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Late Night Chat

Posted on 10 Aug 2017 @ 9:14pm by Lieutenant Callam Jaxer & Lieutenant Gemma Alexander

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Callam's Quarters
Timeline: MD5?/2200hrs

Callam had set the scene as best he could. The lights were dim enough to make for an intimate atmosphere without being so dim that it was difficult to see or too suggestive. To offset the dimmed lights, Callam had lit a few strategically placed candles which gave the room a warm feeling. At the moment, he was sitting in a chair and playing his 'baby bass', a five string electric/acoustic upright bass, on acoustic mode as he waited for his guest. While he did have some real alcohol on hand, he'd put out a bottle of synthale. He knew Archer was on Alpha Shift the next morning. Synthehol had most of the taste of real liquor, but the effects would wear off before morning and probably wouldn't result in a hangover, so Archer would be able to fly tomorrow.

Archer for her part had been ready to go in 15 minutes with a skill learned long ago, the other 45 was for the all vital power nap. As long as she was back in her bunk by 0100 ish she'd be safe to fly and that was the important bit. She wore comfortable civilian clothes, they were clean and unwrinkled so a win with so much still packed. Fortunately she didn't need to take into account travel time as she tapped the door chime on her neighbors door.

Callam rose, stood his base up in its stand, and went to the door. He gave himself a once over and then opened the door.

"Hello," he said. "I'm glad you stopped by. You look lovely. Please, come in and make yourself at home. While I have real alcohol, I was thinking maybe we should stick to synthale tonight? I assume that there's the possibility you'll be flying tomorrow morning, and I'd like you to land in one piece. If one of those bottles interests you, I'll fix you a drink. If you'd like something a little more mundane, I've got some synthale beer and hard cider."

Gemma just gave a bemused smile as he went on, he certainly was thorough "Cider is fine..." she said when he finished and entered. She caught sight of the scene, Well would you look at this... she thought, "You know we got pretty basic standards for guests around here just hide your unmentionables and that's it, you remember to feed people? You're host of the year..." She teased gently. "Unless of course your quarters always look this way and then you are a horrible slacker." It was a nice gesture or at least very smooth, she somehow doubted this was his normal quarters appearance but one never knew. She found a chair and sat down.

Callam laughed. He went over to a small refrigeration unit, opened it, and pulled out two cold bottles of hard cider. He grabbed a bottle opener and popped the tops off of both of them. He brought one over to Gemma and handed it to her.

"I keep reasonably neat," he said. "But no, I don't do all this for just anybody. I figured you could use a relaxing environment to unwind in. I may have skipped the academy, but that doesn't mean I can't show a little class now and again."

Callam took a seat on the couch and took a sip of his cider, savoring the feel of the cold, refreshing liquid sliding down his throat. He regarded Gemma for a moment. From his look it obvious that he found her attractive, but didn't rise to the level of lewd staring. There was no pressure. Just two people getting to know each other.

"So," he said after a brief moment. "What path led you to the cockpit, if you don't mind my asking?"

Gemma took a drink, it wasn't quite like Strongbow Ale. Which was her favorite, but perfectly good all the same. She caught the look, considered it and decided she wasn't annoyed by it in a millisecond. Then there was a quietly considering one of her own, a subtle indication of interest in her eyes before replying. "I wanted to serve and I wanted to fly free. My family had long served in one military or another back when there were knights on horseback, sort of in the blood." She took another drink and asked curiously, "You? And you say you avoided the Academy?"

"Long lineage of warriors, huh?" Callam said. "That is impressive. I didn't come to it from any kind of longing to fly. I'd never really considered it before I joined. When I was little, the Cardassian Border Wars started. From the time I was old enough to be aware of things like that, I listened to, watched, and read the FNS feeds looking for news about the war. I didn't think war was cool or anything like that. I wasn't raised to think those kinds of thoughts. I felt bad for the Federation colonists on the border. They were the ones paying the price for that conflict. I wanted to go and help them and I didn't want to wait four years to do it. When I was old enough, I went to the nearest Starfleet recruitment office and said I wanted to enlist. The recruiter slowed me down and had me take some tests, then, based on the scores from the first tests, he had me take more. Apparently I did really well because he started trying to push me to go to Starfleet Academy. I resisted and I started making like I was going to join the marines when he came up with a compromise. Starfleet was short on pilots. Fighter pilots, shuttle pilots, runabout pilots, even FCOs. To fill this shortage, they instituted a Flight Warrant Officer program in which any adult Federation citizen with a secondary school diploma who could pass all of the aptitude tests could go directly to Warrant Officer Candidacy School. So that's what I did. Warrant Officer Candidacy School, SERE-C School, Starfleet Expeditionary Warfare School, then Flight School, then Aerospace Combat School. No Starfleet Academy. Two wars with a stint with the Maquis in the middle, some peace time border work later and here I am. I thought for sure I'd retire a crotchety, gray-haired, bad tempered old Chief Warrant Officer until someone got in there head that I should go from Warrant Officer to restricted line officer. Next thing I knew I was a lieutenant and on a runabout headed out to the Black Hawk. I'm not complaining. I plan to make the best of it."

Gemma had taken a drink as he replied then just watched him as he gave what appeared to be a rather complete capsule of a life story. When he wound down Gemma took another drink, "Moment please to process data dump..." She said in 'official pilot voice' with a hint of gentle humor. And she said nothing for a few moments going over what he told her in her mind. And taking another drink of the cider. "Ok think I got it, least you don't waste time." Then a part of what he said floated back to her, "wait a minute, the Maquis? and Just how old are you?" She asked looking at his obviously quite nice looking mid twenties look. Wondering how he fought during the border skirmishes with the Cardies.

Callam chuckled.

"Sorry," he said. "I do run on sometimes. I'm forty-four. I'm only half Human. My mother and her family are Vulcanoid Rigelian so thanks to them I got a life span of two, maybe two and half centuries."

Gemma gave a slow blink then said deadpan, "I'm going to have to hate you now, you tan in the sun, look entirely too awake after a long shift and look like that..." She gestured to his body, "In your 40's...hmm my hatred burns deep I may have to dislike all vulcan types...." She couldn't maintain the deadpan and burst out into a laugh. She took another drink even as her mind considered the Maquis bit. She inferred two things from his statement A-He supported the idea that was why he joined Starfleet B-His service in the Maquis wasn't such that it kept him from being in Starfleet again and in fact he was promoted. She was curious but decided to wait to see where the conversation flowed before bringing it up again.

"Hey!" Callam said, a smirk on his face and in his voice. "Vulcanoid Rigelians are strong, usually good looking, in part because we exercise regularly, reasonably to extremely intelligent, sensitive, we have a sense of humor, unlike our Vulcan cousins, and we believe it's unhealthy and unnatural to abstain from sex! What's not to like?"

Gemma couldn't help it, she had to put her bottle on a nearby table or she would have dropped it. And she laughed, a deep, rich laugh that invited one to join in. Finally when she could breath she gasped out, "And modest too!" Finally she wrestled control back and leaned back in her chair, "Oh this whole visit was worth it just for that, you're a cheeky one for sure." She said more amused than anything, her blue eyes alight with humor.

Callam laughed with Gemma.

"That smile looks good on you, Gemma," he said. "So, am I imagining things, or did you ask me if I'd joined the Maquis?"

Her laughter faded but the mood in the room was still easy as she nodded, "Its no small thing to toss out there..." she said mildly finishing her bottle and putting it back on the nearby table.

Callam smiled.

"Sorry about that," Callam said. "I didn't mean to sneak my former Maquis affiliation into the conversation like a member of the Federation Council sneaking a line item into a piece of legislation. Yes, I did join the Maquis. I didn't go AWOL or anything like that. I formally resigned my commission as a then staff warrant officer when the Federation negotiators abandoned all of those Federation colonists with the stroke of a stylus. I took offense to that as someone who had fought for those same colonists, who lost friends trying to keep those colonies. I...lost purpose. Joining the Maquis seemed to return my sense of purpose. It felt like the right thing to do at the time. I was with them until the Jem'Hadar attacked us and the former Federation colonists living in the DMZ. I managed to make it out, but was almost immediately picked up by Starfleet. I thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life making big rocks into little rocks at a penal colony, but instead I was offered a pardon and reinstatement if I agreed to fight in the Dominion War. I took the deal."

Callam finished his cider and rose to pick up Gemma's empty bottle.

"I've done my best to make peace with my past," he said. "Do I succumb to feelings of bitterness or regret sometimes? Absolutely. But I can't change the past. All I can do is keep moving forward. Sounds good, doesn't it? Heh. Wish it was as easy to do as it is to say. Ugh, sorry. I talked a lot again. Sorry about that. Can I get you another drink?"

Callam wasn't really changing the subject. He really didn't mind talking about his time with the Maquis, or any other part of his past. There were unpleasant events in his past, some very unpleasant. Callam wasn't afraid to revisit them, though. He wasn't scared of feelings, no matter how difficult they were to experience.

Gemma listened and nodded when he offered her another drink, "From what I'm told not an uncommon story." She continued as a memory struck her. "You know I wrote about it as a paper in Federation History, I wanted to get it right so did some digging. It seemed everyone was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Colonists who wanted to keep the homes they sweated for and didn't want to be bullied. The Federation who was trying desperately not to get millions killed in another toe to toe war with the Cardassians. Well you can kind of see everyone's point except for the Cardies they made their bed."

Callam retrieved another two bottles of cider and handed one to Gemma before sitting on the couch again.

"You know," he said. "I've had about every bad thought and opinion a person can have about the Cardassians at one time or another. I've calmed down over time. All that negative thinking was exhausting. So, when did you graduate from the Academy? Young and beautiful as you are, it couldn't have been that long ago."

Gemma took the offered drink with a nod of thanks, she supposed he was right. He had answered her main question anyway. More could always wait, "Were you born with that smooth tongue or get it from much practice?" She teased knowing full well what she said, "5 years, so been around here and there." She said then took another drink.

"I'd say the smoothness of my tongue comes from a combination of natural talent and lots of practice," Callam said with a grin. "Five years, huh? Were you born and raised on Earth or the academy your first time there?"

Gemma laughed again, she was getting to know him. He wasn't serious in the way of one full of themselves might be but had a humor she appreciated. She left the first comment alone, responding to the second, "Londoner born and raised to a point, I have family who remember the stories passed down about buildings been there hundreds of years...well the ones that survived World War III at any rate. Rest of the time I was moving about, father in the Diplomatic Service and mum being in Starfleet. You?"

"Farm boy on Rigel IV," Callam replied with a grin. "My father's a hydroponic engineer and my mother has an advanced degree in botanical pharmaceuticals. The rest of my parents were either in the medical field or involved in agriculture, except for one of my fathers who was involved in a mining concern. I spent eighteen years in one place, but it was a nice place. I go back now and again to visit. No matter how far I travel or where I finally settle, my home will always be special to me."

Gemma smiled and leaned forward resting her hands on her knees, she had a hard time imagining him as a farm boy though he certainly had the body of a rather physical person. She pushed the intriguing image of him baling hay shirtless from her mind and continued, “fathers? Right, no I remember now, group raising right? I sometimes thing my parents wouldn’t have minded more hands to keep us in check…”

"Yes," Callam said. "Group marriage. An equal number of husbands and wives. A more equitable arrangement than the more traditional Rigelian polygamous relationship with one 'matriarch' and several men. More satisfying for everyone involved and less like a game of musical chairs with one or more husbands being left out, if you catch my meaning."

She smiled again, “Right that, that there seems complicated to me as well but hey to each their own.” She said easily. The more the learned about the universe the more she noticed the sheer variety of all sorts of things. As the Vulcans would say, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. She found it amazing the sheer diversity to be found in the universe.

As they talked of family her own memories were triggered, “As for us, we stayed with our grandparents whenever my parents felt it was too dangerous to have us underfoot and when they worried about a ‘stable upbringing’. Sometimes were all together and sometimes not as Dad or Mum’s assignments took them. Still home was where your family was as much as it was the streets of London town…” She loved both fiercely and pulled out her necklace from beneath her shirt, "A stone from my Gran's garden, said it might be the only way to keep me grounded..." She displayed the well made silver necklace with its clear covering showing a solid but unremarkable brown stone inside like a locket.

"That's beautiful," Callam said. "Both the story and the necklace...and the woman wearing it, too, and a bit of a coincidence."

Callam reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, flat, very smooth stone.
"I took this with me when I left home to join Starfleet," he said. "I've carried it with me almost everywhere. It's sort of a worry stone, not that I'm a real worrier, not all the time, anyway. But I sometimes find it relaxing to hold it and rub my thumb over it. Reminds me that while my parents gave me wings to fly high, far, and wide, they also gave me roots to tether me to reality."

Gemma put her own necklace back and put her bottle on the table to lean forward and get a better look. It was common to carry reminders of home though she didn’t think stones were a popular item to carry. They shared a brief look of complete understanding before Gemma replied with another ready smile, “Well aren’t we a pair, best not tell anyone or we’ll lose our wild cannon status as pilots…”

"Oh, I'm plenty wild," Callam said. "And I get the feeling you can be, too. I mean, we strap ourselves into flying bombs and go into situations where people shoot at us. I think that qualifies as wild, don't you? I can be wild in other ways, too, but I don't share that side of me with just anyone."

Gemma gave a musing shrug and a nod that seemed to indicate agreement about the flying bombs comment. It could be an odd occupation if one thought about it. Then again Starfleet period might seem odd to people, going into the unknown on a regular basis with, "Both feet and a flash light" as her mum would say.

It was true she rather had one foot , so to speak, on the ground to help keep her from spinning off her axis. Ah but a bit of spin could be fun especially since she lived to fly so it was all a kind of balance, mostly. When he got to his last comment, her smile shifted to quietly mischievous, "Oh you don't say?"

"Oh but I do say," Callam said with a seductive smile. "And I'm betting you're a lot of fun, too. I'm here anytime you want to find out if I'm telling the truth. I'm also here if you just want to drink and chat or listen to music or curl up on the couch and watch a holovid or need a shoulder to cry on. I like you, Gemma Alexander. I enjoy your company."

“And you do rather appeal to me One Mr. Lt. Callam Jaxer” trying for serious but the lightness in her eyes belied that. She gave it up and smiled, “It’s been grand, you are an easy person to hang with.” She said with absolute sincerity and a hint of surprise. As though she hadn’t quite expected to find what she did. Well lesson learned. And truth was she liked him and his company. “And I’m happy to see where things go but not tonight, alas time grows short and work looms large but if you tell me you can play that instrument over there…” She pointed to the bass, “That'd be another point in your favor” The joking tone back in her voice, she might be kidding, might not. “I play violin. Music a bit of a passion with me.” She admitted, thinking it interesting so many their mutual interests seemed to match.

Callam grinned.

"Well then," he said. "I look forward to playing with you, so to speak."

He rose and held out his hand to Gemma.

"Come on," he said. "This is a rough neighborhood. It's only right that I should walk you home."

Gemma grinned and put her hand in his, "Ever the gentleman eh?" and rose from her seat.

 

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