Pool Party! (Part 1)
Episode 3: Foxes and Henhouses
Location: MIchaela Holland's Quarters, USS Defiant
Timeline: MD 0
Michaela may have forgotten to discuss their shore leave plans during her dinner date with Caroline, but she had managed to organize things to an extent the next day. Everything was set up, leaving her with only one important detail left... perhaps the most important: what to wear?
In truth, Michaela had already known what she wanted to wear, to an extent. The the only thing she couldn't decide on was shoes. Her dressmaker and stylist had included some nice things in her latest care package, and the engineer's favorite was a pair of burgundy pants, just a few shades darker than her red uniform dresses. They looked like leather, but weren't. They were quite snug all the way down to her ankles, and could have fit better, but Michaela wasn't about to wait for alterations before wearing them. She thought they went quite nicely with her soft, black sweater, which was layered over a white blouse. She looked in the mirror, folding her shirt collar out over her sweater, and tugged at its tails so they peeked out at her waist. She left the top button undone so that her mother's pearl necklace could just barely be seen.
Michaela had no idea what the others would be wearing. She'd only seen Charlotte in casuals once, and she hadn't been dressing up. Caroline was an even bigger mystery, she'd never seen her in anything but a blue uniform dress. The captain could probably go either way, but somehow Michaela couldn't imagine her friend--perhaps now girlfriend!--wearing the hooded sweatshirt and jeans Charlotte had been wearing during their first awkward meeting. Maybe Isley would be wearing the leather jacket she'd left at her place by mistake. She'd just have to wait and see.
As she waited for Isley to arrive, Michaela tried to decide on her shoes, but knew that she was probably going to have to ask Caroline to decide for her. The black heeled pumps looked much nicer, but she was bad enough at billiards without having to worry about her footing while she played. Or she had her black and white old-fashioned canvas sneakers, which were only a little dingy. They had just enough classic appeal to go with the outfit too. She doubted Caroline would pick them. The science officer seemed to like her heeled boots. Or was that amusement?
It had been a strange day for Caroline Isley. The very unexpected dinner with Michaela and what that meant for today's get together had been on her mind the entire time. It wasn't really like Isley to not be able to focus on work or her department, but she hadn't spared much of a thought for either. Things had changed between her and the chief engineer, and the blonde found herself thinking back to how and why. Most of her simply didn't care. She liked Michaela and was already looking forward to seeing her again. The analytical part of her wanted some kind of explanation or post-mortem, but, for once, it wasn't winning out.
Isley was supposed to meet Holland before they joined the captain. Strangely, Caroline hadn't really spared Captain Reynolds much of a thought. Normally she would be nervous about spending time with her commanding officer -- after all, she didn't really know Reynolds at all. This time, however, she really only was thinking of Holland.
Caroline pushed the chime on Holland's quarters. She had dressed casually, causing a few looks as she moved through the corridors. Normally the only time Isley was out of uniform on board the ship was when she was working out or sleeping. Somehow, she hadn't thought a sports bra and spandex pants (or a night gown) were quite appropriate for this get together. So she had worn a simple black dress, cut short and fairly tight. She topped it off with boots that were just a bit sleeker than her usual uniform attire. And she was carrying the jacket that Holland had left behind in her quarters.
Well, they had been very busy, Caroline thought with a wry smile.
Michaela's heart fluttered a bit as her door chime sounded. It had to be Caroline. Though she would of course open the door herself to make sure. She'd found herself thinking a lot about the night before. After getting back to her quarters, she'd stared at the wall for a bit, knowing that Caroline was right there in the next cabin over. They were so much closer, but yet one wall felt so far. She'd felt like an idiot when she realized she was just sitting there looking at the wall trying to make sense of things.
"Enter, if you dare." Michaela said in a playfully ominous tone once she confirmed it was indeed Caroline. She fought the urge to give her a kiss right there in the open doorway. Of course someone would walk by and see it, and then half the ship would know about it before they even met up with the captain. Plus she had no idea how Caroline felt about public displays of affection.
Stepping back, Michaela ushered Caroline inside. Her quarters were totally trashed, though it was unclear if it was a temporary thing or if the engineer was a secret slob. Her bed was hastily made, and had an overturned box with half-folded uniform dresses spilling out of it. Datapads and hard copies of various schematics littered her desk, along with a mug that had left at least two coffee rings on what little open desktop could be seen. Her tool kit sat on the short end of her L-shaped sofa, with the nearby bulkhead panel half pried off, with a ersatz charging line for her tools snaking out of it, jacked directly into the power grid. No less than five pairs of boots and shoes cluttered her floor, just waiting to trip up the unwary. A catchy dance-pop tune played softly, and a bedside house plant appeared to be... swaying? To the music?
"Sorry for uh... the mess." Michaela said as she looked around, as if just noticing it. She'd been too busy looking at Caroline, who looked stunning in her little black dress. "And I love your dress." She added, laughing as she noticed the rhyme.
Isley walked inside with a sly smile on her face, but it quickly turned into a look of surprise. The engineer's quarters were . . . disorganized to say the least. She looked around from one mess to another. This was something that would have to change if Caroline started spending more time here. The science officer didn't consider herself a neat freak per se, but she definitely liked things to be tidy. And this . . . wasn't. Still, it definitely screamed Michaela.
"I can see why we had dinner in my quarters," the blonde said, and then giggled. She smiled warmly at Michaela's compliment and then did a slight spin, showing off the dress. She suddenly felt very silly, wondering why she had just done that and quickly tried to hide the blush on her cheeks.
"Thank you," she said. "You look great too." She took one last look around and then turned toward Michaela, looking very pleased for a moment. "Oh, when are we meeting the captain? Should we go?" Isley wasn't sure of the exact plan. Maybe the captain was coming here. Although for Holland's sake, Caroline hoped they weren't going to show the state of the chief engineer's quarters to the commanding officer.
Michaela didn't reply right away. She gave Caroline a coy smile, then stepped up to her to give her a kiss, reaching up on her tiptoes and snaking her arms around the taller woman's shoulders. The kiss was light and not too lingering--Michaela didn't want to mess with Caroline's makeup--bit there was enough intensity to remind her friend that her feelings for her hadn't changed since the night before.
I think she's meeting us here, actually..." Michaela said, trailing off as she spoke softly into Caroline's ear. She stepped back, looking around. "Hmm, I did mean to clean up a bit. Just couldn't decide on..." She trailed off again.
"Here! You can pick out my shoes, and I'll do something about this mess." Michaela didn't want for an answer as she moved to her bed and stuffed her new uniform dresses back into the overturned box they'd arrived in. She opened her small closet and tossed the box in, then moved on to tidying up her tools. It was unclear what shoes she meant, as the sneakers and pumps she'd been considering were among the five pairs out in the open.
Caroline savored the kiss for a moment and then blinked a few times as Michaela pulled away. Shoes? Clean up? Oh, right, she thought to herself, recollecting everything.
As she looked at Holland's shoe choices, there really wasn't any decision. As comfortable as the flats looked, Isley would never pick them over anything heeled. "Oh, you simply have to go with these," the blonde said, pointing to the heels. It didn't even occur to her that Michaela might have trouble playing in the higher shoes. Caroline wore heels for practically everything.
"Done!" Michaela said cheerily as she scooped up her other pairs of shoes and tossed them into the closet too. She didn't bother with the mess on her desk, or tidying up her hastily made bed. She made a semi-awkward show of stepping into the pumps and tugging them onto her feet, but once they were on she seemed stable enough. The heels didn't look as tall as the ones on her non-regulation boots, but looks were deceptive. The boots had a thick enough sole to hide a hidden platform. The pumps had thin soles that hid nothing.
"You can wear that if you'd like, sweetie." Michaela said to Caroline, pointing to her leather jacket, which was still in the science officer's hand. Isley might be taller, but as far as jackets and tops were concerned, they couldn't be all that different in size. Michaela couldn't help but wonder if she'd already tried it on.
Isley smiled and slid the jacket on. She had put it on and found that it fit surprisingly well. "Thanks," she said softly.
Captain Reynolds navigated her way through the hallways full of quarters with her usual authority, making sure to greet officers by rank and surname as she went. Everything was perfectly formal, per usual. And why wouldn’t it be?
She made sure to hold her poise in reaction to every startled gasp or stare in the way, seemingly entertaining herself by pretending things are as usual. It was almost a game.
She finally arrived at her Chief Engineers quarters and allowed herself a smirk before pushing the button.
The Defiant crew had been exposed to Charlotte’s casual side and antics before they even knew her as captain. Her little caper for the first three days ensured that none of them were entirely caught off guard seeing her in her casual mode. Sure, she was formal and orderly on duty, with her hair tied back. But they knew she had a fun side.
What they had not seen, however, was Charlotte in party mode.
She’d been off her game for a while now and had been in no condition to go out and party. But something about the recent attack on her had reawakened her mischievous side in full.
Charlotte was an attractive woman, and was well aware of it. She’d honed some fairly killer looks over the years, and had broken a few hearts along the way. But she hadn’t used any in some time. Something about tonight felt good though, and she’d donned an old classic from her home on Earth, from several trips out to her family’s place in the slightly cooler northern reaches of her sunbathed state.
She pushed the button and awaited the door opening.
Michaela moved to open the door, clearly exited for their outing by the bounce in her steps. She opened the door, standing by the frame to usher Charlotte inside.
"Oh my...." She said, somewhat shocked and breathless at the sight of the captain.
Isley was a little stunned by the sight of the captain as well. She hadn't expected her commanding officer to be quite so . . . informal. It took the blonde aback but she still mustered a polite smile. "Hello, captain," she said, a little less formally than she intended. "You look . . . great." She blushed a little at the pitiful adjective, but she wasn't sure what else to say.
Charlotte stood leaned slightly against the wall to exaggerate her look slightly. She wore thigh high leather boots, her tightest denim jeans, and a stripped tanktop with a little bit of a diving neckline and an-inch-to-short trim at her stomach, she cut her old girl-next-door look with a hint of her old Arizona charm. The dark brown jacket and brimmed leather hat pushed the look into near parody, without compromising her looks. Her hair was not tied back, but instead hung down with slight poofs and curls to flourish it. She looked good and she knew it.
As the door opened, she gave an exaggerated look up at them from under the brim of the hat. “Hey girls,” she said with a cheeky smile. She dropped the act a little as she spoke quietly toward them. “Be honest, is the hat too much?”
Michaela actually thought the hat was super cool. She wasn't used to seeing hats, and certainly not the style Charlotte was wearing. It was a great look for her. Michaela wasn't daring enough to show off her belly button, but obviously Charlotte had no problems with that. And of course every girl had to have a pair of 'painted on' jeans. The captain had already seen Michaela wearing hers. The boots were absolutely insane. They went halfway up her thigh! Michaela's pair only went a finger's-length or so above her knee. Those could almost look regulation in comparison. If... you know, you ignored the heels.
"My Captain..." The engineer said, obviously still processing the sight. "Giddy up." She said emphatically. Then blushed. Caroline was probably going to get so embarrassed being around her because of her weird commentary.
Isley rolled her eyes but smiled at Michaela's response. She was used to the engineer at this point. "What Michaela meant to say, was that the hat is fine."
Charlotte failed to hold in her laugh at the Engineer's response. "I know the outfit is a little much, but I figured I'd have a little fun with it. Especially after this last mission. I could really appreciate blowing off some steam." She stepped inside, before giving the two women a faux-serious look. "By the way, we are officially off duty. Which means no 'sirs' or 'ma'am' or any of that business. I'll accept a 'Captain', but for the most part, stick to Charlotte, Charley, or Reynolds. Deal?"
Caroline nodded. "Yes, Charlotte." It came out a little awkward. She had never addressed the captain by her first name.
"Alright then, Michaela. This is your outing, so I'll follow your lead. Where are we off to first?" Charlotte relaxed casually against the wall. It was nice not having to make all the calls for once.
"Well, according to my sources, there are only three places to play pool on Arcadia Station." Michaela said, beginning with all the seriousness of an intelligence briefing. "First, of course, there is the Rec Hall. It has four tables, and we're all but guaranteed to get in due to being in Starfleet. But... it's the Rec Hall, and they only serve synthehol." Considering Defiant had its own rec room, that option seemed the least exciting.
"Second, there's Grom's Place. It's a total dive bar, and I've heard its only pool table has seen better days, but... it will be an adventure, for sure." Michaela knew very little about Grom's Place, except that Grom was a surly Tellarite, and the bar's atmosphere could match his disposition... loud, and rough.
"Finally, there's the Arcadia Lounge. It has two tables, and the best drinks of the bunch. It tends to fill up fast though, and they do have a dress code. I'm told there is also a man named Devons who frequents the tables there. They say he is... undefeated." Michaela preferred places like the lounge, but getting a casual game going there might be difficult, if Devons was around. There was also a chance they might not even get in.
"Maybe try the lounge first? It may not be an option later. If this Devons guy's a creep or if Charley's belly button offends them, we can always head to Grom's Place, or... wherever." Michaela shrugged.
Charlotte looked over her outfit self consciously for a half moment, before dismissing it. Her midriff and neckline might not meet a dress code that was particularly strict. But maybe it would still work. If the fancy aristocrats didn't like it, she'd be more than happy to move along. "I'm game to try a the Lounge. If they want to kick a Starfleet Captain out for her dress code, I'd gladly open the discussion to times when female officers were issued uniforms with no rank stripes. Otherwise, I'm totally fine with going to Grom's. I've had my fair share of dive bars. I'd really like to avoid the Rec Room though. If I wanted that scene, we could have stayed on Defiant."
Caroline almost said something about the stripe-less skirt uniform. That was still her favorite variant, being a bit more comfortable than the long sleeved, higher collar version. Still, she didn't want to contradict her captain so early. "The lounge is fine with me, too. I don't think we'll have any problem with the dress code," she offered, although not quite sincerely.
"That's our plan, then." Michaela said with a grin.