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Trouble

Posted on Fri Sep 14th, 2018 @ 5:18am by Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryland Dedeker & Lieutenant Margaret Knight MD
Edited on on Sun Oct 28th, 2018 @ 6:25am

Mission: Light is Dark
Location: Holodeck Pool Hall
Timeline: MD 04 | 1930

So apparently, this ship held an open pool hall on the holodeck several times a week. Maggie had thought about loading up her Doctor Who holonovels and going on an adventure in Space and Time, but this sounded much better.

It had been ages since she'd played pool- probably since the academy- but she had always enjoyed it. So, she walked into the active holodeck to find several pool tables set up and many crewmen playing at most of them. There was one near the front that nobody was using and Maggie decided to brush up her skills by wracking up and shooting the balls around to see what would happen.

Clack!

Ryland broke the rack with extreme prejudice. The cue ball rebounded back at him while the others ricocheted from one edge to another. Two sunk into opposing corner pockets. Ryland chalked his cue stick and blew on it before rounding the the table for another shot.

Then he saw Maggie. He froze for but a moment before ignoring her to take his next.

Clack!

"Shit." Table scratch.

Maggie ignored the noise as long as she could, carefully lining up her own shots and practicing as best as she could. One particular shot was precarious and caused her to use her non-dominant hand. Happily, she realized it actually worked better. Perhaps using her non-dominant hand caused her to concentrate harder or perhaps she should just always use that one for pool. She didn't know, but using her left hand to shoot, she made the next five shots straight and was feeling pretty good about herself.

Until she looked up and spotted Dedeker a couple of tables away. She scowled and went back to her own table, missing the next shot, but making the following one.

The doctor was pitiful. Absolutely no game whatsoever. Ryland sniffed with derision as he sank the rest of his balls, one by one, in a single run.

Maggie rolled her eyes, but her dark glasses ruined the effect. He was such a show-off. Who did he think he was impressing over there? Certainly not her. Then why are you staring, Maggie? she asked herself. Shaking her head, she went back to her table. Could she knock two balls in at once? Nope, apparently not. Oh, well. At least she had tried, right?

By the time she missed again, Ryland had his balls racked up and ready to go. This time his break sunk all but one ball. Ryland snarled at it, then shot and missed. He resisted the urge to throw the cue stick on the ground. He was doing much better before that doctor showed up.

Again, Maggie rolled her eyes. This was ridiculous! She had to work with this... this... man. Don't you dare even think any other word than that, Margaret Anne Knight! she warned herself. Just don't. She probably also shouldn't have insinuated that she would have Leser knock him out. That had been pretty mean, no matter what Dedeker was like.

She attempted to go back to her own table, but the nagging thought wouldn't leave her alone, so after only two more tries- both misses- she put down the cue and walked over to Dedeker's table. "Hi," she said flatly.

"Fuck off."

Ryland sunk a bank shot before heading to the other side of the table.

"See, now that's why people don't like you," Maggie pointed out, crossing her arms. "They come over to try to apologize and you say, 'fuck off.' Classy, Ry. Real classy."

Looking her in the eye for the first time, Ryland didn't hold back. "You're a real piece of work, you know that? If you came over to apologize, then don't let me stop you."

"Me, a piece of work?" laughed Maggie. "You're the one who curses at people who are trying to be polite. If you don't want my apology, fine. I don't need your forgiveness to be absolved. I just thought you might like to know that someone was on your side for once in your life."

Ryland spat on the floor. "Coulda' fooled me."

"Look," said Maggie irritably. "Kemm admitted that he started the fight. Granted, you shouldn't have called him a... what you said, but name-calling is no reason to throw punches. If you don't want me on your side, maybe you shouldn't have been right this time."

"Nosebone?" Ryland offered. "It's all I see when that twat-waffle stares down at me. Thinks he's better because he's educated and shit. Probably never had to fight for anything in his life, if his right hook is anything to judge by. Time was when I outranked him. The lil' shit probably wouldn't have the guts to sass a Wing Commander. Now?" Ryland threw his hands up and sighed as he looked down at his Tactical uniform. "All anybody sees is a whipping post."

"That's because you keep acting like this!" Maggie retorted. "Even when people try to be nice to you, all you do is throw it back in their faces. I don't know why I even tried. I really don't." She stared at him in anger for a moment. "Come see me if you ever decide to stop being completely useless, okay?" And with that, she turned to leave, ignoring the stares that were thrown their way from around the room.

"How am I supposed to act?" Ryland yelled at her back. "You can't handle a brush-off without throwing a bitch fit. I'd like to see you walk a day in my shoes and see how polite you are at the end of it."

Without a word, Maggie threw up her left middle finger over her shoulder. He would ruin what could have been a perfectly civil conversation, wouldn't he?

"Nice apology." Ryland scowled at the spread on his table before he noted another enlisted man staring at him. "What are you looking at?"

The other man turned away, suddenly finding interest in his own solo game.

Ryland threw his cue stick on the table and scowled even harder. Why did life have to be so goddamned complicated? He hurried out the door after Maggie, hoping to catch her before she disappeared into the bustle of the crew.

"Mags!" he looked to and fro before catching sight of her as she rounded a corner. He broke into a desperate trot, somewhere between a power-walk and a sprint. "Mags, wait."

He clutched her hand at the wrist. "Look, I'm sorry. And I'm breaking house arrest at the moment, so please hear me out before Security hauls me back to the brig."

She just stared at him, unsure of exactly how to take that.

Ryland looked deep into her eyes. A light of vulnerability shone in his own. "I don't love you. You've been a good friend to me, even bent some rules on my account, which I'm going as far as to hope you do again since I'm violating confinement orders. You got a fine ass and a heart of gold, and you don't deserve to be played by a man who don't love you like you merit." His throat convulsed as he dry-swallowed. "I'm sorry. For everything. And now I'm gon' slither back to my hole where I belong."

Maggie blinked confusedly. "Who said anything about love?" she asked, but it was as if a weight was lifted. She hadn't even realized she'd been concerned about that until he said it. Well. At least she could relax now. "If you're breaking house arrest, you'd better get back to your quarters. No, actually, I'm taking you there to make sure you actually go there. Come on," she said, taking hold of his arm and heading in the direction she'd been headed for two steps before she stopped. "I have no idea where your quarters are," she confessed.

"Follow me." Ryland chuckled mirthlessly as he meandered toward his quarters. The turbolift nearby was vacant and so opened for them without delay. "Funny. Of all the times I tried taking you home, and this was the time I succeeded." He shook his head at his own stupidity. "I just don't know, Mags."

"I guess you're just not threatening anymore, now that I know you're not interested," she replied. "Besides, I never said I was going in."

Ryland snickered, both at his assumption and Maggie's candor. "True enough, I s'pose." The turbolift dumped them off a stone's throw from his quarters. "I'm just over yonder," he said with a cant of his head. "Got big shit-faced plans for the evening. Should be three sheets to the wind by midnight. Door's open, in a manner of speaking, if you're interested."

Without waiting for a response, Ryland shuffled off to his quarters and disappeared inside. The manual release was left unlocked in an open invitation.

She considered that for a moment. Perhaps a drink would do her good. And if he had something other than beer and wine, she was down. So, she followed only moments later. “Got any rum in here?” she asked once the doors closed behind her.

Ryland kicked the footlocker at the end of his bed. The top sprung open to reveal a score of glass bottles containing liquids of every earth tone known to man. "Andorian or Terran? When it comes to rum, I won't drink other swill."

She considered that for a moment. She’d never tried Andorian rum. It might be interesting. But, Maggie usually played it safe, so she finally answered, “Terran.”

He tossed the unopened fifth to Maggie. "Kraken it is!"

For himself, he pulled out a half-empty flagon with a Draylaxian crest on it, popped the top, and thrust it to his lips. His throat lurched in thirsty three thirsty gulps. "Oh, mama!" Ryland gasped for air as he wiped his lips clean with the back of his wrist. "Daddy's drowning his worries tonight!"

She caught the bottle easily, which was a bit of a surprise; Maggie was slightly uncoordinated. “Cheers,” she said, opening the bottle easily and throwing back a swig. “As your doctor, I shouldn’t be condoning this. But then, I suppose I’m not really your doctor right now, am I?” she added, flopping onto a small two-seat sofa.

Ryland smiled at her around the mouth of his bottle. "Nope." After taking another swig, he scratched at his temple. "So, do you always wear those? I just realized I've never seen you without them." Looking up at the ceiling, Ryland said, "Computer, dim lights to one-quarter."

With a grin, Maggie removed her dark glasses to reveal bluish green eyes. “Thanks,” she replied. “I was born on Ixdark. Our lighting is kept low on purpose so that it’s easier to see outside. I can actually see well enough to function with only the light from a tricorder on its lowest setting. It came in handy once. On the Sentinel. We had come to the rescue of a Romulan ship. While I was patching one of them up, another referred to me as defective. Just them the lights went out. All of them. Emergency lighting didn’t come on. So, I took my glasses off, set my patient’s bone and said, ‘who’s defective now?’” She chuckled at the memory. “The look on his face! Oh, I wish everybody could have seen it!”

"Fuckin' Romulans. Like Vulcans but even meaner." Ryland chuckled at the observation as if it were a joke. "You showed him, didn't ya?" The empty bottle fell from his fingers and clanged on the floor. Ryland reached for another. "So what were you looking for in the dark? Back home on Ick-dog."

Maggie nearly snorted the sip she'd just taken. "Ixdark," she corrected. "And I'm not looking for anything. The original colonists went to study the planet and then they just sort of... stayed. My father was a botanist. Well, my adoptive father anyway. Mum's a doctor. Most of the people who live there are either botanists or zoologists."

"Heh." Ryland sipped again. "I've been everywhere. Not from anywhere. And now I'm stuck here."

"Is here really all that bad?" asked Maggie, taking another swig from the bottle; it was only half gone and she was already feeling it. "You've got friends. Well, friend, anyway."

"And even you want to kill me." Ryland shrugged and nearly spilled the bottle on himself for the effort. "Hell, this ain't even the first time I got sent to my room, and this tub hasn't been out of dock very long."

"I wanna deck you, not kill you," she corrected. "Every day, in fact. You're infuriating. But that doesn't mean I don't like you. I think a lot of people might if you didn't automatically pick fights."

Ryland scoffed at her. "Life is fighting. You fight or you die. Just look at at our prissy skipper. She fights all the time. Just uses words and rank instead of muscle." At the mention of Captain Osegan, Ryland turned silent and pensive. He nursed his bottle as he stared into the blank oblivion of the wall.

Maggie rolled her eyes. "If that's the way you look at life, you're never going to have a good one," she told him.

"Nah, you just gotta' take the bad with the good," he said with a wink. "I learned long ago if I don't grab hold of the finer things when you get the chance, you might never get another."

She hesitated for a moment. But, no. He certainly didn't mean that. "And I've learned that if it's meant to be, it will be, no matter what I have to say about it," she replied. She opened her mouth to continue, but had to stop as Roger came to her mind. She couldn't have stopped his death, could she? Bitterly, she took three huge gulps of the rum. "Good or bad, if you're supposed to have it, you will," she finished, voice cracking on the last word.

"Meh. Life is what you make it," Ryland said. He flopped back onto his bed and kicked his boots off. "All that fate bullshit ain't no more than that." He licked the mouth of the bottle clean before letting it roll out of his hand onto the floor at his bedside. "Doctor, I think I might be drunk."

"I think you might be right," she said. She looked at the bottle in her hand and took the last drink out of it. "I'm probably drunk myself. Tell me, how did escape your room without security finding out?"

Ryland started chuckling like a hyena. "Oh, that? A lil' purple computer specialist owed me a favor, so I had him swap my quarters with an empty one on the roster. Skipper's got two Security officers guarding absolutely nuthin'!" He grabbed his ribs and laughed so hard that he rolled back and forth.

Maggie rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I should report that," she said without any conviction.

"Add it to the list," Ryland quipped. "I should take advantage of you now that you've been drinking, but I ain't." He closed his eyes and tilted his head back. "Nobody's perfect."

"I thought you weren't interested in that," she slurred. Oh, brother. She was drunk. How long had she been slurring? "We shoulld go to bed. Alone!" she added hastily.

The only response she received was a single snore which ripped through the air.

"Well, at least he's sitting on his bed," she muttered. She stood, swayed, dropped the empty bottle, and then stumbled over to him. Unceremoniously, she pushed him over onto his bed and then lifted his legs up to the bed. She placed his boots from the bed to the floor with a bit of difficulty. "Goodnight, Ry," she muttered and then promptly passed out next to him.




Hours passed. Ryland tossed, turned, dreamed, and awoke with a start. Sometime in the wee hours of the early morning, the jostling motion rocked another body into his.

"Mags? Oh my god!"

"Mff," replied Maggie, lifting her head from the pillow in which it was buried. "What?" She blinked and realized she was looking at Ryland. "What are... what?" she continued, taking stock of their surroundings. She was dressed only in her underpants and the moisture wicking camisole she wore under her uniform to keep cool. He was wearing only boxers. "What the fuck?" she exclaimed, heedless of the hangover she was suddenly aware of.

"That does seem to be the operative word right about now," Ryland said with a wry chuckle and a groan.

"Don't be an idiot," she replied, carefully pulling herself out of bed and looking around for her clothes. "We're still clothed. We probably didn't do anything." But, she didn't sound convinced.

The clammy layer of dried sweat and possibly worse covering Ryland's body suggested otherwise. "Either way I need a shower." He peeled himself out of bed and trudged to the bathroom area in naught but his shorts. They were soon discarded on the floor. This wasn't his first rude awakening after an ignominious evening. "You can stay or go as you please."

Maggie wrinkled her nose. She needed a shower, too. For one fleeting second, she considered joining him, but the thought left a bad taste in her mouth. So instead, she quickly located her clothes and dark glasses and pulled them on. Saying a quick prayer to whatever god was out there that nobody would see her sneaking out of Dedeker's quarters this early in the morning, she headed into the corridor and back to her quarters.

 

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