Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Connections"

By Christina Moore
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“Ladies, how’s it going?”

Ensigns Felicity Bowman and Fidelma Kyla turned at the deep voice of Sanctuary’s Tactical Defense Officer, the former trying vainly to hide a blush.

“Commanders,” Kyla greeted the two men with a nod, for Lt. Commander Jordan Kelley was accompanied by Lt. Commander Rogan Enek, his constant companion these days. “It’s going… Well, sir, its going about as well as it usually does.”

Kelley glanced at the Bajoran man beside him and rolled his eyes knowingly, then turned back to face the two young women. “Still haven’t found out why the environmental controls in this section can’t be adjusted?”

“N-no sir,” Bowman stammered. “It-it’s like everything else—we think we get it fixed, a-and then it breaks down again.”

The station’s second officer sighed resignedly. “Well, I guess all I can tell you is to keep trying. We need to get these systems purged of malfunctions and working properly before the admiral arrives in another few weeks.”

“Yeah—all we need is for something to go wrong with a Roylan admiral on scene,” Rogan quipped mildly, referring to Vice-Admiral Tattok, who was overseeing all Starfleet operations in the former Cardassian Union. “Talk about silent fury…”

Kelley grinned and with a small wave, he and Rogan moved on down the corridor.

After a few moments of watching her work partner and roommate stare longingly after the two men, Kyla nudged Bowman with her elbow. “Forget it, Felicity.”

Bowman started, turning to the other ensign with an even deeper blush than the one she’d gotten earlier. “Forget what?” the young Englishwoman said, switching her sonic screwdriver back on and poking her hands back into the open panel they were working at.

Kyla raised an eyebrow and looked at her pointedly as she crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. “I’m a telempath—I pick up thoughts and emotions, remember? And while most Deltans and Betazoids make it a practice not to read a person without their consent, it’s kind of hard not to when your emotions and thoughts are screaming at me. Besides that, I can sense a definite increase in your pheromone levels. You’ve got the hots for one of them, and since I have unfortunately heard your thoughts—quite often, I might add—without meaning to, I know which one you like.”

She reached over and placed a hand on Bowman’s arm in sympathy. “I get it, trust me—both of them are attractive, but you’re wasting your time. Chalk it up to a crush and move on.”

Bowman’s fuchsia cheeks deepened to crimson, even though she was trying to ignore Kyla’s warning. Then suddenly she stopped, pulled her hands out of the paneling and, after switching her sonic screwdriver off again, fisted her hands on her hips. “Why should I forget it? Why should I move on? Jordan’s not dating anyone.”

“Oh, Jordan, is it?” Kyla pushed. “Since when are you on a first-name basis with Commander Kelley, hmm?”

“Oh, hush up, Fidelma,” Bowman said snarkily.

“Sorry, sister, not gonna work,” the Deltan-Betazoid said, shaking her head slowly. “Not this time. Look, Commander Kelley is too old for you anyway. He’s like, almost forty.”

“Thirty-seven. That’s only sixteen years,” Felicity mumbled, looking down at the deck.

“Sure, but even if he were straight, I doubt he’d see it that way. He likes you, but he sees himself as a father-figure, not a potential boyfriend,” Kyla pointed out.

The Human girl looked back up sharply. “What the bloody hell do you mean, ‘even if he were straight’? Of course he is!”

Ensign Kyla sighed, knowing that the truth was going to hit her friend hard. But she had to be told or she’d never get over this unrequited crush of hers. “Sweetie, I’m afraid he’s not. Commander Kelley isn’t attracted to women. At all.”

Bowman’s eyes began to sting with indignant tears. “The hell you say. How the devil do you know that? How could you possibly know that?!”

“Honey, haven’t you noticed how much time he’s been spending with the Trident’s XO? Believe me, it isn’t just because the guy’s good with weapons.” Kyla sighed again. “Let me put it to you this way: Because your species is almost entirely psi-negative, because hardly any Human is adept at controlling their thoughts, you’re all natural thought broadcasters. You can’t help yourselves. And even though I can shield myself from the thoughts of non-‘paths, it’s like I said before—you’re kind of hard to ignore when your thoughts are as loud as a shout. It happens when you get excited or angry or upset.”

“And I suppose you’re telling me that Jordan’s thoughts get all shouty whenever he’s around that sodding Bajoran?”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say shouty, but they’re plenty loud,” Kyla said quietly. “He really likes him, Felicity, and yet he hasn’t the faintest clue that Rogan likes him, too—same with Rogan, as a matter of fact. Men are clueless no matter whether they’re attracted to women or other men.”

“Oh, but that’s just not fair!” Felicity Bowman wailed softly, tears falling as she fell back against the wall and slid down it. She wrapped her arms around her knees and began to sob.

Kyla knelt next to her friend and wrapped her arm around the other girl’s shoulders. “I’m sorry you had to find out this way, Fabs, but at least now you know. Now you know that he’s not right for you and you can move on.”

“I don’t want to move on,” Bowman’s muffled voice told her. “He’s so handsome and so smart, and he’s funny… Why did he have to like men instead of women? It’s not fair.”

“No, it’s not. Sucks big time when all the hot guys like each other instead of us girls.”

*****

Rogan Enek glanced behind him as he and Kelley walked away from the two young ensigns, and he was not remiss to the longing look the girl with the English accent favored on Jordan. He knew that look well…

…because he saw it in the mirror every time he looked into one and Jordan was on his mind.

But Jordan… He was a hard guy to read. Oh, sure, it was easy to tell when he was annoyed or in a good mood—those emotions were easy to read on anyone. But the Bajoran had no clue what his Human friend preferred in the way of personal companionship. Two weeks he’d been here on Sanctuary already, working side-by-side with the guy, sharing meal breaks with him, and he hadn’t the faintest clue.

Of course, it wasn’t as if he was being Mr. Open Book himself, either. He’d never been the sort to discuss his feelings with others, and who you were attracted to was your own business, not anyone else’s. He was private and reserved by nature, preferring to keep to himself for the most part, to keep his head down and his nose clean. It was how he’d survived his childhood in a refugee camp.

Yet here he was, as smitten as that ensign, with a guy he knew next to nothing about. Rogan was at a loss for how to broach the subject, until he suddenly heard himself say,

“You know she likes you, don’t you?”

Kelley glanced over. “What do you mean?”

“Come on man, you’d have to be blind not to see it,” Rogan said as they stepped into a lift. “That little English girl—she likes you.”

“Oh, that,” Kelley replied, then ordered the lift to take them to the Promenade. “Felicity’s a sweet girl.”

Tell me he’s not that dense, Rogan prayed silently. “Yeah, she’s a sweet girl who’s got a mad crush on you, Jordan,” he said. “I think you should say something to her.”

“I don’t want to encourage her.”

“Dude, she’s already encouraged,” the Bajoran countered. “Not that your personal life is any of my business—hell, if you like her, go for it. But if you’re not into girls who are hardly more than half your age, you might want to find a way to let her down gently.”

His companion was silent until the lift came to a stop, at which time he turned and pinned Rogan with a hard stare from his light green eyes. “You’re right, my personal life is none of your business,” he said, then turned and began to stalk away.

Kelley stopped and turned back with a sigh after just a few steps. “I’m sorry, Rogan. I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

He tried to shrug it off, tried not to show that Kelley’s words had stung. “No, you’re right to be annoyed. I’m butting in where I’m not wanted. Forget I said anything.”

Rogan moved to step past Kelley, but was stopped short when the other man took his arm. “No, I was out of line,” the older man said, quickly letting go of Rogan’s arm when the other looked down at his hand. “I know you’re just trying to help. And you’re probably right—I noticed a few weeks ago that she’d taken a liking to me, but I didn’t want to say anything to her because I didn’t want to encourage her. I’ve actually tried to avoid doing anything that could be misconstrued as encouragement.”

Kelley had apologized to him, so Rogan commanded himself to let the hurt go. “You know how it is with women, man. Sometimes just being nice to them is all the encouragement they need.”

Jordan chuckled as he turned and started off again. “Actually, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never really connected with women on any level other than a platonic one. At least when it comes to women I’m not related to.”

Rogan schooled his expression as he fell into step beside him. He fiercely tamped down the surge of emotion he’d felt at Kelley’s words, for they could have meant something as simple as his having a hard time sharing his feelings.

“I, uh, I have sort of the same problem,” he said. “Kinda hard to connect on an emotional level when you find yourself having to admit that although women are attractive, you’re just not attracted to them.”

There. He’d just opened up perhaps the most closely guarded part of himself, hoping like hell that even if there wasn’t the remotest chance Jordan Kelley would reciprocate his feelings, he wasn’t about to get his ass fried by a man he already considered a friend.

He was surprised when Kelley clapped him on the shoulder. “Now that is a feeling I know all too well.”



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