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Officers Mess - Dinner with the Captain

Posted June 30, 2020, 6:48 a.m. by Lieutenant Commander Zef Rollo (Counselor) (D Grisham)

Posted by Captain Alexander Cochrane (Commanding Officer) in Officers Mess - Dinner with the Captain

Posted by Lieutenant Commander Zef Rollo (Counselor) in Officers Mess - Dinner with the Captain

Posted by Captain Alexander Cochrane (Commanding Officer) in Officers Mess - Dinner with the Captain
Posted by… suppressed (5) by the Post Ghost! 👻
He looked at her and said “Well, I suppose half an answer is better than none.” and he smiled slightly. “To me, being a Captain is akin to a marriage… but not in the emotional ‘love’ sense. It’s more akin to being married to a spouse who already had children. You are drawn to this single figure… but that figure isn’t, and never will be, entirely yours. You know going in that you have to share them with people who were there before you… who will be there after you… but who you are still responsible for. It’s like…” and he thought for a moment and then chuckled. “It is like being a step-father. Again, not in the affection and deep parental sense, but in the logistical and support sense. It’s being a step-father to a thousand kids… some like you, some love you, some hate your guts. But no matter what they are still yours to look after. And you can either embrace that responsibility, make it central to you so you know that you are giving them your best and hopefully providing them with the guidance and framework they need to succeed once they leave your house… or you can half-ass it and end up with your step-kids running all over you and treating their mom, the ship, like garbage and becoming miscreants and little jerks that get suspended from school and never amount to anything.” and he smiled and chuckled again.

Cochrane, CO

They weren’t progressing in the conversation. Cochrane was finding different ways to explain the same thing, when she’d understood it the first time—she simply hadn’t agreed with it.

“Captain, I comprehend what you’re saying, I just don’t believe the rationale behind it to be as healthy as it should be. And as far as ‘half an answer’, what did you want to hear? I told you I was mated. That is a life long commitment to a partner on Baj. And I loved him with every atom of my being, but it didn’t last long because he died.”

Zef took another bite of steak, chewed and swallowed before continuing. “Do those additional facts make my answer more acceptable?” She realized the two of them were once again heading into bumpy territory where the evening could take a turn. Moreso, she had to accept that she was the cause of it. In her office, it had been her who pulled back when she perceived she wasn’t freely allowed on the bridge, and now she was having difficulty accepting Cochrane’s belief that the crew was his ‘family’ in such a way that it didn’t allow for personal, romantic relationships which almost every human needed. She took a deep breath, exhaling any tension that had been building inside, and looked at the man across the table. “I’m sorry. I seem to have slipped back into counselling mode without realizing it. This is just a discussion and I shouldn’t be trying to ‘fix’ you. And as far as Broggs, my mate, memories involving him are still painful.”

—Zef


Cochrane sighed heavily and shook his head. “No Counselor, the fault is mine.” he replied. “I suppose there are some discussions that just do not make for appropriate dinner conversation. And my comment as to your history was out of line… and I’m sorry. I was referring more to the question about love versus the question about recognized romantic commitments. I am sorry the mention of your mate brought that pain to our dinner.” and he looked across the table at her. “All of us deserve a break from the pressures this life and career bring. I had hoped that tonight might have proven so for us both…” and he chuckled as he took a drink, “… but even a Ship’s Captain can be wrong from time to time.” and he set the glass down and began cutting into his dinner.

Cochrane, CO

“Okay, clean slate. Although, I must comment that ‘this’ is how people get to know each other. Just to explain a bit–Brogg is a touchy subject because I was very wrong about him and he was not the kindest male for a partner. There are bad memories there and some guilt on my part for not seeing him as he truly was. I made a mistake and it galls me every time I really think about it.” She helped herself to another bite, followed by a long drink of wine. “Everyone has a past though, don’t they? Even those of us who should know better.”

Zef set the wine down and reached over the table to touch Cochrane’s arm. “I’m going to let my barriers completely down with you. It will be the first thing I do when I see you around the ship…and tonight, of course. I truly want to get to know you but I’m a bit rusty at letting anyone close. If you’ll be patient with me, I promise to really work on it.” She gave him a genuine smile that lit up her features. It was a sight not many on the Manhattan had seen.

—Zef

Cochrane stopped eating and set his fork down. He set his hand on hers and looked at her. “Zef… I would really like to get to know you, too. But I can’t promise you anything more than…” and he smiled at her, “… a safe harbor. At least for now. A safe harbor to let down your barriers without fear of judgement or criticism where someone else can get to know the real you… not just the Counselor part. And a place where we can practice how we talk to each other without ending up butting heads. How does that sound to you? Can we start there?”

Cochrane, CO

“A safe harbor sounds good. So does the fact that your patience comes with it. Life so much easier when you have someone to be yourself with—at lease that’s what my psych practice teaches me.” She gave a soft laugh and pulled her hand back to continue eating. “So, in the attempt to get to know each other, tell me what you do when you’re not on duty—something you do because it makes you feel good.”

—Zef

“Does sleep count?” he responded and chuckled. As he began to cut into his steak, he said “Well, I havent had the chance to play since I came on board, but I play a few instruments. Mostly stringed. What about you? What pastimes help you feel happy?”

Cochrane, CO

“This might surprise you, but I take great comfort from sculpting with clay.” She watched his reaction to that tidbit of information. “Its hands on and creative. I also like to read and a truly guilty pleasure is singing in dark, smoky night clubs.” She looked a little embarrassed at that one.

—Zef

Cochrane gave her a slight smile and said “I’ll make sure to put you on the list for ship’s talent show.” and he chuckled. “What do you like to sing?” he then asked, genuinely interested.

Cochrane, CO

“I have a love for ‘banglaji’s’. I believe the closest description you might understand is ‘torch song’. Love gone wrong, not reciprocated, longing and unfulfillment. I seem to have an affinity with them. Ballads might be another word to describe them. They aren’t all that I sing, but they are the ones I really enjoy.” She smiled at Cochrane. “Besides, the wardrobe is fantastic. I get to wear things I would never have chosen for anything else.”

—Zef

Cochrane’s eyebrows arched slightly and he chuckled. “I can imagine showing up for a session in a sequined dress would make things a bit awkward at times.” and he took a bite of his steak. After chewing and swallowing, he said “Do you use the holodeck for that? Or do you prefer real venues?”

Cochrane

“Real venues are better because anything can happen. Their unpredictability adds to the excitement, but I do use the holodeck sometimes. Anything will do if I really need a fix.” She laughed. “I’m kidding. The urge to sing never gets that bad.” Zef flashed on a picture in her mind of Alex playing a grand piano while she sat atop it and belted out something smokey and filled with longing. Smiling in private contentment, she took another bite of steak. “So if you haven’t indulged by playing your instruments lately, what have you done to make yourself happy and take the edge off of any given day?”

—Zef

He looked a bit chagrined and said “Honestly, I havent taken much time. But I do make sure that for an hour every day… well… most days…” and he grinned, “… I just sit, relax, listen to music or read something not related to work. That’s usually towards the end of the day, so at least I can relax and try to get some sound sleep.”

Cochrane, CO

The rest of dinner went pleasantly enough. There were no more misunderstandings, no more arguments and no unkind words. Zef had a really lovely time and thought it would be nice to repeat the interaction in the future.

By the time dessert came, she was feeling the effects of the wine. Alcohol always made her friendlier than usual and willing to share many more personal details about her life. It was why she usually avoided it. However, she’d made a decision to be herself with the Captain, so she wasn’t holding back.

“Ohhhh…this is delicious!!!” She turned the spoon over and licked a spot of whipped cream off the back of it. “You did a very good job with the menu tonight.”

—Zef

Cochrane smiled and said “I’d love to take the credit, but Chef Harv was the mastermind. But I agree, he did an fantastic job.” and he looked at her and said “And the company was amazing as well. Thank you for being such a lovely dinner companion.”

Cochrane, CO

“Thank you, you too.” Her smile was wistful. “I don’t get many chances at evenings like this with good company, where everything is relaxed and off the record. Sometimes I forget how much I miss them.” She took another bite of dessert. “I’m really glad we worked through our differences tonight. It puts us a step closer to achieving a close relationship…” Her light colored eyes studied his face for a moment. “…as friends. Don’t worry, despite the wine, I still remember. The Manhattan is your love.”

—Zef

Alex chuckled and said “I’m glad that we pushed through it as well. And I think having a… friend… such as yourself will be most welcome. I can honestly say it will be a welcome change from simple acquaintances.”

He finished his dessert and leaned back slightly. “Can you come to my office tomorrow, around 1000? I have an idea for the crew I’d like your personal and professional thoughts on. It occurred to me as you and I have been talking, and I want to flesh the idea out a bit before I discuss it. Are you available then?”

Cochrane

After swallowing the last bite, Zef patted her lips with the napkin and sighed. “Of course I can meet you, Captain.” She heard the end of the evening in their conversation and was a little wistful about it. The food had been delicious and the company wasn’t far behind, but ‘friends’ was all Cochrane was interested in, so Zef thought she might set her sights elsewhere, for the sake of their new friendship. Space got lonely for some. It had for her, and Alexander Cochrane had awoken a longing that had lain dormant inside the counselor for a long time. She wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of a relationship with someone, yet.

“I’m absolutely stuffed!” Zef exclaimed as she patted her stomach. “I should sleep like a baby tonight.” The last of the wine in her glass made its way down her throat. As she set the flute back on the table, “I guess I’d better call it a night then. I’ve still got a few files to read over before work tomorrow and I’m feeling so relaxed that I’m sure I won’t be up for very long. Thank you for dinner, Captain.”

Harv was suddenly behind her as she rose, guiding her chair back and out of the way. Zef looked back at him and smiled. “Your choices tonight were wonderful—every one of them delicious! Thank you, Harv.”

The big man blushed a bit and returned her smile with a nod of thanks.

“Captain, I’ll see you in the morning.”

—Zef

Cochrane rose and smiled. “I had a wonderful time. I hope we can do it again soon, Zef. Have a good evening.” and he held his out to her.

Cochrane

She clasped his hand before leaving the table and making her way back to her quarters. As previously mentioned, she still had some work to do before turning in for the night.

—Zef


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