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‘Bedding In'

Deck 5, USS Kestrel

"So this, my pretty, is your berth. Sorry Mr Templar I was talking to Miss Jex not yourself." Stood side by side at the entrance to her berth, Jex hid a smile from the serious head of Sebastian. The Captain having entered the small cramped insides stood centre two paces from the bed, the screen on the opposite wall, and a small study table with a narrow rectangular window above it. The third wall opened to a tiny en suite.

"Small but luckily private. And the bed will comfortably fit two - atop one another but that would be your own business ensign."

Sebastian looked mortified. Jex for her own part was not so put out after decades of previous lifetimes to reflect upon. Though the Leoini part was still slightly shocked, she relied on the Jex symbiont to temper those reactions.

This she did more readily when the Captain's outrageous comments were directed towards her but not so readily when directed at others. Plus, when the comments were directed at her, both parts secretly thrilled at the greater discomfiture they caused to both Sebastian and Cutler.

"Now Ms Jex I know we left your friend one deck down amongst the rabble of deck six but your newest friend Mr Templar is only going to be next door. That could be handy! Oh now Mr Templar don't gawp! I only jested - unless you're thinking otherwise, you are a bit of a scoundrel."

Templar visibly coloured, though Jex believed it to not be discomfiture this time but Sebastian containing his anger. The Captain appeared oblivious or unconcerned. "This way Templar. Just next door. It is sound proof despite the proximity so not to worry dears. Well I'll leave you two to settle in and get your berths in order. Should take oh all of five minutes."

"Once you're bedded in, ahem no innuendo please, report to the officer's mess in fifteen minutes, bring Mr Cutler along if you must - I mean - will. Molly - that's Commander Cartwright to ye - thought it would be nice to lay on a little soirée to help all the new crewmembers get to know one another and a few of the old hands."

McGregor then bowed and gestured with a rolling wave of his hand as he said, "I bid you farewell." He then stepped forwards to Jex took her hand and kissed it demurely before ruining the effect with a wink. "See you later Freckles."

With that, he walked off and a smiling Jex said to Sebastian, "Do you imagine he is like that all the time?"

He gave a look down the corridor to the retreating Captain. "Let's hope not Ensign."

"Hey I think we can drop the titles, especially in light of the Captain's shall we say informality. Besides, we're the same rank, even if you have a few years on me. What's the deal, you stepping up from enlisted? I don't remember you from the Academy."

Templar grunted. "Something like that. If you'll excuse me."

Shrugging his negative attitude off Jex ploughed on enthusiastically. "Come on, let's get Cutler and make our way to this party the Captain talked about."

Remaining stalwart, he replied none too polite. "I think you fail to appreciate Jex that I am none too interested. I've had my fill of meet and greets to new ships - and parties."

"You've got a fill of an attitude that much is for sure. Fine be it your own way." She marched off without a backward glance at Templar. He was glad in a way. Yet in a way, he would have liked if she had tried to twist his arm too. However, he was better off out of temptations way if truth were told.

* * *

McGregor waltzed into the Kestrel's bar and sat himself on a stool with his customary ease. He tapped the bar counter with the knuckle of his right index finger. Without a word or a pause, the barkeep set a double whiskey in front of the Captain. "Thank ye Gordon."

Proceeding to dry the inside of glasses with a dishcloth the barkeep, Gordon, a tall blond severe looking man quizzed his Captain with a lack of formality that only came of a barman talking to a regular customer. "So how are the new kids on the block settling in?"

"Same ole, same ole, Gordon." He supped his drink and smacked his lips with a gracious sigh. "That hit the spot. The usual mix. One kid so scared and nervous he's ready to wet his pants each time I look at him. One so cocky he's likely to get people killed and going by his past form there's every chance he might do so again - but sssh keep that under your hat."

Gordon after years of service with McGregor caught a slight hesitancy. "And the other?"

McGregor eyed the barkeep suspiciously. "You are always well informed on my crew Gordon."

"As the de facto ship's counsellor I think it my duty to be well informed."

Appalled at the sentiment for his own personal reasons, McGregor's lip curled. "You are not the de facto ship's counsellor!"

Gordon mopped up a ring of liquid formed by a cool glass on the counter as he nonchalantly enquired, knowing the answer full too well, "Have you replaced Dr Healy?"

"No, she might come back after all."

Gordon leaned over the counter and lowered his voice. "Even after you sold her in order to track some Orion pirates?"

With a serious and sincere tone McGregor answered, "An exciting mission I entrusted to her. Something to get her out of her counsellor's office and to see a bit of the real world."

"You didn't exactly inform her of the mission or give her a choice."

"It helped her to play the part much more convincingly. She over reacted that's all."

"She was kidnapped."

"And also rescued. Don't forget that important piece of information."

"Anyway how is the Trill settling in?"

"Same ole, same ole. Trills are kinda freaky really. The freckles, the worm in my stomach and the general whole long life thing ..." Abruptly changing topic, "You're quiet in here today."

"Everybody is at the reception Captain." The use of rank a deliberate attempt by Gordon to recall to the Captain his duties.

McGregor threw the remainder of his drink down his throat. "Ah! I do recall. Well I had best be off then. Molly wants me to mind the shop while she tucks the fledglings in."

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