Posted Sept. 25, 2022, 9:07 a.m. by Lieutenant Commander Natasha Knight (Chief Medical Officer) (Kate O'Neill)
Posted by Lieutenant Sheleah Ruby (Diplomatic Officer / CNS) in Captains Quarters - Dinner with Sheleah
Posted by Lieutenant Sheleah Ruby (Diplomatic Officer / CNS) in Captains Quarters - Dinner with Sheleah
Posted by Captain Dante Knight (Commanding Officer) in Captains Quarters - Dinner with Sheleah
Posted by… suppressed (28) by the Post Ghost! 👻
“Tonight?” The voice Dante was using was carefully guarded, but sounded surprised. “And by Tonight, you mean, now?”
“No, I mean three weeks from now,” Natasha shot back shaking her head and leaning against the door to the bathroom. “This is why I keep saying we need an old-fashioned wall calendar where I can write things in black ink. At least then I can point to it when you say I don’t tell you something.”
“Baby I am literally just out of the shower, late back from the Bridge, and you just casually throw out a Oh, and Sheleah is coming over for dinner tonight, she’ll be here in five, as I am standing here in a towel? If you told me earlier I could have had a quicker shower and helped, do you need me to help set up?” Freshly showered, Dante stood with a towel around his waist and damp footprints following him on the carpet.
“Because today at breakfast when I said be on time because we have plans this evening wasn’t enough of a reminder? Do you ever really listen to me or do you just see the uniform and think I am one of your crew?” Pushing off the wall she began to walk away. They had been together many years, and Dante knew her mood by the way she walked away. The pace showed she was not interested in him following her.
“One of my crew huh?” Dante said and looked at her with an eyebrow raised, then he quickly half ran up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind while he tried to kiss her neck. “How many of my crew do you see me trying this with? Huh?” He did know her mood, and he also knew the best way to get her out of it was to make her crack a smile. Sometimes that was a challenge when he had done something stupid, but he cared and he knew she knew that.
Natasha tried not to smile. Moments like this melted her. Dante had a way to revert them back to the crazy, barely out of their teen-years cadets like they were when they met. While he didn’t get a chance to show this on duty like those in the crew with less rank and responsibility, he did, and often in their quarters. Letting out a laugh, she scrunched up her neck trying to block it. Dante however was too fast snaking into that small area above her collar bone. “Dante stop. Stop,” she yelled out in a giggling tone. He toyed with her setting her toes back to the ground before picking her up again. As much as she was adoring the attention, it was going to be fleeting. That was the problem recently, not enough of a normal life between the times they had to be proper. For years, Natasha had been satisfied with following him and his career. Moving from the Outpost to his ship did wonders and would have been perfect if it had not been for the birth of their son. While Oscar was a blessing, like all parents, Natasha was starting to want more for Oscar and for thier family.
“Ugh we don’t have time for this,” Natasha said feeling Dante’s hands wrap around her waist and pull her back to his chest. “We have company coming and you are dripping all over the floor.” Her hands snaked to her waist and began to push down on his wrists.
“Your friend Kalani wants to flood two decks to make an artificial reef, and you’re worried about me dripping?” Dante grinned.
“Yes it will ruin the carpet and then smell like a wet dog… or lizard,” she contemplated her response knowing the pet they owned did not reek of wet fun.
“Tell you what, I’ll get Engineering to change our floor out. I’m the Captain, I can do that you know.”
“I am serious,” she let out a small chuckle. “We don’t have time for this and I really would prefer for you to be dressed once before the company comes.” This was not the first time Dante was half-naked in their apartment as guests arrived.
“Okay, so, are we going casual or should I put on something more formal?” he asked, eyeing what Nat was wearing. She was dressed casual at this moment, but more than once she had been able to flip a switch and turn what appeared to be ‘mom clothes’ into something that made men’s heads turn faster than a dancer’s quick change movement.
Dante Knight, CO
“You should absolutely go full dress uniform. That will make Ruby feel so welcome and relaxed.” Running her fingers through her hair, Natasha moved out of the bedroom and towards the kitchen. It had been so long since she and Dante were just random shmucks inviting friends over for dinner. Natasha had been looking forward to this dinner for a while. For one night, she wanted to be Nat and Dante without rank or interruptions.
“Dress uniform!” Dante nodded and turned back to the bedroom, adjusting the towel around his waist. “Good idea!”
Natasha Knight CMO
Over the last hour Rex’s momma had changed clothes twice, bathed them both, and even managed to clip his nails, all the while talking to him in the sweet sing song voice she loved so much. They were going to dinner and he needed to be a handsome young man on his best behavior. That’s why she had brought out the good harness and leash. She adjusted it for the last time and stood. Glancing down she smiled and thought of how big Rex had gotten even though he was still a bit small for his age.
As they left Sheleah’s quarters to walk tot he Captain’s quarters, the pair were greeted by several passers by commenting on what a beautiful boy he was and oh what pretty golden eyes he has.
Soon, Sheleah stood at the door in a relaxed fit cream colored skirt and sleeveless navy blue blouse. Her sedge heels were mate gold with a bit of sparkle on the strap and quite high. The height of the heels was to add a bit to her 5‘3” stature. The sparkles were because she thought Rex liked them.
Shifting the bottle of wine in her left hand, she rang the chime and waited.
As she waited for Natasha to reply a boyishly handsome man slid up to her side and leaned against the frame. “Oh my god, you look fabulous for dinner at the Captain’s place. They never dress up like that for me. Nice kitty by the way. Don’t let Kale see that. I already have a zoo, and I am about to ban anything else coming into the house with feathers, fur, scales, or wings. Jarred,” he stuck out his hand in greeting.
Sheleah shifted again and shook Jared’s hand flashing an easy smile.
“Pleased to meet you.”
“I say we give them another ten seconds and then I will just bypass the lock. What do you say?” There was a playfulness about the man and a relaxed charm indicating he was not at all unfamiliar with this doorway.
“Yeah, another ten seconds, sure.”
“Come on. Let’s see who is at the door? Let’s hope it is for you,” Natasha said pulling her hair back into a ponytail as she scooped up Oscar and zerberted his neck. The dark-haired toddler let out a squeal and began laughing. Opening the door, Natasha did a double-take.
“Sheleah…Jarred,” she replied with a smile bouncing Oscar who instantly saw Alindor and began squirming in her arms.
“Natasha…Ivan,” Jarred said narrowing his gaze at the boy pretending to put on a stern face. “Now that we have the names straight I think you should take this,” he took the bottle of wine from Sheleah handing it to Nat. “I should take this,” he scooped up the small boy and tossed him over his shoulder, “and remind you that you are not getting him back tonight. Lizzie has already made a tent and Kal is making those amazing spam sandwiches.” Jarred gagged slightly and made a choking face.
“Thank you guys so much for taking him. He is a handful,” Natasha said patting Oscar’s butt with her hand causing the little boy to laugh.
“I know I already lost him. Oscar…Oscar…where are you. You need to give your mom a kiss,” Jarred said turning around in a circle twice before stopping so the little guy could kiss him mom goodbye.
“Be good,” Nat said planting a kiss on the pudgy cheek as Jarred turned back to face them.
“Ladies have a great night. Oscar…Oscar where are you,” Jarred playfully teased the smallest Knight as he bounced him down the hall towards his own quarters.
Natasha watched the man walk away for a half-second before turning her attention to Ruby. “Sorry. He is a force of nature but Oscar only goes with him or Rico without pitching a fit and it’s not like there are a ton of babysitters on board.” Looking at Ruby, Nat smiled. “You look fabulous. Come in..come in,” she gestured for the counselor to come into the room.
Sheleah had watched the interaction. She was pleased to see that even the youngest among them had such a safety net and was so well loved.
Laughing and smiling at the interractions, she and Rex followed Natasha into the Captain’s quarters.
“Oh wow! He’s adorable. I don’t know if I’m much of a baby sitter but I’d be willing to try in a pinch.” she said.
“Be careful or we might take you up on that,” Natasha laughed. “What can I get you to drink? Dinner is almost ready. Dante,” Natasha called out. Ruby is here.” Moving into the kitchen area, she pulled out a beer for Dante and poured her a measure of vodka for herself. “Do I chill the wine or is it at room temperature?”
Natasha Knight CMO
Sheleah walked further into the quarters with Rex’s leash in her right hand. Since he was in a new place, he stayed close at her side for the moment, and seemed to be smelling everything.
“Chill the wine please. I think I’d like a bit of that vodka too.” she said.
“Now that sounds like a party!” The slightly Italian accented voice of Dante Knight came from the bedroom door as he stepped through, now having exchanged the towel for a pair of tan chinos, black belt and a white oxford button-down shirt with the sleeves casually rolled up to just below the elbows, tucked into the chinos. The casual dinner look was finished by a pair of reddish brown driving loafers, minus socks, and a number of leather type bands around his left wrist of varying designs. His hair was still clearly damp, but had been brushed into place with his fingers.
“It’s good to have you for dinner, Counselor,” he greeted Sheleah, moved beside Natasha, and offered to take the wine. “Let me put that in an ice bucket and you can pour another bub,” he winked at Nat and placed a hand on the center of her back, then grinned in Sheleah’s direction. “I take it that’s Rex? He’s bigger than I thought.”
Sheleah smiled at the Captain then nodded looking down at Rex.
“He’s actually a bit small for his age. That and a host of other minor genetic anomalies are why he’s with me and not roaming Brazil at the moment. Please feel free to call me Sheleah if you like. Either we’re off duty or I’m always on duty, what does it matter?”
“Point taken Sheleah,” Dante smiled warmly and nodded. “Likewise, feel free to use my name. In these quarters the only one that calls me Sir is Natasha.” Smirking slightly, he turned his head to look at his wife for a long moment.
Natasha brought the drinks and handed Dante his preferred Lagavulin instead of vodka.
“Thank you gorgeous,” Dante took the drink and gave her a light, quick kiss on her cheek.
“Here you go,” she said then handing Sheleah’s drink to her. “This is premium Saracen distilled vodka. Dante got me the equipment last year for Christmas. It made it slow much easier when the inlaws now visit.” Kneeling down she scratched Rex behind his ears. “You know you can let him off the leash. Bruce can take care of himself,” she said standing back up.
Rex nuzzled Natasha’s hand and blinked his great golden eyes at her several times. Sheleah took the Vodka in one hand, leaned down, then unclipped the leash with the other.
“The in-laws. Oh that sounds promising too. I always find family brings out such interesting facets of a personality.”
“You mean the bad side of a personality,” she laughed. “Just kidding. I love Alessandra but she and my babushka always just want either more babies or us to say we are retiring and moving back to Earth. The order of the importance of those things varies greatly with the temperature, phase of the moon, or cosmic sway of the universe. Bóo-deem zda-ró-vye,” Natasha lifted her glass in salute before throwing back the shot and pouring another one. “Russian toast that means to our health,” she said with a smile.
Sheleah raised her glass in silent Salute and tasted the Saracen vodka as it were. Smiling, she nodded appreciatively.
“Personally I like Dasvidaniya better,” he raised his glass and sipped his Lagavulin, closing his eyes a moment as the smooth 16yo aged scotch whiskey ran over his tongue and down his throat, the burn only hitting when it reached his stomach. Opening his eyes, he smiled again. “Okay so it means till we meet again or goodbye, but it’s got panache as a drinking term.”
“So how are you finding the Saracen so far,” Natasha asked with a smile.
“I think the word is ‘complicated’ but, maybe, it’s just a different kind of complicated than my last posting. I’m quite certain that I’m really going to enjoy myself here. I have noticed quite a variety of animal life here. One of the new arivals I was doing intake for said we should just rename this ship ‘The Ark’. He’s not wrong but I don’t think that would go over very well.”
Looking at Nat, Dante shook his head. “Your Pal Kalani is turning my Battlecruiser into a floating wildlife reserve. At least we can hang up signs on the nacelles that say “Don’t shoot, endangered animals on board.”
“Better than Captain Fabulous and Captain Chaos insanity barge,” she let out a laugh remembering the old joke from the academy.
“The Barge was something else,” he laughed. “It was fun though, and got results, gotta admit.”
The vodka was slowly warming Sheleah and she could feel herself relaxing from the inside out.
As she and Natasha had been chatting, Rex had began padding silently about the living quarters. His whiskers and the tip of his tail were twitching as he stopped to sniff items seemingly at random.
While Bruce was affectionate to anyone human or sentient being holding a ball or any other orb-like object that could roll, he tended to be more the laid-back pre-teen with anyone without an opposable thumb. Playing ball was his life. If this new person could not roll something, the night was going to be long. “Bruce,” he said to Rex raising his head to the visitor exploring the room. “That your mom?“
Natasha and Bruce Knight.
Rex hadn’t seen a scaly thing quite that big since he was much much smaller on Earth. He gave Bruce an obligatory sniff and decided that since Sheleah had brought him here, it must be safe but, that didn’t stop his tail from puffing up impressively.
“Yes, that’s my momma. Isn’t she pretty? I mean maybe, except for those things on her feet. I’ll never understand why they cover their paws. I’m Rex.” he said continuing to look around.
“Yeah they have a fascination with feet. My mom goes and gets her feet painted weird colors and then covers them up with shoes,” he held out a foot and splayed his claws as if judging whether or not he needed a pedicure. “I don’t know what the fuss is. I hate when they hack at my toes with those chainsaws they call clippers. Every once in a while I decided to dork with my dad. See I lay real still like this,” he flopped on his back with all four feet in the air. “I let him get a couple in and then I tug just a little when he isn’t expecting it.” Bruce let out a hissing sound that was his laugh. Bruce made a slight back and forth motion with his hand. “It makes my dad revert to Italian which makes my mom laugh and then it annoys my dad even more. Some days you just gotta not go along with the flow,” he rolled back over.
“So your mom is really pretty. Where’s your dad?”
Rex flopped on the ground and half curled into a sitting position, the tip of his tail twitching.
“Oh I hate the chainsaws too. Momma used to always use those on me when I was asleep but I was just a kitten then. I don’t remember dad. Maybe that’s Doctor Sam. I remember him from a long time ago when momma used to help him with my sisters. They live far away back on Earth but, Momma and Dr. Sam said I’m so special I get to go into space.”
“Both my parents are in space. They lived together until my dad married Natasha. My first mom is Kelly. She hatched me. My Dad says he helped but according to my mom all he did was sit there when they were in their room and occasionally remember to turn on the electric blanket.” Bruce let out a hissing sound that indicated he was laughing. “My mom however apparently carried me in a backpack and told everyone she was charging her PaDD but really it was my electric blanket. She tells me the story all the time when I visit her. She is a captain now on a ship called the Atlantis. It has a huge swimming pool that is not a hologram. After dinner, we go down every night and she lets me swim. It usually was fun but the last time I was there my Uncle Nash had his daughter in the pool. Apparently, she does not know the difference between an Asian Monitor Lizard and an Alligator.” The disgust with the lack of intelligence in human children was obvious as Bruce continued his story.
“So anyway my mom goes and bellies up to the bar as she calls it and I move to the edge to jump in when out of nowhere there is this blood-curdling scream and I get whacked with a pool noodle head first into the pool. I panic and start pinwheeling my arms which hooks this kid’s suit. We both tumble into the water. As if this wasn’t bad enough I could not unhook my nail and this kid starts swimming for the shallow end at full speed dragging me with her. Now the whole place starts screaming about some alligator in the water. I,” Bruce touched his chest sounding indignant as he spoke, “did not want to be eaten so of course, I start swimming and now I am dragging this human to safety because humans are not the most aquatic of species. I reach my foot out,” he extended his claw in mime, “only to feel someone grab my tail and yank me back. I get a snoot full of water and snot starts pouring out. Some dumb blonde starts screaming that IT has rabies so I climb on the back of Uncle Nash’s neck to try and get a decent view of what is going on and to form an escape plan. Always have an escape play,” he looked at Rex with a serious expression, “as my dad says. So anyway it turns out they thought I was a rabid alligator.” Letting out a deep sigh he looked at his Dad and his Mom across the room. “You know I do love them but at times I have no idea how they were able to get into space. They are not the brightest of creatures at times.”
Rex listened at Bruce told his story. By the end he was fully stretched out on the carpet thoroughly enjoying himself but wishing momma had brought some milk.
“Oh no no no… You are much to refined looking to be an alligator. Believe me, I know. I’ve spent some time with them on Earth but I was so small I could fit in momma’s… Uh… Shirt! Yeah, that’s it. She is very warm and soft hear her heart. I remember sleeping there quite a bit before my eyes were even open. Dr. Sam is quite a nice man but he likes to run a lot of tests. How much do I weigh? Have I grown? Stuff like that.”. Rex’s ears twitched in frustration, “Now we only see him over comms and momma does the tests for him.” he said beginning to pur.
“Okay, let me help with this table,” Dante turned and placed the wine into the chilled bucket filled with Ice, and then started moving covered pots and serving dishes that Natasha had prepared onto the middle of the table between the plates and cutlery that had been set out.
“Hopefully this is to your liking Sheleah,” he looked up as he peeked under the lid of one of the pots. “We tend to keep dinner simple, but full of flavour. The benefits of a mixed Russian and Italian household right love?” He grinned at Natasha as he pulled out the seats for both of the ladies.
Sheleah had been watching Natasha and Dante. She decided not to comment on any private reasons why a wife might call her husband sir. They seemed like a happy healthy married couple and she certainly didn’t plan on doing marriage counseling unless it was absolutely necessary. Too many bad memories of her first posting.
Nodding, she slipped into the chair Dante had pulled out.
“My parents did so much travelling I never knew what culture’s cuisine we would be having for dinner from one night to the next. I’m certain this will be fine by me. Now about that barge…” she said looking at Dante with a raised eyebrow.
“What Barge?” Dante asked, looking up from the food for a moment and it took half a second to click. “Oh that one!” Sitting back on his own chair, he grinned for a moment as he thought and looked across at Natasha.
“So back in the Academy, Kelly Schultz and I were a pretty tight team. She’s now Captain Bordeaux of the U.S.S. Atlantis, by the way. We were one of the top performing duo’s among those of us taking the extended Command courses and had a reputation for getting things done. Sometimes, our methods weren’t exactly Academy approved, right love?” He looked across at Natasha for a moment before leaning forward and placing his forearms on the table. “Nat had to patch us up plenty of times under the table and off the record, but any time we had a field mission or had to lead a team it was dubbed unofficially as the Insanity Barge, mainly because our solutions usually got creative. But they worked!”
Reaching forward, Dante began to take lids and covers off the various pots and bowls. In some, was a rich macaroni cheese. In others an aromatic vegetable salad. Still others held a thick soup that was closer to a stew and in another, chicken nibbles. There were more, it was clear that a selection of foods had been prepared to cover almost any desire.
“There seem to be cliques like that in every academy clase doesn’t there? I’ll bet your instructors had a field day with you but, I’ve often found that the best solutions are the ones no-one expects. I learned that from both of my parents, even after they separated. I think the first solution that I had to come up with was how to keep myself occupied on those long shuttle rides between visiting mom’s posting and dad’s posting.”
“Online quizzes,” Natasha shot back instantly. “It is my guilty pleasure. Some people like to read about celebrities like Aedan and Jessica Teller or the Princess of Genoviaina 3. I prefer to find out what Disney Princess I would be or if Dante’s spirit animal is a kiwi or turkey.” Neither of them was American or New Zealand but strangely enough, both seemed to pop up for them as if that was their nationality.
Sheleah paused and finished her drink.
Before Sheleah could protest, Nat filled it up again.
“People watching is such fun.”
“It is the best but when you have a partner is even better. Back when I was in the academy I used to lay on the grass and watch the shuttles take off from the San Fran Spaceport. I would make up where they were going. When Dante and I were in the courting phase,” she emphasized the term, “he would people watch with me and actively participate. Now I tend to get that marital grunt that translates to yes, no, maybe, or sure.” Patting his leg, she smiled at her husband.
Just as she was considering tucking into dinner the PaDD in her small black bag chimed.
“Oh wow, it’s time to give Rex his dinner. That won’t cause a problem will it?” she asked.
“Oh god no. What does he need? I can replicate it or feel free to do so if you want. We don’t stand on formality here. Maybe we should feed Bruce too,” she looked at Dante. “I just always assume he is fine after breakfast because Oscar gives him or drops half of what I get him. Lucky Bruce is an omnivore,” she laughed.
Natasha Knight CMO
Sheleah wondered if Natasha and Dante were the only people who had watched the shuttles take off. She seemed to remember a lot of people lying in the grass at the academy. Setting her drink down she slipped out of the chair to the replicator.
“Oh thank you. I’ve got Mr. spoiled though.”
She replicated a small platter and a small cup of milk and went over to where Rex and Bruce seemed to be getting along quite nicely.
Sitting down, she arranged everything nicely on the floor and began talking tot he two of them.
“Hello sir, it’s time for dinner. Now be a good boy and drink all of your milk. It had Dr. Sams special vitamins in it and tonight we have chicken hearts and shrimp.”
Sheleah began to scratch Rex along the shoulders as he began drinking. Looking over she picked something else up off the platter.
“Hi there big guy, I didn’t forget about you. How about a nice piece of bacon Bruce?”
she said casually tossing it in the lizard’s direction before getting up to be a human again.
Bruce snatched it up with his long tongue as he watched Rex eat. “Your mom is pretty cool,” he commented to his new friend. “Is that just milk?”
Rex always went for his milk first. It was the first thing he could remember momma giving him.
“Yes, it’s milk with vitamins from Doctor Sam. I guess they help me grow big and strong. I was much littler than my sisters and my catt mommy didn’t want the three of us so, we all went to live with Doctor Sam at his refuge and then I got to come and travel with momma.
“So what do you do for fun,” Natasha asked as Sheelah came back to the table. Picking up the bottle she poured herself another shot for herself and Dante before looking at the counselor.
Natasha Knight CMO
Sheleah sat back down and nodded for another shot.
“Well that depends on where I’m at I guess. Right now I’m still learning about this place and that’s kind of fun. I read a lot and his majesty over there keeps me on my toes. I’m up for most anything.” she said.
“I have a homemade still and make my own vodka but that is more of a side gig,” she let out a laugh. “Publically when I am not a Distiller, I tend to make a fool out of myself in kickboxing classes. I am more scrappy than talented. It’s why Dante calls me his WIldcat. That is how this one,” she reached over and patted Dante’s arm, “and I met. We were in that hand-to-hand 101 class. Dante was confused about his future. He was dating some redhead,” Natasha rolled her eyes. “Anyway Horrible Hornsby was the professor and Knight here was his TA. I sucked at the class but I got an A and my future baby daddy.”
Natasha Knight. CMO
“Oh I had no confusion about my future, Natasha just showed me a better one,” he smiled at his wife and gave her a wink, then threw back the shot she had poured for him.
“Aside from the baby daddy bit, Nat got an A in that class for pinning me while Hornsby was watching. She distracted me with her feminine wiles and while I wasn’t paying attention, tripped me and then held me in the pin long enough for Hornsby to call time. She did good, even if she weighs a buck ten and once I realized what she did I just stood up with her still sitting on my back. Do you do sports?” He asked Sheleah.
Scooping a big spoon of Mac n Cheese onto a plate and then passing that to Nat, he looked at Sheleah again. “Mac n Cheese? It’s a great old time Italian dish, don’t let anyone here claim that it’s actually a traditional American snack,” he turned his head and eyed Natasha with a smirk.
Dante Knight, CO
“Yeah just like Italian dressing is a Napoli creation. You just want to steal half of my rebellious cousins from across the ponds delicacies,” Natasha shot back. Looking at Sheleah she grinned. “My dad was British but we don’t hold that against him however since Mac N Cheese is an American dish and those wacky Yankees started as an offshoot of Britain, I think this is squarely in mine corner, not yours,” she pointed the fork at Dante.
Sheleah had found some chicken dish to tuck into and was making her way through a salad of some kind while listening to them joyfully relive their academy days.
“I never did anything really organized, you know, leagues with progressions and all of that, when I was a kid because mom and daddy moved around too much. After they divorced it was even worse so I needed something I could do by myself a lot of the time and that’s when I discovered ballet as a little girl which actually helped me and mom be close, I guess. I also really enjoy horseback riding but I don’t get to do it enough. It’s a lot more physical than people think especially if you getting into jumping horses.” she explained.
“Horses scare the crap out of me,” Natasha said. “I know I should be some wild equestrian with my Cossak lineage but oh hell no. They are huge…huge,” she emphasized the word laughing. “Cowboys and esquestrian’s make it look so easy but every time I am on a horse it decides it does not want to go that direction or stands around and pee’s for an hour and I lose the group. I am not saying I would not go with you Sheleah but I would wear my counseling hat instead of ten gallon as you talk me through it.”
Natasha Knight CMO
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