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Part of USS Galaxy: M0: Moments in the Woods

Salad, Chicken and Warm Sunshine

Starbase 72 - The Sentinel Café & Arboretum Lake
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It was a perfect day, by Terran standards anyway. Geden gazed across the lake from the table he had been seated at, squinting his eyes in the sunshine. He guessed that the environmental systems had been set up to mimic Earth and while there wasn't anything wrong with that, humans made a large portion of Starfleet after all, it was just intense enough compared to the Trill sun that Geden always felt slightly blinded, particularly around water. 

He reached up and adjusted the patio umbrella attached to the table, shifting it just enough to block the direct light on the table. He let out a contented sigh now that he had been covered in the dark shade. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Conklin stepping down onto the pier section of the cafe seating. He gave the other man a short wave, quickly realizing that Alex was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans while he stood there wearing his full uniform. Granted he had been on duty before this but suddenly he felt very overdressed.

“Good afternoon, Geden.” Alex sat down at the table, spreading the napkin across his lap. “I hope this works for lunch; it's quickly become one of my favorite places to eat on the station. A bit of advice though, if you see a Bolian coming around to the tables, don't ask him for any recommendations.” Alex scrunched his face up, clearly reliving a not-so-pleasant experience. “He runs a great cafe but will try and recommend you order something foul; good guy though.”

“I'll keep that in mind.” Geden opened the expansive menu that had been sitting on the table. “And this location is fine; I'll never argue with getting some time in nature these days” Geden glanced up. “Even if it's artificial.”

Alex gave him a small smile, opening his menu. “Same. My first assignment out of the Academy was as a botanist; I miss being able to go out into the sun as part of my job.”

Geden looked over the menu, trying to find something light. “I was in stellar cartography, so I rarely got to see anything outside of the astrometrics lab.” That was a lie. He had been a junior stellar cartographer but he wished he had spent most of his time in astrometrics. He couldn't tell Alex any of that; that first, horrific, mission he had after the academy was still very well classified. Even Myers had no idea what happened and he was happy to keep it that way.

“Ah, I never would have been able to do that. I was a nature kid growing up. I was always outside digging into something; pretty sure I was the only three year old with a tan in that colony.” Alex caught sight of one of his favorite dishes on the menu. “Ah, there it is. I should expand my palate but I can't bring myself to get anything else here.”

Geden had been half-listening, his brain caught up in memories of his first assignment. He had spent years learning techniques to keep those memories at bay but they still snuck by from time to time. He cleared his throat softly, bringing himself back into the present. “Nothing wrong with that, can't say I'm all that adventurous at restaurants I like.”

One of the waiters stopped by the table, ordering PADD in hand. “Good afternoon gentlemen. What can I get for you?”

“I'll have the grakizh salad.” Geden folded his menu back up, handing it to her. “Prakismon dressing on the side, please.”

She nodded, tapping a few things into her PADD. “And for you, sir?”

“I will have the fire roasted half chicken with the garlic sauteed green beans and rosemary potatoes.”

She nodded, adding in the order and taking the menu. “That'll be out shortly for you.”

With that, she walked away and the two men sat in awkward silence for no less than five minutes, if Alex was keeping track of time correctly.

“Sorry, I'm not good at the whole socialization aspect of life.” Geden shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“I never would have guessed.” Alex said it was a half smile, hoping the light teasing would ease things. “I think Captain Myers is hoping my sparkling personality will help you open up and relax a bit more.”

Geden let out a small chuckle. “Starfleet's very best counselors weren't able to make it happen but you're more than welcome to take a crack at it.”

Alex let the comment pass without remark. From their time on Beol II and their interactions now it wasn't difficult to figure out there was something in his past that had caused him to retreat from everything and maybe one day they would be on a level of comfortability where he could ask the Trill about it but now was not the time. 

“You mentioned your first assignment was stellar cartography. Any particular reason why you chose that field.”

Geden shrugged. “I showed an aptitude for it. I also wasn't interested in the more nature-based sciences; I only spent time outside as a kid when I went swimming and even then by the time I was in what Humans would consider high school I only kept swimming so I could have some sort of sports extracurricular on my application to the Academy.” He took a sip of the water the waitress had placed on the table. “I was this tall, skinny, gangly teenager with a bowel cut who hated running so swimming was about all I could muster up.”

Alex let out a snort. The thought of the man in front of him as a skinny, gangly, kid was legitimately amusing. Gedan was easily 6' 5" by Alex's guess and while the uniform was exactly the most complimentary fit, it was clear the Trill was physically fit; muscled but not bulky. He would also admit the Commander was ridiculously good looking, in his opinion anyway, but he'd keep that to himself. He wouldn't even mention that to Clara, though after nearly 10 years of friendship, he would guess that she would figure that out on her own.

“Sorry, the mental image of you as some gangly kid with a bowel cut is a tad bit funny. You are very much not that now.” He took a sip of his water, hoping the compliment came off as benign. “I did track in middle school and wrestling in high school, so I was this short, bulky kid who also spent most of his time outside poking at plants. Tended to be an odd sight. Now I just lift weights and run; though there is a sport I can't pronounce on Androia that is about as close to wrestling as you can get but much more stylistic. I do that from time to time.”

Geden glanced over Conklins top half; his t-shirt not hiding the bulky muscle beneath. “I could never do that; swimming is so calm and peaceful. Me, my thoughts, and the water.”

“I think you'd like that Andorian sport. It's almost like an elaborate dance but wrestling. Sheer strength won't win you a match. It's hard to describe. I tell you what, you show me how peaceful swimming is and I'll show you have energizing that unpronounceable sport is.” Hopefully, that was something the Trill would take him up on. He did genuinely seem like someone he could be friends with; the little glimpses of what was underneath the awkward exterior gave him hope.

Geden felt his upper body stiffen as anxiety crept up again. The times he went swimming were times he could slip away from the world, from duty, the time he used to calm and center himself. He rarely invited people into that space. Still, it was clear the Conklin was making a genuine attempt to be friendly and they had to work together for the long run. He could survive a few laps in the pool with someone else. He wasn't sure he'd survive that Andorian wrestling though.

“Sounds like a plan.”

Alex grinned like a kid who had just been given the last piece of candy in the quadrant. “Great! Things are pretty busy ahead of departure but I'm sure we'll have time once we are underway.”

The waitress walked up to the table, depositing the food in front of them. While Geden's salad was large and was exactly what he wanted at the moment, he did feel some regret while he looked at Alex's food. The delicious smell coming from it was practically sinful. 

Both men cleared their plates rather quickly. The grakizh salad was a big step above replicated food but he could tell the ingredients hadn't been grown on Trill soil; considering how often he ate basic replicated food, Geden wasn't going to argue. Judging from the noises Alex had made while eating he had zero complaints about his meal.

Alex dabbed at his mouth with the napkin. “Thank you for indulging me, Commander. I can come off a little overenthusiastic and I know we didn't get off on the best foot on Beol II but I do think we'll have a good working relationship.”

Gedne placed his napkin on the table. “No need to thank me. I should thank you. I know I'm not the most sociable person. I'm working on that and I did enjoy the lunch. Perhaps we should keep a standing appointment for lunch on the ship?”

The ‘grin of a kid who had just been given the last piece of candy in the quadrant’ returned to Alex's face. “I'd like that Geden.” He glanced down at the chronometer built into the table. “Damn it, I'm going to be late. I have to meet with like 8 science division junior department heads because apparently, I have a staff of 137 now.” He stood, giving Geden a half wave.

Geden returned the wave with a smile and turned to face the lake once Alex had left. He reached up and moved the table umbrella back, letting the artificial sun hit his skin. 

Perhaps he'd sit back and enjoy the sunshine for just a little while longer.