NCC - 81102
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It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

Posted on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 @ 11:21am by Commander Tavis Inahri & Lieutenant Commander Bear Jasper

Mission: Mission 0: Prologue
Location: Odyssey Lounge
Timeline: August 28 2389

He'd liked the Harlech. His longest posting yet proved that the ship had become 'home' for at least as much as anywhere ever stood a chance of being. Lyra had been a secondary part of that sense of belonging, but truly she'd been an additional wonder amongst a collection of people who had just simply clicked. A cliche term for an utterly new experience in Bear's life.

And now here he was, walking into and through a ship that smelled - well new - if not, then definitely recently cleaned. Bear didn't, of course, ask for directions from the few people he passed on his way, simply trusting the signage so as to avoid looking at a screen to find his way.

As he entered, the lounge was quiet, devoid of anyone obvious, and yet Bear's senses picked up sound and motion in the best of ways. The distinct and overtly subtle clink of glass on glass with a chime that suggested such vessels contained liquid. Booze. He grinned.

"There any good whiskey back there?" Bear called, unsure who was the other side of the counter.

"I've found Vodka and Tequila so far," came a voice from down behind the bar. The person back there was most likely kneeling, looking through cabinets. "I believe supplies plan to be delivered tomorrow, so you might be out of luck until then."

The newcomer to the shiny ship walked closer, confident steps crossing the wide open space until he could lean on the counter. He didn't look over, but cast his eyes in the opposite direction, taking in the internal vista and keeping an eye out for the man he was supposed to be meeting.

"Tequila might do it," Bear noted, a begrudging smile now taking up residence on his features. "Though that's usually one to drink with company."

"I prefer vodka, myself," the man said, standing up. "Bear?" Tavis looked at the man who stood across from him, someone he hadn't seen in years. "What're you doing here?"

"Vodka doesn't taste of anything," Bear said, his expression utterly serious for all of a millisecond until he heard his own name called back at him and turned around.

He could blame it on the unexpected juxtaposition of said previous ally and bar, the acoustics of the cramped space back there, or the four years full of a myriad other people's voices he'd listened to since he'd last seen the Betazoid. He could have, but Bear didn't make excuses. He took those mistakes like an unexpected right hook to the chin and rolled with them.

"Tavis?" Surprise mixed with a purer joy that briefly backlit those dark solemn eyes as Bear reached out a hand to lightly 'punch' the other man's shoulder.

"Admiral Tau," he answered Tavis' question, that gravitas returning to his tone. "But he said you were Captain of this boat, not barman."

Tavis shrugged as he set a half-full bottle of clear liquid on the bar. "There was no one here, and after the last few days, I just needed a drink." He turned, grabbing two tumblers from the shelf on the wall and set them next to the bottle.

"Vodka it is," agreed Bear, succinctly. "And, yeah, could use a drink myself. What's going on?" He asked, but the second question held more emotion wrapped around it. "You okay?"

"Oh, just this mission," Tavis said as he poured them both a glass. "Remember when I told you about that guy from my childhood? The one who had feelings for me, like I did for him, but was never willing to pursue them?"

Bear nodded quietly. He remembered. It had been a situation not unlike this one, except the bar had been busier and the alcohol more varied. He didn't recall exactly how they'd ended that evening, but he'd woken up on a couch in said bar with a thumping headache. "Yeah," he said, with overt empathy. "Kaz, right?"

"Good memory. Well, he's the mission." Tavis rolled his eyes as he took a sip of the clear liquid. "You'll get more information during the briefing in a few days. But apparently he's a Starfleet Intelligence agent now. And he's ran off with a bunch of secrets. And Intel wants him back. So they're using me and my history with him, hoping we can capture him."

That took a moment to digest and Bear's expression fully portrayed his thinking time. Lines furrowed his brow as dark eyes studied the label of the bottle rather than bore imaginary holes in Tavis' skull. He swore.

"Yeah... I see why you need a drink," Bear said simply, but there was a supportive edge to his look when he met his friend's eyes. "We're in this together though," he promised. "Need to talk about it?"

Tavis shrugged as he emptied his glass. "I don't know, honestly. Part of me doesn't care. He and I stopped being in each other's lives ages ago. It's not like there's any feelings still there."

He poured himself another glass. "But what if I can't do it? What if we get there and I have him and I can't get myself to arrest him?"

He followed suit on the glass emptying, then Bear smiled. Not amusement, but a gentle understanding of more than just the words being spoken now. The context that their past discussion brought to the matter in hand. "Of course you care," he stated for the record, just in case Tavis hadn't realised. "He was your first love. Everyone cares about those, whether they end up with them or not."

Bear offered his glass up for a refill and considered the other man's words for a moment before he responded. "Well," he said with definite and confident authority. "If that happens, I'll arrest him."

Tavis smiled, "I appreciate that," he said. "But enough about me. What's been going on with you? How'd you even get involved in this?"

Taking a gulp of clear liquid and feeling it gently burn against the back of his throat, Bear considered the questions. "I think," he admitted finally, mostly seriously. "I impressed someone just enough to draw just the right amount of attention to me at exactly the wrong moment in time."

‘What did you do to impress them?’ Tavis asked.

"Ah, the usual stuff, you know, how it goes," Bear said, modestly, not needing to sing his own praises to the man before him. "Life on the line, took a shot that was meant for a VIP's outspoken daughter. If I told you all the details you'd need to start another bottle," he added with a smile. "Always comes down to how important the person being shot at is, rather than the why they're being targeted though, doesn't it?"

"Wow," Tavis replied. "I should be lucky we have you on board."

"Hey," Bear looked down at the bar and swirled the liquid in his glass a little. "All part of the service I get paid to provide," he stated quietly. "I'll be honest," he looked up to Tavis. "I didn't want this mission until I heard it was your command." A wry smile creased Bear's face. "Had a good thing going on the Harlech." His friend might not have expected that, given Bear's previous reputation for moving ship to ship on an annual basis.

"Well, from my understanding, the moment this mission is over, we all go back to our regular lives," Tavis said, sipping from his second glass of vodka. "You'll be back on the Harlech in no-time, and I'll go back to the Starlancer."

Tavis looked at the bar, rubbing his hand across the polished wood surface. "She is beautiful, though," he said. "It'll be a shame to have to leave her and go back."

Bear picked a point in the middle distance out across the wider space of the lounge and sighed softly before returning his full attention to Tavis.

"No offence, my friend," the newly minted Lieutenant Commander said, "but I've heard that before. One day at a time, and expect change - that's how my life's gone so far. Can't see it being any different now." Bear didn't sound pissed off about that fact, there was merely a happy sense of resignation to the words. "Just this time," he grinned sheepishly. "I had a great thing going with a girl who really liked me."

He saw that light in his old friend, and now Commander's, eyes though, and Bear knew Tavis at least well enough to understand what it meant on the surface. "She's gorgeous, yes," Bear said, with an amused nod. "But not as cute as Kaz." A soft, amused sigh and Bear rested a big paw of a hand on Tavis' shoulder. "And I think we'll all be here a while, don't you worry."

Tavis playfully rolled his eyes with a smile. "Well, let's do our best, how about that. Get in, get this guy and get out quick. The sooner he's behind a forcefield, the sooner I can get you back to her."

At the overt eye roll, Bear chuckled. "Always," he agreed. His best was just a day to day expectation and routine, any slips generally not welcome in his line of work. "As for getting in and out quick though?" He shook his head. "Doubtful." That was neither pessimism or underselling their abilities, but purely a realistic assumption of the job in hand.

Bear grimaced, and lifted his glass in a silent toast. "If this was an easy fix, they wouldn't need us, right?" A moment's pause. "Who else you got? Anyone we know?" And the vodka swiftly disappeared down his throat.

"I've only met a couple of the senior staff so far," Tavis said. "There just hasn't been enough time to meet everyone yet."

"Ah gotcha," acknowledged Bear. "And I'm taking up your time here, right now, Commander," he added, words infused with apology. He placed the glass back down and slid it across the bar towards Tavis. "Good to be back on your team, sir," he said. "Anything you need from me, you got it."

"Thanks, Bear," Tavis said as he took the glass and slid it into the sink to be washed. "It's good to have you, truly. If I'm to have someone protecting my back, I can't think of a better person."

A firm nod, and a serious tone followed those kind words. "Thank you, Commander," Bear noted officially, and he stepped back from the bar to leave his old friend in peace. "Not just your back," he called over his shoulder. "I'm protecting every inch of you, sir. As of right now and until this deed is done."

Tavis smiled, with another roll of his eyes at his friend's silliness. Yes, if there was anyone he'd rather have on this mission, it was definitely Bear.


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