A Nice Cup of Tea
S1-A1-Ep. 1: Spectrophobia
Location: USS Poseidon; Medical Officer's Quarters
Timeline: Pre-Battle of the Bright Nebula
In the aftermath of their departure, and in the aftermath of his shift, Franklin had reached out to his Chief Medical Officer for a personal visit. Last time they had talked it was under the guise of official business; medical checkup and all that entails. In that checkup, he had found that one of his prescriptions was actually a very tasty tea. Since that time he had been dabbling in further exploring Romulan cuisine, finding other things that fascinated him and his taste buds. He had also grown a more sincere appreciation for his Romulan crewmate and, dare he think, friend.
Approaching Lieutenant T'vek's quarters, he pressed the button to chime for entry.
T'vek eyebrows immediately shot up at the highly unfamiliar door chime, he did not get visitors, he was almost certain that nobody even knew what deck his quarters were let alone where, he was instantly on guard, something was clearly amiss but despite this he was as ever collected and composed, setting both the book he had been reading, and the large earthenware cup upon the side table before half uncoiling, half rising slowly.
Sighing gently he answered the door, attired in what for him was casualware, a quilted faint aquamarine quilted tunic with a mosaic pattern and the ever present squared shoulders frequent in Romulan fashion, and of course the stiff almost neutral almost superior expression that seemed to have been chissled upon his face long ago, "Ah, Captain, this is an unexpected surprise, do come in."
Stepping to one side with a flourish, revealing his quarters, which seemed to be divided into sections, tucked away in a corner he had what appeared to be a large bird rising almost phoenix like from it's marble source, with a pallet stand of sculpting tools and set on a small plinth with defined boundaries and a small console on one corner next to the viewport out to space. A small distance away he had a pair of Bookcases and a desk with a series of PADD's neatly organised and a pair of sculpted marble busts and finally he had, taking up a healthy share of the space. What was evidently a dining and recreation area, a central table surrounded by three Romulan Triclinium couches each with their own side table upon which was his green leather bound book and large steaming cup, even though the space was clearly demarcated a common theme was art, both sculpts and flats.
"So Captain, what brings you here, I am not used to having company,"
The Commander wore his typical attire, having just come off duty he was wearing his standard uniform. Feeling awfully overdressed for the occasion, he nervously adjusted said uniform and gave the Romulan a polite nod in recognition. Admiring the interior, he gave a smile.
"I could of swore we agreed to meet at this time," he mused as he gazed around, eyes particularly centered on the bird before looking back to his Chief Medical Officer. "Did I come at a bad time? I've been so busy lately maybe I just barged in unintentionally, and I do apologize."
Arching an eyebrow ever so slightly he smiled, "It must have slipped my mind, regardless," he paused to make a vaguely welcoming gesture to one of the couches, and then padded over to the replicator, "do make yourself comfortable, something to eat or drink? I had been about to have dinner and it would appear you have just come from what has no doubt been a busy duty shift," he drawled idly.
Franklin smiled and nodded in thanks, before quietly taking the offered seat as he made himself comfortable. He maintained a professional posture, making sure to pay the proper respects to his host - considering his host had forgotten that he had offered at some point. Then again, maybe Franklin's mind was playing tricks? At this interval it was too late to speculate, so the Commander respectfully watched T'vek and responded after his question.
"I wouldn't mind some Virinatian Nut tea with a Reman Slate Cracker," he said with a playful wink. "I hate to admit it, Doc, but your prescription has become my fascination. Thanks to that I've expanded my palate quiet extensively in Romulan foods. I gotta say, I really appreciate your culture!"
T'vek smirked while facing the replicator idly calling out over his shoulder, "Remind me Captain next time I have you in sickbay to do an eye exam," turning partly to look and nod in the direction of the side table nearest to Franklin which had a large Earthenware cup gently steaming with aforementioned cracker on a plate, before turning round himself bearing a large platter to place on the central table made up of various dishes, "Romulan Tapas," was his only reply as he lowered himself down onto the couch and began reclining with dignity pausing to smile gently as he took a sip of his nearby drink, "A good host knows the needs of his guests."
Franklin watched his host provide the aforementioned dishes, his eyes quickly darting to his tea and slate cracker before he brought it closer to his person and got comfortable. As T'vek provided the Tapa, Franklin admired the sophisticated mixture of foods. On Earth, a Tapa was traditionally a meal in the more that could be called an appetizer or snack, usually hot or cold, and could be made up of generally anything. This is what appeared to be the case here, with various types of Romulan foods. Franklin grabbed one that appeared to be a traditional meatroll, though this one seemed bound in rice of some sorts. He took it up and gently bit into it, eyes widening a bit at the realization.
"Is this Hlai'hwy?" Franklin asked, chewing and swallowing. "This is delicious! I didn't realize Hlai'hwy could be utilized as an appetizer."
"No scales of course," T'vek replied sleekly as he nodded approvingly, "I managed to get the replication patterns from the master chef Kimlan Ahaefvthe, his restaurant was something of a fixture overlooking the forum and the Imperial Senate, he could count on one hand how often he gave out such libraries," his tone somewhat wistful as he recalled the event.
I know this is somewhat different to how starfleet dines, but since you seem to have an appreciation for Romulan Cuisine, a bit of Romulan Culture and dining tradition seemed fitting," he continued with a smile before allowing a strip of seared and marinated Travit past his lips, "I somehow doubt you disapprove?"
The Commander quickly shook his head, affirming the thought as he swallowed a particularly delicious selection of meat. He savored the delicacy and sat back to enjoy it by chewing. A moment later, he smiled.
"Absolutely not!" he affirmed verbally. "This is fantastic and honestly I am genuinely happy to be experiencing this again. It has been quite some time. If I am to be honest with myself? Having Romulans on board a vessel same as myself once again is quite refreshing."
He took another bite, chewed and swallowed after taking a sip of his drink before speaking again.
"If I am to be honest with myself, I wish I could dine like this with all my crew. I'm just happy I had time with this," he said continuing his meal with a genuinely satisfied expression.
"That's good to hear," T'vek drawled pausing for a moment to lightly take a sip of his drink with something of a genuine and relaxed smile, "perhaps we should make this more of a regularity, good company is so hard to find."
He tilted his head to the side subtly as he stretched out more, hiding the gesture as he recalled Franklin's mention of having encountered Romulans aboard another vessel before, "It's good that you're happy with this, I wouldn't want you to be ill at ease, now tell me," he paused to take another sip, "How was your day? I trust matters have been less stressful as of late?" he inquired mildly.
"My day has been busy, if I am to be honest," Franklin answered. "I am somewhat stressed out and I feel over my head half the time. I've sat and thought that perhaps I'm some principle of a school, and I keep remembering our ship is full of cadets. There's so many issues coming to my attention lately.."
The Commander droned on briefly about how several incidents of misconduct had been presented to him, as well as improper procedures. In one case a Cadet almost managed to activate the ships self-destruct with a program they developed, though it wasn't their intent to do that; the program was to make ice cream of a specific type for the replicator. At the end of his explanation, he gave a sigh, looking to T'vek. The age on his expression showed then, usually hidden, as the bags under his eyes were visible just briefly.
"That's how my day been," he concluded. "You have any sage advice, my friend?"
The Romulan considered for a moment reading the interplay on his recent friend's face and his body language over the rim of his mug, before setting it back down on a side table with deliberate and dignified slowness
"Perspective," T'vek began sagely, "is an important aspect to remember, you are as mentioned a Principal of a School, as well as a Captain of a Starship, therefore my advice and opinion would be to strike a balance, and delegate, you cannot after all carry the world upon your shoulders, and in attempting to do so is not only dangerous, but foolish. Sometimes we all must realise there is a gap between what we can do and what we should do," pausing for a to roll his shoulders smiling mildly.
"In short, Hard work is to be lauded, but you need to make more time for yourself, to relax and de-stress, if it helps, we could make this evening a regular fixture?" he offered mildly before taking another bite from his plate.
The growing appreciation on Franklin's face at the response his new friend was giving him was clearly visible as his smile broadened in a wholesome way. At the end, Franklin nodded slowly, having finishes most of his meal by now.
"I would love that," he said after swallowing some food - he had given himself a respectful five seconds before replying. "It's nice to have somebody to talk to about these things. Not just my XO, she's always busy with her counseling position, and in a way I shamefully admit I would feel as if I was being counseled. But here? Here I feel like I'm an equal."
"That and I can imagine that despite all propriety you were being judged, and of course you would have no fear of my keeping your secrets," he returned with an idle smirk, "I'd also recommend a hobby, if it comes down to it, I can make it more official and medically mandate such, but I doubt that would be needed," T'vek left the comment about equals strictly alone, he had done some reading on human hierarchies and the like but was reluctant to make a misstep.
"In human societies," Franklin began as he sipped his drink, "it's common and acceptable for a person to explore new things and acquire an interest. Such as hobbies, as you say. I think it'd be a similar practice in your Empire as well, if I am correct. That said, what are your hobbies? Maybe I can garner a few ideas for myself."
"I can imagine you could guess one at least yes," T'vek drawled with a smirk, "Though I doubt you could rattle off an exhaustive list, I'm actually quite curious as to what you'd put on that list actually,"
Taken aback by having the question so easily redirected at him, Franklin blinked. He thought on it for a moment, then shrugged.
"I used to love building model starships. Wrote names and histories for them, mixed and mashed a few pieces and parts to create new ones. That was when I was a kid, though." Franklin sat back after he answered, considering anything further.
"More recently," he continued, "I've fancied holodeck novels. The fantasy dragons and warriors one, you know? Stuff like that. It's really liberating to swing a sword and let out some anger."
"Model Ships always make for an interesting past time, I almost ended up on a ship design pathway as a result," T'vek agreed mildly, some of his own sculpture works had been of his creations from a child. "A good holonovel is always appreciated, certainly it makes for an interesting escape and if nothing else it's far better to be able to practise other skills on the spur of the moment rather than going in for a sparring session, the spontaneity is more satisfying,"
Franklin gave an appreciating nod in regards to T'vek and his mention of his history with model building. He gave a further nod concerning the comment on holonovels.
"In regards to that," he said moments after T'vek finished, "I've noticed that you only ever truly know a person based on what holonovels they love. For example, a mild-mannered Ensign could love and partake in holonovels of conquest or war. Alternatively, an Engineer could appreciate flying simulations in the holodeck."
"Indeed," T'vek inclined his head in agreement, "I'll spare you the psychologists spiel, and talk about preferences, I for one will give most things a try though naturally I do have my preferences, stories of Intrigue for example, perhaps better known as spy tales, though I'm not averse to a good war story and the like."
Pausing for a sip, "How about you?"
"Me? I think old 20th century Westerns catch my fancy," Franklin said as he thought about his answer. "A lot of them are about the old nitty gritty way people used to live. I know holonovels can't be trusted for authenticity, but it gives off a survivalist vibe that I can't ignore. Spaghetti Westerns, I think they were called. I usually watch those during my off-time."
T'vek tilted his head slightly in contemplation as he tried to recall the finer details, "if I recall correctly that involved a lot of men on horses throwing ropes at each other and saving women in distress am I correct? If nothing else it sounds like a sight to see I'm sure," not quite sure if he was even close, he recalled some vague mention of something called a cowboy and cowgirl, but then the idea of humans riding their bovine into battle seemed absurd, then again given some of their culture later on he wasn't entirely unconvinced that he may have gotten them mixed up with some sort of crime fighter dressed up as a cow or some other oddity.
"Basically, yeah," Franklin said, giving a nod. "It was a glorification of what actually happened. From actual written history, it was more gritty and brutal living in those times than the holovids give them credit for. Humans tended to not bathe a lot, they lived off the land more, and there were a lot more criminals during that time. I like it because of the stories of hope it gives at times, and just the fantastical landscapes. Just a man and a horse and the open range."
"We can all do with a bit of hope in our lives at times, though there is something to be said for something that keeps you on your toes or a struggle against adversity, it's why I'm quite partial to a good spy story, nothing like a challenge, though seeing a more rugged version of Earth sounds interesting too, it reminds me of a holonovel one of my colleagues at the Academy had set during the search for and the settlement of Romulus, hard times indeed," raising his cup in silent toast.
Franklin raised his as well, smiling. "To hard times, may they teach us well, help us grow, and may we survive for the better times."
"To hard times," T'vek replied taking a sip, "Now I presume you would be amenable to a desert?"
Franklin considered the offer for a moment, then smiled at his host. "Yes, I think I'd like that."
Commander Franklin Johnson
Lieutenant Nivora T'vek
Chief Medical Officer