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Take a Hike Pt. 1

Posted on 23 Oct 2018 @ 3:59pm by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Senior Chief Petty Officer Alexander Rylan

Mission: Fractured
Location: Holodeck
Timeline: MD 4 | 1600

What exactly did “dress casual” mean?

If Jayla had been left to her own devices, she’d have opted for a mini dress and heels, but when she’d asked Alex for clarification, he’d said dress comfortably. So, okay, comfortable. She was comfortable in a mini dress and heels, but something told her that’s not what he meant. So instead, she opted for a tunic style top, leggings and comfortable boots. Still cute, but also comfortable. Now she just hoped what she wore was appropriate for whatever he had planned.

Alex walked to Jayla's quarters wearing cargo pants, comfortable light hiking boots, and a t-shirt that managed to hang on his muscular frame in a very flattering manner. He had a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He had to admit, he was nervous. He'd reintroduced himself to Jayla Kij just over a month ago. There had been a fair amount of flirting, and plenty of displays of genuine affection going both ways. He'd even spent the night. It wasn't what the crew thought. He'd gone to her quarters for a drink and a bite to eat after a day of treating the entire remaining crew for radiation poisoning and various injuries. They'd been exhausted. If they hadn't been, maybe more would have happened, but they had been exhausted. They'd fallen asleep together on the couch. Alex had woken up in the middle of the night, put Jayla to bed, and climbed in with her. He'd held her all night, but nothing else had happened between them. But this, this was an actual date. Dates meant something. Dates had consequences. A person could crash and burn on a date. Though Jayla had grown up into a lovely woman, Alex still remembered being the subject of her scathing disapproval as a teenager. Rationally, he knew neither of them was the same person they were twenty years ago, but a faint, completely irrational fear that Jayla was going to suddenly turn back into the angry, spiteful, frankly mean teenager she'd been nipped at the edges of Alex's imagination. She'd had plenty of reason, but that hadn't make her any easier to deal with. Alex shrugged off his fears and focused on what Jayla had felt like when he'd held her close the other night. Warm, soft, inviting. Alex smiled. Something to aspire to?

Alex arrived at Jayla's door. He put the flowers behind his back and rapped his knuckles on her door.

On the other side of the door, Jayla blinked. Knocking? She was so used to hearing the door chime, she almost didn’t know what to do. She headed over to the door, activating it to open and found Alex standing there. “Hi!” she said cheerfully, giving him a brilliant smile. “Oh, good, it looks like I’ve dressed appropriately.”

Alex looked Jayla over appreciatively. She looked really good.

"You look great!" he said. He brought the flowers out from behind his back and presented them to her. "These are for you."

Chocolate cosmos!” gasped Jayla, taking them from him. “Either you’re a very good detective or you have a very good memory.”

"Is that what those are?" Alex said, leaning in to kiss Jayla on the cheek. "I just randomly pointed at some flowers in the Arboretum and...OUCH! Okay, okay, you got me. I remembered."

"Oh, that didn't hurt," she protested. She had punched him lightly in the shoulder when he'd tried to bluff his way through a story. "It wasn't even hard enough to kill a fly."

Alex laughed. "I'll admit, you've hit me harder. Now, be a good date and put the flowers in water, and let me take you out."

With a grin, Jayla crossed to the replicator and ordered a vase with water and plant food in it. "Of course I've hit you harder," she replied cheekily. "I seem to remember knocking a couple of teeth loose." She set the flowers in the vase and set the vase on her little coffee table. "There! Now I can think of you every time I see them. So where are we going?"

Alex got a little lightheaded at Jayla's comment as his heart sort of fluttered in his chest. He didn't lose his balance or anything like that, but an attractive, if sort of silly, grin touched his lips and his eyes in a display of true affection for the beautiful Trill.

"Holodeck," he said. "I thought maybe a long walk in the woods? I think I found a nice place. Not to warm, not too cool. Great views. It's not the real outdoors, of course, but it's really nice."

Alex held out his hand to Jayla, hoping she'd take it. Silly as it sounded, walking with Jayla and holding hands was as much of a teenage fantasy of his as making love to her had been. He'd been completely smitten with her as a teenager, in that goofy, awkward, puppy love way that adults looked at and tried their best not to tease about. It wasn't to be, back then, anyway. As stated, he was gangly and awkward and unsure of himself, and Jayla was going through a lot, processing a lot, and that left her behaving like a stereotypical high school 'mean girl'. Things were different now. Alex was handsome and well put together. He was much more confident. Jayla had matured as well, her 'mean girl' self left far in her past.

As ridiculous as it was, Jayla could not stop the slight blush that came to her cheeks as she slipped her hand into Alex’s. Perhaps it was because she never got to go through any of this as a teenager- and was well past it in the academy- or maybe it was that her memories of Alex were as a teenager, but whatever it was, she felt a bit coy and she really didn’t know what to do with that.

“That sounds lovely,” she replied with a grin of her own. “Maybe I’ll find somewhere beautiful to try to capture on canvas.”

"Let's go," Alex said, still with a silly, endearing grin on his face. He gave Jayla's hand a gentle squeeze led her out of her quarters and walked with her in companionable silence for a bit as they walked to the holodeck. Before figuring some small talk was in order. With a grin, Alex went back to their conversation from the other morning. The game was fun to play and helped them learn about each other. "Chicken marinated and baked in Russian dressing, the kind you put on a salad, with carrots and onions and potatoes baked in the dish with the chicken."

When Jayla looked at him kind of strangely, Alex chuckled.

"The very first original thing I learned to cook," he said. "I used to love Russian dressing on my salads, and, when mom had time to cook, she liked to cook easy stuff. Lots of casseroles and she liked to through things, meats especially, in a marinade and then bake them or grill them. One day...I was young, maybe eight or so. We were still serving planetside or on starbases, no kids on starships at that time. Anyway, I suggested that we marinate chicken, or whatever chicken analog we could get our hands on, in Russian dressing. Mom was dubious, but Dad wanted to encourage my creativity. He was always like that, being a creative guy himself. So Dad said that we'd make dinner that weekend and we worked up the recipe and played around in the kitchen and, after a night and day of marinating and some baking time, out came what we decided was a pretty awesome meal."

“The only thing I know how to cook is scrambled eggs,” Jayla confessed. “About the time I was joined, I was just starting to learn. And then I got sent to live with Saraja Jellic so that put a stop to that. My mum is an amazing cook, though I always put on a few pounds when I go home for a visit.”

"Ah," Alex said. "Then I'd better bring my A-Game if I convince you to let me cook you dinner sometime. We'll have to find a time when we have access to a decent kitchen, though I might be able to whip something up in that kitchenette in your quarters. Oooh, maybe corn cakes and homemade blackberry syrup...if I can find fresh blackberries or their analog when we get back to civilization, all the better. Otherwise...eh. I can replicated them and make the syrup from that. Let's see...favorite music. Old Earth Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Blues, even Funk and something called Glitch Hop. I even play a little bass now and again, mostly just for fun and relaxation. Oh, and don't worry. I wasn't good enough as a teenager to compose a sappy, tragic, puppy love song about my unrequited affection for you. I am embarrassed to say that I made a few attempts at it, though, mostly on my six-string acoustic bass guitar. They were terrible, truly awful. I never kept any record of them. Thank the Great Bird of the Galaxy that they were instrumentals! Can you imagine your reaction if I had serenaded you with a terrible song with lyrics that would have been embarrassing for both of us? You'd have broken my guitar over my head!"

Jayla giggled. “You’re probably right,” she replied. “I might’ve even murdered you. Oh, let’s see. I like most music, but I’m pretty rubbish at it, so I don’t play or sing. There’s not much I don’t like. I mean, even Klingon opera has its beauty.”

Alex grimaced.

"Um, we're going to have to agree to disagree on Klingon Opera," he said. "I actually got roped in to going to see a performance of Klingon Opera. A quarter of the way in, I started checking my ears to see if they were bleeding. Okay...felines or canines? Some people are one or the other. I'm sort of for both, but I don't really have time for a canine, and I haven't gotten around to feline. No tank pets. They're a nightmare to take care of. More trouble than a canine."

“I love all animals,” replied Jayla with a grin. “Although, I also don’t have time for a canine. I probably should have been a veterinarian instead of a doctor, but I didn’t think of it. I’ve been thinking of getting a pet of some sort. I’m just not sure what, yet.”

Suddenly, they were at the holodeck. Alex tapped the controls and then told the computer what program he wanted

"Kings Canyon, Rim Walk," he said. The computer acknowledged the command. Before he opened the doors, he turned back to Jayla.

"Okay," he said. "Kings Canyon is in Australia on Earth. The rim walk starts with climbing 500 steps. It's not easy, but the view is worth it. That said, that's just the start, and there's plenty of walking and viewing to be done, so if you want, we can skip to the top of the 500 steps and start from there. Lady's choice. During Raider training, because someone was caught complaining, my whole class flown to Kings Canyon and we had to run up and down the 500 steps until we collapsed. By the end, I was crawling, but I was the last man standing...or crawling, I guess. So I have a love/hate relationship with the 500 steps. But the rest of the hike...I went back and did it later. Amazing."

“I'm tempted to race you to the top,” she said, eyes sparkling mischievously, “but you’d probably win. I’m not a very good runner. But yeah, let’s climb the steps. Views are much nicer after you’ve worked for them.”

"I knew there was a reason I liked you!" Alex said. He opened the holodeck doors and before them was the stark beauty of the Australian Outback. Alex held out his hand. "Come on, let's go."

"Wow," she said, taking his hand as she looked around. "This is really cool. I've never been to Australia. I suppose this doesn't actually count, but it's the next best thing." She paused for a moment as they started up the steps. "The little house on the white cliffs near the equator of Trill," she said, continuing the game. "Where I grew up. It's way back in the most rural area you can imagine. You can be beamed there, but most people take the transports. They're sort of like Earth trains. It's a nice journey."

Alex smiled. "I look forward to taking that trip with you one day." He took a deep breath let it out. "It is beautiful here. Stark. Unforgiving. But beautiful. He squeezed Jayla's hand again, looking at her for a moment and smiling. "So are you."

She couldn't contain the giggle that rose in her throat. "I'm stark and unforgiving?" she teased.

Alex blushed, then laughed.

"Well, you used to be!" he said. "No. I meant you're beautiful, but I guess I'm just still a little awkward and goofy when it comes to you."

"I knew what you meant," she replied with a grin. "I was teasing. It was sweet." On impulse, she stretched up and kissed his cheek. "You get the points."

Alex blushed again. It was his turn to feel a little giddy.

"Well then," he said, smiling. "Lets see if I can earn enough points to move the next kiss around to the front of my face."

She gave him a grin and a wink. They climbed silently for some time, their breath taken by the incline. "The first witch in MacBeth," she said after quite some time. "The first roll I ever portrayed on stage in front of an actual audience."

"A weird sister, huh?" Alex said. "Well, you always were sort of weird," Alex winked to indicate he was kidding. "Where did you perform in Macbeth?"

As he asked, they arrived at the top and looked out over the canyon. They were both a little dumbstruck for a moment.

"Wow," Alex said, breaking the silence. "Just...wow. I've seen this before and it still stuns me. Even the holographic version."

"Oh, wow," breathed Jayla, forgetting the burning muscles in her legs for now. "This is really amazing." True, it was mostly rock, but there was just enough greenery to break it up and make it interesting. Plus, rocks could be beautiful under the right circumstances and these circumstances were pretty good.

Alex took in the view for a moment more, then paused. Feeling like Jayla was just too far away from him, he let loose her hand and slipped his arm around her and pulled her next to him. Having her closer just felt...right. He kissed her on the top of the head. If the date ended here, it would be perfect, but he didn't want it to end. He wanted to spend the day with Jayla, walking the rim, seeing the sights, and talking. He looked back over the canyon. Physical attraction aside, Alex was interested in everything Jayla had done since they'd parted ways twenty years ago.

"So," he said. "Where did you play a weird sister?"

"On the Impala, shortly before I left for the academy," she replied, slipping an arm around his waist. "I'd gotten back to my old self and decided to try out when one of the science officers announced she was holding auditions. To be perfectly honest, I think she was just thrilled that I turned up and seemed eager. I'm not so sure I was really all that great at acting at the time."

"Darn," Alex said. "I had already left for the enlisted academy. Probably for the best. Couldn't just see me leaving flowers for you back stage? And love notes? Anyway, have you acted much since? Maybe at Starfleet Academy?"

"Flowers and love notes," she repeated with a giggle. "I might have fallen for them at that point. But, yeah, I did some plays in the academy and even directed a couple during my residency. I prefer acting, though. Directing is a bit boring."

"Hmm...I never really got the opportunity to perform in plays," Alex said. "I've seen lots. I love live theatre almost as much as I love live music. Wait, I was in a play. I think I blocked out a memory here...I was...a carrot in a play about eating healthy foods when I was...six years old, I think. I think my mother kept a vid of it. When I reintroduce you her, you can bug her to see it, and you two can have a laugh at my expense."

“I’m sure you were a totally adorable 6-year-old,” she replied with a twinkling grin. “Also, the chance to see you in a carrot costume is a bit too much to resist.”

"Syvia Sh'thiarreq," Alex said. When Jayla looked at him strangely he grinned. "First slow dance. First kiss. I was fourteen. I'd basically been a wall flower the whole night. I think Syv asked me to dance on a dare, or because she lost a coin toss or something. Anyway, I practically fainted when she asked me and I was so nervous that I almost said no. So, we're dancing and Syv says 'bet this is making your night!' I said yes, and she said 'well then, I'm about to make your whole week for you!' and she kissed me and then we kissed some more. I must have done something right, because when our song ended she took me by the hand, said 'and now I think I'm going to make your whole year!' and led me off to one of the places where there were sensor blindspots and we made out for the rest of the night...and maybe a little more than made out, but, having kissed, I feel obligated not to tell more than that. Her parents transferred not long after. We keep in touch here and there. She's happily married and a mother and a lawyer on Andoria."

“Jaron Andrews,” replied Jayla with a grin. “He was my first everything. It was second year at the academy. To be perfectly honest, I just wanted to try everything. I think I underestimated how much he liked me until after we broke up. Poor guy. He kept trying to make me jealous, but I’m a joined Trill; it’s incredibly difficult to make us jealous.” She shook her head a bit sadly. “I should have been a bit nicer to him. Ah well, live and learn.”

"I'll keep that in mind," Alex said. "For the record, I wasn't trying to make you jealous. I don't even really know why I told you about Syv. Want to walk some more while we talk?"

“Syv is part of your past,” she replied as they began to walk slowly along the trail. “Just like Jaron is a part of mine. They helped make us who we are today. Either of us being jealous would be irrational and unproductive. I mean, if we like each other how we are, we should be grateful for those people in each other’s pasts.”

"I couldn't agree more," Alex said as they walked along the barren rim of Kings Canyon, ground crunching a bit under their feet. The canyon itself held quite a bit more greenery, but the rim was mostly a tan/orange rock color. "So...your turn. I'm asking all of the questions. Time for a little role reversal. Ask me anything."

“I thought we were just answering random unspoken questions,” she replied with a grin. “Okay, uh.... actually, I’m dying to know what your parents throught of me back then. I can’t imagine they were very happy with me, but Saraja sheltered me from all of that and wouldn’t tell me anything.”

"Actually," Alex said. "They knew you were going through a rough time and felt bad for you. Mom said she had to fight with herself not to give you a hug every time she saw you, because she could see your pain and frustration. She didn't hug you because she felt you pushing her away when she tried to talk to you. She later said that she should have just hugged you everyday you walked into Sickbay and to Hell with how uncomfortable it would have made you feel. I know how she felt because I wanted to hug you, too. But I was a teenage boy, so my desire to comfort you was all mixed up with other desires, so I'm sure that was off-putting and confusing to someone who was already feeling confused."

“Aw,” replied Jayla, slightly misty-eyed. “That’s so sweet. Even after I knocked out your teeth?”

"Ha!" Alex laughed. "My father laughed his ass off when he found out about that and my mother asked me what I'd done to deserve it! Then they both laughed and made sympathetic noises. Then they suggested that maybe my affections for you weren't going anywhere good and that perhaps I should focus on other things for awhile. Besides, it was only two teeth and my mom had an oral surgeon grow a pair of replacements and implant them. No harm, no foul. Teeth got replaced and my bruised ego and crushed, sensitive, teenage heart recovered as I grew up. But I never forgot about you. I thought about trying to look you up and see how things had turned out for you. Ultimately I decided that I should let you move on and move on myself. But I never quite got you out of my mind...or my heart. That probably sounds silly to you, or like I'm obsessed, or that I never grew up, or something like that. I suppose all of those things are possible. I like to think that it means that you made an impression on me at an age where I was very impressionable, and that's why thoughts of you have followed me around for twenty years, leading me to the here and now, where I'm taking in an amazing view while holding close to me the woman who captured my heart twenty years ago, and scooped it right back up again when the Great Bird of the Galaxy brought us together again...sorry...maybe that was a little to sappy?"

“A bit,” admitted Jayla with a grin. “But it was also very sweet.” She gave him a little squeeze with the arm she had put around his waist. “You’re just racking up points.”

Being this close with Jayla was making Alex feel very affectionate and he kissed Jayla on the head, the scent of her hair making him lightheaded. It wasn't any particular perfume she was wearing. It was just the scent of her, warm and close to him...and not punching him in the mouth. That last part was important. Bravado aside, getting punched in the mouth all those years ago really hurt!

They walked a while more in companionable silence. It was warm, and the sun was bright.

"Computer," Alex said. "Two pairs of sunglasses and two boonie hats, khaki tan, one set fit to Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Alexander Rylan's measurements, the other fit to Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij's measurements. And two canteens filled with cool water. Thank you."

A small table appeared in a flash and on it were the requested items.

"I should have thought of this before," Alex said as he gently placed a boonie hat on Jayla's head. "But I was really excited to finally get some time alone with you. I guess I forgot about some of the details.

He went to hand her the sunglasses, but stopped when their eyes met. He held her gaze a moment, slightly breathless, then set down the sunglasses. His hands came up to reach for her face, and then he paused.

"If I kiss you, right here and now, because you look so incredibly kissable," he said. "You're not going to punch me in the mouth again, are you? Because to be totally honest with you, it would really suck if you did."

In reply, Jayla grinned and stretched the last couple of inches to press her lips gently to his. “No,” she said softly as she pulled back a bit. “I like your teeth where they are.”

Alex grinned. "I think I need to do that again. Just to convince myself it actually happened." Without waiting for a response, Alex pulled Jayla into his arms and kissed her again, a bit longer this time. When their lips parted again, he rested his forehead on hers. He didn't say anything. He just wanted the moment to last a little longer.

As for Jayla, she couldn't stop grinning. With a sigh, she wrapped both arms around his waist and leaned into him. This was nice and she didn't want to spoil it with words, so she just stood there, enjoying the feel of his arms around her...

TBC

 

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