Think of all the xenopsychology papers you could write just from observing people in the commercial district, Lazarus thought as he looked across the vastness of Starbase 118. People of all kinds working, living, eating, and learning together. Tellarites eating plomeek soup. Klingons playing darts. There's even a sign promising a show from "the only Vulcan comedian" at 2100 hours tonight. Lazarus must have looked like a kid in a candy store - eyes darting around, agape at everything around him.
"You never could stay focused, Davis," a gruff, but familiar and friendly voice from behind Davis startled him.
"Professor W'Hetlan! I didn't know you were on Starbase 118. It's good to see you!" Davis extended his hand to the Professor. The professor hesitated a second, but then grasped Davis' hand and gave it a firm shake.
"Yes, well... Field research. Or rather, I'm on my way to some - headed to the Gamma Quadrant. Should be interesting. I'll have two pairs of Binars with me as interpreters. We made first contact with a species that speaks in simple logical expressions, making the Binars well suited to understand it, but the meaning behind the expressions seems to be steeped in metaphor. Hopefully, together, we can figure their language out. Despite having a hard time talking, all of their overtures suggest they are a friendly and welcoming people." The professor's hesitance seemed to dissolve once the conversation was shifted more towards the work and less about interacting with Davis.
"Well, I look forward to reading the reports, Professor. Say, do you care to join me at the replimat? I'm still on Eastern Standard Time, so it's about lunch o'clock as far as my stomach is concerned."
"Eh, sorry Davis. I need to find my quarters and rest before I depart. Maybe tomorrow?" W'Hetlan, again, seems palpably uncomfortable.
Did I say something wrong? Lazarus wondered to himself. "I leave at 2000 hours tonight, I'm afraid. Well, good to see you Professor. Best of luck in the Gamma Quadrant."
W'Hetlan nodded and turned to leave, but stopped and looked over his shoulder while pointing at a sign. "Vulcan comic? Now there's something you don't see every day." He then chuckled to himself and headed off, leaving Lazarus to his thoughts.
Lazarus explored Starbase 118 for the 3 or so hours he had before it was time to board the ship. It was wonderful, if not a little lonely among the crowds. He was looking forward to meeting his new crewmates. When the time came, he headed to the airlocks for boarding. Around them were a few viewports for family and friends to watch people embark or disembark. Children, partners, parents, and friends would wait and watch and wave, elated to see their loved ones off or to see them after being away for so long. Lazarus didn't have anyone on the station. That was OK, he had a proper going away party or two before he left Earth. Besides; he was looking forward, not back.
But the sudden jubilation of a man seeing his husband for the first time in months caught Lazarus by surprise and he turned to look back down the gangway from the station to the ship. Standing at one of the viewports was Professor W'Hetlan. They made eye contact, and W'Hetlan smiled and nodded. For W'Hetlan, that was practically an emotional outburst. Lazarus smiled back and nodded before making his way to the ship, trying to casually wipe away a tear welling up in his eyes. It's not that he craved W'Hetlan's approval, it's just that Lazarus knew it was hard to come by, and that meant a lot. It was an unexpected cherry on top of an already tremendous day.
This is the beginning of your great adventure, Lazarus.