For all it’s worth, the new Atlantis was essentially a ghost ship at the moment. Engineers from the yard were still pouring over the ship with finishing details, but they were visitors, coming and going as their shifts demanded. Barely sixty permanent crew were living aboard the ship at the moment, all in sections well completed, their purpose being to have things ready for the influx of crew over the next week, hence the predominance of yellow as they formed the nucleus of the new ship’s Quartermaster’s Office and other associated Operations sub-groups.
Though those same faces were getting very common as they scurried back and forth around the ship, personal effects arriving already and being transported to quarters to await the arrival of their owners. “Coming through,” one young woman said aloud from behind a pallet of crates. “Sorry Captain,” she followed up when she recognised finally who she had just warned and pushed past in the pursuit of her activities.
“Tik is,” Adelinde said as they walked down a corridor on deck five after giving the other woman a chance to get out of earshot, “more respectful and safer for casual public use, yes?”
“Yes love,” she said aloud, sounding emotionally exhausted after five hours of briefings with Commodore Denevan., then another hour of reminiscing. “Still going to call you Guns on the bridge, but what about…Adele?” They’d surprisingly never talked shorter versions of their names for each other, having just assumed the ‘conventional’ nicknames one did for their significant other.
But at the mention of Adele, she could taste the emotional distaste from Adelinde and it made her cringe. “Okay, not Adele.”
“No,” the taller woman said. “I had a cousin Adele. Horrible person. I know Ferengi with bigger hearts than her.” They walked another five seconds in silence. “Lin.”
“Now that felt nice,” she responded to Adelinde’s emotional flare as she said that name. “Who started using that?”
“Family,” was the only response she got.
Family is serious. Are we ready for serious?
With Adelinde? Yah…
“That’s…gods I love you,” Tikva said, slipping a hand into the crook of Adelinde’s arm. “Deck five, section one. Captain’s Mess.” They stopped in front of a door at the apex of a curved corridor, side by side inspecting the mostly non-descript door. “I’ve got a mess,” she said matter-of-factly.
“You are a mess,” Adelinde snapped back.
“Insubordination is a court-martial offence.”
“Only if I wasn’t speaking the truth. Your honour,” Adelinde continued, “I shall attempt to demonstrate.” She was cut off as Tikva pulled on her arm to drag her along the corridor with a laugh. “I wasn’t finished with opening arguments.”
“Save them for later.”
Tikva stopped only two doors starboard from the Captain’s Mess, reached out to press her thumb on the panel beside the door and was rewarded with the cabin beyond, which looked right out of the showroom demo floor. Everything was pristine, clean, immaculate. A small pile of crates, neatly organised, occupied the middle of the expansive room.
“Wow…this is…huge compared to my old quarters,” she finally got out as she let go of Adelinde and started to slowly explore. “And not much bigger than the senior officer quarters.” The door separating the living space from the bedroom slid open and Tikva disappeared, followed by the sounds of someone calling on a bed. “Okay, this, this is too much.”
“Privilege of a capital ship Bug,” Adelinde said as she followed, finding Tikva laying on her front, just splayed out on the bed. “Don’t get comfortable, we have dinner with your parents in an hour.”
“What’s that? A distress call? And we’re the only ship in the sector that can help?” Tikva rolled over, then made the worst effort of sitting up. “Blow the mooring lines, full impulse till we clear the yard and take us to warp.”
“By the time the warp core is even online from a cold start we’d be running late.” Adelinde was leaning against the door frame, arms crossed. “Besides, shouldn’t I meet the folks at some point? Properly.”
“Yeah,” came the defeated admission. “But trust me, ditch the uniform for dinner.” She held her hand out for an assist to her feet, then pulled herself in close to Adelinde, hugging her. “I’ll come and find you when I’m ready.”
“Shouldn’t be hard, my quarters are on the opposite side of the deck.”
An hour later found Tikva and Adelinde both locating Transporter Room 1, the only manned transporter on the ship aside from a cargo platform. A single bored-looking Ensign manned the controls with Mac and the new doctor, Blake Pisani, chatting up a storm apparently, which died almost immediately. All had opted for a dress-casual look, with the only exception to the general trend being Blake with a leather jacket versus Adelinde and Mac’s dress jacket and her own black bolero jacket.
After a quick check, everyone was ready and before much longer, they were in a municipal transport facility not far from a rooftop restaurant that one Mikou Theodoras had booked a table at. “Right, grounds rules before we go in,” she said, turning on everyone who all came up short. “Do not try and match my father drink for drink, he will destroy you.” She felt, tasted, the amusement from Blake. “Do not engage with my mother about my love life. That is a conversation for me and her.” More amusement from the new doctor who seemed good at keeping it from her face at least. Adelinde on the other hand became suddenly very difficult to read.
Like someone had been practising? That was telling.
“That’s it I think.” She turned, gently grabbed Adelinde’s hand and headed for the maître de, just catching Blake speaking with Mac.
“Are they?” the doctor said.
“No problems I should know about?”
“They keep it professional, but Adelinde did shoot Tikva’s arm off recently.” Mac’s faint amusement could be felt and she almost turned around to see Blake’s expression but thought better of it.
As they were shown upstairs and through the restaurant to a table on the balcony, overlooking the river that ran through this particular city, holding hands with Adelinde didn’t escape the notice of either of her parents. Her father’s only tell was a slight raising of an eyebrow, her mother on the other hand was less reserved.
‘Ah, so, you are being taken care,’ came her mother’s words without voice. ‘Is she your imzadi?’
“Evening Ma, Pa,” she herself said aloud as they neared the table, both her parents rising to their feet. ‘Be polite,’ she spoke to her mother, doing her best to impersonate the woman. “Thank you for organising this meal.”
“Ah my sweet dear,” her mother said, her attention on the others, “it is the least I could do. Please, please, sit. Some food should be arriving momentarily for the table.” And with those words, everyone settled into a seat, light conversation quickly starting up as proper introductions were had, her parents many nights hosting dinners giving them the skills needed to make everyone at ease.
For a transplant from Betazed, fleeing her family and obligations that stifled her, Mikou Theodoras hadn’t just married a Greek man for love, but the entire Greek culture seemingly. This went so far as to show it off when she could, such as arranging their dining locale to be a Greek restaurant and making sure everyone knew just what it was they were thinking about on the menu. Back home it never would have been a problem, after all everyone who ever came for dinner was already steeped in the culture.
But it had slowly gotten a bit much for Tikva, whose excuse for getting a breather from her mother had been to head for the bar to get a drink for herself and Adelinde after asking. What she hadn’t counted on was the new doctor arriving shortly after.
“Your mother is a piece of work,” the new woman said as she stepped up beside Tikva, tossing her order in quick succession to a bartender. “Let me guess, she’s the Betazed and she loves to host.”
“Got it in one. Blake right?” she asked.
“At your service. You need to fake a medical emergency, just give me the nod. Tarkellian Death Flu, Romulan Brain Fungus, good old fashion heart attack.” As Blake’s order hadn’t been a couple of cocktails, but two beers, it arrived in quick order. “Charles, he taken?”
She stopped, blinked twice at that question, then looked at the two beers, back to Blake, whose expression was clearly quizzing her for an answer. “Mac. At least everyone calls him that. And I don’t think so.”
“Good.” Blake grabbed both bottles. “Just say the word Captain, I’ll get you out of here.” And with that, she was gone.
The quiet, just watching the barkeep finish her and Adelinde’s drink, was short-lived before her mother approached, thankfully without comment until she was side by side. “Hello darling.” No longer the host of the party, the conversation driver, but a mother talking to her daughter. “Dessert should be arriving shortly.”
“You know I wouldn’t miss it,” she replied, nodding her thanks as both drinks were set before her. “But that’s not why you’re here.”
“I wanted to talk about you.” Her mother’s smile was genuine and loving. “And your girlfriend.” The pause lasted only a moment. “But you’re a wilful one, aren’t you?”
“Wonder where I get that from?” she teased her mother. “Grandmama still only talking to you once a year?”
“Ever since you left home for the Academy I’m lucky if she calls me once every two years.” There was sorrow in those words, of a mother-daughter relationship lost over the decisions of two powerful wills refusing to back down. “But yes, the women of our family have always been committed to their decisions.”
“And what do you think of this one?” She nodded towards Adelinde who was busy discussing something with her father, getting a deep laugh from the man that filled the restaurant and likely carried across the river.
“Does she make you happy?”
“Does she treat you well?”
“Better than I treat myself.”
“She going to give me grandchildren?”
Tikva couldn’t help but laugh out loud herself at that, her mother joining her a moment later, before both settled down, Tikva barely getting out the short answer of “No.”
“You’d make wonderful babies,” Mikou followed up. “And there are a variety of medical procedures…”
“Ma, please, stop.” She held up her hands to stop her mother from speaking. “It’s still a young relationship, please stop planning how many kids I might have.”
“I just want the best for you dear,” Mikou said, lowering her daughter’s hands. “And I want to catch up with my daughter, get to know this latest Amazon of yours and make sure you and I don’t end up like my mother and myself.”
She stood there, looking at her mother for a moment, feeling the concern radiating from her, but the love that drove it as well. Then she reached forward and hugged her mother. “I’ve got a week, of course, I was going all my spare time with you and Pa.”
“Not all of it I hope,” her mother teased. “Keeping your imzadi takes effort after all.”
With that Tikva turned her mother loose, blushing, collecting the cocktails in quick succession. “Nope! Not having this conversation! Did you say dessert was nearly ready?” And with that, she left her mother giggling at the bar as she hoped that by the time she reached the table, her blush would have at least receded from her entire face.