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The Bar

Posted on Sat Jan 16th, 2021 @ 11:03pm by Lieutenant JG Reagan Quinn & Lieutenant Alexander Kolokotronis

Mission: Between the Pages

Alexander walked slowly to the bar, tired after his shift. He was exhausted and looking forward to relaxing and downing a few drinks before heading back to his quarters. He entered, nodding to the new bartender, Tegan. He went to the head of the bar and ordered two drinks, then walked over to his favorite table, in the corner of the room, closest to the window.

Spotting Alexander in his preferred spot, Reagan made her way to the table. She plopped into an empty chair and sighed. “Looks like your shift has been as fun as mine.” She chuckled, noting Alexander’s tired expression. “How are things in ops?”

Alexander nodded quietly and finished his first drink. "You have no idea." He looked down at his drink, staring at the glass with a strange look. "I'm exhausted. I should request a transfer to security," He half-joked, looking wearily across the table.

Reagan flagged down a bartender and ordered a drink before turning back to her friend. “If you request a transfer anywhere other than engineering, we’re going to have words,” she chuckled. “Even though you’re the chief of ops, it would be devastating to the engineering crew to lose you.”

Letting out a small smile, Alexander put his glass on the table. "I wouldn't leave you alone down there, don't worry. It's just been a long day."

Quinn watched the expression on Alexander's face for a moment. He seemed more than physically exhausted.
It was as if something was weighing on his mind too. Usually, in her experience, people with that look were thinking about a loved one or a friend, but she couldn’t be sure. “So...penny for your thoughts?” She asked.

Alexander exhaled and looked down at the table, his shoulders noticeably getting tense. "The timeline dilemma, it's been stressing me out. The displacement has been difficult for a lot of people, including the Captain. But Lieutenant Veran has been struggling...and leaning on me for help, in more ways than one. Unfortunately, she's not as I remember her, and I don't know how to take it." he paused and looked to Reagan intently. "Don't get me wrong, she's a fine officer, but it's a lot to handle."

“Lieutenant Veran...she’s the duplicate, for lack of a better term, to your wife from the other timeline, right? I imagine that is really tough. Especially if she’s not the way you remember Hailey.” Reagan truly felt for Alexander. She couldn’t imagine losing a spouse and then meeting someone that looked exactly like them, but with a different personality. Much less have to serve with them on the same ship.

“Have you told her how you feel about it? Maybe there’s someone else she can lean in so that you can have some space if that’s what you’re looking for?” Quinn gave Alexander an encouraging smile.

"She's not a duplicate. She acts different, talks different, it's not her, but sometimes it is. I don't know how to explain it, to be quite honest. I haven't discussed it with her, no. But, uh, I should." Alexander looked to the ground, almost embarrassed to look at Quinn.

“Of course she’s not a duplicate. Sorry, poor choice of words.” Quinn paused for a moment. Since they had been working together, Reagan had gotten to know Alexander and considered him a good friend. She wanted to be there for him but didn’t want to push him to talk if he didn’t want to. She took a sip of her drink that had been delivered. “You don’t have to try to explain anything to me, but I’ve been told that I had a good ear. If you want to talk about it, anytime.” Reagan half-smiled. It was a sincere offer.

Alexander appreciated Reagan's sincerity, nodding slightly. "I appreciate it." He didn't want to seem entirely negative, so he changed the subject. "How have you been, how is engineering?"

“I’m good. Successfully avoiding participating in power grid shorts,” she chuckled referring to the last time they had worked together on the surface. “Engineering is the same as always. Busy, lots of crawling around and getting your hands dirty, but you already knew that.” Quinn smiled and took another sip of her drink.

“You know, I’m curious,” she looked at Alexander. “What was it like growing up in Greece? It’s one of the few places I haven’t had a chance to visit on Earth yet, but I’ve always wanted to go. It looks beautiful.” RJ asked, genuinely interested in learning more about Alexander’s history. The pictures she had seen from the area were always breathtaking. She had always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a place like that. Running up and down the winding streets, surrounded by history and culture, and of course the sea.

"It was somewhat like you'd expect. It was simple, it was genuine. I was surrounded by good people. The entire place is beautiful, there are so many islands with so many different temperates and landscapes, all unique. I grew up in a small village outside Athens. Gorgeous mountains, hills. I come from a notable family in Greece, mostly government and military officials. My parents were both military officers in their respective services so I never saw them much. They were strict however, they made me work hard since I was young, so I learned a number of old-style Earth skills. Carpentry, smithing, logging, mechanics. I spent much of my time as a fisherman and sailor, both as a hobby and professionally. I eventually attended the University of Athens, got my degree. I left and had a brief stint with the Hellenic Armed Guard, before applying and entering Starfleet." Alexander paused. He was enthusiastic about his family history and his homeland that he felt a genuine connection to but didn't want to talk too much either. He could tend to drag on. He spoke,e this time a bit more quietly. "They are a proud people. As am I."

"Wow, I'm impressed. I had no idea you knew all of those old-style skills. Remind me to take you along next time I go on a medieval adventure in the holodeck. You'd be surprised at how often a good smither can come in handy on some of those programs." She said, only half-joking. "It certainly sounds like an interesting place to have grown up."

"I'm going to have a smoke if you don't mind." Alexander pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket. He had a small silver lighter in the same hand and lit his cigarette he had in his mouth, He placed the lighter back in his pocket, putting it in the inside of his jacket where it was before. He puffed a few times to get the burn even, then exhaled away from Quinn. "It's a nasty habit. Hope it doesn't bother you."

"I don't mind at all. A lot of my dad's Marine buddies used to smoke and they were over relatively often so it's nothing new." Reagan chuckled slightly and then looked out the window. They sat in silence for a while, not an awkward silence, just the quiet of two people enjoying drinks and a dazzling view of the universe outside of the bar window. Reagan finished her first drink and flagged down the bartender for another.

"Have you seen anything interesting on the colony lately?" RJ asked. It had been a couple of days since she had been to the surface, having delegated some of that work to other engineering teams and focusing on a few ship side tasks.

Alexander nodded. "I was involved in a small scuffle between some of the colonists. Just working on one of the communications systems we installed down there. A couple of angry colonists attacked me with some sort of heavy object. Did what I could, then left quickly for the ship." He pulled up his sleeve to reveal a cut on his arm. "It's almost gone, wasn't anything serious, the injury I mean."

Reagan grimaced. "Ouch. Why did they attack you?" She knew that some of the colonists didn't want Starfleet there, but she had been lucky enough to not meet any of the more extreme colonists.

"There was a case of pneumonia spreading around a section of the colony. A couple died of the disease, and I was attacked by angry neighbors. Guess they just blamed the nearest Starfleet officer they saw, even though we weren't responsible for bringing the disease." Alexander had a pained look on his face, then cleared his expression and looked at Quinn. "It's okay, it was a few weeks ago."

"Well, I'm glad they didn't do too much damage then." She took another sip of her drink before continuing. "So, I know you've served on the Perseus. What other ships had the privilege of hosting such a good ops officer?"

"You flatter me, Lieutenant." Alexander smiled and nodded. "I was an operations officer aboard the USS McKinley and the USS Indianapolis, then the Perseus."

“Well, you’ve told me a little about the Perseus before, but I don’t think I’ve heard about your adventures on the McKinley or the Indianapolis. Any interesting stories to tell there?” Reagan raised an eyebrow in curiosity. Everyone usually had a favorite or interesting mission to talk about and they were always fun to hear.

"Nothing extraordinary, a few commendations for smaller stuff. All I did was show up on time, really. However, thinking back to our holodeck run," Alexander finished his second drink and placed the glass down. He looked back up at Quinn, then sat back, and continued. "The Indianapolis, as you probably know, is named after a ship of the same name, a Portland-class cruiser serviced by the Americans in the Second World War. Ship was torpedoed and sunk, and 900 men lost their lives, either eaten by sharks, drowned, or exhaustion. But she was crucial to the war effort, saved a lot of lives in retrospect. So every year, on the anniversary of the sinking the Captain would hold a ceremony in memory of the ship and its crew. She'd give a speech, as would the ship's historian. It was nice. They don't do anything like that on any other starship." He paused and looked off behind the engineer. "I guess it's fulfilling to see people appreciating history. Especially since we follow many of the same customs as the old US Navy. Call me sentimental."

RJ leaned back and smiled. “What a great way to remember the history of the ship’s namesake! More ships should do something like that. I feel like history get’s lost along the way sometimes. It’s nice to hear that someone is trying to keep it alive.”

Taking another sip of her now mostly finished drink, she thought about her previous deployments. “We never did anything like that on the Lexington. We did however have a Lincoln day on the USS Lincoln where those that wanted to would dress up like Abraham Lincoln and participate in a wood chopping contest. It was kind of silly, but fun.” Reagan chuckled.

Alexander pondered a moment then spoke. His demeanor was different than usual, quieter, maybe a bit more thoughtful. "Not to divert the conversation, but I wonder what the other-worlders think of our strange terran traditions and ceremonies. Although the Federation is all-encompassing, a lot of the traditions and rules we abide by are based on old Earth tendencies or law. I wonder if they ever feel...left out, or unamused in other instances. I wonder if any of it seems... unnecessary. On some planets within the Federation, paramilitary organizations didn't exist until Starfleet came along."

Tilting her head, Reagan internalized Alexander’s statement. “Maybe, but perhaps they also just think they’re interesting,” she shrugged. “When we visit a new planet I always find their culture and traditions to be fascinating. I’m sure some offworlders think the same of ours. Then again, I’m sure just as many think they’re crazy or unnecessary. And in some cases, they wouldn’t be wrong.” She chuckled. RJ wasn’t huge on traditions either unless they were backed by science or reason. Or in some cases, if they were a way to preserve a certain piece of history, like the ceremony Alexander had described on the Indianapolis.

Alexander internalized the engineer's comment, tilting the third drink he had gotten, swirling the glass in his hand. He looked at her a moment then spoke. "Pardon me for changing the subject, but I guess we were talking of culture. You ever been to Argelius II?"

"I haven't, why do you ask? I assume you have?" Reagan inquired in return.

"It came to mind. The people there are committed completely to their pleasure and leisure. They haven't had a violent crime in decades, their entire culture, everyone is committed to that lifestyle." He leaned back in his chair, finishing his third drink. He leaned back forward and placed the glass on the table. "I sometimes think they have things right over there, relaxing all the time." He sighed. "Of course, they aren't the most efficient people."

Quinn sat in silence for a moment and just observed Alexander. Clearly, something was still bothering him. Was it just the timeline dilemma or was there more to the story? She wondered.

"You're physically here, but it feels like you're miles away," RJ decided to break the silence. "Is it really just the timeline dilemma or is something else bothering you? And don't give me the 'I'm fine' bullshit either. I think I know you better than that after all this time we've worked together."

Alexander sat back and sighed. "It's difficult to explain. It's hard adjusting to such a dramatic change, and there's still a lot I don't understand about the timeline shift. It's hard tot take a step forward when you don't know where you are. The work is fine, don't get me wrong, but everyone, everything is different."

"Who did you work with in the other timeline? Tell me about them." Reagan said, curious to know what everyone was like on the other Shanghai.

Alexander exhaled. "Many of the same officers, especially senior staff. That, interestingly enough, seems to be the post consistent aspect of the timeline change. Before my wife died, I saw her quite often. She was killed aboard a science vessel. Hailey Celine was her name, I've told you about her. The Counselor looks just like her, I don't understand it. They're different people, the timelines don't often overlap like that. I feel, just, extraordinarily unlucky. "

"Unlucky?" She asked, thinking naively that most people would view this as a second chance. "Why unlucky? Because you're in a different timeline now or because the counselor looks like your wife but is nothing like her?" Reagan started to wonder if she was prying too far, but she knew Alexander enough that she figured he would either change the subject or tell her so if he didn't feel comfortable talking about it anymore.

"It's confusing. I spend months trying to get over the loss of Hailey Celine, only to find a fellow senior officer is identical to her." He was visibly in thought, but remained still with a solemn look on his face.

"That makes sense." She said, having not even thought about it that way. "That must be incredibly difficult. I'm sorry you have to go through that." Reagan expressed sincerity and sorrow for him before downing the rest of her drink.

"Right," she hopped up from her chair, "let's go." Reagan motioned for Alexander to follow.

Alexander placed his glass on the table and slowly stood, curious. "Where are we off to?"

"To the holodeck. It seems like you could use a distraction." Reagan stated matter of factly.

Alexander smirked and followed Quinn as she led them out the room. "Aye, aye Cap'n." He jokingly saluted.

To be continued...

 

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