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You Again

Posted on Tue Jul 2nd, 2024 @ 12:22am by Lieutenant Alexis Ryan & Commodore Jacob Kane & Commander Amaya Lance

Mission: Into the Qniverse
Location: The Party
Timeline: MD-01
1330 words - 2.7 OF Standard Post Measure

"Well look who's still running with this mob..." Amaya grinned as she set a glass down on the table next to Alexis before alighting herself. "Still giving them hell?" she added, tilting her own drink in greeting.

There was a specific talent required to seclude oneself in the midst of a significant gathering. The trick to it, Alexis had realised over the years, was find the area that seemed busiest and then squeeze into a space that barely allowed for one let alone a crowd. Attempting to sneak into quieter places never worked because that left far too much potential for you to become a focal point, but if you tucked yourself away where people were already absorbed in their good time...

She'd nearly got away with it.

"Be too ashamed to admit if I wasn't." Her reply, and the accompanying tired smile, was glib enough to pass as genuine humour. If she was honest, having her solitude interrupted by the Commander counted as unexpected enough not to be unwelcome. "Have they parked the entire fleet here then?"

"Thankfully not," Amaya replied, making a little space for her to squeeze in next to the other woman. It was a tighter fit than was necessarily comfortable but in her mind that little annoyance might actually get Alexis to talk. "It's a relief more than anything; can you imagine having to navigate all those ship captains at once? What a nightmare. Thankfully, it's just the Edison squeezed into the dock next to Athena." She nudged ever so slightly, as if anthropomorphising their current positioning with that of their respective ships.

It took a good deal of prior practise for Alexis to mask a wince of guilty sympathy for the immediate discomfort of the seating arrangement. She'd chosen the table because, despite aspirations to the contrary, it didn't really seem fit for an average-sized Klingon much less a couple willing to practically sit on top of each other. The view wasn't much to talk about either, unless staring at the backsides of a pair of hovering wait staff was high on your priority. Picking up her drink, Alex considered the Commander's response and dipped her head to the side in acknowledgement. "And both ships are still in one piece. We're losing our touch."

"Quite. Though we don't get the same high-excitement missions that you seem to," Amaya noted. "Unless you'd prefer charting gaseous anomalies and stellar dust clouds..." She left the idea in the air, knowing that offering such things to a 'normal' scientist might come off as appealing. At the same time she gave a knowing grin, suspecting that wasn't up Alexis' alley.

"Last one of those I looked into killed off one of the quadrant's finest," Ryan observed, the slight creasing of her brow indication enough that she immediately regretted the reference. It wasn't much reprieve from her current preoccupation to ponder the loss of yet another colleague. "I'd need some guarantee that it was going to be completely boring and utterly tedious."

"Oh it's terribly boring. And remarkably tedious." Amaya grinned. "One Friday evening I thought about asking my First Officer to have the hull repainted so we could watch it dry," she leaned in. "That was us getting wild," she laughed.

The Commander's incessant good humour was able to finally crack Ryan's composure enough to permit a proper laugh. It was a tired, resigned defeat but counted as a victory given the redhead's obvious avoidance of anything resembling enjoyment. "Looks like Command is treating you well, at least." This second opportunity for Lance had met with quiet approval from Alexis, despite the fact that nobody really needed to ask her opinion.

Amaya shrugged, her lower lip poking out slightly. "Honestly? I think it's been really good for me-" she trailed off, spotting a familiar bald-headed man approaching. "Speaking of treating you well..." She winked at Alexis as the Commodore drew closer.

"Trying to steal my officers again, Commander?" Kane mused.

"Catching up," Amaya retorted. "I'm starting to wonder if you were following me around."

"Actually, there was something I wanted to speak to Ms Ryan about," Kane replied.

Amaya glanced between the two of them, giving Alexis a sort of 'oh it's like that' smirk, tapping her on the arm before taking her leave.

As expert as she'd become over recent years at smothering any external manifestation of her emotional state, it was almost more than Alex could muster the energy for to avoid shooting the woman a parting look of betrayal. Lance had no idea, of course, why being left alone with Kane might require such a monumental amount of composure, and she probably couldn't easily guess either why the Science Chief felt like that composure was in limited supply right now. One thing was certain, Alex now instantly regretted her cosy little nook.

"Commodore," she started in greeting. Evoking his rank helped. "How can I help you?" It sounded overly officious even by her standards, which prompted an additional, "It's a little cramped here, if you'd rather relocate."

"It's fine." He held up a hand for her to remain where she was. He kept a respectable distance too, a faint uncertainty etched into his brow. "For some reason I felt like I needed to check in on you."

The slightest hitch of her eyebrows was indication enough that the uncertainty in Kane's tone, more perhaps than the intent itself, had caught Alex entirely off-guard. Guilt broadsided her out of no where, doubled in ferocity now that she was directly faced with the man she couldn't shake the feeling she needed to apologise to. Combating her own discomfort by scrutinising his, Alexis leaned her head to one side and ventured, "And yet you look as if you'd rather not." Allowing amusement to dominate, finding it a better defense than feigned ignorance for the time being, the Science Chief did her best to suppress a smile.

"Is it that obvious?" he asked, maintaining the uncomfortable edge to his expression. "It's not that I wouldn't want to check on the wellbeing of my crew. It's just...a strange time and place, if you understand what I mean."

Marginally more sympathetic, Alex dipped her head to concede agreement. "If it's any consolation, small talk isn't my forte either. I'm less likely to be offended by you speaking your mind than I am you expecting me to read it."

His head cocked just fractionally. "I suppose you're one of the few that doesn't seem to mind." He drew in a breath that came out like a sigh. His immediate urge was to launch into 'shop' talk; how her department was faring, what was on the schedule, that sort of thing. But he made a conscious effort to suppress it. "You seem to be good friends with Commander Lance..." It was a change of tack; small talk that neither of them would really mind.

Regardless of numerous reasons that should have veered to the contrary, Alex found her first impulse was to set a tone that fell far short of professional propriety. The urge to make him smirk was strong and stemmed from an unaccountable belief that it improved his appearance. "You did leave us alone with your ship," she pointed out. "Finding mutual ground seemed pertinent to making sure you got it back in..." A playful squint saw her pause. "Intentional pieces, at least."

"Why my crew seems fixated on breaking it, I'll never quite understand," he mused. The levity seemed to allow for at least a second for him to think about asking a question. "Listen, I don't know if it's strange of me to ask, but-"

He never got to finish asking the question; a loud noise from near the buffet table along with numerous bright lights yanked his attention from his Science Officer to something else: a spectacle about to unfold that now had all eyes turned...


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