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Interim

Posted on Sat Apr 27th, 2019 @ 12:40pm by Captain Sun Mei Xiang & Lieutenant Christine Descharmes

Mission: Points Of Light
Location: Seppala

[Counselor's Office, Shanghai Crew Section, Seppala Station]

"I like what you did with the place," Christine said as she plunked herself down on a chair inside of Mei's temporary office on Seppala. It was probably a little sarcastic; it was hers for a short time and she had been happy enough to give it up to Mei when she asked. She leaned back in the chair and stretched out her legs in front of her, ankles crossed. She kept her hands tucked in her pockets. A long sigh followed, after which she straightened slightly and looked across at Mei. "How are you doing, anyway?"

"Thanks. I might add some watercolors to the walls though." Mei spoke without looking up from the padd, "And are you asking as my counselor, or as a friend?" She finally twisted her head around with a deep sigh, stretching her neck. "Diu," She cursed a bit, "Doesn't matter. I'm tired, and just want my damn ship back. And maybe an emergency I can shoot at." She shook her head, "This temporal stuff is beyond my little marine brain." She put the padd on the desk. "Sorry," She nodded at the Lieutenant, her eyes glancing to the pockets. "What's up? You look... guarded."

"Do I? There is something, but later," Christine mused, a slight smile appeared on the corners of her mouth but quickly disappeared. Her head tilted slightly to one side as she gauged the depth of the question, and for once, didn't know how she wanted to answer the question. She shook her head finally and shifted in her seat. Maybe she was a bit guarded. Christine gave a little wave with her right hand. "But it's not about me. I came here when I heard you were on the shuttle back to the station. I suppose for some first-hand news."

"News?" Mei said with a shrug, "Some ancient aliens built an outpost just off the mantle of the planet. Its not stable and deteriorating." She took a breath, and for a second considered leaving out some of the less good details. "It's tearing apart space time as it does. Science and Engineering either stabilize it or it devastates the planet, at least." She shrugged, "Between Alexander, Scholl, and the science team they'll have figured it out before long. And Hisa's down there to put together anything they need." She sighed a bit and shook her head. "If they can't, at one hour I beam every civilian I can fit on Shanghai, and we jump them out of the system." She glanced down. "So, you know. Be ready for that." She grinned a bit, "But when they fix it... the Historian in me is excited. It's like a damn Iconian ruin down there - advanced, intuitive, and with knowledge that could change how we view the galaxy."

"Merde!" Christine exclaimed as she raised an eyebrow, she nearly regretted asking about the mission, "Yeah. I-Let's not talk about the end of the world right now. I'll make sure the civilians don't hear what's really going on just yet. I was mostly worried about, you know, James. I would like to see him again. " She sighed audibly, as she shoved her hands deeper into her pockets. "At least you're excited about something, for whatever it's worth."

"That actually was just me trying to make small talk," Christine said after a long pause, "There's something I should probably tell you." A few things, she added. But she didn't want to just dump everything at once.

"Sorry - my mind is.., well, its obvious where it is." Mei admitted, "And I'm not reading people well outside. Should've tempered that with something..." She shook her head. "What should you probably tell me?" She said softly, glancing up to Christine. It was a phrase the woman was clearly used to speaking, almost practiced in how calm she was with it.

"Shit," Christine muttered, probably a lot louder than she should have. She fidgeted in her seat a couple of minutes before she stopped moving and fixated Mei with a stare. "I actually don't know what to tell you first," she admitted, "But I'll start with I slept with the new science officer."

There was a split second where Mei's face shifted somewhere between a stifled nervous laugh and a terror. The blush was something she couldn't hide though. There were a hundred reasons she didn't want to hear that - but she recovered after a second, and gave a slow nod. "Okay. Hm." She cleared her throat again, "Recently?"

"It's not what you think.. I hope," Christine said but quickly realized how that sounded. It was exactly how she said it. She shook her head. She hoped it would have at least made her feel better. "I-Well. It was 2390," she began. She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "So I guess that means it hadn't happened yet. For him, anyway."

Mei rubbed head, just two fingers between her eye and temple for a second. She took a breath, and nodded. "Okay. So, a year ago and a year from now you slept with him." She paused for a minute, then a little twist of her lips. "You and I have very different types." She was using snark to keep from some of the other questions. "Do you realize that I'm going to need a date, so that I can order him to Earth in 2390 to keep from causing a temporal ripple?" She couldn't help but snicker just a bit under her breath. "I'm going to put that at the top of my weirdest orders." She shook her head, "Sorry. Sorry." She said with a wave of her hands, "In all seriousness, why was he not listed on the possible contacts form Temporal sent out when we got stranded? We were really careful to pick reinforcement crew that wouldn't affect the timeline. Well, deliberate. Careful might not be the term."

Christine paled slightly. She really hated being in the hot seat, it felt like high school all over again. "Because I didn't know he was Starfleet?" she answered quietly and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Besides, do you hang all your dirty laundry out for everyone to see?" Her tone changed suddenly as she asked, "And do you really want to know why?"

"No, I don't. Sorry." Mei said quietly after a moment. She adjusted in her seat, "I know its weird and awkward, but you haven't don't anything wrong. You had a good night." She gave a shake of her head. "So, I guess I should know why. But you don't have to tell me anything." She gave a smile, "From here on out, just a friend, not a commander. Off the record." She said quietly, even taking off her commbadge and setting it aside.

Christine was surprised at that and stared at the commbadge for a minute. The fingers of her left hand fumbled with a small, cold object in her pocket, her nervousness evident in the fact she grasped it tightly in a closed fist. She had expected-she didn't know what she had expected actually. Most of her life had been regulated to being berated constantly for doing the wrong thing, perhaps she had expected that likewise from Mei. She also wondered, with those words spoken, if she was prepared to go down that road. She looked up finally, her thoughts still seemed to be all over the place.

"It was more than just one good night. It was a few," she admitted after clearing her throat. "Do you remember when I took that leave? Yeah, it was about a year ago."

"Yeah. As I recall, you needed the break. Glad to hear you actually took the chance to get it..." Mei said with a little nod. She adjusted, twisting around to a more relaxed position and leaning on the desk. "So, you had a nice weekend. What would you like to talk about with it? What has a hold on your mind?"

"I'm not used to being the one on the other side of the desk answering the questions," Christine answered, a smirk on her face, "I was probably more than a little tipsy. I remember I was trying to get drunk. Really drunk. Probably fortunate that he came along when he did, I might have drowned myself in the ocean." She let out a sigh. "He was so-" she paused, and shifted in her seat as she thought of the right words to say, "-not James. Not even the least bit. Maybe that's why I went for it. I think that I used that to forget. About everything. So yeah, a few nights of great--you know what I mean. For whatever it's worth, I called him the wrong name more than once but he's a nice guy and pretty easy going."

Christine paused, her circulating thoughts seemed to find a central theme and she wondered just how much she wanted to spill out. Friend or not, Mei wasn't exactly a psychologist. "Probably a lot more than you wanted to know, but you know me; I'm like an open book," she said quietly musing. She paused, letting the silence linger on a bit. She hadn't really had much of a chance to talk to Mei since before the mission to Cyen and this provided a way to get whatever it was that was bothering her out. "There's something that I want to know, though," she said, her brow furrowed.

Mei nodded along as Christine spoke. She gave a soft smile and just listened. Truth be told, she understood her drive there, more than she would have admitted and couldn't help but nod at some points. Then she twisted the topic and there was the silence. "Well, we can unpack the first bit another time, then." She said with a little smirk, basically quoting Christine back at her from all the times Mei had rambled on and switched topics around at the last second. "What is it that I should know?" She asked with a small motion of her hand, opening the floor to whatever she was needing to say.

"Right now, it's what I need to know," Christine answered, a little confused at the turnaround of the question to realize her own words thrown back at her. "Did you know James was out there? Alive?" She said it with a hint of anger, it may have come across as a bit harsh once the words were out of her mouth. "I thought he was dead, you know."

Mei paused for a moment. That was a harder question than she knew how to answer. She sighed, "No. And yes." She spoke with a waver. "I knew when he left, where he was going - vaguely, anyway." Sun paused a moment. "I kept a hold of his pips and badge even, but." She adjusted, "After a few months, my friends in Intel shut up about it - no more info, in or out. All I knew was something had happened, but didn't know what. I'm not sure they knew either." She paused, "So, no. I didn't know he was alive. But, I had every faith. The same way part of me hopes that any minute now Jon and Amoran will walk through the door." She shook her head. "I know that stupid, but at least in James' case, he'd been kicking around since our Ancestors were cleaning up after the Axis." She paused, "Officially, no. My info said he was captured or killed most likely. My stupid brain expected him to turn up someday regardless. I'm still a little surprised I was actually right."

"Then you had more faith than I did," Christine whispered, the words barely audible. A wide range of emotions crossed her face and it was clear she struggled with them. Oh, she knew the stages of grief. She had been through most of them, after all, in some form or another over the years. She stared down at her lap for a minute or two before she spoke again. "I'm feeling..I guess I'm angry? Guilty that I gave up, I suppose," Christine said as she looked up again, shaking her head. "I was angry the first few days on Cyen. At him for just showing up. At..you, even because I thought you knew. At everything, actually," she admitted with a wave of her right hand. "And then when we came back. We've been so busy, I was angry at you that I didn't get more time to catch up. One day doesn't make up for over three years of nothing." She sighed as she realized she was simply poking holes into her previous logic on her own, tracing the roots of what she was really feeling. "I was looking for anything and anyone to blame. It's not fair to you. And it's not fair to him. I guess not everyone has someone they love come back from the dead and I should be more grateful." At the conclusion of her vocalized internalizing rant, she nodded. She had said what she needed to say, it was probably what she had needed all along and she felt-relief. She shook her head again. "Jon. I would appreciate his advice right about now. When everyone comes to you to be fixed, how can you even fix yourself? This is where you tell me it's okay to feel this way," she added with a slight smile and a quiet laugh.

Sun gave a smile. "Well, good, because I agree with you." Mei leaned forward on the desk and sighed. "I can only imagine I would have been furious with everyone involved if I was in your shoes. And I mean everyone." She gave a shrug, "You should be mad at me too because I have not helped you have the best reunion. And James isn't exactly a good influence on me when it comes to 'sane' plans." She sighed and leaned back. "I hope the who watches the watchers question was rhetorical because I have no idea. I can't really say, Jiang. Maybe Anvers. Relau might be a weird option..." She mumbled to herself before shrugging a bit. "The important part is you're thinking about it and moving on the situation. Its the only way to get it behind you." She paused for a second, "But if you need something. If you need a couple of weeks or what have you - don't be afraid to ask. We'll make it happen."

"I appreciate that," Christine said, a thoughtful expression on her face. "I really do. It..will take me a while, you know, to sort things out in my head." She gave her a small smile. "And I will remember that. About taking time. And," she added, suddenly remembering another reason she had come here in the first place and changing the topic yet again, "Lieutenant Ovim's injunction. I managed to clear it, but I had to contact Starfleet Medical while you were planetside. They gave me the run around but I got to the bottom of it. She should be able to return to duty. I need to stop by her quarters and tell her." She frowned, as she remembered something else as well. "Then they wanted me to give them someone else's psych eval. You can guess who."

"I get the feeling Ovim may have pissed someone off in her last station." She gave a shake of her head. "Doesn't matter, she's out here with us. We'll keep her moving." Sun paused for a moment and then gave a nod. "And they're worried about James, I take it?" Mei paused a moment and sighed. "You'd have to hand him off to someone else."

"I know that," she said quickly, "I know. Worried about their non-shifted crew is more like it. They want to know if he's going to snap, or have a mental breakdown. Or the possibility of one. I told them we were in the middle of a crisis." Christine waved her hand again and paused. The hardest part was realizing that a breakdown was a very real possibility considering what he had been through. She wondered if she should tell the whole truth; it wasn't the first time Medical had contacted her about this nor the second time. It was the third. And she was pretty sure she knew who to thank for that. She sighed and fidgeted in her seat. "They contacted me before. Yesterday, actually. I..ignored them. I was..busy," she said, her face flushed.

"The CO in me needs to scold you for that, but that would make me a bit of a hypocrite," Mei admitted, "I'm sorry it must of have gotten lost in the confusion is pretty much my go-to excuse now." She waited a moment, "I know you don't need to hear it, but he likely does need the check. I trust James more than most, and more than any spook I've met... but, even for an El-Aurian, three years is not a small amount of time. But, I wouldn't dare risk doing anything like that with Lyn. I won't do general staff things with her. All that goes through someone else - Foxwell, right now, but Admiral Chlan before that." She paused for a minute. "I can get Medical off your back for a little while if you'd like, if you can find someone else on the team to go over that with him."

Christine sighed and gave a slight shrug of her shoulders. "It's not that. That's not actually bothering me. And well. There's not many choices as to who should do it. I'd talk to him to see who he's comfortable with. I know it can't be me. Do you know where he was? He told me he wasn't ready to talk about it and you know I don't like my hand being forced. Maybe you can delay them for a bit. For his sake, not mine." At that, she paused and thought for a minute as she studied Mei's face and body expressions. After another couple minutes of silence, she spoke again, voice shaking, "Regardless of who is conducting it; Goda or Jiang or one of the junior counselors, that eval is going to come across my desk before it goes to Medical. Not the details, that's still confidential and I wouldn't abuse that. But-" she paused and her voice broke slightly, "-the results. I'm...afraid of what it would say. I guess I'm afraid he's going to fail. And then what? Where do I come in? I would appreciate Jon's advice right about now."

She let out a short huff of breath and eyed who she deemed was her closest friend right now. "And then there's this," Christine said and gave a little shake of her head as she finally pulled her left hand out of her pocket. She opened her fist and looked intently at the object sitting on her palm for a few seconds. It seemed to weigh so much for such a tiny thing; both in her hand and on her mind. She set it on the desk between them, it rocked from side to side with the movement before it lay still. The blonde woman stared at the ring; a narrow, gold band set with three square-cut diamonds. "It was my mother's," she said, quietly, "She gave it to me before my brother's wedding. She didn't need it anymore. I thought it was a joke and I laughed in her face. I hate that she was right about what she told me that day."

"Jon would say to do what's right for the patient," Mei said that a bit colder than she would have liked, but she had a lot of regrets over the years, and one of her most prominent ghosts was Jon. And Christine knew that better than most. She took a moment to glance down at the ring and gave a quizzical look back up to Christine for a moment. She seemed unsure for a moment, though she may have just been plotting a bit, trying to find the right question or statement. In the moment, she felt there was really only one choice while looking down at that ring, "And what was it that she was right about?"

Christine shifted in her seat. She looked at the ring for another little bit before she looked up to Mei again. "That one day I would find someone I wanted to marry. I laughed and said whatever. She gave it to me with a box of things my dad had set aside for me before he passed and now she has the last laugh because I did actually find someone. And I thought a lot about those words over the last few years. A lot. Especially the last year. I think it was her way of patching things up between us," she paused, musing over the words and then added with a small grin, "And it was me that brought it up first. James would have never asked me, I think. Or at least, it would have taken him a while." Christine picked up the ring again, holding it for a second between her thumb and two fingers and studied it intently before sliding it onto the ring finger of her left hand.

"It is weird when they are right about things like that," Mei spoke for a second, before giving a little nod and a wide smirk. She gave a nod, "I'm happy for you, though. Finding someone is a great journey - a little rough with all the danger we're in sometimes, but worth it for the rest of the time." She shrugged a bit, "And I don't disagree that it may have taken him some time to ask." She felt her finger run along her own ring for a second, "If you don't mind my asking, are you thinking about going through and making it official - or waiting until we get back to the right time?"

Yes, I mind you asking, she thought. But it was Mei. Friends don't keep secrets. And sooner or later, it would have come out. She squirmed a bit at the question. "It's already official," she said, quietly.

Mei realized that quiet, and gave a small bow, "Gung hei," She said a quick congratulations, before giving a little seated bow. "I won't say a word to anyone if you haven't," It was not her place in any capacity to do so, "But I am happy for you and a little excited by finding out," She didn't seem it, but this was clearly Mei containing herself to anyone who knew her. She gave a warm smile. "I'm sorry for asking out of turn."

Christine smiled back and shook her head. "Thanks, Mei. And don't be sorry. You would have been the first to know anyway," she said. "And no. It's just between us three now." She paused for a minute, thinking. "It was quick. Really quick, but you know he has the tendency to disappear." She laughed, quietly. "Galaxy's shortest engagement. I also didn't want to be engaged forever." Christine hesitated and then added with a smile, "No offense, Mei."

"None taken. I've always moved slow. And," She paused for a moment with a little bit of a darker smirk, "My first major romance did stab me in the chest. So... not the type to move fast at all." She gave a shrug, "Either way, I'm happy for you. Short, or not. Once you're ready to tell anyone else, just let me know." She took a breath and the let out a little sigh, "Anything else, before I stumble into anything else?"

Christine had to stop and think but after a short pause, shook her head. "No, that was most of it..all of it," she added, quickly correcting herself. She shrugged. "Nothing at all," she said. "Thanks for the chat. I feel better, I guess." She nodded in confirmation as she stood, looking down at her ring now on her hand. "Well, I guess I won't be hiding this anymore." She moved towards the door, glancing over her shoulder behind her and gave a smile. "I'll see you around, Mei."

"Until next time. Thanks for the chat and updates," Mei said with a nod, as she stood to give a quick bow. "And tell James I said congratulations as well. I'm sure I'll see both of you soon enough."

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