S.S. Fawkes - CF-142AC
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Disjointed

Posted on Tuesday March 31st, 2020 @ 22:09 hours by Alexandria Farron & Kari Pahlmihr

Mission: Safe Passage
Location: Maintenance Corridor Two, Auxiliary Environmental Control Section, Deck 12
Timeline: MD02 - 1525

"Damnit!" Alexandria shouted, brandishing her gaming pad with a level of emotion just short of rage. She almost hurled it at the nearest bulkhead, but managed to restrain herself. It was an expensive gaming pad, and her job on the Fawkes did not pay so well that she could indulge herself with such acts of destruction. She took a deep breath, and thumped the gaming pad against her lap instead, uttering a few choice expletives as well for good measure. The navigator looked down on the image on the screen, a first person view of a restaurant table, with a liquid effect dribbling down the screen and a text bubble that read 'You creep!'

It was the fifth simulated drink thrown in Alexandria's face in the past thirty minutes.

The navigator didn't know how much more she could take. She was good at video games! Very good, with awards to prove it. But the game Dating Simulator XII was brutally hard. And so unfair. She hadn't stood a chance on normal mode, where she had to actually make small talk and try to entertain and impress her date. She wasn't very good at talking. And forget hard mode, where you actually had to dress up for your imaginary date. Alexandria had barely been able to pull off dressing for a part when failure meant prison time. Alexandria was a scrub. It was a good day when she wasn't pulling tangled knots and bits of her breakfast out of her hair. Even easy mode was too much, with no mic, no camera, and only pre-set multiple choice answers to help her land a second date.

Alexandria had attempted to date men, and women. Humans, and myriad other non-human species. Over twenty failed dates so far. And to make matters worse, her in-game dating profile was so bad that many of her dates hadn't even bothered to show up. And Captain May wondered why she didn't want to annul her fake marriage to her scam-artist wife. She didn't stand a chance of ever pulling off another. Alexandria wanted to cry, but she reserved her tears for things that actually made her want to cry. Like country music and cats.

Soon Fawkes was going to Betazed, and Alexandria had a real first date lined up... with her wife. She was so fucked. Especially if Captain May went with her, in her weird Vulcan disguise or whatever. The date was going to go so badly, she would be one of the precious few to witness a Betazoid catfight.

"Come on, don't be a scrub. You've got this." Alexandria said, trying to reassure herself as she loaded up yet another randomized easy-mode date. Her one comfort was that at least here, in her super-secret hidey-hole, no would was around to hear her curse and scream. the cramped crawl space buried deep within a maze of Jeffries' tubes was barely over a meter in every dimension... large enough for one, maybe two people to just sit there and brood. It was dark, and creepy, and sandwiched in with rumbling machinery that sounded like nearby volcanic eruptions. It reminded her of home--Venus.

The day had been long and arduous for Kari, she was starting to feel the strain against her freshly healed wounds now and really needed a break. So she was happy when Mercy asked her to investigate a power fluctuation in one of the Enviro control sections in the belly of the ship. It wasn't something of huge concern and she was sure that Mercy had done it in order to give her some rest. She was looking at the read-outs from the PADD when she heard a voice, first cussing loudly, then muttering to herself. The voice seemed familiar.

Kari started to approach quietly, very curious about what exactly was going on. She rounded a corner and had to duck a bit in order to look into the maintenance corridor when she saw the tangled hair of their navigator. Looking over her shoulder she saw a small screen, it was plugged in to one of the EPS conduits to prevent the battery from draining. The screen displayed a beautiful fancy restaurant, with a candlelight dinner. Across the table from the player's perspective sat a young Trill. Kari and the simulated date looked an awful lot alike.

Torn between speaking up and quietly moving away Kari just stood there for a moment, staring, mouth slightly ajar. Was Alexandria really simulating a date with her? She didn't even know there was any interest there. Given the quirky behaviour it was always super difficult to tell exactly what she was thinking.

Alexandria hadn't heard anyone approach. She had headphones on, and the noise of the machinery in nearby sections drowned out quite a bit of noise. She felt movement though... slight vibration on the thinner plating in the crawlspaces. She turned her head, and saw a crouched figure lurking there, half obscured in the shadows. She scooted over to turn her body and stuck her leg out, her boot clanging against the opposite bulkhead to bar the way. She half expected the person to be Captain May, wanting her jeans back. Alexandria had... borrowed them, with dubious intent to return. After making the bed, Alexandria had gone a step further and spent half the morning cleaning up the captain's messy room. She'd discovered that they basically wore the same size clothes, though Alexandria had slightly bigger feet. The navigator also tended to size down on most of her garments, preferring a closer fit. But the captain's dark-washed slim jeans went perfectly with her Disjointed tee-shirt.

Disjointed was one of her favorite bands, a Trill girl-group that played edgy pop full of various counter-culture themes and general teenage angst. They mocked and ridiculed the joined elite of Trill society, probably to ease the pain of being excluded from its ranks. Alexandria had been a fan of them since they first started performing, before they found fame off-world. They were her age, and she felt she could relate to their songs. She'd never been quite good enough for her parents. Not quite good enough to compete in sports. Not quite good enough to serve in Starfleet. And not quite good enough to even live without the aid of modern medical science. She also liked them because they were all super cute.

"Hey! This is my secret lair! Unless you know the secret password, you'll have to go find your own." Alexandria called out to the figure just out of view.

"Eh." Kari hadn't really thought about passwords for secret lairs in years, she saw the unmissable logo of Disjointed, she loved that band when she was younger, they had gotten a bit stuck in the 'us against the Symbiosis Committee' though. She remembered getting quite into them back in the 80s, "Ehm," There was an unspoken rule among the 'true fans' that the album that got them their quadrant fame was the worst. Going off the assumption that the shirt was not a coincidence she had to think which song she'd like the most and that would probably allow her in, even if it wasn't the password, "Always seen, never spotted?" It was a rather obscure B-side track, a lot less upbeat than most of their songs.

Kari had listened to that song for days. The feeling of being surrounded by dozens of people but never being seen as full. The boy that they liked, but that immediately lost interest for one of the prodigies on the fast track to joining. All too familiar riffs in their society.

Alexandria had a curt dismissal already prepared. After all, who would be able to guess the secret password? Captain May would probably cheat, plucking the answer from her mind, but anyone else? No way. She neglected to look down at her game, where her new date was approaching the table in a cute black dress. There was a prompt for Alexandria to comment using one of the multiple choice replies, but she was too distracted to remember that awkward pauses would lose her points with her date. She was too distracted because she heard the words.

The navigator's face glitched as she heard the secret password uttered aloud. Her curt dismissal was no longer appropriate. "Enter." She muttered, slightly crestfallen as she tucked her leg back in to clear the way. Part of her was dismayed that her password had been guessed so easily, and that she might now have to share or vacate her secret, cozy place. Another part of her was curious. Was there someone else aboard who listened to Disjointed? Such a revelation might make that person slightly easier to tolerate.

Kari ducked and snuck into the tight space, "You got a good thing going on over here." She looked around the positively cramped space. She scooted in close to sit shoulder to shoulder with Alex and winced a bit as a movement shot into her lower back. The kicking and stabbing from the Nausicaan hadn't really done her wonders. She should probably go back to visit Lorpax for some follow-up treatment, "So, are you trying to get her to show you how far down the spots go?" she looked at the girl in the black dress, the minus points showing on the screen already.

The game must've picked up on her voice because it suddenly responded, the Trill girl on the screen her mouth opened up and then she shook her head disapprovingly. Another ten points were deducted from the score in the top right corner.

Alexandria sat there without expression as the shadowy figure approached, realizing it was Kari. She didn't know most of the unlicensed crew members aboard Fawkes... mainly because they rarely worked on the bridge, she rarely worked away from it, and she was too antisocial to meet people any other way. She only really knew the Trill woman because of her kidnapping. That had earned her some unfairly received notoriety. That could've happened to any of them, though Alexandria doubted the crew would've been as eager to become wanted criminals on Rangalor in order to recover her.

The navigator had already backed herself into one corner as far as she could, and she couldn't help but squirm as Kari brushed up alongside her and sat down. Their arms touched. Their hips touched. Their legs were sort of touching. Most of her life Alexandria had managed to keep her personal space free of other people. Now, in the span of one day, two people had been all up in it. If she hadn't 'eased into' the experience by waking up in Captain May's arms, she probably would've freaked. Instead she merely sighed, realizing there was no longer enough room to sit cross-legged.

At least Kari didn't smell like liquor and fried animal fat. Plus she was fully clothed. Alexandria decided that for now she could stay.

But then Kari had to go and hijack her date. So uncool.

"Hey! What..." Alexandria began to exclaim, trying to... well, she wasn't quite sure what she was trying to do. Plus, why was Kari talking about herself in the third-person? What did it matter how far down the spots went? Why had she said that? Then she looked down, and saw that her randomly generated 'date' was a young Trill woman who was... Kari.

"Uhh..." Alexandria stammered, glancing at Kari, then at the game, then furtively back up at Kari. At a total loss for words, she couldn't help but crack a nervous wincing grin as she contemplated the immediate consequences of such a cringe-worthy coincidence.

"Is that a... rhetorical question?" Alexandria finally asked, partially to stall for what she hoped would be convincing deniability as her fingers fumbled for the gaming pad's off switch.

Kari moved her hand to stop Alexandria from switching off the gaming pad, "Hey, wait, I bet we can make this date successful." She was up for some fun and games, people had been so on edge around her lately and with her recent experiences it had been hard to get sleep, "I figured with you being so into Trill culture you'd know one of the cheesiest pick up lines in the history of the planet, together with..." she leaned in a bit, "Do you have a little worm in you?" She waited a beat for the computer to respond, the other woman shook her head and blushed slightly, "Do you want to?"

The simulated Trill gasped and grabbed the glass of water before throwing it in her face, Kari laughed at that, "Can't take a joke, you don't want one of those stuck up Committee Rejects. Can you reset? I bet we can get her to show us how far down those spots really go."

Alexandria sighed, trying to shield her anguish by burying her forehead into the palm of her hand. With every failed date her online dating reputation lowered, and every fiasco like this one could have consequences. "The game doesn't work that way. There are no do-overs. I'll just have to search for a new random date." As she loaded up the menu screen, she received a message from the restaurant, informing her that due to multiple incidents, she was no longer welcome at that establishment.

"Wow, you're even worse at this game than I am. At this rate I'm gonna be forced to take my date to the sidewalk, to wait in line at the ramen food truck." Alexandria said, raising her head after a moment once the initial wave of misery had passed. "It's a basic rule of dating. Never offer what you can't deliver." She looked Kari up and down, her eyes settling downward. "And even if you did have a... little worm, she doesn't want to hear about it at the dinner table.

"I'm so screwed..." Alexandria trailed off, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Oh come on, it can't be that bad, I didn't know what was going on, I swear I won't screw around," Kari pointed again at the screen, "Give me another chance, and if I can't get them to agree to another date I'll..." she thought on it for a moment, thinking that she should live more in the moment, not being too scared of the consequences, "Alright, how's this, load up the next date, if I can't get them to agree to a second date I'll show you how far down my spots go." She put out a hand to shake on his, resisting the urge to spit in it before she did so. She knew that the navigator was a bit of a neat freak, the deckhands gossiped about her behind her back. To be fair they gossiped about every one of the licensed crewmembers.

It took Alexandria a moment to process what she'd just heard. She idly nibbled at the corner of her lower lip, a gesture that might have led the observer to think she considered the deal to be more appetizing than how she was actually feeling about it. At least one thing started to make sense to her. Apparently, for the some the spots were a fetish thing. Kari's spots were very fetching, but Alexandria didn't really see them as something that significantly heightened her appeal... or any Trill's appeal, for that matter.

Another thing she realized was that the wager was probably not what it seemed. Alexandria had taken comparative exobiology at Starfleet Academy. She knew how far down the spots went. If Kari lost the wager, she'd only have to take off her shoes and socks. But she couldn't pass up the opportunity to gather more data on this whole dating thing. Maybe Kari would have some helpful tips. Alexandria took her hand and treated her with one of her signature limp noodle handshakes.

"Ok. Here are the profiles of all the people who were interested in meeting..." She trailed off, noticing that the list had not grown since her last date. "I've already filtered out most of the pet owners and species with... incompatible traits." She couldn't deal with most pets. Her allergies wouldn't allow it. Plus she found animal behavior and hygeine to be disturbing. And though she could work with a Caitian, her allergies would ensure that she'd never find any comfort living with one. Vulcans were way too hard-mode for her. Seven portraits remained. There were three males and four were female, or so it appeared. One of the males was a Trill, while another was clearly Andorian. The third looked Human but could be Betazoid. One of the females was an Orion, while the other three looked Human, but again, could possibly be Betazoid... or even Trill. The spots were sometimes harder to spot on females with long hair.

"I should probably tell you I'm married. It was arranged thing. Well, sort of..." Alexandria said, hesitating. "So I don't really know her. I can still get out of it, but I'm not sure if I should. I'm not very good at meeting people..." She added, stating the last bit as if it were some great big secret.

Kari resisted the urge to wipe her hand on her shirt after shaking Alex's hand, "Are you willing to learn?" She might not be the most amazing deckhand, and physically there was a lot left to be desired from Kari but she knew how to connect with people, she always had the feeling that this was why May hired her in the first place, "Because even if you get them to agree to a date, a handshake like that will probably immediately lose you some points." she pointed at the screen, knowing that there wasn't a point system in real life, but it was a close enough and she hoped comparing it would help Alexandria understand.

Alexandria exhaled, making a noise somewhere between a 'hmmph' and a whine. She clearly sounded anxious about the whole getting to know people thing. Especially getting to know people by touching them. "There weren't many people where I grew up, and no kids. The first time I saw other people my age was when I was fifteen." Alexandria explained in a quiet voice. "The whole shaking hands thing was big at the private school my parents sent me to. Within a few days I was sick with one thing. Then another. And another. Within a month I was in the hospital, hooked up to machines and barely alive. I'm a lot stronger now, but whenever someone sticks their hand out at me I still think of... all that." She shuddered.

The navigator didn't like telling the story. She never told the story. It made her sound pathetic. She wasn't pathetic. She'd won a gold medal in the Interstellar Olympics. She was a Starfleet Academy graduate. A combat veteran. And now she was a pirate. She could stomach holding someone's hand for a few minutes without panicking.

As if to prove her point, Alexandria reached over towards Kari's hand and held it, hoping she didn't break out into a cold sweat. She also leaned in, with her heads almost touching, so they could both see the gaming pad better. It felt... weird, but she'd seen scenes in holovids where friends did this. She needed some points on the board.

"Who is your favorite? In Disjointed, I mean." Alex asked, trying to make things feel less awkward.

"Laliah." There was not a moment's hesitation in Kari when Alex asked her. She leaned in closer to the navigator to get a better view of the screen before explaining, "I know she's kind of a girlie girl, but I just liked all the dresses she wore." she wasn't the most popular choice in the band, and if Kari her sole purpose was to get into Alex' good graces she would've probably considered the question a bit better, since Alex didn't seem like the kind of fan that would gravitate towards Laliah.

"And I'm sorry to hear about your experience with physical contact, I can imagine it would make you a lot more hesitant to shake hands and get close to people." She gave what she hopes would be a comforting squeeze in the hand that she was holding. "So, how about we make sure we're there with a small gift already when they arrive? Just to break the ice. Something that we felt from their profiles would fit with their personalities?"

If Alexandria disapproved of Kari's choice in Laliah, she didn't show. "Jaiza is my favorite." She admitted. Jaiza was the emo-glamorous one. Also sometimes regarded as the weird one. She liked to color her hair, and experiment with makeup. She glittered her spots, and sometimes even framed them in soft bands of multicolor blush. Out of all the girls she showed the least skin (and spots), but the tight-fitting catsuits she tended to wear on stage left little to the imagination anyway. She also liked to wear lots of colored bracelets, and once wore an Orion slave collar for an entire year.

The navigator merely shrugged in response to Kari's sympathy, but showed more reaction, twitching a bit when the Trill squeezed her hand. She didn't try to let go though. Not yet anyway. "Well, I guess it depends on which one you want to date." Alexandria looked over the profiles. "Shonev likes to study and explore lost alien cultures and wants to meet someone who doesn't mind being on the move with him. Davi likes fishing and mixed-martial arts. He'll try almost anything at least once." She pointed to the Andorian guy, then the Trill. The next two profiles were women, the Orion, and the Human-looking one who turned out to be Betazoid. "Kaztya likes video games and yoga, and is a quiet homebody who loves to snuggle. Oooooh... why didn't I pick her sooner?" Alexandria mused. Except for the love of snuggles, they were basically the same. "And Serisa here likes travel, fine wine and craft spirits, and zero-g football. Yeah. This is totally Captain May." Alexandria seemed poised to keep scrolling through if Kari wanted to keep looking.

The pick of Jaiza wasn't really surprising to Kari, "Let's go with Kaztya, would be weird to try and date the Captain." She figured that since Alex had picked a girl in the previous round she'd be more inclined to that anyway, "Let's not remark on the rumour that Orion girls are easy." She looked over at Alex and winked. She navigated to the shop section of the game and looked if she could find something to fit with the Orion's tastes. She found a nicely scented candle and had it wrapped up with a nice bow, "Want to write something on the card? It's just a small gesture but it shows that you've put in time and effort to make her feel at ease."

A candle? Really? That's the last thing Alexandria would've picked for a gift, but then again, she was obviously not good at this. "Nuh uh. This is all you." She said firmly. "You bet me a spots show that you've got skills. If you lose points on my account, you're gonna say that voids the bet." Alexandria sounded serious, and clearly was not adept at a light-hearted, joking tone of voice. She slipped her hand from Kari's and removed her gaming headset though, offering it for Kari to wear. That was a significant gesture for her.

Kari smiled a bit at Alexandra, taking the gaming headset and putting it on, not realising the significance of the gesture. The Orion woman arrived at the table and smiled at her, Kari made her character step forward in a gentle half hug and kiss on the cheek, she immediately indicated that she bought a small thing for her and handed over the candle. The points were starting to add up. It was weird doing this with Alex so close by, especially since the Orion woman seemed fairly similar in style to the human navigator.

An oversized beanie covered her long, fiery red, hair, her perfectly symmetrical face was only interrupted by a ring pierced through her left nostril. The hoodie she was wearing was clearly chosen for comfort, not style. Her other clothing matched in their ease and comfort. It was good that Kari had chosen to meet this woman in a side alley outdoor restaurant. The small talk went fairly smoothly, and it was easier since the game was trying to give the player some benefit of the doubt, since things had gone so horribly in the previous encounters. Perhaps Kari had been right, maybe Orion girls in this game were easy.

Alexandria was stupefied. It had never occurred to her to simply walk to a person she'd just met and hug and kiss them. She'd thought all the people the game had matched her with were just creeps. But maybe that wasn't the common denominator. Perhaps the only creep... was her.

Kaztya was amazing. They had the same hoodie, though Alexandria wasn't wearing hers at the moment. And her purple and green striped beanie? It was a limited edition! A rare piece of lost merchandise from the ill-fated Vega Dragonflies expansion team that had never actually joined the league. Where had she gotten it? It took Alexandria a moment to realize that Kaztya wasn't real.

As the small talk proceeded, the navigator did her best to keep everything in. Kari's responses seemed so natural. And they were apparently the right ones. The points stacked up, and apparently a threshold was hit, as Kaztya responded to something Kari had said by offering a beaming smile, showing her bright, immaculate white teeth. Alexandria tensed, and didn't seem to realize she was letting out a soft squee of delight. She had a thing for nice teeth. This was as far as she'd ever gotten. She'd never reached the point of ordering a meal. The furthest she'd gotten was having her date's aperitif thrown in her face. She softly but surely clutched Kari's arm with both hands, not seeming to realize that her sweaty palms were probably leaving a damp patch on her sleeve.

Kari shifted her arm a bit when she started to notice the pressure was cutting off her circulation. With the blood returning to her fingertips she made sure to order something nice and a good drink to match, she also immediately made clear that she would pick up the tab, so that there wouldn't be any doubt, there was enough money in the virtual account anyway, as Alex had gone on a couple of dates but never had to pay a single bill.

The smiles continued, accompanied by a laugh here and there, Kaztya was starting to play with her hair and leaning in, even though the conversation wasn't being done in a low tone. Kari asked about her parents, about her time on the planet that the simulation had set them, her job, her dreams, her hobbies.

She looked over at Alex and smiled, wondering why the navigator was getting so excited over this, "Is there something you'd like to ask Kaztya?" She asked, muting the microphone for a moment to ask the question without getting a weird look from the virtual date.

Alexandria looked on wide-eyed, initially unsure of what to ask. None of the things that Kari had discussed with her date had really been of much interest or importance to her thus far. Family and job... didn't really matter. As long as her date wasn't raised in some sort of creepy cult, or worked in waste recycling or pet grooming, she didn't really care. Criminal history was of some importance, but... not that much. She was, after all, married to a convicted felon. And working for one. The things that people did while they were apart were of little importance. What they might have in common while together was what mattered to her.

"What's her favourite game?" Alexandria asked, softly, as if not trusting the mic to be muted. Please say Star Crusader or Table Tennis Pro... She repeated in her mind as she unconsciously squirmed with anxiety.

Kari looked over at Alexandria, knowing that this was some of her earliest experience dating someone it was kind of cute to see her so engaged with the simulation. She unmuted and gave a friendly smile to the gamepad before asking what the favourite game was.

Kaztya responded with something vague at first, depending on her mood. Though she always had a soft spot for the Star Crusader RPGs. Kari wasn't familiar with the franchise, she wasn't much of a gamer in that sense. So she gave a generic 'that's nice; reply. It cost her a couple of points but she had enough to spare. She added a question of what her most enjoyable memory was of playing that particular game. Which made the virtual date go off on a passionate retelling of one of the game's subplots that apparently involved saving a princess from a giant space slug.

Alexandria almost lost it when the virtual Orion replied with her favorite game. Well, one of her favorites. But it was a short list. And much to her dismay, Kari completely screwed things up by not only being unfamiliar with the game, but by not appearing to be interested in games at all. Why? Why!? Alexandria almost yelled aloud, wanting to curse her misfortune. After all her failed attempts, she hands over the game and misses out on a date she would've totally aced.

That was it. It was done. It was all over. Even Kari got a second date, it didn't matter. For Alexandria, the fates had spoken. She was going to die alone. She started tuning out the rest of Kari's reply, and slouched over, burying her head in her hands. She tugged at her beanie, trying to pull it down over her eyes. It might be needed to soak up salty tears.

Then she heard the story.

"Wait... you actually defeated the Grand Slime Xorplu? Ohmygod marry me!" Alexandria exclaimed out of nowhere, her boot heels thumping against the deck as she sat up straighter. She'd tried to defeat the Grand Slime Xorplu many times, but had never managed to rescue the princess. Every time she'd either been defeated, or had been forced to abandon the lengthy quest due to various reality events. Like getting kicked out of Starfleet. And accidentally destroying her gaming pad in a fit of rage. And having to rob a museum and rescue a real princess. She inched her beanie up to uncover her eyes a tad, and gave Kari a very shifty glance. "Oops." She said in a whisper.

Kari saw the score evaporate in front of her eyes, "What, no! It was a joke! I mean that's so awesome!" She tried to salvage the interaction but got the cold shoulder from the fictional Orion, who seemed to not be looking for a lengthy relationship ending in marriage, at least not on the first date. Desert was finished rather rapidly before Kaztya insisted that she was still meeting with some other friends. She told Kari that she'd be in touch.

Kari looked at Alexandria as the screen faded and the game brought them back to the fictional home, "Marry me? Really?" She put the gamepad down, "Look, you're a great girl, you're smart, you're good at your job, there's people out there that like the same things you do, you're pretty." She narrowed her eyes a bit and looked down at their hands, still holding on to each other, "You can do this." She lifted their hands and gave a kiss on the back of Alexandria's.

Alexandria was very confused. It sounded like she was getting the 'there are plenty of other ships in space' talk, but why? Of course she was smart, and competent. And sometimes pretty. Maybe she had overreacted, but as far as she was concerned, the date had gone pretty well. And why was Kari kissing her hand? Did she not stop to think about where it had been? Alexandria knew where it had been, of course, and it was relatively clean, but still. "She was only acting like that because she's an elite gamer. You... well, we haven't beaten Xorplu, so she thinks we're scrubs. Elite gamers don't date scrubs." The navigator explained. "You'll have to rescue the princess to prove your worth to her. As soon as she sees the achievement in your activity feed, she'll call. Trust me." Alexandria nodded reassuringly. Yes, that probably sounded pretty dumb to people who didn't play games, but by her reasoning it was a far easier expectation to live up to than some of the others that people placed on their romantic interests. Like people in Starfleet. Their checklists were long.

"It's not about scrubs, or nines only dating nines, or even opposites attract" Kari shook her head, she didn't know quite how to explain this to Alexandria, "it's about... about confidence." She nodded to emphasise how much she knew this to be true, "I've not played those types of games she was talking about in years, but I could have a conversation with her. I could get her to a point where I was sure she'd go on a second date with me," it helped that it was a fictional date, and that she knew in advance what buttons to push. The game was very forgiving in that sense, "do you think that at any point she would've even thought about that slimy Xolu? Even when I asked about that specific moment she kept it vague. It was enough for her that I had an interest in what she was interested in." She shifted so that she was facing Alexandria fully, and put both her hands on hers, "did you see her face light up when I asked her about that?" She straightened her back and bit and smiled at Alexandria, "what would you ask me? What do you think would make my eyes light up?"

Alexandria was still very confused. And things were getting weird. And Kari had moved to block her only escape route, though the navigator wasn't sure if she had done that on purpose. All this talk of confidence unnerved her. She knew how to be confident, and was aware of the dangers of it. The Aerospace Corps required a high degree of it, as did competing in the Olympics. She knew how to act like she was the best, or at least perfectly adequate to the task at hand. It was an aggressive emotion though, and in personal settings it frightened her. Normally, when someone came up to her, without fear, oozing charm and confidence, Alexandria saw them as an immediate threat. The game took the edge off that fear, as she would never have the stomach for real trial-and-error dating. Her wife, apparently adept at scamming and pandering, would have probably achieved little success pandering to her in-person. She'd utilized more remote methods of identity theft instead.

What did Kari want? What was she trying to do? Teach her how to act while on a date? Her body language was suggesting something more than that though. One thing was certain though. Alexandria had no clue what she would ask Kari, and didn't know what would make her eyes light up. A joke? A compliment? A hug or a kiss? They'd only just met really. A story, maybe?

"I lied to you earlier... about my favorite. It's also Laliah." Alexandria said, not looking very confident. "We met once. I was on drugs though, and don't really remember it..." She winced as she realized how bad that sounded, and quickly proceeded to tell the story.

"For my sixteenth birthday my grandparents got me VIP tickets to see them in Tokyo, their first Earth tour. I didn't get to go though. I got really sick and had to spend a week in the hospital. Happened a lot. After finding out why one of their VIPs didn't show up, I guess Laliah made their band manager take her halfway across Earth to see me while the rest of the band prepared for the next show. I was in and out, like a fever dream. But the nurse told me she held my hand for a few minutes, sang a song or lullaby, then left." She shrugged. "I don't have any proof though." She added, as if that really mattered.

"I really wanted to meet Jaiza. But I guess you can't say someone who did that for you isn't your favorite." Alexandria sighed. "Except I just did... I'm a bad person." The navigator then closed up, and seemed unwilling to say more. She didn't like telling the story, showing people how fragile she had been. Plus it was super depressing, and sounded too cliche to be true. Only then did Alexandria realize that the story was more likely to make someone cry than smile.

Kari's eyes watered up a bit at the story, and she pushed back quite a few emotions. Successfully so until Alex said that she was a bad person. The tears started to roll down her cheeks and she lunged forward to wrap her arms around Alexandria and hold her really close, "You're not a bad person!" She held her close, "You're not a bad person." she re-emphasised, "And who cares about proof?" she pulled back and pulled a face that told her she didn't care for proof in the slightest, then pulling her back into the hug, "Told you Laliah was the best"

"Eek-" Alexandria softly squealed when Kari lunged at her. She didn't even have time to raise her hands to ward off the approach. Which was probably for the best, as in the hug they would've probably ended up trapped straight up against Kari's chest. Instead they were pinned to her sides. She tried not to squirm too much, as her earlier experience with Captain May had taught her that squirming only made a cuddlemonster fiercer. She did manage to get her arms out when Kari backed off for a second, but the respite was only temporary. The momentum of being pulled in for another hug like a favorite bedtime plushie saw Alexandria's arms flung out and around Kari. Her hands held on to the soft folds of her shirt. However awkward it initially felt, it was hard to be hugged and not hug someone back. Especially a pretty lady like Kari.

As Alexandria sat there, pressed up against the Trill woman, she listened and tried to process what had been said, as difficult as that was with her senses all competing for attention. The warmth of her body, soft curves, and the scent of the shampoo in Kari's hair all demanded thought and attention too. Maybe Kari was right. Maybe she wasn't a bad person. But Alexandria wasn't so sure. After all, she had been the only voice in the room who had suggested moving on, and letting Starfleet handle the dangerous job of finding and recovering her. She certainly wasn't going to admit that or argue though. One thing was for certain, however, Alexandria wasn't very good at making people smile. But she was apparently good at making them cry.

So what now? Alexandria thought to herself as she planned her next move. It was like the game. It seemed like a critical moment, where her next move would either win or lose her a whole lot of points. Were they best friends now? Did best friends act like this? Or were they girlfriends? Alexandria did not know if she could, let alone should juggle a wife and a girlfriend, but in the holovids it happened all the time, with mixed results. Or maybe this was just a one time thing, like her sleepover with Captain May. As she considered the variables, her mind blanked and she couldn't help but focus on the score and her date waiting expectantly for something memorable. Even though she and Kari weren't exactly staring across at a table at one another, it still kind of now felt like that. She decided to just pick up the ball and lob a Hail Mary.

"Soo... uh... does this mean I still get a spots show?" Alexandria said, with almost immediate regret. Way to go, creep. Her inner voice scolded as she realized she'd likely fumbled the play.

"What?" Kari was reminded that Alexandria's mind just worked differently from most people she met, "If you can figure out a way to score enough points with me," she pointed at the gamepad to drive home the comparison she was making, "then maybe after our next date" She gave a wink and slowly moved away from Alexandria, "better make sure it's doing something I also like to do," she then pointed at the exposed EPS conduit that led to her being sent here in the first place, "also you might want to fix that if you don't want Mercy to find your secret hide-out."

Alexandria collapsed back against the bulkhead once Kari left, utterly exhausted. People around people was so tiring sometimes. But she hadn't been cussed at, slapped, doused with a drink, or otherwise aggressively labeled as a creep. In fact, Kari had talked of a second date. As if this had been their first... wait...

"Did I... did I just win?" Alexandria mused aloud. According to the rules of the game, she had. The first date at least. She had absolutely no idea what came after that, and she still had no idea how to earn points with Kari, or what she even liked to do. Avoiding doing her job, apparently, going by the thingy she reasoned Kari had been sent there to fix. Whatever she liked, hopefully it didn't involve country music and cats. Alexandria almost wept at the thought.

"So uhh..." The navigator muttered aloud, looking around. How did one fix an EPS conduit? She had no idea. She didn't even have any tools. According to her contract, her only jobs were plotting courses and piloting the ship. And those were the only things Starfleet had taught her to do. That and scrubbing the flight deck, but she didn't talk about that. Whatever it was, she had better find a way to fix it. The ship's engineer probably already knew that someone was hanging out down here, but if word got out that if her hiding out was interfering with ship's functions? She shuddered. She did not want Mercy upset with her.

Picking up her gaming pad, Alexandria brought up the game search. EPS conduit simulator... she murmured as she typed in the query. If there was a simulator for dating, then surely there was a game that could teach her how to do this thing.

[OFF]

Alexandria Farron
Navigator

&

Kari Pahlmihr (NPC)
Deck Hand (Ordinary)
(As portrayed by Mayterial Droz)

S.S. Fawkes

 

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