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Lieutenant (J.G.) Whittaker: Like Mother, Like Son


Brek
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((Bio-hazard Ward, Sickbay, Deck 12, USS Columbia))


:: Only minutes has passed since Ensigns Ezo and Oori had left Theo to himself, although it felt considerably longer to the injured engineer. He detested having nothing to do, preferring to keep himself busy in the minutiae of his life. Now, he was forced to lie there, unable to offer any meaningful assistance during the crisis the Columbia found itself in. It didn't take that long for him to start mulling over the events of the day, even though Theo knew that his propensity for over-thinking and second guessing himself could be dangerous ::


Whittaker: oO An open Jeffries Tube hatch is a security violation. Why on earth did I not call Tatash? Oo


:: A small voice at the back of his head, one he suspected was the more rational area of his mind, told him that the Gorn would have been impressed if he or one of his officers had been called to investigate what could have been an innocent mistake on the part of a technician. But then again, there was no repair work to scheduled to be carried out in that junction or anywhere near it. So yes- he should have called Tatash. He thought of his mother, Madeline, serving on the U.S.S. Orb Of Prophecy as its captain. He doubted that she would have been so stupid. Then again, she had given one piece of advice that he had remembered... ::


((Captain Madeline Whittaker's Quarters, Deck 3, USS Sparrow, Sector 005))


:: Theo had been living aboard the small Miranda-Class ship for three months, ever since that fateful last encounter with his father. His mother had made provisions with her sector commander to allow the 17 year old live with her for six months before he left to join Starfleet Academy. He was sat at the dining table looking out at the ocean of stars beyond as the ship cruised towards its current destination, Lembatta Prime. His mother crossed the room from the replicator and set a plate down in front of him. Sushi. He looked up at his mother ::


T. Whittaker: Mother!


M. Whittaker: Theo, don't start! Just eat it!


T. Whittaker: But-


M. Whittaker: :: dangerously :: Theo Michaelangelo Whittaker!


:: Knowing that in defying his mother was a futile endeavour, he looked down at the unappetising balls of rice, spice and raw fish and grimaced. He had never enjoyed the Japanese meal, but his mother insisted that he healthily if he was to take his controversial decision to join Starfleet seriously. He stabbed one of the balls of fish and rice with his fork and ate it, swallowing it with a wince. Raw fish was not something he ever wanted to eat. Watching him closely, his mother sat down and began to eat her own, similar meal::


M. Whittaker: :: gently, as though tiptoeing around the words :: I spoke to your father today.


:: Why she insisted on talking about the man that had turned his back on his only child six months ago, Theo would never understand. Both of them had made it clear that didn't want to discuss the other, but his mother did it anyway. He studiously looked at his sushi, intent on choosing the next morsel of food to 'devour'. He prodded one of them, coated in a slimy silver coating ::


T. Whittaker: What's this?


M. Whittaker: Andorian thrasskel- and don't change the subject. Your father asked after you.


:: Theo scoffed. He very much doubted it. It had been six months and to Theo, his father had made his bed and was determined to live with it. He had expected his son to follow him into academia without giving a thought that Theo might not want to. When he had told his father he had wanted to become a Starfleet officer like his mother, their already barely existent relationship collapsed entirely, both disowning the other. After a lifetime of Josiah's impossibly high expectations and fierce arguments, Theo had had enough. He said nothing to his mother's probable lie ::


M. Whittaker: :: imploring :: He misses you.


:: Theo couldn't stop himself from scoffing. That was one falsehood too far. ::


M. Whittaker: Oh come on Theo. Your father doesn't agree with you joining Starfleet, but he still loves you.


T. Whittaker: :: he put his fork down with a clatter and looked at his mother :: No he doesn't. He doesn't love the son that wouldn't do as he said all the time and wanted to follow his own goals.


:: His mother set her own cutlery down and looked out of the window, clearly wounded by the bite of her son's words. She had broached the subject of their estrangement several times and the response was the same. Theo thought that by now she would have gotten the hint and that she would stop. Evidently, this wasn't the case. After several long seconds, the elder Whittaker looked back at her son, her face utterly impassive. A Vulcan-like stoicism had fallen ::


M. Whittaker: Fine.


:: Her tone was final. She had brought an end to the conversation. Maybe then, she was starting to get the hint. But now, it was replaced by an unbearable silence that persisted through their shared meal. Theo tried several times to think of something to break the ice, but he couldn't. His mother never once lifted her head, focusing instead on eating. When they had both finished, she silently collected the plates and put them on the replicator pad, which dissolved them back into energy. She went and sat in a chair near the window and looked out of it again. Theo turned to look at her, starting to feel a pang of guilt for causing his mother upset ::


M. Whittaker: :: sharply :: You have your security training exam with Lieutenant Mag tomorrow.


T. Whittaker: Yes I know. Do you.... :: he still didn't have a good idea what to say, but knowing his mother had been Sparrow's chief of security before, he simply finished with- :: have any advice?


M. Whittaker: Revise. Mag is not the easiest men to impress.


:: Theo already knew that of course. The Tellarite was called 'The Slavedriver' by his subordinates and was infamous for his unannounced security drills and inspections. Theo didn't particularly like the squat little alien, but at the same time- he didn't dislike him as much as other aboard the patrol ship. Before he could reply, his mother continued ::


M. Whittaker: I know you want to be an engineer, but security is an important part of a functioning starship. There is a saying that 'risk is our business' as Starfleet officers, and it's true. We put ourselves at risk every day we put on this uniform. The trick is to know how much risk to put yourself in.


T. Whittaker: :: intrigued :: How you work that out?


M. Whittaker: That... comes from experience. Trust me, I found that out when I was an ensign.


T. Whittaker: What happened?


:: She seemed to soften, her anger and hurt melting away as she turned to look at Theo. ::


M. Whittaker: I was part of an away team that boarded an Andorian smuggling ship we caught attempt to flee Outpost Ganzera. I was sent to sweep the lower deck, looking for contraband. I'd almost finished when I caught one of the smugglers attempting to get at the stash. I thought I could take him alone, but I didn't realise he had an accomplice who was behind her. He knocked me out and they got away with it. It didn't even occur to me to call for backup.


:: Theo mused that his mother must of learnt from that mistake since she was so fastidious. She paused in her story, as if recalling the event again ::


M. Whittaker: When I came around in the sickbay an hour later or so, I beat myself up for not following regulations and not thinking before I rushed in where angels fear to tread. My CO came to see me a couple of days later and I apologised profusely for being an idiot and he told me that all young officers will make a mistake at some point. As long as we learn from it, it can be forgiven.


:: Theo listened to the words and pondered them, never realising that this conversation would directly impact him one day ::


((Bio-hazard Ward, Sickbay, Deck 12, USS Columbia))


:: Pulling himself back into the present and back into the sterile room, Theo found comfort that his mother had found herself in a similar situation at the start of her career. While he didn't know Brek or Captain Livingston nearly as much as he would live, given that he was apparently senior staff (a notion that still perplexed him), he hoped they handled his... lapse with the same grace and gentleness that his mother's old CO appeared to have done. At least now he knew that he was not alone in his predicament. ::


Whittaker: oO Like mother, like son Oo


Lieutenant (J.G) Theo Whittaker

Engineering Officer

USS Columbia

NCC 85279

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