Relaxing with a Friend
Episode 1: A Lesson in Humility
Location: Recreation Room
Timeline: En Route
Nathan walked around the pool table. "Five ball corner pocket." He announced and with a deft touch, did exactly that. He smiled at Charlotte. "I do love playing pool. A good easy way to make money when I was at the academy." He shook his head, "Taking money from all those upperclassmen who thought they knew
how to play. I got quite the rep."
"Eleven, side pocket," Charlotte said. A quick flick of her wrist and the ball obeyed her command. She gave him a smug look. She'd developed into quite the shark herself. "Learned from the best. You guys on the Bradbury were a bad influence. I've fleeced people in more than a few shady bars since then."
"Not bad." Nathan commented, "I'm glad to see you were paying attention." He commented as he looked the table over. "Seven side pocket." A quick stroke and the ball disappeared into the pocket. he leaned on his cue stick. "Bad influence? We made you rich Charley. We should be getting a cut of all the money, you won."
"A mentor tax? Should have set up that agreement at the beginning," she said with a laugh, trying to line up her next shot. "I got in trouble back on Starbase Arcadia though. Apparently their boards are too fancy for jump shots." She made a mocking face at the word fancy.
"Ahh. I knew there was something we forgot. I guess it's too late to make it retroactive?" He bantered as he waited for to shot." He made a face as she mentioned Arcadia. "Fancy? Are we talking the same Starbase Arcadia? Their boards are lousy. Too much give to them. It's like shooting into a mattress. You lose all your force. Which is why you need to compensate and put extra English on the ball."
"The very same. They all look fancy, but they're not actual quality boards. Don't hold up under any strain. There was a guy there who had too much of an ego. Decided to try and show off. So I did a little showing off myself...and was lectured by the bar staff," Charlotte replied with a laugh. The reprimand from the staff had been worth the look on his face.
"You know between the two of us we could get rich or at least make a lot of money entering pool contests before anyone got wise." Nathan pointed out.
"We definitely could. Especially with my little luring technique," Charlotte said with a smile. She walked over to the tabled and lined up for a shot, but this time with her left hand holding the cue. She took a shot and it looked surprisingly convincing...if a bit less skilled. "A hint of ambidextrousness goes a long way. I may or may not have tricked a few people into thinking I'm a lefty. Didn't reveal the truth until they were in too deep."
Nathan nodded approvingly, "Smart. Never show your hold cards too soon." He smiled again. "I'm going to look for tournaments we can enter. What do you think of that?"
"I'm game," she said with a confident smirk. "Thought it might have to wait til we're a little closer to Federation Space again. Not sure how many pool tables there are this far out." She took a shot, just narrowly missing an impressive banking move. "It's a bummer I left the Bradbury while our pool group was really heating up. I mean, I don't regret it. Got me my first Chief Helm position. But I do miss the Bradbury gang sometimes."
"That's true but I'm sure we can scare up a few." Nathan replied as he walked around the table looking for a shot. "They were a good group, that's for sure." He leaned over the table. "Six ball off the ten side pocket." He remarked as he lined up the shot. "Those were good days and good times."
"They were. And given the fact that I very nearly died on that ship, I think that's a ringing endorsement," she said. "How'd your posting after Bradbury go?
Nathan leaned against his cue stick, "I left the Bradbury and got my first chief's posting on the Roosevelt. As Chief of Security/Tactical. It was a great time, having someone have confidence in me to run a whole department. From there I went to the Arizona as it's Captain. Fourteen of the best months of my life as her CO." He paused and his voice grew softer as he said the rest. " You know the rest Charley."
She scolded herself internally for a moment. She’d been trying to bring up happier times before the Arizona incident. Maybe some shenanigans on the Roosevelt. But honestly, who could blame him for focusing on the incident. “Never really interacted with an Roosevelt crew. After Bradbury I was in the Cairo, before the Zheng He. Feels like a long time since then.”
"Yeah, the Roosevelt feels like a lifetime ago." Bishop replied. he looked at her and sensed her anger at herself. "Hey, Charley, relax. You don't have to tip toe around me or watch what you say I'm not made out of glass. I'm fine really."
"No...I know," she said, conceding her internal thoughts. "I just wanted to be sensitive. It's obviously not on the same scale, but with everything that happened with me aboard the Zheng He...I just didn't want to put you in a situation to make you uncomfortable. I know how that can feel."
Nathan stopped looking at his next shot and looked at Charley, "Okay out with it. What happened on the Zheng He?" He demanded.
"Nothing," she said dismissively. "I put my trust in someone who I shouldn't have. My XO ran a smuggling ring under my nose. I didn't even catch a hint of it. And when it finally came out, it nearly took me down with it. Changed the way I approach trust, I think." She left some of the more personal details out of her explanation.
Bishop didn't press Charley though he knew she was leaving out details. He knew all about the lack of trust. The same bug had bitten him. People he thought were friends that he could count on distanced themselves from him, where once friendly were now cold and distant. "I'm sorry Charley." and he truly was. She didn't deserve that.
“Thanks. Though I don’t know how much sympathy I deserve,” she said hesitating for a moment. She wasn’t sure about sharing the next piece. But if she couldn’t tell an old friend, then she shouldn’t bother talking about it in general. “It’s just that I of all people should have seen it. It wasn’t some lower deck Crewman. She was my XO. And we were...involved.”
Bishop turned and walked over to her until he was standing right in front of her. "Wrong Charley, you were involved in a relationship with someone you clearly loved and cared about and that can cause blind spots when dealing with that person. You make excuses for their behavior or actions. You rationalize what they're doing." He shook his head, his hand reached out and gently lifted her chin, his eyes meeting hers. "Learn from this. The next time you're in a relationship like this and you will be. Love unconditionally but keep your eyes and ears open. Be aware of what is going on around you." He smiled at her, "You're smart. You won't make the same mistake twice."
Charlotte paused for a moment, not entirely sure how to react to the gesture. She felt the eyes of a few crew drift their way, and decided for her classic defense. Sarcasm.
"Aww, thanks, Dad," Charlotte quipped back at him, giving a light punch to his arm and diffusing a little of the awkwardness in the moment. His advice was kind, but she didn't like showing vulnerability in front of the crew. Maybe that was a standoffish approach, but she preferred that to the way officers had questioned her command on Zheng He after everything with Alina had come out. Respect was easier to maintain if the crew's image of her was in uniform, and that meant a similar confidence off duty as well. Speaking of which..."By the way, 8-ball side pocket."
Nathan blinked at Charley's response then he understood, they weren't alone and she didn't want to be seen as vulnerable. A position he had unwittingly put her in through his concern and caring for her. He nodded and smiled, "That's right young lady and don't you forget it." He bantered back. He looked at the shot she attempting, "Are you going to shoot or just talk about it?" He teased.
She line up the shot, connected with the cue ball, and sent the 8-ball snuggle into the pocket. With a dramatic bow, she retrieved the rack to prepare for another game. Quietly, she finally replied, hoping not to make her friend feel bad. "Thank you though. I appreciate the reassurance. It's helpful to hear someone outside of my own head say it."
She set the rack on the table with a satisfying thunk. "Another round?"
"You are most welcome, Charley. You're a good, Captain. Don't let anyone tell you different. Everyone needs to hear someone say they're doing a good job." He looked at the rack, "Are you kidding? Of course!"
She leaned against one the near by posts. "I'll let you break then."