When: Shoreleave on Regulon, after the Borg plot is settled
Who: Marcus, Sera, Ellen, and Maria
Where: Regulon Station
With the triple suns arcing overhead, mid-day Regulon Station was often too hot or too bright to traverse outside without a vehicle or appropriate shielding. It was the day after Marcus' awkward blind date with Nikki, and he spent most of his time contemplating what had transpired. He found the younger woman's social anxieties and awkwardness to be emotionally draining, but at the same time she was one of the few people aboard the Portland that remotely matched his expertise. Well, other than Shras, but he left, thankfully. And, arrogance aside, once she relaxed she was easy to relate to; Marcus had his own particular flavor of social awkwardness, and maybe it helped to experience it through someone else's eyes.
Marcus sipped his Vulcan tea, contemplating the complexities of Nikki Barclay while studying the suns as they traversed overhead through the polarized shade that cut out over 99% of Alpha Regulon's harshness.
As he was deep in thought, Marcus head a vaguely familiar female voice behind him. "One raktajino, and a green tea for my friend here."
"Green tea?" asked another voice.
"You're drinking for two now," replied the first voice. "My mother had a green tea every morning when she was pregnant with me, and I turned out fine."
"I see. You're basing this on a sample size of one. Not exactly a strong enough conclusion to be published in one of Brad's medical journals."
Turning around, the two women spotted a man at the window, clearly trying not to be noticed. But it was too late. Ellen and Maria had him flanked as they sidled up to the chairs and sat down on either side of him. "Lieutenant Kallan!" exclaimed Maria. "Imagine finding you here. What are the odds that we just happen to be visiting the same coffee shop as you the day after your date with the most beautiful engineer on the ship?"
From one of the nearby tables came, the Portland's Chief Engineer looked up with rather large sunglasses to block the sun. "Hey, I don't remember going on any dates," Sera half joked. She had been drinking a cup of raktajino, hoping Klingon caffeine would help her deal with her headache. This was a rare outing for her, she had been cooped up in Sickbay most of the time between the accident in Engineering, the return trip to the nebula, and now. She had finally begged Dr. Silverton enough for him to agree to allow her to have some time on Regulon.
Marcus was apparently so deep in his thoughts, he hadn't noticed Sera sneak in, nor did he notice the other two until they addressed him directly. The operations chief looked along one vector of attack to the other, weighed the angle of escape versus the chances of engagement, and instead threw his shields up. Frowning, he said, "Hello, ladies. You'll forgive me if I don't share your enthusiasm." Drifting towards Sera, as he would likely get less flak from that engagement, he said, "And I'd be giving you a ration of hell if you weren't so banged up. How's Dr. Frankenstein treating you in sickbay?"
"Don't change the subject," exclaimed Maria. "We want details! How was your date with Nikki? Did you two hit it off?"
Sera's eyes widened behind her sunglasses. Taking a sip of her raktajino to surpress a laugh as she thought about poor Nikki in a situation like that. "You didn't set her up did you?" Sera asked Maria and Ellen, a hint of disapproval in her voice. Nikki was Sera's best friend, and as her best friend it was Sera's job to help look out for Nikki.
Marcus turned to glare at Maria and Ellen. "Yes. They did. And acting like a couple of manipulative, last-millenium busybodies didn't help, either. Shame on you for hoodwinking Ensign Duvall like that." The junior officer under his command was the unwitting party, delivering the message about the blind date.
Ellen and Maria just shook their heads in protest. "I'll have you know that this was all Ensign Duvall's idea. She was the one who casually mentioned during her physical that her new chief was single." In truth, Maria had pressed the ensign on the issue. She had been curious about Marcus ever since he had come aboard; something about the way he conducted himself and how he ate protein cubes alone in the mess hall made her think that he could really use her matchmaking services.
Knowing Nikki like she did, Sera was almost afraid to ask. However, curiosity got the best of her. She took another sip and asked with a small grimace, "Was everything ok?"
"I would hope that things were more than okay," replied Maria, placing her hands on her hips for emphasis. "Ellen and I put a lot of effort into finding a suitable match. We trawled through dozens of personnel files, cross-referenced interests and career specializations, observed multiple candidates, and, of course, made sure to find someone you would find physically attractive as well." She leaned over towards Marcus. "So, how was it? Did you two lovebirds hit it off?"
Marcus's temper was clearly rising. He snagged Maria by the arm and leaned in to talk angrily, but at a subdued volume, directly into her ear. It was loud enough for Sera and Ellen to hear. "Look, the only reason why you're getting a pass is because I'm not about to upset the XO's pregnant squeeze. But you keep to yourself and get the hell out of my business, and Nikki's. Our relationship is none of your business. If you keep up after us, I will file a formal complaint with Portland security." And he let go of her arm, practically throwing it back at her. More conversationally, he said, "Now, you can go file assault charges, or we can consider our embarrassment mutual, and you can leave us the hell alone."
Maria just glared back at Marcus, furious. After all their work in finding him a match, this is the thanks they get? "Come on, Ellen," she said, "I think I saw a chocolatier across the street, and it looks like Marcus here isn't thrilled by our company."
"But..." Ellen sighed and took her tea in her hands. She had to admit, Maria could be nosy at times. She liked to think that it was all for the best, but Maria enjoyed gossiping a little too much for a nurse. "All right," she said, slowly getting up. "It was nice to see you, Sera. And you too, Marcus." With that, the two girls left Sera and Marcus to continue the conversation.
Sighing, Marcus slumped into a chair across from Sera once the Hens were gone. "I hate people," he muttered, and then peered up at Sera. "Fortunately, you and Nikki are not people."
Halfway across the street, Maria turned towards her pregnant friend with excitement. "Did you hear what he said?!" she exclaimed, stopping in the middle of the road.
"No," replied Ellen, fixated on the chocolates in the window across the street. If her friend weren't there, she would barrel right over there and eat their entire display; she craved them that badly. Fortunately, she figured, little Andy would soon be outside of her and these long nine months would be over.
"He told me to get the hell out of his and Nikki's business, because their relationship is none of my business, and threatened to call security." Maria's tone of voice was surprisingly upbeat for someone who was just verbally accosted like that.
A confused look appeared on Ellen's face. "That doesn't sound so good," she replied.
"No, you don't get it," explained Maria, barely able to contain her excitement. "He said that their RELATIONSHIP is none of my business. That means..."
Ellen smiled, understanding what Maria meant. "Oh, Maria, you're a genius..."
As the other two ladies left the cafe, Sera shrugged, "I guess I missed a lot. The doctor wasn't as good at keeping me up with the gossip as listening to my Engineers."
She purposefully avoided the obvious question as she finished the rest of her raktajino in one gulp. "Nikki is ok right?"
"Nikki's fine," Marcus replied, sitting back in his chair, albeit slouching. "We were both initially disturbed by the fact that we were each other's blind date, and she only freaked out..." He counted fingers on his hand. "Four times, I think."
"Only four times," Sera repeated with a weak smile, "that's a big improvement." Sera was still very weak from the extent of her injuries and everything that she had been through over the last few weeks. Her face was still pale, she forced another smile and said, "I think it's about time to go back."
"Come on. I'll walk you back, " Marcus offered.