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2399: Part Two

Posted on Sat May 23rd, 2020 @ 6:04pm by Commander Christine Descharmes-Barnes Ph.D & Captain Mei Xiang Sun

Mission: Neither Past nor Future
Location: USS Shanghai-A
Timeline: 2399

ON:

Christine watched the Strat Ops Chief walk away. Once she was both out of earshot and eyesight, she glanced over at Mei and tilted her head towards her. "You want to head to a crew lounge?" she asked finally, thinking of the one located somewhere on the current deck. "Or somewhere else?"

Sun glanced down the hall and took a breath. "What time is it?" She sighed with a bit of a shake of her head, "I don't have anyone to watch the twins tonight. So, I should try to be done early enough to walk down and get them from class..." She sighed, "You would think after a couple of years aboard I would have gotten that schedule down," She gave a shrug, "We could walk and talk, or stop by one of the lounges in that direction easest probably."

"The closest lounge then. It's a bit quieter." Christine gave her oldest friend a smile as she gestured down the hall with a wave of her hand. "You know my offer still stands, though. I can pick them up when I pick up Jon," she said, shoving her hands in her pockets as she walked in the direction of the lounge. "And yeah, I can't stay too late either, the kids are staying with my sister and considering it's been more than a couple of days...I should give her a break. It's bloody hard having to coordinate schedules when there's only one parent around." She gave Mei a sidelong glance and a shrug.

"I know, and I appreciate it," She spoke with a smirk, "But I'm sure they want a night of making me miserable with whatever it is seven-year-olds want to do," She gave a shake of her head, "I don't spend enough time with them. Or maybe that's just the mom in me wanting an excuse to spend more time with them." She sighed, and glanced over to Christine, "But, I suppose you have a message from the other kid I don't spend enough time with, hm? How mad at me is she still?"

Christine walked in silence for a bit. "She's not..mad," she said, shaking her head. "She told me to tell you she's okay." Pausing outside the door to the lounge, she looked at Mei. "It's not my place. Only...from my own experience with my mother. She needs time to process stuff. I hadn't talked or connected with my mother for years because I was angry. It wasn't until James and I separated in '93 that we finally saw eye to eye and I realized I needed her. But this isn't a conversation for the hallway."

The lounge was empty considering the hour and Christine found a quiet corner. "Do you want something to drink, Mei? Synthehol only, considering we are both technically on-duty."

Mei smirked, "Tea is fine. Maybe just a warm green tea for now." She spoke softly with a little bit of a nod, "And I know she's not mad, but I can't seem to do anything right by her now. And I know I'm used to getting my way as a Captain, and that's not helpful. I keep thinking she was right. I mean, I know I didn't handle Lyn's death well at the time, but ever since then I feel like we just fight over everything. What I'm doing with the twins, what jobs I'm taking versus what she's taking, who I'm sleeping with, whatever." She shook her head, "To be honest, she was just looking out for me - she doesn't think me taking command of the Shanghai again is a good plan. Maybe she's right - but I know I shouldn't have treated her like a child and got as mad as I did during that argument."

Christine nodded, excused herself, and headed to the replicator. She returned with the green tea and a black coffee. She had thought of something that remotely tasted like alcohol but she would still need to get through a pile of paperwork that she was sure would be waiting for her on her desk. And it had been a long shuttle ride back. "I'm not a practicing psychologist anymore with this...career change. So I'm speaking to you primarily as a friend." She leaned back in her chair and watched Mei for a moment. "She's just worried about you. She's still grieving Lyn and worried about losing you too. This isn't exactly a safe job."

"You are both stubborn as hell," Christine said, with a slight shake of her head and a smile. "I don't have to wonder where she gets that from. We had lunch. And I promised I wouldn't interfere too much. Just remember, keep an open mind. And when she's ready to talk about it, be ready yourself. They say time heals all things but refusing to give could cause a bigger rift. Believe me. And I never understood my mother until I became one myself. Two sides of the same coin, I suppose." She cupped a hand around the mug, feeling its warmth before she took a sip. "How are things here, by the way? Besides trying to be a single parent."

"Busy, as always," Mei said with a little clearing of her throat. She knew that didn't give any extra information. "Cleaning up the Promenade after the last wave of civilians were here took a little longer than expected, but after two years, I think we're finally getting the hold of it. The teacher wanted to set up a Captain's day - I think it was something they pulled from back when the Flagship was a Galaxy. I just agreed to it like an idiot. So, I've been brushing up on my teacher's voice," She paused, "So, you'll get a full day in command in a month or so. Oh, and I still don't have a copy of the talks from Starbase Bravo, which is pissing me off. You'd think being the third-highest ranked officer in our damn Task Force would give me some leeway to speed things up."

"You're not an idiot. It sounds like a great idea," Christine answered, offering Mei a slight smirk. "You'll do great, as usual. Just think of it as you are influencing a future generation of Starfleet officers. And I'll look over the talks when you get a hold of them. I'm in no rush and you can fill me in on the key points when you have a sec. I have a lot of catching up to do with work and with the kids. And by the time Captain's day comes around, you'll have prepared yourself." She took a long gulp of her coffee which ended up with her drinking most of it in one go.

She set the now nearly empty cup back down on the table, eyeing Mei with one raised eyebrow. "You have a boy, Mei," Christine said, with a shake of her head. "My offer still stands but I don't know how you can keep up with two kids the same age. I hope Jon didn't set anything off this time while I was gone, though I haven't gotten an alert from the teacher in some time. He's been acting up the last few months and I'm at my wit's end. I don't know what it is. All the psychology in the galaxy has not prepared me for dealing with a 9-year-old boy on the verge of puberty. Something you can look forward to as well, I'm sure but Xun is so...quiet."

"I'm more worried about Ayano - puberty was not a good time for me. Or my sisters. Or Cai - so I expect she'll be the trouble," Mei smirked, "I can just give Xun something interesting to read and he's no problem... but she is a bit more complicated." She shook her head a bit, "And he was fine while you were gone, though I'll admit, that's on my scale of fine versus not fine so there may be a Promenade officer or two that disagree with that assessment." She shook her head, "I probably should be more willing to accept the offers. Having a sister on board Astraeus was the only way I survived with them there, and I thought - back on Shanghai, a galaxy class with a school. It'll be so much easier. I'll have so much more time, and support staff for things like that." She paused for a moment. "But. Of course, here I am. Exhausted." She paused for a moment and sighed, "And I just realized that I'm a year or two from when Ayano and Xun are going to hit puberty - and I'm gonna have two Orion hormone factories living with me..." She slumped a bit. "I hope medicine is better now for that than it was..."

"Exhausted. Yeah, I hear you. Thank goodness my sister has been around the last couple of years," Christine said. "The twins, though. They're only one-quarter Orion? It shouldn't be as bad as it was when Lyn was around, I hope?" She finished off the last of her coffee and set the empty mug back down. "As your friend...and former counselor, you should take a couple of hours to yourself once in a while. Find a babysitter. Use the holodeck. Something. You're not going to do anyone any good if you burn out."

"I know - but," Sun smirked, "I kind of love being a mom. Truth is, I was always worried Lyn would take that role, you know? And I'd be the distant parent always consumed by work. I can't be, on my own at least," She shrugged. "But you're right. I feel like I use our EHM system more than I should," She played with her mug for a minute, "I should take some time to work on another article, or do some flying," She toyed with the mug a second more, looking down at the bottom of the empty ceramic, "I should take that Captain up on his offer of a QEC date," She paused for a moment. "You're right, I should figure out sometime. And repay the favor and give you some. Maybe we can luck out and get another couple of families aboard soon and get enough stuff going on the ship for kids that we have a night or two a week."

"You should take him up on his offer. He seems nice enough. Between me and my sister, I'm sure we can handle five kids running around for a night. Besides. There's a holoprogram of a park. Sure they can burn off a bit of energy there. Just let me know when. You should have a bit of fun," she said with a grin. "We should go, though. I promised I wouldn't keep you too long and we still have a bit of work to do."

"I'll think about it," Mei said with an awkward grin before shaking her head, "And you're right. Back to it." She said, dusting off her uniform jacket a bit. "Back to it." She repeated quietly.

:OFF

Captain Sun Mei Xiang
Commanding Officer, USS Shanghai

Commander Christine Descharmes-Barnes
Executive Officer, USS Shanghai

 

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