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Against The Grain

Posted on Mar 30, 2018 @ 6:44am by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Mar 30, 2018 @ 6:44am

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale

“Against the Grain”

(Continued from “Not a tribble in the world”)

=/\=

Location: USS PHOENIX
SD: [2.18]0329.1254
Scene: Corridor--> Sickbay

Eve couldn’t help but check behind her every so often to find the smallest and highest ranking member of the Counseling staff was following her. He was trotting at a jaunty pace, his tan face and liquid onyx eyes alight with energy. It was good to see him so fit, even though he had yet to realize his purpose for following her was no longer a valid one.

When they had departed from ACAMAR III, either she, Owen, or Lysander had brought the pug at least once a day to see the ill children who had been placed in the care of the ship’s medical staff. For the young miners who had never been allowed to be kids, or have much in the way of toys or other personal belongings, the visits had been a bright spot in their recovery. And for Smooshy, it was, well, his calling. They had been home now, docked at SB1 while preparing to make the trip to Sherman’s Planet; the children were gone, but he still went on his daily sabbatical.

While there was a load of uncertainties about the kids’ futures, their education, and who would ultimately raise them, it was still going to be exponentially better than their fate if they had remained in the Hungry Pits.

Lieutenant Dalziel watched Smooshy work the room very earnestly despite the lack of an audience, as he wriggled on an empty bed, his pink tongue lolling out of his mouth as he rolled over on his back, gently demanding belly rubs. It made her grin.

“You look much less menacing when you smile,” a familiar voice said, and she looked up into the face of Doctor Cade Foster.

“Is that a compliment or do you say that to all the ladies?”

“My reputation precedes me. A word?” he gestured to the office.

Eve took a breath as the office door closed behind them. “I’m probably the last one to say this, Cade, but welcome back. I missed you.”

He smirked. “That’s a load of shit. You wanted to deck me.”

She crossed her arms and leaned against the desk. “Okay, I did at first. But then, I missed you.”

Cade rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “If I could change the way things went, I would. Maybe that’s why I ended up here again. It’s my penance.”

“You don’t have the monopoly on mistakes. If I had been better at excising your demons, you wouldn’t have had to turn elsewhere.”

“Call it what it was- being a drunk.”

“Addiction is a legitimate disease.”

“A diplomatic response. You counselors are all the same.”

“I hope not. I’d like to think some of them are more effective,” she winked.

“I turned over a new leaf. But I inexplicably managed to find a pile of dead bodies and the crew of the PHOENIX under it.”

Eve solemnly remembered the mass grave that Cade, Jake, and Councilwoman Bonviva had found deep within the mine. Attempts had been made to hide it using materials designed to prevent scans. It was clear that this was something that couldn’t be unseen or forgotten, even if justice was finally reaching the planet and its conspirators. Eve had reached out to the three of them in the aftermath, but she hadn’t gotten much of a reception, except from Foster. Jake and his ex-wife appeared to prefer to keep things private and contained. “How are you doing?”

“Still sober,” he admitted, taking a ragged breath. “It makes it easier that I have other things to focus on.” He glanced out the window at the pug, who had stopped playing and was watching the two of them with rapt attention through the window. To think this all started with that damn dog and his emergency surgery.

“I guess Jake does too.”

Cade looked annoyed. “He does, but most of it’s not good. In case you forgot, avoidance of the ship’s Counselor is not a reflection on you. It’s practically a mandate for upper echelon officers. You know that.”

“You aren’t the only one who’s tried to improve themselves. Make more meaningful connections with the crew.”

“No, no, hold up there missy. Your definition of “improve” and mine are different. Stay off the sauce and do the job I’m capable of. Saving lives. None of this meaningful connection crap.”

Eve smiled. “I don’t have the luxury of digging into people’s feelings with a scalpel. You get your hands dirty with blood, and I get mine dirty with feelings. But I’d prefer to have them come to see me willingly rather than poke at them constantly.”

“Did you take a break before we got called back from the big blue marble? Because you sound like someone who could use some time off.”

“Did you?” she shot back.

Cade paused. “No, but we’re not talking about me right now.”

“That’s a first,” Eve chided.

The older man snickered at her weak attempt to deflect. “I do the jokes around here, Lieutenant. Don’t you forget that. So?”

“I spent a couple of days with my folks and twin sister. It was nice, but I was distracted.” It had almost been a relief to be called back to duty.

“Wait- you don’t have a sister.”

“I do now. You’ve missed a few things while you’ve been gone. Fill you in over lunch?”

The surgeon hesitated. “I’ll take a raincheck.”

Eve folded her arms, but grudgingly accepted his diplomatic ‘no’ answer. “Some other time, then. You can run but you can’t hide, Foster,” she said as she left Sickbay, Smooshy trailing behind her like a furry entourage.


=/\=

Scene: The Vulgar Tribble
Time Index: 25 minutes later

“It’s not good,” Iphie opined as she watched Eve pick unenthusiastically at the grain salad with olives and lemon vinaigrette. “I was sure that toasting the triticale would be the right touch.”

“It’s delicious,” the Cns said as she put her fork down. “I’m just not very hungry.”

“Not feeling well? Have you been to Sickbay?” The younger Bonviva sister asked, her pink-tipped braids swaying as she traversed the other side of the bar.

“I was just there earlier. I had the pleasure of seeing Cade Foster- but I’m not sick. At least not physically.”

Iphie viewed the Counselor with a playful and yet critical eye. She never recalled anyone saying ‘pleasure’ and Cade Foster in the same sentence. Maybe there was more there than a professional relationship. “Problems at home?”

Eve shook her head. “No. Everything’s fine.”

“Smooshy?”

“He’s back to his old self. I thought it might be a good idea to keep him away from the potential for spicy food for a little while, which is why his curly tail isn’t parked right next to me.”

Iphie topped off Eve’s glass of raspberry iced tea. “You aren’t eating my food, which we’ve already established is excellent, which means only one thing: something is eating you. Spill it.”

Someone laughed, and Eve noticed Tomas’ had been sitting a few seats down, an array of small portions of grain-based dishes in front of him, along with a chilled glass of water. She wasn’t sure if she had ever heard the FCO laugh before. “Spending time with your sister has improved your interrogation skills,” he said to the Chef.

Iphie grinned. It hadn’t been easy to see Xana unwell and to know where that trajectory was leading. But it had been a blessing for their paths to cross and to get the opportunity to visit with each other, which neither of them had anticipated.

“I’m not getting out of this, am I?” the Counselor asked in a small voice.

“Not a chance, Woo-Woo.” The skilled cook looked triumphant.

Eve shared a glance with the Borg hybrid, and while she found no malice, she also found no help with Iphie’s mandate. The Cardassian-born woman sighed. “I made a promise, and it’s not working out. And I don’t take promises lightly.”

“A promise to someone?” Iphie asked softly.

“No, a promise to myself.”

“A New Year’s resolution?” This would be about the time most people got fed up with those kind of things.

Eve tossed her almost black hair over her shoulder. “I’m not sure I believe in those.”

“They’re overrated,” the man sometimes known as Cy agreed.

“Over 870 people call this ship home. And despite not being at war, we’ve lost several of them this past year. And after talking with Aerdan about it, it struck me how little we knew about them before they were gone. So I pledged to work harder to make real connections with the crew we have now. Nobody knows what the future is going to bring.”

“Sounds solid,” Iphie commented. “But?”

“I didn’t think it would be difficult, but the harder I try to follow through the more I’m met with resistance. Everyone’s clammed up tighter than that gigantic grain cube we’ll be towing.”

“If you’re trying as hard as you can, there’s only one thing you can do.” Iphie moved over to where the Bynares had plated a dish enveloped in brown gravy.

“And that is?”

The half Bolian Chef placed the plate in front of her. “Let go. And try some of my loaf. It’s not only based on Sandy’s *authentic* recipe, I also made it vegan.”

“Let go?”

“You said it yourself. The harder you grip something, the more easily it slips from your fingers. Loosen your stranglehold on it. Things will come around.”

“I don’t know if I trust enough to do that.”

Tomas’ got up and walked over to them. “There is a time to trust, and a time to have faith. It might benefit you to work with the latter.”

Eve nodded slowly in consensus, tasting the triticale loaf Iphie had perfected. Her faith had been tested and shaken too, in the last several months. But at the moment it was the only thing she hadn’t tried to lean on.


=/\=
NRPG: I’m catching up, slowly.

Here’s the link to the recipe I was inspired by: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grain-salad-with-olives-and-whole-lemon-vinaigrette


Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Cns
USS PHOENIX

 

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