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Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

Chillin’ at the Bar

Forward Lounge
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ON:

With the ship at warp and the power allocation completed for the Cygnus, Lisald had a bit of time to kill before the next stage in their mission came to pass. It had been close to 8 hours since he last ate, so he figured he could use this time to grab a quite bite and freshen up so he could be at the top of his game when they finally encountered the Crystalline Entity. He thought about going back to his quarters to have his meal in quiet and privacy, but decided against it. He felt like he needed some hustle and bustle, especially after the tongue lashing that Lisald had received from Captain Bane. He didn’t want to wallow in self-pity. Lisald wanted to get past it and carry on, so he decided to head to the Forward Lounge. Stepping into the turbolift on the Bridge, he announced, “Forward Lounge.” The doors closed and whisked him away, about as far away as he could get from the Bridge and Captain Bane.

Several moments later, the doors to the Lounge opened up, admitting him to the Forward Lounge. He was met with a cacophony of voices and sounds, exactly what his soul (and mood) needed. He was fortuitous enough to find an empty table for four near the expansive windows, which afforded him a commanding view of the streaks of light passing by the Cygnus. It was a mistaken believe that every streak of light was a star; this wasn’t the case, Lisald knew, from his time being the Chief Science Officer of this ship. The light streaks were the occasional star, of course, but also the stray comet, but mostly space dust that the powerful navigational deflector beam pushed just enough out of the way for the Cygnus to travel safely through the cosmos. 

While he watched the beautiful rainbow-colored streaks of light zip by the windows, he waited for the waiter, an Andorian, to come to him to take his order.

Ravi had found this a very frustrating day, with the failure of the Medi-scanner in Bay 5 and yet, she had made a new friend over getting it fixed so it had come out as a positive in the end.  She had also been in a pretty tense meeting with the CMO and another Doctor about the Crystalline Entity and got into a debate about the Prime Directive which hadn’t gone the way she had expected, although to be fair, she wasn’t even sure if she’d had time to have formed any expectations about how the thought that occurred to her was likely to either come out or be received, it had all happened so fast. 

Exhausted by the remainder of her shift on top of it all, she had handed over and was buzzing too much to settle back into her room with a replicated meal and too much spinning around in her head.  She decided that despite the protests of her body, she had to do something to slow her mind down a bit or she would never get a wink of sleep for tossing and turning.  Even if she got to sleep, she was unlikely escape the kinds of bad dreams that a day that was as much of a roller coaster as today would offer her.

Deciding to go and find something to distract her, she took herself to the Forward Lounge and was surprised to find it was busy and electric with people, background ‘musac’ and chatter.  It was such a great atmosphere, even without having a clue what everyone was talking about, that the smiles and intermittent laughter, felt like an oasis after a thirsty day in a desert.  It was impossible not to get immediately drawn into smiling and becoming absorbed instantly.  

Ravi couldn’t see anyone she knew but as she walked towards the bar, strangers said hi, some stopped talking and engaged her to exchange names and others just smiled or gestured with a nod, a slight wave or even a full on wide grin.   She was so surprised and secretly delighted that it wasn’t long before she was not only responding to say Hi back but even to start it for herself as she passed new groups or tables.   It was infectious and it really defused her stress levels like medicine.  Before very long, she reached the bar and ordered an Andorian Sunrise.  The barkeep was run off his feet and waiters were going back and forth, docking with orders like a space port processing ships.

Parked awkwardly against the bar, not being able to spot an unoccupied stool, Ravi moved around with her drink until she was almost right up the end.  Still crowded against the mele, Ravi moved out into the room and again was inundated with introductions and kindness, to such an unaccustomed degree that she had now become a bit overwhelmed.  One particular Denobulan man seemed to keep popping up and greeting her more often than just by chance and having squeezed her against the bar, by accident….. although she was beginning to wonder….. now he was back and had begun asking her rather intense questions like was she interested in Polygamy and had she ever looked into how much fun that might be. 

Becoming very anxious to get so far away from him that he might have to stop ambushing her at every few yards, Ravi did something uncharacteristic and surveyed the tables, her eyes falling on one particular one right down near the viewing windows, that was apparently a four seater but with only one man sitting at it. It looked as if a waiter was approaching the lone Bajoran and Ravi, slipped in past the waiter before he could take an order.  She slid over the chair next to the stranger and said to the Andorian Waiter,  “another of these for my friend please, on my tab at the bar.”  She held out her hand to imprint her thumb and index finger onto the PaDD the waiter was carrying.  “We can order food when you get back, if that’s okay?” she said, smiling at the shocked person she had just crashed in on until the waiter agreed and moved off in search of the new drink.

As he just got out of earshot, which in this noisy atmosphere was only about a metre, Ravi put her hand onto the forearm of the stranger and apologised profusely.    “I’m trying to escape a stalker, please bear with me.  I’m SO sorry to barge in on you?  Are you waiting for someone? I’ll go immediately if I’m going to upset your plans or your date or anything? I wouldn’t do anything like this normally, I really AM so sorry………”  she looked up at him helplessly and was suddenly aware that he was a nice-looker which made her blush with even deeper embarrassment. 

“I don’t know what I was thinking…. please enjoy the drink….. I am so embarrassed……I’ll go….. I…..” she spluttered, blushing herself now and cursing what impression she had just given him and wanting the floor to open up and swallow her. 

Shock turned to surprise, which then turned into humor, and finally to a need to protect. “Please, Lieutenant, stay. Smile, pretend we know each other,” he said, leaning in and hugging her as a friend would hug another after a long period of not seeing each other. Pulling her in, he said loud enough to hear over the din, “Oh my Prophets! Its GREAT to see you again! Where have you been hiding?!”

“Hiding?  I’m all over the place and I can never find YOU!”  Ravi responded, returning the hug, which incidentally was very nice.  She grinned widely at him, muttering through softly trying not to move her mouth so as to let it be seen she was talking.  “Thank you”.   She wasn’t sure how good an impression of a ventriloquist she’d managed to pull off but she made no attempt to even look around for the Denobulan, pointedly showing disinterest in him and making a good show of how into this stranger/old friend she kept grinning daftly at.   (not that it was a view that made it difficult at all)

“SO, HOW ARE YOU KEEPING, MY FRIEND!” she raised her own voice to be heard above the general room cacophony and then lowered it again, not making any effort to remove her hand from his forearm.  “This really is too kind of you.  I had no right to ask it of you.” she said.  “I don’t know how to thank you.  My name is Ravi” she added, realising there was a need for some kind of introduction now she’d hi-jacked him.  “Raviran Winters” she elaborated.  “I’m the new ACMO…” 

Lisald responded in kind. “IF I WERE ANY BETTER,” he said at the top of his lungs, “I’D BE TRIPLETS!” He then lowered his voice to a level in which he could be heard by her only. “Pleasure to meet you, Ravi.” He made a mental note to look up the acronym “ACMO” later on. “I’m Vaat. Lisald Vaat, Chief of Operations.”

It wasn’t long before the waiter returned with another Andorian Sunrise which he put down in front of them both and asked if they were ready to order food yet?  Ravi realised she had said they would order food after he brought the drinks and blushed. “I’m sorry, we’ve been so busy catching up, I haven’t looked at the menu yet, could you give us  bit more time please?”  

The waiter was very pleasant about having to come back again and went off to serve someone else.  When he was gone, Ravi began apologising again.

“I’m really sorry.  I shouldn’t have said we’d order food, if you don’t want to eat, I can go…… and by the way, if you don’t like Andorian Sunrises, I’ll order you something you do like.  It’s the least I can do.  In fact, if you do fancy eating, I’d be grateful for the chance to get some food that you like and not just fob you off with whatever I like this time?”  she smiled up at him, still blushing softly.  This really was such a cheek and he was being 100% gentleman about it all.

Vaat smiled and leaned in to her, showing they were having an intimate conversation to anyone who may be watching. “It’s honestly ok. I came here to have dinner, just hadn’t gotten around to it. I got lost in the sea of conversation around me, and the streaks of light ahead of us,” he said, gesturing to the expansive transparent aluminum windows that dominated the room. “I’ve never had an Andorian Sunrise, so this will be a new experience for me,” Lisald spoke, smiling softly. “And you can order for me to, if you want.” Unbeknownst to him, he blushed briefly. 

Ravi smiled, subconsciously noticing the colour rising in his cheeks and letting it warm her towards him more than she already had.  “Oh the Sunrise is a joy!  Not only to taste but to watch!” she enthused.   As if on cue the Waiter returned with a tray containing two straight clear glasses with a mixture about a half an inch deep inside the bottom.  He had a glass jug, fine and ornate which he added very slowly to each of the clear drinks  now on the table in front of them.

The second liquid sank, slowly and with a deep swirl as it mixed softly with the contents of the glass.  At first the incoming liquid turned a dark shade of inky but almost at once it became streaked with a soft pink which spread and each swirl left a trail of soft yellow as the waiter turned it gently.  In an instant the grey was gone and the drinks began to create orange tinges as the pink faded in its turn.  The yellow deepened and turned into a faint orange with trails darkening up to amber and from there through to a deep blood red.  Then it all merged, swirling around the glass as it appeared to dance from one colour to another, imitating a beautiful sunrise effect finishing with a lovely amber-gold mix.  At this point, the waiter stopped moving the glasses and nonchalantly asked if they wanted to order some food?

As the drink turned from color to color, he was completely amazed and thrilled at the show. He was almost hesitant to drink such a beautiful creation, but on the other hand, could not wait to taste it after the testimony of his new friend and the thrill of watching it change to such beautiful and vibrant colors.

The exciting creation of the drink made Ravi beam from ear to ear.  “Beautifully done, if I may say so?” she told the waiter, initially seeming to ignore the query about food but so pleased with the drinks, she was distracted for a few moments. 

The waiter seemed to be pleased with the praise and tilted his head to one side in acknowledgement of it.  He smiled broadly.  “We don’t get asked for those too often, but I love creating them when we do.”  he diverted modestly.

“Well you do it with expertise for a drink you don’t get asked for often”  Ravi replied.  The waiter  grinned.  “They’re the kind of drink it’s a pleasure to make, try out and be proud of when they go well.  Also, what’s the point of not knowing how to do them properly, imagine how disappointed the customers would be if they stayed grey!”  he laughed at the thought and Ravi did too.

“Well I know how upset I’d have been having just been keeping on about how lovely they look.  Grey would have made me look very silly!” she said.

“Me too!” joked the Waiter.

Still chuckling Ravi looked at Vaat.  “Now we have to see if they taste as good as they look!” she winked at him and turning back to the waiter she added, “erm….. Hasperaat Soufflé if you have that on the menu?” she said, switching to the food query as if it hadn’t been a couple of minutes since the waiter had raised it.  Looking back at Vaat she hesitated.  “is that okay?”  she asked her Bajoran companion. 

Vaat was very pleased. “That sounds perfect,” he exclaimed to his new friend. He looked to the waiter. “Could we do it extra spicy?”

The waiter grinned  “Of course, Sir”  and marking the PaDD in his hand he retreated to the kitchen with the order.

Ravi took the first sip of her ‘Sunrise’ and sighed with pleasure as the taste caused rainbows of taste on her tongue, almost as bright and impressive as the colours had been earlier.   

She nodded at Vaat.   “It’s better than I remember it.  The beauty is that it’s always like that!”  she held up her glass towards him.  “To my knight in – well, not shiny armour exactly, but close enough!  Thank you for rescuing the crazy lady.  It must have been quite a shock to have been descended on like that.  You’re a kind person.  or is that brave? perhaps both?”  

Raising his glass in salute to his new friend, Vaat took a sip of his and found the drink to be superb. It somehow made his tongue and mouth feel warm and cool at the same time, and made it feel like it was as close to Paradise, what he imagined the Celestial Temple to be like, as he would ever come. “Wow,” he exclaimed. “This is amazing!” He noticed she was smiling at him, and it dawned on him that she had spoken more as he took a sip of his drink. Replaying it in his mind, he answered her. Laughing through the words he spoke, he said, “I’m certainly no knight in shining armor, although I am curious why you picked that particular phrase. You are, by the looks of it, part Cardassian and part Bajoran, and lovely to no end,” he added, not wanting her to think he was being judgmental. “You chose me to help you out, and thankfully I was able. I imagine given the roles were reversed, you would do the same for me, or for anyone aboard our amazing ship.” He took another sip, the feeling replicating itself again, which pleased him greatly. “What happened that he thought he could harass you in such a fashion?”

“I think he was just very friendly, a little drunk and he thought I must be looking for a soul-mate…. or any other kind of mate perhaps?” Ravi guessed.  “He wasn’t being aggressive or anything, he was just persistent and I didn’t want to make a scene or be unpleasant to get rid of him.”  she added, blushing.  “I sound arrogant and mean now, don’t I.”   

Vaat shook his head. “Not at all. You weren’t picking up what he was laying down. You weren’t interested. Plus, it has the added advantage of someone like you talking to someone like me!” As soon as that fell out of his mouth, he knew how cringy it sounded and mentally chastised himself for it. Outwards, however, he maintained his best smile.

Ravi looked surprised and the open eyed second take evaded even her acquired ‘doctor’s impenetrable expression’ that she was usually pretty well rehearsed at professionally.  It clearly wasn’t engaged right now.  

“S…. some…. someone like me?” she stammered a little as she fought a sudden onset of unexpected tears.  She concentrated hard and managed not to let any moisture fall from here eyes but she knew there was some there so she blinked furiously to clear it, embarrassed and hurt.

“Oh, yes” she forced out very softly, perhaps in the noise around them, too softly, she wasn’t sure but it didn’t matter.  She was struggling to get any words out at all as the sky seemed to fall in on her.   What an idiot she was.  She had been so self absorbed in her own little petty drama, it hadn’t occurred to her that he was Bajoran and she was, to all intents and purposes, physically very Cardassian.  

“I am SO sorry.  I should have been less self-absorbed. I have embarrassed you. I’m not all Cardassian, I just look it.  I’m actually half Bajoran but I should have thought more about approaching you and leaving you with such a difficult situation to say ‘no thanks’ to.  I apologize for my thoughtlessness.”  she said, a little more strongly now.  She had missed the beginning of what he had said about their racial differences and only heard the end question about the Denobulan. 

“I’m so dreadful at social situations and I stick out like a sore thumb here on this ship.” she dropped into a moment of what she could look back on later as a cross between an age old battle between the two sides of her own self and hurt from what she had just taken to be an unexpected rejection, assuming that she’d read Vaat wrong and been foolish enough to think he could look past her Cardassian features. 

~But how could he?~  she thought, silently berating herself, ~….he’s looking right at your face, how can he fail to be reminded constantly?~

She gathered herself began making her apologies again.  It seemed that was all she was doing tonight.  She should not have come….. ~perhaps she should have just accepted the Denobulan’s advances and this would never have happened. 

“I should just slip away with profuse apologies and hope you’ll forgive my intrusion.  Thank you for being so kind.  I do understand, of course I do.  It happens all the time.  There’s so much history between our – your and my father’s races – both my races, it’s not reasonable of me to be such a mix up and expect all the universe to understand…….. ” she trailed off.  Aware now that she’d drifted into trying to explain something that wasn’t socially, morally or readily acceptable and never had been.  She began to feel more emotion again, old, deep, familiar, unwelcome feeling and decided that the best way to deal with this faux pas, was a hasty retreat. 

She put down her cutlery, swigged the Andorian Sunrise with much less respect than it deserved, gasped as it hit her back in self-defence and began to rummage for a napkin to cough into before she could rise and try to make a dignified exit….. not very likely now but an exit of some sort at least. 

The smile immediately vanished from the Chief Operations face as the Doctor stammered over herself, made those comments, and could see her eyes get very moist, like she was about to cry. “No, you misunderstand,” he said, putting his hand on her leg, a motion to keep her sitting with him. “I am not talking about your heritage and birthright, nor of mine, Raviran.” He used her name to remind both of them that they were being informal and friendly. “I don’t give a shit one way or another your race. When I look at you, I see a beautiful, lovely and out of my league woman. I don’t see Cardassian, or Bajoran. When I look at him,” he said, pointing to a decidedly blue individual with antennae, “I do not see an Andorian. I see a man, full of life, full of dreams and desires. When I look at people,” he continued, focusing back on Ravi, “I see a person first.” He inhaled, ready for the next words to come out of his mouth, as he was about to lay out his most vulnerable part. “What I meant by that was how someone like you, someone achingly pretty, with an amazing personality, with gorgeous eyes, an infectious sense of humor, an incredible body and someone that cares so deeply that she went into medicine to try and heal the sick and hurt, decided to talk to someone like me that is, well, not so pretty, has the personality of a hunk of packing foam and who uses his talents for his own personal curiosity rather than being altruistic. Raviran, I am so very sorry for the miscommunication. Please, stay and continue this meal with me. Allow me the opportunity to repair the hurt I just inadvertently caused you.”

“I……. ” she looked him in the eyes and blushed with mortification.   “If you’ll have me, I’d be honoured to stay and –   what you just said — about people and how they aren’t what you see on the outside…. that is so deep and meaningful that I realise it was wrong and foolish of me to jump to the conclusion about what you meant ….. before……  I’m humbled by your goodness and patience – many would have let me go and thought it best if that was the chip I must have on my shoulder to jump to that conclusion first before you’d had the chance to let me see the real you.” 

She sat, warmed by his taking so much care and trouble.  

“I would like to start this whole conversation all over again.” she said, shaking her head slowly.  “I am so happy you haven’t given up on me yet and the bit of the conversation that I’d like to keep are those wonderfully kind words you said about me.  Just for the record, I’m not out of your league at all:  you’re out of mine but if you can live with that, I’m more than delighted.  I went into medicine for all the right reasons, that’s true but to describe yourself as having the personality of a hunk of packing foam is insulting to you, and therefore to me in your defence.” she smiled.

“Altruism is one good principle to have but lack of prejudice and an openness of mind and heart are every bit as valuable in their own ways, in my opinion and while I’m on a roll, your own eyes are pretty special too.”  she managed a shy smile and another blush of embarrassment as she tried to offer something in return for his sweet compliments.  

“I’m sorry I was so oversensitive” she concluded quietly, picking up her previously discarded cutlery, looking down at her food and feeling humble for having blown this all up out of proportion.   “Thank you for your patience”.  She wasn’t sure she had said that loud enough in all this noise so she looked up at his face to see if he had heard her.

Lisald smiled, sitting back, his hand leaving her leg. “Hey, that is why we are all out here wearing this uniform, right? To be patient, to learn about each other and our differences, but more importantly, our similarities.  And that,” he said, tapping his index finger to the table for emphasis, “is what exploration is all about. It is why I got into archaeology and anthropomorphology.” He captured the attention of the waiter as the last word escaped his mouth. “May we get another one of these delcious Andorian Sunrises each, please?”

The Bolian smiled, delighted. “My pleasure, sir. I am thrilled you both like them so much,” eyeing the glasses, one half full, the other empty. Almost in a cloud of dust, he was off to fetch the updated order.

“These really are good,” Lisald said, picking up his glass and downing it, much like Ravi had done only a moment ago. It felt delightfully warm going down. He smiled again at his new friend, delighted beyond reason she had stayed in his company.

“You’re so right”  Ravi enthused, grateful and even a little excited to have made such a handsome, charming and very wise companion as a new friend.  Part of her hoped he would become her friend and she resolved silently that she would make it very easy and hopefully fun for him to want to continue to see how this might work out.

The next Sunrise was just close to enough for Ravi’s constitution, seeing as she rarely drank real alcohol. 

“I’m usually a synthahol person” she mentioned.  “But as I’m off duty and as this is an occasion to celebrate new friendships….. perhaps we might just have one more for the road home to our quarters?” she proposed, a little cheekily as she didn’t know if he was due on duty soon.  Suddenly aware of that blunder she hurriedly added:  “But of course if you’re due on duty soon or if you’d just like to stop with these and maybe have dessert instead?” she looked at him directly, anxious to check if she’d stepped on a social landmine yet again.

Lisald was happy to have another drink with his new friend. “You are in luck, Doctor. I am not scheduled to be on duty for another 16 hours, so I am set,” he said, taking his glass and clinking it against hers, something he learned while on Earth. He wasn’t exactly sure the custom of it, or what it represented, but he knew it was done between colleagues and friends on special occasions, and he felt this was special enough, what with celebrating their new friendship as she had mentioned. What say we have more than just one more?” Without waiting for her to ask, he got the Andorians attention and mimed to him to bring four more, two for each of them.

Ravi smiled a little shyly at first but it soon grew into a big mischievous grin.   “You know, I think you might be my kind of new playmate!” she began, conveniently interrupted by the waiter with a tray of Sunrises all turning every sunrise colour at the same time, so she didn’t have to elaborate on that but the new feeling of comfortable that spread over her was as pleasant as the spreading warmth of the drinks.  

 

OFF

A blossoming new friendship, posted by:

Dr. Raviran Dattek-Winters, Assistant Chief Medical Officer

and

Lieutenant (jg) Lisald Vaat, Chief Operations Officer