USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Misspent Youth

Posted on Sat Dec 26th, 2020 @ 11:39pm by Commander Martin Sorenson

Mission: When the Bough Bounces
Location: Sirius Station, Dog Star Lounge
Timeline: after 'Following Orders'
2113 words - 4.2 OF Standard Post Measure

The Dog Star Lounge was in one of the better locations on the Promenade: 3rd level up and butted against the curve of the outer bulkhead so that floor to ceiling viewports provided a sweeping vista of local system and the stars beyond. At this hour neither binary star was visible from the lounge, but the scattering of cosmic dust caught the light from both the bright primary star and the white dwarf that was its pale companion. Sitting a small table along that panoramic view, Martin settled back in his chair and took a sip of wine as he drank it in. The view was almost a dessert in itself, though he was debating ordering one from the menu. The lounge wasn't a high end establishment, but the meal had been quite good. Despite Rufus' recommendation of the place for its meat, when Martin had been told that the fish was farm raised on the station's aquatic levels, he had decided on the house special: Antican grouper with hasperat chutney on goschmol rice with braised vithi on the side. The light springwine the waiter had recommended had been a nice counterpoint to the spicy citrus flavors in the meal.

He only wished he could have brought Ildri - he was sure she would have enjoyed both the meal and the view - but apparently the meal they had planned to share was not to be. It was a shame, the one thing truly missing from an otherwise lovely dinner was companionship...

"Marty! Marty is that you?"

Be careful what you wish for... Martin's jaw clenched at the call. He did not respond, and in fact stared all the more raptly out the viewport in hopes that speaker would assume a case of mistaken identity and continue on.

"Dr. Sorenson, paging Dr. Martin Sorenson." The voice shifted to a joking sing-song imitation of a computer page as it moved closer.

Martin sighed - no such luck - and plastered on a pleasant smile before turning around. "Kyle, I'm sorry. I was," he gestured at the viewport, "lost in thought."

"You haven't changed a bit," Kyle laughed. "Even after being lost for years in the Delta quadrant, or wherever."

"Nope," Martin answered, innocently ignoring the slight rise in tone implying a query, or an invitation to tell the tale. That was not happening. He had been just as happy to lose touch with Kyle when the man left residency to take a job a pharmaceutical company, but he'd heard that evaluating drugs had somehow segued to promoting products, partly through some sort of newsletter. That put Kyle Brett too close to being press for comfort. Not that he'd want to waste breath talking to the annoying jerk anyway.

Kyle waited a beat for more of an answer, but if his slick smile wavered just slightly he didn't let it deter him. "Well, I'm glad you made it back," he continued blithely, stepping around to the empty seat opposite Martin. "Here, let me buy you a real drink."

Gah! No! Martin swallowed the reaction. "That's really not necessary."

"Now, now, no polite Minnesotan refusals," Kyle rebuffed lightly, holding up one hand while pulling out the chair to seat himself with the other. "I was on the other side of the Alpha Quadrant so I couldn't make it to your welcome home party. I still feel badly about that."

I don't. Martin didn't say it. Besides, tempting as it was to discard 'Minnesota polite', Kyle was already seated so there was no way out without being rude. Unless he was paged for a medical emergency. He paused a beat, almost hoping.

Nope.

"You shouldn't. It was mostly just a big Starfleet event."

"But not all Starfleet. I saw a few of the news clips. Liz was there," Kyle observed, leaning in with an expression something like sympathy. "With her husband, and obviously expecting. That had to be tough, knowing she'd given up on you and gotten married after the ship was declared lost."

It had been tough, but not for the reasons he was suggesting. It had been a glimpse of a road not taken: settling down on earth, starting a family. Not with Liz though; she'd always have a place in his heart, but they weren't carrying any torches for each other. Once upon a time they'd thought they were in love, even soul mates, but they'd been very young - thrown together in fact because they'd both been several years younger than the other medical resident, two kids hearing all their lives about their potential and feeling keenly the expectations behind being told they could be anything they wanted. In the hot house environment of residency they'd thought that made them 'meant to be', but a lot of wants and expectations had to be re-evaluated once they were out and making a life together was among the ones they eventually realized was better discarded.

"We ended things a long time ago," he said. "And she was seeing Tom before I was posted to Vesta. I'm sorry I missed their wedding, but I'm happy for them."

"I guess you have changed after all. Did you flip completely from the guy following Liz around like a devoted puppy - got a gal in every port now?" Kyle jibed, then laughed, slapping the table with a palm. "And after I told everyone that book had to be total fiction."

Martin was about to roll his eyes at 'a gal in every port', but his stomach dropped at the next words. "Book?"

"I'm surprised you haven't heard of it. Nothing you'd read, of course, since it wasn't published in a textbook or a journal," Kyle teased. "Story of a lost ship - names and such all different, but it came out soon after yours returned, so people suspected a connection even if heavily fictionalized since it the crew was pretty promiscuous," Kyle winked. "Even for Starfleeters."

"Even for..." Martin began, aghast.

"Come on, everyone's heard about Kirk."

"Kirk was not the norm," Martin stated tersely, and frowned at the man. "And I know you were never that into textbooks or journals, but I didn't take you for the trashy novel type."

Kyle chuckled. "Normally I'm not, but I was at a pharma conference a little after it came out and you know marketing types - they are." He paused a moment as drinks arrived at the table. "Anyway, some of them found out that I knew you, so they all had to ask. After that, I had to read it."

Bet you did... he thought sourly. As far as he was concerned, Kyle was a marketing type, and he'd also bet people had 'found out' they knew each other because Kyle had banked on the Vesta crews' momentary celebrity and told them. But the idea that so many other people made the association between that character and him... Martin took a swallow of the drink - smooth, at least Kyle had ordered top shelf whiskey (if probably on expense account). "Well, if the character in the book had a woman in every port, it definitely wasn't based on me."

"More like most of the women on the ship." Kyle waggled his brows, then held up a hand at an obviously pained looked. "Don't worry, Marty, I never believed you had a harem." He smirked. "Though I hear you really did spend a lot of time with Orions."

Martin frowned. "As a physician, tending refugees."

"Oh, come on. I saw the article about that woman you sponsored." Kyle gave sly, almost leering grin. "Now she was one fine -"

"Doctor," Martin cut in firmly, clasping his hands together under the table because he really did take 'Do no harm' seriously and he was pretty sure smacking that look off Kyle's face would constitute 'harm'. "Lynata became one very fine doctor. Which is no surprise - she had barely a year of training when the Klingons attacked her colony, but a lot of the people on her evac transport wouldn't have made it if not for her care, and she helped us at the clinic every day she was there too. We all wrote reference letters for her; I just used on my father's connections to help a student visa along."

Kyle just grinned. "I bet she was grateful."

"Yes. She saved up her rations to make us a wonderful Orion spice cake," Martin answered matter-of-factly, keeping any hint that other Orion ideas about appropriate thanks had been offered out of his expression. Kyle could think he was a hopeless dork, but he wouldn't give him any excuse to think that Lynata had earned her way through anything but talent and hard work.

"Of course she did." And probably didn't even jump out of it, Kyle thought shaking his head sadly. "I know you care about standards of propriety, and that's all to the good, but it's still kind of a shame. You were the youngest one of us, but you always seemed determined to not to take the opportunity to enjoy it. I'd thought since you hadn't settled down yet, maybe you'd finally started to live a little."

Martin shrugged, hands lifted palm upwards. "Sorry I haven't grown immature in my old age?"

"Hope springs eternal," Kyle laughed, hoisting his glass and taking a drink. "Maybe that Dr. Bathory could finally whip something up and give you another chance to misspend your youth, or at least indulge more."

"I doubt it." Martin shook his head. It wasn't that he'd been easy or obedient as a child, but being a 'kid' by college standards meant not getting to socialize like others - which on one hand was lousy, but on another meant getting to observe the fallout and thus learn from the lessons of others misspending their youth. However, he wasn't about to discuss that observation with Kyle, and seized on the mention of Bathory to change the subject. "Besides, despite any hype about a fountain of youth, Dr. Bathory's research is on longevity."

"Sure. That's what he's selling now, but last time he came to the industry for funding, it was eternal youth, reverse the ravages of age." Kyle waved dismissively. "Not that he ever produced anything."

"He did show brain function could theoretically be maintained. That lead to several advances in reducing age-related memory loss," Martin countered. He'd barely met Bathory, but if Kyle was running him down he felt a perverse impulse to defend him. Besides, while no one wanted to live longer if it meant longer and more severe decline, he'd spent enough time with Jack and Nolan for the concept of eternal youth to wear thin. If Bathory was now focused on extending life while limiting or freezing age-related decline, that seemed like a better goal.

"Okay. There was that," Kyle conceded, and took a drink to conceal a frown. Those advances had all come from UFP funded research, so even the patent with Bathory's name on it was ultimately held - and therefore the resulting treatments price-controlled - by the Federation. But he was sure Sorenson, especially now that he was Commander Sorenson, would thoroughly approve of that. "But that was almost a decade ago. Other than a bunch of academic papers, he hasn't produced anything since."

"Someone seems to think he's worth supporting, so he may come up with something yet." Martin took another sip of his drink. "Not my call in any case. We're just transporting him. Speaking of which..." I've thought of an excuse to leave! Martin finished the drink. "I need to make some arrangements for his equipment."

"I won't keep you then." Kyle slid a data rod across the table. "Unfortunately I have to catch the next shuttle to Bajor, so I won't be able to meet up with you again here. But that has my contact info, and some data sheets on our new products," he added with a slick smile. "Starfleet's a good customer and since you're a CMO I figure I can let you see those."

Of course. This was all to drop product literature in my lap. Still, Martin took the rod and managed a polite smile, even as he privately debated whether to 'lose' the rod down a disposal on the station or save it for the satisfaction of disintegration in his office. "Have a good flight, and thanks for the drink. I'll let you know if Bathory develops a cure for not misspending my youth," he joked as he walked away.

 

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