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Posted on Thu Aug 23rd, 2018 @ 11:09am by Warrant Officer Sarish Anjar & Lieutenant JG Jonathan Forrest
Edited on on Thu Aug 23rd, 2018 @ 11:09am

Mission: Preflight
Location: Deep Space 10
Timeline: MD 61

Jonathan left the infirmary a little shaken. He could still feel the heat of the phaser beam passing so close to his face. If the Captain’s aim had been off just a fraction, or had Xavier been just a bit faster, or he’d been a little slower, the Palatine would be finding itself a new Helmsman.

He didn’t drink often, not heavily anyway. But there were exceptions and this was one of them He’d changed back into civilian clothes, a pair of jeans and an old Parisses Square shirt from back at the Academy. He headed for The Midnight Sun where he heard they served real alcohol.

The place was only about half full, but that was okay with him, he really wasn’t looking for company.

Anjar sat with his back to a bulkhead wall, a viewport directly beside him. The wash of noise in the room was low enough to be negligible, and he could stare out at the stars in peace. No-one bothered him in his corner, comfortably dressed in fitted denim that had long been worn soft and a simple navy t-shirt. He'd been on the station a mere few hours and he wasn't going to bother trying to settle in. The Palatine was docked and Anjar never did hold with being late. Bright and early tomorrow morning, he would report as required but until then, his time and space was his own.

Still, habits died hard and Anjar glanced at the door when it opened to take note of the new arrival. For a moment he went still, his brain doing a complicated backflip of Wait, what? while another part wondered if the bartender had put real alcohol in his mocktail. He blinked but the face didn't change, nor the set of the shoulders. One eyebrow went up slightly, taking in the frazzled but familiar form. Huh.

Jonathan didn’t really have any formal training in security or intel, but he was normally a pretty observant man, but he was still so flustered by what had happened to him and what could have happened had his new Captain had not caught on to the hints he’d given him, that he didn’t notice his old flame.

He sat down at a bar stool at the very end of the bar where it met the wall. Not being a frequent drinker, he couldn’t have named more than half a dozen fancy drinks. So he just asked for the first thing that came to his mind. Sake. When the bartender asked if he wanted the real thing he merely nodded.

When his drink arrived, he closed his eyes and drank it back in a single swallow. He coughed a couple of times, but that didn’t stop him. He asked for a refill.

Anjar was no Vulcan, able to calculate odds at the drop of a hat, but the Bajoran snickered to himself regardless at the whim of the universe. Gre'thor, somehow he wasn't even surprised, he thought idly as he got to his feet, ridiculously pink mocktail garnished with fruit in hand, and strolled towards the Human. There wasn't anyone in the bar who merited ignoring this new development and Anjar was… well, he was curious. It had been six years since he'd last seen Jonathan Forrest. The last time, he'd been seventeen and trying to punch an asshole's lights out. What was the line from that old Human movie? Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

"Maybe you should go easy on that stuff," Anjar drawled nonchalantly when Jonathan coughed after knocking the drink back in one swallow. A smile played at his lips as he leaned against the bar and set down his drink with a clear foot of space between him and Jonathan, watching the bartender deal him a second round. He regarded Jonathan thoughtfully, tracing the lines of his face with his eyes. "You know you look like hell, right?"

The other man’s arm hung there halfway between the counter and his mouth as he turned ever so slowly. He didn’t believe at first. The boy he’d never thought he’d see again, now a man, was standing barely a foot from him.

His arm sank back to the counter as he sat the drink down. “Anjar, Sarish Anjar. I can’t believe it. First Xavier and now you, what’s next the whole debate team from Mission High? What are you doing here?”

Anjar didn't recall Jonathan being speechless very often, so he did savour the moment. Only to frown a second later. "Xavier?" he echoed, his brow furrowing in consternation. "Wasn't that the guy you were beating on last time I saw you?" That was not what he'd expected to come out of Jon's mouth. Then again, he really hadn't had any expectations, so that was a lie. "Well, I was enjoying my drink over in that corner over there but then a friendly face popped up and I decided to say hi," Anjar shrugged, eyeing Jon's second drink. "Though I can leave you to keep mainlining spirits if you like."

“I was planning on getting drunk actually and forgetting the past couple of hours.” Then the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. It wasn’t one of his signature smiles, but it was a start. “No, I don’t want you to leave. Have a seat. Let me buy you a drink. And yeah, Xavier. I’m surprised you didn’t hear what the tried to do to me and Angela. I thought everyone in San Francisco knew.”

"It sounds like you had a bad day," Anjar decided, sliding onto a barstool to make himself comfortable when Jon clarified. "Don't worry about a drink, I came over pre-cocktailed. Well, mocktailed, I don't really go for synthehol or alcohol these days." He lifted up the skewer and claimed a cherry, popping it into his mouth while Jon explained. His frown intensified, replaying that backyard party where Xavier had made a scene about Angela in his mind with a thrum of remembered anger. "I hadn't heard. I pretty much went to the Prep Program and blocked everything else out. What happened?"

“Well, Angela and I were studying for the entrance exams, not that she needed any help, but I did. It had been six weeks since the party and… you weren’t answering any of my calls. So I got the message from you on my PaDD. You, well Xavier, he’d spoofed your PaDD, wanted to meet at Greenlight. You know the coffee shop where we, em had our first kiss.”

“Well anyway, I showed it to Angela and she told me to just ignore it. But you know me, I was too psyched about the possibility so I went running off. Well it wasn’t you of course. It was Xavier and a couple of his buddies. I got drug down an alley and knocked around a little. I guess I kind of deserved that, given what I did to him. But they had a little surprise for me. A barrel of water. They…”

He paused finishing his second drink in the same way he had the first and ordered another with his eyes. He drew in a deep breath and continued, “ they held my head under the water tried to drown me. They damn near did. But Angela came along”

“They underestimated her, at least at first. She was kind of kicking ass. But, there were too many of them. They had both of us then. Xavier was going to rape Angela, make me watch and then kill me. But Security came along and, well Xavier went to a penal colony.”

“He came back here to finish the job, but he had other motivations too. I’m…, well never mind I can’t really say the other reason, but almost succeeded again. That’s why I was drinking.”

Anjar listened, and found himself musing on how differently this would have gone if he'd heard it six years ago. His mind immediately went to Xavier, and a subtle anger that the boy had impersonated him to get to Jon. That unsettled him in a way that was entirely removed from how freaked out he would have been back then. Anjar was already making connections, figuring out how Xavier would have accomplished it while Jon… told the story in detail. Not an abbreviated 'He kidnapped me and tried to kill me', which would have gotten the point across just as well.

After they'd first broken up, Anjar would have been beside himself. Now… he shook his head and tried not to grit his teeth, his stomach doing an uncomfortable flip. "So he tried again," Anjar summed up, an intention of finding out exactly how Xavier had gotten onto the station forming in his mind. That was exactly the kind of crap that should never have happened. "Here. Not long ago." Anjar drew in a deep breath. "Prophets, Jon, does trouble keep a tracker on you somewhere? Are you all right?"

“It seems like trouble finds me, or I find it way too easy. But I’ve tried to curb my impetuousness. This time it really wasn’t my fault. I was just going to meet my new Captain for breakfast and the bastard found me. It wasn’t just by chance. He planned it And he was going to kill me. “

“I was able to outsmart him and gave Captain Lakar enough hints so he knew I was in trouble Xavier used me as shield and Lakar shot him. I’m just lucky he’s such a good shot.”

Anjar sighed. "I never said it was your fault, Jon, but you have to admit a disproportionate amount of crazy seems to gravitate towards you." It was remarkable that he'd survived this long if this was the kind of thing that happened when someone wasn't around to watch Jon's back. Not counting Angela, who seemed to attract it in equal measure. When Jon said he was trying to curb his ways, Anjar gave him a thoroughly unconvinced look. "I'll believe that when I see it," he chuckled, and took a sip of his drink through his curly straw, only to pause at the mention of a particular name. "Lakar's your new captain?" he asked mildly after he swallowed, unsure what to think of the theory forming in his head.

“Yes, I’m on the Palatine now. But we’ve been talking about me all this time. What about you, what are you doing here? How are things going in the Diplomatic Corps.”

Well, the universe sure had a sense of humour, Anjar reflected as Jon confirmed his suspicions. "I've been reassigned," Anjar replied ruefully. Prophets, this was going to be… interesting, yes, that was the word. Jon's question made him chuckle again. "I wouldn't know, actually. I never joined. It turns out diplomacy really wasn't my thing." He shrugged a little, downplaying the change as much as he could. "The Palatine's a pretty great assignment though. How'd you swing that?"

Now Jonathan’s full smile was back. “Because I’m the best damn pilot in the quadrant. Well at least one of them. And I’m willing to spend the next five years far, far away. And it didn’t hurt that my mom was on the design team for the transwarp drive. I came, em, highly recommended. “

“But we’re still focused on me. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing. I know you too well. Other than telling me you never became a diplomat you haven’t said one word about yourself. If you’re not a diplomat what are you, and like I asked before, what brings you all the way out here?”

A suspicion was starting to form itself in the back of his mind. One he was sure couldn’t be true, but one that was there nevertheless.

"I see your confidence is still intact," Anjar said dryly. No, it wouldn't have hurt to have one of his mothers on the project. The Forrest-Samuels women had never been backwards about being involved in Jon's life, whether he liked it or not. And of course, Jon didn't bite. va, he wasn't the type to let something go even now. "That's not true, I told you I was sitting over there with my drink," he corrected, though he clearly wasn't serious. "I switched tracks. Intelligence, if you can believe it."

Jon gave the other man a long look, and he quirked a brow. “You’re a spook. Sorry, that’s probably high pejorative. But really, you’re an Intel guy, that is a little surprising What made you choose that?” He picked up his drink, but this time took a small sip. “And by the way smart ass, you told me what you were doing in the bar, but not what you’re doing at the station.”

Anjar snickered into his drink. "I'm an analyst mostly," he corrected, rolling his eyes. "Not everyone can fly around in the hot-seat grabbing glory all the time." It was mostly true. There was a great deal of analysis in his job. "It just felt right," he told the blond, and when he boiled it all down to basics, it really was that simple. "If you're expecting an epic tale of tragedy and courage like it's an episode of Holographic Hearts, I'm going to disappoint you. I liked Intelligence better once I got a taste of the courses." He looked at the obstinate man sitting across from him with a mixture of exasperation and resignation. "You know, I think you've actually gotten more stubborn. That's impressive." Anjar sighed. "Nice to meet you, shipmate."

The helmsman had been enjoying Anjar’s account of his job description, a description he believed for the most part, and he couldn’t help but be flattered by the backhanded compliment, he’d been about to retort with a smart aleck remark, but the Intelligence officer’s words stopped him. At least for the moment. “You’re going to be on the Palatine too? It really is a small Universe. So how did you swing that?”

"Apparently so," Anjar agreed, taking another sip of his drink. "They need number-crunchers to balance out the flyboys or so I hear." He couldn't resist the tongue-in-cheek remark. "We can't have the ship being weighed down by too many egos, she'll end up top-heavy and bellyflop out of warp." He gave his drink a stir with his curly straw when he saw it separating. "I applied and they said yes, how else? I figured it couldn't hurt to try."

Jonathan laughed at Anjar’s description, he couldn’t help himself, not that he tried. “I guess it’s a good thing you’re going to be around, then.” he said. His hand reached out, an old habit and rested on the Bajoran’s arm. He pulled quickly away. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean anything.”

“We’ll muddle through,” Anjar agreed, knowing it was true. He’d wondered, a long time ago, what it would be like to be faced with Jonathan Forrest again. He’d thought it might hurt, or that he’d be stupidly emotional in the face of his ex. Maybe the attraction would still be there. But this… this was okay. It was nice, Anjar realised with a hint of relief, to be… fine. It was freeing, actually. He didn’t say it was all right when Jon touched him; it wasn’t. He simply let the blond pull his hand back, his expression neutral. “So how’s Angela these days?”

The other man was about to apologize again, but stopped himself. He took another sip of his drink before replying. “She’s doing well. She had a little change of heart too, she decided she wanted to be tactical officer instead of an engineer. Trust me, our mothers were not too happy about that, but she’ changed course again and went back to engineering. Now she’s on the Orion a Defiant class ship and she’s doing both. What about your family. How are your folks and your brother?”

Anjar nodded thoughtfully. “Somehow I can see that,” he murmured. “She always was the type to go her own way, even if it was the hard way.” He respected that about Angela, even if he hadn’t always understood her. “There’s no rule that says you have to have life figured out at seventeen anyway.” And wasn’t that the truth? Anjar’s lips twitched sardonically before he looked back at Jon. “Kenjae’s a teacher,” he answered simply. “He graduated and got a job in a senator’s office, ended up miserable and then did a Masters in Teaching. He’s living on Bajor showing kids how to grow vegetables using hydroponics and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the goofball happier.”

“I’m glad to hear, I’m happy for him. What about your mom and dad?”

Anjar’s expression didn’t change much. He made a nonchalant motion with his shoulders, not quite a shrug but almost. “They’re doing what they always do. Nothing really changes with them except the location.”

Jonathan started to probe further, but stopped himself. It had been five years since he’d last seen Anjar, and they were no longer in a relationship, but he still knew is ex well enough to tell that something was going on he didn’t want to share.

So, instead, he shifted gears slightly, “There is one more thing I wanted to talk with you about. Professionally, not personally. This whole incident with Xavier, it sounds to me like there is some kind of conspiracy, or plot to sabotage the ship. What do you think? After all, you’re the expert.”

Anjar regarded Jon with clinical interest. “Those other motivations you mentioned… they were centred on sabotaging the ship?” Jon hadn’t said that outright before. “It wasn’t all related to you?” Attacking Jon by itself wasn’t enough. The only pattern Anjar could glean from that was Xavier’s habit of targeting someone he irrationally despised.

“No, it wasn’t just about me. He even told me as much. Xavier is an asshole, he always has been. But how did he know where I was and when I would be at the station? He was waiting for me when I was supposed to be meeting the Captain. How do you think he knew that?”

Anjar wasn’t much for speculating wildly, so he kept it simple. “Either he’s a lot smarter than he used to be - unlikely as it seems - or he had help.” He gave Jon a grim look. “Most people have a price, no matter what uniform they wear.”

“Yeah, unfortunately you’re correct, let’s hope that no one on Palatine is willing to sell out. Otherwise we’re all in trouble.”

Anjar gave Jon a questioning look, almost opened his mouth and thought better of it. If Jon was naive enough to believe the Palatine was still untouched after what he’d just been through, it probably wasn’t the time to disabuse him of the notion. “If your Security team is as good as they ought to be, it’ll be fine.”

“Don’t you mean our Security team?”

“Point taken,” Anjar conceded, giving his drink another stir. “No I in team, isn’t that the saying?” He gave a small smile, eyes sliding towards the viewport briefly. “I should let you get back to your drinks.”


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