Posted by Trin S in Deck 5: Lounge - After Party (All Welcome!)
Posted by Lieutenant Junior Grade Kastarak (Doctor / Counsellor) in Deck 5: Lounge - After Party (All Welcome!)
Posted by Crewman Ngokav Sega’a (Yeoman / Steward) in Deck 5: Lounge - After Party (All Welcome!)
Posted by… suppressed (6) by the Post Ghost! 👻
“Computer!” Sega’a lodged his foot in the doorway as he wheeled a cart of dirtied dishes and glassware into the galley before stacking them into the sonic dishwasher with an order to ‘sanitise’. “Reduce ambient temperature to 19 degrees Celsius. It’s hotter than a Vulcan sauna!”
Sega’a heard the computer chirp, followed by the sweet sensation of cool air rushing into a stuffy and strangely pepper-smelling kitchen. Grateful, he muttered a quiet ‘thank you’ to his mechanical companion and moved to the prep station, snagging a metal bowl to clear the remnants of the tubers and Three Sisters Stew he’d prepared for dinner. He scraped potato peels and carrot skins into the bowl, lamenting how long it would be before his next restock, and disposed of them in the matter recycler. It was in this evening routine that Sega’a found time to think. He gave in to the muscle memory and let his thoughts wander to places the day wouldn’t allow. Occasionally, when he knew he was alone, he would let slip the chorus of his favourite Orion songs and melt into the melody.
But tonight was different.
Tonight, Sega’a slipped from the Wardroom after serving dessert – a redspice tea cake with vegan buttercream and candied oranges – to begin a quick tidying of the galley. Part of him wanted to avoid any trouble with Taggart’s personal chef in the morning, and the other wanted to get out of there ASAP to begin decorating for the after-party. Shoot! Sega’a’s attention snapped to the chronometer. 19:23. He set the time to 22:00, allowing him just under 2.5 hours to get ready. 30min for cleaning. 2hrs for decorating. That should be enough, right? Sega’a pondered while putting away spices and leftovers and sanitising the countertops. By the time he figured it out, he stood at the centre of a clean, vaguely lemon-smelling galley with a water-splotched apron and a pensive look.
“Huh…” he muttered, shrugged and discarded his apron on its hook before slipping into the cooridors while the officers continued their wining and dining (with synthenol, of course).
He stopped by his quarters to enlist the help of his roommate, Rorc, and give his lovely little gremlin some attention before heading to the Deck 5 Lounge. He hadn’t anticipated a party. But, no matter! He’d come up with something. Beckoning Rorc into the Lounge, he had the Tellarite man prepare the music (knowing his taste to be nearly as impeccable as his own) while he handled the lights. Sega’a swiftly located the controls and disposed of the dim, cosy lighting. He reduced the overhead lights and adjusted the wall-bound fixtures to shades of light and dark blues. Then, he pushed some of the tables to hull-side wall and arranged them to hold refreshments and cocktails. He hadn’t prepped for this occasion, but there were leftover goodies from the week.
“Hey Rorc! I’ll be right back – gotta grab some food. Any requests?” He glanced over at the man engrossed in his playlist, earning only a soft grunt, and shrugged. Sega’a knew what he liked.
Sega’a (nearly skipping) made his way back to the galley and pulled some of the leftover sweets and hors d’oeuvres (including a dark chocolate cookie for Rorc), stacked them on a cart, and rolled them back to the galley. He returned to the sound of soft bass as Rorc toyed with the sound controls. Careful not to interrupt his rhythm, Sega’a placed his cookie on the table beside him and went about setting up his mini snack bar. He hummed to the music as he arranged the tiny dishes.
“All right…” he raised his hands and slowly backed away from the table. Pride tugged at the corners of his lips as he made a final sweeping glance over the lounge. “Let’s get this party started!”
Seconds before the clock would strike ten (not that it would, since we’re all digital on the Chernov), Kastarak arrived outside the lounge. Despite trying to supress the emotion of pride, he knew he prided himself for extreme punctuality. There was no greater way to show respect to someone than to be punctual. If you arrive too early, then you steal your host’s time. If you arrive too late, you do not value your host’s time and effort. Either would be a crime against respect, decency and honour. Hence, the logical conclusion would to be to arrive just in time, which Kastarak did.
He walked in and discovered that he was the first one to arrive. He saw Sega’a, felt his own beat rise every so slightly, feeling a sense of warmth in his gut, before looking over, seeing Rorc. He had never really interacted with Rorc – Rorc had managed to avoid being called for a psych eval and would go for other staff in Sickbay when needed. Why? Had it been because of Kastarak’s friendship with Sega’a, or was it for other reasons? Kastarak knew that his own knowledge of Tellarite physiology was not the best. Perhaps Symar was better. Perhaps that would be a topic for a conversation with Symar. In his mind, Kastarak would keep a vast array of topics available for conversation with various people, as small-talk was difficult and not something that came natural to him.
As he looked deeper into the lounge – was that Sega’a’s fuzzy companion of a creature that he saw? Last he had seen her was nine months ago, when she turned seven.
“Good evening,” Kastarak announced his arrival. “Mr Sega’a, and Mr Rorc, I assume? And is that Ms Hago over there?”
“Mhm…” Rorc nodded somewhat absently as Kastarak passed, still fiddling with the music. He needed jazz, but not two-admirals-and-a-bottle-of-Saurian-brandy jazz. Classy and fun, but not too fun. He didn’t want to scare away their Vulcan guests. Argh! Why was it so hard to string together a few songs? He’d have a better chance calling together all the musicians aboard to do a live jam session than this. Wait — that was a brilliant idea!
Rorc rose to mention it to Sega’a, but Kastarak had already grabbed his attention. He grunted to himself and decided to chat with him later.
Sega’a, oblivious to Rorc’s musical woes, perked up when he heard a familiar voice. He whipped around and outstretched his arms in a welcoming gesture, but made no move to touch him.
“Kastarak! My friend,” his smile broadened as he let his arms fall comfortably to his sides, “I’m delighted you could make it! Hago and I have missed your company these past few weeks.”
“I have missed yours, too,” Kastarak said. At this point, he was grateful for Federation Standard’s un-differentiation between singular and plural second pronouns. He had not missed Hago, but he had missed Sega’a, but he did not wish to slight Hago or Sega’a by not singling out only one of them for missing or non-missing, so the ambiguity allowed Kastarak to be honest and respectful too.
“She’s catching up on her beauty sleep, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind you saying hello,” he flicked his wrist at the bed (little more than a handwoven basket and linens) where she lay, “but before that, I must know, how does it feel to be a Lieutenant? All my congratulations, of course.”
“Thank you. I feel no different from yesterday. I am grateful that my skills and experiences have been recognized for a promotion to be earned, but that is the promotion, not the rank.” Kastarak wanted to explain more, to accentuate the differences and explore whatever emotions might be necessary. He realised, however, that Sega’a was probably not as interested in the monologue Kastarak easily could spew out on the topic as the question initially had appeared to Kastarak. “I will say hello to your companion.”
Sega’a, even in the excitement that often left him insensitive to tone and physical language, felt there was more to be said about Kastarak’s promotion to Lieutenant. He eagerly awaited him to continue, but Kastarak instead redirected focus to his furry companion. Straightening, he donned a smile and lifted his hand to encourage him to take the lead, while he followed close behind.
Kastarak moved to the basket, bended down to the creature, “Hello Hago,” he said.
Hago lifted her head to Kastarak, blinking the sleepiness from her eyes, and made a sound that was somewhere between a purr and a growl. It was difficult to decipher which. She scooted closer to him, as if to say hello, but did turned around and plopped back into a ball.
“She likes you,” Sega’a said, as if her almost standoffish behavior were in away an indication of her favor for someone.
Did she really though? Kastarak struggled to understand Hago’s behavioural patterns, but what was more confusing was Sega’a’s interpretation of them. He had no reason to not believe him though, and accepted his interpretation.
“She has accepted me as part of your life, then, perhaps,” said Kastarak, offering his own interpretation.
“Yeah…,” Sega’a’s smile softened, “I like to this she has.”
“Mr Sega’a, what is the occasion of this party?”
“Does there need to be an occasion to have fun?” He looked at Kastarak for a few seconds, then chuckled. “Lots of things! We don’t make enough time to celebrate everything that’s gone right in the past few months. We’ve had successful missions, medals awarded, your promotion to Lieutenant – we have so much to rejoice over. So, the occasion is what you make it. What do you want to celebrate?”
Kastarak looked around, to ensure that Rorc could not hear them, but Rorc was too close.
“May I reply in private? Where could we go?”
“Yes, of course!” He surveyed the room for somewhere less… exposed to go, but the lounge was unnervingly open. The corridors seemed even less private. He didn’t want to find a random storage closet or burst into the transporter room as if two co-conspirators looking for an inconspicuous place to trade notes. If not those places, where? Then, a spark of genius struck.
“Hey Rorc!” Sega’a moved past Kastarak to wave down his Tellarite friend. “You remember that crystal thing from Uimia? The one that glows when you shine a light on it?”
“What? Oh, the one Asere just had to have?” Rorc folded his arms indignantly over his chest as a scowl tugged at the corners of his mouth. “You know I had to–”
“I know,” Sega’a cut him off with a disarming grin, “and we’re so grateful you did. But you know what would make me super grateful? I’ll even repay you.”
“Repay mehow?” Rorc leaned forward, but expelled any hint of interest from his face.
“Repay you…,” his face scrunched up in thought, “by doing the cooking for a week.”
“You already bring us home leftovers.” He grumbled. Then a smile so mischievous appeared on his face. “I’ll do whatever you ask if you take care of Thynihr for a week.”
“Please… not the statue.”
“It’s not a statue, it’s a relic.” Rorc walked up to him. “Do you want me to fetch the crystal or not?”
Sega’a clenched his jaw, staring at the hand Rorc so innocently extended to him.
“Fine. Fine.” He grasped his hand in a firm shake. “But only a week. Now, please, go get the crystal.”
“That’s what I thought,” he grinned, whipping around in hot pursuit of the door. Once opened, he turned to say “don’t forget to dust it twice a day” before the door hissed shut behind him.
Muttering something under his breath, he straightened his uniform and returned to Kastarak.
“It’ll take him a few minutes to convince Asere to hand over the rock,” he pinched the bridge of his nose before his smile returned. “So, what do you want to celebrate?”
It was an expensive deal that Sega’a made to get some privacy with Kastarak. Kastarak had envisioned that they would simply go to a niche, or a side-room, but while Sega’a’s deal with Rorc seemed illogical and messy and impromptu, Kastarak saw a deeper meaning in it. By paying this price, Sega’a might show Kastarak a measure of his regard for him. Kastarak wasn’t sure of the interpretation, but it was a comforting one.
“I wish to celebrate that I have accepted myself as a gay Vulcan man.” It felt odd saying it, moreso using human words. But humans were an interesting culture, species – for all their ways of evil and chaos, they had at the same time acceptance for so much more diversity, creating positive words for them. Before the destruction of Vulcan, Vulcan culture was somewhat monolithic – just slight variations due to the local regional ways, but humans… they did away with their Vulcan-like genocidal history by embracing differences. Perhaps it was thus fitting that Kastarak would use a human cultural term. It was hopefully a term that would translate well across the divide with Sega’a. Kastarak really wanted Sega’a to understand. And what better friend did he have for parties and celebrations than his dear old Ngokav Seg’a?
(OOC: bumping this while I contemplate Sega’a’s response but… ahh! I’m so proud of and happy for Kastarak. <3 – Trin)
Though he did not react with his usual praise or a beaming grin, Sega’a regarded Kastarak with a warm, prideful expression.
In his travels, Sega’a had listened to countless patrons profess their innermost feelings to him, comforted by the distance of a counter and total anonymity, but this felt deeper. He knew Kastarak. He cared for Kastarak. And though he wished to say Kastarak’s truth didn’t change anything between them, he couldn’t deny that it had. Sega’a felt closer to him in a way he hadn’t (or hadn’t allowed himself) to feel before. He couldn’t describe it, so he wouldn’t try, and instead relished in the joy of seeing his friend as his authentic self.
“Kastarak…” he hummed, praying Kastarak hadn’t noticed his silence, “may I hug you?”
Sega’a was elated that Kastarak felt comfortable telling him. He understood little about Vulcans’ attitudes towards non-heterosexuality, but he suspected that self-acceptance wasn’t easy for Kastarak, and he wanted to avoid disrespecting his vulnerability by reacting in a way that could be overwhelming for him. So, he forced himself to stop, take a breath, and consider his closest friend.
“Your friendship means everything to me,” he said, “and I’m honoured that you shared this part of yourself with me. Self-acceptance isn’t easy, but it is liberating. I’m proud of you, Kastarak, and I want to celebrate you in the way you want to be celebrated. Now and forever.”
He tilted his head, curious how Kastarak would want to celebrate embracing his sexuality. Would a party be too much? He knew they could be loud, overpopulated and emotionally taxing for Vulcans. What about a small, intimate dinner with his closest friends? Sega’a smiled inwardly at the thought. Whatever it looked like, wherever it was, and with whoever he chose, it would be perfect as long as Kastarak enjoyed it.
“So, my friend, how do you want to be celebrated?”
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