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Family, Friends, and Rums

Posted on Wed Apr 21st, 2021 @ 9:33pm by Lieutenant Xavier Leiko & Lieutenant Finnley Keating VII

Mission: By Artemis' Bow
Location: Dionysus Bar
Timeline: MD-01 19:00
3845 words - 7.7 OF Standard Post Measure

Xavier arrived at the bar a few minutes earlier than the planned meeting time. He had a quick look around but couldn't see Finnley yet, so he chose a table next to the floor to ceiling windows. The ship was currently at warp, and it still took Xavier's breath away just how stunning the view really was. The flashes of light and colour, every one you could imagine, the nebulae, the stars, the stella gases; all of them coming together to create a visual treat. Xavier felt extremely tiny and insignificant, as though he was the only person in the universe, the only one who knew all of its secrets.

"Lieutenant?"

Xavier jumped, he didn't realise anyone else was there. "Sorry Crewman, I'll have a large rum and coke, with ice and a slice of lime and whatever Lieutenant Keating normally drinks."

The waiter nodded and went to get their drinks. As he did, Xavier saw Finnley enter the room, he gave her a little wave.

Finnley waved back as soon as she spotted her crewmate and made her way towards the table. "So, are you always early?" She jokingly asked as she took a seat, hoping someone would come by soon to take a drink order. Alcohol, even synthohol, always made conversations easier.

"Yes," Xavier said as he sighed heavily. "My mother hated tardiness, either you was early or you was late, there was no in-between. It's a hard habit to shake. The question is, are you always late Lieutenant?" He added with a smirk on his face.

Finnley scoffed at his remark. "According to the time, I was a full one minute early when I entered through the doors. And it's Finn, Finnley, or Keating. Last I checked ranks were typically left outside of the bar," she smiled. "My dad would've liked your mother. He had a similar philosophy on tardiness. 'If you're on time, you're late. You'll do good to always remember that Finn.'" She said with the best impression of her father that she could muster before breaking into a chuckle.

"No one likes my mother," Xavier said, a touch of a dark tone in his voice.

A moment later and the bartender returned with two similar looking drinks in hand. He placed one in front of Finn and gave the other to Xavier. "I take it you ordered a drink for me?" She asked, delighted that she didn't have to wait any longer for some refreshment.

"I did indeed," Xavier said, returning to his jovial manner. "I asked the waiter to bring over what you usually order, so either he got it wrong meaning you don't venture down here too often, or he got it right and you're a wild dark horse? Let's find out," he added as he waited for her to try her drink.

The sweet and savory liquid touched her lips and she knew immediately that it was her favorite. "A rum and coke with no trimmings. My favorite. I probably come here too often for my own good." Finn chuckled as she placed the glass back on the table. "What did you get?"

Xavier smiled from ear to ear as he had a sip of his own drink. "The same, though with ice and lime, cause I know how to do this properly. So Finn, tell me more about how long you plan on torturing poor Sam for?" Xavier wasn't one to hold back, and now that the drinks were flowing, he was going to do his best to crack this hard shell.

"Pretty much anytime he graces me with his presence," she laughed. "He just makes it entirely too easy. Don't get me wrong, I would love to grab grab a drink and chat with him, but he seems to either lose all capacity for speech when I'm around OR he puts his foot smack in his mouth. There is no in-between." Finn paused for a moment to take a sip of her drink before continuing. "One of the few times he managed to utter more than a few words to me he called P'rel the 'uncaring queen of the damned' right as she walked up behind him. The poor guy was terrified when he realized she had heard him."

Xavier laughed. He hadn't met P'rel yet but he had heard enough to know that she wasn't the type of person you'd want to badmouth, and definitely not overhear you whilst you were doing it. "Oh dear. I imagine that didn't go down too well?" He took another sip of his drink and placed it back down in front of him. "You know there are other ways to 'connect'? Talking isn't the be all and end all."

"No, she didn't seem too pleased by the comment. Plus I'm pretty sure she hates me so to have one of her underlings distracted by me is also something she doesn't appreciate." Finnley shrugged, she didn't like P'rel either so she didn't care much for what the intelligence officer might think of her. "What do you consider another way to connect?" She asked, genuinely curious. Talking and spending time with someone were pretty much the only ways she knew to connect with someone. Even then, she didn't always like connecting with someone. Keeping a solid wall up between potential friends or serious relationships had sheltered her emotions on many occasions as she constantly moved growing up. It was a practice that Finn had continued into adulthood.

Xavier pondered her question carefully. "I suppose that depends from species to species. For me, a telepathic bond can be the most magical thing. Admittedly, it's not something I would choose to do with every person I meet, but when you find the right person, the rewards..." he trailed off. He couldn't help but remember the bond he shared with Ari, the only person in his life outside of his family he had chosen to bond with. The intimacy of that experience, the joy it had caused was something Xavier wouldn't forget for as long as he lived. He wondered if he would ever experience that again with another person, the thought made him sad. "Truly magical," he continued. He realised he had closed his eyes as he had become lost in his thoughts and he opened them again. "Obviously, that's not an option for everyone. However, some people just get right down to it, forget all the small talk and connect physically. Sometimes with shy guys, it's the only way. Plus he is super cute," Xavier added with a grin.

Finn raised an eyebrow when Xavier closed his eyes. The way he spoke about the experience made her think that perhaps there was someone he shared a special bond with. It was a topic that she filed away and told herself she would ask about once they had gotten to know each other better. There was a more pressing question she had wanted to ask first anyways.

"So speaking of telepathic bonds and since you're obviously a telepath. Can you always hear everything I'm thinking?" Finn came out with the question point-blank. She had wondered for a while but didn't really want to discuss it at work. Dionysus Bar and half way through a rum and coke seemed like the more appropriate venue for the conversation.

Xavier laughed gently, he had been expecting this question. "Yes and no," he said honestly as he finished the last of his drink. "I am pretty good at blocking out most people, a lot of species don't like their minds being read without their permission, especially humans. However, some people can get so ... paranoid around me, they end up screaming the very thing they want to keep hidden. Even then I only really hear surface thoughts, nothing too deep or intimate. Why? Have you got something to hide Finn?"

"No," she chuckled. "I just don't know how comfortable I am with the idea of someone being able to read my mind...but I gather that you already I knew that," Finnely half smiled and took another sip of her drink. "I just haven't worked with telepaths much, but I suppose I'd better get used to it. I guess it could make doing repairs together much easier," she chuckled once more and then decided to change the subject. She liked Xavier and was becoming more comfortable with being around him, but it would take more time before she was fully comfortable with the idea.

"So, tell me more about you. Where are you from?" Finn had wanted to ask what his family was like, but based on the comment about his mother she thought it best to not approach the topic.

"As they say on Betazed, my mind is open," he said with a smile as he signalled to the waiter that they required another round of drinks. "I was born on Betazed, the youngest of three boys. My mother is an Admiral and my father is a retired Starfleet pilot. Have you ever been to Betazed?" Xavier asked out of curiosity. "I know I am a bit biased, but it is the most beautiful planet in the Federation."

Finn almost busted out laughing but held it back to a small chuckle. "Do you really think I've been to Betazed?" She asked with a raised brow. With her already established discomfort around telepaths, it seemed obvious that she wouldn't have stepped foot on a planet full of them. "No, I haven't been. I have heard that it's beautiful though. Maybe one day I'll get comfortable with the idea and make a trip."

"So, a Starfleet brat. Why operations?" She asked. "Not that you aren't good at it, quite the opposite, but most that grew up in Starfleet tend to follow in a parent's footsteps..." That was Finn's experience anyways and though she knew a few that chose different departments or even careers, it wasn't necessarily common.

Xavier laughed. "You could always wear a neural inhibitor if you really want to keep your secrets hidden," he said. "You'd be surprised just how interesting humans breakfast choices are," he added, laughing again. The waiter returned with their drinks and took away Xavier's empty glass.

"Why Operations?" He repeated as he thought about the question and how best to answer. "To be honest, I was a very ... hyper child, for lack of a better word. My parents tried everything to calm me down or keep me focused, apart from a sedative, though I'm sure my mother was tempted. They thought of all kind of things, sports, arts, discipline classes, you name it, they tried it. The only thing I would focus on was my dad's old type-2 shuttlecraft. We spent months fixing it up, by the end it wasn't even the same shuttle, we replaced every system the ship had, down to the interior fixings. But it truly was the most fun I had ever had. I knew that shuttle as intimately as any mind I have read. I knew every readout, every hatch, every sound, I suppose you could say I caught the bug... that's an expression right? Since then all I wanted to do was keep ships in the air. Truth is though, I have a better head for system controls and power consumption than I do for actual 'mechanical' work, so Ops was a great fit for me."

Xavier smiled and took a sip of his drink. It felt nice talking to a colleague like this, he was sure that Finn would understand, being an engineer after all. "And I did kind of follow in my dad's footsteps, I'm an excellent pilot," he added with a chuckle. "And modest too, as you can tell. What about you, what called you out into the stars?"

"Oh yes," Finnley feigned a look of agreement, "very modest." She chuckled before continuing. "As for what called me to the stars, I'm not sure. Genetics? Upbringing maybe? My dad is a marine combat engineer often assigned to a Starfleet vessel and my mom is a physicist. I guess I became somewhat of a culmination of the two. There's a pretty strong line of engineers on my dad's side of the family and to be honest I can't remember wanting to do anything else." She shrugged.

"Perhaps a sort of similar story to yours. From a very young age, I spent as much time with my dad as I could. Learning from him. He even snuck me into engineering every now and then." Finn laughed lightly as she recalled the memories. "He's always been into antiquated technology and fixing it up. He would find these dilapidated systems and bring them home and then we would work on them together. Fixing them up, making them better than the original design...it was always fun and exciting. Because of that engineering has just always felt like home to me, as weird as that might sound." She smiled and took another sip of her second drink. A hint of yearning flickered in her eyes. Finn had always been close to her family, but between her assignments and theirs it had been almost impossible to get together and she missed them, but as quickly as the thought entered she pushed it down and out of mind. There was no sense in pining for something that was out of her control.

"The youngest of three boys you said? What do your brothers do?" She asked, curious to see if they had all ended up in Starfleet or took completely different paths and eager to change the conversation from her family.

Xavier sensed that Finn wanted to change the conversation and he totally respected that. As a Betazoid, it was much easier opening up about himself and his feelings than it was for some other species. "My oldest brother, Edan, he's the first officer on the Atacama. He'll probably be an admiral by the time he is forty, classic overachiever," Xavier added as he rolled his eyes. "And Quori, the middle boy, well to be honest I'm not quite sure exactly what he's up to now. He's sort of a free spirit, very artistic. One day he's going to be the next Beethoven, the next day Picasso," Xavier said with a grin, using references from Earth so that she would understand the extent of his brother's flakiness. "I'm much closer to Quori than I am to Edan, but that's mostly because Edan seems to think everything is a competition. The fact I got made head of a department at my age and time in my career means nothing to First Officer Edan." There was a note of jealousy in his voice, as much as he tried to not show it.

"Ahh, I have a cousin like your Edan. He's always anxious, though he doesn't show it and every time he gets promoted he's already thinking about the next promotion." Finn smiled, "I imagine it's much easier living with an overachieving cousin in the family than a brother though. Technically, I'm an only child so I didn't have to worry about competition too much."

"Here's to overachievers," Xavier said as he raised his glass and then took a huge mouthful of rum and coke. "Did you ever wish you had a sibling?" He asked out of curiosity. His brothers drove him crazy most of the time but he couldn't imagine growing up without them.

Finnley raised her glass with his and took a sip before answering. "I did, for a time. Until I met my best friend Tavin. Our parents happened to be assigned to the same vessel and he's an only child also. We met in class at the age of eight. He was a total trouble maker and I admired his skills." Finn smirked and let out a chuckle as she remembered all of the times they had gotten into trouble for various pranks or misdeeds. "He's a free spirit, like your Quori, so he always came up with creative ideas and I was better at sneaking around and keeping us from getting caught. Our parents became great friends also. I guess we kind of became a weird blended family of sorts. So much so that our parents always requested to be assigned to the same ship, which didn't always work out, but it worked out often enough."

"You know, we once encased a visiting Klingon's bat'leth in a giant dome of jello. I don't think I saw a single wall outside of our quarters for at least a month after that one," she laughed.

"Finnley Keating, you're as cunning as a Ferengi and as brave as a Nausicaan, that's for sure. I would have loved to have seen the Klingon's face when he found it, please tell me it was blood wine flavoured," Xavier added with a chuckle. "How did you not end up in Sto-vo-kor? And did Tavin end up in as much trouble as you?" Xavier was full of questions, he hadn't know her long, in fact this was the longest conversation they had ever had, but he was thoroughly enjoying himself.

Finn laughed. "We were only saved from Sto-vo-kor by the fact that the Klingon didn't actually know who did it and the ship had some officers that were truly excellent at negotiation and foreign affairs. I basically owe my life to the liaison officer assigned to them." It was the truth too, he had done a fantastic job of talking the Klingon down. "Yes, Tavin got in just as much trouble as I did. We weren't technically allowed to speak for the entire duration of our 'house arrest' but we hacked into the school system and found a way to send each other messages. As for the flavor...damn, I wish we had thought to make it blood wine flavored! It was cherry flavored, not nearly as exciting, and honestly kind of a gross flavor in my opinion." She chuckled once more, enjoying the conversation and Xavier's company more than she had thought she would.

Xavier laughed, not a chuckle this time, but a booming laugh that caused people on the nearby tables to turn to the two officers in surprise. "I have heard of some practical jokes in my time but that one is in my top five, well done. I wish I had a story that wild, I have played some pranks in my time too but none of them risked a trip to Sto-vo-kor and now I think I'm missing out."

"Well, I guess we'll just have to spend more time together next time we're on shore leave. I'm positive that we can find some good mischief to get into."" Finn smirked as she took another sip of the rum and coke which was quickly dwindling. "So maybe you haven't done anything that crazy, but what's the best prank you've ever played?" She asked.

"Oh you know, the usual Academy stuff. Rigging the sonic shower to dispense various types of undesirable liquids, transporting friends into compromising situations without their clothes, playing with the environmental controls or the artificial gravity, rigging phasers to spray foam during combat training, switching around someone's console controls, you know the type," Xavier grinned as he finished the last of his drink. "I suppose I was always a bit more mischievous than I was the prankster. Me and Quori used to borrow that shuttle all the time without my parents knowing, in fact I did the same thing in my final year at the Academy with some friends, but we absolutely got caught," he finished with a chuckle. "So where is Tavin now? Are you two still close?"

"Rigging a phaser to spray foam? I can't say I've heard of that, but it sounds terribly amusing. I hope you also set off some disco lights and turned the whole thing into a foam party," Finn laughed imagining the scenario. "As for Tavin, yes we're still very close. He's a musician. Mostly lives on Earth but he travels around a good bit also. We try to get together anytime I'm on shore leave. I didn't get to see him on Risa this time, but I saw the last time I had leave before that. What about you? Whens the last time you saw your family?" She asked, curious to know if he had as hard of a time getting together with his Starfleet family as she did with hers.

"He sounds great," Xavier said sincerely, "it would be nice to meet him one day. I'm sure him and Teyo would get on like a burning supernova." Xavier wondered if Finn had met her newest engineering officer yet and if she knew the two of them were old friends. "I was actually lucky enough to be with my family earlier this year. My dad turned 60 and had a big celebration on Betazed. I didn't think we would all be able to make it, but my mother played her Admiral card and managed to get us all leave, she even managed to track down Quori, which is normally pretty impossible, so you gotta give it to the woman, when she wants something to happen, she makes it happen." Xavier shrugged, he hated the way she pulled all of their strings but it was great being home and the look on his father's face when they all turned up was worth every uncomfortable lightyear.

"Teyo...he's one of the new engineers isn't he? I haven't had a chance to meet him yet, but now I'm intrigued." Finn made a mental note to move their introduction meeting to the top of the list. "Your dad's 60th celebration sounds like a lot of fun and it's always nice to have the whole family together." She smiled, it had been at least a year since she'd gotten together with her parents. It's just the way the cards had fallen, but she hoped sometime soon they would get together again.

Finn finished off her second drink and then looked at the time. "I have to admit that I've enjoyed this more than I thought I would, but it's getting late. I have a couple of reports to review still tonight before hitting the hay." She stated truthfully, not fully wanting to go, but work always came first. Finn pushed herself away from the table and smiled at Xavier. "We should do this again soon though."

Xavier nodded his head as she got up from the table. "Don't sound too surprised Finn, I'm actually a lot of fun," he said with a grin. "I think the biggest surprise is that you are too, after a few double rums of course," he added jokingly. "And you bet we will definitely do this again, soon. Have fun with your work." He watched her leave the lounge and smiled to himself at how much she had opened up and knew he was only beginning to scratch the surface. There was nothing like a budding friendship to put a smile on his face.

 

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