Making a New Friend
Shore Leave: Business As Usual
Nathan had finished his shift and didn't want to go back to his quarters and stare at the four walls. Nor did he want to go for a run. He finally decided to go to the Defiant's lounge and have a drink. Entering he saw the place wasn't quite full nor was it empty. He found a booth out of the way and slid in. When the waitress came over, he ordered a rum and coke. He could sit here and think of the toilet bowl his career was in and not be in anyone's way.
Claire Lafayette gave a relieved sigh as she entered the lounge, glad to finally be off duty for the day. She walked over toward the bar, and took a seat before ordering herself a margarita. Twisting her neck to get the tension out, she spun a little in her chair, assessing the lounge.
There were a wide variety of crew present. Some were about to start shifts, others ending it. It was a nice quiet night. Perfect for having a quick drink and heading off to bed, she thought to herself. When Defiant actually pulled back into port, she'd look for more fun activities, but after their little incident with Typhon...rest was still sounding very nice.
After the waitress brought him his drink, Nathan realized he wanted something to snack on. Rather than call her back, he made his way to the bar. "Excuse me, can I get a bowl of pretzels to snack on?" As the bartender went to get him his bowl of pretzels. Nathan leaned against the bar. He saw a cute little redhead with Ensign bars sitting at the bar. "Hello." He said as he waited.
The greeting pulled Claire's attention to the man who'd approached the bar. The Security Chief had approached the bar for some food, and appeared to have actually noticed there was a junior officer present. Always a nice sign in a superior. "Good evening, Commander," she said, welcomingly. "Enjoying some off duty time, I see?"
Nathan nodded as he took the bowl of pretzels from the bartender. "Yes. Well quiet time. I'm sitting in that booth in the corner if you'd like to join me and my pretzels." He said with a grin.
She returned the smile, scooping up her glass. "Well who can say no to pretzels?" Hopping off the bar stool, they headed toward the booth. The starlines outside were streaking by peacefully, and Claire inwardly felt a little more comfortable with every additional lightyear they put between the Defiant and the remains of the probe. "So what brings you to the lounge this evening, sir?"
Nathan shook his head. "Please, call me Nathan. It's my name and I've had it a lot longer than I've had the rank. As what to brought me here, I didn't want to sit in my quarters and stare at the four walls. I suppose I could have gone running, but I do that in the morning. So I came here to sit, enjoy my drink, people watch, and talk to a pretty ensign."
Claire laughed, as she settled into the booth seat. She did her best to hold her mischievous smile back. "Pretty Ensigns, huh? I know what you mean. I haven't seen Ensign Pierce tonight, but I'll be sure to alert you as soon as he shows up."
Nathan smiled warmly back at her. "I was speaking about present company. No need. I've met Ensign Colby. When I was introduced to the security department." He pushed the bowl of pretzels to her, "Have some. They're surprisingly good."
"Of course, they are. They're pretzels," Claire said with a exaggerated emphasis. "So...Nathan," she started, feeling a little odd using his name instead of rank or an honorific. "You're still pretty new to Defiant. What's your read on our crew?"
Nathan laughed. "Good point. Before I give my take on the crew, can you do me the honor of telling me your name?"
A bit of Claire's snark melted off as she blushed, more than a little embarrassed. Had she just assumed he knew who she was? Her ego might be getting a too big. "Oh, I'm so sorry. Ensign Claire Lafayette. I'm the Planetary Sciences Specialist."
"Claire Lafayette." Nathan repeated, "I like that. A pleasure to meet you Claire. My last name is Bishop." He didn't know if he had made a mistake in telling Claire his last name but she'd find out sooner or later. Best to just get it out of the way. Maybe she didn't know who he was. "Now in answer to your question. I think we have a good crew. Solid and dependable. They know their jobs. We have a good command team in the Captain and XO as well."
"We seem to have a good Second Officer too," she said, taking a drink from her glass. "You've been aboard for a couple weeks now. News of the new Security Chief has successfully trickled to the other departments. But yeah, I'd agree. The crew has been through a lot recently, but they've held together pretty well. I wasn't always feeling the whole Starfleet vibe, but the crew has made me glad I joined up."
Nathan smiled over the top of his glass. "Very kind of you to say Claire. Thank you. I appreciate the vote of confidence. For what it is worth, I'm glad you joined up as well." He grabbed a handful of pretzels, "You going to make Starfleet a career?"
"I wasn't going to originally. The structure of it all seemed a bit too confining. I grew up with civilian parents. Most of my early years were spent freely moving around as their different projects dictated. The idea of signing up for such a hierarchical organization, getting sent where I'm told and not where I want, and being assigned research tasks? It didn't sound that appealing." She paused for a moment, looking out over her fellow crewmates. "But a lot of my issues weren't quite accurate. I've had relative freedom researching what I want. True, it needs to be along Defiant's path. But I wouldn't be out this far as a civilian. Plus, I've been surprised how easy it has been to get additional resources for me projects."
"Very well said. A very mature attitude. I am impressed. Starfleet isn't for everyone but those that make it a career are rewarded for their efforts. As you said, you would never be this far out as a civilian and you'll see things long before anyone else will." Nathan replied.
Claire nodded. "I won't deny that there are some downsides. The chain of command isn't for everyone. Sometimes I am part of that group. The uniforms, while rather flattering, do hamper people's self expression sometimes too. But so far, I think the pros have outweighed the cons."
"Starfleet is like any organization. You have to adapt to the way it does business and it can be exceptionally challenging to those who have never dealt with the bureaucracy. There are some downsides but for the most part the good outweighs the bad. Especially if you are willing to work and commit to your field of expertise." Nathan replied.
"Agreed. I think I operated under the misunderstanding that Starfleet was just military. Your tactical division definitely operates that way. And it seems like command does a bit too. But sciences are quite civilian in their operation. It's...nice. But I imagine tactical is different," Claire replied.
"Well, we don't walk in lock step but we are pretty military but we have to be. The safety of the ship and crew depends on us. We're not cracking jokes all day but neither are we gloom and doom. I try to find a happy medium that being professional in doing my job and I want the department to be the same way."
"That makes sense," the science officer replied, grabbing a small handful of the snacks. "Well the science department is very glad that you handle the fighting so that we generally don't have to."
"And the security/tactical department is grateful that the science department is glad we handle the fighting." Nathan bantered back with a grin.
Claire laughed and took a drink from her glass, doing her best to avoid spilling it. She admitted the glasses were pretty, but practical they were not. "How has sliding into the crew gone so far? Joining a crew with your position sounds a little challenging, just from a social standpoint."
"You have a talent for understatement Claire. It has been a challenge. I knew the Captain before. We both served on the Bradbury. The XO and Chief of Ops both seem nice and capable. However other then a briefing I gave in the security/tactical department and speaking with you along with our little adventure on the surface, I still haven't mingled with a lot of the crew yet."
Claire let out a bit of a laugh. She briefly debated if that was socially appropriate, especially at the expense of her superior. But the thought passed quickly. “You should probably do a bit more of that. I don’t know that lurking in the booth in the corner is the best way to do it either, unless you’re planning to invite us all over for a one on one.”
A grin played across his face, "Probably right Claire. Though in my defense I wasn't lurking and it's hard when you're by yourself. I feel like everyone is looking at me and whispering, 'There's the new guy.'"
Claire nodded. "That's one way to look at it. I prefer to think people are curious to get to know me, and make myself known on the scene. Or talk to the Captain. I'm sure she can help you settle in."
Nathan shook his head, "You may be right Claire. But I'm not asking the Captain to help me with this." He sighed, "I'll figure something out or I'll just lurk in the corner." He said with a laugh.
"Well, if you're looking for a chance to socialize, a few of us are getting together tomorrow night for a poker game. You could stop by if you wanted," Claire said, extending the invitation. She was sure the other's wouldn't mind.
"Thanks for the invite but I wonder. How will your friends feel losing all their money to the new guy?" Nathan asked as his eyes glinted with humor.
"It'd definitely be a good way to earn their respect...at least as a poker player. Nothing to get the subordinates in line like an old fashioned card game ass whoopin'," Claire said, mimicking an old Earth military cadence.
Nathan nodded, "Alright consider me in. Just two questions. Where and what time and how will you feel about being subject to an old fashion ass whipping?"
"Rec Room. 1900," Claire replied with a wink. "And you'll have to beat me first."