As Years Go By
Posted on November 6th, 2015 by T'Kirr and Ian Blackthorne
The Zuriyev home was a magnificent structure of wood and glass perched on a forested hill in Marin, affording a spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay. Admiral A.C. Zuriyev and Commodore Brooke Zuriyev usually invited Vice Admiral Ian Blackthorne and Captain T’Kirr to dinner when they were able to make it to Earth, and this evening was no exception. After the meal, the Zuriyevs and their guests had retired to the house’s spacious front room to take in the view as they talked and had a few drinks.
Alexi turned from the bar and handed a glass of whisky to Ian and Brooke, knowing that T’Kirr would not want any, and that his wife had already supplied the Vulcan woman a cup of tea. “Please, have a seat!” he offered with a gesture to the leather couches and chairs. Ian and T’Kirr crossed the room to a two-seat couch and sat down together, followed by the Zuriyevs who sat across from them.
Placing her drink on the lacquered wood and stone coffee table between the couches, Brooke suddenly brightened and smiled excitedly at T’Kirr. “Oh, congratulations on your promotion! Captain, finally!”
T’Kirr dipped her head. “Thank you.”
“So,” Brooke continued, but her tone was now teasing. “When do you get your own ship?”
“I have no intention of doing so at this time,” T’Kirr replied easily before cupping her tea in both hands and taking a long sip.
“I can not blame you there,” Alexi added. “The Atlantis is a special ship, as we all know, and I am of course glad that Brooke and I never took assignments that would separate us.” His voice turned wistful as he continued, “My – your ship is in good hands with you two in command.”
“Thanks, Alexi. She’s certainly home to us, as we’ve discovered in the months we’ve been without her.” Ian smiled into his drink as he took a sip of the single-malt Scotch, having noticed Alexi’s change in tone, and moreover that he actually referred to Atlantis as not his, for once. The Zuriyevs had commanded Atlantis over a decade ago, and the two men had always exchanged friendly banter with Alexi never ceasing to refer to the ship as his. After a moment, Ian decided to see if there was a reason behind this concession in their rivalry, and continued, “I have to say, though, that your change of wording regarding whose ship she is comes as a surprise. Finally giving up after all these years?”
With a long sigh, Alexi turned to look at Brooke whose expression was suddenly less jovial, then back to Ian. “Well, I have been your boss for a long time, but more importantly, your friend, so I thought that you should hear this in person. I am retiring from Starfleet.”
Incredulity registered on Ian’s face, this news obviously being completely unexpected. T’Kirr raised an eyebrow in surprise and shared a look with him before he finally responded. “Why, Alexi? I mean, I don’t intend to be rude, but you love your job, and if Brooke is not retiring as well…” He trailed off and looked to the Commodore, whose mood he could sense had soured, for confirmation.
Brooke shook her head and reached for her cup on the table, her voice deadpan. “No, I’m not retiring.”
Ian’s questioning gaze turned back toward Alexi, who was busy finishing his drink. After a few long moments of stalling by glancing toward the bar, he finally answered, “It is just time, Ian; I have been the Director for a long time, and I suppose I have nothing left to do but rebuild after the war. The idea of doing that is tiresome, so perhaps it really is time to let someone else take the reins.”
“Then… I suppose congratulations are in order?” Ian was certainly not convinced, and although the other Betazoid’s mind was oddly closed right now, Brooke was broadcasting enough discontent to warrant suspicion. Regardless, if they would not volunteer any further information, he decided not to pry.
T’Kirr studied Alexi and Brooke in turn. Ian’s words prompted her to give her congratulations, but neither of them seemed genuinely happy about it, so she stayed silent. Her eyes lingered on Alexi. He had held a command position for quite a few years now, and it would be strange knowing that he would no longer be their Starfleet link to Earth anymore. She thought back to when she had first met him, when he had been a Rear Admiral and she began her career as an Ensign aboard Atlantis. They had only served fourteen months together before Blackthorne had taken command.
Alexi chuckled and offered a half-smile. “Command seems to think so. They are throwing me an actual parade on the Embarcadero. I hope that both of you will be there.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Ian answered quickly, followed by a few moments of awkward silence, as if no one were allowed to mention the elephant in the room.
“Of course,” T’Kirr assured Alexi. “I’ll be there, too.” She then looked to his wife. “It’s a shame Brooke doesn’t seem favorable to the idea. I would think having Alexi more available would be a good thing.”
Brooke straightened in her seat. It seemed she hadn’t done well enough in keeping a straight face. She forced a grin, knowing she needed to support Alexi right now. “Oh, it is, I’m sure. It’s just…new, you know? And well, it’s like you said, I’m not retiring with him. I’m not ready to, which just makes it a bit difficult, I suppose.”
T’Kirr nodded her acceptance of this, although she wasn’t sure Brooke was being entirely honest. She wasn’t empathic like Ian was, so perhaps she would ask him about it later. T’Kirr couldn’t help but relate Alexi and Brooke’s situation to her and Ian’s recent conversation about retirement. It could make for an enlightening conversation and help them to understand one another, but it wasn’t something she thought prudent to bring up right now.
Trying to lighten the mood, Alexi leaned back and smiled. “It really has been a long career. Why, I remember Ensign T’Kirr, fresh out of the Academy, reporting aboard Atlantis when I was still in command. I never imagined she would be sitting in my living room as a Captain, the ship’s XO, and my friend so many years later.”
T’Kirr clasped her hands in front of her, one eyebrow bobbing. “A lot can change in so many years.”
“And so it has,” Ian mused. “Even Jack Cahalan has retired.”
“I heard about that. Found a nice Risan woman to settle down with, da? Good for him.” Alexi stood and walked over to the bar, retrieving the bottle of whisky. “Speaking of Jack,” he said, refilling the glasses as he sat back down, “that is the real end of an era. Forget Admirals, when your longtime bartender retires, that is huge.”
With a chuckle, Ian answered, “Damn right.” Raising his glass to the center of the coffee table, he toasted, “To retiring friends and the end of an era. May retirement take you to a place of peace, contentment, and natural fibers.”
Laughing at the toast, all four of the old friends clinked glasses. The conversation moved on to happier subject matter as the hour grew later and more drinks were consumed. Once the need for sleep became too strong to ignore, the Zuriyevs insisted that Ian and T’Kirr stay in their guest room. After many battles, endless weeks spent repairing Atlantis, and nights on starbases, they accepted the offer and finally slept a peaceful night on Earth.