Part of Challenger: All For One & One For All


Challenger NX-03, en route to Earth
Sunday, September 21st, 2155
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Sparks flew above his head as he entered main engineering, followed by the noise of tools banging and clanging against various surfaces. It was another depressing day for Challenger’s chief engineer since their rescue by the Andorians from the constant attacks led by the Carreons (and not to forget the Romulans too). Commander Stanton had only recently come to appreciate the extent of damage the NX-class ship had sustained during almost one hundred days of brutal aggression. Even though the damage was extensive, the repairs were hard work for him and his team, Stanton shared in Captain Burton’s pride that the ship survived such an ordeal. It was a credit to the starship designers that they built the NX-class to last. Just like Enterprise when it survived the Xindi conflict, Challenger was proof that Earth starship designers knew what they were creating. 

It was now past oh-nine-hundred-hours and Stanton was reporting for duty after having breakfast with Captain Burton, Commander Levesque and Sub Commander T’Plau. Almost instantly as he got through the large entrance to the heart of the ship his senior engineers approached him. Masuko, Metaxas and Peterson all had computer tablets in their hands and with them they all had serious expressions. Stanton groaned inwards before approaching them.  

“Wow, I’m so glad my fellow engineers are as happy as I am this morning.” Stanton sarcastically remarked as he approached their huddle. “What’s wrong?”

Being Stanton’s deputy, Masuko naturally spoke for the group first. “We’ve got some news that Chief Dubois has just reported to us.” 

“Oh?” Stanton said, wondering what the ship’s chief of the boat and quartermaster would have said that put them all in glum moods.

The second engineer passed her superior the tablet she held in her hands. “Sir we’ve run out of spare parts, what our repair teams are using at the moment is all that we have left.”

That was a major problem Stanton thought to himself as he quickly glanced over the inventory report compiled by the French enlisted officer. Dubois was thorough with any report she composed, and she was the finest quartermaster and enlisted engineer that he had ever worked with. Trying to think on his feet instantly, Stanton looked to his engineers. “Very well, what about spares from the Avenkerev?” He asked.

Metaxas answered, “Lieutenant Dreu has stated they can’t provide any more resources as it would compromise their ability to repair their ship if anything drastic was to happen.”

Stanton understood that, especially as they had been draining their Andorian ally’s supplies (as well as personnel) in repairing as much of the Challenger as they could in the last two weeks. “Well, we’ll be entering friendly space soon and in a few days be back at the Obama Repair Facility. Let’s do what we can to keep the ship together until we reach Earth orbit.”

Peterson slightly coughed, “Sir, I think we have too many engineers who can’t sit still for that long. Most of the crew are keen to see the ship back to the way it was.”

“I get that Brad, and they will see her return to her former glory,” Stanton responded. “But they’ll have to wait until we get home to see it happen. As you guys have just shared with me, we don’t have the materials to do it, unless you can create a device that can replicate spare parts from thin air?”

Peterson only responded with an empty smirk, knowing that Stanton understood how annoying their current situation was.

“It’s going to be two very frustrating weeks then. Especially as we have no warp core to babysit.” Masuko stated as she inclined her head to the large missing device that normally sat in the centre of the room. Since the captain was forced to eject it, the entire engineering crew had to work around the clock in using other sources of energy to keep the ship’s primary and secondary systems working. 

“Lieutenant, your job will be to ensure that those systems our repair teams are working on are the ones that will help us in getting home in one piece. Everything else we will leave for the boys and girls at the repair yard.” Stanton ordered his right-hand woman before looking at the two men. “Theo and Brad, your job is to oversee everyone else, who aren’t helping with repairs, are maintaining those systems that do work.”

“That’s going to be tough to do without spare parts sir.” Metaxas said as he crossed his arms against his chest, almost hugging the tablet that he had been holding.

“Tell them to improvise and be creative, as long as they don’t compromise the safety of the crew and ship.” Stanton said. “Anything else?”

They shook their heads in response and he dismissed them. After they walked away, he made his way over to where his desk used to be. It was still a broken and burnt area. Crewmember Stahl was standing nearby, making adjustments to the computer terminal he was working on. Stanton sighed at the sight and then looked back at where the huge void was in the middle of the room. He agreed with Peterson’s remark from earlier, he too was keen to see the ship back to its original appearance.

The door to the imaging chamber slid upwards and the bed was ejected gracefully. Lying across the bed was Commander Levesque, as it moved, she slowly opened her eyes and was greeted with seeing Ben-Ami. The doctor was studying the scans that were coming through on the screen above her head. Sickbay was empty beside the two of them, which Levesque was grateful for. 

“How are you feeling?” Ben-Ami asked as she picked up her portable scanner and helped Levesque to sit up.

“The sickness seems to have calmed down, but I still feel nauseated.” Levesque almost whined. “Is this normal?”

Ben-Ami chuckled, “I’m afraid so Nicole.”

Levesque tried to smile at the answer she received. “So, what’s the verdict?”

“Everything looks healthy from this end.” She answered. 

“Really? Even though I feel rough?” 

“It is normal to feel this way Commander.” Ben-Ami reinforced, almost annoyed with the commander at not listening to her the first-time round.

“Any more information you can share?” Levesque enquired as she looked up at the scan results.

“We won’t be able to find out for another three months for exact information.” Ben-Ami answered. She pulled up a stool and looked at the science officer with sympathy and compassion. “Nicole, I think it’s time we had the chat.”

Groaning inwards and quickly resting her head back on the bed, Levesque closed her eyes. She didn’t want to have this conversation; she knew what it was going to be about. “I told you Kefira, when I’m ready I will do it.”

“Nicole, I understand that, but the circumstances around this are extraordinary. This isn’t a normal conception and for me to be able to support you I need to speak to the right people, that includes transporter experts to confirm our theory. Overall though the captain needs to know too.” Ben-Ami stated, now becoming firmer with her patient. “He has a right to know and you can’t deny him that.”

“What’s the worst that could happen if we don’t look into this and just let this happen the way nature intended it to happen?” Levesque tested as she rose back up again on her elbows.

Ben-Ami rolled her eyes, realising that once again her efforts were being side-tracked. “I can’t calculate the chances that everything will go to plan or prepare a treatment if complications arise later on.” She paused. “Nicole, you took the choice to go forward with the pregnancy and you have three little life forms growing inside of you. If you want to be a mother, then you need to be responsible for them. On top of that being the first officer of this ship requires you to ensure this crew is fit and well. That includes yourself as well.”

“I thought that was your job?” Levesque argued back.

“We’re really going to argue over our job descriptions?” Ben-Ami countered. “I could order you to do this, but I don’t think that’s the right choice.”

Levesque sat fully up and gave out a huge sigh of frustration. “Fine, I’ll speak with the captain.”

“Do you want me to come with you?” Ben-Ami offered.

Levesque nodded as she placed a protective hand over her stomach. “Yeah I think he may consider it a prank if I go in there alone.”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t.” Ben-Ami said as she extended her hand to assist the young commander in getting off the bed. “Come on, let’s get it over and done with.”


“And we’ve just crossed into friendly territory.” Ensign Conrad announced from the helm. 

Captain Burton looked up from the tablet he was reading from. Currently sitting in his captain’s chair on the bridge, he was trying to waste time by catching on some paperwork that his yeoman had told him needed to review urgently. The news they were finally on the last leg of their journey home was a godsend he thought. Instantly Burton looked over towards Hennessey who had been sitting at the communication’s station. He too had been trying to pass the time but hadn’t been doing anything productive. Instead he had been sitting there twiddling with his thumbs, as he had nothing to do while they maintained a radio silence. However, when Conrad had released the news of their current location the older communication officer quickly began typing away at the keyboard in front of him.

“Any luck?” Burton asked as he now stood up and slowly made his way over to stand just before the raised area where Hennessey was sat. Ned knew what the captain was referring to, they needed to get in contact with Starfleet’s network of subspace amplifiers that they and other ships had been dropping off in specific locations in neutral space. 

Hennessey had put his earpiece in so he could concentrate further. He placed a finger on the piece so he could improve what he was hearing. Squinting, he showed how much he was concentrating to find what he was trying to listen out for. Eventually he nodded when he detected something. “We’ve got a connection with Echo Nine sir.”

A grin appeared on Burton’s face as well as everyone else on the bridge. “Excellent, when you get a chance, hail Starfleet Command for me. Get me Admiral Gardner on a secure channel.” Burton ordered.  

“Aye sir.” Hennessey said cheerfully.

Burton turned around on his heels and made his way across the bridge. “Sub Commander T’Plau the bridge is yours until Commander Levesque returns to duty. Continue monitoring the status of the Avenkerev’s tractor beam on us and remain on the lookout for any hostile ships.”

“Yes captain.” The Vulcan woman answered. She rose gracefully from her chair at the tactical station and sat down in the centre chair as Burton made his way into his office. 

Pushing one of the doors so he could squeeze through the door frame without scratching himself or his uniform, Burton entered the room. The reminder of Challenger’s recent brutal ordeal was apparent in this room like elsewhere on the ship. Despite this Burton had tidied the room up. He had stored his personal items away to avoid them being damaged any further. All that was left was the broken bulkhead, the scorched deck plating and the cracked glass frame that held each picture of every ship named Challenger from Earth’s history. 

Making his way over to his desk, he sat down in the chair and sighed in annoyance. The chair itself had been burnt too and now was extremely uncomfortable to sit in. He was looking forward to getting that replaced when they got home. He was interrupted from adjusting himself in his seat by a knock on the door. As the door chime was offline, he was getting used to hearing people rapping their knuckles against the bulkhead. Looking up he saw Levesque standing there with a sheepish smile on her face alongside Ben-Ami who also wore an unusual expression.

“Ladies, can this wait?” He asked. He was eager to speak with Starfleet as soon as possible. Commander Anthi and he had only told their crews about the declaration of war with the Romulans only a week ago. As such he was interested to find out the latest developments. They all hoped they had a home to return too. 

Ben-Ami answered for them both. “I’m afraid not sir. This is urgent.”

“No Kefira, it’s fine it can-” Levesque started to say but was quickly quietened by the doctor by the flapping of her right hand to hush.

“We’re doing this now Nicole.” Ben-Ami said with a strong conviction in her tone. 

Burton was confused about what was going on. He imagined this was something to do with his first officer’s health. She hadn’t been herself since leaving Ardana. She had been ill on and off every day. Levesque had brushed it off, saying she had caught a bug while on Delta or on Ardana, one that wasn’t contagious or going away. 

“Okay what’s this about?” He asked as they shuffled into his office.

Levesque seemed quite distressed and seemed to be pushing back tears. Burton searched her expression, trying to see if he could work out what she was thinking or feeling, but for the first time since he met her he couldn’t tell what was happening. It was a strange expression she held, a mixture of dread and sorrow. The two of them had become close since joining Challenger and had shared almost everything with one another. They had a solid sense of trust between them. This was confusing for him. 

Levesque went quiet and Ben-Ami spoke for her. “Captain, as you know, Commander Levesque has had some health issues recently. We felt it was time we told you what was really going on.”

Burton was surprised to hear she hadn’t told him the full truth. “Now I’m worried. What’s wrong?” Automatically he was thinking that she had contracted some sort of deadly virus and was terminally ill. Dread began to fill his heart.

Ben-Ami smiled, tried to ease his concerns. “Nothing is wrong, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Commander Levesque is-”

It was Levesque’s turn to interrupt this time. “Pregnant.” She snapped as she pushed a tear away from her face. “I’m pregnant Lloyd.” She then placed her head into the palms of her hands to stop showing her embarrassment.  

He wasn’t expecting that. “Oh.” Burton responded after being silent for a brief moment. He didn’t know she was in a relationship. Automatically his head began to consider whom on their crew she was seeing. He knew it wasn’t Stanton, as he was in a committed relationship and Levesque wasn’t his type. The only other men that he had seen her interact with off from duty were Hennessey and Stewart. It couldn’t have been the latter as Stewart was also in a relationship with Corporal Jenkins. Could it be Hennessey? Or maybe it was someone from Delta? President Thea perhaps? He remembered her reporting that she had developed a good relationship with the Deltan leader, but she never mentioned it going any further than that. 

“…you’re the father.” Ben-Ami said. He hadn’t caught on to what she had said at the start of her statement as he wasn’t paying attention until she spoke those last three words.

“I beg your pardon?” Burton almost screamed in surprise.

Hennessey to Burton.” The intercom went off with the communication officer coming through the room’s speakers. 

Burton was still in shock but responded. “Standby Ned.” He said after hitting the button on his desk. 

But sir I have Admiral Gardner for you.” Hennessey stated.

“Give me a moment Ned. Burton out.” The captain said, still in shock and closed the channel. He looked at both women. Levesque was looking down at her feet, while Ben-Ami was trying to keep herself composed. “So…um…how?” He began and choked a bit as he rubbed his forehead trying to understand. He looked at Levesque. “We’ve never had…” He fumbled out, pointing towards himself and his first officer. “I don’t get how I’m the…” Dumbfounded, he looked up at Ben-Ami for answers. 

Ben-Ami smiled, trying to suppress how amusing this situation was as well as the awkwardness that now filled the room. “Captain, I believe it was caused by the use of the transporter when you both were beamed up from Delta almost a fortnight ago. Do you remember Commander Stanton stating he had problems separating your patterns?”

Burton nodded as the colour started to drain from his face, clearly indicating that the situation was starting to settle in for him. “Yeah, but he cleared up the problem and we materialised all fine.”

“Yes, that is right. My theory is that during the time that your patterns mixed, somehow fertilisation happened.” Ben-Ami stated. 

“And you’ve known this long?” Burton asked, slightly annoyed he was only finding this out now. Levesque still remained quiet. He couldn’t work out if she was scared or embarrassed or possibly a mixture of both. 

“Unfortunately yes, that’s because of the unusual circumstances of the pregnancy I wanted to monitor it to ensure it didn’t affect Commander Levesque’s health in any way.” Ben-Ami said.

“Okay.” Burton said. Still shocked at the news. “And is she okay?” He asked compassionately. 

Ben-Ami nodded. “Commander Levesque is experiencing a healthy pregnancy so far.”

“Okay.” Burton repeated. He looked up at his first officer. “I take it you want to keep the baby?”

“Babies.” Levesque whispered.

“Babies?” He echoed, his eyes widening at more unexpected news. 

“Triplets captain.” Ben-Ami explained. “And all three are very healthy too.”

“Oh.” Burton said. He now felt the colour completely drain from his face at that news. 

“Kefira, could you give us the room please?” Levesque asked softly.

“Of course.” She said and smiled at both of them before leaving.

An uncomfortable silence now filled the room. Levesque sat down in the leather armchair behind Burton. He turned his chair around to look at her. 

“I’m sorry, I should have told you once we determined you were the father.” She started with. “But I wanted to make sure there were no complications and I needed to come to terms myself and try and understand how this all hap-”

“No, it’s fine, I understand.” Burton said with acceptance. “So you want to keep them?”

Levesque placed her hand across her stomach. “I couldn’t bring myself to going through the process of an abortion Lloyd. I’m sorry, it’s just not what I believe.”

He smiled. “It’s all right Nicole, I get it and I’m okay with that decision.”

“This is so awkward now isn’t it?” Levesque remarked as she tilted her head back.

“That’s putting it mildly.” Burton replied, attempting to make a joke of the matter. “So how does this now work?” He asked as he rubbed his forehead again.

Levesque shrugged her shoulders as she looked back at him. “I want to keep them afterwards Lloyd and I’ll let you be as involved as much as you want.”

He smiled at her words. “I appreciate that, I really do.”

“But I don’t want you to feel you have to, I know you didn’t ask for this.” 

“Neither of us did Nicole, but what has happened is a miracle in itself.” He paused. “This is going to be one for the record books though.”

She chuckled at that. “That’s exactly what I said to Kefira.”

“I want to be there for everything, and I mean everything.” Burton said. He moved his chair closer to her and took her hands in his. “Fatherhood is something I’ve always looked forward to and I don’t plan to let you go through this alone.” He got out of his chair and knelt down to her, still holding her hands. “We’ll figure this all out, I promise.”

“Thank you.” She said become upset and tried not to cry. “Sorry but my hormones are all over the place. I seem to cry at everything these days.”

“It’s fine.” He said as he pulled her into a hug. 

After embracing each other for a while the intercom went off again. “Sir, I don’t think I can hold off Admiral Gardner anymore. I’ve already used the excuse we’re having technical difficulties transferring his call.

Burton slowly released Levesque and returned to his desk after making sure she was okay. “Sorry Ned, pipe his call in here.” He got back into his chair and swivelled it around to look at his first officer over his shoulder. “Wanna join me for this?” He almost pleaded.

Levesque nodded and got out of the armchair and pulled one of the small stools over. Burton, like the gentleman he was, got out of his chair and insisted she sat in it while he took the stool. 

The monitor on his desk soon flickered into life and the face of Admiral Gardner appeared. “Captain Burton, Commander Levesque it is good to see your faces.” He greeted them.

Both of them smiled at each other before looking back at their superior officer. Under the table Burton took hold of her hand as he began their conversation informing Gardner of what had happened to them. Levesque smiled at this gesture and for the first time in a week she didn’t feel like she was on the edge.

Happily, Major Yu made her way around C deck towards the games room. She had stopped counting the amount of times she stepped over some broken pieces that had fallen from either the ceiling or from a wall on her journey. It was becoming a bad habit of hers and she was trying to kick it in. Once she arrived at her destination, she pushed the doors apart from each other when they didn’t open automatically when she pressed the button to let her in. The moment she opened them she heard the chuckles of Roburn, the young Ardanan boy they had rescued several weeks ago along with his older brother Edro. 

The games room was almost as big as the mess hall, but instead of having lots of rounded tables dotted around the room it had different items that the crew could use to enjoy themselves with. Hanging on the wall was a couple of dartboards, while by the opposite wall all in a row were four large rectangular tables. There was a pool table, a snooker table, a table tennis table and an air-hockey table. Against one of the walls were a few screens that were connected to game consoles too. 

Instantly Yu saw both boys playing on the air-hockey table, even though it wasn’t switched on they were enjoying themselves with the game in their own way. You smiled at the scene, reminding her of her own childhood when she would use her own imagination to keep herself entertained. 

Sat at one of the few smaller tables, that the crew normally used to play either board games or card games like poker, was Staff Sergeant Iyer. He was sat with a mug of something in one hand and a book in the other. Unlike her, he wasn’t wearing his uniform as he wasn’t on duty. He saw Yu enter the room and put his book and mug down to greet her.

“Major.” He said, instinctively he began to stand up, but she waved her hand to him gesturing for him to sit back down.

“As you were Rupesh.” She told him as she joined him, watching the two boys carrying on with their games. Roburn was standing on a small stool so he could reach over the table to play with his older brother. Yu noticed that Edro was definitely letting his brother win. “They seemed to be enjoying themselves.”

“They certainly are.” Iyer agreed.

Yu looked back at her officer and passed him the tablet she had been holding on to. “I wanted you to take a quick look over the duty roster for the rest of the week. There’s nothing too exciting planned, however I wanted to ensure we’re using everyone’s abilities and strengths to help with the repair teams. I know Commander Stanton is appreciating the extra help from the MACOs.”

Iyer took the computer device from her. “I’ll look through it now while they’re playing.” He switched it on and put his passcode in to take it out of its standby mode.

“So, how’s fatherhood treating you?” Yu asked quietly and with a wry smile on her face. 

He chortled, knowing the major was teasing him. “Edro’s an absolute superstar, while on the other hand I’m having difficulties with Roburn. He doesn’t sleep well.” He explained.  “I’ve lost count of the amount of times he has climbed into bed with me or Edro because he is scared of either a noise or the darkness.”

Yu smiled slightly at him, recounting that. Since their return to the ship, Captain Burton had suggested that Iyer temporarily moved down to G deck where the VIP guest rooms were located to care for the boys. They had tried giving both of them their own rooms, but they insisted on staying with Iyer in the forward VIP guest room. It turned out they were not used to staying in a room by themselves as they always stayed with their parents back in their settlement. Doctor Ben-Ami had explained to them all that the boys would need time to change to their new surroundings, they needed time to make an attachment to those around them. They had lost their parents, their community and didn’t know anything else. The ethical dilemma of bringing them with them on Challenger had been a hot topic among the crew, but Captain Burton had made the decision to allow them to join them. Major Yu had wondered how much trouble he would get into with Starfleet once they got back to Earth about that decision. 

“How do you get him to sleep then?” She whispered to him.

Iyer smiled before responding. “He loves hearing me read to him. I’ve been reading Captain Proton non-stop. Even Edro stays up to listen to it.”

“Well, it’s a good thing there’s a whole series of Captain Proton novels to get through.” Yu remarked with a wry smile. She looked at the staff sergeant, noticing that he looked exhausted and almost burnt out. “How are you though?” She asked. 

“I’m fine ma’am, thank you for asking.” He replied, obviously lying to her to maintain his macho MACO stance. “Between Angie and I plus half a dozen other people we’re able to look after them. They seem happy here, even if the ship looks like a scrap yard!” He looked at both boys playing in front of them. “We definitely did the right thing in bringing them with us.”

“Let’s hope the top brass thinks so too.” Yu said without much confidence in that matter.

“About that ma’am.” Iyer said as he put the tablet down on his lap. “I’m considering filing papers to officially adopt them.”

Yu’s eyes got bigger at that news as she relaxed into the chair. “Wow! Are you sure you’re ready for taking them on a permanent basis Rupesh?”

He nodded with confidence as he spoke. “Without a doubt ma’am.”

“What about your job?” She probed, hating herself for asking it but knew it would be a discussion they would have later on so why leave it until then? 

He smiled at that. “I’m considering resigning, ma’am if my parents aren’t comfortable taking care of the boys while I’m away from Earth.”

“Well, I hope they are comfortable with that Rupesh. I would hate to lose you.” Yu said genuinely. 

“I don’t want to leave the unit either ma’am, but I’ve got to consider what is best for the boys.” Iyer said. “I can’t expect Angie to leave, she’s only just started her career and Starfleet needs a good pilot like her right now.”

“And the service still needs good men like you Rupesh, to help win this war with the Romulans.” Pausing for a moment to think, Yu came up with an idea. “I could always see if I can get you a transfer to one of our Earth based facilities. Say a nice teaching post at one of our training camps in Pakistan?” Yu suggested.

Iyer’s demeanour changed positively at Yu’s proposal. “I would be eternally grateful if you can do that ma’am. That’s if I have to cross that bridge though.” He replied.

Yu gave him one more smile before leaving him. Inwards she groaned to herself, wondering just how many others from her unit or the Challenger crew would consider leaving. If good men like Iyer left, then she wouldn’t have much of a detachment left. She had her suspicions that Jenkins may leave once he and Stewart tied the knot, or even before that. She didn’t blame any of them wanting to go, especially after the recent ordeal they had to endure and now with the war. Being posted on one of Earth’s fastest ships didn’t bring them much luck or cause them to think they will live a long and happy life. Many of them may want to leave and return to Earth to avoid any more conflict in their lives she considered. As she left C deck she decided on having a chat with Ben-Ami to see what she thought about the potential exodus from Challenger.

Ensign Stewart was sitting on the floor of the decon-chamber attempting to fix the curtain rail. It was a mundane job for him to carry out, despite that and with the rest of sickbay fixed, including the chamber itself now being operational, Ben-Ami wanted the smaller things sorted. As such she had ushered him out of sickbay earlier when Commander Levesque had entered. Ben-Ami had told him to go organise the decon-chamber and ensure the stocks of the different types of gels and creams were full. He had done the latter and was now fixing the curtain that was rarely used to split the room in half to give its occupants some privacy. The rail had fallen down at some point during one of their various battles with the Carreons. He was currently looping the curtain through the pole; a series of holes were in a line along the top of the curtain and when the pole had fallen the curtain had completely slipped off. The curtain itself was burnt around the edges and would most likely be replaced once they returned to Earth, despite that it would suffice if it was needed in the near future. Sitting quietly, humming to himself he didn’t hear any of the outer doors open. As such he was slightly surprised when two familiar hands covered his eyes.

“Guess who?” The masculine voice said.

Stewart decided to tease his visitor. “Ensign Dalton? Hold up, is it Commander Stanton? Wait a second, these hands are too feminine to be either of theirs. It must be Major Yu!” 

Corporal Jenkins whacked Stewart in the back for his response. “My hands are not feminine!” He protested after letting go and slumping down on the deck plate next to his fiancé. 

“Ha! They’re smaller than mine!” Stewart said, proving his point by measuring his hand up against one of Jenkins’. “See!”

“These hands could easily kill you if you don’t watch yourself Ensign Stewart!” Jenkins threatened with a wry smirk.

“Well, then you’ll be marrying yourself!” Stewart replied. He looked around and saw they were still alone and leant in to passionately kiss his partner on the lips.

“Hmm, that was nice.” Jenkins said after breaking away from their intimate peck. He looked around the chamber and was trying to work out what Stewart was doing. “So what are you working on? Apart from threading a curtain?”

“Just that!” Stewart said deadpanned and returned to his work. “It’s been a slow start to the day in sickbay, so I’m doing some of the unexciting jobs to keep me occupied.”

Jenkins nodded in agreement. “I know the feeling. My shift was long and uneventful as there isn’t much more for the MACOs to do. I can’t believe how much debris we’ve lifted and moved into the cargo bays over the last two weeks! We’ve literally got not much else to do at the moment.”

“Have you just finished your night shift then?” Stewart enquired. 

“Yup.” Jenkins said, popping the ‘p’ sound. “I was going to head back to our quarters, but I thought I would try and see you before I go to sleep.”

“Missing me that much are you?” Stewart asked, beginning to tease his other half again.

“Yeah the bed is never warm enough when you’re not in it with me.” Jenkins said seductively as he leant in to say it in Stewart’s ear.

Stewart rolled his shoulder to knock Jenkins off from him, knowing what his partner wanted to do at that very moment. “Not here while I’m on duty.” He told him firmly, while trying to suppress a grin.

“Oh!” Jenkins protested. “You’re no fun!”

Stewart looked at his other half with an unamused expression. “Coming from the boy who a few months ago wouldn’t dare speak unless spoken to while on duty!”

“Boy?” Jenkins repeated. “Well, if we’re going to play that game just remember who had to be told by that boy to arm themselves on their first mission off the ship?”

Stewart rolled his eyes. “You’re really going to keep bringing that up?”

“I’m going to always bring that up as that was the day that I got to see your beautiful crystal blue eyes and hear that sexy semi-Irish accent of yours!” 

“You’re such a creep.” Stewart returned and smiled at his spouse-to-be before kissing him again. “Now go.” He said in a sterner voice. “That’s an order Corporal.”

“Ooh I like it when you pull rank!” Jenkins said with a grin as he got up from the floor. “Yes sir!” He said more formally and saluted Stewart. “Don’t forget we’re seeing Chef Lawson later to discuss ideas for our wedding reception.”

“Yeah, yeah I haven’t forgotten!” Stewart said, waving him off. He returned to focussing on his work and was straight away surprised again. 

Jenkins returned, this time put his arms around Stewart’s waist and whispered into his left ear. “I love you Niall Stewart.” And then kissed him again, this time on his cheek. He quickly left him after that.

Stewart just smiled at how romantic his fiancé could be and went back to his great task of fixing the curtain rail!