Setting the Record Straight
Location: U.S.S. Poseidon; Officers' Lounge, Deck 3
Timeline: Day 001 - 0500 Hours
Tags: Post-Departure, Post-Fighter Incident
"Porridge with blueberries, hot. Two slices of buttered toast. Coffee, black, double strength."
Barely stifling a yawn, Freya took the tray out of the replicator and found a table in a quiet corner. After the events of the previous day, although she had been reinstated to duty, she was tired. Sitting down with her breakfast, she looked like an entirely different person, with the short black hair and her changed uniform. However, she finally felt like herself again.
After her chat with Commodore Paladin, she had done some research on the shuttle crash that took the lives of his family. It matched the Commodore's counterpart's methods exactly. In fact, she had witnessed him threatening a similar action against a cadet that was not doing everything he wanted. She shook her head and reached for her PADD to catch up on the departmental reports.
Not long after Freya had grabbed her meal and sat, the Commander appeared from around the corner. He had his uniform on, but it seemed slightly less straightened than normal. He faced the replicator, then request, "Hash browns with eggs on top, coffee with cream and two sugars."
The replicator finished, he grabbed his tray, turning to notice Freya was there. A moment's pause as his brain caught up - he had just awoken - and he silently approached the table. He cleared his throat.
"Mind if I sit with you?" he asked.
Without looking up, Freya nodded. "Fine by me, Commander. Good morning." Absentmindedly, she reached over and opened the shoulder clasp of her uniform jacket before taking another spoonful of porridge.
The Commander took note of this action, somewhere in his mind noting how instinctive it looked, before taking a seat and starting on his food. For the first few minutes, it was quiet. Only the sound of utensils and eating could be heard, the occasional sipping audible as well. Halfway into his meal, and waking from his sleep-induced stupor, Franklin noticed the difference in Lieutenant Freya's attire.
"You, uh, having a day off?" asked Franklin, cautiously, as he continued to consume his food politely.
Freya looked up. "Sir? I thought I was returning to duty this morning as usual?" After all, she had carefully made her uniform as "Federation" as possible, pinning her rank insignia to her collar and wearing the correct combadge. "Unless you have a problem with that?"
He looked up briefly, mid-sip on his coffee mug. His eyes looked her up and down quizzically, as if to say, are you sure that's work related attire?.
"Did something happen to your regulation clothing?" he asked, calmly, finishing his sip.
"Threw it in a replicator," she responded casually. "I hate wearing red." From the corner of her eye, Freya noticed Lieutenant Shakura entering the mess, and waved her over. She was already getting tired of this conversation, and hoped the counsellor might help her out of it.
Kana's attention was immediately drawn to Freya and Johnson sitting together and gave them both a warm smile and a nod as she approached the replicator and retrieved her own meal. She looked more well-rested and awake than either Freya or Franklin, but she did have her collar undone, almost as a visual indicator that she wasn't officially on duty just yet.
"Cinnamon crêpes with nut butter, sliced banana and raspberries. Green tea, hot." Grabbing her tray she then made her way to the table and joined them both; since this was an informal setting, she was a little more casual then she would be when performing in her duties. "Franklin, Freya. Good morning. I'm glad I've found you both here for breakfast." She said with a jovial tone as she took her seat in between both of them.
It had of course been no coincidence: she had encouraged both of them the night before to attend breakfast so that she could see them, not explicitly mentioning that the other would be there. She was glad to see that one of them had made the decision to sit with the other - she had anticipated having to encourage it herself - but it was obvious there was still a fair bit of tension in the air. Kana had anticipated this and was prepared to help guide them both.
Starting on her meal, she asked them both a general, at first perhaps unassuming question. "How are you both feeling this morning?"
Freya barely hid a yawn as she emptied her cup of coffee. "Tired. Excuse me for one moment," she said, getting up and fetching a refill before resuming her seat. "Better than yesterday morning, though. At least my alarm went off at the correct time so I actually got the chance to have a shower and get dressed properly." She took a sip. "Oh, and to get caffeinated, of course."
There was a slight expression of bewildered curiosity on the Commander's face, almost as if he had sensed that something was amiss; a trap had been started, prepared, and finally sprung and he had been caught within it unbeknown to his manly mannerisms and intellect. His eyes darted from both Freya to the arriving Lieutenant Commander, where he casually greeted - at least outwardly casually - his Second Officer with a nod. A sixth sense had started to go off, almost as if a certain web-slinging superhero from a fictional universe had his senses tingling that something just wasn't right with this situation. He chewing was slow, as was his sip, a cautiously benevolent expression winning over as he attempted to play this subversive game of psychological poker that he interpreted to be going on.
In the cusp of things, his Second Officer had set him up. He was only now realising it.
"Alright I suppose," he replied to Kanaka's question with only a tipid of caution evident in his tone. "How are you, Number Two?"
Kana gave an amused grin at Freya's response to her question, appreciating the playful intent. Franklin was a bit more on edge, it seemed, as if somehow he had been lured into some sort of metaphorical danger. The Chief Counsellor could not hold that against him, she supposed, after the very frank discussion she had with him and the Commodore the night before. He was probably wary of receiving another one, but that wasn't on the cards this time for Kana. No, this time she intended for her fellow breakfast mates to have an honest and open discussion with each other.
"I'm doing well, thank you. Feeling well rested and ready to face this new day. There's a lot of work to be done." She replied to Franklin, referring to the still lingering uneasiness following the incidents of yesterday's aborted Departure run. "I believe I'm right in saying you were both discussing something before I joined?"
To his benefit, Franklin's lingering gaze of doubt ended as he took a bite of his food. He allowed himself to relax, just enough for it not to register fully. He cleared his throat after swallowing his food and taking a sip of his drink.
"Yes, actually," he remarked, gesturing with the hand holding his fork at Freya politely. "Just commenting on Lieutenant Freya's choice of attire. You happen to know anything about that?"
Freya quickly hid a smirk by taking a big gulp of coffee. The counsellor knew more things than the Commander could possibly imagine. So, the Lieutenant decided to leave the response up to Kana.
"Do you recall I mentioned to you yesterday evening that we needed to discuss Freya's well-being?" She asked the question politely, but did not wait for an immediate response. She was of course alluding to the prior night's conversation in his Ready Room, which while it did mention Freya's well-being, concerned a lot more besides. "Unfortunately, past incidents have caused the Lieutenant to experience a great deal of trauma in the presence of those with positions of authority." She gently tapped the red of Franklin's uniform. "Therefore, the Lieutenant has taken to wearing something that feels more reassuring to her and will likewise help to avoid similar incidents such as that which occurred yesterday morning."
Turning her attention now to Freya, "Would you like to explain your attire to the Commander, and make your request to be excused from regular uniform protocol?" Her tone was friendly, but also motherly. She wasn't intent on letting the Lieutenant get away with not also having to humble herself.
Franklin recalled the earlier conversation and seemed to relax a bit further. He took another bite of his food, another swallow of his drink, before he sat back. He adjusted his uniforms shirt entirely on instinct, despite the fact it was only slightly touched, as his eyes focused entirely on Freya.
Freya took a sip of her coffee, and paused before finally speaking. "As you can see, the uniform I am wearing is a variation on the standard-issue Federation uniform. The story behind it is highly classified." She turned to Kana. "And while I have told you, counsellor, I have done so considering your position as such, not as a Starfleet officer. I have been advised that this information is classified to anyone outside the admiralty, under a general order, I've forgotten the number."
She waited for a moment to let her words sink in, and took a deep breath. "Last night, I filed a request with Starfleet Command. A change of name request, specifically. Again, although the Counsellor can probably derive the reasons for this from our conversation yesterday, the details are private and indeed classified."
Finally, she took out a PADD and held it out to the Commander. "Here is my official request under the Starfleet Uniform Code, subsection two, paragraph two, to be allowed to wear non-standard uniform while still clearly displaying Starfleet rank insignia."
A slight smile crossed her lips as she finished her second cup of coffee. "And if that fails to find your approval, you will also find a request under subsection four."
The Commander's expression dimmed as he took the offered PADD and reviewed the contents. Setting down his eating utensils with the other hand, he then used both to pay attention to the PADD as he skimmed the information on the surface and scrolled down the screens contents. His eyes seemed to slowly take in the information, widening a bit before resuming their prior observational look. Franklin released a rather pent-up sigh he hadn't realised he stored; his breath had been held the entire time and he needed to breathe, so he did so in a rather dramatic fashion. Nodding, he handed the PADD back to Freya.
"It would seem all is in order," he replied, almost too quietly. His expression had shifted again, a reddish hue now dominant that signified pent-up frustration. He eyed Freya only once, politely, upon returning the PADD before avoiding further eye contact with anyone else sitting at the table - that anyone else mainly being Kanaka. He quietly resumed eating, before saying, "It's not as if I have control over my own ship anyway," equally as quietly as he chewed on another bite.
Nodding approvingly at Freya's conduct so far, Kana turned her attention to Franklin. "You are as in control as anyone else, Commander, and you know that." Taking another bite of her breakfast and a mouthful of her green tea, she let the words sink in for a moment before feeling it was time to really address the issue at hand.
"You both know that if this ship is going to be ready for the next attempt at our Departure, you're both going to have to make amends for what happened yesterday morning." She looked at them both intently. "I think both of you deserve apologies for what happened. Do you think that's fair?"
Freya nodded. "I guess that is fair." She turned to Johnson. "I was out of line, sir. It will not occur again, that much I can guarantee."
Franklin eyed Freya briefly, before nodding. "I....perhaps was too overzealous in my exercise of authority. In the future I'll attempt to be more diplomatic with my crew. I apologise as well."
With a smile, Freya held out her hand. "Back to business as normal, then, sir?"
Another moment of hesitation, then a slight smile as he extended his hand. He shook it. "Alright, Lieutenant. Back to business as usual."
Kana smiled at both of them, happy that they had both been able to make this first initial step to reconciling from the previous days events. There was still more ahead; they would have to demonstrate this new found understanding before the crew when it came time to depart again, back on the Bridge where it had all happened last time. She hoped that they would both be able to do that. For now though, it was a start.
"To business as usual." She toasted them both, before they all got back to enjoying their meals together.