Posted by Captain Alexander Cochrane (Commanding Officer) in Ready Room- Post-Party
Posted by Lieutenant Faye Calloway (Mission Specialist) in Ready Room- Post-Party
Posted by Captain Alexander Cochrane (Commanding Officer) in Ready Room- Post-Party
Alex nodded and said “Exactly. I don’t see that because of your eidetic memory. Or your skill with computers. Or your record or your talents or your disorder. I see that because of your character, Faye. Because all of those things don’t singly push me to see that future for you… but because all of them combined make you who you are.” Alex stood up and came around the desk and took the chair next to her and leaned forward and took her hands in his in a forceful but not painful grip. He looked at her with an intensity that she had not seen before.
Aside from the handshake at the ceremony, they had never crossed that touch boundary, so here and now it felt like a jolt, a surge of connected energy that drew her gaze to his fully. Unlike herself, Alex wasn’t prone to dramatics, so when he needed to be heard in a specific way, she had learned so far that she needed to give him her full attention. Which was just as well, because her mind wanted to drift into way less useful and appropriate thoughts.
“You say you are broken. That you and I screwed up… made the wrong decision. That it cost you something. Well I’m going to tell you something, Faye, that you need to really hear, ok?” He waited for her acknowledgement before he spoke.
“Every single choice we make in this arena costs us something. Every. Single. One. Sometimes the cost is negligible, easy. Sometimes it takes a toll that leaves us feeling broken like you do now. And sometimes we make a choice that comes with a tab that takes everything. That is what we do. We are officers and Department Heads and XO’s and Captains because we can make those choices. There is something in us that allows us to weigh probability and decide which outcome is best. Sometimes that best is for all involved… sometimes it’s for a single person. Whatever it is, we decide what is right and what is wrong… what is needed and what isn’t and we plan and execute accordingly. That is what you did. That is what I did. You say we screwed up? I say we did what had to be done and we paid the price for that choice. You paid. I paid. Wyatt and Creed and your mom paid. Hell, even Vector paid. But regardless of what that choice was, it was made and it’s over. Neither you or I have the luxury of looking back now and saying ‘Well, if only we would have…’ We didn’t. So we move on and pay the tab when it comes due.” and he released her hands and sat back.
Well, when he put it that way. Faye drew in a breath as he let her hands go, her gaze still fixed on him. Yes, she was still truly listening.
“Faye, you aren’t broken… well… you aren’t broken the way you think you are. And sometimes when something breaks, it’s so it can be built back stronger. You did what you had to do. You risked yourself to get the job done. That was the right call and that is what we do.” and his eyes transfixed hers and he held them for a long time.
Faye often vacillated between a flurry of words or silence, and sometimes that silence was uncomfortable. But here, with him, as it often was, it felt natural. She didn’t need to comment just yet and as he gazed at her, Alex would likely be able to tell that that she was taking in all the information he was tossing at her, but not yet doing anything with it. It was like she was holding it in reserve until she was ready for it.
“I risked you to get the job done. That was the right call. It’s not the call I wanted to make. And it’s not one I made at all lightly. But I agreed with you, so that was the call that needed to made at the time. Faye, you put yourself on the line for all the right reasons. You told me those reasons and I let you do it. I knew it would hurt you… and somewhere inside you knew it, too. You say you didn’t consider the outcome, but you’re wrong. You did. I know you did because I saw you do it sitting right there in that chair. I saw your fear. I saw your doubt. Hell, Faye… your inner monologue might have as well been broadcast over subspace to everyone in the galaxy. Your conscious mind may not have considered it… but you did. And you still made the choice to go ahead.”
“That is why I see you as I do. Now? Now we just have to get you to open your eyes to yourself. You didn’t break, Faye… you changed.”
It took all of her willpower to resist the action she, under normal, circumstances would have acted out without thinking or consideration. She didn’t even let her mind drift towards envisioning that action (her leaning in to kiss him) and how it might play out. No. She didn’t do that, because, as he had pointed out, she had changed. What the tipping point had been almost didn’t matter. It could have been at any numerous times in the last week- certainly there had been ample opportunities. So, instead, Faye leaned forward and rested her head on the edge of his desk, breathing deeply.
Several deep breaths later, Faye sat back up and gazed at him, her eyes shining with tears. “I hear you,” she said softly. “Though it’s going to take some time to properly process all of it, I think.”
“Of all the things we are short of out here in the Black, Faye, time isn’t one of them.”
She shook her head. “You and your lovely speeches… you are very good at them, just so you know,” Faye said with a slight laugh as she gazed at him with warmth and fondness.
“Thanks. I took a class at the Klingon War College.” he said with a grin and a wink.
“I actually came up here to rescind my offer of a date. My thinking was that it just would be a terrible idea given everything that had happened, including that damn phaser. That and I have actually figured out that you haven’t felt the same way about me that I’ve been feeling about you. And that’s okay.”
Faye leaned forward, her eyes bright as she all but beamed at him. “One of my bad patterns is taking the first man who shows me kindness and making them my entire world. Because it feels safer than having to be myself in the world around me. I know this. And I thought I was doing something different with you, but I came close to just repeating it. But what’s even worse is that I’ve just realized right now that I came close to doing something stupid. I came close to throwing you away, as if you didn’t mean something important to me. And that would have been terrible for both of us. I need someone like you in my life! And so… I’m proposing we amend my offer. I want to spend more time with you. And you are my friend. I don’t want that to change. So, as my friend, as someone who I realize might see me more clearly than most anyone else ever has, I do want to teach you to cook hasperat. Because here’s the thing: I only cook for people I care about, who mean something to me. And there is a whole special story about the hasperat I really want to share with you. If you’re still willing…” Once again she was out on the limb, but regardless of his answer, she knew that the most important part was her measured response. That was everything.
Alex smiled at her, a knowing twinkle in his eye. “I figured as much… and thats okay with me, too. I really like you Faye. You are very dear to me… in a way that I don’t think a romance could improve upon at all. And yes… I am your friend. And I always will be… much to your detriment at times, I’m sure.” and he chuckled. “And of course you are going to teach me to cook hasperat and you are going to tell me your story. If you are truly unlucky, I may share mine with you as well. And I am still willing to teach you to dance, if you want. That offer hasn’t changed. Now then…” and Cochrane stood up, “… on your feet, Lieutenant.”
The immediate retort on her lips was halted by his request, order, whatever one could classify it at this hour and in this deeply personal moment. She rose, curiosity etched into her features.
When she rose, Cochrane stepped forward and gave her a full arm embrace. “Faye… I am so very proud of you.” he said and then released her.
He had such a solid presence to him, and while her feelings hadn’t magically evaporated, they had tilted ever so slightly to the side of companionable comfort. Still close, she tilted her head up at him. “I think this is what they call immersion therapy,” she joked. “I’ve had more hugs today than I think I’ve had in my entire adult life.” While somewhat funny, it wasn’t an exaggeration.
She was about to step away from him, but that darn impulsive nature of hers couldn’t be entirely be repressed, nor did she think she’d ever try. After all, it was a part of her charm as much as it could be a flaw. “Thank you,” she said with all the sincerity she could muster. Faye reached up on her toes and planted a (completely platonic) kiss on his cheek, before she beat a hasty treat away from him towards the door.
Turning to face him for a moment, Faye wore an impish grin. “Warm up those feet, Twinkle Toes. You might have just met your match.”
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