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Finally Meeting

Posted on Wed Jun 22nd, 2022 @ 11:01am by Ka'see 'Cassie' Anderson (*) & Evelyn Reynolds

Mission: Adrift
Location: Formal Center
Timeline: MD04 19:00
3998 words - 8 OF Standard Post Measure

Cassie was finally feeling ready to join the party after sleeping for a few hours relieved that it helped with her fears. She was not going to admit what had happened when she had been out on the ship in the dark with Kali to anyone. No one would understand the terror she had experienced or understand how shaming it was to someone who was partially Vulcan, it showed off yet again how much of an anomaly she was in life, stuck between two worlds and unable to fit into either it seemed. She shook away the thoughts and washed up a bit to make her hair settle down before she followed the sound of music and voices. She slipped into the formal centre and smiled to herself seeing how full it was and relieved to find it warmer than the space she had been sleeping in.

Adversity forged alliances out of the most unlikely sources. Evelyn, though she had no reason to realise its relevance at the moment, had an over-abundance of empathy for anyone who felt at odds with their current level of agitation. She certainly understood what it meant to have your behaviour reflect poorly on your personal standards. She had, by dint of a lifetime's supply of stubbornness, managed to reduce the worst of her irrational panic attacks to private moments curled on her cot that resembled an attempt to sleep, but that had merely left her exhausted and had limited her willingness to engage in any conversation that was more than a superficial attempt to be polite. It had been very tempting to avoid the gathering altogether but, understanding now that the mystique around her was creating complications for Jake, Evie lingered on the outskirts long enough to lean heavily on her cane and sigh before ambling forward. With any luck, Jake would turn up and take pity on her by handling the introductions himself; her usual capacity to mingle was buried under several thick layers of unrelenting distrust.

“You look like how I feel.” Cassie said to the woman stood in the edge as Cassie had a bottle thrust into her hand by Leiddem as he passed on his way to get something else. He hated the vodka he had been given but he knew that Cassie did not mind it at all.

As unlikely as it seemed, it was the first time in a while that someone had tried to start up an idle conversation with Evie. There had been plenty of perfunctory attempts, more functional in nature, but she'd done a sterling job of tucking herself out of the way of any opportunity for interrogation or investigation. Now, feeling exposed, she mustered composure she no longer felt like she had the energy reserves for and offered the other woman a faint smile. "Then, you have my condolences as I'm sure I look like hell."

“I believe all of us look like that right now.” Cassie said with a shrug. “It is a human phrase when people look down no?” Cassie questioned suddenly wondering if her attempt at conversation with anyone was going to fail before she even got started.

A quick flick of Evie's gaze took in more of the woman's appearance than first glance had provided and the blonde human smiled as a conciliatory gesture. "I'm a little off my game, I apologise." And then, whilst she was being a pretty mediocre representative of her culture, Evelyn held out a hand in greeting. "Evelyn."

Cassie looked at the offered hand and took it. Not many people shook hands now adays and even less with her, it was a good thing she remembered her mother's lessons some days on human traditions. “Ka’see.” She said loud enough to be heard over the sudden increase in noise as security started a game of something.

There was a noticeable pause, mostly the fault of a slight disparity between native pronunciation and Jake's efforts. Fortunately, given that there had been enough confusion already, Evelyn had paid closer attention to the crew's interactions and had more or less deduced the woman's identity prior. She just hadn't meant to side-step arrangements with Jake and bump into the half-Vulcan without him present. Evie nodded, a gentle acknowledgement, and then followed the path she knew best; honesty. "It's lovely to finally meet you."

“Oh?” Cassie wondered confused as to why it would be lovely to meet her. She knew who the woman was obviously but it was not something she had expected at all. “Most people call me Cassie as it’s easier.” She added so there were no attempts to butcher the pronouncement of it.

"I went to school with a Vulcan-mix once. It took me nearly a year to realise his name wasn't Tyler."

It was meant as a display of sympathy, though Evelyn felt awkward enough dipping her toes in the shallow end of small talk for it to fall a little flat at the end. With a slow blink, she averted her gaze to scan the rest of the room, trying to see a familiar dark head over the top of the current furore. "You certainly are a lively bunch."

“I believe they abide by the philosophy that if the world is potentially ending they will party.” Cassie said with a fond look over the people that had become her family over the last few years. It was why she had not left the ship despite everything. “I bet he had an easier time than I did. I was one of the first mix’s and it was tough why Cassie became my name.”

Evelyn smiled at that but, since the conversation wasn't something she could add any significant detail to, (she'd barely known the guy, after all), she allowed the response to settle into a blanket of silence that threatened, momentarily, to stretch out towards awkwardness. The frustrating part was, it wasn't the woman, or her burgeoning relationship with one of Evie's oldest friends, that was the problem here, despite the fact that it would start to closely resemble as much if she wasn't careful. Talking, in general, keeping her mind focused and alert when all it wanted to do was remain poised for flight, was taking effort. The room was too crowded. The noise level invaded her headspace. Evelyn furrowed her brow slightly but then allowed her expression to soften as she glanced sideways at the other woman.

She owed it to Jake to try.

"They're also an imaginative bunch, I've heard." She kept her tone gentle and managed a soft huff of laughter. "Jake told me, about the...misunderstanding. Partially my fault, I think, I've been keeping to myself and trying not to get in the way."

“It was an easy mistake to make.” Cassie with a shrug. Cassie was sure that she would have jumped on the bandwagon if she had been less focused on fixing the ship. “Imaginative but they are a good bunch.” She assured quickly feeling like she needed to defend them despite how she had felt over the situation.

"Jake and I are close enough," Evelyn confided, glancing sideways at the other woman. "They didn't get that much wrong. But there is nothing going on of the nature that would conflict with your interest in him." Such an Evelyn way of denying hanky-panky. "And there never has been," she added as an important clarification. "There was a time when he crashed on my couch but that was more an issue with personal security." She had very limited desire to delve into her entire relationship with the Ford brother that did qualify as significant. The only parts Cassie was likely to be interested in, Jake was capable of telling her himself.

Cassie said nothing for a moment before glancing at the woman touched her arm in a gentle gesture. “Thank you for saying that but Jake explained what I needed to know. You do not need to say more but I do appreciate it. He is a good guy and a good friend. It gives me a bit of a hope over my interest in him.” Cassie said having no idea where it was going to go but it was something that sparked something and gave her something to try and get past everything for.

The blonde woman, shifting her weight just a little to adjust her stance, smiled in weariness. "Doubt and distrust have a way of burrowing in, and by all accounts, the crew's version of my relationship with Jake is very...robust. I'll put it down to anxiety and the need for distraction. I'd rather we untangle the knot now than leave it to worsen, though. I can honestly say there is a point where the truth can come too late."

Cassie was sure that the rumours would continue until Cassie and Jake made things known but it did not bother her as she knew the scores as did Jake. "It is all untangled as far as I am concerned," Cassie assured quickly. "As for the crew, I am not sure you will be able to stop that until me and Jake make things known if it is going anywhere. Even in this time rumours travel quicker than warp speed." It was the only constant of living on ships and in tight quarters, rumours travel quicker than anything else.

"That doesn't change, no matter the ship." Evelyn's concern had never rested with her own reputation, which really seemed the least of her worries despite being the most immediate interruption to her attempt at recovery.

"But tell me, I only know you know Jake and that you are Starfleet or former Starfleet." Cassie requested wanting to know the woman. Maybe it was the fact she did not have many friends and the woman seemed pleasant so far that it seemed only apt to get to know her better if she was sticking around.

And therein lay the true difficulty in attempting to integrate, even on a surface level, into Jake's crew; questions, perfectly reasonable ones, that were far more complex to answer than they should have been. Evie drew in a breath through her nose and then hesitated, finding herself under-rehearsed in terms of explanation. "I suppose you could still call me a scientist. My specialisation is Epidemiology, which may be a little niche for your crew's requirements." She offered a faint smile. "I fall back onto my medical training often enough that I may be of some use. Eventually." Evelyn shifted her weight again to draw attention to her cane. "Convalescence may have other ideas for now." Each word was carefully constructed, corralled in such a way as to parade as a response without leaving gaping holes that provoked too much interest. "What about you?" Turning the tables was a sound tactic. "From what I've seen, you have some authority in Operations, right?"

“Well, you are a guest on board as far as I am concerned so your use is in keeping yourself safe from harm.” The hybrid assured quickly batting away the woman’s need to be of use when there was no need to be. “Oh, I have no authority anyway to be fair.” Whilst not true she did not really have any authority over anyone apart from herself and even then, that was tough going and an almost impossible job some days. “I just exist on the ship but we do have something in common. I was science myself – genetics but when I came here the science department was disbanded as of no use so I became of use in Operations.” Cassie explained almost for a moment missing the routine of a lab.

Having spent the best part of three days watching the crew move around each other, Evelyn could think of several specific examples to refute the woman's belief that she held no authoritative sway, but it wasn't her place to dissect the crew composition nor the command structure. The opinion was filed away under Information About the Way Things Work Here and Evie instead focused on the latter admission. "I think I can say from personal experience that a jump from Science to cargo hauling is quite a career change." She didn't necessarily want to stray too far into the topic given that her own explanation was well-beyond fit for casual conversation, but Evelyn's curiosity had always been a defining trait. "Have you kept active at all in the field?"

“Um… not in a 150 years.” The woman winced softly at the admission. She had tried when she had woken up but it had been so long she had gotten overwhelmed and then her life just kept getting thrown off course by her husband.

Evelyn raised her eyebrows. "That's...quite a sabbatical." Given the woman's heritage, the time fraction perhaps wasn't completely unusual, but Evie's limited understanding of hybrid genetics did leave enough room for confusion.

Cassie found herself smiling just a little at the eyebrows and the confusion. “I was stuck in a transporter loop for that time onboard this ship.” She explained quickly. “I am as old as I look.” She assured quickly feeling like that could be a look be a lot older at the moment.

Under normal circumstances, Evelyn was a woman of poise and composure. On the arm of one of Starfleet's most up-and-coming cadets, she'd been a surprising success at formal functions back in the day and had maintained the ability to skim across the surface of social interaction with elegance, despite the fact that, as Jake could attest, her post-function summaries were often animated recounts full of incredulous disbelief and devastatingly-accurate mimicry. Never had she encountered anything that tested her manners quite so much as the casual revelation, flung into the midst of a first meeting, of a temporal anomaly that was so close to theoretically impossible, there had yet to be a successful intentional replicated account. She blinked, and drew on considerable practise to maintain a placid expression.

"I would say, all things considered, you look remarkably well." Transporter malfunctions carried with them so many complications that Evelyn found it almost impossible to believe the woman hadn't suffered some sort of permanent impairment.

Cassie knew she had stunned the woman but it was hard to not explain when the woman would find out eventually. It was better to come from her as the one who had experienced it all “Thank you. I think.” Cassie did not know how to quite take the tone indication but nodded neither less.

It took a moment but Evelyn eventually realised how that must have sounded. "That wasn't any opinion on your appearance, more your..." She weaved her head from side to side. "Health? Transporter accidents, whilst rare, are exceedingly fatal usually. I'm glad that wasn't the case here," Evelyn found her way back to safer ground.

Cassie had theories on how her and the others had survived but she was not going to share them when they were theories and nothing more. It was better to let people think it was a miracle than something more sinister. “An anomaly I am used to being that but as far as I can tell perfect health. I am sorry I assumed you must have known something about me from Jake.” She admitted looking around for the man in question but he was no where to be seen.

"Ah, no." Evelyn huffed softly at that, her features finally relaxing. "If anything, I think he was a little taken aback at having to mention you at all under the circumstances. I take it this is quite new for both of you. Jake never was one to speak until he was sure, if he could avoid it."

“Yeah. Pretty new.” She admitted with an embarrassed look. It was hard to explain just how new but with everything going on it felt a lot longer and a lot more intense. “Sorry… I am not overly good with words. Between heritage and situations I have never been good at this.” She admitted wishing for a nice lab experiment right then and there.

Evelyn's brow flickered again and it was the effort of a dozen year's worth of diplomatic briefings, and an even longer obligation to cut Jake some slack, that curbed her thoughts towards affording the other woman the benefit of the doubt. The current situation was tense, and it sounded like Cassie had already been through considerable upheaval. It didn't quench Evie's curiosity much, nor the desire to pick apart why the brunette seemed intent on treating herself like a storybook, (Evelyn could have sworn most of their conversation had been delivered almost in third-person), but it did hold her tongue. For now. "It's none of my business anyway," she reassured gently. "Forget I brought it up."

“No, you are looking out for a friend.” Cassie quickly answered as she turned to look at the woman. “Friends are hard to come by sometimes so I do understand, why I am trying to … show the best side of me.” She shrugged, still looking embarrassed. She had never had to deal with partner friends in a relationship before. She had been the one with friends on the Ishimura with Johnathan.

The irony of anyone trying to get on her good side currently left Evelyn with very little to offer but a huff of weary laughter. "Jake's personal life isn't something that I feel the need to interfere with. He gets an honest opinion when he asks for it but I think, on the balance of poor relationship decisions, he has a five-mile advantage on me." Unlike Cassie, Evelyn wasn't quite so willing to divulge personal details, but she was astute enough to realise Jake had probably used Jack as solid evidence of platonic boundaries. Her next smile, dredged from older habits and far more reminiscent of the Evie Jake knew best, reflected a glint of genuine kindness in her eyes. "Your best side is whatever's the most authentic. I'm the last person you should be putting on airs and graces for."

“I don’t know put us in a lab together or doing science and I think we’d both forget all about bad relationships and those airs and graces.” Cassie suggested with a smirk trying to bring back the simplicity that they had, had moments before. “I think that is where we both can be true to ourselves.”

"Sounds like a bit of a pipe dream currently." For more reasons than Evie was willing to go into, so she settled for what Cassie had already raised. "Not a lot of use for epidemiology on a cargo ship, or at least you'd hope not." She wasn't yet at a point of knowing what to do with her career, and the only thing that seemed certain was her desire for it not to cease entirely just because she'd slammed the door on Starfleet. Knowing what a career looked like out in the private sector, however, especially whilst navigating whatever fallout her resignation caused... Concerns for another day. "I daresay the science labs have been repurposed, right?"

“Actually they haven’t. The previous owner for whatever reason kept the labs and Gregnol still in his Starfleet brain kept them and run them until recently so they are still there.” The younger woman admitted.

Unexpected news. A distraction, at best, but perhaps a better topic to discuss. "Have you considered upgrading your credentials? There's got to have been a wealth of progress in the time you were..." Evelyn hesitated, searching for a suitable word. "Indisposed."

“I have but 150 years in genetic studies just overwhelmed me and then I had a lot going on.” It was something everyone asked her. “I thought to read on what happened to my mother's work and it’s brilliant the stuff that it led to but it just … yeah overwhelmed me so I backed off and just became thankful for being alive.”

There was something in the woman's words that struck an unexpected chord. One of the reasons Evie had been so hesitant to engage with the crew was because she couldn't see a way to push through the circumstances that had brought her here in the first place, certainly not enough to navigate conversation without eventually smacking into a brick wall she wasn't willing to knock down. This felt like a perfect example. How could she adequately explain how much she understood being faced with a choice between overwhelming odds and gracious retirement? Their situation wasn't the same but, for different reasons, it sounded like both of them had careers so tattered it was difficult to know which thread to repair first.

"It's hard to leave a passion behind though." Evelyn's soft words held more introspection than she could explain.

“Oh completely but sometimes you have to find a new passion. Just need to figure out what it is.” She admitted with a bit of a frown as she thought on how she could explain about her mother's work and how it had led to her being alive and then her own passion.

Unsure if she was willing to be quite so accepting of her own bitter choices, Evelyn dipped her head to at least acknowledge the other woman's quiet determination and turned her gaze back towards the mingling crowd. "One thing at a time," she agreed and gestured with just a slight wave of her cane towards a familiar dark head on the other side of the room. "In the meantime, how much do you think he'll panic when he realises we started this conversation without him?" There was a glint to Evie's tone, let alone her eyes.

“He wanted to be here?” Cassie said questioned coming back from her trip down memory lane. She needed to put those thoughts away quickly otherwise she was start thinking on Tevir and the mess of his life she had made.

"A mother hen doesn't like to be too far from her chicks," Evelyn replied with a fond smile directed across at the Rosie's current Commander-in-Chief. Jake had expressed concern for Cassie but Evelyn was astute enough to know he simply hadn't wanted to voice a similar protectiveness for her, at least not in her presence. Not when she was within range to stubbornly attempt to prove him wrong. "I'm sure he didn't really believe we'd tear each other to shreds but he wouldn't be a Ford if he didn't want to cover every angle."

“Never tore another woman to shreds even at my worse.” Cassie said with an almost tut to her voice as she thought of the mushroom planet where she had been the voice of reason whilst her humans colleagues suffered the effects of being high.

Glancing down at her knee, Evelyn remarked dryly, "I think you'd win." Any combat training was average at best, she hadn't signed up for Starfleet to rough-house.

“Quite possible at the moment if I was that way inclined to but I am not. We are not at war.” Cassie said simply thinking on a time when she had been trained a lot more than she currently was. She had been trained for a time when things were relatively unknown still.

"No, we're not," Evelyn agreed quietly, eyes scanning the sea of people once more. The logical dominance of her mindset kept trying to assert that none of these people were a threat. If anything, they were a life-line in a universe full of severed tethers. Her gaze eventually settled on the slightly hurried gait of an approaching figure and Evelyn huffed in amusement. "Prepare to be rescued," she joked, glancing sideways with raised eyebrows to smirk at Cassie.

“Ah. “ Cassie commented seeing the familiar figure looking around. Maybe it was for the best that his presence stopped anymore conversation. Somethings could could keep for another day.

 

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