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A Mess of Things

Posted on 13 Feb 2018 @ 3:48am by Ensign Kelly Khan & Commander Thiago Teixeira

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Officer's Mess
Timeline: MD 16 || 1800 Hours

Ensign Kelly Khan peaked around the edge of the door leading to the Officer's Mess. She wore a white shirt with black piano keys on it with the words "No, You Can't Tickle My Ivories" on it in black letters under it, a pair of black pants and a pair of black boots. She took a breath when she saw it was nearly deserted and headed for the replicator to place an order. While she was an officer, this was the first time she had ventured into the Officer's Mess and she was still a bit timid which was odd considering what she had been through.

He needed to be out of his office. For whatever reason, sitting in his office was causing him to be less productive. Unlike other times, Thiago couldn't place the blame on anything other than needing a change of scenery. So now he sat, in one corner of the mess, his uniform jacket draped over the back of his chair. On the table in front of him, he had a small plate of cookies. Next to that sat a large mug of coffee, wisps of steam rising from the dark liquid into the air. In his hands, a PADD with one of the many reports he was trying to finish, to little success. Setting the handheld device aside, he picked up a cookie, chocolate chip, and took a bite. It was soft and chewy, just the way he liked them. He didn't indulge in sweets like this very often, so he enjoyed them even more when he did allow himself to partake.

Looking around, he surveyed the room. It was mostly empty; there were two other tables being used. And a dark-haired woman at the replicator. Since her back was towards him, Teixeira wasn't sure who it was, but he kept an eye on her because he was curious.

Kelly settled for a Raktajino and a bacon cheeseburger with fries before she turned to scan for a seat. There was a man in the corner with a PADD by him, which usually meant work for an officer. She debated for a moment, then headed his way and sat down at a nearby table where she could see the man's face. It was then that she realized she had chosen to sit near Commander Teixeira and was glad she hadn't interrupted him. If there was one thing that was drilled into peoples heads at the Academy, it was that the Executive Officer on a ship did all the reviews for people to determine their ability and worthiness of being promoted or sent for more training.

He allowed his eyes to look in the direction of the dark-haired woman, trying to avoid being obvious. As she sat, he was able to ascertain that it was Ensign Khan. Suddenly, he felt more self-conscious about stealing glances. Now that he knew who the dark-haired woman was, the idea of being caught looking was....embarrassing...unseemly, perhaps? It was strange because he wasn't doing or thinking anything lurid.

Her shirt says something, he told himself, not having a good enough angle to make out the words on her white top. Lifting his head and turning to glance around the room, he made the decision to start a conversation.

"How do you take your Raktajino?" Teixeira asked, his nose doing the investigative work of telling him what was in her cup.

Crap! He saw me! went through her mind as she glanced at the Executive Officer when she realized he was talking to her. She smiled and held her cup up. "Black and steaming, the way it was meant to be drank," she replied. "Cold Raktajino would actually be an insult to Klingons. I didn't know it was popular enough among humans to be recognized by scent."

"I've had a Raktajino or three in my day," the Executive Officer smiled. "Would you like to join me?" He liked to get to know the crew under his command, and especially those who would routinely find themselves on the bridge. "Only if you want to," he added. "I'll understand if you like to eat alone."

One didn't turn down an opportunity to join anyone in Command when invited unless they didn't care about their career and Kelly got up with a smile and took her tray and drink to the Commander's table. "Thank you, Sir. Ensign Kelly Khan, at your table."

He chuckled. "You don't have to be so formal off duty. You can drop 'sir' from this conversation." Thiago didn't often give such permission to junior officers, but he also wanted the Ensign to feel comfortable. Too many young officers would be overly cautious in their interactions with command-level people like himself. "How long have you been on the Black Hawk? Or, a better question," he continued, realizing the potential loophole in his original question, "how long have you been serving under Captain Geisler?"

Kelly was confused, but hid it under a professional demeanor. "Ever since I came out for my senior cruise," she said and had to resist calling him Thiago. While he had told her to drop the 'Sir', he hadn't told her to call him by his name, either. The only thing left was Commander which was also formal and he insisted she didn't have to be formal when off duty, so she decided to simply respond to him without any form of address. "I've learned a lot from him, but I know there's a lot more to learn, so I won't be going anywhere else any time soon unless Starfleet assigns me elsewhere." Which she hoped didn't happen, but she knew life in space was unpredictable.

She paused to take a sip of her coffee before she set it down. "That was before you came aboard, but I never got to meet the old Executive Officer before she departed the ship."

"So I shouldn't ask how I compare to my predecessor then?" he teased. Though he was curious about his effectiveness compared to previous Exec, that was a line of inquiry he would take up with the captain. Assuming Harvey could be circumspect enough for a fair appraisal, he thought.

"I'm afraid not," Kelly replied before she bit into her bacon cheeseburger. She chewed and swallowed it, then took another sip of coffee. "What brought you back to the Black Hawk?" she asked him.

He thought back to when he'd been offered, and accepted, a command of his own. The Cochrane was his. At least until he'd accepted the opportunity to remain at Geisler's side as XO on this new Black Hawk. "Oh," Teixeira began, "there were a couple of factors at play." A gulp of coffee created a brief pause. "I've already advanced further than I thought I would. Up the command ladder, I mean. By education, I'm a scientist. And only a passable one at that. I was never going to have a theorem or proof named after me; I was unlikely to make some groundbreaking discovery. I realized this when I was still at the Academy, but it didn't stop me from continuing to pursue a career in the sciences." Thiago took a bite of a cookie and washed it down with some more coffee. "My career has taken an interesting trajectory; I started at helm before moving into the operations division and then, finally, science. By then, the Dominion War was going strong and I found my analytical abilities being used as an intel analyst. After the war, I found myself a senior officer, Chief Operations Officer. It was during that assignment that I realized that my asset to Starfleet was not my mediocre skills as a scientist but my ability to organize and collaborate. That was...nearly fourteen years ago. Since then I've run a Science department and been Executive Officer on two ships. Before coming to the last Black Hawk.

"All of that is to say, that I was even offered a command was unexpected. Being in the center seat is more attractive to me than it used to be, but it's still not something I aspire to. I am very happy in my role here, seconding to Captain Geisler. So when the offer was extended to me to continue to do just that, I accepted. Whether another ship is ever offered to me or not, I do not regret my decision. It is here that I am meant to be. It is the Black Hawk that I am happy to call home. And I am proud to be a member of the crew of this fine ship, led by our Captain." He looked out the window at the stars. "You said it yourself, Miss Khan. 'There's a lot more to learn' from the Captain. That goes for me just as it does for you."

"Oh, wow," Kelly managed. Here I only asked him what brought him back, she thought. "I'm here because I was assigned back here," she said and considered it lame next to his history. "Of course, you know that I was here as a Senior Cadet before being promoted and now I'm here as a Flight officer even though I have a secondary in Engineering and anything I can learn about Command. Taking control of the Chimera was intense, but I think I'd rather learn more about Command during peace time."

"If there's anything I can help you with," he offered, "to help in your learning, please let me know. Young officers like you are the department heads, Captains, and Admirals of tomorrow."

"Think I can get some Alpha shift time on the bridge, Si...?" Kelly asked him, barely keeping SIr from fully escaping her lips. She still didn't know what to call him and if Sir was out, then Commander was also out and he didn't look like the 'dude' type.

"I'll see what I can do," he replied with a smile. He pushed his plate towards her. "Cookie?"

"Thank you," Kelly said as she accepted one. "Oh! Chocolate chip! I see that you have good tastes. I love chocolate." She paused long enough to take a bite of it and sighed in please. "Oh sweet, sweet chocolate. Do you have a sweet tooth, too?"

"Far too much, yes," he replied with a smirk. "I try to abstain, but generally fail. So I just spend more time working out instead." He took a sip of his cooling coffee. "What do you do in your free time?"

"You could work out more so you can eat more chocolate," she suggested. "I picked up some killer chocolate over at the base when me and my boyfriend went over. Free time? What's that? I usually practice Aikido or Jiu Jitsu, eat chocolate, train with a kusari-gama, run, swim, dance, do gymnastics or ride my vectorboard in the holodeck. That's when I'm not on duty or any of a hundred other things. How about you?"

"Impressive list of hobbies," he admitted. "I'm far more boring by comparison. I read a lot. A little piano." He grabbed a cookie and held it up. "And, so I can eat some of these, I run. Cycling and swimming too. Are you familiar with capoeira?"

Kelly thought for a moment, then shook her head. "Is that a sport?" she asked before she ate a couple fries.

"Martial art. Flowing, dance-like movements," he explained. "I have some training holo-programs that you're welcome to try if you'd like."

"I'd be honored," she said as she finished her burger. "What belt are you?"

"Unlike many other martial art forms, capoeira doesn't have a set standard for ranking. It can vary based on which style and which organization or school, you train with," he explained. "My training is in the Grupo Capoeira Brasil, which uses the Capoeira Regional Contemporânea style. We do have rankings, represented by cords instead of belts. Same concept though. I'm ranked at Graduado, or instructor, which, in my organization, means a blue belt." He chuckled. "Does that make any sense?"

"It does," Kelly responded. "I'm a Sankyu 3rd kyu in Aikido which is roughly a green belt and a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and I'm qualified to teach lower ranked students. I probably wouldn't hold a candle to you in either, but I wouldn't make it easy if we sparred."

He let out a low whistle. "I think I'll try to stay on your good side." He took another sip of coffee before he continued. "Have you had much experience on away teams? They can be a good way to get more experience."

She laughed at his good side comment. "Not yet," she said. "But then again, new Ensigns are lucky to see any kind of away team activities for a long time. Besides, I'm just a pilot with an engineer slant. They wouldn't need me on an away team unless they needed a pilot and even then, I'm at the bottom of the totem pole. I'm happy to learn and observe, though."

"No guarantees, of course," he started, "but I'm sure we can get you some more time on away missions. I think it's important for newer officers, like yourself, to get decent exposure to as much as possible." He picked up a cookie. "Not just for your own benefit, but for your future COs too." His teeth sank into the round morsel. Oatmeal raisin, he thought.

"Anything else I can do?"

"Well, I've already commanded a starship, so I guess I can only go up from there," Kelly said as she finished her coffee. "I think I'm good, though. I appreciate the offer and look forward to working with you."

This elicited a chuckle from the Brazilian. "Fair enough." He looked out the windows at the stars beyond before redirecting his eyes to the chronometer. "I shouldn't keep you any longer. And I," he continued, getting to his feet and gathering his PADDs, "should get back to my office." Grabbing the oatmeal cookie, he smiled at Khan. "Until next time."

"Until then," she replied.


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