[USS Tempest] Not a Conspiracy by Paul Robsinson and JT Swiftwind

##Please note that this takes place after "Becoming a Bitch"

Paul had nearly choked on his tea when he'd read the medical reports and Security reports and then one from a Sergeant in the Marines. "Roberta Van der Pol," he sighed heavily. "Only you." tapping out his pipe, he stood, straightened his uniform and tried to work out where to go first. "Sick Bay or the Marines... the Marines. Hopefully this Swiftwind fellow will be as cooperative as the report suggests."

JT had his feet back on the desk again and another cup of coffee. A cigarette lay smoldering in the ash tray and he picked it up to take a long draw off of it as he read from a PADD. It wasn't too much work, especially since he was on a break. All that was on the PADD was Alek's report.

It took him longer than he'd have liked to find the Squad Room. Rolling his eyes, he strode past the working Marines. Using the back of his hand, Paul knocked sharply on Captain Swiftwind's door.

At least they knocked this time. JT dropped his feet to the floor. If it was Alek, he'd put it out. Anybody else was up to his mood. "Come on in," he said, sitting up straight behind the desk.

Paul entered, his eyes automatically drawn to the cigarette. Offering the man a bright, charming smile, he extended his hand. "Paul Robinson, Flight CO. I think we need to have a bit of a chat about an incident involving one of my pilots."

"JT Swiftwind," JT said automatically as he shook the man's hand. "Have a seat. Tell me what you want to know because I was an unfortunate party to the last half of the melee."

Paul leveled serious eyes at the man. "How much damage did Pim do to you really?"

Taking another long pull off the cigarette, JT shook his head. "You got it all wrong, Commander," he said, a bit of Oklahoma twang evident in his voice. "She never laid a hand on me. The arm was really the result of the stupidity of a Marine from another company."

"Bloody hell, you mean she didn't tick you off on sight?" Paul said with a tiny amount of awe mixed with amusement.

"Pim? Nah, not at all, though she narrowly missed spitting on my boots. I can assure you, that won't be happening again," JT said wryly. "Now, I've only read my sergeant's report and haven't got to Security's yet. Was it much different?"

"Both claim it started because Ensign Van der Pol was groped by one of your Marines, one is a little more detailed on the medical side of things but they seem to say the same thing. In fact, I'd like to thank you for taking her to Sick Bay and also your Sergeant for returning her when she tried to 'break out' as it were." Eyeing the cigarette longingly, Paul tried to bite back the sigh of another half smoked pipe.

"Commander, if you're having a nicotine fit, why not just say so?" JT asked as he reached into a drawer to pull out his open pack. He tossed the pack and his flameless lighter to him. "As I told Pim, this is my one acceptable vice. Now, I don't know a thing about the woman but, from today at least, I can't say I blame her one bit for what she did. I told her so actually."

Sighing with total relief, Paul extracted a ciggy, lit it and took a relieved draw. "Thanks, Captain, you're a hero. I swear that woman has caused me more half smoked pipes than anyone I've ever known. She's arrogant, rude, obnoxious, she swears too much, drinks too much, knows exactly when to say exactly the wrong thing to exactly the wrong person to tick them off royally but she's one of the best pilots I've ever seen. And," he added, "in this circumstance, I have to agree with you. Except maybe she should have hit him harder."

"Well, yeah, I said that too," JT snickered. "I generally don't take those qualities from anybody but we hit it off well enough. I appreciate anybody who shares my vices."

"Pim's one of these people that you either really like or you really don't," Paul observed. "Personally, I like her. We spend most coffee breaks in my office, sharing our poluted air with each other. Though, there are times when she digs out some of the rankest cigars I've ever smelled." At the memory, he wrinkled his nose and shook his head.

"I don't do cigars. They're generally pretty evil smelling. Honestly, I don't even like pipes unless it's tobacco my kin grew. Least I don't end up smelling of the stuff afterwards. My sage and sweet grass bundle gets rid of the odor," JT said, nodded toward the unlit handtied herb bundle sitting in a shell holder. "How long's she going to be off duty?"

"Ah, now that would be an easy thing to answer if it had been just a case of her broken arm and a brief discipline for behaviour unbecomming etc etc, but there's other issues at work here. To be honest, it's likely to be a fair while and not because of her actions either." Paul sighed heavily as he took another drag from the cigarette. "I have to admit, this may be something that ruins her career," he said with deep regret.

"Oh, now that's not fair.  The fight was hardly her fault," JT protested.

"No but it could have been prevented if her flight crew had been there. There's supposed to be a solid bond between pilot and navigator that is unshakable. And it was, " Paul told him. "In fact only Icebreaker and Squeak were closer than Rey and Pim, but recently, Rey's been... distracted. He's shirking duty, runs out of briefings and drops everything at a moment's notice all because of one man. If Ensign Tremaine says jump, Ensign Tren asks how high. And this is the ultimate example of that. I asked the computer for the location of Ensign Tren at the time of the fight, it placed him in Ensign Tremaine's quarters. I know it's his free time and I know that flight crews don't spend all their time together but if their connection were stronger, I believe this whole thing could have been avoided." Stubbing out the end of his cigarette, Paul sat back and rubbed a hand over his face. "I have to ground them both. It will either bring them closer or break the bond completely. Worst case scenario, I might be able to salvage Pim's career but not Rey's."

JT let out a low whistle. "Distractions can be a problem if you actually let them distract you," he said. "You think this will work on this Tren?"

"I honestly don't know. If I could think of any other way, I'd do it. He's a fine navigator and mechanic, I hate the thought of him throwing his career away." Paul shook his head sadly. "I'd like to ask you a favour though, if I may."

"What's that?" JT asked carefully.

"Distract Pim," Paul said bluntly.

"Excuse me?" JT asked, his eyes widening slightly.

Paul smirked. "Not like that. It's an old ploy, one that may or may not work. You see, Pim doesn't have a huge amount of friends, so if she started to see more men, perhaps," he crossed his fingers then leaned over and tapped the wooden desk, "Rey would get jealous enough to start being interested in her life again. Do you see what I mean?"

JT almost sagged back in the chair. "Y'never know with that sort of statement there, Captain. She's not a bad looking woman but she isn't my type. But I see what you mean. I'd be glad to try even if it doesn't work the way you want. Might ask my sergeant, too. He survived the walk back to Sick Bay with her so it's either she was really messed up or Singh's got charm."

"Dear me, Pim's getting friends?" Laughing jovially, Paul shook his head in amazement. "Maybe I didn't have to ask you at all. Now this Singh chap, d'you think I could meet him? Outline the plan, as it were?"

"It couldn't hurt to ask," JT said with a shrug. He pressed the open comm button. "Sergeant Singh, if you're not otherwise engaged, report to my office. If you are, come when you're through. Commander Robinson's got a few questions about your report." He contemplated pulling out another cigarette but waited. If the man was coming, he'd be there promptly.

"So, this chap, tell me about him," Paul said just before three sharp knocks at the door announced Alek's arrival.

"He can tell you himself.  If that's you, Sergeant, come on in," JT said.

"No," Alek said as he let himself in, "it is the Great Prophet Mohammad's second coming." Offering both officers a wry smile, he stood at attention in front of the desk. "How may I be of assistance?"

"At ease, Sergeant. This is Commander Robinson, the Flight Boss," JT told him, waving toward a seat. The last part of the introduction was stressed just slightly. ""He's got something of a proposal for us."

"Sirs?"  Alek sat down, back rod-straight, eyes unflinching.

"First I need to ask you about Ensign Van der Pol," Paul said slowly. "What do you know of her current career situation?"

"Only what she told me, sir. That she's concerned for her flight crew." Alek shrugged. "She didn't say more than that."

Nodding to himself, Paul explained the whole situation for the Sergeant, watching as a frown developed. "So I need your help, your's and your Captain's."

"How can I help?" Alek asked.

"By distracting Pim. Make friends with her, spend time with her, try to be seen with her as much as you both can. If Rey sees you all together, maybe he'll start to feel jealous and put the effort in."

Alek's frowned deepened. "I like the woman, for myself, but I can't speak for the captain. But to be frank, sir, this smells too much like deception. I would much rather like her and befriend her for her own sake than do so as a favour or an order from a superior officer."

"It's not an order, Alek, and she's not my type" JT began, using his name to make him recognize the informality of the situation. "I already told the commander I wouldn't mind hanging around with a friend, though. I'd've done it without his asking actually. There're those vices we both have after all."

"Your type?" Blinking a few times, Alek suddenly realised what JT had implied and his colour started to rise. "She's, er, very pretty, I'm sure but..."

"That wasn't what I was suggesting at all, I assure you," Paul said jovially. "Just friends. For my part, I may take her out to keep in good form in my fighter. Keep Rey grounded. You never know..."

"I was..." Alek began, feeling his colour deepen again, "I was going to head over to see her after shift actually."

JT knew when to shut his mouth and stop teasing. "See, Commander? Pim's not so bad if she can get the two most straight laced Marines on the ship to think she's alright."

--
When you lose the rhythm of the drumbeat of the Creator, you are lost from the peace and rhythm of life.
-- Cheyenne Proverb


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