A Friend In Need
The Deuterium Argument [Rebooted]
Location: Reynard's Quarters
Timeline: MD 01, Evening
Ryan took a deep breath. He had faced down the Borg, Klingon Warriors, Tal Shiar agents, countless terrorists and he had never been this nervous. It wasn't like he was going to ask Jean out romantically... at least not after what happened the last time between the two of them. Ryan shook his head and pressed the door chime.
Jean looked up from the book he was reading while sprawled on his couch. Unexpected visitors didn't turn up at his door often. Then again, if they did, they probably wouldn't be unexpected. "Come in!"
Ryan stepped through the door. "Hey Jean."
Jean put his book down. "Ryan. Are the sensors on fire? Please tell me the sensors aren't on fire."
"What? Wait, why would the sensors be on fire?" Ryan asked, arching an eyebrow. He then shook the thoughts away. "No, nothing is on fire."
"Because you've hooked them up to the comms array and are doing weird things with them," Jean said. "I mean, I didn't expect literal fire, but mostly because they're exposed to vacuum."
"I'm pretty sure one of your men vouched that they have the whole situation under control," Ryan said. "I'm actually not here for anything work related."
"I'm pretty sure he's, like, twelve years old," Jean replied. "But anyways. What can I do for you, then?"
"He seems pretty competent," Ryan said. "But he's not the reason that I'm here. I wanted to see if you were...busy?"
"Not really, I'm just relaxing," Jean said. He expected that once they found someone with a deuterium refinery, they were going to be pretty busy for a while.
Ryan took a deep breath. He used to be a freaking MACO, this shouldn't be affecting him this way. He had faced way more scarey situations than trying to make friends. Then again, maybe it was his past with Jean that made him feel so.... unnerved.
"Um, I was actually wondering if you would be interested in... you know spending more time together."
"Ah, is this the Earther concept of 'friend ship'," Jean said, with air quotes, "that I have heard so much about?"
"You've never heard of friendship?" Ryan asked.
Jean managed to keep a straight face a few seconds longer before cracking up. "No, no, I haven't," he managed to say. "And there's also this Earth emotion call 'loved' that I could use some help with too."
"You're screwing with me, aren't you?"
"Just a little bit. Come on, stop standing there, sit down," Jean said, waving at the armchair across from his spot on the couch. "What brings this up?"
Ryan took a seat and tried to look more at ease than he felt. "My assistant chief science officer has recently entered into a relationship and everywhere I look people seem to be expanding their social circles."
"Ahhh," Jean said, nodding along. "I know that feeling. Suddenly you're a senior officer and you can't just show up at department game night without it being awkward."
Ryan nodded. "Yeah, that's a big part of it."
"Don't worry, you'll figure out a balance sooner or later," Jean told him. "You're not expected to turn into a compelte shut-in."
"My husband would have hated that," Ryan said.
Not sure if he should pry or not, Jean decided on getting up and walking over to the bookshelf he'd installed along the inner wall. A bit of shuffling let him retrieve a bottle of not-that-hidden bourbon, and he returned with two half-filled tumblers. Handing one to Ryan, he asked, "Still adjusting to that too?"
"Only sometimes," Ryan said, swirling the bourbon around in the glass. "Sometimes I feel guilty for even indulging in... physical pursuits."
"I won't claim to have lost anyone quite that close," Jean said, "but there have been a few that still left a hole behind. You can't let that stop you from moving on, especially in this business."
"I guess that's true," Ryan replied. He took a drink and settled back in the chair. "I guess I'm surprised you haven't been married."
Jean shrugged. "Never had the chance, really. College, the war, post-war cleanup, rehab, more college - not a lot of time left for romance."
Ryan nodded. "Interesting life you've lead."
"Well, I suppose that's one way to put it," Jean said with an amused snort. "I think the traditional way to describe it is 'long stretches of boredom interspersed with moments of terror'."
"My MACO commander used to say something like that," Ryan said, before taking another swig. "The was usually right before someone started shooting at us."
"That was pretty much my experience with the terror bit."
"I actually didn't mind the shooting part," Ryan admitted. "Mostly because I can shoot back."
"Yeeeeah, well, when it was ship to ship, I was fine. Shooting back, I wasn't bad at either," Jean said, unconciously rubbing at his left shoulder. "The dodging part, though, that didn't work out quite so well."
"Well, that sucks. But least you made it out alive, right?"
"There is that, yes. And I'm finally on a deep-space mission instead of cleaning up other people's messes, so overall it's a net positive."
"Very deep space," Ryan said, draining his glass. He gestured vaguely around the ship. "Somehow I don't think that Diego ever pictured me doing something like this."
"Oh? Going to the Delta Quadrant, or just this sort of mission in general?" Jean said, unsure of the timeline involved.
Ryan shook his head. "I was MACO to the core, I actually really liked it... but when he died something in my snapped. I was done dealing out agression... I wanted to know how the universe worked. Hence the change to science thing."
"Oh. Funny, I wouldn't have pegged you for a ground pounder. Not to stereotype, but, well, MACOs aren't exactly known for their analytical skills..."
Ryan laughed. "Yeah, I hear that a lot."
"Sounds like quite a story," Jean said with a laugh of his own. "Feel like sharing?"
"I actually got pretty high marks in high school academically speaking," Ryan said. "And my sister was pretty pissed when I went right into the MACO's after high school. She said I was wasting my natural scientific curiousity and talent."
Ryan took a deep breath before continuing. "But it wasn't until after I joined the MACOs that I met my husband, Diego. After he died I decided that I'd rather try to understand the universe and not try and blow it up."
Jean nodded. It sounded like what his therapist would call a healthy coping mechanism. "Gotcha. So you went back to school, then? Anywhere I would have heard of?"
"I spent a year at the Daystrom Institue before transferring to the academy."
Jean whistled. "Okay, now I really am impressed."
Ryan arched an eyebrow at the other officer. "It's not that impressive. Once I got to the academy, I spent a majority of my time studying biology and applied sciences."
"It's the Daystrom Institute. I'm pretty sure you weren't studying rocks for jocks there."
"Everyone assumes MACOs are nothing more than advanced jarheads, I enjoyed making some of the Vulcans up their game while I was there," Ryan answered. "I know that Vulcans are pretty good at hiding their emotions but it was still fun to make them cringe everywhere."
"You can't just leave it at that," Jean replied. He got up and retrieved the bottle to pour a second round. "Go on, spill."
"Well, let me tell you about this astrophyscist named Vorrick..."
Lt (jg) Ryan North
Chief Science Officer, USS Highlander
Lt Commander Jean Reynard
Chief Operations Officer, USS Highlander