Captain’s Personal Log, Supplemental. I had come to believe, at least in the early years, that my being assigned as a Commanding Officer had been little more than a fluke. Coming straight out of the Diplomatic Corps to sit in the center seat had seemed a bit ludacris to me given how little time I’d spent doing anything that was even remotely connected to the rank and file duties of the more operational departments aboard the one vessel I’d actually served on prior to my tour on Earth. The fact that the Argonaut wasn’t the most advanced ship in the fleet, or the most powerful, or even the fastest, lulled me into a false sense that I had reached the apex of my command career and that leaving the ship would mean a desk job back home. If only my past self had known…
“What the hell is this?!” Commander Rena Yuri demanded, PaDD in hand, as she stormed into Captain Jonathan Bastin’s small ready room. The compartment was only large enough to hold the desk the Captain used for work, two smaller chairs in front of it, and a two person couch at the rear of the room that had, through Bastin’s entire tenure on the Argonaut, gone without ever seeing a single buttocks rest upon it.
Bastin winced as the woman’s voice pierced through the silence that had dominated his private space prior to her entry, “What is what?”
“This!” the woman answered, sliding the PaDD over to him in anger. Bastin picked up the device, his face betraying his confusion. Looking over the contents of the PaDD, his look of confusion only grew deeper, and the mystery as to why she was in a foul mood only deepened.
“You’re being appointed as the Argonaut’s new Commanding Officer,” Bastin said, summarizing the contents displayed on the PaDD, “Why was this something you had to storm in here and yell about?”
“Because you’re taking half the senior staff with you!” Yuri fumed, her face flushed in a rather angry shade of red.
“It wasn’t my decision,” Bastin said with a sigh, thinking for a moment he had a handle on why she was upset, “Admiral Zh’rialahr is the one who decided the Argonaut could operate well enough with just elevating the current assistant department heads. It’s not like I wanted to poach them from you.”
“Ugh!” the woman groaned in frustration, “That isn’t what I’m mad about, Jon!”
Bastin frowned and leaned back in his chair, a fresh look of confusion emerging on his face, “Then what in the world are you upset about?”
“Being left behind, that’s what!” Yuri shouted, throwing her hands up like she was a child throwing a tantrum.
“You’re being given a command… I had thought that was something you would be happy about,” Bastin remarked, his face twitching a bit as he tried to sort out how he should be reacting to her ire.
The woman cradled her head in her hands, letting out a frustrated half laugh half sob before sucking in a breath and looking up at the ceiling for a moment. She took several long, almost exaggerated breaths before she finally looked at Bastin again. While she didn’t look any less angry, at least she didn’t continue shouting.
“I’ve only been a First Officer for a few years now. I’ve only just gotten the hang of this job and now you want me to command this ship? You and I both know I’m not ready to handle that,” Yuri argued.
“Objectively speaking you do have things to learn prior to stepping up, but you’re not incompetent Rena. You are more than capable of commanding the Argonaut during this operation, even if there are areas that could use a bit of improvement. No one said you had to be the perfect Commanding Officer starting out,” Bastin countered.
The woman finally sank down into one of the chairs facing the Captain’s desk, “You don’t seem to understand what I’m trying to say…”
“Probably because I can’t see how it’s a bad thing that you’re being given this opportunity,” Bastin said with a hint of frustration.
“I’m not ready,” Yuri repeated, “I’m self-aware enough to know that I won’t be able to do the things that will be required of me when the time comes because I haven’t had enough time to learn it all. I don’t want to have the center chair handed to me without any support,” the woman explained.
“It’s not as if I had support when I took over the Argonaut. Hell, I was never even a First Officer to begin with. I was… am… a diplomat,” Bastin said with a bit of hesitation, “Everything I learned about being in command had to be learned on the fly. I was handed the Argonaut and sent out on what amounted to milk runs for about a year before I was told to go tackle things that I didn’t really see myself qualified to tackle. I had to adapt. I had to lean on people who probably thought I was a pain in the neck to deal with because I didn’t know things that their previous Captains knew. It was a rough first few years, but in the end I made it work.”
The First Officer shifted restlessly in her chair, “I remember you saying that… but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel that I’m ready for the assignment.”
Bastin let out a slow breath as he mulled things over for a moment. In the back of his mind, he had a nagging suspicion that he knew exactly where her reluctance had come from. Much as he had tried to maintain an arm’s length between them, he couldn’t deny that they were far closer than he had been with other members of the crew. What was worse, most of that familiarity hadn’t come from their time shared on duty but rather in the little moments that happened in their day to day lives outside of the bridge.
“This is about ‘us’…” Bastin said, his eyes looking up at the ceiling as if he were searching for the next thing to say.
“Yes… that’s what this is about,” Rena said with tension in her voice. Recently she’d gotten the very real sense that he was purposely avoiding spending the kind of quality time together they had enjoyed in the last year or so together. Since neither of them had put an actual label on it, the fact that he had chosen the word ‘us’ meant that he was at least aware that there was something between them that transcended their professional relationship.
Bastin cradled his head in his hands for a moment before pushing himself back in his chair, “I guess I just wanted to pretend there wasn’t an ‘us’ to think about. That this transfer would somehow fix the awkward atmosphere that had been developing the last few months and that we’d just… naturally drift apart.”
“Did you ever stop to think that maybe I didn’t want that?” Yuri asked with a frown, “Maybe I wanted to see if what we had was something as special as I hope it is…”
Bastin shook his head after a moment, “No. I never did think about that. I was too wrapped up in all the problems I’ve had in the past with relationships with people I worked closely with. I made the decision for you that we weren’t going to be anything more than a command team and didn’t give your feelings a second thought.”
The woman couldn’t help but frown, “That’s… surprisingly blunt coming from you.”
Bastin could only offer a weak chuckle in response to her words. He also knew it was a very generous description of what was better labeled as cowardice. If everything they’d been through was really looked at and evaluated by such a cut and dry decision on his part, then one thing he’d said a moment ago didn’t make sense.
“If you made up your mind there would be no ‘us’, then why were things awkward at all?” Yuri pointed out.
Again Bastin let out a long breath, closing his eyes as if he were suddenly exhausted by the conversation, “Because I started to second guess my decision. As hard as I tried to avoid it, the fact of the matter was, I couldn’t honestly say I didn’t like the idea of us being together in a much deeper sense. I just couldn’t reconcile that feeling with my behavior up to that point. I started to feel… disingenuous.”
“You should have just said something,” Yuri couldn’t help but blurt out, “I honestly thought I was doing something to upset you!”
Bastin couldn’t help but hang his head a bit, “Yeah… I know. And you’re right, I should have. But after going so long practically ignoring the distance between us shrinking… I just thought bringing it up would be cruel.”
“The cruel part was you trying to leave me behind without resolving this,” Yuri grumbled.
“I can’t even defend myself for that.”
“So,” Yuri said after letting his admission of guilt hang for a few tense moments, “I’m going to decline the offer to command the Argonaut and transfer aboard the Hydra with you and the rest of the staff that’s been designated to go. Once this pirate hunting business is over, we’re going to actually sit down and discuss how our personal lives together will progress on our new ship.”
Jon was about to argue with her but the way she said it stopped him. She didn’t sound angry anymore, there was a strange firmness in her tone that seemed to hint at her having made some manner of resolution that he’d be foolish to simply dismiss on his own like he had before.
“Then I guess…” Bastin finally said after taking everything that had been discussed to heart, “we need to pack and get ourselves transferred to our new ship.”
“Correction,” Yuri said as she stood up with a much more relaxed expression than when she’d walked in, “You need to pack. I just need to arrange for the transfer of your gear once you do.”
Bastin looked at her with a stunned expression before he lost the battle in his mind over whether to laugh or curse her for her rather presumptuous preparations. Laughter had won out.