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Still Friends?

Posted on Wed Jun 24th, 2020 @ 3:19am by Lieutenant Commander Mindo & Lieutenant JG Vecon Fick
Edited on on Fri Jul 10th, 2020 @ 5:49pm

Mission: Death in Paradise
Location: Shuttlebay 2
Timeline: current


Shuttlebay 2 had not gone unharmed in the small battle with the Breen. Two of the bay's shuttlecraft had been affected, and certain functions, mainly navigation control, weren't responding. Most of Engineering had spent the last twelve hours tending to the minimal battle damage the ship had sustained. Several other officers from Ops and Science were assisting the engineers the best they could, and Shuttlebay 2 had also received some much-needed attention from the ship's own pilot, Lt. Vecon Fick.

Lt. Mindo smiled to himself for a moment as he headed toward one of the damaged spacecraft. This was the same broken shuttle where Mindo and the young helmsman first met. After seeing to repairs, the two had gone for a drink and by the next morning knew each other rather intimately. The next week had included two more such visits, but these encounters drew to a halt when a certain Klingon Lieutenant confronted Mindo (which is a nice way of saying "attempted to choke him"), expressing his disdain for the Fesarian Engineer and his feelings for the Risan helmsman. Since then, Mindo and Vecon had only encountered each other once, and while their banter had been polite, the targ in the room was all too present. Now, about a year later, K'Laus wanted Mindo to be his best man in his marriage to Vecon. The whole thing made no sense to Mindo. K'Laus had told him it was some kind of Klingon ritual. Mindo thought of it as a farce.

Brushing away his feelings on the matter, Mindo approached the shuttle and called out. "Lieutenant Fick? You in there?"

Fick had crawled under a console in an attempt to repair a hard to get to relay. It had been quiet around him most of the time he had been there, giving him time to reflect on his upcoming vacation with K'Laus. They were going to Risa to visit Fick's parents and Fick had a few choice things that he wanted to settle with his father. When Mindo called out it startled him and he jumped, banging his head on the bottom on the console above him. "Hey! Ow! Yeah I'm in here!" He slid out from under the computer station and sat up rubbing his head and grinning.

Mindo smiled and looked around inside the sparse craft. "Haven't we been here before?" he asked, taking out his tricorder.

Fick laughed. "I was just thinking that." He grinned up at Mindo, from where he was still seated on the floor of the shuttlecraft. "This is the same broken shuttle we first worked on... when we met. Right? It's funny how things come full circle." He rubbed the spot he'd whacked on the underside of the console. He seemed to be fine. "So you gonna help me fix this hunk of junk again?" the helmsman queried, still grinning.

"Let's bring the funk in this hunka junk!" Mindo said with enthusiasm, getting on his back and sliding in next to the skilled helmsman. "What's wrong with it today?" Mindo crawled himself under the terminal to take a better look. "Ooh," he said. "Having trouble with some of the manual flight relays I see. Must've been jostled by the phaser fire. We've experienced some problems on this section of the ship. Several decks were affected." Mindo reached down blindly, looking for a relay scanner booster. His hand accidentally found Fick's, and for a moment they touched. Mindo strained to look down. He quickly moved his hand aside and grabbed the required tool. "Sorry bout that," he said. But... was he? It had been a long time since he'd been this physically close to Vecon... no, he thought, don't start that. But he wanted to, badly. He looked over to Vecon and met his eyes. Mindo blinked, then shook his head and looked back up at the broken system, his affect calm but his heart beating just a little faster.

Fick watched all this with interest, fascinated. He was from Risa, after all, he could tell when someone was interested in him, even if it was a touch and a glance. He folded his legs up under himself and put his elbows on his knees, resting his chin on his hands, looking at Mindo. "I didn't know you still felt that way..." Fick finally said softly, after several moments of awkward silence.

Mindo stopped his work. I don't know what you mean, Mindo nearly said, but that was a lie. Mindo knew it, Vecon would know it. With a sigh, he scooted out from under the terminal and sat up to face Vecon. "Fesarians don't believe in exclusive relationships," Mindo said. "But we still have feelings for people."

Fick nodded, still looking at Mindo expectantly. "And you still feel that way about me..." he stated simply, his brows furrowing a little bit. He liked Mindo, he had always liked Mindo, but it had seemed lately that the engineer didn't want to be friends anymore. It seemed like after the incident with K'Laus, which was almost a year ago, that Mindo wasn't interested at all in Fick. So, Fick had left him alone. It had made Fick fairly sad, especially since he had come back from the bubble. Since then it had seemed like all he had anymore was K'Laus.

Mindo sighed. "The thing that really bugs me is that I never came between you and K'Laus. K'Laus came between you and me. You and I were becoming... close friends. Friends who had an understanding for each other. Then all that was ripped apart, and I almost lost my life over it." He waved his hand and looked away. "I don't know if you understand that, but that's how it feels."

"Actually, I do understand that. Although, I really don't think he would have killed you. I'm sorry all of that went down like that, but I don't know how many times I can say I'm sorry before it's pointless. I mean it's obviously been pointless up until now... K'Laus has even apologized, but here we still are."

"If it's so pointless, why did you bring it up?" Mindo said, voice slightly raised. He couldn't tell if he was hurt or angry.

"Because obviously you're still hurt. I don't like that you're still hurt, but I'm not sure what to do about it anymore." Fick sighed, frustrated. "I just wanted to still be friends..." he said softly.

"And I just want to be in your arms again!" Mindo shouted.

Fick winced and closed his eyes, lowering his head. He rubbed at his face.

Mindo realized his voice had risen. He suddenly wondered why the hell he was behaving this way. Then the thought came. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, looking away sheepishly. "I haven't been drinking enough today. My hormones are a bit too high. Instead of fixing this shuttle all I can think about is kissing you again."

Fick kept his gaze lowered. What he really wanted to do was cry. Why couldn't he just have friends that would just be his friends and had no interest in sleeping with him. "Maybe, I should go work on a different shuttle..." he said softly. "For a species that doesn't believe in attachments, you seem pretty attached." He pulled his knees up to his chest and hugged them. Regardless of his offer to work on a different shuttle Fick made no move to do so.

There was an achingly long silence which lasted an eternity in about two minutes. Repairs continued throughout the shuttlebay, but Mindo and Fick seemed to be in a bubbleverse of their own for a time.

Mindo broke the silence with a small chuckle. "Heard a line in an old film once," he said. "The line is, 'I wish I could just quit you.'" He looked over at Fick, and his appearance seemed calmer, more centered. "I was in love once, I think. With a Changeling. Neither of us had ever been in love before, so we both had to figure things out together. I imagine the first male and female probably had a similar relationship all those millions of years ago. I'd had boyfriends and girlfriends on Fesaria, and a few casual relationships at the Academy. But Cara, the Changeling, was something altogether different. The first time we made love she surrounded me with her entire natural form. It was like nothing I've ever experienced. It was as if passion were a tangible object that flowed warmly all over my body. For the first time, I was truly inside someone. We both served together on the Tornado. I had other flings on that ship, too, and so did she. Have you met the Rrareths yet? Ziara, the new tactical officer, and I had a strong flirtation going. Cara had a thing with Ziara's wife Riaan at the same time. I'm told that's called an 'open' relationship, which makes perfect sense to me." He paused, backtracking the digression, trying to stay on topic. Damn those hormones. His eyes moved from Vecon's huddled form to the blank nothingness of the shuttle's bulkhead.

"I never got to say goodbye to Cara," Mindo continued. "I often wonder what I would have said if I had the chance. It always takes me back to that first time. The enveloping warmth of her natural, liquid self. And I long for it so bad it hurts." Mindo looked at Fick. "I don't feel that way about you. I know you know that, and I know you understand what I mean. But after being separated from Cara, I've begun to miss the consistency she and I shared. The permanence of it. Here, on the Pandora, it's just different quarters every night, just like all the other ships. But I guess with you I started to feel some of that permanence again, in a different way. Our cultures are so similar, we practically ended each other's sentences... I suppose it would've all ended eventually. You would find someone, or somehow I would. I just didn't like the way it really ended. That's all. And now I'm accepting K'Laus' offer like an idiot, just so I don't get strangled again."

Fick frowned and tipped his head to one side. "K'Laus' offer?" He wasn't exactly sure what Mindo meant by that. "And just because all that happened didn't mean I didn't enjoy spending time with you... or that I didn't want to keep spending time with you. K'Laus would be really hurt if I actually slept with someone else though... it's his culture more than anything. It's just... I wish we could be friends without having to be intimate too..." Fick sighed. "I dunno... Risian's totally get into committed relationships. We do see a value in it, although we are also very open minded." He shrugged. "Maybe I'm wrong for wanting that."

A soft smile grew on Mindo's face. "You probably aren't," he said. "My species is half your size, requires constant alcohol, and sleeps with anything with a heartbeat with no attachments. From what I've learned, we're the strange ones." He sighed before he continued. "Vecon, you and I will always be friends. As I've said, I care a lot about you. You're not just some object I slept with. But I owe it to you, as a friend, to tell you how I feel. I'm sorry if my words were hurtful. That wasn't at all my intent. I promise I'll be there, for you and K'Laus."

"Be there? For what?" Fick shook his head. "I tried to tell you. When we first started messing around that I was interested in the Klingon. I just guess that I thought you'd be the last person to be mad at me about a relationship since your people don't have them. Sometimes, I don't feel like anyone's my friend anymore. It's been like that since the bubble..." Fick thought briefly about telling Mindo what he had done in the bubbleverse and then decided against it. No one wanted to hear that.

Mindo was shocked at what Fick had said. "Vecon, who doesn't want to be your friend anymore? I guarantee I am not one of them."

Fick lifted his gaze and looked at Mindo. Could they still be friends? "I want to believe that... I just feel like I've lost hope. I fake it most days." He sighed and rested his head on his knees again. "I'm not sure if I changed or if everything else changed. I just don't feel connected any more. To anyone or anything except K'Laus." He looked at Mindo again. "I'm sorry that wasn't you. I didn't even think it would matter that much to you."

"Probably not as much as it does K'Laus," Mindo admitted. "I suppose in the end, things have worked out between you and me. I'm not the marrying type, and you are. Our marriage would've been a disaster had we got that far!"

"You wouldn't have asked me. When marriage isn't part of your culture, why would it even occur to you to ask? It's not like K'Laus has asked me either." Fick shrugged. "His people just prefer monogamous relationships. I always wanted my very own Klingon. I've always sort of been a fan. I don't know how to explain what is attractive to me, but it always has been. On Risa, they'd stay sometimes, but I could never get one of the males to be interested in me. They also seem to prefer traditional roles. I got lucky with K'Laus. He wasn't raised by Klingons though. So I think that might be the difference." He looked at Mindo. "Do you hate me?"

Mindo met Fick's eyes with confusion. "Why would I hate you?"

Fick shrugged. "You seemed pretty upset at me. I'm not sure. I'm not sure if you're upset because I'm with him, or if you're upset cause I haven't been with you," Fick said honestly.

"Vecon," Mindo sighed, "if I hated you, I would have sent Greep to fix this shuttle. It's not beyond his skills to do so. I chose to come here. I've missed you. I didn't expect this to burst into an outright emotional argument." He shifted his legs again to a more comfortable position. Shuttle floors were hardly a place to relax. "I shouldn't have looked at you that way," Mindo said. "I do miss our time together. But you're not the first person I've cared about who suddenly finds a real relationship and can't be with me anymore. I think I lashed out the way I did because I've gotten very little sleep the last forty-eight hours trying to repair the ship I had in completely good condition just a few days ago. Regarding you and K'Laus, it's really none of my business. Like you said, I'm not the type to have attachments. But in the past two years, serving here and the Tornado, I've found that serious relationships can really be something... special. I guess you could say that nowadays I'm more open to the concept. But when you have a reputation like mine, people tend to not take anything like that seriously. You know Sandoval's assistant Larose? I hadn't said three words to her and she rejected me. I didn't have the time to know if I was even interested. I feel like people stare at me, trying to assess me. The Palace was less of an excuse to play video games and more just a way to get to know the crew. Before that, I was rather avoided by several crew members."

"Mindo," Fick said gently. "I'm sorry if you felt I was avoiding you. You know I don't feel that way about you and you also know I understand. I feel like people don't take me seriously because I'm young." He shrugged. "It doesn't matter how advanced or not people are, they're always gonna judge everything and see everything from their own point of view, without looking at yours at all. If they do that, they aren't for you. That's all there is to it. You'll find someone someday that will sweep you off your feet. It might not happen today or tomorrow or even next week, but it'll happen. Someone will see in you what I see, which is actually pretty awesome. That pretty awesome part is the reason I'm still sitting here and didn't tell you to go ahead and get Greep was because our friendship is worth it to me to have this conversation."

"It's worth it to me too," Mindo said. "Bit of advice from a department head: people won't take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously. When I became a Chief Engineer, I had to learn how to get people to take orders from someone the comparative size of a child. It takes less time for people to settle in and accept you if they don't believe you're serious. You have to know you're the best at what you do. You're the best pilot I've ever seen. But nobody's going to see that until you say it yourself, that you're the best at what you do, no exceptions. After a while, you'll begin to believe it. And that's when everyone else believes it too." He leaned in further and added, "Plus, Klingons love that kinda thing."

Fick laughed softly. "It's true. They do sort of like it when you take charge and stuff. I just want to move past this last year and I totally believe I'm an awesome pilot, I'm just unsure that I'm a totally awesome person. A lot of things in this last year have really made me question." He shrugged. "But really. What's anyone really going to do? It is what it is, but I can't say I'm all that good at making lemonade." He wasn't exactly sure that Mindo would get his reference, it was a rather human saying about lemons. "I just want everything between us to be okay and stop being so damn awkward."

"I'm cool with that," Mindo said with a nod. "I think you're very awesome. K'Laus isn't the only one here who's lucky to have you aboard. You're our hero in Engineering, the way you fly with minimal wear or strain on the core itself. And the secret to lemonade is vodka."

"Are you saying I should drink more?" Fick asked, both amused and flattered. "Thanks... I do my best. It's just a matter of being really good at math, like really fast math. I have all these weird number shortcuts to make me faster. Everything this ship does is a calculation. It's being able to anticipate but adjust and be fluid as well. I can't even explain why it all makes sense to me... but I'm lucky to have this ship as well and this position and friends like you." He smiled a little.

Mindo smiled back. "The feeling's mutual."



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