Operation: My Unfair Lady
Location: Standing Bear
In the heartbeat it took for the transport to complete, Lieutenant Alex Kingsley found her mild annoyance with her old friend dissipating fast. Indeed, by the time she materialised aboard the Standing Bear with her belongings crammed into the bag slung over her shoulder, the science officer found herself decidedly more anxious.
Perhaps this was not a good idea? Perhaps it was too soon?
Then again, when would you ever be ready to step aboard a former ship of the Terran Empire, one your alternate self had helped to seize in Soral’s name by subjugating the crew and murdering the captain. Taking a deep breath, tightning her grip on the strap of the bag, Alex took a step forward, her boots echoing off the floor before she realised she had a welcoming committee.
The acting first officer stood by the transporter controls, her crisp uniform in contract to the black clothes Alex herself wore. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here,” she admitted as she took the last step to descend from the platform.
“I couldn’t just let you arrive here and have no welcome!” T’Lanna smiled warmly at Alex. “Besides...” she walked across giving Alex a brief hug. “I’ve missed you!”
Alex returned the hug, before stepping back. “Didn’t the captain give you like eighteen different duties to fill?” she teased lightly. “I can find my way if you have things to be doing.”
T’Lanna grinned. “I’m taking some down time, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately and it’s been taking its toll. So I’m here to greet my best friend. Everything else can wait.” She motioned for Alex to go first. “I’ll walk you to your new quarters.”
With a nod, Alex slipped past her and out into the corridor. It was thankfully empty all the way to the turbolift. “Thank you, for being here,” she offered as they entered the turbolift. “To be honest as soon as the transporter started I really started to doubt if this was a good idea.”
“I thought I sensed a lot of nerves as you appeared on the transporter pad.” T’Lanna offered an understanding smile. “After everything you’ve been through I’m not surprised. I can only imagine what it must have been like. I’m always here to talk to, whether it’s as your friend or ship’s counsellor.”
“I appreciate that, honestly. They’ve made changes but this ship… I have old memories of it that are not mine and not entirely pleasant. For other people I mean. Lexi took a lot of pleasure in acquiring Terran ships for Soral,” she confided before seeming to shake the idea, “it will just take time. And getting back to work will help, I’m sure of it.”
T’Lanna nodded. “That must be horrible, but like you said getting back to work will most probably help. Getting into a settled routine again, amongst your friends and colleagues.”
“That’s the hope,” she agreed, leaning back against the wall as T’Lanna ordered the lift to take them towards her new quarters. “How is Jayce?”
“Ohh he’s fine!” T’Lanna grinned from ear to ear as she thought about her son. “Getting bigger everyday! He’s got a set of lungs to go with it too!! He’s taken a shine to Jarin, you should see them when they’re in the same room together.”
“Good to hear it,” Alex smiled as the lift slowed to a stop and the doors opened. “I’ll stop by and see him when I’m settled in. If you’re okay with that, obviously.”
“Anytime!” T’Lanna grinned. “I’m not expecting Jarin until after shift tonight, you’ll have to join us for dinner one night. We could go to ten forward, I don’t tend to get out much in the evenings otherwise. Not that I’m complaining about being at home of course!”
“Dinner sounds good,” Alex agreed as the two of them walked. “So, sounds pretty serious with you two?”
T’Lanna nodded, grinning from ear to ear. “We’ve been close ever since Jayce was born. It was just friends back then, but since Raith and I decided to part things between Jarin and I have flourished. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve only just become a couple.” She couldn’t help but blush. “I love him! He’s proving to be a wonderful father to Jayce, it’s...magical.”
“I’m happy for you,” Alex told her, “all of you.”
“Thank you Alex” T’Lanna smiled warmly. “Right..here we are, you’re new quarters. You’ll obviously have to pass a medical and psych evaluation before you can get back to your duties. It’ll be nice to have you back as First Officer until Soral returns.”
Alex stopped beside her, biting her lip as she stared at the door. “Do you think I’m being too hard on him,” she asked, gesturing to the door, “having my own space again?”
“To be honest, I think I’d probably do the same thing in your situation.” T’Lanna sighed. “Soral has always been...secretive, but I do know that he loves you. Hell both halves of him do! I know that doesn’t help much though. Just...take it slow, there’s nothing wrong with being sure. I want you both to be happy.”
“Thank you,” Alex said with genuine gratitude. “I know this is hard for him too. For everyone.”
“It wasn’t our Soral’s fault that any of this happened, the fact that he’s let himself be blended with the other Soral is...uncomfortable, but I trust our Soral to know what he’s doing.” T’Lanna offered a smile. “At least I hope he knows what he’s doing.”
“Would he tell us if he didn’t?” Alex mused as she entered her new quarters. More space by far than her temporary room aboard the Brittany, while smaller than the quarters she had shared with her husband. Although now that space also belonged to N’Vek, with the boy due to follow his father to the Standing Bear.
She dropped her bag down on the sofa, studying the room for a moment before remembering her manners. “Something to drink?” she offered.
“Ohh no, thank you I’m fine” T’Lanna smiled warmly. “So how are things between you and the children? I know none of this is easy for them.”
Crossing to the replicator, Alex paused, deciding against anything stronger as she ordered a hot chocolate. “They are doing okay,” she said as she took a sip, gesturing for T’Lanna to sit. “Soral was meant to go home, to Vulcan, to spend time with them. And instead ended up in a cave. It hurt them, to be honest. Severine and Soval most of all. N’Vek … thinks it is all good. And of course he is coming to stay here, with his father. Again, it is a difficult subject.”
She sank down into the couch. “The other Soral, for his many many faults, valued his family above all else. He never failed to keep a promise to his children. Despite Evesta’s interference. He definitely would not take a detour and end up in Bajor.
As for them and me? I don’t know. My mother takes care of them more than I do, we get along fine. I think. And no matter what happens with Soral, I want only what is best for them.”
“I know you do Alex, I’m sure you’re a wonderful mother.” T’Lanna smiled warmly. “Soral never went home to visit the children at all? I’m surprised at that. I definitely need to talk to him when he returns to us.”
“Not at all,” Alex confirmed as she ran a hand through her hair. “I’m really not. If I was I would be there. With them. Like my mother is.”
“You’ve been through a lot Alex, don’t be so hard on yourself” T’Lanna offered an understanding gaze. “You need time too.”
She opened her mouth to argue but thought better of it. “Speaking of time, how quickly can you pass my psych evaluation? I’d like to get back on duty sooner rather than later now that I’m here.”
“I can understand that” T’Lanna nodded. “We can get your evaluation done and finished right here if you like? Either that or in my office later? Will you be taking over as First Officer while Soral is away? You are next in the chain of command.”
“No time like the present… and yes, that is the plan. Although it needs an okay from medical and we will need to do a proper handover. Although if you’d rather stay as XO, I’m happy to stick to the labs,” Alex offered with a grin.
“Ohh no!” T’Lanna waved her hand. “You can take over by all means! I’m happy to go back to my usual duties.”
“In that case, let’s start so you can get rid of all the extra paperwork,” Alex nodded.
T’Lanna grinned. “Well you’ve already answered a few questions I would have asked, but I did notice you biting your tongue a few moments ago. What were you going to say?”
“Because I don’t think I’m being hard on myself, but honest. Soral always seemed to feel it should be like flicking a switch, that thinking of all three as my children should be so easy. I care about them. I think the world of them. But I know how other me, Lexi, felt as a mother. They were her universe. Sure sometimes she was kept apart from them but never for long. I feel more like… the really cool aunt who takes you to theme parks and helps you get away with stuff. Which Soral would never forgive me for saying, let alone thinking.”
T’Lanna nodded. “I can understand how that must feel, but it takes time to get used to being a mother. I spent all those months carrying and bonding with Jayce, you’ve never had that time to bond with Soral’s children. You’re not their biological mother, and with everything that’s happened it’s made how you feel stick out like a sore thumb!” She smiled. “With the way things are between the two of you right now, bonding with the children is made all the harder. All you can do is see how it goes.”
Alex nodded, “you’re right.”
“Wow! No argument?” T’Lanna couldn’t help but grin. “Seriously though, I’m sure in time you could be a wonderful mother, but you need to sort things through with Soral first.” She paused. “So, are you feeling capable of taking over as First Officer?”
“Considering how the last mission ended, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some… doubts. But I am ready, or I wouldn’t be here. And it is temporary. Soral will be back.”
“So, how will you feel when Soral returns? Do you think you’ll be able to work closely together?”
“I think both of us can be professional, we’ve had arguments before, even when we started dating… we’ve kept our time on duty free from any of it,” she pointed out. “Of course it will be an adjustment - for me, for him and to all of you as well.”
T’Lanna nodded. “You’re right there, but as you said you’ve managed to keep your personal and professional lives separate before, I’m sure you’ll manage it again.”
“That’s the plan,” Alex assured her.
T’Lanna smiled. “Well going from what I’ve asked now, and what we’ve talked about since I got here I’m happy to get you back to work. I don’t think sitting around in your quarters is going to benefit you. Providing the Doctor is happy to pass you I’ll sign you off from my end.”
“Won’t be a problem, all my medicals passed on Earth so should be fine here,” Alex assured her with a bright smile. “I’ll stop by Sickbay later and get it all taken care of.”
T’Lanna nodded. “Sounds good to me. It’s nice having you back Alex, I’ve missed not having you around to talk to.”
“It’s good to be back,” Alex agreed, “just remind me I said that when I start doing paperwork.”
T’Lanna grinned. “Ohh don’t worry, I will.” She offered a friendly smile before she headed on her way.