View Full Version : Familiar Taste of Poison - Holding on to Smoke

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 11th, 2021, 11:45:05 AM
It was merely the second time that Lorna DeLaTour traveled to Bothawui, although this time she would stay a few more days than a mere pit stop following a mission with Van-Derveld. Following the impromptu getaway to Tatooine for one of the best meals of her life, both women had returned to their respective occupation: the doctor holed up on Jovan addressing medical concerns from various locals and visitors, and the Director doing whatever her job required. With her medical work, the half Lorrdian understood confidentiality well, and took her sometimes-partner's occupation in stride. Van-Derveld picking her up for that very first mission had moved her life into a new direction though, one in which she felt she made more of a difference. While she had wanted to enter official service for the Alliance, she had never expected it would take such form. After having left the Empire, she had kept a rather low profile, just wanting to help. Thing was she was damn good under pressure and while every medical job could serve people, which was the basis of such a field, she got a freaking kick out of the high-stakes missions with the Director, including the emergency problem solving. It was taking her skills to new levels, for many of her humanitarian work had required thinking outside of the box and making do with whatever resources she had available.

When the Director had required her assistance again for what had ended being a week-long mission in the Outer Rim to deal with an off-shoot of a known terrorist group that had hired former imperial scientists, second class ones really in Lorna's views, but definitely skilled enough with a level of cruelty that had taken them away from their original faction. That was always a bad thing when they had any amount of knowledge, which had been the case of the ones they had been up against. While Van-Derveld and most of the team had been set on dealing with catching them - one of them now in custody along with some of the terrorist cell, Lorna had been focusing on doing damage-control with what they had found in their labs and figure out what products had been disseminated prior to that and what they would be up to if it showed up in future locations. The scale wasn't too large; but it was not uncommon for products to emerge through black market in one form or another once something efficient was added to the vast catalog available.

The mission had been more taxing than the previous ones they had done; and Lorna was keenly aware it was because of what she had first thought was merely some pinched nerve that she could correct within a few days. The pain in her lower back had only got worse, even threatening to get her off her feet a few times when she had been working in labs. She had soldiered through it all; but it had made her decide to stay on Bothawui for a few days following the debrief of the mission. It had been troubling and she hated not being at one hundred percent. She didn't think it would be that bad; but she hated the thought of not being able to provide her very best work. She had hidden her discomfort to the best of her ability and she knew her work had remained top notch no matter what. She wasn't one to complain in the first place, and she knew how important the mission was.

And truth be told, she disliked the idea of having to be removed from work with the Director. They made a very good team and she liked the job in between her time on Jovan. And even their short off-duty time together had been refreshing. There was no awkwardness in silent moment, Van-Derveld's biting humor brought Lorna to tears on a few occasions. They had good banter and both had strong morals and values, didn't hesitate to do what needed to be done. Lorna knew she would trust the other woman with her life, something she didn't do lightly, especially given her history and being a wandered for multiple reasons until she landed on Jovan about a year ago. And even there, she had been building some social and professional ties but nothing too close.

For now she was brought back to reality as their ship had just landed on Bothawui and it was time for her to get her painful self back up, which had become worse in the last couple of days. Lorrdian were resistant by nature even though their nervous system could be more sensitive than other humanoids, given their history of dire slavery until they were able to break free and reclaim agency. It had been generations before Lorna's time but she understood how these difficult events had shaped half of her physiology, especially as she had picked up on most Lorrdian markers despite being only a half-breed. And that was why she had thought that a pinched nerve would just resolve by itself given how bad it could be; but now she worried it could be something else. Hopefully getting an appointment with some of the local specialists would clear the situation up.

She knew how observant Van-Derveld was and Lorna bet that she had picked on some of her discomfort and tiredness in the past few days; but was grateful that so far no word had been shared about it. Lorna hadn't complained once and kept pushing through. The job had been done and well done. She wasn't naive and knew that the brunette knew something was up but that was one of the many things she appreciated about the Director: she didn't pry unless there was a direct need to discuss something, which Lorna liked. The doctor brought things up and didn't shy away from difficult discussions if it had an impact on a mission or work; but she had pulled through and now she had a few days to go through examinations and maybe a quick procedure to alleviate her issues. She missed her jaxes Poky and Kronos, especially as she had got used to have them around for a few weeks in a row and they had been delighted as well; but thankfully they were well taken care of back on Jovan Station. It just would have been nice to have them for comfort with her current problems for their were always very good and affectionate nurses.

She winced as she put her backpack on, though not before having popped another pill into her mouth to keep the pain at bay but not at the risk of sacrificing her mental sharpness. The debrief was likely going to take a solid hour given the potential ramifications of what was being uncovered; but she had faith she could go through it.

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 13th, 2021, 04:03:52 PM
Dr. DeLaTour was correct with the assumption that Director Van-Derveld was acutely aware of her partner's condition. The slight limp that was quickly recovered, sitting far more often than Grace recalled, and Lorna's quick wit was lacking. There were several times during transit that Grace had to get her attention by clearing her throat or calling out her name an octave higher than was necessary. The doctor was presentable but clearly exhausted. A touch of normal fatigue was accentuated by dark circles and red tinges streaking closer to iris'. The time between pain medication was decreasing as well.

She had gotten to know the doctor quite well over the months - whether it were missions or downtime - Grace had grown fond of her company. She would deny if out right asked, but she deeply missed a consistent camaraderie and Lorna had become to fill that void after Dasquian was called for a mission then went missing soon after. She was strictly forbidden by Alliance Command to be part of the search team and they busied her with other important missions. They inundated Grace with work so she wouldn't go AWOL again. It worked and Dasquian was eventually found safe. Bryna and Grace were overjoyed with his return but as usual - the three of them were immediately separated, barely having a day reunion. Bryna was back with Jedi Master Tarkin to continue her training and Dasquian was off on another top secret mission. For Grace, she was fine with that. Both of them were safe and that was good enough for her.

Not once did she compare Lorna to her relationship with Dasquian, or thought of the doctor as a replacement. She highly respected Lorna, thought her brilliant, compassionate, a fierce worker with a strong heart that did everything in her power to complete mission objectives. Grace was hesitant in having a consistent partner again but after Lorna's abilities during the Cona terrorist attack, she wanted no one else by her side. Or ear at times when Lorna had to take a non public assist.

Now she had to combat the stubborn doctor for not taking care of her injury sooner. Two could play this game of pulling rank. Oh - she had not forgotten that neck massage in the least! Lorna was going to learn first hand what it meant having the Director as an ally ... or a friend. Though the last would not be admitted out loud by Grace just yet even if that's how she felt.

As the two of them disembarked, Grace tapped information into her datapad. "Hm. Looks like the debriefing got move to a different conference room."

The lie easily rolled off her well trained tongue.

"We're this way now. C'mon."

Grace kept a pace that the doctor could keep up with without compromising Lorna's act. What also worked in Grace's favor was Lorna lacked the familiarity of Alliance HQ and had no idea what their true destination was. So by the time Lorna realize that they were outside the entrance to the med unit, it was too late.

"Alright, Doc." Grace stepped forward, allowing the translucent doors adorned with the Alliance medical symbol to open. "Time to get checked out."

She looked expectantly, eyes daring Lorna to argue.

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 13th, 2021, 05:12:20 PM
Lorna hoped that the debrief would not take too long but she knew she was still lucid enough to go through it as professionally as needed. Her work ethics had always been impeccable, too impeccable in a compassionate way by imperial standards, given how she had ended leaving her whole youth behind, including a family she did love for the most part, especially her grandmother. She briefly scolded herself for letting her mind weirdly wander to such a thought. She blamed it on the meds and the overall fatigue. She shrugged nostalgia off, for besides her family she had never had any regret in putting the Empire behind, given how her values clashed with them.

She was aware that her steps were not as quick as usual and given that she didn't have to struggle to keep up with the Director, she realized that the brunette knew something was up, to what extent, neither of them knew, but Lorna didn't know what to think of the Director adjusting to her physical limitation even though there was now no immediate danger and the mission had been as much of a success as possible. At least she knew it wasn't pity coming from her partner, and that meant a lot to the doctor. It still was surprising to a degree. Sure, Lorna had enjoyed a sense of camaraderie in the past in some teams she had worked with but it had been a few years since that, more than a few at this point with all her wandering.

She nodded when the other woman said that the debriefing had been moved to a different location. She thought nothing of that for administrative matters could take such routes, and frankly the headquarters of Alliance Intelligence were still mostly a mystery to her given her limited experience with them. She was good at learning her way around new places but between very little time in the past and her current state, the Director could have led her to a cafeteria or some backwater conference room and she wouldn't know better.

Then it suddenly hit her that they were standing at the entrance of a medical unit. Maybe it was the painkillers, maybe it was the payback for pulling rank on Van-Derveld during their first mission, or just the shock of someone else playing mother hen and caring beyond what was required in the job description. After all she had seen first hand how the Director tolerated no bullshit from her people but took care of them.

Regardless of the reasons, she laughed out loud. It hurt her poor body to do so but it was also a nice surprise.

She caught her breath and saw the look in the brunette's eyes.

"I'm not going to argue," she replied in earnest.

She was too tired for such pettiness and she appreciated Van-Derveld's decision.

"Do you want me to meet you for the debrief afterwards?"

Even now she didn't want to get in the way of what needed to be done to tie up last loose ends of their mission. And while she appreciated her partner's gesture more than she would admit, she also didn't expect her to hold her hand for what should be a minor examination.

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 18th, 2021, 09:45:14 AM
The laugh was not expected and elicited a brow curving upwards with confusion before hardening her features again, now waiting for a proper acknowledgment. Then Lorna relented in serious tone, her eyes looking almost appreciative. That won Grace over and her features smoothed.

"Good," she nodded, relieved they were on the same page and this wouldn't escalate into an argument.

She stepped aside, allowing Lorna to go first. "The debrief has been postponed until we know your status."

Grace made it clear to her superiors that a face to face could wait until the doctor was examined. She sent a preliminary report to command for review that can be easily amended with more details later.

"You're the priority, doc. So... let's get to it, hm?"

She meant every word and would be with Lorna every step of the way.

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 18th, 2021, 01:41:36 PM
Lorna stepped inside the medical bay when her partner invited her to do so. She was surprised that the debrief had been postponed until she had been checked. She hated delaying any sort of work due to a condition she was in. That was the moment when she really wanted to argue; but her lower back pain sharply worsened at once, as if to tell her that Van-Derveld was right.

"I feel like arguing about me over the debrief but it seems my body thinks you're the smarter one so I'm outmatched."

She was surprised that Van-Derveld wanted to stay with her. She wasn't used to go to medical appointment with someone else. Hell she wasn't really used to have anyone go through small and big things with her in such personal matters, unless she was being checked by colleagues. She appreciated it though. She reminded herself not to read anything into it beyond friendship though despite what a tiny voice she had been trying to squash in the past few months tried to hint at. She valued her work with the Director and appreciated their friendship and companionship but she knew that anything more than that would just be an outright mess.

She introduced herself to the nurse who welcomed them and began explaining what was up as the nurse led them to the examination room. It didn't take for a middle-aged Twi-lek doctor to join them, introducing himself as Dr. Berat. Dressing down to her undergarments, Lorna went through the first round of physical exams, her body aching as she told the doc what her symptoms had been and how they had been worsening. He had definitely read what medical file had been provided by the Director when she had arranged for this appointment, which Lorna appreciated.

When the doctor told her they needed imagery of her back, she wasn't surprised though she picked on his tone and she wondered how bad it might be. She had already ran possible options in her mind but she didn't think anything could be that bad. It wasn't the first or the last time she had overworked herself, the assignment always coming first.

She put on a hospital gown and followed the nurse to another room where a medical droid was prepping the various machines. It was all routine and precaution but she was starting to have a bad feeling about this.

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 20th, 2021, 04:25:37 PM
"I already sent a prelim on the mission and command agreed with my recommendation on postponement," she explained. "No ones in the dark on the ops. I'll fill the details in later along with your status."

Grace remained quiet and observant while Lorna and Dr. Berat went back and forth with questions and answers as the Twi-lek checked her head to toe with numerous neurological and muscular tests. His lekku twitch and curled in ways that sent a shiver down the director's spine. She was well versed in the unspoken language of Twi-leks and the doctor had picked up something during the examination that had him worried. The doctor's tone didn't help either.

Next was imaging and Grace was getting a bad feeling about this as the nurse led Lorna onto the table. The nurse helped keep the doctor comfortable with pillows to lessen the chance of her moving during the scan. Grace remained behind the glass window as the technician aligned the lenses to scan the doctor's body, analyzed the data and sorted it by a holographic image of Lorna's nervous system. Grace frowned immediately.

She was no doctor but there was a sizable mass at the base of Lorna's lumbar region along with two smaller ones. The computer immediately honed in on the foreign objects and began to focus the scans there, collecting as much data as it could so the Dr. Berat could make a diagnosis.

Her face was passive but inside she wanted to kick something. Putting off a sore neck was one thing but this was unacceptable. She set her jaw as fingernails dug into the palm of her hand without anyone the wiser.

If Lorna survived this, Grace was going to kill her.

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 20th, 2021, 08:19:10 PM
While she wasn't able to pick on every nuance from the doctor's lekku, Lorna could tell he was concerned more than his words hinted at, given that she had spent a few years on Ryloth. She had had back pains in the past but nothing that bad, and her last general checkup was only a few months ago and nothing abnormal had been detected. Sure she had overextended herself multiple times in her career, whether when growing up in imperial territory, or since leaving, as she always felt she had to prove herself over and over again in non-imperial settings, even when her background didn't necessarily show up. Granted in medical institutions, one's credentials were common currency and more than once she had had to explain she had deserted so to speak.

And while her worry increased, she didn't know what to make of Grace's presence. What terrified the doctor most right now was the possibility of her health degrading and preventing her from working with the Director, which had become the most formidable opportunity in her career. And she cherished the friendship they had been forging as well. She just knew in her guts that if they had to go separate ways because of health issues, it would just be the end of it, and Lorna would always feel like a failure. She didn't expect nor wanted Grace to offer pity anyway.

Her eyes eventually fell to the images of the masses at the base of her lumbar region and she froze. The doc and another medical tech were now looking at them. She readjusted the gown around her, not daring to look at the Director.

"I take it we can't tell if they're malignant until you cut me open?"

She had steeled her voice but she was terrified.

The doctor looked at her and it seemed to dawn on him again that he was speaking with a fellow medical professional.

"Correct. And based on other tests we ran and your file, your nervous system can be extra sensitive and reactive due to your Lorrdian DNA, which means that it might make the task and potential recovery a bigger challenge, and that is..."

Lorna interrupted, her voice still strong but beginning to display the smallest crack.

"If I don't end in a fucking hover chair, I get it."

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 25th, 2021, 08:00:25 PM
After the scan was over, a medical technician came in to fine tune the images and that allowed Grace to lean against the side of the door. It was a non-committal gesture - being halfway in and out. She didn't want to crowd the room since it probably felt so small to Lorna. This was a lot to take in and despite her own anger at the doctor for letting this go too long, the last thing she needed was a lecture. That was for later when Lorna beat this.

Or so Grace hoped.

Dr. Berat's lekku twitched at being addressed, seemingly perplexed for a moment before he went into confirming what every intelligent being could deduced from the scans. The imperative question was when the kriffing operation was going to take place! Her mind refocused, needing to hear the exchange better and not getting lost in her own head. Which was strange to Grace because that never happened.

Well, rarely happened. A select few would could unravel her thoughts like a tooka with ball of yawn and it disturbed her that Lorna somehow got onto that list. When did that happen?

"Wait. What?" Grace steeled her jaw for a moment, eyes briefly closing as she digested what was revealed. Lightly she pushed off the door frame as her hands rose. "So what you're saying is that regardless if these tumors are benign or malignant, she might not walk again? Because of some DNA bullshit?"

Grace lightly shook her head. "Well doctor, that's unacceptable"

Only Lorna was doc to her as of late. A fact that also shifted in previous months since all doctors were doc to her as far back as Grace could remember.

"The only end result is Lorna walking. Regardless of how long it takes. She's not all Lorrdian so this isn't all doom and gloom." Eyes narrowed. "Right?"

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 25th, 2021, 09:35:57 PM
Grace was likely the only reason why Lorna wasn't crumbling down as the diagnosis hit her in the face. It was a mix of pride and that she didn't want to disappoint the Director more than she might already be. The fear that their partnership was coming to an end from her own damn doing was gripping and the doctor couldn't afford to come apart now, especially when all she should focus on was to get to the other side of that mess.

Many people, including brilliant scientists, had very fulfilling careers away from intense field work; but Lorna happened to love doing this type of things now, and especially with the brunette who eventually broke the silence after her snappy words about the risk of ending in a hover chair.

Lorna looked over her shoulder, at the woman who had become a huge part of her life, more than she had meant or even wanted to. Many thoughts briefly flashed before her mind's eye; but she stilled herself to stare at the Twi'lek again.

Dr. Berat sighed, his lekky twitching so slightly but Lorna knew that it was a challenge he'd have to face and that he also had to deal with the Doctor of Alliance Intelligence to put pressure on it. Lorna knew that without Grace's backing, her procedure might be delayed, and she didn't take that for granted. She didn't take the Director for granted and that was terrifying for what it mean hidden under all the professional and friendly layers. She wished it had just been some dreams following her first undercover operation. It would make everything easier; but as she faced the possible end of her current life as it was, the truth punched her in the face as well, and she hated it.

"Doctors Zerafia is one of the few Lorrdian experts outside of imperial territory but they are close to retirement. I can contact them. I worked with one of their students back in the day."

The doctor stayed silent for a moment, looking between both women. "One of our neuro-surgeons is currently on his way back to Botthawui and should be here tomorrow evening. This gives me time to put a team together. I doubt that we have more than a few days before the hover chair is your best option, Dr. DeLaTour."

Lorna groaned and took a step forward to look at the imagery of her messed up back.

"You should be able to do the neurological exam today anyway for what you can figure out before the actual surgery. I will communicate you the formula that will be your backup plan for anesthetics. As my file showed I have bad response to some of those that work best on humanoids."

Her nervous system was annoying as hell for sure when it came to surgeries and some medications. And it also could act up and make her think that something was no big deal when it actually was a dire threat as her current predicament proved it.

Dr. Berat nodded. "I want to get the team together for a surgery at 0600 the day after tomorrow. If we are lucky and can get everyone here earlier, I will keep you informed." He gave a quizzical look at Grace. "Given your involvement in this situation, I guess we can expect some help in freeing a couple of specialists' time, Director?"

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 26th, 2021, 07:10:17 PM
Grace briefly caught Lorna's gaze. It was a transient connection and for brief moment, she felt the impact of emotions coming from the doctor. She easily covered that slip with an exasperated look between both doctors, waiting for someone to give her an answer while internally collecting her thoughts.

She consciously controlled her Force abilities to never manifest overtly in high stressed situations, practically making them dormant. Her natural sensitivity came through physical reflexes, focus, intuition. As much as she despised the potential within her and stuffed it away in the farthest recesses of her mind, Grace could only deny what flowed freely through her so far. It was why feeling Lorna's emotions so vividly was concerning. Where was the control the director was so famous for?

Her thoughts regrouped on the discussion at the mention of a team being put together. A thumb twitched as the doc revealed even more obstacles that could hinder the surgery. Lorna's body was just as stubborn as she was. Not a surprise but this information wasn't helpful to the doc's recovery.

When Dr. Berat insinuated Grace could pull strings, she pulled out her datapad. "Consider it done. Just need names, doctor."

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 26th, 2021, 07:42:37 PM
That split moment their gazes met and Lorna couldn't figure out what she saw in the Director's eyes was why she hadn't allowed herself to hope for something more. She was confident as hell professionally or when it came to casual sex; but she whatever it was with Grace, she had no idea. And she was terrified she would just fuck things up. She wasn't "relationship" material. Letting people in was terrifying and she had already given way more territory to Grace than to most people in her history, especially since her imperial youth. They respected each other and they had learned to trust each other with their lives.

That brief moment was only a glimpse as she needed to work with the doctor, her cooperation and assistance with some extra things she had researched by herself over the years, for her own medical situation. While it made complete sense that the Director was willing to help with the team and resources for the emergency surgery, Lorna was still shocked.

"Thank you, Director," Dr. Berat replied with a nod.

Sadly, the painkillers were wearing off and Lorna needed to sit down again, hating her weakness. She had always been able to push as far as her body could handle and for once it was biting her in the ass. She hated it, and she hated herself for letting it happen.

"I guess now is a good time to run the extra neurological tests before I can numb this mess with some painkillers, doctor."

The Twi'lek stared at her but nodded. He looked at the Director again.

"We will still need a couple of hours to run tests and then trade notes so my team is as prepared as possible. I can send you the names once the list is compiled, Director."

Lorna bit her lip, and knew that Van-Derveld had better things to do than just hang out at a medbay, so it would make sense if she needed to leave.

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 27th, 2021, 01:14:02 PM
Grace made a light hum of acknowledgement putting the emergency medical team on standby, which ironically paged both Dr. Berat and Lorna's links since they were part of the group. She also made it a priority for the returning neurosurgeon to be notified of the upcoming surgery in two days.

Then she fired off a message to Admiral Vane to change the debrief over a secured link, explaining the doc needed extensive testing and wanted to be physically present. It was important for Grace to be here as much as possible, with Lorna's permission. Vane agreed and would meet at the previously scheduled time.

"If the doc's alright with it, I'd rather stay," she said. It would have made more sense to ask Berat's permission but Grace really didn't care what he thought.

She looked up from her pad. "I'll just need a private room for a meeting later."

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 27th, 2021, 01:33:01 PM
Even tired and in the middle of testing for an emergency surgery, Lorna checked her comlink when she heard it beep, and she smiled faintly regardless when she saw the notification from Grace. She hadn't forgotten about the debriefing either. While her brain felt way too disorganized for her taste, she was still trying to juggle stuff to the best of her ability, out of stubborn habits.

She hadn't realized she had been staring at the Director until their eyes met and the other woman sought her approval to stay. She nodded, not noticing Dr. Berat's quiet observation of the exchange.

"I don't mind though I'm fine meeting later if you were busy," she answered.

The Twi'lek cleared his throat. "Of course, Director. We will get started on the first round and then while we process the first batch of results we can give you some privacy for the meeting. We won't be keeping Dr. DeLaTour here tonight if she promises to behave and take it easy."

Lorna muttered something under her breath. "Besides the meeting with Director Van-Derveld, I only need to tidy up some notes, so I can do that without running around."

Grace Van-Derveld
Feb 28th, 2021, 08:05:43 PM
"The DoI's always busy, doc," she said playfully with a coy smile. "Still ... you can make a cameo if the meds aren't troubling you. And I suppose if Berat's fine with it too. I guess he can get a say," she said the last part as an afterthought.

Berat's lekku twitched as he sighed. "I am right here you know?"

Grace ignored him and got to work on reserving Lorna a semi-permanent dwelling, knowing she would appreciate a more comfortable space along with deciding if she could attend the debrief. Lorna was a proud, stubborn, woman, and it would mean a lot if she could still attend.

She next cued up a list of needed items with the doc to furnish and supply her quarters on Bothawui. If Lorna checked there was a rotating hoverchair on the lower left corner with a cannok bouncing up and down trying to chomp at it. Then she opened a new communication to Jovan Station to begin the process of shipping out two special creatures - Lorna's pet jax. Grace never understood the allure of pets but there was no doubt that having them here would lift Lorna's spirits. Research backed that up.

Lorna DeLaTour
Feb 28th, 2021, 09:39:20 PM
Lorna appreciated Grace's playfulness as it helped mitigate all the fear threatening to crush her. "I am planning on making a cameo and I am still going to put in my finalized report before that darn surgery."

Dr. Berat then shook his head at both women. "With all due respect, I feel like a medical higher up will have to make sure Dr. DeLaTour recovers unless you can make sure she rests, Director."

The blonde gave a look at the Twi'lek and then at Grace, and shrugged, which caused more pain in her back even with such a little gesture. She really needed more painkillers.

"Well, just get these tests running so I can be operational again with more meds in my system, please. I can be cooperative."

As she began undergoing the rest of the testing, feeling her body hating her at this point, she distracted herself when she looked at what Grace sent her and she couldn't help smiling at the cannok behaving in a "screw you, hoverchair" way, which warmed her heart. She sent back a few notes and then closed her device for the time being.

An hour later, the docs gave her more painkillers, and she got some stronger ones. She was allowed to get back into her normal clothing, which made her feel a bit more in control, despite all the thoughts swirling in her head. She knew the whole mess would hit her even harder later on; but she hoped she would keep it together until after the meeting; and the last thing she wanted was to crumble in front of the Director. She was terrified enough she was going to jeopardize their partnership because of her health issues; there was no need to turn into a traumatized whiny mess before her.

She offered a tired smile to her partner as she reached the private room. "You should have all the names for the team at this point. They're still working on the results but they were able to get all tests done prior to surgery. So I'm good to go through the debrief."

That was the moment her stomach decided to growl loudly, as if she couldn't catch a freaking break.

Grace Van-Derveld
Mar 6th, 2021, 02:00:29 PM
"I'd listen to her Berat. Doc know's this is serious and she'll behave. But if needed, you've got my word." Grace said that with finality before taking her leave.

She focused on the notes Lorna made on what she would needed for the her unexpected extended stay. Orders were fired off as soon as she sat down in the private room the medical staff reserved for her - approvals for Lorna's supplies, some requested from Lorna's private bunk on Jovan to be packed along with the critters. Then she reconfigured the security settings in the computer system for privacy in preparation for the debrief. After that it was catching up on memos, messages and reports. The hour passed quickly and her mind barely strayed to too many what ifs in case the doc's surgery went sideways.

Relieved to see Lorna joining her, Grace masked her concern observing how tired and doped up on pain killers she was. Her partner was a trooper and she gave her a small smile. "Already working on clearances," she confirmed about the surgical team.

Grace's lips tugged low to stifle a laugh but did end up sighing. "Course you forgot to eat," she playfully scolded and kicked out the chair next to her. Her lupine heritage heard that low stomach rumble as a roar.

"Here," she cued up the cafeteria's menu on her pad and set it down, "get an order in."

Lorna DeLaTour
Mar 6th, 2021, 04:54:06 PM
She didn't fully feel like a functional individual but it was better with the meds. And thankfully they didn't make her all loopy. She hated that. She wasn't against recreational drugs if it worked for others; but she didn't care about them herself, and she liked knowing what was going on, even when it meant her brain worked her to the ground with thoughts she shouldn't entertain.

"Thank you," she replied when Grace mentioned already working on clearance for the medical team. She just wanted this to be over and done with even though she was freaking terrified. She forced herself to focus on the present once more, keenly aware of all she should unpack from her fears before the surgery; but truthfully she didn't think that crumbling before the Director, and even less ending confessing unrequited feelings, would be smart.

The tired blonde quirked a brow at her partner's reaction to the loud stomach growl that had interrupted the conversation, and she couldn't help chuckling softly. Without hesitation, she took the chair by the brunette's side.

"I could eat a Rancor right now," she admitted.

Perusing the menu, she ordered an assortment of appetizers, as well as a meaty sandwich. She was tempted with some sweets; but she behaved for now. "I imagine how great the note "keeps forgetting to eat" must look in between redacted parts of my file. Is there a cannock smacking me on the head somewhere in it?"

No matter how she looked at it, her relationship with Grace and their easy banter and even well-earned scolding, kept her in the moment and helped her cast worry aside for now.

Grace Van-Derveld
Mar 6th, 2021, 08:26:39 PM
The air was saturated with Lorna's nerves and not merely from the distinct physical cues that Grace had picked up during their time working together. The Force kept nagging at her that the doctor was scared shitless, but Grace wasn't going to push a subject that Lorna wanted to avoid and it was pissing her off that she felt this so keenly.

Thus she ignored it with humor.

"Rancor's too gamey," she said offhandedly because yes, Grace had eaten it once.

Looking up, Grace smirked so widely that it showed off her teeth. "Now now, doc. Keeps forgetting to eat requires top secret clearance. So I'm afraid to say, that's redacted too."

Lorna DeLaTour
Mar 6th, 2021, 08:37:45 PM
Lorna smirked and made a face at Grace's remark about the rancor.

"I won't contest that. I've never eaten any but I've had my share of exotic meat in the past."

She tried to review her notes as the debriefing was going to happen in about ten minutes. She hoped she'd get to scarf some food down first. The meds were kicking in and work helped her stay the course.

She realized that the Director had teased about her forgetfulness about eating even though she hadn't been paying complete attention.

"I hope there will be more redacted entries in that file," she blurted out before pulling herself together.

She shrugged, always a bad idea lately, and winced slightly.

"Don't mind me."

She cleared her throat. "I hope my notes were enough to get started for the debrief. Everything will be in order before the surgery, I promise you."

After all, she could finish up reports even bedridden.

Grace Van-Derveld
Mar 6th, 2021, 08:52:05 PM
Grace attributed Lorna's sluggish response time to medications. She was doing a fabulous job pulling out doctor mode to busy herself but Lorna was distracted. With upcoming surgery with no certainty to the outcome, Grace figured it was that. Truth of the matter, she was too. She found a partner for Cona out of necessity. Now she had a semi-permanent partner and friend that she cared for. It made her so anxious Lorna might as well have gone missing with how her guts with churning.

"Even the DoI can only redact so much, doc. But it depends on what favors you're calling in," she quipped, queuing up the notes and outline for the debrief.

"I'm sure the debrief will be fine. It's just formality at this point. Also here ..." She tapped a few commands on the arm of the chair that redistributed weight in the lumbar area of Lorna's seat. She purposefully kicked that one out for the doc.

It was no forced massage but it got the point across - stop moving so much and fucking chill.

Admiral Vane's communication came through just in time to squash any rebuttal on Lorna's part and force the doctor to relax for the next hour ...

Lorna DeLaTour
Mar 6th, 2021, 09:03:47 PM
It annoyed the living hell out of Lorna that she was more scared of destroying her partnership with Grace than ending in a hover chair. It was ridiculous. She had always bounced back from one place to the other, her Jaxes her only permanent companions. She wasn't the kind to get attached, her imperial youth had made sure of that. When the hell had it happened?

She was grateful for the Director not to pick up on her slip up, and appreciated the bit of humor.

When her partner had the chair adjust to make her more comfortable, she couldn't help grinning, though not before giving a look at the brunette. She got the message loud and clear. She loved that they were both women of action rather than of conversation. It was one of the reasons why they worked so well together. They had always been upfront when it came to communication but they had little interest in grand speeches, focusing instead on actions.

She was ready for the debrief with Admiral Vane, although she did sneak a few bites from one of the appetizers when it wasn't her turn to talk. That was also why she had made sure not to get any warm food so it could mostly wait until the end of the debrief.

Once the meeting was off though, all semblance of manners flew outside the proverbial window and she dove into the rest of the food with unbridled relief.

"I hope the doc will let me out now because there's no way in hell I want to stay stuck here longer than needed," she admitted in between bites.

Grace Van-Derveld
Mar 7th, 2021, 12:41:36 PM
The debrief went well as Vane had plenty of time to review their notes and abridged report. The Bothan Admiral had a few questions of importance to fill in some details that command needed right away, otherwise he expected their reports tomorrow at 1300.

Grace also expected Lorna to eat like a ravenous grazer, but she was far more attractive than the spiky blobs.

Grateful that she was reviewing messages received during the meeting, her concern brows knitted together wouldn't appear odd. It looked like the she was just concentrating on what she was reading.

Grace never noted appearances so plainly unless pushed to describe a comely being by another. Then she would only agree that a member of that being's species would find them attractive, but Grace freely thought the doctor was attractive all on her own.

"Oh look!" She cued up Berat's message as distraction. "Doctor says the mouf can be discharged. Just stuck to quarters until your surgery, doc."

With elegance, Grace held out a napkin and circled it in the air, pretending to wipe Lorna's face. "Should clean up first. I mean ..."

There was sauce dripping down her cheek, fingers were sticky with food, and there was a piece of something green stuck in Lorna's teeth. Unable to explain further, Grace just busted out laughing.

Lorna DeLaTour
Mar 7th, 2021, 01:56:14 PM
Lorna was relieved that the debrief unfold without any issue, although she hadn't been expecting any, despite her notes still being unpolished. She knew that she would have everything finalized without any problem by 1300 on the following day, even with the upcoming surgery. She didn't have extensive work left to do on it.

She grinned in the middle of scarfing food down her mouth when the Director showed her that she had been discharged until the surgery. Even though it wouldn't be her home back on Jovan wither her beloved furry companions, it was better than being stuck in a hospital room longer than required.

She quirked a brow at the brunette's next antics - for that was how one would call it which was a side of Grace she rarely saw but had always appreciated, given her own sense of humor.

"Oh," she realized as she fetched the napkin and began to clean up the mess she was. Maybe she should have been utterly embarrassed but making fun of herself as well was a coping method good as any other.

She worked on being presentable and discreetly did her best to clean her teeth to with the dratted third napkin.

"Alright, is that good enough to exit this room and go check out my temporary quarters?"

She had asked that in a little over-theatrical way; but she shamelessly clung onto the goofiness of the moment. Her tired and medicated brain even came up with an extra joke about the whole thing.

"If this ever needs to be reported, please wrap it up in all the red tape available, will you?"

Grace Van-Derveld
Mar 8th, 2021, 07:44:09 PM
Grace got up with slow controlled bits of laughter to tidy up the plates and utensils for the staff to clear out - even balling up two of the soiled napkins and tossing them right into the garbage can from afar.

It was more antics to keep the doc distracted.

"Yeah, no." She grabbed the napkin Lorna just used to clean her teeth, flipped it around to the clean side, and wiped away a spot of translucent yellow sauce stain from the doctor's chin.

She fought the urge to rip the napkin apart in anger at Lorna's predicament. Grace was a creature of control and anything out of sorts in keeping that status, anything that made her feel helpless, stirred up feelings long suppressed since willingly leaving the academy. There was nothing she could do to help Lorna. Nothing. Grace hated this feeling and shrugged away a glimpse of power that wanted to entice her.

"So ..." She casually crumpled the napkin with one hand and tossed another basket, ignoring the dark allure, "I can't promise strings can be pulled this time, doc."

A finger pointed out the cameras in the room. "Med staff now know you're a certifiable ... messy ... eater."

The smile didn't quite reach her eyes after enunciating the last key words, but Grace waved Lorna to follow. "C'mon. Let me show you to your quarters. And I promise no detours this time."

If the doc needed any help walking along the way, Grace would help, but not before. Nor would she offer. She would respond by slapping a hand away or giving a death glare. Lorna's would undoubtedly be the same. She just hoped the pain meds would be enough to get the doc there without issue.

Lorna DeLaTour
Mar 8th, 2021, 08:03:11 PM
If Lorna's mind hadn't been caught between painkillers and her own potential debilitating fear, she might have noticed fleeting changes about Grace; but her body language reading skills weren't as good as usual. What she knew for sure was that she was grateful for the brunette's antics that kept the mood lighter than it would normally be under the current circumstances.

She quirked a brow but didn't move as the Director cleaned up on last spot on her chin. She couldn't help laughing about the certifiable messy eater shenanigans.

"Well, here goes my reputation," she retorted with a smirk before she got up, with a bit of a struggle.

She could tell her back was quite pissed despite the meds and that her range of motion didn't feel like what it should be; but at least she could walk by herself. Dr. Berat had insisted she took a cane with her just in case, which she retrieved on the way out; but so far tucked under her arm. It wasn't that she thought ill of herself if she needed to use it; but not only was she stubborn, she also wanted some sense of normalcy, and her pride wanted to maintain a semblance of ability.

As they made their way out of the medbay, she winced a couple of times; but it felt weirdly good to be stretching her legs after the past hours. She knew that she wouldn't sustain a hike and even less a run for the foreseeable future; but it still helped her spirits a bit.

"It's ironic," she suddenly say, musing out loud.

"I can be a homebody in between missions and work; and don't get me wrong, I'm glad I don't have to stay at the medbay until the freaking surgery; but I had weirdly hoped to see more of the city during this pit stop."

And maybe she was just batshit scared of facing her own mind stuck on her own; but she wasn't going to admit it.

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 11th, 2021, 01:03:05 PM
As they walked, Grace side-eyed how silly Lorna looked with a cane tucked under her arm. She wasn't the only one to take notice. Some Alliance staff and military personal took note of the ginger and slow gait of the doctor.

"It looks like you're trying to impersonate one of those high roller affluent snobs, looking all dapper with a cane all tucked in strutting about," Grace said to lighten the mood and pull away from people staring.

When the director spoke, eyes tended to look elsewhere in hopes she wasn't talking to them. It worked, though now she was captivated by Lorna as she spoke and immediately frowned. The plan was after debriefing, Grace was going to show Lorna around town since the doctor never had time to before. Bothuwai was a quick stop before heading out because as soon as they were back, Lorna had to leave for Jovan Station. Selfishly Grace wanted to pull strings and get the doc on her team full time, but that was out of her jurisdiction. Sure she could make a deal with the med corps, but there was no reason to do it. Lorna's work was valued there and alongside the director.

Sadly, Lorna's health got in the way of the surprise but an intelligence officer always had to be creative.

"Well... not like you have to go out and about walking around. Could always get a speeder and I'd drive you around. Sight see and such. Then stop only for dinner before heading back." She gave Lorna a hopeful look, enticing her with a half smile. "I'm far more fun than brooding alone in your room."

Then she chuckled. "And that's saying a lot."

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 11th, 2021, 04:14:45 PM
Lorna couldn't help laughing at Grace's teasing about the way she was carrying her cane around. Even though her body felt beaten up, she played it up just a tiny bit.

"What can I say? It compliments the bags under my eyes and my half-crumpled clothes."

She winked to the brunette, grateful that her partner was keeping her distracted from what was going on. In the back of her mind, she knew that she might lose what mattered most to her; but she hadn't got that far to just waste away and give up. Whatever time she had before the surgery, she didn't want to feel sorry for herself.

She felt the pull to spiral down still tugging at her thoughts; but she forced herself to stay present, focusing on Grace's words. She smiled, trying not to feel bad for the Director taking time away from whatever duty she might have on her plate. She chose not to apology for taking some of her time. If Grace was offering it, she knew what she was doing. And she knew quite well how making her change her mind was likely to go as well as pulling a teeth from a wampa without anesthesia.

"I'd like that," she answered before chuckling at the brunette's last words.

"I'd be happy to see the city and I trust you to find good hole-in-the-walls diners. Granted that one on Tatooine placed the bar quite high."

She was still surprised that Van-Derveld had dragged her all the way to Tatooine for lunch; but it had been a fun trip, and had allowed her to glimpse into off-duty Grace. It was easier to chat and relax when not in the middle of saving the world.

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 17th, 2021, 11:23:34 AM
"It's settled then," she confirmed with a nod. "We'll make sure your quarters are sufficient and then head out."

Sufficient quarters was code for take a break. Grace knew the doc was struggling and hiding it well. A few minutes reprieve before walking to the speeder bay would allow Lorna to conserve her energy and if needed, take medication to tide her over until they returned. Lorna's discomfort was hanging in the air that physically made the director feel uncomfortable - right down to a phantom twinge. Her eyes focused on Lorna then flashed a toothy smile, hiding any emotional discomfort.

"Not sure about hole in the walls here, but if you like seafood, I know a fancy restaurant that's impossible to get into."

What just left her mouth?

"Reservations are booked for months, but they'll let me in."

And why was she showing off?

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 17th, 2021, 05:38:58 PM
Lorna nodded, and continued to follow Grace to the aisle that would have the temporary quarters she had been assigned. She had gone through so much shit by herself and she trusted with great difficulty; but she had trusted the Director since their first mission and not just because they had to in order to save lives. It had been a quickly-earned respect and a partnership that had only grown in the following months. And Lorna was so freaking grateful that she wasn't going through this terrifying shit alone. She didn't want to let the other woman know how terrified she was but she definitely drew on Grace's strength and presence to keep pressing forward.

She gave a slightly shocked look at the brunette when her partner suddenly boasted about that fancy sea food place. It just wasn't Grace's style, unless she was undercover. That was new... And kinda sexy, and it was probably the drugs getting her mind to go weird directions.

She couldn't help grinning though. She didn't know if that day would come again. She didn't know if they'd still be partners two days from now.

"I love sea food! I probably spent a significant portion of my paycheck at The Mischievous Shell on Ithor back in the day. So I will happily enjoy you pulling strings for us to have dinner there!"

As they reached where her quarters were located, Lorna was happy for the short break. She had gone over how they would be set with what Grace had showed her; including the medical aids and accessible bathroom, but it was nevertheless more spacious than she had expected. She noticed that her small bags she had had with her on the latest mission was set on a bench by the bed. She sat down at the desk and retrieved some medicine from her jacket's pocket and popped the next couple of them for the upcoming hours.

"Thank you. I miss the little cannock jumping on the darn hover chair but otherwise it's nicer than I expected. You could say that working in humanitarian nonprofit for years had made me used to minimalist accommodation."

She allowed herself a few moments to gather her strength. She would get out of this mess. She wasn't sure how, but she hadn't got all this freaking way to just have her body give up on her, even by her own doing.

"Alright, if you can put up with me being a messy eater again, I'm ready to find your speeder so we can get out of here. Seeing the outdoors for a bit will be nice."

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 18th, 2021, 08:17:04 AM
She smiled appreciatively. Grace was well aware of Lorna's food preferences and she was determined to give the doc a splendid night instead of dwelling the unknown future. Yes, that was why she was showing off. To put the doc at ease. It made sense in her mind now.

"I'll call once we're in your room and you're good with it. Don't want to make a reservation and we'll be late if we need to make a few calls to get the room in order," she said.

Grace could see that Lorna was surprised by the room. There was no way the doc was going to recover without comfort in case the worse were to occur. She kept telling herself she would do this for anyone on her team - which was true. Yet the director knew that she was going all out for Lorna like she would for Dasquian and Bryna. That made Lorna special.

She tucked that thought far, far away into her subconscious and laughed. "No hover chair in this room. I wasn't going to jinx your surgery. But ..."

Her head rocked back in forth mischievously. "... I can make no promises that you'll be recorded again on how terrible an eater you are."

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 18th, 2021, 03:31:01 PM
"I appreciate it," Lorna replied with a smile although the words died quickly. She felt a lump in her throat and busied herself looking around the room.

"During some of my morning runs on Jovan, I used to pass by a small shop that had little cannock toys. They always reminded me of you."

Oh fabulous, the meds were making her freaking loopy now. Food, Grace had talked about food.

"Alright I'm good to go to potentially embarrass myself stuffing my face with delicious sea specialties, so you should make that call."

She grinned to her partner, feeling the medication kick in and giving her a bit of a second wind.

"I also hope that they don't have some fancy dress code as I didn't pack for it."

And truth be told, she appreciated comfortable clothes right now.

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 19th, 2021, 12:39:13 PM
Grace's head jerked with surprise. "Really?"

She threw Lorna a lopsided grin. "Cannocks are pretty memorable after all. Though you don't usually see me chowing down on metal."

It didn't count how many metallic tools dangled from her mouth when working. Or chewed on.

"Seafood on the other hand ..." It looked like Grace produced a comm unit out of thin air from Lorna's point of view. Of course it could be the pain meds. "... definitely. And since it's me, they won't care what we wear as long as we're decent. Doesn't need to be anything fancy."

The agent went through her personal contact list as she added another thing. "Oh ... and so it doesn't freak you out after surgery ... your furballs should be here when you wake up."

She couldn't help crinkling her nose. Grace was not a fan of pets.

"Didn't want the nurses yelling at me if you had a heart attack seeing Poky and Rory in recovery. And don't worry about them. I made sure they're not in some loading bay but in crew quarters being tended too."

Cost her quite a few credits and a favor to do that, but Lorna wouldn't want her pets being checked on every couple of hours inside a secured container without some contact.

Before Lorna could respond, Grace was already on the call setting up reservations at the Giska Vel, which meant blessed sea in Bothese.

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 19th, 2021, 01:46:49 PM
Lorna laughed at Grace's reaction and following comments. "Yeah you never chewed on my equipment, which I appreciate."

She let out a sigh of relief when her partner said they didn't have to abide by any dress code. "Well I'm not stuck in an hospital gown so they should let me in."

What Grace said next had Lorna stare at her in shock. She probably looked ridiculous but she couldn't do anything about it. She couldn't wrap her mind around what the Director had done for her. That was unebelievable and even in her state, she knew it must have been an expense and a lot of extra logistics.

She had no words and Grace didn't give her time to respond anyway by calling the restaurant. She was still trying to realize her fur babies would be there when she woke up and when she recouped.

She got back to her feet by the time the brunette hung up though and she walked up to her.

"You can blame it on the meds," she warned before hugging Grace.

"Thank you."

She wasn't crying but she didn't have the appropriate words to convey her gratitude, so a hug it was.

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 19th, 2021, 09:24:46 PM
Grace secured them a reservation for two in casual attire citing no time to change post mission - which was stretching the truth just a little bit. Bechan was gracious to fit the director in on short notice. The Bothan hostess was always accommodating.

She did notice that Lorna was on the move as she lowered the comm unit, erroneously assuming the doc was excited for a nice meal. Being cooped up with bad news since landing, Grace would be eager to get the hell out of here too.

But that wasn't it at all. Lorna stared blankly at Grace, who was still as a statue trying to understand what the doc was feeling. She couldn't help pick up traces of awe and surprise, but there was also a small thread of appreciation that felt deeper.

It had to be the medications, which Lorna verbally confirmed.

She had a retort on the tip of her tongue before it was squashed out of her with a fierce hug. Reflexes made Grace plant her feet apart so they wouldn't topple over and snaked an arm around Lorna's waist. The contact briefly heightened Lorna's feelings within Grace's mind and to fight back the unintended intrusion, she all but crushed the link.

Yet the doc's appreciation tempered her abilities and was able to focus on Lorna's gratitude. This is what she wanted ... Lorna to find some happiness in this uncertain time. The two furballs could do that and she was glad to do this for the doc.

"Yeah ..." she said hoarsely, slowly beginning to properly return the hug. "You're ... you're welcome."

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 19th, 2021, 09:42:17 PM
Lorna was relieved when Grace didn't nudge her off right away. She hadn't expected her partner to return the hug, and it was a lovely surprise. She knew this display of affection could seem weird but that was the best way she could convey her extensive gratitude for what the brunette had done.

She honestly could have stayed there for a while longer, but she didn't want to either make Grace uncomfortable or end speaking too much that was on her mind and should stay there. She once again told herself not to read things that likely only existed in her drugged up head.

She stepped back, giving a light squeeze to her partner's arm before she reinstated space between them.

"I hope I can.... do things right by you. Make it through that fucking mess and still be the partner you deserve."

She bit her lips and went to put her jacket back on, pausing for a moment, but it wasn't as uncomfortable. This last round of meds was more helpful than the previous ones, which was good as they were headed out.

"I heard someone mention sea food and casual outfits?"

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 20th, 2021, 08:21:19 PM
Lorna was not officially the fourth person in Grace's post Imperial life that she gave a damn about hugging. She blamed the Force being a pest as of late, prodding her abilities to awaken more fully. Yes ... that was it.

Lorna self-deprecation snapped Grace out of her introspection and turmoil that she felt coming from the woman she briefly held in her arms.

"Wait.. are you..." she paused and blinked several times with confusion. "Are you fucking serious?" Grace tucked the link away before crushing it in anger this time because Lorna was talking like a crazy woman. "Look... I can only accept the drug excuse for so long but what the hell, doc?"

She blocked the exit and crossed her arms. "You've got a medical issue that's not your fault. Whether or not this goes to shit, doesn't make you any less of a partner to me."

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 20th, 2021, 08:47:44 PM
Grace's reaction wasn't what Lorna had expected, even though she should have. It wasn't the fucking meds that had messed up her head but her fear of messing up the life she had finally got. Her partner's anger ignited something within her as well and she felt her hands curling into fists.

"Yes I am fucking serious," she snapped back when she watched the brunette block the exit.

"I'm scared this whole thing is going to see me stuck in a hover chair and I don't want to just be in a lab for the rest of my days. And yes I worry it could end our partnership."

She cursed again and stuck her hands into her pockets, resisting the urge to just pace around the room.

"I don't regret one thing I've done in my career since leaving the Empire. I'm proud of of my humanitarian work and even what I've been doing on Jovan, but the field work I've been doing with you? It's better than all my previous jobs. You are the best thing that has happened to me."

She closed the distance between them, still holding Grace's gaze.

"And universe damns me but I've fallen in love with you."

She cupped her partner's face and kissed her, more softly than when they had posed as girlfriends; but this time she wasn't playing games.

Grace Van-Derveld
Apr 21st, 2021, 09:22:07 PM
Here came the anxiety and fear. It radiated off of Lorna naturally so one didn't need the Force to see it. The doc looked like she was about to punch something but Grace stood her ground as Lorna went off on a much needed rant. This was for the best in case there was a scene at the restaurant. Of course one look from Grace would silence any complaints and force eyes elsewhere.

Even if Grace couldn't understand what it meant to lose the ability to walk, she knew how debilitating feeling helpless was. Lorna was faced with the unknown. So did Grace after being forced out of university. Thank the Force for Keth watching and waiting for the right time to approach her and recruit her into the Rebellion. If she were permanently stuck behind a desk due to injury, the director would be lost. She was a woman of action, like Lorna.

Now the doc wasn't moving much and looking like a thermal detonator waiting to blow. And did she! Every point Lorna rattled off resonated with Grace. She left the Empire and had a successful career fighting and now maintaining the freedom of the Alliance. It was difficult and bloody with countless sacrifices but she regretted nothing. Which surprised her. She wallowed in her passive aggressive way when Dasquian returned and there was no time to explain her feelings for him. He needed space and just when their lives started to slow down and weave back together once again - work separated them and Grace picked out what should have been a temporary partner.

She lowered her arms and grimaced. "Doc ..." but Grace couldn't finish because Lorna quickly approached her, eyes determined and focused.

Then time slowed, allowing Grace time to comprehend what was happening but she was unable to formulate words or actions - two of her best qualities. So she stood there dumbfounded as Lorna kissed her.

She had never allowed anyone to kiss her that was not part of an ops and what happened on Corulag didn't require kissing. Her heart raced with panic as she stood there wide-eyed, unable to register what to do. With great effort, shaky hands came to Lorna's shoulders as she gently forced the kiss to end. Her eyes were closed and breath rapid as she attempted for find the right words to explain why she pulled back.

Swallowing hard, Grace's eyes fluttered open. "You ... you've got no idea how bad of an idea this is."

She worked her jaw, trying to find the words to explain herself but the quick witted director only panicked. "You got no idea how fucked in the head I am. And I'm not talking about the shit talking behind my back. I'm certifiable if I can't keep it together. Because if I don't ... I'm going to end up like my brother and destroy everything I've worked for. You ..."

She gritted her teeth and looked down at the floor, uncharacteristically vulnerable. "...you don't need my shit, Lorna."

Grace didn't let her go just yet, afraid that if she did, Lorna wouldn't let her back. "And you've got no idea how much shit's on my plate ..."

Lorna DeLaTour
Apr 22nd, 2021, 01:19:48 PM
The moment Grace's hands came to her shoulders, Lorna ended the kiss, respecting her partner's cue. She knew there was no turning back from that moment, and no matter what would come, part of her knew that confessing the unexpected feelings was the honest thing to do. She watched the brunette's reactions with scrutiny.

She didn't know what to expect. It could have been nerve-wracking but she felt almost at peace. She was standing in the eye of a storm she thought would always elude her, having chosen to close herself from any sentimental entanglement after having forsaken her imperial youth. However Grace responded, she would have to deal with it.

The tension and the vulnerability unraveling before her was difficult to bear witness to; but she was glad that at least her partner was willing to open up. She didn't comprehend everything Grace was referring to but she pieced together what she could, including the fact that she had a brother of the monster variety. And knowing Grace, Lorna knew she was being damn serious about the severity of it.

She let her speak without interruption, respecting what her partner chose to share. She pondered on it for a while before replying.

"You are right to say I don't know how much shit's on your plate. I can't disagree there."

But, it didn't deter her from having faith in the possibility of their partnership going beyond the deep friendship that had developed. After all, Grace hadn't directly told her the sentiment wasn't shared.

"What I know is that I've seen you deal with a lot of shit that most people couldn't have handled even half as well as you did. I don't willingly trust others with my life; but I trust you. I have since our first mission."

She paused, trying to find the best way to put it all. She wasn't naive to even entertain one instant that if they took things further, there would be no added issues cropping up. Life gave and took, especially the latter option.

"I don't know what's behind your red tape the way you do what's behind mine."

She offered a sad smile, knowing that per her job Grace knew about her imperial youth, how she had been branded a traitor even before she entered formal Alliance service on Jovan station a couple of years before. Even when keeping a low profile in humanitarian missions, trying to atone for even having grown up imperial, no matter how often she had got in trouble for questioning practices, she had spoke at multiple research events and published papers that denounced in details imperial scientific inhumane values. She knew it could cost her a lot sooner than later; but it was the path she had chosen.

"Even without any personal shit you're dealing with, I know your job itself would scare most people away. Thing is that I've seen my share of shit, some willingly, some unwillingly. Most of us don't need the shit we're dealt; but it doesn't change what I just told you."

Gods, that whole feelings thing wasn't comfortable but here she was.

"If you want to keep things the way they are, I will respect your decision."

She valued and loved Grace; and if she had to bury these feelings back, she would.

Grace Van-Derveld
May 2nd, 2021, 01:12:27 PM
When Lorna was done talking, Grace stared at her as she digested every word. Lorna didn't judge or shy away from what little she revealed. Shit on one's plate was a galaxy of possibilities and Lorna just looked at her with calm acceptance as they both continued to stand together closely.

Doc wasn't making this easy for Grace at all. She could feel Lorna's sincerity and love through the Force so fiercely that Grace was forced to break eye contact. This was not usual for her at all and it scared her. The closest she came to feeling anything like this was with Bryna, but her daughter was able to calm the bond between them when it cropped up since she is a Jedi. Her abilities were subtle and nuanced so clearly there was a reason why it's behaving like a prat. Just what would she do about it?

She lowered her hands and ran one through her hair while taking cleansing breaths.

"Okay," she began tentatively to no one in particular and pulled out her link. "Hey, Bechan? Yeah, it's me again. I need to change up the reservation a bit. No, no. Not cancelling. Just want a more private setting there. Yeah."

She was nodding during the one way conversation. "Yeah, that would work. I'll bring my own but I appreciate that. See you soon."

The call ended and Grace shifted to partly gaze at her partner. "So ... since this ... happened, I got a private area at the restaurant. So we can ... talk."

Grace hated being awkward yet here she was treating this like a date without saying it was.

Lorna DeLaTour
May 2nd, 2021, 01:33:37 PM
Lorna had no idea what Grace would say or do. As uncomfortable and off the cuff her admission of feelings had been, she felt freaking relieved. It didn't take anything away from how terrifying the upcoming surgery was but at least she felt she had cleared the air between the Director and her, despite how her confession had apparently been one hell of a bomb she had dropped on her partner.

All she could do really was stand her ground and hold space for Grace, waiting and honoring whatever the brunette would choose to do. She hoped that the door wouldn't close in her face right there and then - or ever; but she would keep her word and honor whatever Grace's decision was.

She wasn't sure what her partner was going to say when she spoke again, and soon found herself listening to what she said on the call with the restaurant again. It was a little confusing, but at least it wasn't a cancellation, so it had to be a good sign, right?

Her lips eventually curved into a little smile when Grace talked to her, and apparently what treating this as a date. She hadn't said the actual words but that was how Lorna interpreted it, between the awkwardness and the private setting at the restaurant.

"Sounds like a plan, although I am very curious as what it is you said you'd bring."

She nodded towards the door. "Will you tell me during the drive? Is it something we need to pick on our way there?"

Grace Van-Derveld
May 12th, 2021, 08:07:42 AM
Grace scrunched up her face and lightly shook it, indicating Lorna was wrong in her assumption. She did move towards the door and pulled out a black rectangular device that easily fit in the palm of Grace's hand. It had two uneven antennas protruding upwards and several buttons that appeared they could light up.

"Got it right here." She gently shook it for emphasis before tucking the device away. "A jammer. I like private conversations staying private. Bechan has protocols in place since there's off the record meetings there. More than you can imagine really," she explained as they headed out in the main walkway, "but I need reassurances."

That held dual meanings. This was undiscovered territory for the director since that statement was clearly used for mission directives and working undercover. Not for a discussion like this.

"Depending on our conversation, I ..." she paused, tucking hands inside her front pants pockets, "... well, depending on what comes up during our talk ... I rather make sure it stays between us."

Lorna DeLaTour
May 12th, 2021, 09:50:07 AM
Lorna recognized the jammer the moment Grace showed it to her. They had had to use those from their very first mission. That brought back some memories.

"Good plan," she replied with a nod and a smile. It didn't surprise her that much that the Director would want to keep their discussion private. She wasn't sure what exactly they would end talking about, or what the brunette might reveal about her own red tape; but the doctor was taking things one at a time.

"I guess one of these days I'll need to learn the basics of these devices."

She was set on believing she'd continue to do field work. She'd have plenty of time to fret and worry about the upcoming surgery; but right now she wanted to focus on their dinner, and see how things would unfold. She knew that Grace hadn't said a direct yes or no regarding the possibility of their relationship changing; so she considered it wasn't a lost cause.

"Alright, then we're good to go."

Grace Van-Derveld
Jul 8th, 2021, 07:33:31 PM
Lorna's focus was admirable, especially of the future where operative equipment needed to be learned instead of on the fly. She needed that drive to get through the surgery and recovery.

"Yep. Standard equipment and all." She patiently followed Lorna out and towards the nearest exit where a speeder was waiting for them. "Course ... we, as in Alliance Intel, would be more inclined to offer more than a crash course if you'd be around on a more permanent basis."

This was nothing new. Grace had wanted to pull strings and get the doc here for months. Her talents were wasted on Jovan, regardless of how important her job was there. A brilliant mind needed to be challenged and Lorna craved it. And it were goals for her to latch onto than just keeping a job. It was a future career with Intel. Working with Grace...

That was going to be a long and challenging conversation that the director hadn't had since she enlisted. She had to spill her guts - all her fears, insecurities, and be vulnerable after her extraction. That made her heart pound with fear but on the outside? Grace just opened the door to the speeder and offered a hand to assist Lorna up the steep distance between the ground and foot rest.

Grace had to talk about her to Lorna and decide on what to do with these burgeoning feelings.

Lorna DeLaTour
Jul 24th, 2021, 03:54:41 PM
Lorna knew that she walked slower than usual, for the Director and her normally had a brisk pace. While it annoyed her, she knew that she couldn't do much about it now and she was grateful for Grace's lack of comment about it.

As they made it into the speeder, she took her partner's hand to help her. Once they were on their way, she mused over Grace's words about transferring to Bothawui. It wasn't the first time, the Director had brought it up, and truth be told, she had taken several professional leaves and sometimes transport had been a bit of a challenge, especially for missions that required quick response and solid coordination, while she was on Jovan.

"You know. When I pull through this shit, I think I'll want that transfer."

She paused, unsure of what more to admit. At the same time, it seemed to be the evening to divulge professional and personal things.

"I don't want to be stuck behind a freaking desk for the rest of my career; but being here even during my recovery, I feel like I could do more than if stuck on Jovan. I mean, I know I've done a lot of work that helped people but I want more and I think I've paid my dues for having grown up in an imperial family at this point."

Funny how this health crisis forced her to reconsider stuff; but it was exactly what was happening.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 2nd, 2021, 11:15:11 AM
When Grace hopped in beside Lorna, she quickly snapped her head towards the doctor almost like an eager pup. She turned the speeder over and moved her eyes to the streets as she spoke. "Jovan's done everything it can for you. You can grow here. And stop with the Imperial shit."

She didn't mean for her words to have as much bite to them. "From one former Imperial brat to another, no one gives a shit as long as you pay your dues. We've both done that. Think I've done enough for two lifetimes and working on a third ..."

The last part was muttered because, in a way, Grace would never be able to make up for the transgressions of her brother. No one could.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 2nd, 2021, 02:04:25 PM
Lorna was surprised by Grace's reaction to her admission that she was ready to move on from Jovan Station. It just clicked in her mind that she deserved the new assignment and that she could be more useful and grow in her career by admitting she wanted the damn transfer.

The brunette's words and tone hit home, more than she wanted it to.

"You've done enough for a few lifetimes as far as I'm concerned. I've worked in various crisis situations over the years, but you impressed me since that first mission."

This wasn't any flattery or even slightly enamored comment. It was the freaking truth regardless of how their partnership had grown over time.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 2nd, 2021, 08:56:09 PM
"Likewise, Doc. Course your reputation preceded you. All you did was live up to it," she stated honestly before turning down the main road that would take them off base.

It was not as humid like most night since a cold front came in. Light jackets were required and wind combing through their hair was pleasant despite the dark turn their conversation and thoughts went. Evening lights were just coming on as the sun was about to set. Beings were on their way home from work or milling about with late night errands. Children were goofing around on their hoverboards and throwing a smashball between them.

Grace envied the normal life in that moment.

"Anyway ... we're almost there."

Just down another mile and off the main road was the Giska Vel. Expensive looking speeders and limos were being attended to by finely dressed valets as Grace pulled up in the basic model found on base. Several couples and business parties screamed latest fashions and money in front of the enormous picture frame windows trimmed with off white durasteel - and here was Grace parking the speeder and casually jumping out of it as if she weren't dressed in the tan and greys of her New Republic fatigues.

"Hey!" The scene was all so familiar to Lorna. Grace getting out of the speeder and firmly telling the valet to hold off on getting the door. Except this was real and not some staged setup with them acting as girlfriends.

"I got the door for the, doc." She slapped a sizable tip in the valet's hand and patted him on the back. "Thanks though."

This was real Grace opening the door with a half upturned smile as if everything was going to be okay. She offered her hand with no flourish and no roguish smile, just a gentle look and a small nod towards the restaurant. "Ready?"

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 2nd, 2021, 09:18:37 PM
Lorna smiled fondly at Grace's response. She had worked her tail off to build that reputation and continuing to improve it and make sure that she lived up to it and grew as a medical professional. Work had been her whole life, save for her pets for the last fifteen years.

As they drove across the city, she took in the sights, having only made pit stops on the planet before. Between working on humanitarian frigates and then on Jovan Station, she hadn't been based in any city like that since her time on Rori many years ago. While she loved doing field work and hoped to continue to do that after her recovery from that blasted surgery, the thought of having her small apartment located in civilization was appealing.

When they arrived at the fancy restaurant, she was amused at the thought of what others might think. She didn't care about her frumpy clothes at all. And she was pulled from her brief contemplation as a sense of deja vu washed over her. She chuckled and took her partner'sh and to get out of the speeder. She knew the day had been full of turns and twists, and difficult conversations - with more to come on the later; but it was funnily refreshing that they were doing this as themselves.

"You had me at fancy sea food, remember?"

Chuckling, she managed not to fully limp as they made their way towards the front desk.

"Good thing I only need to stop eating tomorrow night, because I have missed good sea food in the past year or two."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 3rd, 2021, 12:54:04 PM
Grace half smiled, shaking her head a little. "You can get a bantha bag to go too if you want. Have some seafood for lunch."

Whatever made Lorna happy at this point to get her through the next few days, Grace would encourage.

"Ah Director Van-Derveld and her guest," announced the Mon Cal maître d'.

"Dr. DeLatour," Grace gently corrected.

"Of course." The Mon Cal blinked and looked to Lorna. "Bechan says this is your first time eating with us. She hopes you have a wonderful time. And if there's something not on the menu, please let your server know. Perhaps we can accommodate your request after checking our inventory. Please ..."

With a flourish that was rather dainty for a stocky Mon Cal, the maître d' beckoned them to follow, "Right this way. The table you requested is prepared to your specifications, Director. Have you brought anything else?"

Grace nodded. "Standard issue. Nothing that won't affect your systems."

"Good, good." The Mon Cal and Grace ignore the stares of some patrons that were curious why the rabble were allowed to eat here or recognized the director. Lorna was the cause of a few whispers, some ignorant and petty while others were concerned about the limp. It was all gossip to be ignored.

"Here we are ladies!" the Mon Cal announced and pulled out the chairs for both of them. With a tap on the vertical rectangular datapads, the menu came to life and he presented them without hurry to them. "Our specials are a shrimp and artichoke amalfi - crisped to perfection with a peppercorn sauce. A sea scallop risotto, and freshly caught anchovies! Our finest from Dac!"

He clapped his hands together and inhaled with the characteristic gurgle. "Can I get your drinks started?"

Grace nodded and produced her jammer, hiding it behind the salt and pepper shaker holder. "Got Ak Ale on tap?"

"Of course, Director."

"I'll take that," she said absently, making sure the jammer was working on her wrist computer.

"Excellent." He looked to Lorna. "And you?"

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 3rd, 2021, 01:11:19 PM
"A bantha bag sounds good! So I get all the good food before dealing with the hospital kind."

Ration bars generally tasted better than hospital meals, so she would make the best of it while she still could. There was still a possibility that her surgery happened late on the following day rather than the subsequent morning; but she would still likely have another meal before then. Time would tell.

She nodded with a polite smile to the Mon Cal maitre d'. "Thank you for your welcome."

She watched the interaction about the extra jammer between Grace and the Mon Cal. The Director was definitely well-known at the restaurant, which didn't surprise her that much if it was a favorite of hers and who knew what work she might have done for the owner of the place as well.

She swoons just at the mention of the specials. The whole menu looked fabulous as she caught sight of just a few more options; but she had the idea the specials grabbed her interest in a definitive way.

When asked for her drink choice, she mused for a brief moment before going for a simple but delicious choice.

"I will go with some Eldar cider please."

The maitre d' nodded and left them for the time being. Lorna looked up at Grace. "Everything working fine?"

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 3rd, 2021, 02:35:10 PM
Grace absently pat the table after confirming the jammer was functioning. "Yep all good. That's working and everything Bechan has in place is a go."

Even their table was in a far corner away from prying ears. They could talk freely.

She went to say something but without any direction of where to begin, Grace ended up shutting her mouth and leaned back against the back cushion of the chair with outstretched arms. Fingers laced together before the grip went inside out and cracked her knuckles to release some physical tension, but did nothing for her emotional state and racing heart.

"Fuck," she hissed out quietly as hand fell to the table in defeat. "I got nothing."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 3rd, 2021, 06:00:43 PM
Lorna nodded to Grace's answer and waited for her to say something, since they had agreed to discuss things during dinner. She wasn't sure what her partner wanted to share and wouldn't push her either. In her view, she had witnessed enough of the brunette's personality over the past year that she didn't see how her interest would change. Of course, if a romantic relationship wasn't something Grace wanted, she would respect that.

She quirked a brow when the other woman spoke at last. Their drinks arrived, which gave the medical doctor a moment to gather her own thoughts about where to take the discussion.

"Well, you know lots about me, maybe you even read things I forgot about in my file; but is there anything you need clarification on? Or do you have any question?"

By giving space for Grace to ask questions, she hoped to help a bit.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 3rd, 2021, 07:54:46 PM
Grace acknowledged the delivery of the drinks with nod and a muttered thanks, glad for something to do instead of staring awkwardly at Lorna. She took a healthy swig, thinking this whole night was just off to a fabulous start. And she was actually drinking. Consciously choosing that was uncharacteristic of the director, but so was being kissed and having someone profess affections towards her. Did it really matter if she indulged for once?

"Ah ...hm ..." There was a long pause as Grace pondered what she didn't know about Lorna and came up empty. She knew everything about the doctor since it was decided they pose as girlfriends back on Zeltros. She scoured every untouched file that was unrelated to their first mission on Cona because as much as she trusted Lorna with her life, she wanted to make sure an intimate undercover job could be accomplished without unwanted attachments. Who knew that just being Grace would create those feelings after months of working together.

"Grav-ball," she blurted out after swallowing down the ale. "When ... when did you play last? Or why ... do you like it?"

Lorna saw her visibly wince. Interrogating a perp for intel was second nature but casual talk with someone that had feelings for her, which were returned, was a disaster.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 3rd, 2021, 08:06:46 PM
Lorna took a long sip of her cider, appreciating that it wasn't too strong. She was happily going to stuff her face and could drink a bit despite the painkillers but she wanted to remain on the safe side. She hadn't completely lost her mind yet, even though kissing Grace probably looked like it.

She wouldn't say it aloud but there was something endearing to the way her partner was dealing with the talk she had wanted to have following what happened before they left for the restaurant. She thought that telling the Director she was bordering on cute right now would probably go weirdly.

She quirked a brow and couldn't hide her surprise when Grace asked her about grav-ball. She had to think for a bit about the first question.

"Sheesh, it was before I started working on Jovan station. They don't have an arena for it. We play the game in small indoors arena, wearing hoverboots and passing the darn ball from one repulsor baton to the other. It looks simple at first but there is so much strategy besides the physical workout. I miss it."

Relaxing in her chair to make herself more comfortable, she took another sip from her drink.

"I started playing when I was about ten. I even was part of the Inter-Academy League when I attended the university of Coruscant. I was a midfielder."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 3rd, 2021, 08:27:54 PM
"Well ... more reason to get your ass healed up so you can play again." Lorna was Grace's sole focus even as biscuits arrived. The waiter was savvy enough to not interrupt and would subtly circle their table until he saw a proper pause. "We have an arena here. Multiple fields for multiple sports. Being the capitol of the New Republic brings a lot competitive sports throughout our systems."

She took a sip, feeling more relaxed as this conversation was safe. Feeling safe made her feel in control again. "More of a smashball girl myself. Probably not too much of a surprise."

Grace was a very physical person after all. "I paid my dues in the teen circuits on Corulag. Probably when most of my future competition at the academy started to hate me."

Furthering that thought made Grace scowl, but Lorna could presume it was because most Imperial men hated having their asses handed to them by a woman in any sport.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 3rd, 2021, 08:41:48 PM
Lorna nodded more solemnly than she had meant to, at Grace's words. Then her face lit up at the mention of arenas in the city. It hadn't even crossed her mind but this made her want to get better as well and go play.

"This is great! I've been on remote worlds for several years so normal cities have been rarities."

She reached out for one of the biscuits, seconds before her stomach growled yet again.

"I've missed playing it so it would be great."

She chuckled at the mention of smashball.. It definitely was very Grace!

"Yeah this checks out. I've never really played that but watched games."

She groaned at the brunette's last words, sadly not surprised at all.

"I got in trouble with a league from the military academy a few times. They thought us university brainiacs couldn't measure. I handed their asses to them when we kicked them off their pedestal for two consecutive seasons."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 12:00:36 PM
For now Grace was happy with her drink and if Lorna wanted all the biscuits, they would be hers. It was delightful hearing Lorna brag about beating military cadets. A fleeting what if scenario came across her mind, curious if things on Corulag had gone differently, would Grace have seen Lorna sooner? She never played grav-ball, but she enjoyed watching it live and since they're close in age, there was that possibility paths may have intersected at some point.

"Yeah. They don't like losing. Or being showed up by a woman." She sighed and took a nice long healthy sip of her drink, flagging the waiter over. Her next thoughts were not suitable to admit now. Which means it was time to order. The waiter immediately padded over.

"Madam Director!" The waiter smiled, hands clasped behind his back. "You ready to order? And ah! The biscuits are a hit! I'll bring more."

Grace nodded. "We are. Lorna? Care to go first."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 12:08:06 PM
Lorna stopped her movement as she was to grab another biscuit when Grace spoke. There was something about the succession of sigh and flagging the waiter at once that made her wonder what was going through the brunette's mind. It wasn't the first time this kind of gear shift happened in conversations of moments, both during missions and off duty.

She placed the other biscuit onto her plate and chuckled at the waiter's comment, unable to hide her grin at the mention of more.

"I'll make sure to leave room for the main dish," she admitted with an almost sheepish look.

"I'll go with one of today's specials: the shrimp and artichoke amalfi with peppercorn sauce, please."

She took a bite from the biscuit while her partner ordered. She wasn't sure what else to say about grav-ball, or if Grace had other questions. And it seemed that putting her into the position to ask question had helped her relax a little for a bit, which might help with whatever she might want to share during the conversation they had agreed to have.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 12:29:21 PM
"I'll go with the taglioni with lobster. I'm sure it's still made with same day catch?" she inquired but the subtle smile said Grace knew the answer.

"Of course. Nothing but the best for one of our signature dishes, Madam Director," confirmed the waiter.

"Great. So that and biscuits. And maybe a fizzy lemonade. Yeah." She nodded and looked to Lorna who added a water before the waiter went off the place their orders.

It grew silent for a few beats because the grav-ball ice breaker only worked for a few minutes before thoughts turned dark. She wasn't good at this at all and didn't want to scare Lorna. Though it was foolish to think that because the doc was compassionate and understanding. They had similar struggles in some ways as former Imperials but their paths had caused trauma in far different ways.

"Alright, look." She scooted closer and hunched over the table, looking more the spy than a dinner date. "I suck at this too." She rolled her eyes and shrugged. "Obviously. I mean, I know everything about you and you can regurgitate it back to me from your perspective because that would help me understand things from your emotional perspective. Or ..."

It was a long pause as Grace inhaled deeply and stared at frothy top of her ale and when she spoke, it was quieter and not full of her usual confidence. "You can ... ask me stuff. You barely know anything about me. Which is how I like it. Though with you? What happened back on base?"

She frowned. "Doesn't seem fair that you don't."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 12:41:56 PM
Lorna might be enjoying the biscuits and slowly nursing her lightly alcoholic drink; but her attention remained on Grace; and she knew her partner would notice it. It wasn't just how the Director operated but knowledge of how they worked together or chatted if off-duty. It had been many months now and the doctor didn't want to pressure the other woman but she knew that at some point the conversation, whatever it was to entail, was going to happen, would it only be because Grace had brought it up in the first place.

In a weird way, what happened next was a relief. She let her say her piece before speaking up.

"I'm not good at it either, so that makes two of us."

She had never been to the point of doing this potential "relationship" stuff. It had never been her style and here she was.

"Well... I gathered you had imperial origins based on your name from the moment I heard it, I know you're near human, though I have no idea which kind, given your fast healing abilities. Your sharp senses are likely due to that too, unless it's Force talents, cybernetic enhancements, or a combination of any of these three things. And I know you have your daughter Bryna."

She paused, considering what to ask.

"You have a knack for fantastic places to eat at, including hole-in-the-walls ones. And you just mentioned playing smashball."

She slightly tilted her head to the side.

"What is your favorite part about your work?"

It might seem weird to pick up career as a topic; but she knew Grace's work ethic and how important her job was.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 01:10:38 PM
Given Lorna's occupation, Grace was not surprised by the doc's power of observation. Smart, perceptive, assertive - the qualities of a fantastic medical operative. There was a lot of information left out of the cliff notes of Grace's life but those were the headers. And considering she's been from side of the galaxy to other, her ability to make friends, enemies, and find wonderful places to eat was just a given. Also she was not that great of a cook so ... one had to eat more than ration bars when out and about.

But she could tell Lorna wasn't finished yet ... mainly sensed it. Regardless the question threw her for a second.

"You want to know that?" She knew how to answer it but out of everything that Lorna mentioned and was left unsaid, she was just surprised that a work related question was what she asked first. "Well ... the best part of the job is doing enough, even if it's a little, to do something right. As shitty as my job can be, that's what makes it worth it. Being able to help in whatever way I can. I joined the Rebellion to serve a higher purpose and in a selfish way, now the New Republic helps me stay... me. So I don't stray from ..." She loss contact with Lorna's eyes and played with the condensation on her glass, tracing nonsensical patterns. "Stray away from what's right."

She frowned, looking disgusted with herself.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 01:22:57 PM
Lorna chuckled at Grace's surprise about the question asked. Then she listened to what her partner shared, without interrupting her. Some of what she said didn't come as a surprise; but it still shed some extra light on the Director's values and how important actively working for the New Republic was to her.

"Your work is a huge part of your life, of you. I've seen you do your job and if we're with the Alliance, there are likely reason for it; but knowing more about your motivations is not the same thing. And as a medical doctor I understand about the importance of doing enough, even if in the little things."

She had noticed Grace's expression as she finished speaking.

"I take it your imperial family is still actively loyalist?"

She shrugged slightly. Not all imperials were utter garbage and devils; but she had seen enough horror coming from the culture she was born in, from her family, her fellow students, her mentors, and many she had never met but whose victims she had helped in the last fifteen years.

"I had heard the name when growing up but I never paid much attention to the politics, so if I sound dumb about it, that's why."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 01:41:18 PM
"Oh yes," she confirmed with utter contempt dripping from each word. "I've got no idea what my parents are up to since I haven't spoken to them since I've defected, but they're Empire through and through. Growing up, me and my brother were fed the dogma, groomed to serve. They didn't care in what way."

The waiter came back with biscuits and drinks and Grace continued because this little tidbit was known.

"So me and Vega, my brother, both went to the Corulag Academy and there our paths diverged. I'm sure you know the name. Vega Van-Derveld?" Her brows raised in question and looked for any sign of recognition from Lorna. "He tried to whack Moff Miranda a few years back. And her husband. Has a hard on for taking out the Empire. An extremist. And quite dangerous. He stands for everything I don't."

And she stopped there, afraid. Afraid of how the conversation would go as she paled.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 01:54:33 PM
That sounded like Lorna's own family. She hadn't talked to them since she had left the Empire as well. She kept loose tabs on her Lorrdian grandmother at times, and her cousin Morgana, but even that was minimal. She wanted no association with the society she had grown up with. Ironically she kept better track of some imperial scientific development featured in conferences and publications.

"Fed the dogma sounds familiar. My father's human side of the family wanted us half-breeds to redeem ourselves by doing grand things for the Empire."

She groaned and drank the rest of her cider. What Grace said next about her brother had the doctor think about it and connect dots. She remembered having seen that Grace's brother was a wanted criminal but hadn't looked into details. And she had heard about the attack against Moff Tarkin, but only months later given where she worked at that time.

"I didn't realize he was that psychopath. I was near Wild Space back then and even headlines didn't reach us that much then."

She felt really stupid for not having got the whole picture better.

"At least your daughter is away from the imperial shit show and out of his reach. She has one of the most badass mothers in the galaxy."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 02:18:48 PM
"Yep." The p was emphasized with the press of the lips and annoying release of sound that got old really quickly if done in rapid succession. "That psychopath. But don't worry. Considering where you were it's understandable why it didn't connect at first."

The mention of Bryna brightened her face. "She's a Padawan. Funny part is one of her masters is Tarkin's twin."

That made her deviously chuckle. "I love the irony."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 02:24:20 PM
Lorna was glad that she didn't make a complete ass out of herself regarding Grace's brother. It wasn't the first time she had missed on some big galactic headlines due to being in a remote sector for her work. That was one of the perks of having been on Jovan and then more involved in Alliance missions.

She smiled at the change in the brunette upon mention of her daughter. She couldn't help chuckle at the fact Tarkin's twin had a hand in Bryna's training.

"That's a good one! How old is Bryna?"

Another thought crossed her mind, based on having made the connection about the psychopath and also the fact that Grace had these extra sharp senses.

"Did Bryna get her Force sensitivity from you? It just seems that you might have some of that."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 08:06:02 PM
"She's 19," she said with a wry smile. "And gets into as much trouble as I did at her age."

Brash. Brave. Intelligent. If the medical examination upon Bryna's arrival hadn't confirmed the genetic history, her behavior would've - if you ignored the fact that she practically looked like a miniature Grace.

Grace anticipated the next question and confirmed with a nod. "Your insights serve you well," she said in a mocked wise Jediish voice. "But seriously, yeah. Me and brother are very ... strong with the Force. If our parents were, I don't have a clue. Maybe it skipped a generation. Maybe they hid it but ... yeeeeah.."

With a wistful shake of her head, Grace took a sip of her ale to collect her thoughts. "I don't do it on purpose. It's just ... intuitive. Feeling things. Intent. Lies. Truths." She locked eyes on Lorna and looked apologetic. "Sometimes ... more."

Her eyes darted to the side as she saw their waiter exit the back room where the kitchen was. "I pride myself on control because I hate being Force sensitive. Because of what it did to my brother. I don't want to become that. Or be tempted to. But lately ..."

The waiter arrived and with a flourish brought the plates into view, setting them in front of as they were announced. "Shrimp and artichoke amalfi for Miss DeLaTour. Taglioni with lobster for Madam Director."

Grace tore her eyes away to assess the food and raised two fingers in approval. "Smells and looks good. As usual. Tell the chef thank you for getting this out so fast."

"Gron fa, ladies!" He said with a small bow, wishing them good eats as he took his leave.

"... lately it's been harder to keep my abilities in check," she admitted, picking up where she left off as she unfolded her napkin.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 08:19:55 PM
Lorna enjoyed seeing Grace's face light up when she talked about her daughter. She chuckled at the last part. It was easy to imagine Grace get into trouble at that age, just like she had as well. And that had been even before defecting.

"Walking in your footsteps, then?"

With a smile, she finished another biscuit but stopped to keep room for the main course. She realized that Grace didn't deny being near-human, and the whole Force sensitivity made a lot of sense based on their interaction over the past year.

Upon the brunette's admission that she could pick on things even instinctively, she felt color creep up her cheeks. Her mind decided it was timely to wonder if she had gleaned anything after a certain explicit and memorable dream she had had at the end of their undercover. If she had, she nicely kept it to herself.

Her attention went to the waiter when their mouth-watering dishes arrived.

"This looks and smells fantastic. Thank you!"

Without hesitation, she dug into her food, although she still gave a quizzical look at her partner.

"Has it?"

Great job, Lorna, great job. Good thing you're a doctor, not an orator.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 08:52:49 PM
"Not literally, but yes." Grace chuckled, picking up her utensils. "Master Tarkin and Nythercicia have expressed she's quite talented but also a handful."

She winked. "Makes me a proud mom."

It felt really good to say that aloud and so accepting of who Bryna was in her life. They have come a long way together and regardless of the how and why, she was grateful to have these moments with her daughter.

"Yes," with a raised brow and smirk, Grace continued to swirl the pasta into a neat morsel against the spoon. "It has. With you ... the Force has been more ... overt. That hasn't happened in decades."

She stated it casually as if being debriefed and ate. Inside she was a mess and immediately felt Lorna's embarrassment. Swallowing she pointed her spoon at Lorna. "Case in point. I don't know what it is you're embarrassed about but you are."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 09:01:04 PM
"I'm glad. Does she look much like you?"

Lorna was happy to see Grace talk about Bryna. She knew the Director sent regular messages to her daughter during down time or en route to missions. She had been surprised when she had first learned that her partner had a child; but she had meant what she said that Grace was one of the most badass moms someone could have.

She tilted her head at the brunette's admission about the Force having bee more overt regarding her. She likely looked ridiculous as she had a mouthful of food as she did that. She put herself together, swallowed and then made a face at Grace's words about her embarrassed state.


She could as well own it at this point.

"Did you sense something weird about me the last morning of our undercover mission? I remember feeling silly because I had a very explicit dream about you. I had no problem compartmentalizing the undercover pretend part and our working partnership so I felt ridiculous."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 4th, 2021, 09:16:01 PM
Nodding, she wiped her mouth and cued up a picture of Bryna on her wristpad. "Here (https://images-cdn.9gag.com/photo/aA34rOL_700b.jpg) she is."

Once Lorna got a good look she gazed down at the picture with fondness. She made a mental note to write Bryna before bed tonight.

She brought her arm back and closed down the image before returning to eat. Which didn't last long. Grace stopped her hand in midair because Lorna looked rather adorable. Whatever the doc was embarrassed about had to be good. She encouraged Lorna to continue with a gentle upturn of her lips before eating again. Which was a mistake, she almost choked on a strand of pasta but brought up a closed fist to her mouth and gave one good hard cough to clear her throat.

"You ... you ..." she blinked now feeling foolish for her assumptions that night. "I thought you had a nightmare!"

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 4th, 2021, 09:27:22 PM
Lorna smiled as she looked at the picture of Bryna.

"Thank you. I'm happy to put a face to her name, and yes, she does look like you!"

She appreciated that Grace shared this with her. For sure the younger woman couldn't deny personality nor looks she got from her mother!

Of course, the Director's reaction to the embarrassing story she shared was priceless as well, and if Lorna hadn't felt silly, she would have found the whole thing amusing.

She felt her whole face turning redder if possible, before she looked in shock at the brunette.

"You... You thought I had a nightmare?"

Oh shit, did she make any sound during the dream? Damn it she hoped not. Also her expression grew concerned.

"Are you okay? Please don't get killed by pasta because of my sexy dream."

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 5th, 2021, 01:11:53 PM
Another cough went into a closed fist, then a second as Grace fought with the wayward strand of pasta after Lorna said sexy dream. She was not used to this talk at all!

"Just ..." she waved hand and forcefully swallowed several times to work the dangling strand back up into her mouth. She tucked it against the inside cheek with her tongue and worked out the tickle in her throat with several more loud coughs. Once the tickle became dull and controlled, she took Lorna's water and gulped down a few sips. Her breathing slowed as she set the glass down.

"Okay." She cleared her throat then swallowed the pasta down. "Better."

Then she looked shrewdly at the doc, one of the scant times the director's cheeks were tinged pink with embarrassment. "You were moaning in your sleep. I was ... incorrect in my presumption why ..."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 5th, 2021, 01:26:38 PM
Lorna stared at Grace coughing and struggle with the dangling strand of pasta. While it was utterly adorable, she mostly wanted to make sure her partner was going to be okay. The doctor in her was scrutinizing the Director to make sure no emergency happened. Truth be told, she hadn't expected the brunette to have such a reaction to her admission.

She waited patiently and let out a sigh of relief when Grace said all was fine. Good thing she had decided to go for water after her cider instead of some fizzy drink.

She noticed the slight color on her date's cheeks; but she felt her own face turn red at the mention of her sleep-moaning. She knew she could do that but at the same time nobody was there to hear them.

"Ugh... Of course I did," she groaned, running her hand over her face before taking a deep breath.

"Maybe we should have saved the adult beverages for embarrassing story time," she added wryly as she looked at Grace again.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 5th, 2021, 01:41:45 PM
The heat in her cheeks cooled off at that look then Grace picked up her fork to absently played with a lobster piece. "I actually don't have any stories that are embarrassing when it comes to that."

Her jaw tightened with debate, teeth grinding together with uncertainty but when she looked up at Lorna's playful and gentle face, her jaw relaxed. "I've only ever had one experience. And it wasn't ... good."

The look in her tumultuous eyes spoke of the pain the director was trying to admit. "So yeah. I've never been in an actual relationship. Or had any ... willing encounters ..."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 5th, 2021, 01:52:29 PM
Lorna took another bite from her food, definitely understanding why it was such a famous restaurant. It was some of the most wonderful seafood she had ever eaten.

She quirked a brow at Grace's next words and she felt concern flare up at the expression change in the brunette and what she said next. Besides being surprised that the Director only had one sexual experience, the fact that it had visibly been abusive made her blood boil. She had suffered harassment back when with the Empire and in one of her jobs later on; but it had never gone that far.

"I wouldn't have guessed any of it, and I appreciate you trusting me with this," she eventually responded, unsure of what to say.

"I hope that me kissing you earlier on wasn't completely inappropriate."

While they had made out undercover it had been their fake identities, so it had just been work, much different than what had happened earlier that day. She normally did her best not to overstep boundaries.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 5th, 2021, 08:43:12 PM
Grace nodded with thankful eyes despite her throat feeling too tight. She had only verbally shared this part of her past with three individuals, four if Bryna knew but it wasn't a topic that needed to be brought up. She postulated that when her daughter was ready, she would share the tragedies of her past so it was likely that this other Grace from another future timeline would too.

That really was a headache induing thought. She really thought of Bryna as hers and easily compartmentalized the truth of her origins.

"Nah ... it's alright," Grace said softly. "You didn't. Emotions were, well are, high. And ... I suppose my first kiss could've been worse."

That trademark smirk that Lorna became familiar with through the months peek through for a moment.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 5th, 2021, 08:57:02 PM
Lorna both wanted to give a hug to Grace and kill whoever had abused her. As a doctor, her oath was to help people but she was fine getting rid of monsters.

She looked attentively at the brunette, giving her as much time she needed to answer, hoping she hadn't made things worse. She nodded at the mention of emotions running high, because it had really been the case.

She hadn't realized she had been holding her breath until she exhaled when Grace told her she hadn't done anything wrong.

"I'm glad. No matter what happens between us, it matters to me that I don't cross boundaries."

She flashed a slight grin at her partner, relaxing a bit.

"I'm glad it wasn't too bad though," she added with a chuckle.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 5th, 2021, 09:32:35 PM
"I know you do," Grace said quietly, thinking through the impact of those words because Lorna did care. However and whenever it happened, the doc was secure in their friendship and working relationship that she'd respect Grace's decision.

She cared about Grace and how she felt. It was known because that was all Grace felt in the moment was the doc's honesty embracing her through the Force. She couldn't block it. There was no way she could without training.

"My control slips when I'm with you. Like this." She gestured randomly around her. "Casual. That's never happened before. Even with ..."

She sighed and clenched her teeth before blowing out a breath. "Even with Dasquian. I had control over my ... abilities."

As she recollected, Grace kept Lorna's gaze because this admission remained close to her heart. "Even when I was guilty over his capture, or when I was afraid if I'd ever see him alive again, or so, so fucking angry at the galaxy for the Empire taking him from me... "

Fingers uncoiled from the silverware she was holding and the fork hit the table with a clunk. "All of those emotions, you'd think I'd lose control. Tip over the edge at some point. But I didn't."

Her lips pursed together as she swallowed hard. "But it was you that I've known for months instead of a man that I've known for years that leaves me defenseless ..."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 6th, 2021, 10:06:26 AM
Lorna's honesty and calling things as she saw them had got her into trouble since her youth; but it had also saved lives and avoided a bunch of miscommunication over the years. She was relieved that Grace knew she did care. She was used to caring for her patients as part of her career choice; but she normally didn't care for others like she did for the brunette, and it had been baffling her for the past months. This was why she would respect whatever her partner wanted regarding... Well, regarding them.

She was nevertheless shocked that her presence would have such an impact on Grace and the control she had over her Force sensitivity. She was no expert in such matters but she knew how much self-control the Director possessed.

Her expression turned even more surprised when Grace shared about Belargic and how all the shit she went through about him still didn't impact the tight hold she kept on her abilities. That was mind-boggling, really.

She took a moment to organize her thoughts on what her partner had just brought up.

"I take it that professionally my presence is not a problem, since we've been going on missions together and you've been a huge supporter of me requesting a transfer to Botthawui. So, the question is, is me being around off-duty, a potential issue?"

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 6th, 2021, 11:05:35 AM
"Well that's why we're here, right?" Grace reminded with a chuckle filled with insecurity before dissecting Lorna's question.

While looking deep into the doc's eyes she felt the surprise about Dasquian but that was of little consequence to her. What she was trying to reconcile was her own Force abilities. Would leaving things professional bring back Grace's control? She sure as hell wouldn't be going to the Jedi for advice on that, though ... perhaps Bryna would provide some tips and tricks. She trusted her daughter to keep such secrets.

She had no doubt when enough time passed, the two of them could adjust to the feelings they both had for one another and let it naturally shift to friendship. Though the thought made Grace scowl, which only heightened how aware she was of Lorna's feelings. Lorna respected Grace so much and desperately wanted to keeping their working relationship thriving by any means.

It was humbling to know someone felt that strongly about you. She didn't believe in coincidences. She trusted her instincts. She didn't need hokey Force powers to consume her but maybe, just maybe, if Grace didn't see the potential of this bond all the way through, her control would slip further. Though that is a weak reason to pursue a relationship. That wouldn't be fair to Lorna and get her hopes up.

"I'm sorry ..." Grace realized she hadn't said anything else for quite a long time and felt Lorna leaning towards resignation that nothing else would move forward between them. The apology didn't help and hyperdrove the doc's nervousness. "I ... don't mean to keep you waiting because this is... "

She gestured wildly and needed something in her hand, choosing a biscuit to shred with a thumb. Even flicking a crumb across the table at Lorna like she usually does when they eat out - which was fun at a fancy restaurant. "Well ... I don't know how to do anything with a relationship because I've never had one. Mainly by choice." She chuckled and despite the humor of the words it was spoken sadly. "And people are scared of me. But ... you got through most of my bullshit and still treated me as me."

She slowly smiled. "I kinda like that. And ... you. And if my abilities are being a bitch around you, maybe I need to listen to it for once and figure it out..."

Her eyes widened with vulnerability. "If this makes any sense say so so I can shut the fuck up from this rambling."

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 6th, 2021, 11:57:00 AM
Lorna nodded to Grace's immediate response. "Good point."

She quietly finished her food while watching her partner muse over the question she had just asked. While she was confident in their working relationship, she had no idea where their personal one would go, especially now she had expressed her romantic feelings. The mere concept of having feelings for someone like that was something she wasn't used to at all. While she had had her share of sexual partners, it was all about stress relief and benefits rather than any expectation of forming an actual bond.

Then Grace happened.

And no matter what would or wouldn't happen between them, she was grateful for knowing the other woman.

She understood that the brunette needed some time to say more but she still felt some nervousness fester, though it was mostly smothered by how resigned she was that things wouldn't go further. She'd honor her promise though. And she would still do her best to recover from this frelling surgery and get better so they could continue to work together.

She was sitting against the back of her chair, having polished her plate, when Grace spoke again. Despite her nerves, she couldn't help grinning at the sight of her partner shredding that biscuit and she was ready for that darn bread crumb. Without hesitation she caught it and flicked it back, not caring of what kind of restaurant they were at.

She wasn't sure what to make of the next sentences but she felt herself relax a bit anyway. It wasn't a flat no. While it didn't cement anything, it was still something, and if there was one thing Lorna knew to be true, it was that absolutes and certainties could change over time.

"Please don't toss a whole biscuit at me, but your rambling was quite endearing."

She took a sip of water and continued.

"I know it's not the same; but when I realized I was catching feelings for you, I didn't know what the hell to do with them. I care about people, otherwise I'd be a shitty doctor; but I never liked someone like that despite previous entanglements. So if we just want to see where things may go, I'm fine with that. And you can always tell me to just fuck off if I am too much."

Being too much was definitely something she had been accused of on many occasions.

Grace Van-Derveld
Aug 7th, 2021, 11:55:09 AM
"And with that little comment, you're lucky I don't have a frying pan," she kidded.

Her ability to fit with culinary objects was quite legendary around Intel. But she went quiet after her little jest to focus on Lorna and her feelings. She knew the doc wasn't one to embrace relationships yet had no issues enjoying physical pleasures. And Grace just ... never did anything. This was a new adventure ... together.

"And don't you worry ..." She pulled off a decent chunk of biscuit and tossed it right at Lorna's face. "... I promise to tell you to fuck off if necessary."

Grace wasn't good with feelings so throwing food at the doc and being a playful ass was far easier.

Lorna DeLaTour
Aug 7th, 2021, 12:11:45 PM
Lorna burst in laughter at Grace's antics. "Yeah, I heard you have quite the way with culinary objects. I'm better with the medical ones."

Grace had probably found in her file about a few incidents when getting in trouble when one of the Twi'lek settlements she had worked in got attacked by pirates.

This time the large chunk of biscuit hit her in the chin and dropped into her lap. With a playful cackle, she picked it up and tossed it into her mouth.

"We got an agreement then, Grace," she added with a smile.

They'd figure things out as they went and she liked that. The surgery was still scary but she had big reasons to make it through as best as she could. She wasn't the kind of person to give up and she knew that if she did, her partner would probably kick her ass, and rightfully so.