Dinner and guest
Mission: Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
"Almost done with the first load." Hel called out from the kitchen area. "Can you make the table, love?" she added. The smell was unmistakable. Pancakes. With bacon. Valeria's favorite guilty pleasure.
"Of course." Valeria called back, setting two places on the table. Plates, forks, knives, and some glasses for drinks. Not to mention all the trimmings. Butter and a bottle of syrup or two of various flavors. And of course, napkins. Napkins, and a few wet napkins to catch any syrup.
"Just about done here." a pause, "And... there."
"Aand here they come." Hel smiled, bringing the first few over, wearing an apron that said 'grope the cook', carrying the thick, bacon-y, flavorful deliciousness. "How are you feeling? Did you have any nightmares about that dinosaur? I still feel bad for scaring you." she furrowed her brows, setting the pancakes down and taking a seat.
Before Valeria could answer, the door to their quarters chimed.
"Well I-..." and then the chime went off. Valeria gave a smirk, "Another surprise of yours?"
"Nope." Hel glanced over at the door, before calling out. "Come in!"
Keith walked in a moment later, a PADD in hand, "Oh.... geeze, I'm sorry, guys, I didn't mean to interrupt your dinner," His face turning concerned as he stopped short. "I can come back later, if you want."
"Nah, you're fine. It's just pancakes." Hel stood up, though she wasn't sure what to do next, so she shot a conspiratory look at Valeria.
"Welcome, guest." Valeria said with a soft smile as she turned to fully face Keith. "Welcome into our home. Safety and peace are the promises of the host, provided the same is promised of the guest. Please, enter and be free."
There was a bit of ritual there, a bit of protocol. Valeria even went so far as to set an extra place at their dinner table for Keith. Napkins, fork and knife, a glass.. Like it or not, he was a guest now.
The moment passed, and the rabbitess turned to glance back at Hel. "No. It was in a dream I had the other night, but it wasn't a nightmare. Just a memory. I think I'd be more prepared to see it now, then when it was originally shown to me." and to the pale engineer, Valeria actually fully smiled, "And I forgive you for such. An honest mistake, with no hint of malice."
Hel smiled warmly at Valeria at the answer to her earlier question, though as a proper host her attention was on the guest. "Well, the lady of the house has spoken. And quite eloquently, at that." she offered, motioning to the table. "Have a seat Captain, I'll bake you some pancakes. With or without bacon?"
"Uh... sure," Keith said, giving Valeria an appreciative grin. "Can't say no to an offer like that... and uh... sure, I'll take bacon," He said over his shoulder to Hel, then added, pointedly, "Chief." With a grin pulling at his lips.
"Sure thing. Bacon pancakes coming right - " Beat. "... Chief? Huh. What happened to Corinne? Did she transfer off?" Hel asked from the kitchen.
"She did," Keith said, giving Hel a grin, but with just a touch of disappointment. "That being said, I can't think of a better person to hold the Chief spot than you. I know you took a bit of a dip to stay with Valeria coming here," He explained. "After how you handled yourself this mission... Chief just seems to fit, eh?" He said, smiling.
"You know, two-ex-oh and chief all within a week. If I keep this up I'll be in your chair by next month." Hel chuckled.
Valeria gave a soft smile towards Hel, then over towards Keith, "This is excellent news. Congratulations dear." the hint of an honest smile started to show itself, a sight she turned to share more with Hel. It belonged to her, after all.
There was the briefest of moments where Valeria's posture withered a moment, at the thought that Hel's career was affected by her. Something she knew, and Hel knew, but to hear it in the air was a bit of a sting.
"Please, join us?" Valeria officially invited Keith to the table.
"I'm pretty firmly in that chair, lady," Keith said with a laugh as he took a seat at the table. "Besides, you've gotta fight your way through Sebell first, and I hear she bites," He added with a chuckle, before lookiver over at Valeria, "Thank you for the invite," He added, knowing that etiquette and protocol were very important for the rabbit-like beings.
The Daughter of Ts'usu gave a nod as he sat, her invitation received and accepted. Now, to move on to the other business at hand. "Fifty koku on Hel. No regrets."
From the kitchen, a laugh. "Only fifty?" Beat. "Wait, Koku is the bigger denomination, right? In that case, fifty is a lot." Hel smiled as she emerged from the kitchen, setting a sumptuous and luxuriously sized bacon pancake down in front of Keith before sitting down as well to resume her own.
"Fifty is all I brought. Though, it's not the biggest denomination. Certainly not the smallest though." Valeria replied as she sat and resumed her meal. "If we could contact the exchange over on Dalacar I might be able to hedge in some eBits on the wager as well. You getting that chair could help put my youngest sister through academy." a smirk.
"So, how you holding up, boss?" Hel glanced over at Keith. "I try my best to be there for Val, to be a foundation, to be a distraction, but it's hard. Are you giving yourself enough time and space to recover? Do you have someone or something to lean on?"
"Well, other than the attempted mutiny going on at the table right now," He said, grinning at Val and Hel in turn, "I'm doing alright... I've taken some time. Once the AI investigation is over, I'm going back to earth for a bit. Bringing Sebell with me, I think. Want to show her some of my places," He explained. "I think it's good that an XO and a CO understand each other well. Apparently, next shoreleave, she's taking me surfing," He said with a laugh. "We'll see how that goes."
He took a bite, "Hel, this is glorious," He said with a smile. "I had no idea you were such a good cook," He told her, chuckling a bit.
"Mom taught me. I'm not a great cook, but I do know a few meals and how to cook them to impress." Hel smiled, though her smile faded slightly from recent memories. "Well, mom taught me a few meals. Dad taught me that anything worth doing, is worth doing well."
Beat. "So, if you're going to Earth for a few days with Sebell, can I take Valeria on a small vacation there too? Or would that leave the ship too much without mature, responsible adults in charge?"
"Well, we're docked at the moment," He replied with a shrug, "I don't think that'd be an issue," Keith replied with a nod. "If the Starbase can't keep the ship in one piece, I'm going to be very angry with them," He said with a laugh.
Valeria smiled softly. A vacation on the Terran home moon. Or rather, their home world. That was a little bit of an oddity to the Daughter of Ts'usu, but one she would adjust to easily.
"You're going to jinx it, sir." Valeria said with a teasing tone. "And while normally, I'm not very superstitious..." she gave the table a knock, and repeated a word in Ts'usugibito two or three times. Kuwabara. Kuwabara.
A moment to reflect, "Mother taught me the value of patience. As a farmer, our very trade was patience. A seed today is not a tree tomorrow. Father taught me the value of numbers, and since he worked with the ministry of finance I mean that both literally and figuratively. Father filled me with a thirst for knowledge. Mother filled me with fresh foods." she said in a humorous tone.
Hel laughed. "Guess that's a Yes then." she smiled, finishing her pancake. "I'll go pick out some spots to visit while we're there. I'm thinking ... Schwarzwald. Grand canyon. Taj Mahal. Machu Pichu. Waitomo glowworm cave. Things like that." she mused, rising to her feet. "Valeera dear, Keith, more pancake?"
"I'd love some more, please." she requested, "And, while your planning a few spots to visit, there's one I'd like to see if it could be added to the list?" a pause, "I'd like to visit the Sea of Tranquility."
"One of our largest lunar bases is there," Keith replied, nodding. "Built around the Apollo 11 landing site," He said, smiling. "I think the old American flag is actually still there," He offered. "They have shuttle hops to the lunar base at least thirty times a day, so hopping up there and back should be easy enough," Keith offered.
Valeria gave a smirk, "But the most important part is: It's your Moon. We live on the moons of our homeworld, you see. I want to have that connection. To walk on the moon of the homeworld of the woman I love. And... And I know I won't be able to feel the sand and dust beneath my feet, since your Moon is dead... but I want to walk on it. To feel it."
"And you will, for as long as you want." Beat. "Within reason, of course." came Hel's voice from the kitchen area. "We'll visit Mare Tranquilitatis. I've never been there, actually. Should be good."Hel seemed in a good mood, a slight sing-song quality to her voice as she spoke, making more pancakes.
"Actually, you can walk on a lot of it," Keith replied. "There's been enough terraforming and enough biodomes built that there's plenty of surface area to get your feet wet... er... dusty, I guess," He said with a smile.
That simple fact seemed to please her. Though, she didn't manage more than a soft smile. More than what most others saw. "It's interesting symmetry. Humans looked up at their moon and wanted to go there. We looked up *from* our moon, wondering when we could go back."
"Truth be said, if we were to go back home tomorrow, I don't think we'd know what to do with Ts'usu. There's such a wealth of history on that world that the entirety of it would be declared a preserve almost instantly. The irony would be that after ages of waited to go back, the moment it would be offered to us, we'd keep it exactly the way it is."
She gave a nod towards Hel, "Though, your moon does shine rather bright in the heavens. Far brighter than any moon of Ts'usu."
"That's just the silicon dioxide glass reflecting Sol's light." Hel called out from the kitchen, making a pancake for herself. "Boss, mind if we borrow one of Asger's shuttles for the trip? Would make things so much easier."
"No, I was planning on doing the same," Keith called back, "I wouldn't be opposed to sharing one if you guys aren't. If you want some privacy during though trip, though," He said with a grin, "I understand."
"Less for privacy and more for freedom. We're likely to tour different parts of the planet and moon than you and Sebell." Hel smiled, emerging from the kitchen with the next load of pancakes. "Better to not have to worry about scheduling conflicts than be bogged down by them."
"Oh, I just need to get dropped off at Glass Lake. I'll have my dad's car after that," He explained. "Shuttles yours if you can dump me in the country side," He said with a grin. "I can always book a transport back if I need to leave sooner or after you," He added. "But it's all good either way."
"I certainly wouldn't be opposed to a little gossip time with Miss Sebell. Pick up a few embarrassing stories, I mean, performance reviews are just around the corner and, wait... Federation doesn't do those, do they?" she asked with a smirk.
"Well, all the same, meeting more people is always welcome. I think we can all use more stability and more hands to support us. As for the shuttle, we'll certainly drop you off wherever you want. Hel and I wouldn't want to bore you with our secret plans."
"Guess that settles it then." Hel smiled. "We'll share a shuttle to Earth and go our separate ways there."
Keith grinned, and pumped a fist, "Road trip!" He said, playfully.
"Road trip!" Beat. "In space!" Hel grinned, mirroring his fist bump.
Their joy was contagious, and for the first time in a long time, Valeria actually smiled. She smiled the way she used to before all of the horror of the last mission. She smiled the way she used to smile just for Hel when no one else was watching. She smiled a pure and honest smile, free from the restraints and protocols that Ts'usu life imposed on its people.
"In Space!" she mirrored, even emulating the fist pump. "Except, in a shuttle." and there was that analytical mind again.
" ... With our boss." Beat. "And her boss. Oy vey." Hel mock put her head in her hands.