Obsidian Command
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Quite an Interesting Dinner

Posted on 25 Sep 2018 @ 5:57am by Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sharpe

Mission: Character Development
Location: Richard's Quarters
Timeline: Six months after 'The Admiral's Daughter'

Tonight was dinner with Caroline & Max, in Richard's not-so-veiled attempts at trying to connect with his sister's partners, and also remain a figure in their lives as they grew older and more independent. In truth, with Amaya increasingly not being around very much, he was getting lonely. He'd come up with the idea of dinner once a month with one of the girls, as a way of trying to have someone to interact with. With everyone wrapped up in their new relationships, Richard did feel the loneliness of dating the station commander - often as not an empty side of the bed.

Yet again, Amaya would be missing the dinner due to duty commitments. It was unfortunate, but Richard was getting used to being stood up by her frequently now, so he'd stopped being upset about it. He almost expected it. He set the table in the main living area for three, with himself at the head of the table, and Caroline and Max sitting together along the left hand side.

He'd always been fascinated that Caroline had come out of her shell so much being around Max. I mean, what big brother wanted his precious little sister to be with a guy who was only trying to effectively breed with her. He was a bit defensive about that, but Max was doing wonders for Caroline, and she was so much more confident and personable when she was around Max. Richard was grateful for Max for that, providing of course they practised celibacy for the rest of their lives. Baby steps Richard... Baby steps...

Max stretched his collar out. No matter how many dinners he has had with Major Sharpe, he still always feels like he has to bring an extra shirt just in case he soaks through it. While the Major had always been rather nice to him, Max always kept the augmentation in the back of his mind.

Caroline looked up at Max's fear-stricken eyes, giving him a wide smile and a generous squeeze of his hand. "Max, you're so funny! You've been here a million times... and he actually likes you..."

"I know," Max's voiced squeaked a bit from his dry throat. He awkwardly cleared it as he looked down at her. His lips curled up at her beautifully innocent green eyes, bringing his lips to her cheek in a gentle and grateful kiss. She had been so patient with him these past six months as he had been patient with her. It had taken a long time for Caroline to become comfortable with the affection he was so desperate to give her. She was at the point where a sweet kiss on the cheek in front of others fell short of the limit line. Behind closed doors, however, Caroline had begun letting Max gain the upper hand and push the boundaries a little further every time. She was still allowed to wear white due to her insecurities of what would happen once she gave herself fully to him and what would happen to Max if Richard found out when it did happen.

The door opened, revealing the tail end of the kiss to Richard, causing Caroline to blush with embarrassment for him seeing it. "Hi, Richard," she tried to play off the accidental reveal.

"Hi, Major," Max stuck out his hand to Richard. No matter how many times Richard told him to call him by his first name, Max couldn't help but continue his efforts to remain in his good graces.

Richard sighed at the incredibly poor timing of the door opening. It was hardly the worst thing in the world, catching Max kissing Caroline on the cheek. In fairness, if that was all he did with her, he'd be content with that. He had to accept that men wanted to be intimate with women, and visa versa. Just... perhaps not so openly in front of the girl's guardian. "Max, for the love of god, will you call me Richard?" He sighed again, accepting his hand. "We're not on parade. I doubt very much you call Caroline 'Ms. Hatfield' all the time, do you?"

"If she could produce a sword out of her hand, I probably would," Max gave him a goofy grin that sent Caroline into a facepalm.

Richard rolled his eyes. "If I were going to kill you, I would've done it a while back, not let you keep gallivanting around with my sister. I certainly wouldn't host you to dinner. Believe me, I've got friends in the police who can help me cover up a murder. Now for the love of all that is holy, will you call me Richard, before I make Caroline sad and beat you to death with a salad fork!" He chuckled, gesturing for them to come into the room.

Max gave him an embarrassed smile as he gestured for Caroline to have a seat as he pulled the chair out for her. “Commander Lance not able to make it out again?” Max asked as he noticed the empty spot where a fourth setting could be set up at.

Caroline looked at Richard as her eyes fell slightly in concern. Amaya had been away a lot more then before and she felt bad for her brother. Even though he would try and save face she knew it bothered him that she was away at work a lot more frequently lately. She made it a point to spend more time with her brother to help him feel less alone. Caroline still disliked seeing him disappointed that Amaya couldn’t be a part of his get togethers. “I’m sure she wishes she could be here, Richard.” Though honestly Caroline wasn’t sure if that was true. Amaya had said she would spend more time with her and Rebecca but work seemed to be getting in the way of that more.

"I'm sure of that as well." Richard said, not entirely sure he believed it when he said it anymore. He was exceptionally fond of Amaya, but with her new determination to be a better base commander, that had come at the sacrifice of their personal relationship. Alas, when you put focus on one area, another will invariably suffer.

He brought over a massive wooden bowl with salad in it, with both a wooden salad fork and spoon that could be used to serve up salad. He placed it on the table, and then a pitcher of water. "Supposed to be eating healthily, or so I'm told, so starter will be salad tonight."

Max took his seat and draped his hand over the back of Caroline’s chair. “If it wasn’t for Caroline I’d probably be stuffing my face with Sam’s food and look like a stuffed pig. So salad is perfect.” He gave Richard a smile and ran his thumb lightly down Caroline’s arm affectionately. “I actually have a question. Now that it’s been quite a few months, how do you feel about using the Marines as an augment to Starfleet Security? I should preface that by saying, on behalf of the FCPD and I’m sure you’ve heard this from the Commander, that we would much rather work with your Marines than with Starfleet Security.”

Richard chuckled. He was well aware Paul's views on the topic, and had been most grateful to be allowed to use Richard's marines. It was a perfectly amenable relationship, because when not needed on operations, marines were supposed to be assisting with duties aboard whatever attached naval base or vessel they were assigned to. Admittedly, standing outside engineering or ops holding a rifle for six hours was not a good deal of fun, but then, Richard didn't have to do it, and it was good discipline for the marines.

"Even with the odd mumble-grumble about standing post, whilst the cops binge donuts and coffee?" Richard asked, serving up some salad onto Caroline's plate for her. "I imagine its a little better than the surly attitudes you were getting before. My lot at least know if they're surly and rude to the cops, they'll get a pasting from the Sergeant Major when they get back to barracks."

“At least we share our donuts and coffee,” Max smiled at Richard as he began serving first Caroline’s plate then Richard’s. “Progulka s drugom v temnote luchshe, chem hodit' v odinochku pri svete.” Max had appreciated the strong bond that had developed between the cops and the Marines before he had arrived to the base. He understood they went through more than one ordeal together and the Marines had held a level of respect for the FCPD that Starfleet rarely did.

Caroline looked between her two favorite men and how they seemed to surprisingly get along. Max had a way with people and was always so friendly and open with others. She had almost been jealous of his easy ability to talk and laugh and joke around strangers but he had been more than willing to help her feel more comfortable with herself and her life. “Richard, I’ve been working with that new Counselor, Mr. Russell, and he's actually started talking to me about his work in Forensic Psychology. I know I originally was looking into working with kids but after talking to him and reading Annie’s work books,” after Annie’s marriage to Phil Caroline felt kind of odd calling her an aunt when she was now more of a sister, “I was thinking about maybe learning more about that too. It’s really fascinating. I would be able to work with Uncle Paul and Aunt Archie on stuff,” She then turned to Max and gave him a warm smile, “and Max when he makes Detective.”

Richard nodded, as he sat down to begin eating his rabbit food. He'd known about Caroline's interest in psychology for a while, and he was glad she was still keeping an interest in it. "It's a commendable thing, although I do have to wonder if you're not taking on two very complex fields at the same time. Child Psychology and Forensic Psychology are likely to be both extremely demanding fields of study. Not that I'd dare put you off, but you'd be away studying for well over five years."

Caroline shook her head quickly as she began picking up her food with her fork. “Well, I can’t go into this without learning as much as possible, Richard. I wouldn’t be a very good counselor if not. I haven’t decided which field yet, but after hearing about Mr. Russell’s work in forensics I thought it would be really fun and really challenging. It would be worth that time.”

Max chuckled at Caroline’s inquisitive mind. “This is also the girl that read Anna Karenina in, like, a week. She’d probably finish the courses in half that time.”

Richard smiled. "Caroline is a very bright young girl, and she had ample time to read in the mirror universe, since she wasn't allowed to do much else." He sighed, remembering the horrific world she'd come from. Each time he recalled what his opposite number had done made him sick. "But, my question now is going to be, how are you two going to manage with Caroline away from Obsidian for several years?" He asked, putting a cherry tomato in his mouth.

Caroline furrowed her eyebrows a bit. “I’ll be doing my schooling here, of course. I can read and study here and submit my work whenever it’s completed, like one of those self-learning programs. I can also do on the job training here or at a nearby base depending on sponsorship.”

"You're not going to go to college?" Richard asked. "That's half the experience!"

Shaking her head slowly, Caroline reached her hand out and grabbed his. “I’ve had to start my life over once before. I don’t want to do it again. I’ve done so much here and have accomplished a lot. Why would I leave here just so I can go drink and party with a bunch of people at some college?” Her lips curled up a bit. “I can already do that here.”

"Well, you don't do that here, thankfully." Richard chuckled. "Please don't turn into your sister. I like you this way, you know, the non-drunkard who ends up in a threesome with a Klingon." He patted her hand and smiled at her. "I only want what's best for you Caroline."

“I know you do,” Caroline gave him a warm smile. “You’re my big brother. I think it’s best if I stay here and do my schooling. I’m comfortable here. I want to continue building my life here.”

"Well, I'm not going to be sorry that you're staying, of course." Richard said, smiling. "Rebecca's off to university on Andor with Hannah. I think it'll do her some good to get away from here, and experience new things. I'd be sad if both my little sisters went away, leaving me alone with Phil and his wife. God, they've been so disgustingly happy together." He laughed.

Caroline jumped up from her seat and wrapped her arms around Richard, giving him as strong of a hug as she could. It hurt her to see that his relationship with Amaya was going through a rocky phase. All she wanted to do was make him happy. “You know you can come over and hang out whenever you want, right?”

Max nodded in agreement, not just because he still wanted to remain in favor with Richard. “Moy dom - tvoy dom. If you ever want to hang out just you and me, I can use a break from some of my friends sometimes.”

Richard wondered if things were so bad that he had to hang out with his sister's boyfriend. The guy was barely older than Caroline to begin with! It was a touching offer though, and it at least showed the guy cared. "Druzheskiy zhest vsegda tsenitsya" Richard replied, smiling at Max. "I may take you up on it."

Caroline gave Richard one more firm squeeze and a kiss on the cheek before she slid back into her seat and continued her eating. "How are you doing otherwise, Richard? Anything else new going on?"

"Nothing exciting." He replied. "We got some new recruits through that we're trying to bring up to snuff, as we lost a few long-haired veterans due to service time commitments. Same old bureaucratic nonsense. Just trying to keep myself busy, but there's surprisingly little to do at the moment."

Max swallowed hit bit of food with some water. "Do you ever get this weird, like, skin-crawling feeling whenever it feels like something bad is going to happen?"

Caroline darted her eyes to him with her brows furrowed in concern over him asking such a potentially dark conversation. Max was always so bright and positive about everything. Why was he asking something like that now after ending on such a high note with her brother?

"You mean a premonition? That unexplainable gut feeling that you can't explain?" Richard asked. "Of course, but then, its my job to expect the unexpected and prepare for it. I know I'm augmented and all, but they didn't give me precognition powers." He chuckled. "I can't see the future, and I can't see through walls. As disappointing as that is. I think of all the super powers, the ability to see through women's clothing would be quite good." He grinned cheekily, knowing that would irritate Caroline a bit. In all honesty, he was trying to turn the conversation away from the dark brooding mood that would fester if they carried on. Of course he had been having similar feelings of concern, but that was because it had been too quiet lately. That was always ominous. It was like having a toddler who'd been quiet in the other room for a long period of time.

Max's lips slipped into a wide smile as he nodded in agreement. "Yeah, that would be a pretty sweet power." He looked down at Caroline's horrified blushing face as he gave her a playful kiss on her cheek.

"Oh please stop!" Caroline dropped her head in her hands as she tried to wish herself away from the awkward conversation. "You guys are gross!"

Max let out a hearty laugh as he pulled the girl into his side in a warm embrace. "Oh, moy kotenok..." He teased her, finding much amusement in embarrassing her as much as he could.

"Ugh," Caroline muffled against his chest.

Richard chuckled at Caroline's embarrassment. "Really, your kitten eh?" Richard smirked. "Tell me Caroline, do you put on cat-ears and a tail for him and go 'meow'?" He cackled evilly at the thought.

Caroline was so ashamed and flustered at how the dinner had unfolded in front of her that she couldn't speak let alone make a sensible sound to show her incredibly high frustration levels. Instead, she buried her face deeper into Max's side while she tried to make the blood rush back out of her face.

Max laughed and rubbed her arms trying to comfort her and bring them all back down to normal, sneaking in a knowing smile to Richard. They were having far too much fun with this. "It's alright, Caroline, we'll stop..." He gently kissed her on her head, knowing she had gotten to the point where she may actually dislike being around him if he took his jests too far.

Richard took this chance to head back into the kitchen to get the minced beef hot-pot he'd concocted for dinner, and brought out three plates with it on. He placed one down in front of each of them, then one in front of his own place, and sat down. "I hope you like it." He said, smiling.

Caroline's smile beamed as her face returned to its normal shade and her nose perked up at the enticing scent. Richard very rarely, if at all, cooked. She mostly would help out whenever she had time. "It smells wonderful, Richard."

Max nodded, feeling his stomach churn with forgotten hunger. He had a long shift that day and had not been given the opportunity to eat. "Thank you for cooking, Richard. I would offer to return the favor but even the food I order from the replicator comes out terrible."

"Well, that won't do at all." Richard said, with mock indignation. "I can't have my sister living with a guy who can't even prepare food! Scandalous! Caroline, I insist you date a man who can cook."

“Oh, stop it! We’re not living together!” Caroline playfully smacked Richard in the arm with her napkin. “And he makes sure I’m taken care of and that I’m taking care of myself so I can get my work done. And why would I replace you as the head chef, anyway?”

"It's a fair point. I am amazing after all." Richard said, grinning. "Who can possibly compare to someone like me eh?" He teased, pretending to pose like a super-hero.

Max swallowed his food and let out a hearty laugh. He admired Richard and Caroline's relationship. She had been on the base for less than a year and they had managed to create a bond just as strong as Max had with his own siblings and parents. It also reminded him of how far away he was from them and how much he had missed them. He was glad that he was surrounded by his extended starbase family and had been welcome into Caroline's life with wide open arms. They had been taking things slow and he was glad of it. Their relationship had strengthened on a friendship level which helped withstand their romantic feelings that seemed to grow stronger every day. Richard seemed rather pleased with how they were moving along and that almost was more important since Richard could crush him with his thumb. "With that pose, I guess I should be referred to as Max, the Boy Wonder."

"Now, steady on." Richard said. "Caroline will always be my faithful sidekick in all my adventures, won't you BatGirl?" He gave her a smile, then laughed at her reaction.

Caroline rolled her eyes at Richard as she took a bite of her food.

Max's lips curled up as he began running his hand up and down her back. "I think Cat Woman would suit her better."

Her eyes widened at the suggestion, especially after Max's pet name had been revealed to Richard earlier. Elbowing Max in retaliation, Caroline let out an embarrassed laugh. She knew he meant well with his comments and had enjoyed making people laugh. He was only trying to help build her confidence and be able to laugh at herself. And seeing how he had comforted her earlier, he would know not to take things too far. She really liked Max and didn't want to do anything to make him not like her in return.

"Ahh... domestic bliss." Richard smiled. "Just do me a favour, don't do what your brother did and get so drunk you get married and don't even remember it." He said, then took a bite of his food. "Sly old dog, catching Annie like that. He is definitely punching above his weight class with her, much like you are with Caroline." Richard said, pointing his fork at Max. "Don't you forget it, neither, young man."

Max swallowed nervously and shook his head with conviction. “Of course, Richard… Sir,” he added because the threat made him recede a bit. “I love her.” He paused as his eyes bugged out a bit at his confession. But it was true. He couldn’t stop thinking about her and all of the ways she made him smile and of all the ways he made her smile. They were both young, sure, but if he had witnessed the love shown between Paul and Archie and Matt and MacKenzie and felt that same way towards Caroline then he knew that must have been what he was feeling.

Caroline paused mid-bite with her fork still in her mouth as she slowly moved her eyes to focus on the determined voice and jaw that matched. She could feel her hand shake with both excitement and shock. He loved her? He… loved her? She had kept herself so well hidden, so well protected from anything that could hurt her both physically and emotionally. But then she saw Max, and everything changed. He made her feel safe and that nothing bad would or could happen to her. Richard was her protector but Max was her Knight in Shining Armor. She had developed those textbook feelings but was never really sure if they were reciprocated or if they were even real. And they were.

Richard had stopped eating and looked between the two of them. He realised at that moment he was the proverbial 'third wheel' in the room. Max had just professed his love for her, a big mile-stone in any relationship, and he'd done it in front of her older brother and her former guardian. To say that the mood had changed would be an epic understatement, and he felt awkward in the extreme being there. Max and Caroline needed to talk to each other, and Richard being there would make things incredibly difficult on that score. "Well, I should hope so." He said, then internally scolded himself. Why the hell would you say that, you old buffoon?! "I'm... err... I'm going to go see if I can rustle up some dessert. You two kids chat between yourselves..." He said, rising up to retreat into the kitchen.

A tactical withdrawal when the situation was escalating rapidly was always a smart move. It allowed for regathering and reinforcement, as well as planning. He couldn't help but think of this situation like a military operation, as it was his default.

Max looked down at Caroline who had begin rapidly chewing on the bite of food she had just placed in her mouth. "Caroline, I love you," he began rambling nervously. "I can't stop thinking about you. You're so smart... and beautiful... and strong... I know you want to take things slow and I get that. It just kind of slipped out, you know?" Max's voice was shaky from not knowing how his girlfriend would react. Right at this point, she was... chewing her food? "But now that it's out there, can't really take it back, right?" His lips tilted up slightly as he grabbed her hands. "I'm, like, crazy about you, Caroline, ever since I saw you outside of Sam's Bar. I would do anything for you, including risk death at the hands of your brother and the entire FCPD Command Staff."

Caroline had finished swallowing her food and let out a chuckle. Max was right. He had risked being maimed by her very overprotective family so he could be with her. With the tears forming in her eyes, Caroline jumped up and kissed him firmly on the lips, wrapping her arms tight around him. After a moment she peeled her lips off of his and looked into his bright blue warm eyes. "I love you too, Max! Like crazy!" She then nuzzled her face against his chest, feeling his heart beat rapidly and his chest rise and fall quickly in excitement. Annie had been right: no words could describe love. Words on a page do not do it justice. It was something you had to feel for yourself. And Max had been with her for so long and sacrificed getting laid just so that she could be more comfortable being around him and with him. That was something so rare amongst the people she had gone to school with on the base. They had something very special, and it didn't hurt that Max was incredibly attractive and was one of the nicest guys out there.

Max wrapped his arms around her in relief and rested his head on top of hers. He let out a long sigh of relief as he felt her push herself against him as hard as she could. At his young age he had had girlfriends before but nothing serious. He had been struck by the lightning bolt with Caroline. And she felt the same way towards him.

Richard looked out of the kitchen doorway and smiled softly at the sight of two young lovers coming together in mutual affection. He hadn't known Caroline for most of her life, so felt really out of place dictating how she lived it. But she'd accepted him after he'd saved her from... well... himself, ironically. Now he was here, watching her first 'I love you' with her boyfriend. It was a bit of a sobering moment for him, since there was a damn good chance that Max was going to 'get lucky' tonight with his baby sister. That caused a flash of anger that he quickly supressed. She was 18, it was her life, she could give herself freely to anyone she chose.

The display mostly reminded him of how cool his own relationship with Amaya had become. It was a little disheartening to see everyone so happy with their partners, and here he was with Amaya, who more or less ignored him at the moment. It was a harsh reminder that they were growing apart, and it really shouldn't be this much hard work if they really loved one another.

Sighing, he turned back into the kitchen to leave them. Chances were fairly good that they would be skipping dessert anyway, given that they were sucking each other's faces off right now.


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