==========
"Mists of Avalon"
{Previous Post: "Why So Nervous?" from the impressive Tiffany)
==========

"Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman... always remains a woman."
-Kirk to Lenore Karidian, TOS, "The Conscience of the King"

==========
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Deck 16, Black Hole Lounge
Stardate: 63073.0250

Eve Dalziel was wide awake, relishing the chance to do some recon work on behalf of the ANUBIS. She'd tried to settle in to her quarters, but they didn't seem like her own yet. And even though sleep would be advisable, her thoughts raced faster than a Vegan fire jaguar on the hunt. Even though the transport to her destination had been grueling, she felt underutilized just being a passenger the entire trip.

A large cup of frothy cappucino was on her right, on her left a small computer that she used to research information from remote locations. It wasn't the most sophisticated piece of equipment she had used by far, but it was convenient.

Commander Maya's words about the OFREAN SECTOR still echoed in Eve's head. She would need suitable civilian attire and some kind of backstory or direction to go in so that perhaps she could obtain a lead on the whereabouts of the PARADOX.

Ensign Dalziel's instinct was telling her to rely on a previous identity. Namely, that of freespacer pilot Natalia Portree. But, it was a chancey decision. Portree had a very good reputation for being a very bad girl, but that was two years ago. She had to make sure the cover story hadn't been blown after the mission ended. So, she scanned the records, becoming more and more confident that the character could still be used to fantastic effect. [[Looks good, really good,]] she thought, trying to decide the best gadgets she could take without arousing suspicion. Her research was interrupted by the words of the ship's Doctor.

"What are *you* doing here?" Lea said a little more sharply than she meant to, then instantly felt like apologizing. But before she could, the affable Counsellor answered her question without missing a beat.

"I can't sleep," the Ensign admitted. "I've been trying to get my bearings and greet everyone, but understandably some are using this time to actually rest and prepare." Ensign Dalziel stopped herself, more closely looking at Lea's face. "Are you alright?"

"Uh," the blonde woman said, not sure how to respond. In a split second, Eve had gone from just another new officer to a laser beam of intent and focus. Her stare was almost as uncomfortable as Enaii's.

"I didn't mean to upset you," Dalziel offered, nursing her coffee. She wasn't sure what to make of Lieutenant Summers' response. Telling the Doctor and Ensign Lopez what she felt compelled to tell them had been draining. She hadn't been *raised* Cardassian, she certainly didn't *feel* Cardassian, however, she *was* Cardassian. But somehow, despite the strangness of it all, it felt as though she belonged here on the ship.

"You didn't," Lea replied honestly. "I'm just a little out of sorts."

That appeared to satify the raven-haired woman for the time being. "Come and join me in my insomnia," Dalziel quipped, offering the Lieutenant a seat.

Against her better judgement, Lea sat down, ordering a glass of iced mint tea. [[Out of the frying pan and into the fire,]] she thought with discomfort.

"This is an interesting place," Dalziel said, once more scanning the room. "It has better ambiance than STARBASE 22, although it's not as large. But it feels like everyone in here at this hour is either a night owl or lovesick."

Lea nearly choked on her first sip of tea, and Eve was nothing if not perceptive. She smiled. "And here I thought you were a night owl," the Cardassian woman teased.

"Guilty, I guess," Lea said, not sure if she wanted to define what her feelings were for Elan. If she defined them, she couldn't deny them. Perhaps it was too late for that.

"Ah," the Counsellor said knowingly, reassuringly, not wanting to pry. It was amazing how often good listening resolved underlying issues. it was too bad she couldn't bring herself to use that pearl of wisdom more often.

"I didn't expect this," Summers said. There was something so secure and protective in the Engineer's touch, so good and pure and all encompassing. It was as if everything went out the window when he was nearby.

"I think that's why they call it *falling* in love," Eve said.

Instantly Lea's mind flashed to the survival mission on the holodeck. She had fallen, and gotten injured, and somehow the Oltharian was there to rescue her. But he had never made her feel as though she needed to be rescued. However, her lingering emotions left her feeling just as helpless.

"I've never really..." Eve's voice trailed off, embarassed. "Let's just say my only true love affair has been with Starfleet. It would take a special kind of man to divert my attention from that."

"Indeed," Lieutenant Summers added, Elan's unassuming face coming to mind.

==========
Susan M Ledbetter (susanmled@earthlink.net)
=/\=
Ensign Eve Dalziel
Counsellor
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501