((Starbase 118 Ops Commercial Sector - Raging Ramen))
There was a new restaurant in town and it had all of Ops raging. Well, maybe not all of Ops, but all those who particularly liked Ramen. Those who were familiar with the more traditional version of the dish certainly gave it raving reviews. Everyone who had gone to it insisted that anyone who actually liked the cuisine /had/ to try it, or they would regret it. So it was that the First Officer was drawn to it along with the other flies.
And how those flies flocked. The place was busy, even though the hour was later than the normal dinner rush - but not as busy as it /could/ have been, or was during peak time. As Nijil arrived he was told there was a wait and one person was in front of him. So, he was ushered to a small bench where a woman sat there - one with a very familiar face. As he approached, she practically jumped to her feet. The hostess turned back as more people approached, leaving the two alone to stare at each other. After a moment, Alora got into an ‘at ease’ stance, back straight, feet comfortably apart, hands clasped behind her .
Nijil: Commander.. ::he echoed, standing just as ridged.::
There was a moment of silence, and it was so uncomfortable that Alora, who had intended not to say anything, just couldn’t let it extend any longer.
DeVeau: I hope you’ve been doing well.
She wouldn’t know. Since he’d returned Sachiko to her, Alora had been trying to avoid him, and she honestly hadn’t expected him to be out and about, much less at the new restaurant. Although she knew she wouldn’t have been able to keep out of his way forever, she just hadn’t expected to run into him like that - out in public. In a place where it wasn’t exactly easy to extract herself without either drawing attention or, perhaps, insulting the establishment.
Nijil: Yes, well. ::he sighed.:: And you, well?
As well as could be expected, though Alora didn’t tag that on the end. It would no doubt lead to questions that she didn’t really feel like answering.
::Nijil was more known for his bluntness, especially when he wore his ‘doctor suit’. It tended to be a default setting, one very slowly being rewrote to first officer suit. Until then, however.::
Nijil: If you’ll excuse me - ::he made to leave. It seemed evident to him that outside of work she’d rather avoid him. Though part of him wanted to confront that.::
The sudden change caught Alora by surprise and she wasn’t quite sure what to think, but quickly asked,
DeVeau: Where are you going?
Nijil: Leaving. ::he said flatly.::
That didn’t make any sense.
DeVeau: But...I thought you wanted to eat here.
Nijil: It’s open more than just now, I’ll come back.
::He set his hands on his hips and began to seek out a path towards the exit.::
DeVeau: But you came here now. Why leave now?
::He looked at her.::
Nijil: You clearly are not interested in being in the same room as me, you’re a Lieutenant Commander, so I expect you to address the reason why when you’re ready. Until then, I’ll grant you your space.
::His wordy explanation wasn’t upset, just a statement of what he suspected and expected. He didn’t generally put on those kids gloves, and his default setting was cutting, snark and to the point. No sugar coating.::
Alora sighed and looked away. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t ready, she didn’t think she could explain - not without breaking down, and that was the last thing she wanted to do, especially in front of /him/. After a moment, she shook her head then began to walk past.
DeVeau: You stay. I’ll go.
Nijil: That’s ridiculous. ::he shook his head.::
Alora paused and turned around.
DeVeau: Look, I know we haven’t known each other long, but if I’m right, you don’t get out much. Obviously, you came here because you wanted to, you had a specific desire, perhaps you’re just really into ramen. Whatever the reason, you left your quarters to specifically come here. I’m not going to interfere with that.
::His normally lighter blue eyes darkened slightly. Nijil didn’t much care to be called like that. Even if it wasn’t meant rude or cruelly. The muscle in his cheek twitched as he clenched his teeth.::
Nijil: Enough ::he held up a hand.::
Alora crossed her arms over her chest. She realised she’d pretty much just spoken back to the First Officer of Ops, but it was too late now. Besides...he was being ridiculous.
Nijil: This is ridiculous ::he ran a hand down his chin and sighed.:: We’re both here already. Miss DeVeau, will you join me for dinner?
Alora opened her mouth, about to say something to the effect that no, he should stay, she should go, but realised that he hadn’t argued with her - he’d invited her. Wait...what? Her mouth closed, opened again, and finally she managed to speak.
Nijil: Good. ::he nodded once.::
It was then that the hostess arrived and motioned to Alora.
Hostess: There’s a table ready for you.
Alora glanced over at Nijil, then cleared her throat.
DeVeau: He’ll be joining me.
The woman brightened, glad to know that was one less table she had to worry about.
Hostess: Of course. Right this way.
Into the restaurant they went, Alora uncertain and confused and a bundle of a variety of emotions she wasn’t quite sure she could categorise. A small table for two was the chosen spot and the hostess indicated they should sit in the chairs.
Hostess: Someone will be right with you. Enjoy!
With that, her duty was done and the two were left alone. On the table were two tiny hologram emitters which flared with dual copies of the menu. Immediately, Alora’s eyes lit up and she reached out to choose an option on the menu.
DeVeau: They have a version in Japanese! Wow, they really are going for authenticity here.
Nijil: Hmm ::he said, not familiar with the language or culture in depth. He just appreciated the food.::
Alora’s eyes darted up to the first officer. No longer distracted by the discovery, her uncertainty quickly returned.
DeVeau: Um. So...are you familiar with Japanese food at all?
Granted, most of what was on the menu was related to Ramen, but there were a few other noodle dishes.
Nijil: Not excessively, no. ::he admitted.::
Alora started to answer, but a woman approached then and bowed. Her dark hair and almond eyes marked her as someone from Earth, particularly from Asia.
Yuki: Irasshaimase! Welcome!
The way the Japanese word rolled off the tongue made Alora’s eyes light up and she began to babble back, glad she wasn’t wearing her commbadge.
A similar light crossed over the waitress’ face and she returned the conversation.
Yuki: Hai! Nihongo o hanashimasuka!
For about thirty seconds, the two engaged in a rapid conversation, musical consonants and vowels dancing back and forth between them. Nijl’s name was mentioned and Alora motioned toward him, but the words surrounding it were completely in Japanese. The quick conversation came to an end, leaving Alora smiling and the woman bowed again.
Yuki: It is an honour to have the first officer dine with us. What can I get for you?
::He was out of his element. Instant regret for inviting the woman dared to spring to the forefront of his mind. But he knew he’d done the right thing. Whatever bothered her, he would get to the bottom of. As far as he knew he hasn’t done anything to deserve this much awkwardness, distancing and cold shoulder. He usually knew when he deserved all three - a few times he’d gone out of his way to earn such a thing.
But right now, he was out of the loop. Had no idea what the ladies rapid fire spoke of. But did hear his name!::
Nijil: ::he looked at DeVeau first, then the waitress.:: I’ll have the Miso Ramen, and Kirin fire black coffee..
::he’d had this a time or two…::
Yuki: Alora wa dou?
Once again, the rapid fire of the Japanese language danced from the women’s mouths briefly. There was some nodding, a lot of smiling, and finally, the woman bowed again.
Yuki: Please excuse me, I will return in just a moment with your drinks.
With that, she was gone. Once more, silence reigned and Alora was faced with her companion. Her smile faded, though not completely - it had just turned polite. She folded her hands and put them in her lap, letting her fingers lace and unlace. Again, uncertainty reared its ugly head - something she was not used to in a social situation. He just...threw her off. But what would she do if he didn’t? That was part of the problem. Finally she sighed and leaned back and leveled her gaze at him.
DeVeau: So. Commander. I guess...well...what are...what are some things you like to do?
Why was this so hard? She could hold a conversation with every single other person on the space station, but not him. Well, she knew why it was hard, and she hated that it was that way and she had no idea how to deal with it.
::He looked over at her, his expression void of emotion but inside was a full conversation. They had tried this one before, when she cornered him in his office with a potted plant. Granted he put it on himself, now that he thought about it. After all he had invited her in.::
Nijil: I like good conversation and good food. ::not untrue.::
DeVeau: Well, that’s something we have in common.
Except that Nijil had been rather hesitant to engage in good conversation prior to this. Even right then, he was providing an answer, but he wasn’t really trying to cultivate.
DeVeau: What sort of things do you like to talk about? What interests you?
::He was making an effort… really.::
Nijil: The news, the fleet keeps busy. ::he flipped through his rolodex memory.:: Have you heard about the missions your past ship the Veritas have worked?
Alora went a bit quiet at that question. She shifted in her seat, attempting to figure out what she was going to say.
DeVeau: Not...any recent missions. I talked with Chy and Raissa. I also just got a video from Raissa. She just...got married.
Nijil: ::he looked at her.:: Not a good match?
::The hesitation in her voice seemed apparent to him.::
Lieutenant Commander Nijil
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops