Where They Stood
Location: Nokomis' Quarters
Timeline: Following "A Mountain Or A Molehill"
Nokomis busied herself making sure everything in her quarters was perfectly in place for this dinner she'd arranged. Tiber was coming and so was Logan, she wanted the two of them to meet, to be friends. She was so nervous she had to stop and just breathe for a moment.
Tiber had spent more time wondering what to wear for this evening than he had for any other occasion in his life. Usually there was some sort of rule or precedent to follow, Starfleet business dress uniform, working out, gym gear. This was unlike any dinner he had ever been to before. Nokomis had made it clear that she wouldn't keep any secrets from the captain and that his opinion was extremely important to her. Tiber hadn't discussed what the nature of the CO and XO's relationship was, but he knew from their service records they had known each other for a long time professionally. That alone hadn't explained her closeness to the captain so Tiber had consulted the Intelligence files, not exactly ethical but he had learned not to concern himself with the ethics of his profession a long time ago.
Tiber had yet to formally meet the captain in person. He had caught sight of him on the bridge and had offered him polite nods when passing him in a corridor but as a junior officer not stationed on the bridge he had no real cause to deal directly with the CO. The prospect of formally meeting the captain was one thing, but being introduced to him as the romantic interest of his XO was a whole other matter. Suffice to say he was dreading the dinner.
Nokomis knew how he felt and had pleaded with him to agree to it. It was against all his better judgement but he had agreed on the basis that it clearly mattered a great deal to her. In the end he decided on a loose white shirt, French-tucked into a pair of navy blue trousers and light brown oxford loafers. He had the same belt on that he had worn to the holodeck with Nokomis for their first official date and had combed his dark hair back, giving a windswept effect. He gave himself one more check in the mirror before walking over to the console in his quarters.
"Computer initiate site to site transport to the following co-ordinates. Upon completion, execute program Augusta Alpha Seven." As the computer acknowledged, he felt the cool rush of the transporter brushing through him before reappearing in the quarters of the XO.
Nokomis stood with her hands on her hips. She'd turned around to find Tiber materializing in her quarters. "Do you have to scare me half to death? Using the transporters is kind of pushing it a bit don't you think?"
"I know. It's one thing for the captain knowing about us but it's hardly discreet if I'm seen walking to the ex-oh's quarters like this isn't it?" He gestured up an down himself, quietly hoping for a positive response after all of the agonizing he had gone to in selecting his attire for the evening.
"Oh, and if anyone asks the computer, I'm in stellar cartography...." Tiber gave a slight grin as he spoke.
She resisted the urge to sigh and approached him, taking his hand and placing a kiss on his cheek, though she had to stand on her tip toes to do so as he was quite a few inches taller than her. "You do look very handsome. Don't be so nervous. Logan is nice, he'll treat you fairly."
He took his hand in hers, looking down at her. "He's still the captain, Nokomis. This isn't quite what I had in mind when I joined the Orion."
"I don't think anyone planned this. And I know, but he's not coming as the captain, just my best friend." She put her head against his chest for a moment and then broke away to go back to getting the room ready for their planned evening. "Oh, sit, wherever you like. Make yourself comfortable."
Captain Barrett made his way down the corridor. It was a short jaunt to Nokomis' quarters from his own. He nodded politely at a passing lieutenant that worked in... astrometrics? He wasn't quite sure, to be honest. He decided not to attend the dinner dressed in his duty uniform. He didn't want to give the image of authority for such a social gathering. Instead, he wore a red short-sleeve buttoned shirt and khaki pants and carried a bottle of bourbon in his hand. Upon reaching the door to Diza's quarters, he pressed the chime.
"Come in," Nokomis called, turning around to greet him as he walked through the door.
Logan smiled warmly at Nokomis in that usual way. "I trust that I'm on time?" He held up the bottle for her to inspect. "It would be rude to come empty-handed. It's a new label slowly going around the fleet, from the U.S.S. Archimedes. I hear it's quite good."
"Thanks," Nokomis said, taking it from him. "Maybe we should have some with dinner?" She glanced back and forth between the two men. "Umm, I don't know if you've met. Logan, this is Tiber."
Tiber resisted the overwhelming urge to stand firmly at attention and simply moved respectfully forward offering his right hand to the commander.
"Good to meet you, commander."
Logan smiled and shook his hand. "Likewise, ensign. Though... I'm sure we can drop the ranks in this setting, if that's alright with you." He gestured to the seating area of the living room and took the liberty of plopping down into a chair. "Tiber, right? I remember that name because it's very unique."
"Yes sir." Tiber replied taking his seat just after the commander. As he sat, he caught site of Nokomis' glare at him. "Tiberius is a family name, among others... sir."
"Would you like something to drink?" Nokomis asked Tiber first, "Maybe a little of what Logan brought?" Hopefully it would loosen him up a bit without causing any issues They'd only had the one date on the holodeck plus the two times they'd met alone prior and neither of them had been drinking.
Tiber nodded in gratitude as he straightened his shirt out on his chest. He wasn't a big drinker but given the circumstances he thought it might help him to loosen up.
She put a glass in front of both men before she set the table with food. Finally she sat down herself. Knowing that Tiber did not like to talk about his past she brought up a subject. "Logan and I have known each other since we were four years old. We grew up just down the street from each other."
"Oh.....Did you go to school together..?" Tiber asked innocently, looking at Nokomis for a little help. He was honestly trying. Trying harder than he had ever done before, he just wasn't very good at small talk.
Nokomis nodded, "Yes, that was how we met. I was a bit of a wall flower at that age. Don't be shy, there's plenty of food to go around." She said as she began to dish up her down plate with salad and lasagna.
Tiber accepted the plate Nokomis handed him and took up a fork. He hated lasagna; his Italian heritage was not something he had never really embraced, despite his grandmother's best efforts. Nonetheless, his mind was not really on the food but he appreciated that this was important to Nokomis.
"It must be nice to be serving together now, after all these years?"
Barrett opened the bottle and poured all three of them a healthy portion. "Yes, it's rare to hold onto such young friendships over a lifetime. Granted, we've had a few years of distance due to work but now it's come back full circle." He inhaled the steam from the lasagna. He loved Italian food and cherished the opportunity to have it when he could. He glanced between them and noticed that both of them were somewhat stiff. Raising his glass, he said to them, "A toast to good food and great company." He smiled warmly and took a big sip of his drink.
Tiber followed Nokomis lead in raising his glass. The small chin that followed echoed around the room. Tiber couldn't help but marvel at the fact he was sat having an intimate meal with the CO and XO. On a professional level it would have filled his class mates at the academy with envy, but then his recruitment by Starfleet Intelligence was enough to do that already for most of them. On a personal level, it was a whole different matter. silence filled the room as everyone tucked into there food.
Nokomis smiled at Logan as their glasses clinked together. She did the same with Tiber and gave him a reassuring brush of the hand. She was really quite pleased with events so far. Of course Tiber was nervous, so was she but they seemed to be all getting along well. Feeling a lull in the conversation and knowing Tiber didn't like to talk about himself she offered up a bit of a story from her childhood. She turned to Logan again. "Remember when we went camping when we were about ten? And all those fireflies came out. Before we left I got lost and spent part of the night sleeping in a tree before your dad found me?"
"How could I forget?," he replied. That night had been really worrisome for Logan since he couldn't have imagined her wandering off by herself and left him behind at the camp. "I tried to use a jar full of fireflies as a makeshift flashlight as we went out looking for you." He took a bit of his food as he reminisced about that camping trip. It was one of many that they had taken together. Good memories...
Tiber's eyes moved from the captain to the commander and back again while he ate. He could see why it was important to Nokomis that he and the captain be acquainted. Nonetheless, it was hard for him to really appreciate the depth of their relationship. He didn't really have anyone other than Commander Frost he would consider a lifelong friend. Even then, the relationship was more maternal than anything. Sitting quietly listening too them made him feel slightly mournful, try as he might to deny it. He had always felt alone, close to no one but his father and now even he was missing.
Nokomis and the captain continued to ruminate and for the moment Tiber just enjoyed sharing in their moment. He brushed his hand gently over Nokomis', not wanting to disturb her conversation. He allowed himself a small smile.
"It turned out fine, I was all right and decided to stay where I was. Sleeping in the tree wasn't very comfortable but I didn't want to be on the ground, I was afraid a bear would come along and eat me." Nokomis glanced at Tiber when he returned the touch. She took his hand squeezed it and brought it up above the table, still holding onto him.
Tiber's natural reaction was to pull away in alarm, but he stopped himself. His hand resting in hers on the table for the captain too see, almost certainly invited comment. Tiber didn't say anything but simply grasped her hand tight as if to brace himself for the captain's disapproval.
Logan set his glass down after taking a sip to wash down a bite of food. His eyes slid to watch their intertwined hands on the table. He sensed that it was a physical way of letting him know where things stood between them. He was genuinely happy for them. He hadn't seen Missy be like this in a long time. "You two look very happy. That's a rare thing out here."
She smiled and looked down at her plate. She was happy if Tiber was. It had certainly been a rollercoaster of emotions so far, most of them good. It stirred things in her she hadn't allowed herself to feel in a long time.
"We are." Tiber muttered reflexively to the captains comment,
"I am?" He quickly corrected himself looking at Nokomis praying she felt the same way, otherwise this whole evening was a bit of a disaster.
Nokomis couldn't help but laugh. "Yes, you think I'd invite you to dinner with my best friend if I didn't feel that way?" She gave him what she hoped was a very reassuring if somewhat playful smile. Of course she hoped Logan would come to like Tiber, but it really wasn't necessary to have his approval.
Logan took the moment to speak up and affirm that sentiment. "She's right, you know. I don't think I've seen her this happy in a long time, to be honest." He took another sip of his drink and looked between them. They certainly did look happy underneath the faint nervousness.
"Anyway," Nokomis said, changing the subject before Tiber crushed her hand. She didn't dare suggest in this moment that the two of them do something together. "I made dessert too so don't get too full. Rhubarb pie. Probably doesn't go with lasagna but it's my favorite Earth dessert and since I was cooking, I got to choose."
"Well, far be it for me to say no to pie." He grinned as he looked between them. "That reminds me of a time several years ago when we had Missy over for dinner and she tried to make a pie from scratch. Betty and I owned a golden retriever at the time and she decided to help herself to the pie as it was cooling on the counter." He took one last bite of his food. "She must've enjoyed it. There wasn't much left."
"I loved that dog." Nokomis sighed. "But I'm still mad." She shook her head and pushed her plate away from her. "Do we want to wait a while before dessert? Talk? Play cards? Run from the room screaming at the prospect," She gave Tiber a wink. "Just checking."
Tiber grudgingly allowed himself a small smile at her comment. "I'm fine, Nokomis. I may need to turn in soon though, my duty shift at 0500.
"Sure, do you want some pie before you go or want to take a slice with you?" Of course she was disappointed that he couldn't stay long but the big thing was of course that he'd come despite his discomfort.
"I'll take some if you don't mind." Tiber didn't really intend to eat it. He didn't have much of a sweet tooth, but he didn't want to disappoint her. Accepting the small slice that Nokomis has wrapped up for him he turned to the captain.
"It is good to meet you... sir. Apologies for leaving so soon."
Barrett stood and nodded to Tiber. "No apology needed. Duty calls for us all."
Tiber nodded respectfully before turning his attention to Nokomis. She has stood with him and leaned in to hug him. He wrapped his free arm around her and rested his head on top of hers gently before letting go and heading towards the door. Just before exiting he stopped himself;
"Computer, terminate program Augusta Alpha Seven and initiate transport."
A short flash of light and he was stood back in his quarters. Giving one large sigh of relief that he had managed to get through the evening in one piece he turned and headed straight for his sonic shower.
Nokomis sighed when he'd transported out. "He's so nervous. Deathly afraid that people on this ship will judge him for dating the first officer. I get why he's spooked but it's also a little bit frustrating."
One eyebrow shot up on Logan's face. "A site-to-site transport might be overdoing it a touch." He offered a reassuring smile and added, "Well, I should probably turn in as well. Thank you for the lasagna. It was delicious."
"You're welcome. But . . . what do you think? Of him?" Nokomis asked, she wasn't looking for approval but maybe a bit of reassurance that she was doing the right thing.
He struggled to find the right words. "I uh... He seems like a nice man. He definitely returns your affection, Missy." In truth, he didn't know the ensign very well to make an informed decision. However, he trusted Missy to be able to take care of herself and to reach out if she had need of an ear.
"Okay." She said. He hadn't mentioned any concerns. "Thanks for agreeing to this." She offered Logan a quick hug. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
He smiled and returned her hug warmly. "It was my pleasure! Yes, I'll see you tomorrow for our daily briefing. Oh-eight-hundred?"
"Yes," she smiled and walked him to the door. She stared forward for a few minutes after the doors closed before moving to put the dishes in the replicator.
Lieutenant Commander Nokomis Diza
Executive Officer, USS Orion
Commander Logan Barrett
Commanding Officer, USS Orion
Ensign Tiberius Augusta
Intelligence Officer, USS Orion