SIM:Nicholotti (Ben Walker) One Step Forward

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((Officer's Banquet Hall, Executive Tower, Starbase 118))

Walker: You can trust me. Not just the office. If you need me, I'll be there. I may well do things you don't agree with. :: He grinned full out at this:: And actually you can probably count on that... but YOU aren't alone in this.

::And for a moment, she stood barely moving, but her smile quickly returned.::

Nicholotti: I appreciate that more than you could know.

::She understood! Maybe not completely, maybe not perfectly. But there was a sense there of being on the same page. He matched her smile despite the solemn way he replied. ::

Walker: Glad to be of service then Captain.

::The song finally came to an end and she accompanied him to the side of the dance floor. Still smiling, she spoke softly so that only he could hear.::

Nicholotti: I didn't get to choose my first officer this time around, but the more I get to know you, the more I realize that I couldn't have chosen anyone better.

::He blinked rapidly in momentary shock before answering. ::

Walker: Thank you. To echo you back, I appreciate that more than you know.

Nicholotti: Enjoy yourself tonight. I expect you in my office bright and early in the morning.

::She laughed.::

Walker: Sounds good. Though I really don't think I need to up the luminosity just to meet. :: He grinned, it was good to be able to at least know when it was "ok" to joke with her. ::

Nicholotti: And hey, you really can call me Kali. You know, when it's just us, off duty, or whatever. ::She shrugged.:: I mean it.

::And there it was. A bridge not crossed, a wall not broken down. His first thought was to thank her politely and ignore it. He'd dont that with Fleet Captain Mar and Admiral Anassasi. That's what he still did to an extent even with Cody. And he was a friend from far back. It wasn't fair or right to change it now. When they found out.. when they heard of what he'd done, they'd wonder why he hadn't been considerate enough to do the same for them. All of this flashed through his mind, bringing him to the absolute certainty of what he was going to do.

::Which was why, re-wetting his lips before he did so, it came as a shock to himself to hear the words that came out instead. ::

Walker: Thank you Ca..Kali. And... when you feel like it... call me Ben.

::As she finally moved away and found her way to a drink, he instead moved to a chair as rapidly as he could manage without drawing overt attention. His heart thundered in his chest as the panic set in. Thousands of lessons learned from childhood clamored for his attention. The section of his mind that he'd sealed off threatened to burst as he fought to understand why he'd done it. And what to do about it. ::

::To a degree, it felt like he was in combat. The thrill of not quite knowing what was going to happen next. That all of his preparations had been thrown out the door, and he'd have to fly off the seat of his pants in order to get through. He'd run the risk, and even more realized he'd be continuing to run that risk going forward. Others would recognize that the Captain...he shook his head...that Kali would be seen as important to him and would become a target. ::

::As the thought crossed his mind, the whole point crystallized in a way that had never happened before. Part of his difficulties were that socially he was as adept as a Vulcan who'd rid himself of all emotion...and then fell down a flight of stairs. But... this was just something new to learn, and everywhere else he'd learned as quickly as anyone else or faster. ::

::But if no one appeared close to him, then no one would be seen as important. No one would or could be killed as his father was as punishment for things he'd done. ::

::His isolation was a cage of his own creation, and the door lay open if he was willing to take the step. Or, he could play it safe and close off again. No one else would know, and they might even be safer for it. ::

::So, after years in Starfleet, awards for bravery and service, Benjamin Walker did the riskiest move he'd ever made. ::

::And took one step forward. ::

Cmdr Ben Walker
SB118/USS Victory

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