the signaller beside the screen. Scott heard the distant chime even as he straightened his dress uniform. The screen flickered to life and Scott saw the static fade away to reveal his senior commander and Godfather sitting at a desk somewhere on earth. Starfleet command. The secretary indicated Scott with detached civility, on his way out.
"This is base nine, Admiral McDowell. Commander Scott is here for you."
Admiral McDowell was impressive even over a comm unit. Scott saluted to the screen and received a nod in return from the man sitting behind a desk several billion miles away.
"Ah. Stephen. Sit down. How was your patrol this time?"
"Good, thank you, sir." Stephen took the seat behind the desk and put his cap on the polished wood. McDowell shuffled papers, stacked them and leaned forward.
"I'll cut to the chase, Stephen. I have a reassignment."  
Scotty lifted an eyebrow. He'd only been assigned to the Argo for a year; it was unusual to be moved quite so fast. "Sir? I'm happy with the Argo, I wouldn't be keen on a move."
"Less of a move for you than an alteration." McDowell turned a clipboard around to look at it. Scott knew of the Admiral's fixation on information being in hard copy. Apparently, he drove two secretaries to distraction.
"I am assigning Lieutenant Commander Rivington to the Argo as head of Air Forces. Effective immediately. This of course will be to cover Commander Cheung who I believe has been promoted?"
Stephen surveyed his hands, getting a firm grip on himself before he responded.
"Admiral. Both Rivington and I logged our request over a year ago that we never be assigned together."
"My dear boy," McDowell said convivially, "you can't be telling me that you find it pleasant or even convenient, maintaining a marriage over - how many light years is it? You're out on patrol eight weeks out of every ten."
"With two weeks regular leave."
McDowell looked at him. Stephen flushed slightly.
"We agreed we wouldn't allow our work to interfere with our relationship, sir."
"And I couldn't persuade you to reconsider?"
"Has this been put to Rivington, sir?"
"Not yet." McDowell surveyed his form once more. "Stephen, I'll be frank with you. I have a request from Base HQ to reassign Rivington as soon as possible."
"He's only been here four months!" Scott protested.
McDowell smiled faintly.
"Quite. He and Senator Duvall appear to detest each other from my reports- and Rivington appears to be making himself very unpopular with the Senior Base Management. Hence the request to Starfleet to remove him ASAP."
"The SBM is-"
"Not as well managed as it was at Base six," McDowell interrupted. "Yes. However, I cannot help but think that Senator Marris was well able to manage Rivington and had him firmly under control. Duncan is a little less - managerially skilled shall we say?"
In other words, when Riv went storming into his office, Duncan more or less hid under the desk. Marris had been about the one person Riv stood in any awe of. McDowell leaned on his desk, voice softening.
"Stephen, you know what I am about to say."
"No sir," Scott said flatly. McDowell sighed.
"Rivington's record is- well. Exotic."
"He's a brilliant pilot and a still more brilliant officer."
"I agree with you. However, his records show a good deal of temperament and not a little foolhardiness? Less kindly readers of these files might name it as insubordination."
"That isn't fair, sir. Riv was awarded the silver Dragon last year in the defence of base six-"
"And it was well deserved," McDowell agreed. Stephen scowled at the comm.
"It isn't fair to call it courage and initiative on Monday and insubordination on Friday when it's exactly the same thing he's doing. It's the very things that make him difficult to barrack that make him brilliant in action- many good battle commanders are like that. Alexander. Lawrence . Montgomery . Ball. Churchill-"
"All right, all right, Scott; spare me the history lecture," McDowell said irascibly. "That's as it may be, but I can't expect any star base to keep a unbridled Flight Lieutenant Commander under lock and key in case of battle."
"Is he in trouble?" Scott demanded. McDowell checked his notes again.
"Not actual trouble. Numerous complaints and reports have been filed against him since he transferred to base nine. I suspect from reading this that Senator Marris dealt with a lot of problems himself and didn't record them on paper. Stephen, if this continues, it is inevitably going to end in court-martial."
"He's not doing anything actually wrong."
McDowell gave him an ironic smile. "This is the man who coordinates and leads the most efficient base squadron in the fleet and who also led a fist fight in a bar - three days ago? Ending in two broken bones, a broken nose, a concussion and three separate disciplinary proceedings against pilots from the relief squadron. He is constantly difficult, constantly discourteous and aggressive towards the SBM and Senator Duncan in particular, he writes his own orders and argues them out with the SBM afterwards- and before you say it, I cannot assign him only to bases where the Senator in charge has sufficient strength of character to withstand him!"
"If he comes aboard the Argo sir, Captain Manterfield will not find him easy to control either."
"Let's not beat around the bush here, Stephen. Manterfield is a diplomat and a tactician. You and Commander Nguyen run all management issues on the ship between you. And you, Stephen, are able to manage him."
"You want me to be used as a weapon to control my own partner?" Stephen said in outrage. "The Admiralty has no right to interfere with our relationship-"
"Stephen," McDowell interrupted. "You have a simple choice here. I am telling you, clearly, Lieutenant Commander Rivington's future is not particularly bright right now. There are not many assignment options open to me now, and after the last few months of doing exactly as he pleases, he is very likely to continue this pattern of behaviour in to his next assignment. I agree, this is likely to put a strain on your domestic relations. However, I might add it is likely to put still more of a strain on you both, should Rivington be demoted, suspended or find himself in a military prison in the next few months."
Stephen's heart thudded. "What's he done, sir?"
"Classified information," McDowell said quietly. "It's dealt with, and before you interrogate young Rivington, I ordered him to keep his mouth shut so leave well enough alone. Let's say I called in a few favours. However, this is the last time I am prepared to step in and rescue him from the consequences of his own recklessness." 
That's it. Scott thought grimly. I'm going to kill him.
McDowell folded his papers. "Rivington will be notified of his assignment later today- tell him yourself if you like. He will board the Argo at the end of the week. My regards to your father."
Stephen rose to his feet, aware the interview was over. His Godfather faded out the transmission before he could salute.
It had been over eight weeks since he had last seen Kieran Rivington. Contact, while he was out on patrol, was limited to letters and messages. They both lived for Scott's fortnight of leave. This time, with the Argo docking at Riv's own base, there was not even the loss of time it usually took Scott to get transport home. Less than an hour away from the end of Riv's shift, with his lover and partner due to walk back onto the base, Scott knew he should have been thrilled. In fact, as he took the lift up to the flight control deck, he was livid, and aware his annoyance was likely to spoil what should have been a very pleasant evening.  Starfleet might think it owned its officers body and soul, but this went beyond mere invasiveness. And Riv was a genius, in the air and in command. His commendations exceeded Scott's own by several pages. Hot-tempered, driven, he had just a little more initiative and influence over his men than military command found quite acceptable- unless they needed him to use it in conflict. Riv was a military commander in charge of a large squadron and the entire security of the base: he was not a man in a position to tolerate fools gladly. If Starfleet bases were going to be run by half-baked, inexperienced civilian politicians, they were going to have to take training courses in relating to their military human resources.
Scott stalked into the flight command centre, flashed his ID at the security guard and went to watch the screens over the air control crew's shoulders. 
From the screens, the mid-evening commercial traffic was heavy enough for air control to have organised a stack of incoming aircraft some miles off the base. Scott dug his hands into his pockets and watched a variety of craft coming in to and out of the four huge base hangars in a well-ordered, immaculately-timed sequence. A Starship patroller- the Orion - heading back out on duty. Three passenger crafts. One private craft. A local trader.
A red light blinked on the screen and one of the control officers turned it off with an expressive curse. "Oh heck, it's Himself."
"He's going to have to wait," the senior control officer said firmly, "They're stacking nearly twenty deep out there."
"YOU tell him."
"Who is it?" Scott asked, interest aroused. The controller gave him an expressive look, winced and pulled her earphones away, turning the comm on to open channel. The voice was exasperated and rapidly increasing in volume.
"Flight control, is ANYONE out there awake? There is a bloody great stack sitting west of the base, mostly containing milk floats-"
Scott straightened up in shock.
The senior controller hesitated, then reached tentatively for the comm. "Lt. Commander Rivington, this is Flight Control. We're experiencing some heavy traffic at the moment, please join the stack at 15,000 and await further instructions-"
All three staff flinched as the voice on the other end of the comm detonated.
"Flight Control, if you would like to know exactly what to do with your stack, please await MY further instructions. In the meantime, I'd appreciate some landing instructions before I run out of fuel."
"Commander, there are no spaces at this time," the controller said apologetically, "Please join the stack and I'll find you a slot as soon as-"
"If you'd stack the bloody civilians with any sort of integrity you wouldn't have the base squadrons pratting about in hyperspace while-"
"Quick," one of the other controllers muttered, "Send him round one more time and I'll delay the next cruiser slot-"
Scott came to life, found his voice and leaned past the controller to lean on the comm switch. Hard. "Lieutenant Commander Rivington, SHUT up, get yourself to the stack and
WAIT. Do you understand your instructions?"
 There was a shocked silence. Then the comm flashed.
"Lieutenant, do you understand your instructions?" Scott repeated sharply. The controller looked up at him with something approaching awe. Riv's voice had quietened down a lot.
"Received and understood. Standing by."
You'll be standing all right, my lad, when I get my hands on you, Scott thought grimly.
He'd never heard Riv's voice raised or quite that rude, certainly not when addressed to staff on routine calls. Some of McDowell's comments started to click into place. Scott began to wonder just what else had been happening with his partner that he'd missed in the last few months.
It took nearly forty minutes for the stack to unwind enough for Riv to bring his craft in, and the hangar decks were restricted to base personnel only. Scott took the lift up to the residential decks and found Riv's cabin. Not exactly luxurious but comfortable enough for two to share on a regular basis. Scott dropped his bag in the wardrobe and hung up his clothes. Riv had made his usual erratic attempt to tidy up. Clothes only covered the chair beside the desk instead of every surface in sight, and the bed was more or less made. On the Argo, he'd have a steward like any other senior officer and the poor man was in for a hard time. Scott moved on to sorting out Riv's clothes, actively worried now. The two weeks he spent on the base were his leave time: he tended to avoid involvement with base affairs. Riv stood his duties and occasionally they went out with Riv's colleagues, but other than that Scott made no attempt to see Riv at work or take any part in his working life. They were both Starfleet officers, they both understood the other's work and these fortnights were holidays. On base six, where Senator Marris was a personal friend of them both, Scott would have known instantly if Riv was in any trouble. Here-
Scott sighed. Here, he'd depended on hoping that his volatile partner would act like a grown-up in front of the brass. And it had been a forlorn hope four months ago.
The comm chimed. Scott leaned across and hit the answer key.
"Scotty, I'm off duty," Riv sounded exuberant as a teenager. From the racket in the background he was in the changing room off the hangar deck. "Want to meet in the bar?"
"I want you up here." Scott said shortly. "Now."
"What's the matter?" Riv demanded. "Scotty?"
"Think about it," Scott broke the connection. It took him another five minutes to straighten out the bed and make the cabin look presentable. How a Starfleet officer could get to the rank of Commander and reach the age of thirty without learning to make a bed was beyond him, but then Riv had numerous other talents. Too many other talents.
Scott straightened as the door opened. Riv had changed his flightsuit for a shirt and jeans. Both tight, both showing off a body that could have been used on recruitment posters. His hair was damp and in his eyes, and his smile dimmed any sense of purpose Scott had managed to hold on to. It had been eight long weeks. Resolutions flew out of the window to be forgotten. He met Riv halfway across the room and for several minutes their discussions were entirely non-verbal.
"Hello," Riv said eventually, softly, leaning his forehead against Scott's.
"Hello," Scott ran his hands down Riv's long and supple back, feeling the last dampness from his shower. Usually this conversation moved straight into bed. Riv was already moving to disable the comm to emergency calls only and to turn down the lights. Scott caught his hand as he passed and with rigid determination, made himself overcome temptation.
"No. Sit down."
"What's the matter?" Riv sat on the edge of the bed, looking up at him with enough innocence and warmth in his face that it was hard to believe he was the same man who had been snapping so unpleasantly at Flight Control. Scott touched his face, unable to help himself, but kept his voice stern.
"What was that shouting about that I heard over the comm? Do you always speak to Flight Control like that?"
Riv had the grace to flush a little. "Only when they stack that inefficiently."
"It wasn't inefficient, I saw the traffic boards. Since when do you take priority over every other craft on the base?"
Riv frowned a little, not sure where this was going. "I just-"
"Since you got the hang of intimidating the hell out of the controller? I heard you, Riv. Sarcasm and swearing, without any sort of provocation, from a Starfleet officer?"
"They are crew."
"And that makes it perfectly all right, does it?" Scott said grimly. "Which training course did you learn that on?"
Riv flinched and his head ducked under the snap. "All right, okay. Sorry."
"Sorry?" Scott planted his hands on his hips, mostly to keep them off his partner. "I'm furious! I've just spent half an hour with McDowell-"
Riv's eyes jerked up, anxiously. "What did he want?"
"Mostly to complain about you! That apparently you've made the SBM's lives so unpleasant they've petitioned Starfleet for your immediate reassignment!"
Scott stared at him. Riv turned slowly and deeply scarlet.
"I didn't believe it," Scott said levelly. "I thought the SBM was overreacting until I heard that tantrum you were throwing out there. Now I wonder just how you've been behaving while I'm out of earshot!"
"We said we wouldn't mix work with our relationship," Riv said defensively. Scott shook his head.
"I didn't mean I'd ignore any aspect of your life to do with work. And that resolution just went by the board, kiddo. McDowell's reassigned you to the Argo, effective from Friday.
From here on, anything you do at work is going to be my problem, personally AND professionally. Yes, have a think about that one. I don't think you'll be any keener than I am."
An irrepressible smile flicked over Riv's mouth. "You usually jump at any chance to get your hands on my butt."
Scott took a deep, slow breath. "Kieran. Just how mad do you want me to get?"
"How mad can you get?"
"Want to try for ballistic?"
"As opposed to wet hen?"
"Do you ever know when to stop?" Scott inquired. Riv shook his head.
"Only when you're around."
"Turn off the sugar, Kieran. It isn't going to save your little backside."
"So what IS going to save my little backside?"
Scott gave his partner a quelling look. "Here and now? Nothing. On the Argo - that's negotiable. And you, Lieutenant Commander, are wearing far too many clothes for the turn this conversation is taking."
Riv got up and began to strip with a sigh of resignation. "I knew it. Rape and ravish again, and you've only been on the base for- ow!"
"Any other comments you'd like to make?" Scott invited. Riv shook his head.
"No. No, that'll be fine."
"Then you tell me what the hell we are going to do about this assignment of yours! Damnit, Riv, we swore this was never going to happen! And you're clearly not surprised, either."
"McDowell said he'd do it if I screwed up again," Riv admitted. Scott gave him a piercing look.
"What did you do?"
"Federation secret. Oh don't give me that look! Duncan is SUCH a prick-"
"SENATOR Duncan-"
"Oh, Scotty, come on."
"All right, he's a prick. But he's your CO! What do you think life is going to be like if you act like this on the Argo? I am going to have to be on your back twenty-four hours a day and we'll never get to say a civil word to each other-"
"I could cope with you on my back, 24/7," Riv said suggestively. Scott pointed at the corner.
"Face that wall and shut up before I lose my temper! What does it take to get through to you?"
"Sweetheart," Riv said frankly, "You know perfectly well, if you were even halfway genuinely upset by any of this I'd be taking it seriously. But you're not."
"You want a bet on how serious I am?" Scott challenged. Riv gave him a laughing look and halted as the comm beeped.
"Shall I answer that, or do you want to explain that the Air Forces commander is currently standing in the corner?"
Scott took a step towards him. Riv dodged out of reach and hit the comm button.
Scott didn't recognise the voice but it was matter of fact and urgent. "Riv, they're about to sound the alert. Some cruiser's lost its tracking and it's going to need piloting in on tractors."
"Civilian, passenger liner, 2247, BIG son of a-"
"On my way," Riv broke the connection. Scott was already pulling a fresh uniform from the wardrobe and he pushed it into Riv's hands, interrupting him before he could talk.
"Never mind that. Go."
Riv pulled the pants and boots on, yanked the tunic over his head and dragged Scott's head down for a quick kiss of apology before he headed for the lifts at a dead run.
 * * * * * * * * *
Scott searched the base comm channels for any coverage of what was being done about the cruiser, but none of the stations were reporting on it. Eventually he left the comm news station talking quietly to itself in the dark, slid into Riv's bed and fell asleep, still listening. He was vaguely aware of Riv sliding in beside him at some unholy hour, of Riv's long and slightly chilled body wrapping around his for warmth, but it was too familiar to wake him properly.
It was the sound of the door lock releasing that woke him fully. Scott hooked a hand out from under the covers to grab the alarm clock.
It was six AM . Riv, in running clothes, was halted in the open doorway, looking frankly guilty. Scott sat up, pushing hair out of his eyes.
"And where do you think you're going?"
"Running?" Riv said warily.
"You can't run around a Starbase."
Riv smiled. "Come and watch me."
It was tempting. Scott shook the image out of his mind with an effort.
"We've got a conversation to finish, you and I?"
Riv winced. "Scotty- I'm due on duty in two hours, this can wait until I go off shift-"
"Now." Scott pushed to his feet and headed for the shower. "Get out of those clothes because you're not going anywhere. And if you're not here when I get out of this shower,
you'll be limping aboard the Argo on Friday."
He took his time in the shower, trying to work out how he felt. When he reached to turn off the water, the plain gold ring on his left hand glinted under the electric light. Scott paused to touch it, then turn it on his finger. Three years ago on earth, Riv had been a fascinating, stunning and bewitching young man with a lot of commitment problems and a history of fierce self dependence, based on a rough childhood spent in a series of foster homes. He could be charming with anyone, his vivacity was deceptive, his self possession was impressive. But very few people got close enough to see past the veneer.
Their personal life worked. The dynamics between them worked. Scott knew he was more than capable of loving Kieran Rivington, with all the responsibilities it entailed.
Whether or not he could handle Lieutenant Commander Rivington was another matter.
Riv had stripped and even put away the running clothes- a sure sign that he was nervous. Scott dried himself off, taking his time, and pulled a pair of jeans on before he padded across to sit on the end of the bed.
"Do you remember what I'm annoyed about, by any chance?"
Riv gave him a wary look from the dressing table where he was perched, naked and waiting.
"Yelling at the Air Control crew."
"For a start," Scott said curtly. "If I ever hear you speak to any crew like that on the Argo I'll do more than spank you, kiddo. Your squadron are your problem, I don't care if you reduce the entire air force team to tears, but intimidating backup crew is bullying, pure and simple. And using intimidation to get your own way is not something I expected from you!"
"I wasn't thinking about it like that."
"You seem to have stopped thinking the day you came aboard this base!" Scott glared at him, arms folded. "And then there's the little matter of you making enough of a nuisance of yourself to be reassigned?"
"That's a matter of opinion," Riv pleaded. "All right, I pushed Duncan pretty hard- but it's his fault as much as mine, even McDowell admitted that."
"I still don't like the fact that you misbehaved long enough and hard enough to be sent to the Argo in the hope that I can keep you under control!" Scott snapped. "Come here!"
Riv got off the dresser and went to him with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Scott caught his wrist and pulled him down, turning the long, slight body over his knees. Riv twisted in a futile attempt to feel more comfortable, or to move his now upturned and inviting backside out of the reach of Scott's hand.
"You weren't here! You know I lose my head if I can't talk something through with you-"
"That's one excuse that won't hold water for much longer, Kieran," Scott said dryly. "You could have written to me. As a matter of fact, from your letters I assumed everything was fine and you and Duncan were soul mates."
"I didn't want to worry you."
Scott laid a hand across Riv's bare bottom. It tensed anxiously under his palm and Riv twisted his head to see his partner's face. Scott shook his head at him.
"All right. That's between you and McDowell and I'll leave it out of the reckoning- but only this once. From here on, I'm going to know every damn thing about your work and you'll be directly responsible to me when you put a foot wrong. As well as when you personally drive me to screaming point."
He lifted his hand from Riv's upturned behind and Riv shut his eyes, turning his face back down to the floor. The swat was extremely hard and very efficient, making him yelp and jerk involuntarily over Scott's powerful legs. Scott's arm rounded his waist and drew him firmly against a washboard stomach as his hand lifted and smacked again, just as soundly. Scott always took his sweet time about this. Riv clenched his teeth and tried not to clench his backside as Scott's rigorous hand moved slowly over the entire canvas of his rump, delivering unhurried and extremely hard smacks to each fresh inch.
"What were we talking about that you're never going to do again, under any circumstances?"
"Intimidating air control," Riv clenched his teeth and tried not to struggle as his lover's hand put in a little careful work on the lower curves of his bottom.
"Pissing off Duncan- "
" Duncan is no longer your problem. Or you are no longer his. You're mine, kiddo, and I have no trouble at all in causing you as many problems as you can cause me, is that clear?"
Riv yelped, squirming, "Yes!"
Riv twisted as Scott's hand began a fresh and equally methodical circuit over his rump, adding a second layer of solid heat and smart to already soundly stung skin.
"I don't-"
"Engineering. Technical support. Science. All these department have crew that will be involved with your Air Force squadron. And none of them are going to be intimidated by you shouting and ranting at them. Is that clear?"
"Ow! Yes! Scotty-"
Scott held his partner still and paused, his hand resting on Riv's now scarlet and quivering bottom. "Senior officers are also exempt from being shouted at. Unless it's me. I think I'll write you a list to pin inside the wardrobe. Do’s and Don'ts."
"Scotty, please-" Riv appealed, wriggling. Being spanked by Scott when he was furious was one thing: it was extremely painful but it was over quickly and without too much complication. Scott in this mood was far more dangerous, and lying in this extremely vulnerable position during his pauses for thought was likely to wreck one's nerves beyond repair.
Damnit, Scotty if you're going to do it, get on with it and get it over!
"Or maybe you should write it personally. A few thousand times. Professionalism and courtesy at all times."
Bullshit! Riv twisted impatiently and Scott took pity on him. He returned to spanking his lover's wayward behind with just as much thoroughness but with double the speed, covering the route over both rounded cheeks twice more. Riv lost his grip somewhere in the middle of the first circuit. His yelps increased in volume and his wriggling became a good deal more pronounced. When Scott let him go and put him down on his knees he was tearstained and gulping, and his behind was a flaming scarlet. Riv put both hands very gingerly behind him and put his palms flat down over his hot skin.
"You'd better see Senator Duncan today and be nothing less than charming in your thanks for his help and support while you've worked on this base," Scott warned. Riv gave him a look of protest but kept his mouth shut. Scott sighed and tousled his hair.
"And then we’d better start packing up your stuff and moving it on to the Argo. Much as I love the idea of being with you all the time-"
Riv shook his hair out of his eyes. "I'll be all right if you're there. You know I will."
"Define 'all right'? If I didn't know better," Scott said without heat, "I'd say you engineered this to get us to live together. Come here."
Riv moved into his opened arms and Scott held him tight, feeling the last of his gulps. He put a hand down and gently rubbed Riv's scarlet and very hot rump.
"I hope to God this is going to work."
"It will," Riv tipped his head back for a quick and sincere kiss before he turned his head back into Scott's neck. "I promise it will."
~The End~
Copyright Ranger 2010

No comments:

Most of the artwork on the blog is by Canadian artist Steve Walker.

Rolf and Ranger’s Next Book will be called The Mary Ellen Carter. The Mary Ellen Carter and other works in progress can be read at either the Falls Chance Ranch Discussion Group or the Falls Chance Forum before they are posted here at the blog. So come and talk to the authors and be a part of a work in progress.

Do you want to read the FCR Books
and Short Stories on your E-Reader?
Well, lucky for you, e-book files can be found in
both the Yahoo Group and the Discussion Forum.