NCC - 81102
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A Bar, A Medic and A Freighter

Posted on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 @ 11:21am by Commander Tavis Inahri & Lieutenant Commander Bear Jasper

Mission: Mission 1: Dirty Little Secret
Location: Main Lounge - USS Odyssey
Timeline: Mission Day 14 - 0121 hours

"I dunno," Bear said with a wry smile as leant back on the couch and rested his boots up on the table. "I feel like you need way more fingers than I possess," he added, playing air-piano in the space before him. "But you always make it look good."

Downtime was welcome, Five was on board and they were all following that 'compass' as Tavis had called it. And, just as it had been at times in their past, the day had turned into night then gone into overtime only to find the two men still wide awake, sat alone and comfortably conversing in the bar.

"I've been thinking," noted Bear, his tone shifting serious for a moment. "Y'know, there's a coupla things I need to talk to you about, you mind doing that now, while we're alone and sober? Or you wanna wait til the morning?"

"Now's as good a time as any," Tavis said as his fingers continued to dance over the ivory keys of the piano. "What's going on?"

"Got some bad news and a good idea," offered Bear, closing his eyes and leaning his face towards the ceiling, letting the music soak into his ear drums. "Which d'ya want first?"

Tavis thought about it for a moment. "I guess let's talk about whatever Cass told you," he said.

A wayward eyebrow raised in silent query as Bear shot his old friend and current captain a loaded glance. "Spying on me?" He asked, with obvious humour wrapped about that question. It wasn't as if he'd hidden his time with Cass. Well, not all of it.

"Not exactly," Tavis said as he turned on the piano bench to face Bear. "But you've been mulling over a personnel report in your head for the past twenty minutes and it feels like you're afraid to talk to me about it. Just tell me what's going on. I won't kill the messenger."

Some folks might have pushed back or protested at this admission of mind-reading. Bear, however, didn't miss a beat as his old friend referenced his mental thought loop, but nodded emphatically. "Okay." He accepted Tavis' terms and immediately moved on into the report of sorts. "Lt Thomas," Bear began, his tone somewhat neutral as he had no real history with the young woman beyond this mission. "Latest information suggests she needs to be relieved of duty."

Tavis sighed internally. He knew this was coming.

Bear let that brutal truth sink into the air between him and Tavis for a second or two. "I know," because he'd read her file when he'd come on board the Odyssey, "she's had a few episodes in the past." Bear's tone was judgemental now, his personal opinion colouring the facts, that ned to protect shining bright. "Yet she still ended up here, with us," he added, thumbing through the report idly. "Well, now she's having them again. And Cass' recommendation is that we relieve her of duty." A millisecond of a pause and those dark eyes locked with Tavis's own. "I agree."

Holding out his hand, Tavis took the report and skimmed it quickly as he pulled his legs up onto the piano bench. "Talking with her lately, I've noticed her...instabilities coming back." He frowned at the report as he set it aside. "When the senior staff was originally chosen, I voiced some concerns about her past. But I was assured by multiple people that it had been years since her last episode and that she was one of the finest officers they had available."

Tavis looked up at Bear. "I don't like being wrong, but this was one point when I wish I had been." He took a deep breath, letting the comment linger in the air for a moment. "I'll speak with Commander Hawkins and have a replacement brought aboard. The last thing we want is to be trapped without a sane Chief Medical Officer."

"Of course," Bear sighed and rubbed fingertips across his brow. "You'd notice the mental cracks more than most," he agreed quietly. "No sense in regreting what's behind you, Captain," he continued. "But, I think you're right - we need to fix this now, before we get deeper into the mission." One definite uncertainty on the ship was too much, but Bear didn't bring up Five right now. "Thanks."

He paused for a moment, sipped his beer and regarded Tavis for a few seconds in silence, before speaking again.

"I'm thinking of a way we can get a replacement on board and pick up some extra help at the same time," Bear said, smiling now. "Can you see my idea lurking there, or do you want me to speak it out loud?" He teased.

"You know me better than that," Tavis said. "I try my best not to hear what you're thinking. Sometimes it just slips through. Why don't you tell me."

Bear grinned. "Hey, I wasn't accusing you of anything," he said, tone jovial. "I was thinking I could keep drinking my beer while you read my mind." He took a long draught from the bottle and kept a hold of the bottle just to have something to do with his hand. "So, I'm thinking taking the Oddy into Fiddler's Green is a really bad idea. Dangerous for no reason, draws attention to us when we could sneak in." He paused to gauge Tavis' initial reaction, canted his head to the side and considered the other man's facial expression, then soldiered on.

"I spent a lot of time on a battered old freighter and no one pays them much mind. What if we borrow one for this excursion?" He had more detail to give, but for the moment, Bear opted to give Tavis a chance to say maybe or a hard no.

Tavis mulled over the suggestion. Honestly it was something he hadn’t thought of yet, but it was good to get this going now. “That’s actually a good idea,” he said. “We could use it to bring in a strike team to the surface of Fiddler’s Green and ideally no one would be the wiser.”

"You don't have to sound so surprised," teased Bear, adding with a hefty dose of self-effacing humour. "I have been known to have the occasional half decent idea." He stood up and walked to stand beside the piano, placing his beer atop it. "But yeah, exactly. I don't know anyone in Gamma, but I'm betting you might?"

WIth a smile, Tavis nudged Bear's arm. "You have great ideas all the time, Bear. It's why I was glad to see you as part of my team." He turned back to the piano and began to softly play. "Sadly, I don't know anyone in Gamma either. I've mostly been sticking to here in the Beta Quadrant prior to this assignment. I'll talk to Commander Hawkins and see if he has any contacts. If not, we'll just have to put in a cold request and hope it's seen quickly enough."

Bear returned a warm grin and leant into that arm briefly, just enough to let his friend know there was affection present, without any of that overly gushy emotional stuff on display. He closed his eyes as the music began and let the sound calm his mind. "Thanks," he said, simply. Then he couldn't resist adding, with wry humour. "Sure Magnus will be able to help, he seems the type with the answers for everything."

"No, he just thinks he's always right about everything," Tavis said, frustrating entering his voice. "And he certainly has no qualm with letting me know."

"Open honesty is a probably a good thing in an XO?" Was Bear's rhetorical question, followed up by a friendly support line. "I hear ya, yeah he's very forthright and overconfident," he said. "But you're still his boss. You can tell him straight to if he's outta line."

"It's not his open honesty that's bothering me," Tavis said, his fingers fumbling over the wrong key, causing him to stop playing. "He has this arrogance about him, this need to prove he's right. It's not exactly the relationship I'm used to with an Executive Officer."

Tavis turned again to look at Bear. "You trust me, right?"

Bear took a moment to simply study his friend's face, a complete lack of telepathic ability denying him easier access to the answers he sought, though not leaving him utterly devoid of empathy. "I guess the Admiral wanted you to have an opposing viewpoint close at hand," he suggested. "Maybe on account of your feelings towards our Kaz?"

He locked his gaze openly with Tavis' own as he answered the captain's question. "Yes," Bear said, truthfully. "Of course. Are you doubting that?"

Tavis just shook his head. "No, I don't. And I'm not deluded to think trust is so quickly earned. But I feel like Hawk is completely on the opposite side. He distrusts me and I'm not sure what I've done to cause him to do so."

"Maybe you're looking at it from the wrong angle," Bear offered. "Maybe distrust is his default and from Hawk's point of view you need to prove that you can be trusted? Maybe he's just playing devil's advocate. Or," he grinned. "Maybe he'll just never love you like I do."

"Maybe," Tavis said with a chuckle.

Seriousness grabbed a hold again though as Bear's mind wandered through options. "I dunno, right up until Hawk kidnapped Five, I had him down as a potential plant, he's been that focused on the letter of the law."

"No, I don't see him as a plant," Tavis said, "Though I do believe it's possible we have one on board. My intuition could be wrong, but I don't believe it to be Hawk."

Tavis stood stretching his arms for a moment as he tossed back his drink. "I'm going to get some sleep, and then I'll talk with the Commander in the morning regarding your idea. We'll see how we can get it done."

Bear nodded. "Yeah, agreed. On both counts. I'm still trying to figure out who might be, but don't hold your breath. If you get any of those infamous vibes though?" He grinned. "A heads up would be great."

Gently, Bear scooped up the empty glass and stuck an index finger in the top of his beer bottle. He wandered over to place them on the bar, then looked back at Tavis. "Okay, Captain," he noted, any emotion with regards his idea being discussed with Hawk not visible in his face. "Let me know if I can help. G'night," he offered, then returned a big open-mouthed grin. "Sweet dreams."

Tavis watched as his friend and Chief of Security left the room. He was alone now, the holographic bartender having given them some privacy. Turning towards the window, Tavis leaned against the bulkhead as his mind began to drift.

He wasn't looking forward to talking with Commander Hawkins in the morning. If there were ever polar opposites for a command team, it was Hawk and himself. While Tavis tended to be calculating, strategic and patient, Hawk seemed to be more in-your-face and brutish. Kick in doors and ask questions later. The two Commanders mixed like oil and water.

And yet, they were in this situation together. And while Tavis didn't trust Hawk in the slightest, he had to do what he could help them work together.


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