Posted on Monday, 10 October 2022 - 6:25am by Lieutenant Alex Kingsley
Operation: My Unfair Lady
Location: Argona II
Retirement… why had he waited?
It was a question Jonathan Issac’s often asked himself, especially on mornings like this. Pouring a cup of coffee he sat on his favourite chair on the porch, watching as the sun came up and offered him the first glimpses of the snow capped mountains in the distance. Between here and there, wild flowers annd grass leading up to a dense forest which was home to the very few indigenous life forms on the entire planet. It was peaceful. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of his daily commute, of his working days which began at ungodly hours and lasted until long after dark. Even then, he spent longer still marking papers, preparing for the next day.
How fortunate that, in Elizabeth, he had found such an understanding wife. He had seen so many of his colleagues suffer from their devotion to teaching and research, losing loved ones and not recognising the signs until it was too late.
But Eliza, as he called her, had always supported him. Perhaps because he had never broken her one rule. Come seven o’clock, he would be seated at the dinner table or he would incur her formidable - but thankfully rarely encountered- wrath. It was her only demand of him and the least he could do.
And by the time he finally retired, a full twenty years later than planned, he had no hesitation in leaving behind his life in Cambridge. His friends and acquaintances and - especially- those insufferable black tie galas.
And in exchange he got this - a beautiful home, with a beautiful view and long days with nothing to do but rediscover how incredible his wife was and how fortunate he had been that she had wandered into a bar, literally falling into his lap, when he was a freshman at university.
He heard footsteps approaching and smiled as Eliza came up behind him, resting her hands on his shoulders as she kissed the top of his head. “It looks like it will be a beautiful day,” she observed. “And our guests were up early. Perhaps I’ll start on breakfast. A proper meal is always better than anything out of a replicator and it’s the least we can do.”
“I don’t recall any of them being morning people when they were students,” Issac’s commented, reaching up to squeeze one of the hands his wife had placed on his shoulders. His gaze shifted to the land to the side of his house. Mostly out of sight, the small group from the Brittany had set up a mobile laboratory which looked entirely at odds with the family home which had been standing for over ninety years. Yet it brought technology and expertise to a colony which by and large preferred a more simple way of life.
Most of his neighbours were farmers, a few worked in the mines to the north. What the community could not provide for themselves, other governments were willing to trade for the minerals and precious stones they had in abundance. It allowed the relatively small colony to flourish. Yet for all of its potential, it remained lacking in some areas.
Like when a small outbreak had taken hold. Fuelled, they now knew from spores released when breaking ground in a new mine shaft. Fortunately they had only one fatality, although one too many. The small medical facility and the even smaller medical staff had been tested to its limit but managed to keep the situation under control - with some help and supplies from the Brittany.
In the end he had been right to raise the alarm but he would be lying if he said he hadn’t begun to doubt himself as test after test brought up nothing. Not until they looked to the mine…
“Perhaps the lectures weren’t especially entertaining,” his wife teased with a grin before kissing him, patting him on the shoulder before she retreated inside. Issac’s turned his head to watch her go, smiling to himself. Her hair may be grey, yet age had - if anything - made his Eliza even more beautiful.
“What exactly are we witnessing?”
A familiar voice brought his attention to two of his guests walking up the steps and onto the porch. Daniel Mathieson had even remained as part of his staff at Cambridge. As his towering figure approached the younger man paused, tilting his head before accusing, “is the one and only Professor Issacs’s smiling?”
Issac’s sighed, rolling his eyes. “Perhaps you need your eyes tested, Mathieson.”
“I don’t know… did you see a smile, Kid?”
“One hundred percent,” Alex Kingsley confirmed, leaning around her colleague to offer a wave. “Morning Professor. We were about to start packing up but we wanted to thank your wife for dinner last night.”
“No need, she was delighted to have the company and any excuse to cook! She is just starting on breakfast actually -“ he rose from his seat, gesturing for them to follow him inside. When, he wondered, did his back start to ache quite this much. What was it his mother said? Oh yes… old age didn’t come by itself.
“Well, we never say no to food,” Alex said brightly. “And packing can wait.”
Issacs laughed. “Nice to see Starfleet hasn’t ruined your appetite. Now, sit. Eat. Mathieson, I have a few things I want to show you…. Follow me. Do try to leave some food for the rest of us, Dr Kingsley.”
Eliza watched her husband usher Daniel into his study and close the door, shaking her head with a fond smile as she set down plates stacked with food. “Eat as much as you like, dear,” she assured the younger woman as she sat. Filling her own plate, she regarded Kingsley, “he was smiling like a proud father when he heard you finished your studies. He follows all of your work, Daniel’s too. In many ways his students - the exceptional ones at least - he thinks of almost like his children.”
“We all think the world of him too,” Alex assured her.
She smiled, seemingly pleased to hear this. “Did the tea help?” She asked after a moment.
“Best sleep I’ve had in what feels like forever,” Alex admitted quietly.
“I’ll give you some to take with you,” Eliza told her, reaching over to squeeze her hand. “Life is not often easy, but be patient, and in time you usually find that things work out.”
Alex flashed her a grateful smile. “I hope so. I really do. And for now, I’m in as good a place as I can be. I spoke to our captain last night. It’s a detour for the Brittany, but I’m heading back to my ship. Time to put the uniform back on.”
“Wonderful news,” Eliza smiled brightly. “Now eat up and I’ll go round up the others. There is plenty for everyone.”
“… sure about this, Kid?” Dropping the bag he had insisted on carrying from her quarters to the transporter room, Mathieson put his hands on the shoulders of someone he had come to think of as more family than friend. As a fourteen year old she had arrived on campus and refused to let her age be used as an excuse for anything. She had earned her place and nobody who bothered to spend time with her was in any doubt of the brilliance that she had but what she was capable of. “Our next stop is Earth and I could use a liaison who I can stand for more than five minutes. Or you could ditch Starfleet and just work for me.”
Always looking out for her. Realising this was just another of those times, Alex hugged him. And tight. During this trip he had been friend, confidante and … exactly what she had needed. Never prying, giving her space but always on hand with a hot chocolate and a friendly ear when nightmares often had her wandering the ship in the dead of night.
“Couldn’t pay me enough to take that job,” she teased before standing on her top toes and kissing his cheek. “Send my love to the family and tell Chip to… well, not be Chip.”
Mathieson chuckled, letting go and stepping down from the platform as a message came over the comms to say that the Standing Bear was ready to transport. “I will,” he agreed. “Take care Kid.”
She rolled her eyes but whatever she was about to say was lost as the transporter took hold and his former classmate was taken back to her life in Starfleet.