Fraternization in Space (PG-13)

Commander Lena Alward was given the position as Navigator by the Battle Cruiser's Commanding Officer Captain Bob Dobbins and she was honored by the Captain's trust in her.

In her two years as a USS COCHRAN Bridge Crew Team member, Commander Alward had grown in her confidence, discipline, expertise and understanding as a Star Fleet Officer and she owned most of that growth to Captain Dobbins who was easily one of the most prolific and mentoring officers she had the pleasure to serve with.

"Dobs" as his friends called him (and the crew behind his back!) was a strong and consistent Commanding Officer, an ethical and certain leader who liked to engage his officers in the decision making process. He was not one of those Officers who got caught up in the power of position or the ego of command. He was a grounded and authentic Commanding Officer who led with authority and passion as well as humility and compassion.

Commander Alward hadn't really found love in space (anything that stuck anyway) in her ten year career but Captain Dobbins was definitely the kind of man she could easily fall for even if it was against Star Fleet fraternization policies. She thought Dobs was everything she wanted in a lover - compassionate, passionate, understanding, giving, sensitive, strong, confident, sexy, and unafraid. She respected him more than any other man she had served with and she often thought about what it might be like to be with him but she knew he would never give up his commission for her and she certainly wasn't ready to give up her career for a man! But she didn't mind fantasizing from afar!

Commander Allard stepped onto the COCHRAN Bridge and relieved the night watch of the Navigation Station. Every time she stepped off the turbo-lift she felt herself overcome with contentment and pride as she walked across the circular bridge and assumed her position at the command console in front of the view screen.

"Good morning," she greeted her co-console mate, Lieutenant Bix Barlow, the steady and talented Helmsman.

"Commander Allard," he replied formally but with a huge grin on his face. "How nice to see you this morning."

She laughed and glanced over her shoulder to take in the Bridge at the start of another shift. The First Officer – Commander Jake Crimshaw was at his post working on the morning reports. Commander Dinn Xeing the Science Officer was already on the scanner looking for activity.

Commander Allard's best friend on the COCHRAN – Lieutenant Pax Sinclair was reviewing the morning messages at her Communications Station. Lieutenant Ern Hanyeck – easily the funniest guy on the ship (off duty) - was manning Tactical. He glanced up at Lena and made a face.

These were her co-workers. These were her friends.

For the past three months, the COCHRAN had been patrolling along the Mortlan Neutral zone. The Mortlans had been stirring up trouble trying to put more political pressure on The Federation to negotiate for a treaty that would expand Mortlan territory into Federation jurisdiction. However, the Mortlans refused to certain concessions and the political stalemate continued.

The Mortlans were periodically crossing over the neutral zone and harassing Federation outposts and planets. The Mortlands were also illegally involving their ships in the shipping lane that ran across the quadrant and came uncomfortably close to the neutral zone in one particular section. COCHRAN was on site as a deterrence from Mortlan interference and rabble-rousing.

There had only been a few isolated incidents since COCHRAN's arrival, helped by restrictions placed on use of the shipping lane by non-essential ships under Federation providence so the assignment was mostly uneventful and routine.

"Hours of boredom followed by moments of excitement," was how Commander Allard described their days to her console mate, Bix Barlow the Helmsman.

And then, on this particular day, all that changed.

Captain Dobbins entered from his off-bridge office and assumed his command chair next to the first Officer.

"Captain, long range sensors are picking up a Mortlan bird of prey," X (as they called him) the Science Officer reported from his station. "It appears to be heading for the neutral zone."

"Destination?" Captain Dobbins asked.

"Its coordinates have it intercepting a…Star Fleet training vessel," Xeing said.

"A Star Fleet Training vessel?" First Officer Jake Crimshaw asked with disapproval. "What the hell is he doing out here?"

Commander Allard wasn't all that taken with Commander Crimshaw, a guy who was clearly bucking for Command, a by the book and regulations stiff who brought little personality to the job.

"Which ship?" Captain Dobbins asked from his command chair.

"Registry beacon identifies it as the Fleet Training Vessel WATSON, Sir," The Science Officer reported.

"WATSON?" Captain Dobbins scratched his chin. "Isn't that Pop Dempsey's baby?"

"That old man is still around?" The First Officer asked with surprise.

"Pop Dempsey!" Ensign Chris Cline exclaimed from his monitoring station behind the command tier. "I had him at the Academy. He's great!"

Commander Crimshaw threw Cline an annoyed look.

"Rookies," Bix muttered under his breath to Lena.

"Commander Allard, please plot an intercept course to the WATSON," Captain Dobbins requested. "Feed the coordinates to Lieutenant Barlow. Helm, increase speed to Warp Factor Eight as soon as you have them."

"Aye, Aye, Captain," Helmsman Barlow replied.

"Warp eight?" The First Officer frowned "That's really pushing it, Captain."

"Well, tell Frankie we need the extra push," Captain Dobbins replied. "He can shut down unnecessary power sources if he has too."

Commander Crimshaw nodded and hit a communication switch to Engineering on his command chair arm.

"Lieutenant Sinclair, get the WATSON on the screen," Captain Dobbins told the Communications Officer.

"Aye, sir," she replied.

"What kind of training does he think he's going to do in a restricted area?" The First Officer grumbled from his chair.

"Captain, I have Instructor Dempsey," Lieutenant Sinclair reported. "Coming on screen now."

The ship's main view finder sparkled into the transmission and the image of an older man with long gray hair pulled back in a pig tail appeared on screen.

"Pop, what are you doing way out here?" Captain Dobbins asked as he stood from his command chair and peered at the Instructor.

"Dobs!" Pop's face lit up with enthusiasm. "Great to see you."

"Instructor Dempsey, you do realize you're in restricted space, don't you?" First Officer Crimshaw asked, standing from his chair.

The old man squinted into the screen. "John Crimshaw? Still as uptight as my Great Aunt Agatha I see."

Several members of the Bridge crew had to stifle smirks and grins at the remark.

"This isn't a laughing matter, Instructor Dempsey," The First Officer warned. "You've placed your cadets in extreme danger with your reckless sense of adventure."

"You can't train in the Lilly Fields, John," The Instructor replied.

"There's a Mortlan war bird heading your way, Pop," Captain Dobbins said.

"Yes," Instructor Dempsey remarked, glancing off screen. "We noticed that."

"You're in harms way," Captain Dobbins continued. "I'd like you to change your course to if you wouldn't mind."

Captain Dobbins glanced at the Navigator. "Commander Allard, transmit the coordinates to the WATSON."

"Aye, Sir," she replied.

"Might put a little bit of distance between you and him until we can arrive," The Captain said to Pop.

"Sure, Bob, I can do that," Instructor Dempsey replied. "Sorry to cause you trouble."
"Too late now," The First Officer noted.

"X, how long before the bird intercepts the trainer?" Captain Dobbins asked.

"Two hours, ten minutes, Sir," The Science Officer replied after a moment's calculation.

"We won't get there in time," Command Allard spoke up, glancing at her console.
"Can you get anything more out of that bucket of bolts, Pop?" Captain Dobbins asked.

"We'll see what we can do for you, Dobs," The Instructor replied. "You don't think the Mortlans would attack a defenseless training ship do you?"

"They've been itching for a confrontation, Pop," Captain Dobbins replied. "You may have handed them a chance on a silver platter."

"You were aware of the restriction, weren't you?" Commander Crimshaw barked.

"Doesn't matter now, does it, Johnny?" Pop replied.

"We'll let you get back to what you need to do, Pop," Captain Dobbins replied. "We'll be in touch."

"Thanks, Bob," Instructor Dempsey replied. "WATSON Out."

"Damn fool," The First Officer said, shaking his head. "He's going to get those kids killed."

"Lieutenant Sinclair, try raising the bird of prey," Captain Dobbins requested.

"Aye, Captain," she replied.

After a few minutes, she shook her head no.

"Keep trying," The First Officer directed. "Give them the standard spiel about entering federation space and all that."

The next few hours were filled with tense waiting as the COCHRAN raced toward the intercept point and the Mortlan war ship continued bearing down on the ancient old trainer. But once again Commander Allard saw how cool and collected Captain Dobbins was in action, during a crisis, and in command. She was honored to watch such an outstanding officer take command of a tough situation.

"Lieutenant Sinclair, get the WATSON back," Captain Dobbins ordered as the tension continued to mount.

"Aye, Sir."

The viewing screen materialized into the image of Training Instructor Pop Demsey again.

"Hi, Dobs," he said, looking much more nervous and uncertain now.

"Pop, why don't you cut the engines and drop your shields," Captain Dobbins suggested. "Maybe that will help the Mortlans reconsider."

"They don't seem interested in chatting do they?" Instructor Dempsey remarked.

"No, they've ignored our hails," Captain Dobbins acknowledged. "Looks like they're serious."

Instructor Dempsey nodded off screen and the trainer dropped out of low warp to impulse.

"WATSON's shields are down, Captain," Lieutenant Hanyeck reported from Tactical.

"They're going to blow him to bits," The First Officer predicted.

"Lieutenant Sinclair, try raising the Mortlans one more time," Captain Dobbins calmly requested. "Highest Priority. Top alert."

"Yes, Sir," The Communications Officer replied. A few minutes later, she turned to the Captain. "I think I have them, Sir."

"Open the channel," Captain Dobbins ordered, standing from his seat.

"Mortlan Bird of Prey, this is Captain Robert B. Dobbins of the Federation Battle Cruiser COCHRAN," he said with force. "You have illegally entered Federation space by inappropriately crossing the neutral zone. I request that you stand down and desist from your current action."

The Bridge Crew waited for a few moments but there was no reply.

"They're playing dumb," Commander Crimshaw said.

"The WATSON is hailing us, Sir," Lieutenant Sinclair said.

"Captain, the Mortlan ship will be in firing range in two minutes," Lieutenant Hanyeck reported.

The view screen materialized and Instructor Dempsey appeared with sweat on his brow. "I don't suppose you're within transport range yet, Dobs?"

The Captain shook his head negatively.

"I've got a couple of eighteen year olds here I'd like to spare."

"I'm sorry, Pop," Captain Dobbins sighed. "You'd better get your shields back up."

"No point, Captain," he sighed, looking off screen again, apparently at his young crew. "It will be quicker this way. I got us killed but maybe we can be martyrs."

"You'll be forgotten," The first Officer said bitterly.

"Looks like maybe I was a little bit too cocky for my own good," The Instructor replied.

"Sir, the bird of prey has armed and is ready to fire," Lieutenant Hanyeck reported from Tactical.

The view screen went to a long view and the Bridge Crew watched as the Mortlan ship came into view and fired several torpedo shots at the defenseless training vessel which immediately exploded into a fireball.

The Bird of Prey banked its course and returned in the same direction as it came at top speed.

"Any sign of escape crafts or transport?" Captain Dobbins asked.

"I'm sorry sir, no indications of survivors," Commander Xeing replied.

"There must have been seventy five midshipmen and cadets on that ship," Commander Crimshaw remarked, shaking his head. "What a waste. What was that foolish old man thinking?"

"Commander Allard, plot a course in pursuit of the war bird," Captain Dobbins

instructed. "Helm, maximum warp continues."

"Captain, Engineering says the engines are stressed," Commander Crimshaw reported.

"The Mortlans will slow down as soon as they get back over the neutral zone," Captain Dobbins said. "They'll want to taunt us."

"Agreed," The First Officer replied.

"Lieutenant Sinclair, notify Star Fleet of our situation and our course of action," Captain Dobbins said. "Commander Crimshaw, lets go to battle stations."

"Aye, Captain," The First Officer said.

The lights dimmed and the alert sounded. Crew members hurried to their responsibilities and the tension level increased ten-fold as the COCHRAN raced toward the neutral zone. Commander Allard glanced at Captain Dobbins with admiration and respect. She'd go into any battle with that man.

Commander Allard tried not to think about the WATSON and those lost souls. Her professionalism taught her not to grieve on duty. She learned long ago that it was more appropriate to grieve in private and perhaps tonight, in the quietness of her dark stateroom, she would remember those young souls who died today serving Star Fleet and the Federation.

COCHRAN chased the war bird which as predicted sped over the neutral zone and back into safe territory.

"Well, that's that," Commander Crimshaw remarked.

"Maintain course and speed," Captain Dobbins stated from his command chair.

"Captain, you cross over the neutral zone and your career will be over," Commander Crimshaw warned.

"The War bird has dropped to Warp Two, Captain," the Tactical Officer reported.

"Yes, of course," Captain Dobbins remarked. "They'll want to greet us."

"Captain, I have a Priority One communication from Deep Space NINE," Lieutenant Sinclair said.

"Put it on screen," The Commanding Officer sighed as he stood.

The image of Admiral Tomlini appeared on the screen, smartly dressed and looking sharp in his Star Fleet Uniform as he sat at his desk.

"Bob?" The Admiral asked. "What's going on out there?"

"A Mortlan war ship just incinerated the WATSON Trainer Ship, Admiral," Captain Dobbins reported.

"Pop Demsey?" The Admiral groaned. "Damn."

"Request permission to engage the bastards, Admiral," Captain Dobbins said.

"Negative, Captain," The Admiral replied sternly. "Wait one."

The screen went blank for a moment with the Star Fleet emblem on the screen. The Admiral returned a few moments later.

"I have Ambassador Dzn from the Mortlan Embassy on the other channel," The Admiral announced. "He assures me it was all a misunderstanding. For the sake of peace between our peoples, I order you to stand down. Do not cross the neutral zone."

"Admiral, I respectfully disagree," Captain Dobbins replied.

"Noted," The Admiral replied. "You have your orders. Tomlini out."

The communication image faded and returned to the deep space view.

"Politicians," The Captain groaned. "They're going to sacrifice those kids just to placate the Mortlans."

"They want to provoke us," Commander Crimshaw agreed. "They're hoping you'll take the bait. We fire on them and we're the bad guys and then the Federation will have to give them some concessions."

"Captain?" The Helmsman asked, glancing over his shoulder at the Commanding Officer. "Your orders?"

"Maintain course and speed," The Captain replied strongly.

"Captain Dobbins," Commander Crimshaw spoke urgently. "You have your orders."

"Let's just push the envelope a little," Captain Dobbins replied.

"We will cross the neutral zone in twenty minutes," Commander Allard said, glancing at her Commanding Officer with newfound regard.

"Let's stretch that out," Captain Dobbins said. "Helm, drop us down to Warp Five." The Captain glanced at his First Officer. "That should satisfy Frankie a little."

"The engines are taxed," Commander Crimshaw agreed.

"The war bird has dropped out of warp, Captain," Lieutenant Hanyeck said.

"They're altering their course," Commander Allard added. "Turning back toward us."

"They're waiting to see if we're going to cross the line," Commander Crimshaw said.

"They're hoping we'll cross the line," Captain Dobbins said as he returned to his seat.

There was incredible tension on the bridge as the COCHRAN raced toward the neutral zone. Would the Captain go over the line and avenge the cadets or would he follow orders and stand down? Was Commander Allard about to witness the end of her most favorite officer's career?

"Captain," Science Officer Xeing finally spoke up. "We are upon the neutral zone."

All heads turned to The Captain's Chair. Captain Dobbins glanced at this first officer and then back at the view screen.

"Maintain Course and speed," he ordered.

"You're making a mistake, Captain," Commander Crimshaw said. "You're ending your career."

"Lieutenant Sinclair, open a hailing frequency to the war bird," Captain Dobbins instructed. "Let's see if they're interested in talking now."

"Aye, Captain."

The viewing screen materialized into a imagine of the Mortlan ship's bridge. It was dark and cramped and the image of the Mortlan captain appeared.

The Mortlan race was not the most attractive race in the universe. They were tall and thin with greenish skin, no hair, and reptile-like spines and necks.

"This is Captain Robert Dobbins of the Federation Battle Cruiser COCHRAN," Captain Dobbins said as he strolled closer to the viewer.

"Are you ready to do battle, Captain?" The Mortlan Captain asked.

"What is your name, Sir?" Captain Dobbins requested.

"I am Captain Enk from the Mortlan Empire," he replied proudly. "I am in command."

"Sir, you crossed over the neutral line and destroyed a defenseless training ship full of young cadets," Captain Dobbins said, controlling his anger. "Some would consider that an act of war."

"Captain Dobbins, I am sure you are mistaken," Captain Enk responded. "We were responding to a distress call from your little friends. They were experiencing a warp core breech. I'm afraid the ship exploded before we could rescue the crew. We apologize for entering your precious federation space but I assure you it was on an errand of mercy."

Captain Dobbins glanced back at the First Officer who could only shake his head in disgust.

"Captain?" Captain Enk continued. "What are your intentions? Do you wish to blame the Mortlan Empire for this unfortunate event? Are you here looking for revenge? Do you intend to fire upon us?"

"You're a mass murder you son of a bitch," Captain Dobbins replied.

The Captain turned and indicated to Lieutenant Sinclair to close the channels.

"Captain, we are now within range of our weapons," Lt. Hanyeck reported from Tactical.

"Power them up," Captain Dobbins replied.

"Belay that order!" Commander Crimshaw shouted as he jumped out of his seat. "Captain Dobbins, under the authority of Star Fleet Regulations of Command, Article 5, I am hereby relieving you of command."

"Aren't you over reacting, Jake?" Captain Dobbins replied calmly.

"You are in violation of a direct order from Star Fleet Command," Commander Crimshaw replied. "You knowingly crossed the neutral zone line against specific orders. And now you are about to commit an act of war."

"Powering up doesn't mean I'm going to fire, Commander," Captain Dobbins pointed out. "Just showing our force of power."

"Doesn't matter," Commander Crimshaw replied. "You went too far, Captain. He turned to Commander Allard. "Navigator, reverse course immediately. Get us the hell out of here."

Commander Allard glanced at Captain Dobbins who subtly nodded his head okay.

She punched in the coordinates and the COCHRAN turned from the war ship and headed back toward the neutral zone.

"Hey, where are you going?" It was a mocking Captain Enk asking as he appeared on the view screen. "I thought we were going to have some fun."

"Captain Enk, this is Commander Crimshaw. I am now in command of this ship," the First Officer announced. "On behalf of Star Fleet Command, I apologize for Captain Dobbins' misunderstanding."

"Oh, there was no misunderstanding, Commander," Captain Enk laughed. "So, you go on back to your Star Fleet Stooges and let them know you didn't do anything to offend anybody. At least Captain Dobbins was man enough to stand up for those kids. Maybe next time, Captain," Enk said, glancing at Dobbins before ending the transmission.

"Security, to the Bridge," Commander Crimshaw said as he took a seat in the Captain's Chair.

"The stalemate continues, Jake," Captain Dobbins said. "Those kids died in vain. We could have gotten the deadlock broken here."

"That's not our job, Captain," Crimshaw replied.

Two security officers came off the turbo lift.

"Take Captain Dobbins to his state room," Commander Crimshaw ordered. "He's restricted to quarters."

Commander Allard started to speak but Hemsman Barlow put his hand on her knee and shook his head no. She watched in desperation as the scene unfolded, looking pleadingly at the Captain waiting and hoping he would say something in his own defense to stop the madness.

The security officers looked surprised but motioned for the Captain to follow them. The Bridge crew looked on with solemn faces as the Captain was escorted off the Bridge.

"Lieutenant Sinclair, open communications to the entire ship," Commander Crimshaw instructed.

"Aye, Sir," she replied.

"This is Commander Crimshaw, the First Officer," he said. "I am now in Command of the COCHRAN. Captain Dobbins has been relieved of command and is under ship's arrest. I expect each and every one of you to honor your oath and continued to do your jobs. That is all."

Nobody on the bridge said a word and it was the first time in a long time that Commander Allard felt like she wanted to cry on duty.

###

Morale was definitely affected by the unprecedented turn of events. Those who liked and were loyal to Captain Dobbins felt that Commander Crimshaw overreacted and backstabbed his Commanding Officer by not backing him up, giving him the benefit of the doubt, or delaying his decision to cite regulations to give the Captain a chance to rectify the situation.

Most of the Bridge crew was pretty sure that the Captain was not going to cause an inter-galactic incident and that he was more interested in getting the Mortlan Captain to engage in a conversation but that opportunity was lost when Commander Crimshaw pulled the plug.

The crew was professional and they weren't about to mutiny against their Acting Commanding Officer even if they didn't agree with him and were unhappy with his tactics. There was plenty of scuttlebutt, gossip and rumor over the next day or so as COCHRAN returned to Federation space and resumed its mission of patrolling along the border and monitoring the shipping lane.

Commander Allard reported to her station to begin a new shift when she was called into the Captain's off-bridge office by Commander Crimshaw. She was slightly annoyed to notice that Crimshaw had already removed some of Captain Dobbins' personal affects and that he had rearranged the office to his liking.

"Yes, Sir?" Commander Allard asked.

"Captain Dobbins is in the Captain's Yacht awaiting transport to Deep Space Nine," Commander Crimshaw announced. "He requested you to pilot the yacht."

Commander Allard was surprised by the news.

"You don't have to if you don't want to," Commander Crimshaw replied. "I'd rather have Stan Landry Chief of Security do it but Dobbins did ask for you."

"I can do it," Commander Allard replied.

"I know it will be hard," Commander Crimshaw remarked. "He disgraced all of us."

Commander Allard did not feel disgraced by Captain Dobbins but she wasn't about to tell Crimshaw that. She wasn't about to tell him that she was disappointed in him for doing what he had done either. Everybody knew this was a fast track for Crimshaw to get permanent command of the COCHRAN and that he had willing sold out Captain Dobbins for the opportunity.

"I'll await you'll return," Commander Crimshaw said as he stood from the Captain's desk. "I'm honored to continue having you as my Navigator."

My navigator? Commander Allard thought to herself. How presumptuous!

"What's going to happen to Captain Dobbins?" She asked.

"Court martial, maybe," Crimshaw replied. "Perhaps they'll let him quietly retire and go away." He shrugged. "Don't know. Don't care."

What a heartless career-minded self-serving bastard.

"Yes, sir," Commander Allard replied. "I guess I'll get the Captain out of your way then."

"Thanks, Lena, I appreciate it," the unaware Crimshaw replied. "Get back here as soon as you can, okay?"

"Yes, Commander."

Commander Allard left the bridge and took a few minutes to pack a bag in her quarters. When she stepped out of the stateroom, her friends Pax Sinclair and Bix Barlow were standing in the passageway waiting.

"We hear you're taking a little trip," Barlow grinned.

"All alone in deep space with Captain Hunk," Pax teased with a smile.

Commander Allard elbowed Sinclair in the ribs. "Shut up," she blushed. "I didn't ask for the assignment."

"Well, have fun," Barlow said. "But hurry back."

"Yeah, it's bad enough Dobs is leaving," Sinclair noted. "It won't be any fun without you around either."

"I'll be back," Commander Allard promised.

She gave her two friends farewell hugs and then headed for the Captain's Yacht.

Captain Dobbins was seated in the co-pilots' chair when Commander Allard entered the small ship. There was the pilot's station, a small open area with chairs and a couch and a small state room in the back.

"Hello, Commander Allard," Captain Dobbins greeted her.

"Hello, Captain," she responded professionally. "Reporting for duty as requested."

"You sure you don't mind being alone with a war criminal?" he asked sarcastically.

"I'm sure I'll be okay," she replied.

Commander Allard went to work getting the ship ready for departure, communicating with the Bridge crew until she was given final approval for detachment. She piloted the yacht away from the COCHRAN and the little ship zipped off into space headed for Deep Space NINE.

Captain Dobbins occupied himself by reading an electronic book on his pad for a while and Captain Allard busied herself piloting the ship but she found herself uncommonly nervous being in such tight quarters with the Captain, alone.

She had been alone with him before, of course, but not like this with her in the authority role (really) and him on his way to the end of his career, kicked off his ship in disgrace. She felt awful.

"So, when are you going to ask me?" Captain Dobbins asked three hours into the flight.

"Ask you what?" Commander Allard asked nervously.

"Why'd I do it?"

"Why'd you do what?" She said, glancing out the pilot's window into space.

"Why'd I submarine my career?"

She glanced at him. "Well?" She asked after a few awkward moments. "Why did you?"

He smiled. "I didn't, Lena," he said. "You are taking me to my new assignment."

"Your new assignment?" She asked with confusion.

"Clandescent operations," he smiled. "With the Mortlan project."

"What?"

"Now that I've established myself as a renegade outlaw I'll have more influence with the Mortlans," he explained. "They'll think I'm a rabble rouser trouble maker kicked out of the Federation in disgrace. So, I will be commanding a small crew of undercover federation officers on a fake civilian ship in the Mortlan quadrant. Maybe we'll be able to make some inroads away from the politics and regulations."

"When did this all come about?" Commander Allard asked.

"Admiral Tomlini called me back on a secure channel after our initial conversation," Captain Dobbins reported. "This mission is his baby, although he'll deny any knowledge if it goes wrong."

"Of course," Commander Allard smirked. "So, Commander Crimshaw was in on it too?"

"Of course not!" Captain Dobbins laughed. "But we knew he'd play it by the book."

"You didn't think he'd be loyal to you?"

"Off the record?" Captain Dobbins asked. "He's loyal to himself. I know I shouldn't be telling you that now that he's your new Commanding Officer but I doubt its any news to any of you."

"But the Admiral is going to give him command of COCHRAN?" She asked with disappointment.

"For now," Captain Dobbins acknowledged. "He's perfect for this assignment patrolling the neutral zone."

"Because he's by the book."

"When the COCHRAN gets a new assignment he'll probably be moved along to another ship."

"Oh," Commander Allard said with relief which made Dobbins smile.

Another hour passed.

"So why did you ask for me, Captain?" Commander Allard had to know.

He looked up from his electronic book and grinned. "I wanted the opportunity to say goodbye," he acknowledged.

She felt herself blush.

So here she was alone with Captain Dobbins on a small ship and he wasn't even a war criminal. He was the same hero he had always been! He read and she piloted the ship. Occasionally, one or both of them would stand and stretch and later he made them a meal in the kitchenette area. Commander Allard put the ship on autopilot and joined him at the small table.

"So, I guess technically you are no longer in my chain of command," Captain Dobbins remarked, glancing at her over his wine glass.

"Well, you are still my superior officer," Commander Allard was quick to point out. "So that would still make it Fraternization, right?"

"By Commander Crimshaw's book," Captain Dobbins agreed.

She laughed in response.

They chatted about their COCHRAN adventures together and he shared some inside information about certain missions and away parties that she hadn't been aware of before. It was fascinating to listen to his command perspective and she appreciated his trust in her and his willingness to share some of his experiences with her.

After they were done with the meal, he cleaned up while she returned to the pilot's chair and checked the panels. He joined her in the co-pilots chair and continued reading from his electronic book until he grew tired.

"I guess I'll turn in," he announced.

"I'll sleep on the pull out," she said, gesturing to the couch in the living area.

"The bed in the state room is a double," Captain Dobbins replied. "You're welcome to join me."

She was stunned by his open invitation made without pretenses.

"Geez, Dobs," she replied. "Just like that?"

"Come on, Lena, its no secret we've been attracted to one another for a long time now."

"This is true," she admitted.

"This could be our only opportunity if we're interested," he pointed out. "You'll be heading back to the COCHRAN and I'll be off mixing it with the Mortlans."

"I'm not comfortable with one night stands, Dobs," She admitted.

"Me either," He replied. "But it's been two years in the making, hasn't it?"

"Is that why you made me Navigator?" She frowned.

"Of course not!" He said, obviously offended. "I knew you were the best Officer for the job the day I met you. You're command material, Commander. But you're an amazing woman, too."

She smiled. "Thanks, Dobs."

She put the ship back on autopilot and set up the warnings and then left her pilot seat, heading back to the sleeping quarters with Captain Dobbins close behind. When they reached the bed, she turned to face him and he took her into an embrace, wrapping his strong arms behind her back and pulling her close. Their lips met and she was in heaven. The kiss was everything she imagined and could have hoped for and she felt herself tingle at his touch. It was finally going to happen! She could have fainted right there.

She let him take command (He was the Captain after all!) and she shuttered when she felt his hands underneath her uniform and against her skin. Before she knew it, the uniform was gone and soon the undergarments too and she stood naked in his state room letting his mouth and hands explore her body.

"Lena, you are beautiful," He whispered as she murmured against his shoulder, feeling her nipples perk against his chest.

She struggled to get his jersey off over his head and she rubbed her hands along his muscled chest, giving his nipple a kiss in the process.

"I want you," she moaned.

His hand squeezed her nipple and shivers of delight raced along her spine as he rubbed her breast that caused her to arch her back with welcoming arousal. Dobs slowly dragged his tongue down her torso which brought more moans from her. She fell back on the bed and he dropped to his knees, going to work between her legs and waves of pleasure shook her very essence.

"Oh, Dobs!" Lena cried, realizing she was already on the verge of orgasm.

She rocked her hips as Dobs continued his magic and she screamed out in pleasure, her body welcoming as she anticipated the payoff which came with a cry as her body convulsed with a long climax thanks to Dobs expertise.

"More," she pleaded.

He got off his knees and removed his trousers and boots and under garments and now he was naked too, standing above her in his command presence and she marveled at his ability to look perfect even without his uniform.

The rest of the night was a blur. Lena had never felt so alive and she welcomed the amazing pleasure from her Captain as her thighs twitched with each of his thrusts.

"Dobs!" She cried as she came again although she couldn't remember how many times now. 'Oh, oh God!' She whimpered as her nails clawed into his naked back.

When it was finally done, she either passed out or fell asleep (it didn't matter which) and when she awoke the lights in the cabin were up and she realized it had to be morning.

She was naked on the bed and Dobs was sitting on the edge, also naked with two cups of coffee in his hands.

"Good morning," he smiled.

"Geez, Dobs, that was some fraternization last night!" She giggled.

"Yes, it was," he agreed. "Extremely memorable," he grinned.

She sat up and pushed her blond hair out of her face. "On the Captain's yacht no less!" She laughed.

"Don't tell Crimshaw," he teased.

They smiled and drank their coffee while peering at each other.

"Have you ever flown naked before?" He asked.

"No," she giggled. "Of course not."

"Come on," he said, taking her hand and escorting her naked into the pilot's area.

"You mean we're going to spend the day naked together?" She laughed.

"Let's just make sure we adjust the view screen in case a call comes in," Dobs replied, hitting a few buttons on the panel. "But yeah, isn't this fun?"

"It's definitely Fraternization!" She laughed.

And that's how they spent the rest of the trip to Deep Space NINE: mostly naked. They talked. They made love – in the pilot's chair, on the sofa, on the bed, on the floor. They both pranced around the yacht naked and Commander Allard hadn't felt so free in years. Sitting in the pilots chair with her legs open and her womanhood exposed to him felt natural and freeing and it was a three day ride of arousal and lust, a much needed escape and a much welcomed fraternization with the one Officer she always wanted to be with.

When they were within hours of Deep Space Nine, they made love one final time and then reluctantly put their uniforms back on.

"Thank you, Captain Dobbins," Commander Allard said professionally.

"You're welcome, Commander Allard," he replied politely. "And Thank You too. I appreciate the ride."

"As I did, Sir," she replied.

A week later, Commander Allard was back on the COCHRAN and while she missed Captain Dobbins as her Commanding Officer and lover, she knew she'd never forget their memorable ride of fraternization to Deep Space NINE.