Will you be my Yoda?
Operation: Peace or P'Jem
Location: Captain's Quarters
Pressing the door chime, Lieutenant Kingsley stood in the corridor as she waited for a response. Perhaps, she reasoned, this could wait. Then again, no time like the present... to annoy the husband of your CO. Although, his relationship status had zero reason for her visit. It did contribute to her visiting when she knew Stillwater was elsewhere.
What was the worst that could happen? He could only say no. And she could deal with that.
Talarn was surprised to hear the chime. Barret was in meetings and he was not expecting anyone. He had showered and dressed for the evening in a simple t-shirt and sweat pants. He hadn’t put his hair back up, letting it dry from the shower. Frowning, he went to the door and opened it, still holding the towel he had been drying his hair with. “Lieutenant Kingsley?” He looked her over and then looked out into the hallway. “What can I do for you?”
“I’m sorry to intrude,” she offered. “I wanted to ask you something... but I can come back?”
“Why would you come back when you’re already here. I am not doing anything important. The Captain is not here. Come in...” He stepped back from the door to let her in. “Do you like tea? I was going to make some... sit. I assume the ship is not on fire.”
“Thank you,” she smiled as she stepped inside. “Tea would be great, thank you. And no, no fires. That I know of. On this ship? Who can ever really know...”
Talarn snorted and went for the tea supplies. “I had to ask. Do you like sugar? Honey? Milk? Blackberry or apple cinnamon?” He returned with a tea set and a jar of tea. He set everything down on the low table in the living area.
“Some milk, please.” She smiled, grateful pineapple was not an option. Was pineapple tea a thing? Oh she hoped not.
“I need to get more supplies for tea. We’re almost out. The blackberry I made, the apple... we bought. It’s not my favorite.” He retrieved a small carafe of milk from the replicator.
“You made? Wow,” Alex breathed, looking impressed. “I can just about make a sandwich. Soral did not marry me for my cooking skills. If you wanted, I could probably find you some space if you wanted to grow some fruit. An apple tree is pushing it, but if you like having fresh ingredients? My research project is finished so that will free up more space too.”
“I can use fresh... takes time to dry them.” He went to the replication for hot water which he returned to the table. “Blackberry then...” he decided and started to pack some small pouches with tea leaves. Once they were filled he dropped them into the hot water. “When you came to the door you seemed to have something you wanted to talk about?”
Alex had watched his work in quiet fascination. She had never seen anyone put so much time and attention into making tea. “Hm? Oh, yes. I did. I had a request, actually. I need a Yoda. Someone with tactical experience.”
Talarn chuckled softly. “Well... you’ve come to the right place. What can I tell you about it? Do you have any combat experience?” The tea was starting to steep and gave off a light blackberry scent. “It’s not that you can’t learn without it... but it tells me where I should start.”
“I did basic tactical training at the academy but it wasn’t my favourite subject,” she admitted. “I do kickboxing and I make sure to practice with my phaser but actual practical experience... not much. I can hold my own in a fight but I also tend to fight with sensors rather than people.
“But I want to learn anything you could teach me. The Captain has put so much faith by making me second officer and it’s always on my mind that something will happen that I don’t have the knowledge or experience to deal with. And the crew suffering because of it. I didn’t want to ask Soral as he can be, well, over protective. He even looked me out of his sparring programme. If I try to use it the holodeck fills up with kittens.”
Talarn shook his head and chuckles. “Is he going to be mad? If I teach you?” he asked simply.
“Possibly,” Alex grinned. “I’ve gotten used to the fact that Vulcans are far more emotional than I ever thought possible. But I can deal with him if he has a tantrum about it.”
Talarn eyed her. He was torn. He knew that he could do what she asked, but did he want her green blooded husband up his ass. “Well at least he’ll know you aren’t having an affair...” He chuckled. “Is he likely to want to beat me up anyway?”
“Full disclosure, maybe,” she agreed. “For a second or two. Then common sense will kick in. Right now, he’ll probably fight his own shadow.”
He nodded. “I’m not going to lie to him, but only if he asks. He can order me to quit it though... so be prepared for that. I don’t like getting in between couples, but I also know you need and want the information. It’s not really something that can taught from a manual. It’s more about... learning to see like a soldier.”
“So... is that a yes?” she asked hopefully, with a megawatt smile.
Talarn chuckles and nodded. “I just don’t want to have to hurt your husband, but yes.”
“Thank you!” Alex grinned. “Sorry, the eternal student in me gets excited about learning things.”
He chuckled again, wondering what he’d gotten himself into. “I think this tea should be about done.” He opened the teapot to look at the tea inside. He put the lid back and set a cup in front of her and another by himself. “When do you want to start? Now?” He picked up the teapot and poured tea into both cups. “Honey and milk here for you...” and then offered her a spoon.
The tea smelled amazing and she paused to enjoy the aroma and warmth of the cup in her hands before taking a tentative sip. “How does tomorrow sound? I’m off duty, so whatever time suits?”
The tea tasted just like blackberries with a tint of sweet all on its own. Talarn put a little bit of honey in his own cup and stirred it while he sat down across from her. “Tomorrow is fine, depending. You never know when things will change.”
“Thank you,” she smiled. “If you don’t mind me asking, lack of fresh fruit aside, how are you settling in on the ship?”
Talarn snorted and the chuckled, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t call it settling... but I’m fine, why?” He looked at her over the rim of his tea. “You’re gonna have homework...”I
“Seems polite to ask and I’m inherently curious,” Alex confessed. “And it’s a big change. I remember finding it wired when I moved to Earth from Mars and there weren’t domes everywhere... what’s the homework?”
“I’m not a new cadet, Alex. I’ve given Starfleet a lot of years before Bear and I moved to Prairie. It is what it is.” He sipped at his tea. “Your homework is to think about your first lesson. Simple. When you look at me, what do you see? Tell me everything that comes to your mind... have you ever played chess?”
“Chess?” she repeated. “Once. Why?”
“Tactics are like chess... but please. What do you see? When you look at me what do you see first?” He chuckled. “You’re not going to hurt my feelings... please...” His meaning was for her to please continue.
She frowned. “First? Your implants. The ones I can see, I have no idea how many you have... but they scare me and fascinate me at the same time. Which probably sounds insane. And I know they don’t define you, nor T’Lanna. Everything I know about the Borg comes from books and stuffy lecture halls.” She really hoped she hadn’t offended him. Her mother has raised her to look beyond physical differences, but it didn’t mean you didn’t notice them. Even if you wished you were capable of rising above it.
Talarn chuckles and smiled a little. “They should scare you, it’s alright. They’re scary for me too. What I could do... there’s a lot of metal in my body. I might even be able to punch really hard? Maybe take more shots than someone that doesn’t have that?” He paused for a moment. “Think about meeting me without knowing who I am...”
“Where are we meeting?” she asked curiously before adding with a sheepish smile. “Context is important.”
Talarn shook his head. “Context not important. It should never be important. I might be a friend who has turned against you. Always look. Doesn’t mean you can’t relax, but always look. What weapons might I be hiding?”
“Weapons can be small, easily missed or hidden,” she countered. “If you were in a bar, for example, you would have more options to hide weapons than say... wearing a bikini by a pool. Context. But I get your point. You could have a concealed blade, a weapon like a phaser, not to mention your obvious physical strength.”
Talarn smiled, nodding. “Now you’re getting the idea. Now... what if I suddenly decided not to be friends any more and attacked you. What are my options? There’s a table between us...”
“For one thing, you’d be off the Christmas list,” Alex said as she glanced at the table. “You could flip the table, or use the tea. It’s delicious, but it’d burn. And physically you are obviously stronger and more powerful than I am.”
Talarn grinned. “Exactly... well done. What are you going to do about it? If any of those things happened...” Really think about what you would do if you could or what sort of weapons you might need.” He leaned back in his chair and stretched out his legs. He crossed his ankles and looked at her, holding his tea mug.
She could imagine such an encounter would be terrifying. “I’d have the same options as you for weapons, physical strength aside. I’d be remiss if I didn’t use this,” she gestured to her comm badge. “And while you are stronger, I’m smaller and I’d wager more agile. Even if I couldn’t hurt you, I’d be able avoid being too close. Where is your bathroom?”
“Just back there...” He pointed behind himself. “Next to the kitchen to the right.” It wasn’t really a kitchen. It was a counter and a hot plate.
“If I couldn’t get out of your quarters, I’d go there. You’d be amazed how the right combination of personal hygiene products can hurt someone.”
“Most are flammable... but that’s about what I have for homework... try it on other people. Maybe not tell people you’re doing it.” He chuckled.
“I’ll keep it our secret,” she grinned. “Serious question. I’m troubled. What happened with T’Lanna... her telepathic outburst for want of a better word. How can you defend against that? A large number of the crew was affected although fortunately she was prevented from trying to reroute the ship.”
Talarn shrugged. “I don’t really know. Telepathic things make me uncomfortable,” he said honestly.
“I can understand that...” she agreed. “Even when it comes to Soral, at times there are things you want to keep private. Not to hurt him or deceive. I’m rambling. Sorry. I’ve found myself over analysing pretty much everything lately. And rather than help, it usually leads to headaches.”
Talarn raised one hand up in a “stop” motion. “No no, Lieutenant... I agree with you about needing things that are mine only. One of what I very much consider just mine. If I choose to share those ideas it should be my choice. Hells... I can’t even say my body is mine. I’ve been built up and torn down so many times now... the Cardassians... the Borg... Starfleet... I feel that no where is safe. I trust my mind... sometimes.” He chuckled. “Now I’m rambling...”
“Maybe it’s the tea,” she teased lightly.
Talarn frowned into his tea mug and then chuckled. “Yeah maybe...” he joked back.