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Posted on 21 Oct 2017 @ 3:01am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Callam Jaxer

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Jayla's quarters
Timeline: November 14, 2388 - 1900

Standing at her easel was the place Jayla wanted to be most often. It was these rare moments of solitude that seemed to melt away the stresses of the day. She had forgotten how much she loved painting. Perhaps she'd even teach a class or something.

She swished her brush in the cup of water, shook it off a bit and flicked it at the rocks on the bottom of the painting. Watercolor had a lot of fun tricks, but it dried quickly, so there wasn't much time to work.

With a quick glance at the chronometer, she decided she was at a good stopping point. She had invited Cal to see the two new paintings she had completed and he would be here soon. If she started painting the sky, she would not be able to finish it before he arrived. So, instead, she began cleaning up her work space.

Cal whistled pleasantly as he strolled through the corridors headed for Jayla's quarters. He hadn't had a chance to visit Spots since they had a drink together before all the trouble started. Jayla had deflected the few soft passes he'd thrown her way, but Callam wasn't upset. Friends were as important as lovers when trying to maintain a 'healthy work-life balance', according to the counselors anyway. Callam tended to believe this to be true. Besides, there was talk going around that she'd slept with someone else the next night and if she was involved with someone, Callam definitely didn't want to step in the middle of that. With that in mind, he filed the idea of a sexual relationship with Jayla away in the 'maybe, if we're both available and interested' file.

Callam was actually quite looking forward to seeing Jayla's paintings. Learning to appreciate paintings and sculpture was on his bucket list. Like everyone else, Callam had developed likes and dislikes over the years, but he was always looking to broaden his horizons. Before he knew it, Callam was at Jayla's door. He rang the chime.

"Come in," Jayla called with a grin. See? He was early. She really hadn't had time to finish the sky. Now she didn't feel quite so guilty for stopping early.

Callam entered and looked around until he spotted Jayla and her paintings. He walked over to see what she had created.

"Howdy, Spots," he said with a grin. "Thanks for inviting me to see your work. Now that I'm seeing it, I'm even more impressed. Did I interrupt you? I hope I'm not too early."

"Nah, you're fine," she replied. "I was just cleaning up. This one's in progress. It's a watercolor of my home. Well, that little house on the cliff is where I grew up anyway. I just have to finish the sky and then put in trees over here and finish the ocean; there are way more waves than this."

"Still," Callam said. "It looks like a great start. I can really see the beauty in the place where you were raised. Show me more."

Cal focused all of his interest on Jayla and her work. That wasn't difficult to do, because he actually was interested in seeing her paintings.

"Oh, yes, the finished ones," she replied, going to three canvases that were leaning against the wall. "This one is my favorite." It depicted a Durrighash in a lab coat proudly displaying her egg. "I met them shortly before being assigned to the Black Hawk and she insisted I take a picture of her egg. They are insanely proud of their eggs. Have you ever met the Durrighash?"

Callam chuckled at the site of a what was basically an Earth dinosaur in a lab coat.

"I haven't had the pleasure," he said. "But I suppose if I went to the trouble to lay an egg, I'd want to show it off, too. So, we you close with this particular Durrighash?"

"Relatively," answered Jayla. "She's a doctor, so we were comparing notes for most of the visit. You should see their medicines. I have no idea how they do it, but man! If you think the Vulcans are good doctors, they're bumbling fools compared to the Durrighash. I would love to spend a lifetime learning from them. Oh, don't tell Doctor Sterek I said that," she added with a sheepish grin.

Callam grinned.

"That's okay," he said. "I'd a take a certain Trill doctor over a Vulcan any day. I like my doctors, and nurses for that matter, with a sense of humor. You may have noticed that I joke a lot? I freely recognize that I often use my usually genuine silly sense of humor and irreverence as a coping mechanism. Sometimes, especially when you're wounded, in pain despite the painkillers, and waiting to be treated because you were 'triaged' behind a what you are absolutely certain are people with hangnails, toothaches, and the common cold, while you lie there worrying that you're going to die, or lose a limb, or be disabled, or scarred for life, laughter isn't just the best medicine, it's the only thing you've got."

Callam went back to taking in the painting of the Durrighash and her prize egg.

"Non-Humanoids," he said. "Well, the ones as non-humanoid as a's hard to read their facial expressions in most cases, but you've really captured her emotions in this painting, the pride in her accomplishment, the love she already feels for the young one inside the egg, even before it's made its appearance. Not that I doubted you when you told me about this hobby of yours, but I'm really impressed. This is good stuff."

Jayla grinned, feeling a bit embarrassed. "Thanks," she said. "It took me three tries to get her scales to look right. It finally dawned on me why the brown wasn't coming out right; it's actually red mixed with green. It's from their blood showing through, kinda like it does with humanoids."

"Really amazing," Callam said. "What about this one?"

Callam looked over at one of the other paintings Jayla had displayed.

"That was my foray into cubism," she explained of the seemingly abstract painting. "It's my mother in the style of Picaso. It didn't come out very well, but I keep it on display to remind me that failure is okay and I don't have to be good at everything.

"That is a very positive outlook," Callam said. "When I learned to play the bass I mostly learned to play Jazz, but also Jazz Fusion, some Funk, some Blues. Classical music is very difficult for me to play smoothly and correctly, at least when I'm putting bow to my upright bass. I struggled with it for a while before I finally allowed myself to just play what I enjoyed playing for the enjoyment of playing it. Like you, I allowed myself to not be good at something without feeling like a failure. So, assuming your next project isn't a nude painting of me, do you have any thoughts on what you'd like to paint next? Any landscapes you want to call up in the holodeck? There's a mountain range on Chin'Toka that, when you're hiding in it trying not to starve while running raids against the Breen and the Jem'Hadar, is quite lovely to look at, especially at sunset. I've got that on holodisk somewhere if you're interested. I keep it to remind myself of...a different time."

"That sounds... well, it sounds slightly melancholy, but also quite nice," she finished, debating on whether or not to bring out the last painting she had to show him. It had been emotionally difficult to paint, but she had been pleased with the way it had turned out. "I might take you up on that."

"So," Callam said. "Have you got any others hidden away that you have been secretly wanting to show someone but haven't had the guts?"

She hesitated for a moment and almost chickened out, but decided to just get it over with. Someone had to see it eventually, didn't they? "I have one..." she trailed off, pulling a 1.5'x3' canvas from behind her desk. "It's... unconventional. I, um, well..." And she turned it around.

It was a painting of a Vulcan male, done in such a way as to fool the eye into thinking it was a photograph with an oil filter. At first glance, he appeared to be a typical Vulcan, but if one looked at the eyes, one would see a reflection in the pupils that, if one looked closely, was recognized as Jayla herself.

"Wow," Callam said when he looked closely and made out the reflection of Jayla in the Vulcan's eyes. "That is...that is amazing! Is the Vulcan someone special to you?"

She smiled sadly at the painting for a moment. "He was," she said softly. "And I never realized how important I was to him until he was already gone."

Callam looked over at Jayla curiously for a moment.

"It sounds like there's a story there, Spots," he said, his voice kind and gentle. "Want to talk about it? Besides making me look devilishly handsome, my pointed ears are very useful for listening to my friends when they need someone to talk to."

She grinned. He had that effect on her. "We dated in the academy," she explained. "During my last two years of medical school. Then he was assigned to the Beta quadrant and I was assigned to the gamma quadrant. After a couple of months, we realized that it was just too difficult to keep up over the distance, so we gave up. It took me several years to move on. And apparently, he never did. As it turns out, he'd been taking any transfer that would get him closer to the gamma quadrant. He was waiting on New Bajor for the Black Hawk to pick him up when he was killed." She blinked back tears. "I didn't know he cared so much," she finished quietly.

Cal gently pulled Jayla into a hug and just held her, letting her rest her head against him if she so chose. There were so many things he could say, so many platitudes he could share, but Callam chose to keep silent instead. Jayla was an intelligent woman. Anything he had to say, she'd probably already said to herself. Sometimes the best response was just to be there and silently show support with no judgement, opinion, or expectation. Feeling sad wasn't a problem that needed fixing. It was a normal part of life. So Callam just held his friend, content to stay there until she was ready to break their embrace.

Her first inclination was the lean her head on his shoulder and bury her face in his neck like she used to with her daddy when she was little. At first, she worried that she had overstepped some sort of boundary, but then she remembered that not only was he Rigelian, but also, he had initiated the hug. And so, she clung to him, grateful for a shoulder to cry on. It wasn't the helpless cry of the newly grieving, but more of a regretful cry of someone who has finally accepted what has happened.

After several minutes, she finally pulled away and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Thank you," she said gratefully. "I don't think I realized that I still need to cry about it."

"Happy to be able to be here for you," Callam said. "You know, you should really share your work with the crew. It'll help them broaden their horizons, probably buff up your confidence, and likely give your ego a good stroking. Who doesn't like having their ego stroked from time to time?"

"I don't know about that," she answered nervously. "I've only ever let my family see them. Well, and you now. And a few people who didn't know they were mine. But, I can't imagine putting them on display for anyone to see."

"Your work is very good," Cal said. "And I'm truly honored that you trust me enough to share it with me. I do, however, think that it might just be a shame if no one but you and me ever see it. What's the Old Earth phrase? Came out of something some philosopher said...Barkley, Borkley, Brockley...oh, yeah! Berkeley! George Berkeley! Let's see...something about! Something about trees and forests...Ah Ha! If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound. That's it. You work so hard on your trees, Jayla. Wouldn't it be great if they made a sound...uhm...not sure that made sense."

"No I get it," she replied. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I should show more people." She put it to the back of her mind for later consideration. And she would very carefully consider it.

"So," Cal said. "Anything else you want to show me? Er...I mean any other artwork, of course."

"Not tonight," she replied with a grin. "I've gotta save some of it for the exhibit, don't I?"

"I look forward to seeing what else...what other paintings you've got hidden away!" Callam said. "I can stay for a drink if you'd like or let you get some rest. Entirely up to you."

In fact, she'd love to have him stay for awhile. She really needed to start chatting to her friends again. "I wish I had something real to offer you," she said, heading toward the replicator. "But on the plus side, you can have anything you like."

Callam thought for a moment, then spoke.

"Type in CJaxerLIIT," Callam said, giving his code for a Long Island Iced Tea, a drink that lacked any form of tea, but made up for that by being a tall glass of several different kinds of potent liquors over plenty of ice.

She did as instructed and chose a blue Hawaiian for herself. Taking both drinks to the sofa, she motioned him to sit. "So what have you been doing with yourself?" she asked. "I'm sure you don't just sit around waiting for me to call about new paintings."

Cal took his drink and sat as instructed.

"Oh, I'm still trying to get a handle on this ship," he said, taking a sip of his drink, enjoying the refreshing coolness combined with the burning feeling in his throat as the alcohol went down. "So I've been spending most of my off time either in the gym or back in my quarters messing around on my bass or just hanging out listening to good jazz. I was planet bound when off-duty so I could enjoy things like a good jazz club. Let's see...the last thing I saw there was a tribute to two very early jazz musicians from Earth. George Gershwin and Jelly Roll Morton. What a great show. Anyway, I've been spending a bit of time with Lieutenant Gemma Alexander from Alpha Flight. Not sure where that's going yet. What about you? When you're not up to your elbows in paint, what have you been up to in your spare time?"

She grinned at that. 'Up to her elbows in paint' wasn't too far off the mark some days. "Not much, to be honest," she replied. "I haven't really got many friends." Which was a depressing realization? Nobody had really sought her out after she had secluded herself. It made her wonder if maybe she wasn't that great of a friend after all. "I've been reading a lot. I just finished the Harry Potter series. From Earth. Next on the docket is Scars of War. By Tass Rem- a Bajoran. I heard it's really good."

"You know," Callam said. "The scuttlebutt has it that you were very 'friendly' with Jace Crystan at least once. Care to share?"

She blinked, a bit confused. "I mean, we're friends," she replied. "I suppose that means we're friendly." But, there was something about the way he'd said friendly that made her pause. "Does that mean...? What does that mean?"

Callam shook his head and laughed.

"Oh, Spots," he said. "Don't ever change. My dear, the crew thinks you had sex with Jace Crystan"

She rolled her eyes. "That's sort of what I thought from your tone," she replied. "Ugh. Why am I always the subject of gossip?" But, her tone was light and it was clear she was amused by it. "No, I did not sleep with him. We're friends, though. He came by my quarters once. Maybe that's why they think so. Gosh! I wonder if they think we're sleeping together!"

"Well," Cal said. "Now that you mention it..."

She gave him a disbelieving look. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me," she laughed. "Well, it's a good thing I don't care what people think. You don't care, do you?"

"Nope," Cal said. "Besides, it's not like I would be embarrassed if it were true. I should be so lucky as to have made love with you."

If Jayla had been perhaps just a bit more healed, she would have likely given everyone something to talk about. But, she was still working through everything that had been happening in her life and so knew she couldn't handle anything of the sort just now. Still, she gave him a smile. "Thanks," she said. "I wouldn't be embarrassed either, of course. It just seems like the rumors always involve me somehow. At one point, there was a theory that I was pregnant! I don't even think that's possible."

"I've dealt with my fair share of rumors about my sex life," Cal said. "A lot of people assume that because I'm Rigelian, I have sex with every woman I talk to. And, to a certain extent, they're not all wrong. I do have sex as often as I can manage. But I'm not some kind of gigolo. There's more to me than the fact that I enjoy sex and, laying aside humility for a moment, I've gotten pretty good at it. But I don't bend the hangar the other way just to compensate by denying myself the pleasures of the flesh. I just go right on being me. People can accept me as I am, or not. Those that do take me as I am I make the effort to befriend. Those that don't...well, I usually ignore them. So, like I said, Spots. You go right on being you. If other people can accept who you are,'forget' them. 'Forget' them where they breathe."

"That's totally not what you wanted to say, was it?" she snickered. "But, that's okay. I get it. Yeah, 'forget' them, all right."

"You caught me," Cal said, a smirk in his voice. "I'm just a foul-mouthed, uneducated, jumped up warrant officer playing at being a lieutenant. To forgetting those who won't take us as we are!"

Cal raised his glass in a toast and Jayla tapped hers lightly against his. "To forgetting," she said with a wink.


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