Frank has spent his life chasing adventure, but this tops everything. Space. None of his childhood dreams had done it justice. He wants to remember everything about this moment, the hum of a starship engine beneath his feet, the way the artificial gravity pulls oddly at his bones. The taste of recycled air in the back of his throat. The sound of...slurping.
"Unbelievable." Frank turns away from the observation windows and towards the source of the noise.
"You." He watches forkful after forkful of...something disappear into Murphy's mouth. "You'll eat anything if it's free, wont you?"
Murphy shrugs, poking at the plate with her fork. "It's not that bad."
"It tastes like dirt. Like sweaty dirt." He shudders again at the memory. "How can you even eat at a time like this? We're in Space! We're about to meet people from four hundred years into the future. This is huge!"
Murphy rolls her eyes and carries on eating.
Frank pouts a little. "Well excuse me for thinking you'd be more excited about meeting Kathryn Janeway."
"Oh big deal, Frank. The woman takes a wrong turn and gets lost for seven years. When she does get back it's to the wrong century. I mean, look at all of this." Murphy gestures around the room, packed to the brim with press representatives from almost every country. "The world is so desperate to catch any pearl of wisdom that might fall from this woman's lips that we all run up here like sheep as soon as we get the go-ahead, despite some of us having some pretty sweet non-refundable basketball tickets, yet no-one's thought to consider that Kathryn Janeway might not be the sharpest tool in the box."
Frank rests his head against the cool glass of the window. It makes a nice thunk. He closes his eyes.
"More leola root, ma'am?"
There's a pause. Then the slurping starts again.
Miles is barely through her office door before the tirade begins.
"Connie Chung, Miles."
He can't see her. He hates it when he can't see her. "Mur--"
"Connie Chung, Miles." Her head appears over a stack of papers, and he tries not to jump. There are pencils in her hair and a wild look in her eyes.
"Murphy, come out and let's talk about this. It's going to be okay." He keeps his voice soft, just like the HR guy told him to. "So another reporter gets this *one* interview. It's okay. We carry on. Onwards and upwards."
"Miles." She stands up, and he doesn't realize he's moving until he feels the doorknob hit his back.
"I went up there. I missed my basketball game. I took a three hour tour of the ship. I listened to multiple science lectures. I was nice. I smiled. I made small talk, Miles. Janeway said I could have the interview. Now maybe over the next four hundred years there occurs a loosening of morals and standards that makes that kind of backstabbing acceptable in the 24th century, but here in the 20th century it's going to require a little payback."
"Payback!" She's standing very close to him now, and Miles tries to laugh, but the noise that escapes is unrecognizable. He suddenly notices several color-coded charts stuck to the wall, and in the corner, some sort of blueprint spread out across the floor.
"Murphy, they're riding around on a ship that has the power to blow up the entire planet. They have technology beyond our wildest dreams, and you want to mess with them a little?"
She grins. "Yes, Miles. Yes I do."
This was not good.
Miles lasts a week before calling the rest of the team to a pre-work emergency meeting. All three of them are late. While he waits he drafts a memo on the importance of punctuality and wonders nervously if Murphy has started sleeping in her office.
They finally trickle in together, and he stands by the coffee station and tries to look imposing. They don't seem to notice, so he starts to stride around the table.
The trick to authority was to project an aura of confidence. He stands as tall as he can, clears his throat, and begins to address his team.
"Guys, I need one of you to talk to Murphy for me."
No response. Jim opens his paper, Frank starts picking through the donuts, and Corky yawns behind her hand.
He clears his throat again. "Please?"
"Guys. Guys! She's out of control! I had to beam up there, do you know what that is? They rip you apart molecule by molecule, shoot you to a different place, then smash you back together again. I had a cell phone in my pocket when I beamed up, it was gone when I came back down." He looks off into the distance. "Now every time I sneeze I hear a dial tone."
He decides to reach out to Jim first, goes to place a hand on his shoulder, then thinks better of it. "Jim! You're like a father to her, there's no one whose opinion she respects more. She'll listen to you!"
Jim just sighs and shakes his head. "Miles, you're playing with forces beyond your control. You have to let this one play out."
Miles falls into the seat opposite Frank, trying not to let his desperation show. "Frank! Frank-a-rooni, mi compadre! You guys have been best friends for, what, fifty years? How about you just go in there and have a talk with her?"
Frank bites into his danish and heads towards the coffee. Miles puts his head in his hands and tries not to cry.
"I'll talk to her, Miles."
He looks up at Corky's smiling face. Sweet, innocent, loveable Corky. Who could say no to the Corkster? It-it might just work.
It only takes a second for her face to twist. "No! Serves you right for not even asking." She stands up. "I would have been great, too."
His head returns to the table. Maybe if he just closes his eyes for a while.
Miles is congratulating himself for making it through one more day without an aneurysm when Kathryn Janeway walks into FYI.
He's pouring a cup of coffee as she steps off the elevator, and the thing is, he just keeps pouring. The liquid spills over the cup and onto his shoes before he thinks to stop.
Her eyes catch his, and he fights the urge to hide. "Mr. Silverberg."
She strides towards him, holding out an object. "Kathryn Janeway. You left this on my ship."
Now that's how you stride, he thinks.
Miles tries to look as dignified as one can whilst also covered in coffee. "You came all this way to return my cell phone?"
"No." She smiles. "Tell me," she leans against the counter, and Miles is reminded of nothing more than a snake uncoiling. "Is Ms. Brown in?"
He swallows dry air and lifts his cup in the direction of Murphy's office. This was bad. This was very very bad.
Miles was worried. It had been an hour. He'd ordered everyone home in case the fighting got dirty. Death-rays, alien knives, phaser-guns, and God knows what weapons Janeway had at her disposal. Instead it had just been...quiet. Too quiet.
Murphy's door begins to move, and he quickly looks at the papers in front of him. Shuffles them around for good measure.
"Oh, hi Miles."
He looks up as the two women move towards the elevator. Both seemingly in possession of complete sets of limbs.
Murphy turns to him as the doors begin to close. "Kathryn and I are going to Phil's for a bite. See ya tomorrow." The doors shut on two smiling faces.
Miles' stomach begins to churn, and he reaches inside his suit jacket for his antacids.
Somehow, this was worse.