and the walls will fall/affirming nothing/so what's it all about?
Timeline: February 28th 2390
The festival is in full swing when Jaime makes his way from the stellar cartography labs at the Polaris Institute, the weather warm and the artificial inky-blue of night befalling the station's inhabitants, setting the backdrop for paper lanterns to float lazily into the sky above the tea lights pinned to rooftops in swirling artistic patterns. It's meant to raise funds for the University, he knows that much, but mostly everyone's used it as an excuse to come and eat free Bajoran food and look at tenth-grade science projects laid out in neat rows.
"Hey, excuse me, you can't touch that," a voice barks at Jaime when he reaches out to stroke over a very realistic, self-contained, miniature thunder-cloud suspended within a gravimetric barrier-one of the entries that in his opinion should be slated to win, and the voice is cranky and expectant all at the same time. The voice of a man used to being obeyed, and not shy at all about it, but what does shock Jaime is the face attached to the words when he finally whirls around.
Evidently the man thinks so, too, because his eyebrows shoot up to his hairline (still dark, still wavy; he hasn't gone grey yet even though he'd tell you he's been destined for it since he was fourteen) and his brown-green-grey eyes widen for a split-second in abrupt shock before his expression freezes over into its usual cool countenance and that surprise turns to a dry eyeroll. "Mr. Chevalier," Dr. Alan Ganna murmurs, bowing his head. "I wouldn't have pegged you to be in attendance." The slight is clear. This is an academic event. Jaime obviously shirked those when he suddenly dropped out of Oxford and left his paper in the lurch.
Jaime's sudden departure from Oxford, mere months before graduation, with only six more credits remaining for his degree, had shocked and surprised everyone. Despite his partying, womanizing, fraternizing, pleasure seeking ways, the young man was actually very smart; that's what frustrated a lot of his professors. He might not have shown up for a majority of his classes, but he had always turned assignments in on time, and his test scores were through the roof. And no, cheating had never been involved. The man was just a good test-taker.
Jaime Chevalier had dropped off the face of the planet for a little over three years before he had found redemption, and a real niche in San Francisco. He'd met his current father figure who'd helped him through rehab and an AA program, the full steps and everything. Starfleet Academy had been the turning point in his life to help him really, finally turn his life around. Turn over a new leaf, as it were. Granted, his Starfleet life wasn't all sunshine and roses, he'd still had a few ups and downs, but at least nothing had driven him back into the bottle. He was still clean and sober 8 years later.
Everything that led up to his dropping out of Oxford felt like a lifetime ago. Jaime was a different person in many ways, but also still very much the same in many others. Regardless, it was a life he thought he had left far behind him, and he never thought in a million years anything from then would ever catch back up to him. Especially not all the way out here. Therefore, when he heard that voice, saw that face, two things that had often plagued his dreams in the most provocative of ways, he was struck uncharacteristically dumb.
He recovered quickly, though, and that familiar, smug, yet still somehow charmingly boyish smile graced his lips as he regarded his old professor. "One might think you would have learned long ago, Professor, that telling me I cannot touch something only makes me want to touch it more," he said with a wink. His accent wasn't as thick and prominent as it had once been. It was still there just not obnoxiously so. Over a decade living outside of France had diluted it somewhat. The flirtatious charm was a familiar smokescreen to hide just how nervous he was; how nervous this man made him. Jaime found his heart was suddenly rabbiting in his chest. He was nervous yes, but he was also incredibly delighted. Jaime never thought he would ever see Alan Ganna again, but he hadn't realized how upsetting that thought really was until he found the man suddenly standing in front of him. A wave of long buried and forgotten feelings suddenly washed over him, threatening to steal his breath away.
Alan's own accent has always been light, at least as far as Jaime ever knew. There's the tell-tale reminiscence of what was once a strong dialect of his own, tempered by time and distance, but also his natural affinity for languages had given him a good ear. Still, if one listened really hard, they could hear the Rheinfränkisch present even after all these years at Columbia, Oxford and gallivanting around the galaxy. "Lieutenant Chevalier, I see," Alan's response comes bundled fresh with an almighty eyeroll. "Tell me you didn't join the military police, at least. I should hardly like to think my lessons went totally unheeded."
"Your lessons were probably the only ones I did take heed of, actually." Jaime's grin dilutes into a slightly crooked smirk. "My track is nothing quite so authoritative or constricting as the MP I'm afraid... I'm in flight control and astrometrics." That wasn't surprising. Jaime had always had an obsession with the stars. "I also teach Federation Standard a few nights a week." His smile widened again, the gravity of the situation sort of settling around him. "It's really good to see you, sir. Surprising, but..." His grin softened to something more genuine, almost vulnerable, even intimate.
It's not surprising, but it is redundant, and Alan merely blinks at the information. He's often found that such redundancy is typical of people who are proud of themselves and if he's honest, Jaime squandered a great deal to work for an occupying military force. He's always known Jaime was troubled, so the nod of his head is an acknowledgment that, if nothing else, Jaime has appeared to cultivate a successful life out here. "I suppose there's no need to stand on formality any longer. I am not your professor, and you are not my student. Alan will suffice." He holds out a hand to shake, a trademarked scowl flitting over his features Jaime had come to expect was the result of having it slapped away too many times over the course of his life; an unconscious little grimace whenever routine monotony shifted to make way forcorrect social decorum.
Jaime was aware a lot of people thought he had wasted potential but most of those people didn't know what his life had been like at Oxford. Most people didn't know what the tattoos on his arms covered up. Most people didn't know that behind the playboy, partying ways Jaime had once had a glorified death wish he was practically begging the universe to deliver because he couldn't do it himself, and he was constantly let down time after time. Meeting Lance and finding purpose in Starfleet had been his saving grace. So if he wasn't proud of where he was and how he'd gotten there, he was at least no longer praying the hull would explode and suck him out into space. That was a huge improvement. "But you are a teacher here are you not? Are some of these your students?" Jaime asked, indicating the various science projects on display around them.
"I am," Alan nods. "Until we can establish a workable curriculum satisfactory to all participating member issues, I'm teaching advanced placement calculus and physics to twelfth graders. It has been an illuminating experience." It's always a measure in kindling just how dry Alan can make his voice sound. "If it's touching you're after, the tactile exhibits are over here." Alan sweeps his arm out near the back.
"Please tell me that's code for you're showing me to your private boudoir?" Jaime asked with a teasing, playful smirk.
Alan rolls his eyes. "Any man that owns a boudoir should touch Aletzko's science project," he huffs, wiggling his fingertips and watching an arc of electricity dance between them. He waves Jaime over anyway, his trademark scowl etched deep into his features, frown-lines permanently embedded as he withdraws a PADD from his wool cardigan. "Take a look at this for me." He holds it out.
Jaime grinned at his quip then followed alongside him. He still smelled the way Jaime remembered. Like paper tomes, and after shave, and that heady musk that was just Alan. Jaime wasn't being creepy and like smelling him or anything like that, but he definitely picked up a subtle whiff and his nostrils may or may not have flaired a little. He missed that smell. It accompanied some of the only fond memories he had from his life before.
Jaime's smile was still firmly in place and probably for the first time since Alan had known him it was a smile that genuinely reflected in his eyes. Those strikingly blue eyes that were like windows into Jaime's very soul. The younger man looked at the PADD and took it as requested. "What am I looking at?" He asked curiously.
"While we were setting this up, the containment field around one of the support beams failed," Alan murmurs, drawing a finger down the PADD while reading it upside down, directing Jaime to a spot of code that's been troubling him this entire time. "That isn't a natural error. Someone deliberately programmed that structure to collapse. Lieutenant Ryan was almost killed. There are children here, civilians. This is a school, it should be safe." Alan's unspoken request is clear-he doesn't trust Starfleet. Never has and never will, but Jaime is a bit of an outlier, now. Of any officer, he's-well-he is. Let's leave that thought process at that.
Jaime followed along, nodding in understanding. "You think someone on the station was deliberately sabotaging this event?" It was more a rhetorical question he didn't really need an answer to. It was obvious what Alan was trying to get at. "And have you any ideas as to who might wish to harm the school or the students?"
"The event, the grid. I don't know," Ganna grimaced. "I'm not exactly a man that garners warm and fuzzy feelings." Meaning, he's pissed off a lot of people since landing on the station, and any one of them could've sought to sabotage his project.
God, how Jaime had so missed Alan's conspiracy theories. "And you fear someone from Starfleet may be behind it which is why you've not notified station security yet?" Jaime was trying to keep a straight face but he wanted to smile so bad. It was almost adorable. Not the sabotage but Alan's distrust of 'the man'.
Alan huffs. "I didn't notify station security because I have no desire to run through bureaucratic hoops." In other words, he doesn't trust them to get the job done. And yeah, one of them could have done it, so it doesn't make sense to alert the very authorities who might be responsible. "I just want to find who did this and then I'll turn them over."
"Who else knows about it besides you and now myself" Jaime inquired further.
"Lieutenant Ryan," Alan says. "He almost got killed because of it. That's it. No one else."
He nodded in understanding. "I'm no detective, but I'll look into it. "
Alan presses his lips together, glancing over at Jaime momentarily. "OK," he murmurs, quieter than normal. "Appreciated, Jaime."
Jaime smiled genuinely and gave the man a light nod. "Have dinner with me later?"
The hybrid's eyebrows shoot up to his hairline, but whatever was ready to erupt from his mouth in response he bats it down and his lips press together, acquiescently. "Very well. I should hardly like to discover what you deem fine dining. I will pick the locale."
Jaime's smirk bloomed into a full grin. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Let me give you my frequency." Jaime held his hand out expectantly for Alan's personal communicator or PADD.
With a bit of a scowl, Alan hands it over. "And for the love of G-d, don't show up in your uniform," he gripes as Jaime enters his contact information. There seems to be no end to Alan Ganna's capacity for bitching, even when he's being invited somewhere. He's all tense lines and angles, and as soon as Jaime is finished he snatches his communicator (a sleek, translucent, thin phone with a glass flip-case settled over-top displaying the date and time) back.
Jaime entered his contact information in Alan's fancy communicator, titled under 'Mr. Chevalier', smirking as Alan snatched it back. "Are you saying you don't love a man in uniform?" He asked as he stepped back a little to smooth a hand down the front of his uniform.
"My mama taught me better," Alan snorts, rolling his eyes.
Jaime's grin widened. "Maybe it's just not the right uniform," he said with a wink.
"Yeah, yeah," Alan groans. "Get back to electrocuting yourself, Mr. Chevalier."