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Making Amends

Posted on Wed May 18th, 2022 @ 11:56am by Ka'see 'Cassie' Anderson (*) & Delaney O'Callaghan

Mission: Adrift
Location: Cargo Bay
Timeline: MD03, 0714
2297 words - 4.6 OF Standard Post Measure

"Hey."

It was, without putting it too bluntly, about the least Delaney-fied start to any conversation ever. It certainly paid no homage whatsoever to the number of openings she'd rehearsed in her head leading up to it, nor to the sheer amount of anticipation she'd put into the conversation, which she never did but honestly thought she should probably maybe start. Just a simple, unobtrusive attempt to initiate an interaction with someone she still wasn't sure would be that interested in talking to her. Leiddem's reassurances had helped, and his logic had been invaluable, but Delaney had burned enough bridges in her time to know that attempts at mending them rarely responded well to additional bulldozer antics. It helped that she had actually slept, and hadn't hurt that she'd woken up curled against Leiddem's back, and was likewise kind of convenient that she hadn't been able to find Nollel, which made Cassie the next port of call for finding out what her morning roster looked like. She hovered at a respectful distance but, far from fully reformed, absolutely failed to keep the intended olive branch from influencing her expression and tone. Delaney's entire demeanour resembled the duck-and-cover method of moving through a rainstorm with only your arms to protect your head from saturation.

Cassie turned from standing on a bench fixing the last piece of lighting that would allow the chapel to be used and looked over at the voice that called out to her. She gulped and stepped down to look at the woman trying to make conversation. She was not the bad guy in all of it, she had just been talking to Curtis and Cassie had just wandered into the conversation. “Hey.” She responded.

For a moment, Delaney would have given anything to be wearing pants with pockets; she didn't know what to do with her hands. Settling for crossing her arms over her stomach, she offered what she hoped was a decently accommodating smile and asked, gently, "You need any help?" Every ounce of her wanted to blurt out what she'd come for but Delaney, now with the benefit of having had a decent amount of sleep, had one over-arching goal for this conversation; not to make it worse.

“Sure I could not sleep so I thought to finish the lighting in here before moving on to the formal center.” Cassie informed her as she watched the woman stood there awkwardly. Cassie jumped down off the bench and walked over. “Do you know how to change chips over?” She asked not knowing how much she knew and did not.

Delaney hesitated, not because the task was beyond her, but because she'd somewhat expected more resistance. Slowly, she nodded. "Sure, I can do that." There was a pause, a missed opportunity to just move off without creating a sizeable awkward gap in the conversation, and Delaney smile came a little too swiftly in an attempt to cover it up. "Hopefully a little less clumsily than yesterday." By the time she and Cassie, and Curtis, had chatted the previous evening, Delaney had already endured the morning from hell.

A brief moment passed, where Delaney's eyes met the other woman's and the apology that kept dying on her lips was self-evident in her expression. With uncharacteristic restraint, Laney switched her gaze upwards to catalogue the lights that still needed doing and asked, "Which side do you want me to start on?"

Cassie pointed to the left and started to move a bench so she could at the very least reach where she needed to with assistance from the bench. "There. All set I guess now." Cassie mused as she judged Delaney's height plus the bench plus the ceiling. "It is pretty easy. They are so old fashioned that they are most likely original or the ship's first refit." Cassie mused trying to not think about the refit and the opportunity that had happened to find them and release them from the transporter loop.

"I think they're pretty," Delaney reflected, allowing her gaze to linger for a moment longer before grabbing one of the discarded empty crates dotted about and dragging it over to boost herself up. Long legs gave her ample reach, as long as she stretched. "They remind me of something my grandmother would hang."

Not only was it a deviation away from her intended conversation, but Delaney realised a little late that it might have sounded slightly insulting. Cassie, in her own way, was of similar vintage, after all. "Her old farmstead is full of half-operational gizmos and gadgets. Drives my mother insane." This, Delaney reflected, was not exactly an improvement in direction. Back turned to Cassie, she bit her lip to control the spill of words and finished with the light before risking anything further.

Cassie had turned back to her own work and was listening for a moment to her prattling away that she nearly forgot in conversation she had to answer back. "I cannot say I have seen them outside of ships of this age but they are unique. Your grandmother's home much have been a treasure trove growing up.” She mused.

"It's one of my favourite places on Earth, though my other Grandmother beats her by a smidge."

It really was unnecessary rambling now, and though Delaney could talk about her family for hours on end, it wasn't what she'd mentally prepared for. There was an exhaustion that came from anticipation, and though Delaney thrived on adrenaline, she really could have done without any that stemmed from anxiousness. The next couple of lights were dealt with in relative silence, the kind that grew thick with obvious tension, until the human participant eventually lost all her patience for it.

"Hey, Cass', can I ask you something?"

Cassie had been listening to the prattling as it had filled the silence that she was creating so much so that she had not realised they had stumbled into silence again. She put the took back on her belt and turned around to look at the woman. "Yeah?" She asked.

"What did I say that bugged you so much yesterday?"

Of all the ways to phrase it, to broach the subject, this was the least like anything Delaney had rehearsed and yet somehow felt the most natural. Cassie was owed an apology but making assumptions, especially in the light of Leiddem's reassurances, just felt like the perfect recipe for compounding the issue. Whatever it had been, Delaney regretted it, but she couldn't make sure it didn't happen again if she stayed trapped by her own ignorance.

Cassie knew that question was coming but that did not stop the sigh that escaped from her. “Nothing. I guess. I just did not want to be involved in gossip.” She said having been thinking of what why she had acted the way she had if either Curtis or Delaney had asked. One of them would it was just typical of the pair of them and it was not their fault it was a confusing situation in her mind.

So Leiddem had been right. Delaney figured he was more or less onto something, having known the people involved longer than Delaney had, but it was a relief to have it confirmed. A sheepish half-smile conveyed her understanding and Delaney nodded gently, crossing to approach the older woman. "Yeah, I realised after I was probably being uncharitable. Curtis and I have a habit of falling into speculation. Not that it's his fault," she rushed to add. "It was 100% just me being grumpy. I'm sorry," Delaney concluded, finally reaching the apology that had preoccupied her all night. "I felt awful afterwards." No mention of the slight emotional breakdown. That unnecessary detail could just get swept under the rug.

“Please don’t. I’m hardly worth feeling like that over something like that.” It was not like anyone else took her feelings into account apart from Michael and Nollel. Even Kendra was hard to pin down at the moment to talk to about the mixture of feelings that she was experiencing. She hated how it all felt to feel hoodwinked by Jake and she was trying to not letting it show on her face. There was a common misconception that Vulcans did not feel emotions when that was not true at all. Vulcans did feel emotions but they rose above it all but Cassie was half Vulcan and was not at all wanting push it all down, she was fed up of doing that.

"Well, that's blatantly untrue." Delaney was many things, some of them understandably frustrating, but what she lacked in tact she usually made up for in heart. And though that spent a lot of time on her sleeve, its turbulent existence didn't make it less capable of sincerity. The remorse on her features, whilst not quite the sobbing mess she'd been the night previous, was gentle enough to present as entirely genuine. "Besides, you're right, I shouldn't have been talking like that. Ford's doing his best and Evelyn... She wasn't overly welcoming but I can't blame her. None of it's any of my business anyway, so I promise, no more vicious gossiping from me."

Cassie nodded. “Gossiping normally causes trouble even if it is potentially true.” Cassie said slowly. “But it does not matter it does … did not effect me so I guess I am saying it is okay to do your thing.” Cassie wished more that anything she could just spill what was on her mind but she did not quite trust Delaney to not tell everyone.

"I don't think speculating about other people's personal lives should really ever become 'my thing'." When she considered what she stood to lose if people started convoluting her situation, Delaney's sense of guilt only intensified. Ford, who had never done anything to warrant retaliation, was dealing with enough without having his friend's presence scrutinised. "I think I'll stick to terrible jokes and properly documented paperwork."

“You are very good at the paperwork.” Cassie tried to help bolster her slightly. The jokes went over her head most of the time but it was a humour that was lost on her most of the time. It was not her fault after all, it was very much on Cassie and her heritage.

Delaney grinned at that, a mixture of relief to have finally cleared the air, and just general amusement at the quirky compliment. "Well you," she turned the tides quickly, "are very good at refurbishing areas. I really like it in here." Glancing upwards, Delaney executed a slow turn to appreciate the lights that currently were working once again, and mused, "I wonder if it will ever get used as intended."

Cassie looked around and shrugged at the work she had been doing to keep her mind from wandering too far. “Maybe I should have chosen engineering when Reuben closed down science.” Cassie mused but what was done was done now. She could not change it whilst the Captain was away.

"I'm pretty sure you could choose whatever you want." There was an element of generosity to Delaney's praise that came from the relief of dissipated animosity, but that didn't stop it from being sincere. There were a lot of women on the ship the younger Operations officer admired, and having grown up faring better with a mostly masculine friendship group, finally finding women she could relate to and hang out with was novel and gratifying. Eyes still uplifting to appreciate the gentle ambience the lights afforded the chapel, Delaney stood a moment in rare thoughtfulness and then added, "You know, we should get the girls together in here and properly catch up. It's been ages."

Cassie shrugged at the first comment. She could not choose whatever she wanted but she could find her own way to thrive even if it meant trying out every department until it fit. "I have not been to the last few meet-ups so it is even longer for me." She mused thinking she had stopped attending them for the last few months whilst she tried to get her life together again whilst it had continued to keep falling apart.

"Honestly, they kind of stopped once Eva left. Scheduling them was kind of her thing and the rest of us just..." Delaney screwed up her nose. "We talked about getting together, but then none of us wanted to rush you and we certainly didn't want to leave you out. In the end, we got together to eat a couple of times and then had a few drinks afterwards, but nothing official. I miss it," she admitted. "I wonder if they'd be up for hanging out here."

"Should organise it yourself. I would be happy to come along tonight" Cassie suggested turning away to go back to work. It would be nice to have something to look forward to at the end of the day. "I can finish all of this if you want to catch everyone at breakfast." She prompted looking at the chronometer on her wrist and the items left to do to make it a liveable space.

"Deal."

One good night's sleep, a minor mental breakdown and a sliver of burgeoning maturity; the perfect recipe for turning an absolutely horrendous day into much brighter prospects. Buoyed by the promise of something fun to plan, Delaney handed Cassie the last of the chips she was still holding onto, turned on heel to head towards the door, doubled back to encase Cassie in an impromptu hug complete with a murmured, "Thanks for understanding", and then finally took off to hunt down as many willing participants as she could locate.

 

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