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The Boss and the Flyboy

Posted on 21 Dec 2017 @ 10:38pm by Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Captain's Mess
Timeline: MD2 || 1200 hours

Day Two outside the Zone was just as mundane as the first. Harvey imagined cabin fever would set in before long were he not careful, and the entire performance of the crew would be drastically affected. What concerned Harvey the most about the Zone was that there was absolutely no guarantee of reinforcements once they entered.

The Black Hawk, therefore, had to be ready to protect itself by any means necessary. To that end, the services of the 325th would be crucial to the ship's survival. That was why Captain Geisler had invited Lieutenant Commander Walsh to join him for lunch, to discuss how to protect and defend the Black Hawk in territory unknown.

Missing a regular lunch was one thing for Terry. It happened all too often, as a matter of fact. But missing one that the Captain had invited him to was not on his agenda. So Terry had planned it out perfectly so that he would make it early. After all, to be early was to be on time and to be on time was to be late. At least that's what his dad had drilled into him for years. He grinned. Had to love that ole Starfleet Marine.

Now he found himself standing outside the door of the Captain's Mess and ringing the chime.

Harvey arrived to the Mess Hall, running just a little late. It was always inevitable for him to run late, especially aboard a ship with nearly eight hundred people and a lot of details to oversee. Of course, the one thing he didn't expect today was the Squadron Commander arriving just before him. "You can head on in," Harvey said, coming up beside the tall, bald man.

Terry jumped every so slightly when the Captain spoke from his side. "Oh uh, sure, sir. Thanks." He activated the door and walked on in. Terry couldn't ever remember being invited to a Captain's Mess before. But this place was pretty nice. "Thanks for the invitation," he said, turning towards the Captain.

"You're welcome," Harvey replied, gesturing to any of the six seats around the table. Already a large bowl of salad awaited them at the center of the table, along with two bowls, a basket of breadsticks, a pitcher of water, and two glasses. "Can I interest you in an early course?" he asked, picking up the tongs beside the large bowl.

Terry chose one of the seats across the table, one which faced the door, and sat down. "Sure, sir. Thanks. I haven't had too many salads that look this good. Do the breadsticks have Parmesan sprinkled on?"

Harvey picked up the basket of breadsticks to take a look. "Yes and no," he replied. "I mean, there's both." He extended the basket to Terry, offering one or as many of its contents as the Commander desired.

Terry chuckled. "Sounds good to me." He took a couple of the Parmesan sprinkled one and placed them on his plate. "It's been a while since we've had a chance, just you and I. If my memory is correct, I think the last time we talked one-on-one was when you came through the Flight Deck on an inspection. But even then, it really wasn't one-on-one, what with the personnel around."

"Actually, I think it might been when you put that hollow pip on your collar." Harvey picked up the tongs and presented Terry with a bowl of salad before helping himself to a bowl of his own. The Captain then frowned, realizing that not only was that even so long ago, it felt like more than a lifetime. "In which case, I owe you an apology, Mister Walsh. We've done each other a disservice."

Terry looked at the salad and thought back. "Yeah, think you're right. It was back then. Oh, you don't need to apologize, Captain," he quickly added. "Things since then have been...busy, to say the least." He picked up his fork and slightly tossed the tomatoes around in the salad before reaching for a bottle of dressing.

"That's a diplomatic way of putting it." Harvey stabbed a few spinach leaves and an olive to take his first bite. "That's not quite something one would expect from a Squadron Commander."

Terry chuckled. "I've been learning that diplomacy is something that I need to work on, being a Department Head." He drizzled some of the dressing over the salad.

"Oh?" Harvey asked. He recalled the promotion very well, knowing that the squadron had been absent from the Black Hawk for a few months, but the then Lieutenant Walsh had impressed him during the events with the Golden Stars. At the time, Terry was just the senior-most of the support craft pilots, but he'd already had a long history with the Marines and starfighters. To Harvey, despite the lack of senior officer training, Terry had been the only logical choice to lead the squadron, which was coming back to the Black Hawk in pieces. "I take it you've had some interesting experiences then."

Terry swallowed a bite of the salad and nodded. "Yeah, I've had some interesting experiences alright in regard to the squadron. Managing the different personalities of humans is hard enough. But throwing in the variety found in other species...that's been the challenge. I don't know how you captain's do it," he added. "But don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for it. I love flying and fighters are the best. In my opinion, at least." He picked up his glass and took a drink.

Harvey took another bite and waited for it to be finished before adding his remarks. "You've got the best end of the deal, honestly. Just twenty pilots and a maintenance crew. Me, I've got the whole kit and caboodle. Were I a pilot, I might offer you a trade one day."

Terry laughed. "I'll grant you that, Cap, er, Captain. But now that you put it that way, I'd have to give some thought to that offer. So, a pilot, eh? You ever been in the hot seat of a fighter before, sir?"

"Cap is fine," Harvey assured. "It beats the "Actual" call sign. As for being in the hot seat, I can't say I'd do well at all. I can barely fly a shuttle." In fact, he was a bit rusty, having only once piloted a shuttle in the last year. "But I can arrange for you to have some time in the center chair regardless."

Terry choked a little on the drink of water and coughed. "That, Cap, will take some thought. Besides, I'd need some Command training or something before warming the center chair on night shift." He grinned as he thought about a 'night shift' skit he'd seen some guys perform back in his Corps days. "But you wouldn't need Command training to fly a fighter. Just me, some very basic knowledge to begin with, and a simulator. I can make it happen."

The Captain chuckled between bites. "Tell you what," he offered in a genuine tone. "I'll do some simulator time, and you pick up a bridge shift or two a month. I can work with the XO, and get you an afternoon or evening shift. No graveyards. And don't worry about that command experience either. Running a squadron is perhaps as challenging as running a starship. A starship is just... bigger."

Terry washed his bite down with a drink of water. Quick one, he is. That doesn't leave much time for thought...just like in a fighter. He swirled the liquid around the glass out of habit and nodded. "You've got yourself a deal. Afternoons or evenings either one will work. As far as the simulator, just let me know when is best. Your schedule is a lot fuller than mine."

"Great." Harvey finished his salad just as the doors opened to permit the chef to enter with their lunch. Thankfully, part of the conditions for the meeting were that both men would place their orders an hour or so in advance. For Harvey, that meant that his salad would be followed with a nice eggplant parmesan. "Believe it or not, that's not why we're having this meeting."

Terry moved his salad bowl to the side when he saw the chef coming over. He couldn't wait to sink his teeth into the twelve ounce ribeye, on the cool side of medium, and the grilled mushroom halves. "Oh, okay. It was good introduction, then, to what's coming next." If that wasn't why, then what was next had to be pretty big. At least in Terry's mind.

Harvey thanked the chef, who then excused himself from the mess. The Captain picked up his knife and fork and began to carve up the eggplant. "To be honest, Commander, this lunch is to help us get to know each other better. Most of our relationship has been tried by fire, and that's only because we've done nothing but serve together in the fire. It's easy to wonder what life would have been like had the Consortium risen its head."

Terry waited for Harvey to start before he cut down the middle of his steak. Perfect. Pink in the middle. "It really has been, hasn't it? They made such a drastic difference in so many lives." His mind wondered for a moment to a meeting some time ago. "So many. But now that they're gone, as far as we know, we can continue to pick up the pieces. And I'd imagine that part of that process is things like this, getting to know one another better. Purposefully taking the time that we don't have to do something that we wouldn't normally do." He put a piece of the steak in his mouth. It seemed to almost melt.

“Indeed.” The Captain stabbed a piece of eggplant and began to chew. It was cooked perfectly, plucked from the ship’s arboretum at the perfect moment. “And how is the squadron faring with no one to shoot at?”

Terry chucked as he swallowed the steak. "Antsy. But we have the new simulators in the interim. Granted it's not quite the same, but I can throw in some roadblocks here and there to spice things up."

The Captain nodded. "I wish I could promise some action once we get inside, but I think you and I both know that we really have no idea what to expect."

"Oh so true," he said. "But that's okay. It'd be hard to keep a promise like that anyway. So how's married life treating you?"

"Pretty well, actually," Harvey answered. "Still wrapping my head around becoming a father, all while trying to keep the doctor in me quiet about the pregnancy. It's... an interesting challenge."

Terry looked up at his host and grinned. There was something in that pause, but he left it laying. "I didn't know your background was in Medical. What made you take the step towards Command? If you don't mind my asking."

Harvey remained silent for a moment. After all this time, he'd thought he'd finally laid the past in the past. Sadly, there was just no easy way to answer that question with at least some reference. "During the war, I was forced to become a XO on several ships once they'd lost enough command staff. It stuck during the war, but I managed to get back to medical for a while. Eventually, I... lost the passion I had for medicine. Civilian life isn't for me, as our extended furlough proved. So, to remain in Starfleet, I had little choice but to embrace command red."

Terry's shoulders sank slightly at the mention of the War and nodded. "It had an affect on all of us. It takes a pretty stalwart to make it through the war. But you're doing a great job now; taking a new ship and a bunch of new crew."

"As are you," Harvey pointed out. "If memory serves, you had unfortunate experiences during the war as well, but with a different uniform."

"I did. Saw a lot of people...suffer. Experienced a lot and then flew in the final battle," Terry said, sitting back. "And yeah, the Starfleet Marine uniform was quite the difference. But it didn't stop there." He smiled as he remembered how his dad used to be. "SF Marines and the Fleeters. That's how dad always said it. Boy, mom always seemed to have a large pan at the ready, too."

"And how does he feel?" Harvey inquired, taking a moment to point at the color red which Terry now wore. "How does he feel about his son being a Fleeter?"

"He...he would have joked and laughed, but he would have been proud," said Terry. "He' longer around."

Harvey paused, suddenly regretting asking the question. "I'm sorry to hear that," he told Terry with a genuine tone. "But I am glad that he would be proud of the finest squadron commander in the fleet."

"I don't know about all that," said Terry. "But it's okay. I've learned not to bottle it all up like I used to. I was told to find someone to talk to about that and other stuff. And I did. Sort of." He smiled as he remembered the time that Dani torpedoed him in the pool. "She found me, actually. Anyway, it's okay. Dad was awesome. Had a great sense of humor."

The Captain offered a smile, before taking another bite of eggplant. "How's the Squadron? And the new facilities? Now that you've had some time to get acquainted?"

"Oh! They love the new fighters. Those Gryphons are really top notch," said Terry. "At least I haven't heard any complaints from anyone about them. But, if they did, I'd probably only hear about it through the grapevine. I don't have too many complaints coming into the office. The Deck is outstanding. And I personally like the new simulators."

"Good to hear," Harvey replied, continuing to eat. "Harkening back to an earlier question, I trust morale is as good as it can be then?"

Terry swallowed down a bite of steak and nodded. "Yeah, as good as can be. The new toys seem to have taken the attention and helped out. Though, there is an underlying feeling of foreboding while we wait. Morale is good, but the wait is what's getting to everyone. I try to keep their minds and hands busy with routine, simulators, combat air patrol rotations and the like. So, morale is as good as it can be, but they wonder what's next." He followed with a drink.

"Don't we all," remarked Harvey. "It's time we prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. I trust you'll run every possible simulation and training session to keep skills sharp. We'll be on our own on the other side. No support, no replacements." He didn't say it, but it'd be like the Consortium Crisis all over again.

Terry chuckled a little. "Sounds like a normal day in Starfleet to me. As we used to say in our old Corp fighter unit, Semper Flexibilis, Dominamus Nox. Always flexible, we dominate the night. They'll be trained and ready to take whatever we face."

A smile and nod were all it took to provide his approval. "And that is all I can ask," he said before taking another bite.

Sitting back a bit, Terry grabbed his glass and held it. "How about you? How do you like this new ship? Assuming you've been able to explore it some. I mean, it's huge."

"It's quite larger than the Akira," Harvey observed, stating the absolute obvious. "And newer too by about fifteen years. It's nice having something top of the line, but I still keep expecting to see the old bridge. I've been on many different ships, but there's just something about your first command. I still remember the exact layout of my lab on Starbase 211. I could walk around it with my eyes closed, no problem."

"I don't think I've ever been around an area long enough to get to know it like that," Terry said. "Maybe that'll change though."

"I certainly hope so," Harvey said quickly. "I don't relish the idea of having to replace any of the senior staff, especially my squadron commander. It was hard enough getting Lieutenant Di Pasquale back."

Terry grinned. "Your squadron commander...thanks Cap. It's nice to belong to a family like you have going here. And I'm glad that you were able to get a missing family member back. Just how many solids did you have to call in to make that happen?"

"I'd rather not say," Harvey replied. Truth be told, despite the fact that he didn't have any reinforcements, one of Admiral O'Connell's parting gifts was the ability to make some adjustments within his crew. Even though he was comfortable with a familiar face at Tactical, Harvey still wasn't fully ready to trust his crew, thanks to the warning from his future self. "I can't be giving away all my secrets, now can I?"

The brawny squadron commander chuckled. "I guess not. Captain's prerogative sounds like a good explanation to me." He sat back and took another drink.

"Indeed it is," Harvey said with a smile, lifting his glass of water for a drink. "Indeed it is."

Terry leaned back and relaxed a little more. It was odd, doing so in the presence in the Captain at his own table. But it wasn't like a meeting at the conference table. Time and place. "Thanks again, Sir. Next time we'll have to do this at my place. More casual though. Daniella can make some really awesome meatballs and I'm not too bad in the kitchen myself."

"Is that so?" Harvey asked, finding that his plate was now mostly empty. "I wouldn't peg you for a chef. A connoisseur perhaps, but not a chef."

"I wouldn't call myself a chef. I'm a meat and potatoes kind of man. That's where I'm not too bad in the kitchen," replied Terry. "But when it comes to wines, a connoisseur I am. I might even pull out one of the bottles we bought while on shore leave. The real stuff."

"That sounds enjoyable," the Captain said, just before a reminder pinged in his mind. He had to be careful, not get too close to the crew. Even these lunch meetings were risky, but he had to get to know those around him. "I'll have to bring along some cider or something or other for Joey."

"That would be fine," he said. "Or we could replicate something. Does...she not care for wine?" Terry hadn't really met the brunette. Sure, he'd seen her around the ship, but he hadn't really spent a lot of time getting to know her. Especially since she was now the Captain's wife.

Harvey couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. Did he not know? "We're... expecting," Harvey said, attempting to be delicate. "Twins, as a matter of fact."

"Oh!" Terry exclaimed, snapping his fingers. "That's right! With everything going on, I'd forgotten about her visit to my office. Well, since I've already congratulated her, congratulations to you."

"Than..." the Captain's voice trailed off, his suspicious ears relaying a warning just a bit too late. "Your office?" he asked.

It had been a little over two weeks, he thought, since Joey had stumbled into his office. The fact that the Captain didn't know about it yet is what unnerved him a little. The last thing he wanted to do was be the source of an argument between the husband and wife. "Uh, yes. She wandered in, saying that she wanted to be a fighter pilot. Bottom line, according to the Doc, is that it was a pregnant woman's reaction to refined sugar. I'd imagine that's something else to add to the list of things to be on watch for."

"That and making sure the replicator is always fully powered," Harvey pointed out, thinking he needed to check in on that little adventure. "There's not a starbase or store nearby to satisfy all of those pregnancy cravings."

"Oh, I wouldn't doubt. I've heard stories about those things," said Terry. "They say it can happen at any time of day or night. As a matter of fact, I knew a pilot once who said his wife woke up at eleven o'clock at night and asked for a glass of milk and some rye bread." The bald man shook his head. "He got up to go get it and she said to spread butter over it, dribble some hot sauce, and fold it in half."

Harvey chuckled, both looking forward to and not looking forward to such crazy actions. "Well, let's hope what I experience won't be that crazy. At least it wasn't the middle of the night."

"Yeah," replied Terry, "I'd imagine that could've been a lot worse. Though, if I had to pick by just the stories I've heard, I'd much rather get up in the middle of night for a crazy craving than a baby diaper."

"You must have heard some profound stories." Harvey set his nearly empty glass back down on the table. "More than a single man wants to know since you've a plethora of references."

Terry grinned. "Well, my sister and brother-in-law have a couple of kids," he began. "My brother told me once that if I ever have a boy, don't open the diaper until I'm sure he's done. Then he wiped the front of his shirt. I laughed so hard... Then, he and my sister told me about a diaper change on my niece that went horribly wrong. Poor thing was sick in the worst way. In short, the comforter on the bed had to be washed and so did my sister's nurse uniform that was draped over a chair...a couple of arm lengths away. Nasty stuff, baby diapers."

"You're giving me a lot to look forward to, Commander." Harvey leaned back and sighed. "I suppose it's just the roughest part, getting them to walk and use the bathroom on their own."

"They told me it took a while, at least for them. But you'll handle it well, I'm sure," said Terry. "You've dealt with more stressful situations since I came aboard. Babies shouldn't be that hard." He paused and laughed. "But then, look who's talking...Mr. I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-talking-about."

"Indeed," confirmed Harvey. "A person retains that knowledge for one of two reasons. Either you use it as a deterrent for having children. Or, quite the opposite. If it is the latter, I trust you won't keep that silent for too long when you are looking for companionship."

Terry was silent for a few seconds after that. It wasn't something that he thought about too often. Nor was it a subject that he and Dani had ever really broached. Of course, he was a bit of traditionalist, growing up in the family that he had. "You make a valid point," he finally said. "I guess I'll have to figure out which of those reasons is mine." He picked up his glass and took a drink. If for no other reason than than to moisten his suddenly dry throat.

Harvey was no Betazoid, but he didn't need empathic abilities to tell that he'd touched a hidden nerve. "No need to rush," Harvey observed. "You've got twenty pilots plus a maintenance team to look after. They might as well be children."

Terry nearly spewed his drink out on the Captain. Somehow though, he managed to keep it from showing itself. "Nail on the head, sir. It can have it's moments." His mind wondered back to the report he read about a guy's hand being glued to a females backside down in maintenance. "Oh yeah, it can have it's real good moments."

The Captain did not reply or make a comment this time, choosing to instead look down and finish the meager bites left from his meal. As he ate, he wondered if there was anything else he need to ask Terry.

The squadron commander pushed the remaining grilled mushrooms around on the plate. It wasn't that they weren't good, but he'd had his fill of them. It couldn't be said that the Captain's Chef didn't take care of the Captain and his guests. The steak, on the other hand, was gone. "Thanks for the dinner, Cap. It was delicious. And for the conversation and...informal report on the Squadron. Oh, and I'll be waiting to hear from you regarding a good time for your simulator training."

"You've got it," Harvey confirmed, rising from the table. With his lunch finished, it was time to get back to work.

"Excellent," replied Terry. He'd make sure to try and keep his schedule as clear as he could. But then again, it was the Captain. A person's schedule tended to clear itself rather quickly when it was time. He got up, nodding to the Captain, and headed out.


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