((Starbase 118 Ops - Alora’s Quarters))
Several days had passed, and Tony had spent far too much time pondering the fallout from the events between him and Ashley. He still was stuck on the fact that what had happened was between him and Ashley, and was really nobody else’s concern… that was until Kherys had taken it upon herself to report the incident up the chain of command. That, of course, landed him and Ashley in the First Officer’s office on the carpet. Unfortunately, that meant the issue would have to be one his friend had to deal with on her first day in the new position.
Unfortunately, that meeting hadn’t gone well. Not even a little well, and Tony didn’t like how things were left. He knew it wasn’t easy, going from peer to boss, especially when there was negative business to be had. Regardless, he wasn’t prepared to let things lie where they had recently fallen. Tapping his combadge, he threw caution into the wind and made the call.
Meeks: =/\=Meeks to DeVeau=/\=
That was a voice Alora hadn’t heard in almost a week. There was pause, not because she didn’t want to answer, but because she was schooling herself. Finally, she tapped her badge to connect the line.
DeVeau: =/\=DeVeau here, Lieutenant.=/\=
Meeks: =/\=This is not a business call, Commander. I would like to talk.=/\=
There was yet another pause. He wanted to talk, but it wasn’t business. The last time Alora had attempted that with one of her friends, it had gone nowhere fast. In fact, she felt like it had made things worse. However, if he wanted to talk, she wasn’t going to avoid him.
DeVeau: =/\=I can do that.=/\=
Meeks: =/\=Where can we meet up? =/\=
That was another question. Twice, Alora had attempted to have conversations with her friends in what had, at the time, seemed the most viable location - her officer. After both had disastrous results, she was rethinking the idea of discussing personal matters there. Perhaps that was the best way to handle things - if it was in her office, it should be business only. Since Tony didn’t want to discuss business, it should be somewhere else.
DeVeau: =/\=Does the matter up for discussion require privacy?=/\=
Meeks: =/\=I’d prefer someplace where we can talk without interruption. I really don’t care where.=/\=
DeVeau: =/\=Would my quarters suffice?=/\=
Meeks: =/\=That would be fine. Like I said, I don’t have a preference, other than someplace where we can talk.=/\=
DeVeau: =/\=All right. I’m off duty at 1700 hours, and can be home a few minutes after.=/\=
Well, technically, Alora figured she was on duty twenty-four seven. The same for the captain. When she had put together the Christmas present for Sal, that was why she had requested that Nijil hold the fort and not allow interruption - because she was sure if she hadn’t, something would have come up. Now that she was in Nijil’s former position, she now found herself in that situation.
Meeks: =/\=I’ll be there. Meeks out.=/\=
The comline closed up and the room was silent. He sat there, listening to the silence playing things over in his head. It was time to get things out and move on.
((Timeskip - Alora’s Quarters))
Tony approached the door to Alora’s quarters at his usual brisk pace. He stopped short though, standing just out of reach of the door chime control. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, then took that last step and punched the control with his finger. He waited for the answer from within.
The doors parted after Alora called for him to enter. As soon as she had gotten home, she’d changed out of her uniform. If she was going to keep business and personal separate, she’d try to do so as much as possible. The disastrous results of the last few days had only solidified that idea in her mind. When she entered, he offered a small smile.
Tony stepped inside and found a little comfort in the smile, even if it was miniscule. The conversation was going to be a rough one, regardless of any intent behind what was to be said.
Meeks: Hi. Thanks for taking time.
Meeks: Can we sit?
DeVeau: Oh, yeah, of course.
Alora motioned to the awaiting couches and chairs. She herself took position on one side of the couch, waiting for Tony to choose his seat.
She hated this. Absolutely hated it. Alora didn’t like getting into fights with anyone, but especially not friends. She hated the distance that spread between her and Tony and Ashley. She had enough of a chasm that she faced every day, she didn’t want to add more to it.
Meeks: Thanks for taking time to talk.
That actually spurred a hint of a smile.
DeVeau: You already said that.
Tony took a seat at the other end of the sofa. Even if Alora had been promoted, and had dressed him down, she was still his friend… at least he hoped so.
Meeks: I wanted to start by telling you that I understand where you came from. ::Sigh:: I probably wouldn’t have done anything different.
Well that was a surprise. Honestly, Alora had been doubting herself, a situation that was so unusual. After graduating the academy, she’d had very few spells of that, finding herself right at home in her duty posting, working happily. Even when she was promoted to Chief Science Officer the first time, those niggling doubts had been easily quelled. In the couple of weeks since being made First Officer? Alora felt like she was almost drowning in them. Tony’s comment helped. A little.
Meeks: I also want to apologize to you for putting you in a bad spot.
DeVeau: A bad spot?
So...what did that mean exactly? Alora wasn’t sure how to interpret those words. They seemed rather abstract, so she went digging for clarity.
DeVeau: What do you mean?
Meeks: Can I speak frankly? I mean, this is off the record, right?
DeVeau: Well considering we’re not here as officers but as regular people, I would hope so. I would prefer that.
Meeks: The other day, I did something that I felt was the right thing to do. The end result however, caused you to become involved in the issue. I didn’t want that to happen, and I don’t think it should have risen to that.
Alora didn’t answer right away, simply mulled over his statement. One leg lifted to cross over the other, the foot bobbing up and down in the silence. Finally, she raised a question.
DeVeau: Why is that?
Meeks: The report came from my girlfriend, Kherys Harper. She treated Ashley in sickbay and then saw my bruises. She did the right thing, I guess, in reporting her concerns.
DeVeau: I guess I’m a little confused, but all right.
Meeks: When I told you in your office that Ashley and I had engaged in a consensual contest of strength, that wasn’t a lie, or at least not in its purest form. We had consensually engaged in a contest of strength that involved punching and kicking each other. It’s the why that is the problem.
That didn’t really help matters. “At least not its purest form” basically meant “we lied and told you this to get you off our backs”, but for once, Alora was going to hold her tongue.
Meeks: I couldn’t tell you the why because it would violate the confidentiality of a friend.
DeVeau: The lack of a ‘why’ isn’t the problem, Tony.
Meeks: I’m not asking for absolution here. I’m just trying to explain. It wasn’t about minimizing anything either. If we had been in violation of policy or law, I would have happily taken my licks on that too. I just felt that officially, the report needed to be exactly what it was… a contest of strength between two consenting adults.
DeVeau: Except that it wasn’t. And that’s what the problem was. You were lying, both of you. I could see it in your faces. It was obvious, especially in Ashley. That’s not what bothered me, but that you tried to cover up something with lies. And...even more so, that it was the two people I’m closest to on the station doing it.
Meeks: What is with you women and this “lies” thing. For crying out loud!
DeVeau: I find it interesting that you used the plural term there.
Alora’s eyes flashed, but she managed to swallow the anger that had arisen at the Marine’s response. He was unwilling to look at it like it was.
DeVeau: Which means I’m not the only one who agrees it’s a lie.
Meeks: Damnit, Alora! You’re talking about pure perception here. I told you the truth, it just didn’t include that Ashley and I kicked the hell out of each other. It was consensual, and it was supposed to be between the two of us, period. Sometimes that’s how guys handle things.
Marine Captain Anthony Meeks
Starbase 118 Ops/USS Narendra
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops