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Night Owls

Posted on 25 Apr 2016 @ 2:37am by Lieutenant Commander Adam Casey & Lieutenant JG Catherine Cooper

Mission: Outbreak
Location: Ship/Science
Timeline: MD 6 - 0300

Yes they were in space and no there shouldn't have been a difference but CJ always swore you could 'feel' night on a starship. It just seemed quieter, almost hushed. Some people even talked in lower tones, other ships changed the lighting so peoples circadian rhythms didn't get thrown off too much. Catherine loved it. She'd always been a night person, daytime was for sleeping. When she actually slept, that is. So far she'd not been affected by the wave of what she had been privately referring to as 'Sandman's Revenge' but she was alert to any possibly changes in herself or others.

And so had added 'how are you' patrols to her night as well as having other patrols do it. She worked mainly 1am to 7am so missed a lot of people buy by everyone keeping an eye out, showing a bit of consideration...well couldn't hurt. She'd already checked most of the main duty stations checking on people quietly, making sure all was well. She'd almost walked passed science since they didn't often have things going on quite yet at this time of morning. 3am was usually the quietest part of the night despite the name of 'the witching hour'. Deciding to be complete however she swung in side and was surprised to see a light burning in the Co Sci's office. She slide into view quickly taking into account his appearance, and as he lacked the ragged look others seemed to have lately. She relaxed slightly. "Greetings I come in peace..." She said knowing, if he hadn't seen her there was no really good way to not to surprise someone.

Adam smiled as he looked up from his desk. "So I'm not the only night owl then?" He asked, with a sly grin. "I always have trouble sleeping the first night in a new place. Need to sort out a new mattress as well, mine...well, having been out of the service for a while, it doesn't feel comfortable as my old one at home." He explained, as he drained the last of his coffee.

"So why are you up so late?" He asked, as he putt a PADD down on the desk.

CJ laughed, "I work this shift and we're a bit short handed so extra work for everyone, you're the oddball...Sir..." She remembered to add not entirely sure if it was ok to call him anything else even as a part of her mind tried to translate Lord of the Rings into Klingon but then realized she didn't know Klingon beyond curse words and insulting someone's mother so had to give it up as a bad job.

Adam smirked at her. "I've always been an oddball, and if I've given you permission to always speak freely, you can call me Adam. I may be a Lt. Commander, but I'm not strict on protocol like that. I've always been more laid back." He explained.

She nodded an acknowledgement, "I don't know, Lt. Commander oddball has a nice ring to it." The random thought that Lt. also meant 'lite' as it 'lite beer' and did that mean Lt. Commanders were diet, flittered through her mind. Now locking in the idea that all Lt. Commanders were now nicknamed 'Diet' in her head. She mentally calculated the rest of her duty shift and granted she had time for a conversation and so leaned against the door jam. "Kidlets settling in ok? They are not up somewhere running amok are they? Because I wasn't invited and would feel disappointed.", she crossed her arms and tried to look hurt but couldn't pull it off.
The smile being a dead giveaway.

Adam grinned. "Yeah, they're sound asleep. I've got an alert telling me if they wake up, or if they try going anywhere, and my voice on record if they try to leave before I get there, telling them to get back to bed." Adam said. "They fell asleep right away; they were very excited. They love the necklaces as well, they didn't want to take them off when they went to bed."

She was a bit concerned they'd been left alone but supposed the precautions were pretty sound, still...she tapped an order on a small PADD she carried directing a couple of others on patrol to swing passed, just to be safe. "The device is not mine but I drew the design used, I wasn't sure what they would like but I'm pleased they liked them." she said meaning it, "We'll have to sort out something more for long term. I am sure half the ship will adopt the kidlets as their own if you let them..." She joked but meaning it, "I just remember what a bad idea me being left on my own was."

Adam smiled. "So far, everyone does seem to love them. They are sweet kids, and I'll do anything to protect them." He said. He sighed, and leant back in his chair. "There are times, however, I wonder what my wife would say about the job I'm doing. It can be lonely, without her, but I manage. I think the kids are at that age where they're starting to miss having a mother figure in their lives. God knows what happens when they hit puberty; my own was bad enough." He admitted.

Catherine’s ever expressive face flow easily into a genuinely sympathetic set of features, the same in her voice, “I read about your wife in your records.” She stated. She said nothing more about it, there wasn’t much to say that wouldn’t sound trite. So instead she continued with, “I didn’t know her but I expect she’d be proud. They seem nice, intelligent, active, and most importantly happy. That seems to be all what moms ever want besides safe and we’re working on that as best we can.” The Padd she sent the order on for the checking on the girls was on a table next to the door where she could see it without drawing attention to it. She noticed the ‘A-Ok’ reply and mentally smiled even as she focused her attention on Casey. “And I wouldn’t worry you’ve time yet to build the Dad bunker while the rest of us run interference…” The smile was back, “I have a younger sister too and on a regular basis…well let’s say my father should have gotten hazard pay.” She felt for his situation, she’d grown up with two parents who cared deeply for each other and their kids so had never been without. She knew plenty of people however who had one parent, no parents, or even divorced parents.

"I don't think anyone knows about building a Dad bunker. My father's a Marine General. His method of raising me was believing that discipline was always key. My brother always said that every man has to have a code, and that I needed to make mine family. So I did...until thirteen years ago." He said.

Cat pursed her lips thoughtfully then glanced at the table. It was solid so she picked up the PADD and gave a few more orders and a notation she was taking her lunch break. Then she replicated a couple of bottles of water and handed one to Casey. Then she sat on the table, legs crossed. PADD next to her hand so she could keep an eye on everything without moving. "Oh discipline aye..." She said as though no time had passed, "But is a love is thing too. You've still got a family two little kidlets who need their Dad."

Opening the bottle, Adam took a sip of the water. "Well, I didn't think that love was there. I blamed my father for what happened to my brother. I thought he needed to have been there when we were growing up. I stopped blaming him after a while, but at the end of the day, I still had to make a tough choice." He said. He chuckled softly. "Funnily enough, I was talking to your boss about this same thing earlier." He said.

"Oh?" She asked raising one eyebrow briefly in a questioning manner, "What did she say?"

"She agreed life was all about the choices we made. My brother chose to kill people, I chose to apprehend him. I chose to put my friend first when I saved Harvey...Captain Geisler, from a primitive planet after his shuttle crashed. And I chose to come aboard this ship because there was a chance my family were in danger. I also chose to be alone for the last five years because I couldn't trust anyone with my family's safety." He said.

Cat whistled, "Wow those are some choices." even as thought to herself, "You just get deeper and deeper don'tcha? No matter I have belaying gear, lucky for me I like spelunking...". Then continued, "My Chief is usually pretty smart about these things." She had a ton of questions like what happened with his brother, it was in his record but he seemed to want to talk about it. Also what happened that made him not trust people, hell CJ survived the Consortium and still trusted though more carefully than before, and the list went on. For a few moments her head whirled with the things she wanted to know. She settled for, "You doubt your ability to judge trustworthiness?".

She was encouraging him to talk with her body language, tone. Letting him direct the conversation where he wanted. The usual zip in her step was pulled internal, so part of her mind was going through complex martial arts moves even as she focused her entire real attention respectfully on what he was saying with a sense of stillness that seemed odd for her.

Adam smiled sadly at her. "Wouldn't you? I grew up idolising my big brother. I thought there was nothing wrong he could do. He would always be there when I needed help. When I was bullied, he protected me, taught me to fight, got me in self defence classes. When I chose science, he supported me. He always put his family first. Then, at the end of the Dominion War, people were tortured and killed on Earth. My brother was the one who did it. The man I had trusted with my life, and who I would have trusted with my kids lives. The man I judged incorruptible. He was loose for three months, killing people, before I found the courage to stand up to him. I tracked him down, and I faced him down." Adam said.

He took another sip of his water. "He told me he wanted me to join him. He told me that family was everything, and that I should stand by him. And a part of me, the young boy, wanted me to listen, to always be with him. But I couldn't. I knew it was wrong, and we fought. It was a long, and bloody fight. But I won. I overpowered him, and took him into custody. And that day taught me that if I could be so wrong about him, what else could I be wrong about?" He asked. "A few years later, Captain Geisler, or Doctor Geisler as he was back then, was in a shuttle accident, and Starfleet Command wanted to abandon him and destroy his shuttle remotely. Couldn't risk letting a primitive culture see anything they weren't supposed to see. And that showed me that the faith I had in Starfleet was misplaced. I broke every rule, stole a shuttle and saved his life. For that, I was drummed out of the fleet. It was just me and Jessica, and then the kids...until she died. I trusted the Doctor's, and they didn't save her, or rather, they couldn't. So how could I trust anyone?" He asked.

CJ’s own water sat forgotten next to her on the table where she still sat cross legged, she tapped a beat on her boots only she could hear as she considered his words going into the depths of her mind to do him the courtesy of her best words. She’d always been empathetic and imaginative which meant his words conjured images that made her heart ache. When her spinning mind found a path she spoke looking over at him, “It’s the life we all lead, none of us are perfect in this plane. We’ve all been wrong, put faith in the wrong things or maybe in the case of the doctors too much faith, or failed in something we set out to do but consider all you’ve judged correctly. You put all on the line to save the Captain who I think is a pretty good one who’s gotten this ship through some tough times. You saved his life and he’s saved many others. I believe until we are done with this life, we cannot know the depth to which our actions affected others. We all have reason to doubt...” She said as one who knows but she shook off her own memories and refocused. "But if we let it paralyze us then we're done and they win."

"It almost did paralyse me." Adam admitted. "After my wife died, I didn't think I'd be able to talk to anyone again, but of course I had no choice. I wanted to curl into a hole and die, but I couldn't let the girls know the pain I felt. But Amy...she was only three at the time, but when Jessica died, she was...she was the bravest girl I ever could have dreamt of. I came out of the hospital room, and sat next to her. She looked at me and asked if her mummy was asleep. I told her that she was sleeping, and she just wrapped her arms around me. Maria, bless her, was only one, so couldn't speak, but she cried every night for her mummy." Adam said.

He took another sip of his drink, and then placed the bottle on the table. "I've never actually spoken of this in depth to anyone. I've never had a chance to. I didn't trust anyone with the girls. Even when they were at school, they had the bracelets they always wear, which acted as a communicator and locator, and I always carried a personal transporter with me. Never had to use it, but I was always careful. Now I've brought them here. A part of me thinks I should just take the girls and find somewhere to settle down, but again I don't have that choice...because it's the wrong thing to do. And I wouldn't want to be that kind of role model for the girls." He said, facing the window in his office. He was lucky, and had an office with an exterior window, which meant he could see the stars. He stared out at them, remembering a time when he found them magical. Now...now they were merely balls of gas and fire.

As she had been taught she listened to the words but worked not to get too caught in the pain of them. It was hard to be helpful when you were in the same boat of pain as the person you wanted to help. She breathed slowly and evenly as she listened. “We will do for others what we would never think to do for ourselves. As you have helped them, they have helped you as others have in being the man you need to be to get them through this.” She said even as she wondered what he saw when he stared out the window. Her usually laughing eyes seeing more than most thought she saw.

Adam allowed a small smile as he still looked out of the window. "It's all about perspective, right?" He asked. "Tell me, what do you see when you look out at the stars?"

She gave a small laugh, “You sure you want to know?” She asked before hopping off the table and going to stand next to him looking out at the stars. She didn’t say anything for a long moment, merely taking in the sight. Then in a voice that indicated she was quoting: “The night is even more richly coloured than the day… If only one pays attention to it, one sees that certain stars are citron yellow, while others have a pink glow or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expiating on this theme, it should be clear that putting little white dots on a blue-black surface is not enough. Van Gogh”. She smiled up him, “They remind me of beauty oh yes but also endurance. They will be here long after our species have moved on and that we too can endure if we just hold to the beauty and the light…” Then she laughed at herself, at how she sounded, “You did ask…”

Adam looked at the stars, and allowed a small smile to creep up onto his face. "You would make a decent Science Officer." Adam said. "You have a very keen mind, and an imaginative one; traits which serve you well in Starfleet." Adam complimented. "I once felt the same way. I once looked out at the stars, and saw the possibilities that the universe contains, the wonders and the beauty. I saw the future, and I had dreams about them." He said. He sighed, and faced her, the pain of many years etched onto his face, echoing in his eyes, troubled as they were. "I have dreamed a dream...but now that dream is gone from me." He said. "Now, there is no magic for me, no beauty, no wonder...and no possibilities." He said. "I exist, and I protect my girls. Everything else...there is nothing else." He confessed. "Which was why I wondered why Harvey asked me to come aboard."

Catherine smiled, “I had thought about science, I’ve always been curious but I never stop trying to protect others or moving so here I am..” Her PADD beeped quietly and she went over to check it and reply to a message then returned her attention to Adam. “No doubt because the Captain knows you are competent and he trusts you. Trust is hard to come by these days and no one wants to see their friend merely exist.”

"Yes, it does seem trust is a commodity in short supply." Adam agreed, with a nod. "I will admit, being back on board a ship does feel...right. It feels...comfortable. Like old leather." He said. He took a sip of his water, and then placed it back on his desk. "I was told I would do well in Security, but I always found the call of science too strong to ignore. It's the one thing I have from being a kid that means anything still. I suppose that, at the moment, I'm hoping it might lead to finding something that I can take comfort in again, aside from the girls. Don't get me wrong, I love them to bits, but...I know they won't always be here. One day, they'll grow older and be ready to leave their old man behind. And, in truth, my greatest fear is that I'll die alone."

Cooper shook her head, “Doubtful, odds are you’d be surrounded by and family with the kind of person you are…” She said absently but honestly, “…but if you mean the other kind of alone, that’s not a reason to date. Put yourself out there, find someone you like but be with them because you like them eh? Otherwise it’s a disservice. This advice brought to you by Cooper’s Love’s Lost Advice Column…a ship newsletter now that could be interesting…”. A part of her mind made a mental and she wondered if she could get anyone to help her with it. Even as part of her brain plotted, the rest of it shifted gears again, “I’m not mocking your pain. Make your plans but try to focus on the now, it does help.” That was how Catherine lived. She made plans sure and learned from the past but she didn’t let the past or the future rules her, rob her of what was happening now. To do that would be lessen its importance, to miss out, and to not do as well at what she set out too. And that just wasn’t her style.

Adam smiled at her. "I'm a little past dating, don't you think? I'm forty with two kids. Not exactly going to be many people who find that attractive." Adam said. "Wasn't what I meant though. Don't get me wrong, I know the fear of dying alone isn't logical, but it's still a fear nevertheless. But love? I wouldn't even know where to begin. Where do I turn, and how do I look for it? How do I risk that pain again?" He asked.

"Where there is life. Hope. You're not dead yet so there's hope and you can totally pull off the distinguished look so there's that." Thumbs up. "And day by day, I'm told the payoff is totally worth it." She grinned. "I'm not hard to find, you want to go brain spelunking again, you know where to find me for now though my break is about over, how about I patrol you back to your quarters so my guys can get back to their night?"

Adam allowed himself a small chuckle. "Normally the guy walks the girl home, I thought." He joked, as he recycled his now empty water bottle. As the two of them left his office, he walked with his hands behind his back. "I appreciate you spending a little time with me. Not often I get to actually reminisce or talk about much that isn't cartoons, princesses, art or music." He said.

Catherine grabbed her PADD and walked with him, "Well I'm security its my job to protect you..." She looked at him jokingly...up at him and his plus 6 feet to her 5'9. she was tall for a female of her species but he still had weight and height on her. She could totally see the humor in what she just said. "And its ok I didn't mind, its been awhile since I had to delve that deep. Good to dust off these skills, they are important. I may actually sleep tonight..." she quipped then her mind shifted gears again, "I remember other single parent peoples who would kill to have a conversation that didn't involve why someone should eat their veggies..."

Adam looked at her, with a smile on his face. "Well, I feel very protected and safe with you on duty." Adam quipped.

Catherine actually stopped in the hall and theatrically laid a hand on her chest, “Be still my heart, did you just make a joke? A real joke? Look at you all growing by inches…I’m so proud…” She pretended to wipe away a fake tear then laughed and kept walking toward his quarters.

He thought about what she said. "There's only one problem with being a single parent, though, at least being a male single parent with girls." He said. "No strong, female role model in their lives. I'm terrified of the day the girls hit puberty, because I won't know how to help them. I won't be able to guide them, and I'm afraid that not having someone around before them will be detrimental to them." He explained.

“That’s what we are for Adam, I mean look at this ship.” She gestured. “Have you seen me? My Chief? The CMO? or the CEO? All strong women, I wanted to rename this ship the Amazonia but I didn’t think the Skipper would sign off on it.” She smiled and waved off the thought, “Anyway, I don’t think they will lack for role models. And if there’s ever a problem come to me I’m excellent at warping…er…I mean guiding young minds…” She smiled up at him as she walked, finally done mentally climbing out of the deep, serious space she’d been in during the previous section of the conversation. People under estimated the energy it took to really connect with another person during a conversation, it could be tiring even for someone like Cat.

"I appreciate that, more than you know." He said. "You didn't have to stay and talk with me tonight, but you did. It's...it's comforting to know that people do care about others. You have a good heart, Catherine, and that's something many people need." He complimented. "If there is one thing I have learnt about life, it's that we all need people to look up to, or connect to. We all need friends, we all need love, and we all need a chance to be ourselves. I think...a while ago, I lost my path." He said, stopping as they passed an external window. "Maybe now I can find it again."

Cooper paused when he did, she smiled quietly accepting the compliment, “I’m just me but I’m glad it helps.” Slight pause, considering, “Be the light you want to see..” She said quoting some ancient text, her voice serious before sliding into humor again, “You too, can bring light to others for only 3 payments of 9 strips of latinum. Brought to you by Irony Limited.” She didn’t think she had to explain that such a thing couldn’t be bought or sold hence the irony, he was a pretty smart guy when not chained to his past. Then her mind shifted again and she replied, “This is the place for second chances if it’s anything. Just got to have a little faith.” She started to step then paused to see if he was ready to continue.

Adam looked at her as he began walking again. "Faith, huh?" He asked, with a small smirk at her irony comment. "Faith is a wonderful gift to have. It's what keeps mankind out here, among the stars." He said. "But tell me something, have you ever wanted something, but at the same time felt you didn't deserve it? Or felt like you couldn't find it?" He asked.

Catherine pulled a Yo-Yo out of a pocket and began doing tricks with it as she thought. Doing other things actually could help her focus at times, to slow down. “Felt like I couldn’t find it, maybe but I think on it and move forward sometimes I find it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I learn I was never meant to find it but instead something else. It’s kinda weird thing but not deserve? Never.” They arrived on his floor and kept walking.

Adam smiled, and found himself a little...curious about the tricks she was doing. He had never found much fascination with toys and objects like Yo Yo's, but he knew all about them. The girls had their own, but they didn't use them much. "Then you're lucky. I wonder a lot of things about life, including how I was gifted with two amazing girls." He said. "If they have role models like you, then I'd be pleased of that."

"Oh I wonder many things but never to determine my worthiness. We are worthy." She smiled over at him, "I'll try to warp them properly." She joked, oddly touched by the comment. They came nearer the quarters. one security officer was looking down at his tricorder while another happened to be looking down the opposite end from where his Deputy Chief was coming. With a grin she gestured for Adam to be quiet and put the yo-yo back in her pocket then snuck closer before yelling, "INTRUDER ALERT! BANG!" and she pointed at the officer looking at his tricorder. He looked up surprised and the other spun around, pulling his phaser only to fumble it on the deck.

CJ gave then a look that could best be described as 'exasperated parent face'. It was a typical face in command officers, "What did the Chief and I tell you?" She asked, They both replied, "Be ready for anything." apologetically. "Right we'll talk about this later, thanks for covering. Off you get." She said letting them off the hook for the moment. They were good kids, a couple of newly minuted petty officers who'd just gotten promoted after the attempted take over. A couple of crewmen who were still learning what it meant to lead anything. They nodded, and after the one picked up his phaser, they took off.

She glanced at Adam, "See everyones got a learning curve."

"Interesting method of learning." Adam said, raising an eyebrow. "I think you terrified the kids. Doesn't look good for them if they're scared like that."

"Those two? Nah. You gotta know them. Good kids but need a stern finger wag to get their attention, the important part is knowing how to treat each one so they learn not break."

As they reached his quarters, he turned and looked at her. "Catherine, I appreciate everything tonight. It's...well, it felt good to be able to talk again." He said.

"Hey anytime, though if its going to gravity affecting just warn me first so I make sure I've the time." She grinned, "have a good night..." And started to turn away, her hand already in her pocket for the Yo-Yo.

"You too." He said, but stopped as his wrist communicator started to beep, and flash red. "That's the girl's panic button." He said to her, as he raced into his quarters, and to the girls bedroom. What he saw chilled his soul, and immediately set him into red alert. Maria was half off of the bed, throwing up, pale, and Amy was sitting up, but also in the middle of throwing up. He turned and saw Catherine. "Take Maria, I'll take Amy." He said, as he scooped his oldest girl into his arms.

Cat followed quickly and didn't paused she swept up the other child, as soon as it was safe she tapped her combadge =/\="Emergency Medical Transport to sickbay, four life signs on my position."

As Adam felt the wave of the transporter wash over him, a surge of panic started to sweep him. What had happened? Had it been something he had cooked them, or something from the planet? Was he to blame? One thing was for sure; something was wrong with his girls. And he didn't like that.

Not one bit.

 

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