Andy and I got this done in little moments stolen from our day, making it a little stolen moment of a story. And no, the date was completely coincidental to the theme. Thanks, Andy!--Maer
Saturday, 14 Feb 2522
Durance class Equinox
En route to Paquin
2100 hrs, ship’s time
It wasn't easy cooking a meal in the galley and keeping it a secret from Joshua. After all, the galley was open to all and Kiera was constantly in and out pursuing her steward duties. Joshua's hours in hydroponics and the inevitable paperwork that fell to a ship’s XO would keep him out of sight while I worked but there was nothing to prevent the aromas wafting out the galley door. And then there was the matter of timing. I had a watch shift to stand. So did he. Luckily for my purposes, mine ended before his began, leaving me a window of opportunity to pull everything off. All my efforts would come to naught, however, if Joshua failed to arrive at the proper time. Therefore, I left him a note on my pillow where he would see it on waking:
Meet me here 2200hrs. Please. –Irina
I went through my day and came off my watch and saw him off to his before getting busy in the galley. The mushrooms I’d bought on Osiris were long gone but there were more available in hydroponics. I’d picked them earlier and pulled them out of the fridge with the rest of the ingredients. Beef, onion, rice. Butter, flour, milk. Thyme, bay, salt and pepper. Red wine. Sour cream. Tomato paste and mustard. I measured, peeled, chopped. I got the butter and the onions working in a heavy pan on the range, adding the mushrooms and the beef when the time was right. I got the sauce started in a different pot and added the bay with a prayer I’d chosen well. The one item I’d managed to prepare ahead was the rice and reheating was a snap. By a miracle I had everything ready at the same time and plated up without anything hitting the deck. I put it all on a tray and covered it to conserve the heat, and carried it to our quarters before he arrived.
I checked my watch. Five minutes to spare. Just enough time to sketch a wash. I took it. I had just returned and dressed when he walked in.
“Perfect timing,” I said and gave him my special smile.
It still amazed him sometimes how much Rina had grown. It had not been that long ago when leaving her real name in writing anywhere, even on a note intended for his eyes only, would have freaked her out beyond her capacity to handle. But now she seemed comfortable with it. He'd like to take credit for it, but Joshua knew that was just arrogance talking. She would've gotten there, with or without him. But even if he couldn't take credit, he could still be proud of her.
It had been a long day. He had spent most of the latter half of it combing their finances to see if they had enough money to pay for the repairs the ship would have to go through thanks to the broadside cannon shot. His brain was still distracted, running through the numbers, when he got back to their quarters. He could smell food, even though he couldn't see it and Rina was smiling at him, but he couldn't quite get his brain to process what was going on. Had he missed an important date or anniversary or something?
"Ummm, what am I perfectly timed for?" Joshua asked hesitantly as he stood there in the doorway.
“This.” I slid my arms around him and kissed him, light enough not to pressure him but deep enough to let him know I wanted him. I let him end it where he wished and stepped back. “And this,” I said, lifting the cover off the tray to reveal what lay beneath. Since acquiring our ship, I’d installed a desk and a chair next to our bed and now had set it with dinner for two. A blossom from hydroponics sat in a glass of water and the nice linens filched from the passenger stores softened the hard edges. I’d uncorked the wine before cooking to let it breathe and I poured a glass and gave it him. I rolled the chair free of the desk. “Sit. Before it gets cold.”
Joshua knew an order when he heard one, so he took a seat. He took a sip of the wine as he looked over the food. "It smells and looks fantastic, Rina." Beef stroganoff was not a quick or easy dish to make - it took some serious prep time. She had really gone all out. Which made him wonder even more what it was he had forgotten.
"So...are we celebrating something?" He fingered the tablecloth with an exaggerated motion. "Nice tablecloth." He held up the glass of wine. "Alcohol." He motioned across the dinner on the tray. "Homecooked food." And then he turned his gaze to her face. "Beautiful woman." He nodded, as if adding up all those elements in his head. "Definitely feels like I'm celebrating something."
“Nothing in particular.” I closed our door and joined him at the desk, pouring a glass for myself. “But we can if you want to. I just … I don’t know if I can explain it.” I sat on the bed and sipped my wine. The rich liquid suffused my head and I continued, “You see things as a child that you don’t understand until you’re an adult. For instance, Mother would always read Father’s favorite books aloud at the end of a hard day, when nothing went right at his workbench. Or he’d bundle her up in a warmed robe and a pot of her favorite tea when she came home every evening from opening night until her performance closed. Back then, I didn’t think too much about why. I thought everyone did it.” I smiled at him over my wineglass. “Now I know better.”
I did, actually. Across all the years I’d known and loved Mike, there had been little opportunity to cosset him with homey domesticity, with soft words and an even softer me. Our days together simply weren’t geared for it. Our time had to be shoehorned into moments stolen from the current job, the current crisis, and circumstances usually made those moments brief and infrequent. He and I had lived too much alone and out of our duffle bags, were too accustomed to making do without, to expect more. Save for his last run with me, he and I rarely enjoyed the creature comforts I had with Joshua. Not that I could ever tell Joshua that unasked. I wasn’t unaware how my history with Mike must weigh on him and not for the first time I wondered if Joshua somehow felt he had something to prove.
“Nah zdorovieh, Joshua.” I raised my glass. “To your health. To us.”
He raised his glass in return. "Nah zdorovieh, Irina. To how much I love you." There was an unfamiliar feeling starting to pleasantly crawl over him and it took him a minute or two to recognize as it as happiness. Had it really been that long since he had allowed himself to relax and appreciate this part of his life? At one point, not that long ago, Joshua had thought Rina would leave him forever. Now she was with him and took the time to do such wonderful little demonstrations of love. How could he just let that sail by him? No more, he thought firmly.
"You ready to eat? Because I'm dying to try the stroganoff. It's going to knock my socks off, I can feel it." Joshua smiled at the love of his life and picked up his fork.
Go to Joshua's Crew Page or to Rina's Crew Page
Go back to: Timeline Season Five, Jan 2522 to Aug 2522
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