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The Welcome Wagon

Posted on Wed Jan 22nd, 2020 @ 11:31am by Captain Abigail Laurens & Lieutenant Nikki St. John

Mission: Dead Moon
Location: Personal Quarters


Abigail was well aware that the Commanding Officer showing up at someone's door outside of hours was likely somewhat unorthodox, especially when it wasn't a pressing matter, and would have been just fine to have left until morning, but she had made the decision and followed through, which was why she was standing outside of Lieutenant St John's quarters, a bottle of wine in hand that she had picked up from Kaarg on her way. She had already chimed the annunciator, now all that was left was to wait for the new Chief of Security to answer.

Dressed in a black camisole top and matching loose-fitting drawstring pants, Nikki padded barefoot over to the door which opened at once. "Captain," she said, "what can I do for you?" She knew because she checked and because she kept on top of things that there were no alerts. Security understood, after a few missteps, that she was to be notified no matter how minor the incident.

Abigail smiled wearily. "I owe you an apology," she said as she held out the bottle of wine. "I wasn't exactly welcoming when you first came onboard and for that I apologize. It was, well, it wasn't appropriate, so I am sorry. Peace offering?"

Nikki smiled, maybe the first genuine smile since coming aboard, and gestured for the Captain to come. "Apology accepted, Captain. Would you like to share a glass with me?"

"I'd love to," Abigail replied, a smile breaking across her face as she stepped into Nikki's quarters. She glanced around quickly, taking in her surroundings. "How are you settling in?" she asked. "I've been reading your reports, but how are *you* settling in?"

Nikki followed the Captain's gaze and saw the sterile rooms as she must have. A place to eat and sleep but little more. "I've gotten through the security logs and nearly completed my review of security personnel. There are some that are red-flagged and pending the counselor's evaluation but ... so far, things are going well." She replicated the appropriate wine glasses because Addison had once taught her the difference and filled two glasses then returned to the Captain. "The people I brought with me have been pulling extra shifts to cover the gaps until your own people are ready to return to full duty."

"I'm across the departmental stuff," Abigail replied calmly, taking the glass that was offered before taking a seat on the couch. "But I want to know how YOU are settling in. Not the Chief of Security, but Nikki."

Nikki took a seat on a chair that sat at an angle to the couch, tucking her bare feet up beneath her as she did so, and considered the question while taking a sip of wine. She savored the taste on her tongue for a moment before answering. "With all due respect, Captain, I'm not sure that applies here. I'm the bad guy. The one that couldn't possibly understand ... the one that's forcing them to face what they don't want to face ..." She studied her glass for a moment as tendrils of long dark hair slid forward across her bare shoulder and then looked up. "You know, I fought against taking this assignment," she said. "For just these reasons. I wanted a permanent berth but you know Starfleet. They told me this first and then I can go be a Chief somewhere. So, no, I'm not settling in." She offered up a wry grin. "If they thought I was staying, I'd have to check for booby traps."

"Your presence might be not exactly routine, or what the crew would want or expect, but you're still a member of my crew and for that reason I am just as concerned about your welfare as I am about everyone else on this ship. We all have to be the bad guy sometimes, God knows, I've had more than my share of upsetting people." She shook her head slightly. "But for what it's worth, I'm glad you're here."

"Thank you for that, Captain, and for the wine." She took another sip and leaned forward, torso flat to legs, stretching out, and set the glass down on the table. "And I appreciate the thought. I suppose it's a difference in mindset. Oh, I can take their anger, stand up under it, push back when needed. Not a problem." She shrugged slightly. "When this is all over, when they are back to where they need to be, then they'll want someone they can trust. Not sure I could expect that much. Still," she said, a slightly mischievous grin popped up, mercurial in its swift appearance and departure, "it's nice to know that there are some folks aboard that don't want to shoot me in the back."

"I can say with absolute certainty that there is not one single person in my crew who wants to shoot you in the back," Abigail retorted vehemently. "Shove you out of an airlock and make it look like an accident, possibly... but definitely not shoot you in the back!" She grinned slightly before taking another sip of the wine.

Nikki chuckled at that, lacing her fingers together in her lap, "You know, back at the Academy, we used to do these stealth games. You'd get a target and you had to find a way to leave a something innocuous under their pillow without them knowing how it got there." She smiled, memories softening her features, as she returned to those easier days. "I usually left something sweet, cookies or chocolate, tied up with a black ribbon. It was never about pranks, it was about learning stealth. How to accomplish a mission without getting caught." She leaned forward again, in much the same manner, and retrieved her wine glass, cradling it between her hands as settled back into place. "I was very good at that."

"So maybe the crew should be looking for vipers under their pillows?" Abigail asked quizzically with one eyebrow raised. She smirked slightly before she shook her head. "It's been difficult," she finally said quietly. "What they went through. I know that doesn't make your job easier, but it is what it is. I'll just be looking forward to when we can move on... provided we live through Charybdis." The last sentiment was one that was spoken in a much more reserved manner, but nonetheless, it was spoken.

"If they're trying to shove me out an airlock, it won't be candy, that's for sure," Nikki said, arranging her features in a mock-ferocious snarl, that still managed to look just a little intimidating. "Being security, you learn to live in the moment. Accept the risks because its a job that needs doing. They have to get up off the mat ... before Charybdis. Focus their attention on the job again. I'll get them there. Somehow ..."

Abigail nodded. "I know you will," she said with a smile. "I came up through security, it can be a difficult job, but it can also be incredibly rewarding."

"I'm not complaining, you know, and I wouldn't have said if you had asked. I like the works and difficult? I like that too ... most of the time." She laughed as she took another longer sip of the wine and sighed with pleasure. "What made you decide to leave Security?"

"Bitter divorce and the desire for a new life?" Abigail shook her head slightly. "It's..." she paused, twisting the wine glass in her hands. "It's complicated. But aren't most things in life that bring the most merit?" she asked with a faint smile. "What made you decide to get into security?"

"I was born on Turkana IV, ten when my grandfather and the uncles rescued me. I didn't even know he existed but there he was. Max was retired Starfleet security and after that, he taught me everything he knew. By the time I was eighteen, I felt as though I'd been in security all my life. So ... natural extension of my childhood. I guess that's the best answer." She paused, the glass resting on her thigh, and cocked her head slightly to one side. "Sorry about the divorce. I've never been married myself. To me, it always felt like ... uh ... a different sort of trap."

"That's probably a fair statement," Abigail replied quietly. "It was never a happy marriage from the onset. There was..." she paused, taking a sip of her wine as she contemplated. "There were always issues." She laughed softly and shook her head. "Anyway, you want or need to be listening to me waffle on about that."

"I've never been good at opening up, telling my tales. What I have come to understand is this. I told you something of myself and you told me something of yourself in return," she said. "This is how a friendship starts." She offered up a wry smile as she added. "Took me quite some time to figure that out. I had a friend, Addison, who swore he would get through my skull or die trying."

"And did he get through?" Abigail asked with a smile.

Nikki chuckled and could almost imagine Addison's tart response. "He would say that ... I was a work in progress. Course, knowing Addison, there would be a whole lot of unflattering adjectives mixed into that. He was open about everything. He never could understand how anyone could notsay what was on their mind." She angled her head to study the Captain for a moment as she smiled. "Nice deflection by the way."

Abigail laughed and took another sip of her wine. "Some times speaking your mind is very cathartic and refreshing. Other times it's definitely a better option to bite your tongue." She shook her head slightly. "And it's definitely not always the best approach to take when you're looking to form new friendships."

"Levine," Nikki said at once. "If ever there was an object lesson for biting your tongue, its her but I get your point. I've always tended your caution mostly because people are layered and ... it's not always easy to suss out the dark hearts that are out there." She took another sip of wine and then returned the glass to its resting place on the top of her thigh. "That's where we differed, I suppose. Addison was an artist who designed holoprograms in his spare time. He didn't live in the same reality that you and I do."

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one," Abigail replied with a smile. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you're here. An outside perspective may be difficult to hear, but it's usually worth it." Finishing the glass of wine, Abigail sighed softly. "I suppose I should get back to it. Duty shifts may end, but responsibilities rarely do."

"Really glad you did, Captain," Nikki said. "Thanks for the wine ... and the conversation."

"Any time," Abigail replied with a smile as she stood up. "My doors are always open, any time day or night." She paused for a moment, before she started toward the door. "Get some rest Nikki, you deserve it. And that's an order."


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