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Bearing Gifts

Posted on Sat Aug 10th, 2019 @ 12:05pm by Commander Gary Taylor

Mission: Mission 2: Heaven On Earth
Location: Gary's Cabin
Timeline: day after the birthday party

Estelle rang Gary's doorbell. She was clad in a black turtleneck and trousers, less formal than her uniform but still fairly conservatively dressed. She was carrying a tray with tea and biscuits, hoping to find Gary in an agreeable mood.

Gary was seated on his couch, the lights were dimmed much like his mood. He was roused from his melancholy by his door chime ringing. Wondering who could be coming to see him, he went to the door and opened it to find Estelle standing there. He blinked in surprise. "Estelle?" He questioned, "Is something wrong?"

"Just making a house call", Estelle smiled. "Not my usual preference, but for you I'll make an exception." She came in and brought the tray over to the table by the couch.

"A house call? I didn't think you doctors did that anymore." Gary quipped. "Please have a seat." He looked at the tray. "Just what have you got there?"

"Everything we need for tea time", Estelle said, beginning to pour two cups. "Did I mention I'm glad you're back? The interim management was less than pleasant to work with, even if they found my Tea-Rex."

"Tea time." Gary repeated as he sat on the couch. "I appreciate that Estelle... a great deal. You had issues with the Commodore and her aides? Where did they find your Tea-Rex?"

"It's a tea pot the shape of a tyrannosaur", Estelle explained, "And during their inspection, they found it in a medicine cabinet, one I don't usually look into because that's the job of the nurses. I think one of them hid it from me to see what I'd do. Not that I'm complaining, I'm all for pranks, but when I walked in and thanked them for finding it, they got the impression I wasn't taking this whole inspection deal as seriously as they thought I should." She offered him some biscuits. "Astute on their part, but what can I do?"

He took one of the biscuits. "Some people have no sense of humor." He observed "And for some it's all fun and games. The key is to find a happy balance." He munched on the biscuit. "Good." He observed.

"It's the combination of cinnamon and vanilla", Estelle said. "Now, this is just my personal opinion, but the next time all the brass leaves, maybe leave orders for the next in line to take over, so we can't be taken over by desk officers with next to no actual experience? Not that I have a leg to stand on complaining about a lack of command experience, but then I don't try to occupy the centre chair."

"It's very good." Gary answered then continued, "I'll talk to the Captain about it. I do however think you hit on a good idea and I'm going to recommend that you and the CMO and perhaps the counselors have some command training."

"Er, that's not what I meant", Estelle said. "We've got officers with command training aboard, plenty of them. Anje, Arrianna, even Gallia after some time, though she is young. No need to bother us doctors."

"I know that's not what you meant but this is an excellent idea. It may be where you're pressed into command because everyone else is busy or dead." Gary countered.

"Once it comes to that, there'll be nobody left to command", Estelle countered. "I know I hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander, but I have no skills outside of medical that are in any way related to running a ship. A landing party perhaps, but..."

"You'll adapt and learn new skills to add to the ones you already have." Gary replied. "Don't be so negative. Besides it's only an idea not policy."

"I'm sure there are many who'd jump at the chance", Estelle said. "Give it to them. I've never wanted to be anything other than a doctor." She sipped her tea. "Besides, it's much easier to complain about what others are doing wrong, if you're not asked to show you can do better, no?"

"Doctor, Estelle." Gary began "Relax. It's not going to happen today or tomorrow, if ever. It has to go under review, then actual training. You're safe to continue your complaining."

"Good. I've spent many a perk point in that tree", Estelle grinned.

"Yes you're quite skilled at your complaining." Gary acknowledged.

"You know I gave up a position as senior officer to come work on the Elysium instead, yes?" Estelle asked.

"Yes, I do read personnel files." Gary quipped. "And look at you now. You're a senior officer."

"Yeah, I can lead doctors and nurses", Estelle admitted. "Those guys at the field hospital on Cortic certainly didn't expect me to come in and take over like I did. But it was hard with many of the sensors not working right."

"And you did a masterful job. Just like the job you're doing now plying me with biscuits and tea and getting me to talk." He nodded, "Well done Estelle."

"I thought you might want to return to normality", Estelle admitted. "And what's more normal than my shenanigans?"

"True and I do appreciate the effort and you." Gary offered. "It was most considerate."

"But don't think you'll be rid of me this easily", Estelle said. "I am curious to know what your plans are going forward."

"Of course not. I'd be worried if I could." Gary countered. "As for plans, don't have any. Thought about going back to my parents' ranch. Even thought about asking Lia and Lis... um Commander Qwyyn to come along but decided that wasn't a good idea."

"I think you should go", Estelle said. "We've got four weeks, and even under normal circumstances, you don't often get the chance to visit home. I'm going to see my father, too. He's still on Earth for a few more days."

Gary nodded. "We'll see. I'll think on it." He promised.

"Is there a reason you might decide not to go?" Estelle asked. "You do want to see your parents, don't you?"

"Yes. But you know parents, they will get around to asking about Lia and eventually ask about Commander Qwyyn and I don't want to go there. I don't know if I'll ever want to go there." Gary answered honestly.

"Tell them you don't", Estelle recommended. "They will respect your wishes. It's what good parents do. And if they were bad parents, you wouldn't even want to go in the first place."

"They are good parents and yes I can tell them that. It's that I so wanted to show Lia and Commander Qwyyn the ranch. I think they would have loved it."

Estelle nodded. "There's nothing for it, they will need time. I haven't had the chance to get to know Commander Qwyyn before, so I don't feel like I should be intruding, and Lia does not want to be disturbed either. Those two, I'll leave to the counsellors. I'm worried I'd do more harm than good trying to talk to them now."

"Welcome to the club." Gary answered morosely.

"But tell me, is there something I can do for you, beyond just pestering you with complaints and jokes?" Estelle asked.

Believe it or not, you just being here helps." Gary answered truthfully. "Thank you for taking the time to check on me."

"Would you like my advice?" Estelle asked, not awaiting an answer. "Don't spend so much time alone, by yourself. Spend more time with people. Take a friend on a holodeck adventure or for a hike down on the planet." The clearest sign Estelle didn't grow up on Earth. Only non-natives would refer to it as 'the planet', like just another world they visited during their journey.

"I'll take it under advisement Estelle. It's the best I can manage right now." Gary answered.

"Gallia has invited a few of us to Scotland, to where she grew up", Estelle said. "I'm sure she asked you as well."

"No, she didn't. Probably didn't want to bother me. It's alright." Gary replied quietly.

"I'm sure she will", Estelle said. "I only got mine an hour ago. She did say Liorga and I weren't the only ones."

Gary nodded. "Alight. I'll be on the lookout for it."

Estelle would make sure Gallia would, even if she hadn't originally intended to, though she indeed believed Gallia was going to of her own accord. "So, we never talked about this, but what do you do in your free time, generally speaking?"

"I read. Westerns, mysterious, history. Listen to 20th century music and on occasion go to holodeck for Old West adventures." Gary replied.

"You should team up with Anya Neeze", Estelle suggested. "She loves running historical adventure programmes."

"I didn't know. I'll have to do that. Thanks for the tip." Gary replied.

"But be careful, I think she might be on the look-out", Estelle winked.

"Anya? On the look out?" Gary repeated. "Are you sure?"

Estelle nodded. "Yes, she's upset that... hm, not sure if I'm supposed to talk about it, but... well, looks like it didn't work out what she thought she had."

"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. I thought she was in a relationship and all was good." Gary said.

No, last Estelle had heard, she was going down to the planet on leave, and had asked Estelle for the necessary vaccinations against making 'discoveries'. You didn't do that when you were in a stable relationship. Not that she could tell Gary about that part. "Not everyone's as lucky as I am."

"Hmm. Maybe it's momentary." He suggested.

"In my case, I hope not", Estelle said. "In her case, yes. She's gorgeous, she's bound to catch someone's eye."

"No doubt. Just hope it's not the wrong person's eye." Gary pointed out.

"Yeah, well, you never know ahead of time", Estelle said. "But if it doesn't work out, at least you've tried, and maybe had some good times before things turn ugly. That's got to be worth it."

Gary shook his head, "Nothing is worth being in a bad relationship even for a short period of time."

"True, if it starts out bad, that's a problem", Estelle agreed.

"Absolutely correct. I would hate to see Anya fall into a relationship like that." Gary commented.

Estelle nodded thoughtfully, nibbling on a biscuit. "Somehow, I don't think she's at risk. She's a fighter."

"No doubt, but even a fighter can get in over their head." Gary pointed out.

Estelle nodded. "But this is Earth. Not exactly the place you'd have to worry about. I'm glad we're not on Cortic any more."

"Especially on Earth. You don't want to be lulled into a false sense of security. That's when bad things happen." Gary stressed.

But they couldn't live their lives constantly worrying about possible dangers, could they? Estelle refused to live in fear, though she figured that was a harder thing to do for Gary. She remembered how scared she had been on Cortic, and she assumed it was mild compared to what he had just been through, so she held her tongue. She did not want to upset him by arguing the point.

"Is that why you stay here all the time?" Estelle asked, risking the question because she thought he might not have thought about it, maybe doing it subconsciously.

He blinked at her, momentarily confused by the question. Then shaking his head he replied. "No. I stay because of what happened to Lia, Liselle and the Captain. Because it was my fault."

"You still believe that?" Estelle asked. She had hoped that was a momentary thing, while still reeling from the events in sickbay. "You said they wanted you. What did they want you for?"

Gary's eyes grew hard. "I believe it because I saw it. I was there. I know what happened. They, the Romulans wanted me because I was the one who got away." He said without further explanation.

"What did you get away from?" Estelle asked.

"Them." Gary answered.

"And, how did you get involved with them in the first place?" Estelle asked. He was obviously tight-lipped about it, but how would not talking about things help?

Gary sighed, he didn't want to go through this again but he couldn't be mad at Estelle, she didn't know. "I was a tactical officer on the Solstice. Catlin was a medical officer. It was our first deep space assignment. The ship suffered a navigational error and crossed into the Neutral Zone where it was immediately attacked by three Romulan warbirds. The Captain, XO and most of the senior staff were killed. I and some other junior officers got the rest of the surviving crew including Catlin into the escape pods. Unfortunately the Romulans boarded the ship and we were taken prisoner. I spent three years in a prison much like the one we just came from before the Federation was able to get me back through a prisoner exchange."

That was a horrible fate indeed, and Estelle wasn't sure whether she should ask who Caitlin was. Gary had dropped the name like he expected Estelle to know, but she couldn't remember having come across the name in the context of her conversations with Gary before, and if it was in his file, it wasn't in the medical part, which she had actually read. "You", she started, then changed her sentence, "I don't understand. You said they wanted to 'settle the score', revenge. What you told me, it doesn't connect. Revenge for what?"

"I'm sorry Estelle. The rest has been classified by the Admiral of Intelligence. I can't say any more." Gary replied.

Estelle made an unhappy face and nodded. "Then I have a piece of advice for you, Gary. Talk to someone who has clearance. There has to be someone here on Earth who is qualified, too. It does you no good at all just keeping it all to yourself."

He nodded in agreement. "Right. I'll do that." He assured her.


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