Old Friends

Posted on Thu Sep 30th, 2021 @ 9:43pm by Doctor Valencia Helnir & Lieutenant JG Tabitha Vale & Lieutenant Commander Stephen Jacobs & Freya Sandison
Edited on on Thu Sep 30th, 2021 @ 9:45pm

Mission: Prologue
Location: Deep Space 17 / Main Promenade / The Tin Goose
Summary: Follows "Reflection".
Timeline: Date 2398-11-20 at 1030

Stephen stepped from the turbolift onto the main promenade of Deep Space 17, joining the hustle and bustle of another busy day intent on a half hour for coffee as he sorted his appointments for the day.

"Stephen!" a voice called ahead of him. Doctor Valencia Helnir was already seat at the café that was his destination and she motioned for him to join her with a friendly smile, pointing towards an empty chair at the table.

He raised a hand in acknowledgment, returning her smile and waiting for a group to pass before making his way to join her.
"Good morning." he greeted her dumping his satchel onto a spare chair and seating himself opposite her.

"This place is busy today," she remarked. "Or maybe I just don't stick my head out of the lab enough to realise this is normal. You look like you're on a tight schedule yourself."

"No more than usual." he replied "Just coffee, thankyou." he replied to a waiter who appeared beside them

"Did I tell you my niece is coming?" she replied, taking a sip from her coffee. "I'm so looking forward to it; I haven't seen her in person in so long."

"That's wonderful." Stephen said genuinely pleased for her. "Is this for a visit or passing through?"

"No, actually she's been assigned here. She works for the Federation Science Council. She'll be joining one of the Eridan expeditions as a botanist," Valencia replied.

"Even better."...thankyou." he exclaimed then looked to the waiter who provided his drink. " So you'll have family here with you." he took a sip of the piping hot liquid enjoying seeing his friend so exhilerated.

Valencia nodded. "It almost feels a little strange. I'm so used to being independent and doing my own thing, but it will be nice to have her here. She's a grown young woman now, and she'll have her own life. She'll be staying with me for a while until she gets her quarters sorted, which will give us some time to catch up."

The doctor noticed another colleague of theirs making her way down the promenade and she waved her over. "Tabitha, good morning."

“ Morning...." came a hasty responce with barely a nod of acknowledgment "....Stephen I ‘haven’t’ forgotten! I’m sorry I didnt get it to you when I said but I’ll do it today..promise.”

He turned and smiled at the worried face looking down at him.
“It’s alright, it’s not hingeing on anything.”.

“ I know. Its just that I hate being late. “

Stephen knew that this was true and it rarely happened. His junior counsellor was organised almost to a fault something that could be a blessing or a blight depending on how it was viewed.
“Whenever you get to it.”

“Thankyou.” She gave a soft smile having known he would take this line but grateful nonetheless. "Good morning Doctor, I'm sorry to interrupt." she said giving Valencia the attention she had overlooked.

Valencia shook her head. "Not at all. Please, have a seat. I should get going anyway. I have a few errands to run before I meet my niece, if you'll both excuse me."

Valencia got up, bid them goodbye and Tabitha sat down on the vacated seat as the doctor joined the passing crowds.
"Niece?" she queried watching Stephen watch his friend disappear.

"Yes, apparantly she's been posted here. They havent met face to face for some time so a happy day for her.
Tabitha nodded with a smile before glancing round to see if a waiter was within reach. One was engaged at a nearby table so she turned back ready to make comment about seeing family when she froze.
“Wow….” she breathed, her focus on something or someone in the passing throng. “ I dont believe it!”
She glanced back at Stephen and raised a finger as though in warning. “ Excuse me a moment? Be right back.”

He watched her hurry towards a fair haired young woman dressed in faded jeans and a crisp pale green shirt, a bag slung on her left shoulder. He saw her stop, look at Tabitha and recognition dawn on her pretty face before they hugged each other all smiles and excitement at the unexpected meeting regardless of the passers-by. They spoke for a moment or two before heading in his direction and now he was the one to be surprised.

“Stephen...please meet an old friend Freya Sandison. Freya...this is my boss Stephen Jacobs.Freya is…”

“An artist.” he said interrupting her and getting to his feet.

“You know one another?” an astonished Tabitha asked.

“We met briefly just the once some years ago now.” Stephen replied smiling with pleasure at meeting the young woman again.

“I remember you.” Freya said looking up at him seemingly equally as pleased.“You were the first person to buy one of my paintings. It’s so good to see you again.”
She held out a hand for him to shake which he did with a short chuckle before asking her to please sit with them as he held a chair for her. He caught the waiters eye and signalled he bring coffee for the newcomer.
They all sat down, smiling to one another.

“London.” Freya explained looking at Tabitha. “A small gallery but well attended. I could have burst with pride when I realised I’d sold something.”
She looked so happy at the memory mixed perhaps with meeting the cause of it.

“Now I know there is such as thing as coincidence. “Tabitha laughed.

“There certainly is.” Freya replied. “ So you’re a counsellor here?”

“Yes, temporarily at least.”

Freya nodded understanding, eager to catch up with her old friend.
“How’s Phil?” she asked. “ Got him trained yet?”

The lighthearted joke fell flat as she saw Tabithas happy expression immediately drop away.

“Ummm…no...we...he...he was aboard the Horus.” she replied after a short awkward silence

Freya, wide eyed, looked appalled.
“Ohhhh...oh Tibbs I’m so sorry….I had no idea. “
She pushed her chair back stepping to Tabithas side to embrace her friend whispering again that she was “ so so sorry.” and when she stepped back her eyes were filled with unshed tears.

“ was....”
Tabitha gave Stephen a fleeting glance then a weak smile to Freya. “ I..umm..I have to run.” she said also getting to her feet with the non explanation of 'having to be somewhere "..….but we must meet later. This afternoon if you're free?”

“Absolutely...I’ll….I’ll call you?” Freya asked uncertainly, still reeling from Tabithas news.

“Perhaps a late lunch? I’ll find you in the directory and we’ll arrange where to meet." Tabitha said taking charge of the uncomfortable situation and making it right.

“Great.” Freya forced her smile.

“Let me know how your meeting goes won’t you?.” Stephen asked obviously aware of Tabithas schedule or at least some part of it.

“ I will. “ She looked at him for a long moment then: ” Enjoy catching up.” she added and with a quick raise of her hand in a would be wave she left them, hurrying on her way.

They both watched her make a spurt for the turbo lift.

“ I wish I hadn't asked. “ Freya spoke quietly turning back to her new companion as they retook their seats.

“You didn’t know.No harm done. Don’t blame yourself."
She still didnt look reassured so Stephen changed the subject.

“So what brings you all the way out here?” he asked as another steaming mug was set onto the frosted glass topped table by the slightly harried waiter..

“I work here.” she replied and saw the quizzical expression knowing he still thought her an artist.
“I’m a league with a non StarFleet organisation, not ‘one of you’. “ she said giving a conspiritorial nod.

He grinned.

“ I work for the Federation Science Council, studied at Queens but cross- trained at the Academy..that’s where Tibbs and I met.”

“Really.....” he replied wondering at the coincidence but then a frown clouded his expression. “But you havent stopped painting have you?”

“Oh no.” She gave a short sigh.
“ I had to admit to myself that painting wasn't what you could call a certain future no matter how much I wanted it to be but...having an interest in Biology...or more so in Botany... and giving lots of thought..well...its a career I enjoy too and I can still paint but as a hobby. I enjoy it too much to stop altogether. It works well.”
She smiled the wide smile he recalled from their first meeting then began to stir her drink.

“Good.” he said with meaning. “It would be a great shame if you stopped creating such lovely things.”

“Thankyou.” She looked pleased and a little embarrassed too raising her eyes to him.
“Have you..umm..have you still got the picture?” she ventured.

“Ofcourse.” he replied with a smile.” I’m very fond of it. The subject gives many possibilities to ponder on. The reflection in the raindrop where the figure is part hidden or distorted. Is that how he..or she...chooses to portray themself or is it how we see others with only a hint of what they really are and so much hidden away.”

She sat with her teaspoon poised over the mug.

“I...don’t know.” she said slowly after a few silent seconds passed. “ I didnt think of it like was just an idea for a reflection.”

He chuckled again at her wide eyed look.

“It’s a clever idea.”

She lifted her mug to take a sip, observing him over the rim as she did so and wondering if he always thought that way.
“You’re the Counsellor here then?”

“One of them. I’ll be staying here for a while. I’ve recently returned from a ship...Halstead.”

“Oooh..exciting. I’d like to travel more but..early days. Is Tabitha based here too?”
“For the time being yes. She was due for a posting but StarFleet changed the they do. No doubt they will inform her where she’s off to in due course.”

Freya nodded. “It was such a shock when she ...said Phil had died. It’s so tragic, so ‘awful’ for her.”

Stephen took a drink.

“Does she really have somewhere she has to be? She left so quickly afterwards.”

“Yes she does.” Stephen replied in a quiet tone that matched hers.
“Did you know Phil?” he asked.

“Yes a little. He was in a group of people we used to mix with, there was always something to celebrate it seemed.” She flashed a ‘you know what I mean?’ smile which he returned.
“He was very good looking...and he knew it.” she added darkly.
“ He singled Tibbs out though early on. It was odd in a way. I wouldnt have said she was his type..but then...she obviously was. He was an engineer you know? Very competent, always got top grades or second at least. It was almost as though he expected to.”
She paused lost in her thoughts then said: “ Such an end though.”

“It was. “ he agreed.

The episode in question was commonly known as The Horus Incident and, at the time had caused a diplomatic situation with the Klingons. USS Horus had been lost with all hands and StarFleet had identified what they said was a Klingon defense vessel laying the blame squarely there but the Klingons insisted it was a D’Ghor ship which had been exiled from the Empire. Things were more than strained for a time and many still believed there was more to it than the official statement.

“She’s still very upset isn’t she?” Freya asked the coffee. “ It’s understandable.”

“She chooses not to talk of it.”

“Her way of dealing with it?” Freya shook her head as she raised her eyes to meet Stephens gaze. “ I can’t imagine how you would get over something like that.”

“With time.” he replied. “Perhaps not ‘get over’ it...more ‘come to terms’ with it.”

They sat in silence, he watching her watching the bubbles in the drink and she thinking of her friends unhappiness.
When she looked at him again he smiled to her in a kindly way which she took comfort from.

“Meeting for a late lunch then.” he said changing the subject again. “Celebration of an old friendship.”

“Yes...and you know what? You should join us...because we’re old friends too...sort of.”

He laughed that she could view a two minute meeting a few years ago as a basis for friendship.

“Unless you dont relish the thought of two nattering women?” she added.

“I dont mind that at all.” he replied with a laugh, " Not at all."

"That's agreed then." she said happily. " i have something to sort out first but then...may I call you to arrange time and place?"

"Ofcourse." he replied kindly.

//=// 14.50 Candlesticks restaurant.

It was the ending of lunchtime, the beginning of the afternoon as Stephen and Tabitha left the Counselling Suite and set off together for Candlesticks, a small restaurant with a good reputation for Earth Cuisine with an open view of the lower level and the docking bay beyond.

"It's been a morning full of catching up." he was saying. " Valencia is meeting her niece, you found an old friend who I had also met and now it seems she has found another friend who she's invited to lunch too. Someone named Annie."

"Annie who?" Tabitha asked rifling through her memory for someone of that name at the Academy.

"I thought she said Figg." Stephen replied although she wasn't all that clear...obviously excited." He grinned to Tabitha who shook her head but smiled as she did so.
" I dont know anyone of that name." she said. "There was a Briggs wouldn't be her. it must be someone Freya knows from elsewhere."

Stephen nodded. " We'll soon find out."

Valencia made her way to Candlesticks where she'd arranged to meet her niece and some of her friends for a late lunch. After they'd spent some of the morning together, Valencia had some work to take care of and her niece had invited her to join herself and friends for something to eat later. Valencia was half surprised that her niece already had friends on Deep Space 17, but then again she was a popular girl well liked by everyone.

Making her way to the small, intimate restaurant, she spotted Stephen and Tabitha at a table and walked over to them. "Well this is a nice coincidence," she greeted them, frowning slightly when she noticed all the other tables were full.

"Valencia!" Stephen got to his feet seeing her worried glances.

"I'm supposed to meet my niece here for lunch, but maybe I got the place or time wrong?" she replied.

"Ah..well...." he glanced about too mirroring her recent actions although he wouldn't have recognised the elusive niece anyway.

"Perhaps she will show up soon." Tabitha suggested. " Why not join us until she does?"

"Thank you, I appreciate that," Valencia smiled, taking a seat at the table. "Little Fig should be along shortly."

"Little Fig?" Tabitha asked with a puzzled tone and expression.

"Fig? your niece is named Figg?" Stephen asked beginning to slot pieces together.

"A nickname," Valencia explained. "It's an affectionate nickname for women in my family. I call her Little Fig and she calls me Aunt Fig... well, Annie Fig. When she was little she couldn't say aunty, so she called me Annie instead."

"DID she!" Stephen exclaimed and began to laugh. Tabitha joined him.
"We know who Little Fig is." she told Valencia who was looking lost.

"We know her as Freya though." Stephen supplied the information.

"I spotted her on the promenade this morning and it turns out she knows Stephen too."

"The name Figg threw me but you'd mentioned the Science Council and so did she."

"Small worlds." Tabitha said. "Aren't they just?"

Valenica laughed in surprise. "Sometimes a little too small, it seems! She's grown up so fast I have to admit I tend to forget she has her own life now."

Freya approached the entrance she recognised her aunts laughter and smiled too as she saw her along with Tabitha and Stephen.

"Hello hello." she said happily as she made her way to Valencias chair and bent to kiss her aunts cheek. "I see you've all met then." she added smiling to Tabitha then catching Stephens amused expression.

"Well well, Little Fig," Valencia said as Freya joined them. "You may have blossomed into a young woman now, but your sense of humour is still as mischievous as when you were a little girl," she added with a wink.

"Innocent pleasure?" Freya replied and joined the laughter, her happiness plain to see.

Stephen had got to his feet and now held the back of a chair as Freya took her seat, glancing up at Stephen to thank him but his attention was focused on Valencia.

"So is there something we should be aware of?" he asked with pretended suspicion.

= End =