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No Good Time, Present or Past

Posted on 25 Jan 2019 @ 5:49am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Senior Chief Petty Officer Alexander Rylan

Mission: History
Location: USS Impala
Timeline: Approximately 17 years ago

Alex was nervous, and he was angry with himself. Why hadn't he done this sooner? Why had he waited until now? The answer was, simply, there had never been a good time to tell Jayla Kij he was in love with her, and if there had been...well, Alex Rylan wasn't experienced to have sensed it. Or maybe he was just too nervous or perhaps scared out of his mind was a better description. Jayla was...she was wonderful. Everyone else saw a sullen, angry teenage girl. Alex saw past all of that. After he'd visited her in Sick Bay following her suicide attempt, and they'd played head to head Solitaire, first one game, then best two out of three, then best three out of five, then five out of seven, then seven out of nine, then nine out of eleven, until Alex's mother and Saraja finally kicked him out of Sickbay, Jayla had started being...not exactly nice, but she wasn't super bitchy with him like she'd been when she'd first arrived. She...the best word Alex could think of was that she tolerated him. Every now and then, she'd even smile, just a little, at something he did or said. Then she'd scowl and get huffy, but just that slight smile was enough to put Alex over the moon. For the last two years or so, Alex had followed Jayla around like a puppy...like a puppy following someone who absolutely refused to admit they liked dogs, and Jayla had...tolerated him. Sometimes it seemed like she was waiting for him to do something, to say something, to do something, but Alex was too scared. Jayla was a teenager, his age. But Kij was several centuries old. She was like a girl his age and an older woman at the same time. How could he be enough for her? And how would he not die of a broken heart if he'd told her he loved her before now and she laughed in his face or treated him like a dumb kid?

He wasn't a dumb kid anymore, though he wasn't in his full prime yet either. But he'd filled out and was on his way to completely trading in gawkiness for confidence and good looks. But that was because he was eighteen and about to leave for Starfleet Enlisted Academy. He'd been rejected by every university he'd applied to, including the main Starfleet Academy itself. That was why he was willing to say something now. Not only was he leaving, but he'd never be smart or sophisticated enough for Jayla Kij, so he had nothing to lose.

He'd been on the way to the quarters Jayla shared with Saraja, so lost in his thoughts that he was surprised when he arrived. With an overwhelming sense of impending doom, Alex reached out and hit the door chime.

For her part, Jayla had actually managed to follow Saraja's instructions and had gotten her mind back to herself. She was still sullen and moody, which could be normal teenage angst, but it also had to do with Kij not quite fully getting over the slight of being a child all of a sudden. Add to that the fact that she totally liked Alex but refused to admit it, even to herself, and it was a recipe for a troubled teen causing trouble for everyone.

When the chime sounded, she was in the middle of a knitting row and didn't want to interrupt her progress. "Come in," she called, barely glancing up as she counted her stitches. She had tried many different activities as a means of stress relief, but none had really stuck. Knitting as the newest and she could already tell she hated it.

Alex entered, and, despite his nervousness, he grinned when he saw Jayla knitting.

"Hi, Jayla," he said. She knew he was graduating and that he was leaving and where he was going. Unless of course she was just totally self absorbed and didn't realize that he'd completed his secondary education. "I wanted to come say goodbye. You know, before I leave for the enlisted academy."

Even though she found him annoying, he had been her only friend on the Impala. She didn't want to admit it, but she was going to miss him. "Oh," she replied a bit sadly. "I guess I forgot. You leave tomorrow, right?"

"Yes," Alex said. "I know you don't see me like I see you. I'm betting you see me as a dumb kid with a stupid crush, but...oh, screw it. Jayla, I fell head over heels for you the moment I met you and I would have said something about that, done something about that, but...the right time didn't seem to come along. You seemed like you needed a friend, one who would put up with all of the baggage you showed up here with, so that's what I tried to be for you. I don't know how good a job I did, but since you didn't throw me out of an airlock, or try to convince Security that I was some pervert stalker, I guess I didn't do too bad. I guess what I'm saying is that I love you, Jayla Kij. The timing sucks, but there it is."

Was he kidding right now? Why would he do this now of all times? And didn't he know that she- no, that everybody already knew how he felt about her? But, she couldn't deal with this. She had enough on her mind without him adding to it. "Alex," she said. "Don't."

"No," Alex said. "I have to. I love you, Jayla Kij. I'm not saying it because I want anything in return. I just wanted you to know how I felt about you. I hope you figure yourself out, and I hope we meet again someday, but if I never see you again, at least you know how I feel about you...how I've felt about you since you first walked into class, how, in some ways, I'll always feel about you."

Angrily, Jayla threw her knitting on the floor and stood up. In two strides, she crossed to Alex. "Why would you tell me this now?" she demanded hotly. "You're leaving tomorrow! Tomorrow! What can either of us possibly do about it? What do you want me to do about it?"

"Nothing," Alex replied. "You've got so much going on inside you, Jayla, so much you have to figure out. I think maybe I do, too. Maybe, if our paths cross again, things will be different. But for now...if you wanted to, you could tell me that you have feelings for me, too, and that you've only been doing the teenage equivalent of putting crayons in my milk because you like me, but you've been so twisted up inside that you didn't know what to do with those feelings. You know, if that was truly how you felt. Like you said, I'm leaving tomorrow. This might be your last chance to tell me how you feel."

“You wanna know how I feel?” she asked, voice shaking from anger. “You wanna know how I really feel?” And without warning, she drew her fist back and let it fly straight into Alex’s mouth.

Alex, who'd won sparring matches against boys, girls, those in between, and holograms a lot physically tougher than Jayla Kij, was caught totally off guard. Jayla had taken her 'mean girl' persona pretty far in the past, but she'd never hit him. Alex staggered back, blood flowing from his lip and spit two teeth into his hand. He put the teeth in his pocket so one of the doctors in Sickbay could put them back in for him. He looked at Jayla first in shock, then sadness.

"Ouch," Alex said. "Okay, maybe I had that coming. My timing sucks, I know. But ask yourself this: are you mad at me for not coming forward earlier? Or at yourself for spending so much energy trying to convince me that you thought I was a stupid kid, that I was too simple and juvenile for you, that I never felt safe telling you how I felt about you. Don't answer that. I'm going to go. And you're right. Maybe I am a stupid kid. Because I still love you. Now, there's one more thing I have to do."

Alex pulled Jayla into a hug. "I'll miss you, Jayla, and I'll never forget you."

And then, after placing a soft, if bloody, kiss on Jayla's cheek, Alex Rylan was gone.

Too stunned to resist his hug, Jayla was left standing there, blinking and wondering what the heck had just happened. She glanced around questioningly, perhaps hoping her knitting would tell her what was going on, but it just laid there pointlessly.

Had she really just punched him in the mouth? He had been her only friend and she thanked him by punching him? She hadn't deserved him. Perhaps that was why she wouldn't let herself admit that she liked him; she knew he was too good for her.

In a sudden fit of anger, she kicked her knitting across the room with a scream of rage and watched one of the needles stick into the opposite wall. She clenched her jaw and scowled at it before stomping off to her bedroom and lying face down on her bed, crying angrily into the pillow.

Alex pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it to his bleeding lip. He probably looked like a mass murderer. Hopefully he wouldn't run into any masters-at-arms. They might not believe Alex if he told them he'd walked into a door. Sickbay was going to be hard enough. He was pretty sure that if he got to his mom before he saw Saraja, he could convince her to just ask the dentist to put the teeth back in and leave it at that. Saraja...she was going to be...Alex just didn't think 'angry' was a large enough word to describe how bat crap bananas pissed off Saraja was going to be at Jayla. Alex arrived at Sickbay and tried to sneak in and find his mom before Saraja saw him...and failed.

"Alex!" exclaimed Saraja, spotting the boy with blood all over his chin as he walked into Sick Bay. She hurried over, pulling out her tricorder as she went. "What happened?"

"Umm..." Alex said. He was such a sweet kid that he was a terrible liar. All through his childhood, other kids would shut him out of things because they were certain that if an adult asked Alex about what was going on, he wouldn't be able to tell a good lie. "Um...would you believe I walked into a door? Or that I forgot to tie my boots and stepped on my laces and fell face first into my dresser."

He glanced down and almost cursed. The boots he was wearing didn't have laces.

"Um...yeah," he said. "Can I just not tell you what happened? It doesn't hurt that bad. Oh! I almost forgot!"

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the two teeth Jayla had knocked out of his mouth. "I kinda need the dentist to put those back in. Today, if possible, because I'm leaving tomorrow for the enlisted academy."

The way he hedged made Saraj suspicious. "Alex," she said firmly. "Did Jayla do this?"

"Ummm..." Alex said. "Aw, come on, Doc! You know I suck at lying! Can't you just not ask me that? I mean, it's just a cut lip and some teeth! You can fix the lip easy and those teeth can be popped back in real easy, too! Please don't punish Jayla, Doc. You know she's still struggling."

"Of course I know that," replied Saraja. "I'm not going to punish her; I'm going to kill her! Other people struggle, too, and they manage to not punch people every day!" She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Come over here and I'll fix your lip, then we'll see if the Dentist can squeeze you in. She usually keeps a few emergency appointments open every day." She led him to a nearby biobed and indicated he should sit there.

Alex climbed up on the biobed.

"Um," he said. "Could you maybe not kill her? I know I'm probably never going to see her again and that time will pass and I get old and she'll just be a memory, but at the moment I'm an eighteen year old kid who's head over heels in love with her and it would kinda suck if you killed her. You know, on the off chance she and I meet up again one day and this time she's got her head screwed on straight and falls in love with me."

Saraja scoffed as she began fixing Alex's lip. If that ever happens, I'll eat my uniform she thought. "Fine, but she's grounded until she's 30," she replied. "So if you meet her before then, you'll have to wait."

Alex grinned, which made him look ridiculous with blood all over his teeth and chin and shirt...or maybe like a psychopath who'd just eaten five to ten crew members...while they were still alive.

"Thanks, Doc," he said. "I owe you one." Alex looked somber for a moment. "Seriously, Doc. Take care of her. She's special, and not just in her own opinion of herself."

"I know," Saraja replied seriously. "If only I could get her to listen. At least she's managed to retake her mind. Now I just have to get her to remember how to be a kid. Mostly the respect your elders part."

Alex laughed. "Yeah. Good luck with that."

Saraja's eyes widened for a moment in a sort of deer-in-the-headlights look. "Thanks," she said. "I'm gonna need it." She quickly finished up with his lip. "If there's any itching, come back right away," she instructed. "Humanoid saliva is filled with the grossest bacteria you can imagine. Anyway, let's go see if the Dentist can stick those teeth back in."

"Thanks, Doc," Alex said. He was going to miss this place, and he was sad that his parting with Jayla had gone the way it did, but he was excited, too. He was embarking on a great adventure: his life as an adult. He couldn't wait to see what that meant!

 

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