Neil looked in the lounge window, seeing his reflection in the glass as he ran his fingers through his temples. “Jesus grey,” he muttered, attempting to cover up the aging hair with his darker brown strands. He couldn’t help but realize how much older he looked. Was it actual maturity? Or was it the stress of it all? He really couldn’t answer that question.
Yet here he stood, in the Officer’s lounge of the USS Oberon, waiting to see what the next step in his career was going to be. He’d already been turned down for a Command of his own, mainly due to age and experience. He sighed, seeing the doors open behind him. “Captain,” he greeted the man. Was this going to be another denial or, worse, a transfer to a different ship? As he watched the man approach him, his entire career suddenly flashed in his eyes.
: Flashback 20 years ago:
The young man stood there, looking out over the large meadow that led to the entrance of Starfleet Academy. Behind those gates were the famous gardens once tended by Boothby himself. And behind that, four years of schooling. To say that he was scared, nervous, or even excited was a complete understatement. In the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but ask himself if it was too late. Was he sure about this career path? Crossing that entrance came with a high price, a price that included the loss of his parents. If he proceeded, what little relationship he had would be lost. Could he do that?
He reached up, rubbing his shoulder. He could still feel the pressure of his father’s hand on his shoulder as the man tossed him out of the house. Neil knew throughout the years that his parents disagreed with the military aspect of Starfleet. To them, it wasn’t the utopia painted in all the stories. He took a deep breath, “No more Neil, it is time,” he told himself.
“Neil, are you listening….”
“Cornelius Harrington, did you hear what I said?”
Neil shuddered, oh how he hated that name, and Captain Everton knew it. “Excuse me, Sir,” he smiled, turning to face the man. “My mind must have drifted off, you were saying?”
The older man laughed, “I give you possibly the news of a lifetime, and you daydream,” he took a deep breath, “Perhaps it isn’t time,” he tucked the padd back into his tunic.
It finally hit him, as the words Commanding Officer said replayed in his mind, “Are you serious,” he blurted out?
Everton smiled, “I am.” He took the padd out and tossed it at Harrington. “There isn’t much detail there. I have seen more detailed reports from well….” He shrugged, “Listen, don’t read too much into this yet; you know how Starfleet can be. However, it’s a start, and they don’t have your next assignment listed, so…” He looked at the man, “keep an open mind.”
The conversation continued for a few moments, before Neil took his leave Lucia wasn’t going to like a move that didn’t include a future. As he walked through the bridge, he spoke to no one in particular, “Captain Neil Harrington,” he wrinkled his nose, gaining a few odd looks from the crew around him. He didn’t really care who heard him, “Captain Cornelius Harrington,” he shuddered, “No.”
He heard a laugh behind him as the turbolift door opened, “Keep dreaming, Captain,” the voice mocked. “The day they make you a Captain, I get my Admiral pips,” the Chief Engineer laughed.
Neil turned as the lift doors started to close, “Well then, Admiral, see you in Engineering,” he commented. Stopping by the nearest replicator, Neil ordered up one long-stem red rose and a toy stuff starship before heading off to his quarters. Neil walked in, holding the rose in front of him, making the short distance to his quarter. “Tengo mi comando,” he blurted out, attempting to practice his Spanish. “I think,” he added.
Lucia laughed but tried to cover it up. “Mi Amor,” she kissed him, “Stick to English, dear. That was horrible.”
Neil reached down, ending their embrace, scooping up the three-year-old now clinging to his leg. “Tonight we go to the holodeck; I reserved it for the entire night. Whatever you two want….”