On the bridge of the USS Feuos Cadet McCloud sat next to the new tactical officer. McCloud was a senior at Starfleet Academy and was earning his deep space assignment credits by working as helmsman of the Feuos. Normally such credits were accumulated during ones sophomore year at the academy. However, a computer error had incorrectly caused McCloud to go that entire year without an assignment. Assignments came, assignments went. Eventually, the situation was remedied by rescheduling the Feuos to his senior year.
McCloud was a brilliant pilot, and some might have said extremely attractive. His hair was bleach blonde and well kept, his skin was tan, and he had a slightly trim physique, accentuated with muscular definition.
Next to him, the tactical officer Lieutenant Sinclair Fisher was a quiet girl. She wasn’t one for conversation, even under the best circumstances. Sinclair, or “Clair” as she would’ve been called by her friends, was introverted and shy. She’d graduated from Starfleet Academy a few years prior to receiving the Feuos as her assignment. Her years at the academy were not filled with socialization and friends. Instead, she’d focused on her studies, and her physical skills. She had played sports and was excellent at baseball. Her natural predisposition to physical attunement had been her focus.
However, no matter how many physical activities she had filled her time with, nothing inside could hide the hideous longing that had grown within her. She was despondent and sad. The longer she had built the wall around herself, the less and less approachable she had appeared to those on the outside.
McCloud entered minor course corrections into the helm. They were scheduled to first class M asteroid near the Helaspont nebula. It was here they would plot a deeper course according to the information provided by the former Cardassian spy: Gionna.
For the first time in her life, the silence on the bridge was just a little too much for Sinclair. Whether it was the continuous repetitive beeping of computers or sensors, or because she was sitting so close to someone so attractive, she couldn’t stand the silence. McCloud had spoken even fewer words to her than she normally spoke to others – she could stand no more.
Her mouth opened, and the words just fell out.
“Your name…” The sentence was incomplete, and it didn’t even make sense to her.
McCloud looked at her out of the corner of his eye. Apparently the half speak had made some sense to him, because he answered it with a single word.
“McCloud.” He said, in a low, unfriendly tone.
For some reason his voice struck Sinclair as deeply as his handsome appearance, and she found herself regretting hearing him speak at all. Her heart skipped a beat, and she was dry in the mouth and nervous. Her skin was sickly and a bit pale.
“I-I mean, yeah I know…” She said, over explaining herself, “I saw the roster… and your name… your first name is just listed as N. N McCloud.”
McCloud’s eyes just squinted at her like he wanted her to die.
“I know my own name.” He said, like a scorpion spat its venom.
Sinclair suddenly felt very stupid and her eyes rolled back and fluttered a bit.
“Right, I mean… yes, of course you do. I was…” She stammered.
McCloud was cold and mean and indifferent to the struggle she was apparently having with her social anxiety.
“You were what?” He said, with no mercy.
Sinclair gathered herself.
“…I-I was wondering what…what does the N stand for?” She said, even managing to complete her thought with a caring and genuine smile.
She’d done it. She felt accomplished and good. Her social anxiety had not beaten her. She started a conversation, the anxiety had not won. She’d gotten the thought out, she’d come out of her shell, she’d challenged herself, and rose up to meet it. The sentence wasn’t good, it was poorly executed, but today she’d done it. And she felt like maybe it was the beginning of getting control of her social anxiety once and for all.
And McCloud opened his mouth to reply. And for a moment, he smiled a deep smile at her. A smile she hoped would lead to friendship and new conversations.
…A smile she misread.
The smile was an open invitation to a sucker punch, an invitation to relax that only led to a promontory of unexpected disappointment and cruelty.
“It stands for… none of your business.” He said, dropping the smile in a moment, and turning back toward the helm.
Sinclair became instantly apologetic; the anxiety returned and quickly became tremors and stammering magnified by failure.
“I…I’m sorry…I’m just… so… I just wanted to talk…” She said, almost crying now.
McCloud was more than a jerk. And her discomfort meant nothing to him.
“Are you really that desperate?” He said with cold rejection. “Do your job and leave me alone.”
Sinclair couldn’t leave her station fast enough. She ran to the back of the bridge, into the corridor. Had they not been the only two officers on the bridge, someone else might have said something. Someone might have intervened.
However, they were alone, and McCloud got away with it.
They were alone, and no one felt more alone than Sinclair Fisher.
She was alone, the anxiety had won. And she would always be alone. And the tears came…