A New Friend
Location: Starbase 99 - Civilian Area
Timeline: Day 002 - 1237 Hours
Walking along the broad boulevard in the commercial district Jax looked around him wonderingly. He'd only been on a couple of Starbases and hadn't really been able to explore anything outside of the office areas because he'd always been too busy. He was dressed, for the most part, in his uniform, though he'd chosen to keep his jacket off, choosing, instead, to drape it over his duffel, thus allowing himself to blend in with the rest of the people around him. That left him in his uniform pants and boots, and a black tank-top, which displayed his many tattoos.
Passing a small to-go style eatery he smelled something amazing wafting through the air and suddenly his stomach grumbled. Approaching the place he glanced at the menu and noticed that it was selling what looked like some kind of Asian inspired cuisine, in small easy to carry bowls. He caught the attention of one of the men behind the counter and smiled, "I'll take some of that, with some steamed rice," he said, in a friendly voice.
A few minutes later he was handed some chopsticks, and the small bowl, filled with steamed white rice, and some chunks of chicken with onions, red peppers, and pineapple, all in a sort of sticky sauce. It smelled amazing, and suddenly his stomach was grumbling even louder. Finding a small bench near a water fountain he sank down and placed his duffel down beside him, not noticing that his jacket was showing just enough of his gold operations colors to mark him as Starfleet and not just some random human.
A late evening the night before, and an early morning spent in the laboratory had afforded Canaan time to step away from his duties for a bit. Gregory had prior obligations that didn't allow the pair to slip away for a quiet lunch, so Canaan decided to visit the station. He'd not had much time to do so during the Poseidon's stay at Starbase 99; however, due to Pavan's unexpected passing, the ship and crew would remain berthed for a short while longer until such time Lieutenant's Karn and Mo'Bri concluded their investigation. In truth, Canaan welcomed the distraction. They'd only taken the first step in their journey together when Pavan's Starfighter exploded. The atmosphere on the ship was somber as the crew attempted to process the meaningless death of one of their own. Canaan, for his part, was grieving just as his comrades were. But when an opportunity to escape it all--even for the briefest of moments--presented itself, he seized it.
He'd visited a few of the artisan stalls, window-shopping their unique wares while engaging in some lighthearted banter or conversation, especially with those who attempted to coax him into a frivolous purchase. Canaan didn't intend on buying anything, but the handmade crafts were nice to look at none-the-less, and he more than enjoyed seeing the expert craftsmanship of the different species represented.
Canaan casually approached the Asian eatery, enticed by the aromatic aromas wafting about the open promenade from within. He stepped to the side of the entrance, taking a moment to review the menu to see if the cuisine offered anything he may enjoy. Based on the delectable smells, he guessed it would.
He watched as a server approached a nearby table, placing a bowl of steaming hot food in front of a young man. Without realizing he was doing so, but as was his habit, Canaan quietly observed the man. His electric-blue eyes intent on the patron, watching closely as he took a tentative bite from the bowls' contents.
As he was munching on the tasty food he'd been given Jax was gazing off into the distance, taking in the sight of the hustle and bustle around him. When he started to feel like he was being watched he started to pay a bit more attention.
Just to the side of the restaurant he'd only just ordered from stood a man with white hair, and the brightest blue eyes he'd ever seen, and he was staring directly at him. Swallowing his bite of food he nodded and smiled. "It's just as good as it smells," he offered in his southern drawl, thinking maybe the guy was curious to see if he liked his food.
Canaan smiled, unabashed by what some might consider an awkward social encounter. Full, peach-colored lips framed impeccably cared for teeth. The young Lieutenant placed both hands behind his back, curling long fingers around the thin wrist of one hand and gripping it gently while he took several steps toward the darker-skinned man. "I was hoping you'd say that." His voice was crisp, its tone soft and oddly soothing in the articulation of every syllable. "What is it?" He asked, wondering which of the delectable items the man had selected from the menu.
Jaxson was surprised at the other man's smile. It was quite a pretty smile and made him smile a bit wider. "Um, honestly, I didn't look at the names, I just found something I thought looked good and went for it..." he said. "It has peppers and pineapple, and it's kind of sweet and spicy as well," he added.
"The combination of pineapple and peppers sounds wonderful. Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits." Canaan confessed before turning to the server, who'd appeared to deliver a tray of food at a nearby table. "Excuse me. Could I happen to trouble you for a bowl of what this gentleman is having. Could I also have a boba tea, extra sweet?" The server nodded curtly, turning on a heel to submit the order. "Thank you for the recommendation. It smells so wonderful." Canaan held the man's eyes in his own. "I'll leave you to your meal," Canaan dipped his head, offering the courtesy as a way of apologizing for disturbing the man's peaceful solitude.
"Or you could join me..." Jaxson offered, indicating that there was plenty of room. "Seriously, I promise I won't bite," he added, chuckling.
Canaan recoiled slightly, a serious expression surfacing. "I should hope not. It'd be rather crude to bite someone." There was a mischievous lilt in his reply. "Besides, I don't know that I'd taste very good." The white-haired officer pulled out the proffered chair and sat down, crossing one leg over the other before folding his hands in his lap. The serious expression quickly faded, a facade to a playful grin. "Canaan Serine." He said by way of an introduction.
"Jaxson Morris, but my friends call me Jax," Jackson replied. "And I'm not touching the rest of that with a ten-foot pole,", he added with a playful grin.
"So, you Starfleet?" he asked, noticing the other man seemed to hold himself like an officer, but wasn't in uniform.
"A pleasure." His smile was ever-present, a dimple appearing in the pocket of his right cheek. "What gave you the impression I'm with Starfleet?" He was intrigued by Jaxon's assumptive question, even if it were on the nose, he was curious to know what may have given him away. The server returned with Canaan's order just as the man was about to reply.
Jax waited for the server to walk away and then turned his attention back to the man beside him. He pondered the question for a moment and then finally answered, "There's just something about the way you carry yourself. You can see you've had some training, and you know you represent something bigger than you, so you are careful about how you present yourself," he said, anxiously waiting to see if his new acquaintance was going to like his food.
Canaan's head cocked the side ever so slightly as he listened intently, "I had no idea I held such a bearing." He replied honestly, dipping a spoon into the bowl. He draped a napkin over his lap, before taking a bite of the savory-sweet dish. His face was awash in a satisfied expression. "You were right, this is incredible." Canaan wasn't so much a foodie as he was appreciative of its purpose. It was intended to sustain an organic machine, which he found fascinating. The transformation of organic materials by organic processes, to produce organic energy, to maintain the organism. It wasn't that he disliked food. It was that food was usually the last thing on his mind.
While he chewed through another bite, Canaan couldn't help but study the intricate artwork adorning Jaxon's defined biceps. Oblivious to his actions, Canaan leaned forward to get a closer look, yet restrained himself from reaching out to touch, knowing how uncomfortable it could make others feel. "You're correct," he said softly, attention focussed on the intricate tribal patterns. "I'm with Starfleet, yes."
Canaan's civilian attire was comprised of a pair of black skinny-jeans accessorized with a brown leather belt. He wore a heather grey cashmere sweater that was perhaps a size too big. His hair was styled perfectly, not a hair out of place while a gold hoop hugged the gentle curve of his left nostril. A pair of suede boots rounded out the outfit.
"Glad you like it," Jaxson said when the other man replied that he liked the food.
Then he noticed him looking more and more closely at his tattoos. It was a response he was getting more and more used to around most people since he left Earth. Especially in Starfleet many people either fully disapproved of tattoos, or just didn't really care about them at all. Then there were the ones who were intrigued. He wondered which was the case here. "Are you a fan of ink?", he asked.
Canaan nodded, "I find most body modification practices fascinating." He gestured to both of the man's fully sleeved arms and neck, "From what I can see, you started young?" He assumed the art blanketed Jaxon's chest and back, perhaps even his lower extremities. Although Canaan didn't have any tattoos, he did have several piercings.
"Yes, I did. I was about fifteen. I've got them pretty much all over my body at this point,", Jax admitted. "Do you have any of your own?" he asked, taking another bite of his food while he waited for the man to answer.
The Lieutenant's eyes drifted from the artwork, returning to Jaxon's honey-colored eyes. "No, no tattoos. I have my nose pierced," he gestured to the tasteful piece of jewelry. "And I have two surface piercings." He answered candidly, referring to the sibling piercings that aligned his defined Adonis belt. "Family custom or addictive personality?" The question wasn't intended to sound rude, although it was conveyed so succinctly, that it very well could've been misinterpreted as such. Canaan's coy tone of voice dissuaded Jaxon from believing the question was anything if not playful.
"Little of column a, little of column b?" Jaxson asked, and then chuckled, "No, really its a family custom. Almost everyone in my family has lots of tatts," he said. "Would it be too forward of me to ask where the surface piercings are? I've considered getting some piercings done, you know, besides my ears, and was wondering if those hurt..."
Canaan's cheeks deepened in color, their rosy hue tinged with red, "They're near my hips." There was no easy way to explain their location without showing, but that was far too intimate a gesture. "They didn't hurt, no." He shrugged, sitting back in the chair, his posture relaxed. "They took a while to heal, though. I'd like a few others, but time will tell if I decide on them or not. What were you hoping to pierce?" Canaan licked the spoon before discarding it back in the bowl.
"I think I'd like to get a surface piercing up here," he said, pointing to his cheekbone, right below his right eye. "I'd also like to get a few lip piercings, maybe snake bites, and I have a few other places I probably shouldn't go into..." Jaxson replied, his smile broadening as he glanced away, ever so slightly embarrassed.
Canaan chuckled at Jason's last statement, "Probably for the best." The server cleared the dishes and refilled their beverages. "What brings you to this port?" He moved the conversation away from tattoos and piercings, at least for the moment, in hopes of getting to know Jaxson better. He was curious about the man and how easy it was to speak so openly about things. He was very congenial and engaging, albeit guarded at the same time.
"I'm actually due to report to my new assignment tomorrow morning," he said. "I'm one of the new engineers on the U.S.S. Poseidon. What about yourself?"
"The Poseidon you say?" Canaan teased for more information, not yet betraying his service to both ship and crew. "So you're, also, Starfleet?"
Reaching over to his duffel Jaxson grabbed his uniform jacket and held it up, "Got the jacket and everything," he said with a smile. "I'm just a non-com though."
"Just a non-com?" Canaan said with disbelief. "You mean the backbone of the fleet?"
"Technically, yes, but ask most officers and they don't have such a wonderful view of us. A lot of them see us as too lazy to go through the academy like they did, but honestly, that usually has nothing to do with it. I actually chose to go the non-com route so I could get some immediate experience, and work my way up. I plan on going to officer candidacy school at some point," Jaxson replied, somewhat surprised that the other man held the opinion he did. He seemed to be a very conscientious person, and Jax was glad he'd spoken to him earlier. "What is it you do?" he asked.
Frankly, Canaan knew of what Jaxson spoke. The very notion that any enlisted person was too lazy for going the non-com track was disgusting, but Canaan understood many of his officer counterparts held this prejudice.
He was not one of them.
"Whatever path led you to service was your choice and yours alone. No one has the right to diminish such desire because of pips on a collar." Canaan said softly. "It's your journey, do whatever makes sense for you." It was advice he'd offer to any one of his cadets or trainees.
"I'm a scientist by training, more specifically a xenobiologist. I'm also an outdoor survivalist, so I dabble in a bit of ecology." He replied, "Are you a gearhead?"
Jax nodded, "Been taking stuff apart since I was little, and putting it back together again, just to see how it works. I rebuilt my first hoverbike when I was twelve, with my dad's help, and then got heavily into things that go really, really fast. So, in the end, propulsion was going to be my thing. I really want to get a place with the corps of engineers, designing and implementing new propulsion technologies," he said.
"How did you get into being a survivalist?" he asked, genuinely growing more and more intrigued by this man the longer they talked.
From how passionately Jaxson spoke about his given trade, Canaan held no doubt that he'd achieve his goal of becoming a part of Starfleet's Corps of Engineers. There was a determination in the man that was refreshing, reminding him of his own trainees like Samantha and Dok.
"I was raised in the backwoods, very near the northern Canadian border on the east coast of North America. Outdoor was a way of life for me as a child." Canaan explained. "My parents are scientists of veterinary medicine and ecology, so I learned from a very early age what it meant to survive in the woods. I must have shown an aptitude for it because it evolved from there," he joked. "My parents would take me on their excursions into nature; it opened my eyes to the wonders of exploration and discovery. But, well, isn't that how most scientists are born?" He asked with a chuckle.
"Sounds like it," Jax replied. "To be honest, I was never very good with science, in the way you do. Now, mechanical engineering, piece of cake, ask me a question about chemistry, or biology, I'd be lost. I never really got much exposure to the outdoors, either. Growing up in a sprawling urban area sort of has that drawback, honestly. I would sometimes sneak off to the skate park, or the running trails that weren't far from my house. That was about the only time I spent outside unless I was playing a sport of some sort," he added.
"Where did you grow up?" It sounded as if Jaxson was raised in an urban jungle.
"Atlanta, Georgia. That's where my accent comes from," Jax replied with a teasing grin. "Lots of concrete, lots of people, and incredibly hot and humid. And the only trees I saw growing up were the ones that the city planning committee planted in the parks or as streetside decorations," he added.
Canaan had never visited that region of the country before, but if it was like any other on Earth, it was utopia. "It sounds as if you and I grew up in two different worlds." He remarked, glancing a nearby chronometer.
"I'm afraid it's time for me to go, Mr. Jaxson Morris," Canaan said reluctantly. His visit with Kana back on board the ship was quickly approaching, and he still needed to change before returning to duty. "It was a pleasure meeting you." Unlike during their earlier introductions, Canaan extended a hand toward the man.
Jax was a bit bummed that their chat was coming to an end, but that was just how life went sometimes. Reaching out he grabbed the other man's hand, "The pleasure was all mine, Mr. Canaan Serine. I hope I get the chance to meet up with you again someday," he said, genuinely meaning every word.
"Me, too," Canaan remarked honestly. He knew they'd reunite on board the Poseidon sooner rather than later. And, although Canaan could have shared that he too was assigned to the same ship, he also knew that the fact that he was an officer and member of the senior staff would have drastically changed the conversation both men had so enjoyed. No, he'd wait to say hello, perhaps check on Jaxson a little later to see how he was settling in. "Until then, take care of yourself." And he meant it.
With a slight bow of his head, Lieutenant Canine Serine turned away and started back toward the ship.
Jax nodded in reply and watched the other man walk away. Reaching down he grabbed his duffel and making sure the jacket was sufficiently stuffed back inside, he made his way towards the guest accommodations he'd been given to stay in for the few days he was going to be laying over until it was time to officially report for duty. He had one more night to spend as a "free man", and he wanted to make sure he made the most of it.
"Unexpected friendships are the best ones."