What's in a Name?

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Sunday, 05 Jan 2521
Durance class, Equinox
En route to Whitefall
Georgia (Huang Long) system
1125 hrs, ships time

The Boys were set. It was how she thought of them and would be her nickname for them until they disembarked. Kiera smiled, making her way back from the lounge where they were busy entertaining themselves. The flirting and happy conversation was back; maybe a bit less raucous than before, but only a bit. She didn't mind it. After all the unhappiness, the sound of laughter and commeradie in this ship was wonderful. She was just glad that the little incident with Joshua hadn't caused more harm. It was strange what had happened. No, her mind corrected itself, it was more than strange. In intensity, not the feeling. He had always been a white knight. The protective gesture was to be expected. Just not for her and not that aggressive.

Her footsteps paused for a moment as she hesitated, wondering where to go. She should be getting ready for lunch and putting up the clean dishes as well as setting the table for the next meal. But Rina had asked that favor. Well, she could go find him to see what veggies were available to use. She headed off towards Botany Bay (Mark 2 in her mind) to see if he was there.

Joshua plucked a green pepper from its plant and put it in the bucket. Not quite up to snuff, he thought. The vegetables just weren't as good as Botany Bay's output. He sighed.

Like everything about this new ship, he had not yet adjusted to the new hydroponics area. He couldn't make himself call it Botany Bay yet. Joshua found himself irked that he couldn't seem to make himself adjust to the ship - to any part of the ship. It was completely illogical and pointless. But he still felt it anyway. It would just take time, he supposed.

He was examining another pepper (couple more days on that one) when he heard Kiera's footsteps as she entered the hydroponics area. He waited for her to announce herself before saying anything. If he spoke up now, she'd almost certainly assume he was doing something with his Reader powers to sense her, instead of just being fine tuned to his surroundings. But that seemed to be a problem in general these days, not just with Kiera, he thought.

Kiera looked through the walls of plants and fluids, growing cool and green under the bluish lights that simulated the sunlight that they needed. It was almost like a garden, the smells of plantlife somehow reassuring and peace-inducing. And now they had a cat on board too. She grinned. Add a garter snake and a horse and it would almost be like home. Peering around an enthusiastic bean vine, she spotted Joshua among the peppers, picking some to use.

"Howdy! You want me to do something with those for lunch or do you have plans for them in the morning for breakfast?" She made her way towards him and tried to put a warm smile on her face. It was still awkward; no question about it and in no little part, all her fault. Well, Rina wanted her to fix it and so she would.

"If you've got something in mind, go for it," he replied. "Your kitchen, after all." Joshua gave her a half smile. He found himself more and more serious these days and he didn't want Kiera to translate that to anger at her. They were just starting to get back onto vaguely reasonable terms and he certainly hadn't helped matters by stepping on her authority in the cargo bay before.

"Well, uh, yeah." Kiera moved around the vine, brushing the greenery with her fingertips. She was strangely proud of this ship and the things on it, even the things she didn't have anything to do with like the plants. It was quirky, like she was, and had needed a family, like she did. Equinox was her new beginning and she had all the sentimentality that the crew had about their old ship for this one. Not that a one of them would care to hear it. She pushed back the hair from her face, aware that she needed a haircut. Or a hairnet. She smiled, a bit tenative, put off by his half-smile. If she had to go with her instincts and she had had a gun in hand, she'd be watching him. He didn't feel right and she didn't need to be a Reader to see that. "You gotta a suggestion?" she asked after taking a breath to center herself. The words sounded lighter than she thought they would, friendly and almost cheerful. "I'm drawing a blank."

"I'd keep it simple for these guys." He looked over the next pepper plant and found a red pepper ready to go. He plucked it and turned around to put it in Kiera's hands. "Maybe a basic skillet dish with the peppers and onion and some sort of meat related product. Throw in some spices and a hefty dose of black pepper and you've got a hearty salesman meal." It had the added advantage of being easy to cook and easy to scale.

Joshua looked over at her and shrugged. "If you make enough, you can feed the crew and the passengers with the same meal, just spaced apart for logistics. Saves you cooking time. Just let me know when you're ready to fix it and I'll bring you the peppers. We already have onions on hand."

It was nice of her to keep him in the loop though. Her right as the chef to keep him out of the kitchen and the process. And she was solid. She wasn't a great cook, but the ship didn't really need a great cook. And besides, enough practice and she'd be good. Very good. She had creativity. Craft could be taught, but creativity in the kitchen just came from the inside and Kiera had it.

She took the pepper and rolled it around in her hands. It was gorgeous, a vivid red and firm, just wanting to be cooked. Her stomach rumbled softly as it reminded her of the recipe that she wanted so badly from him. "What would I need to do to have you teach me some of you recipes? This would be wonderful in your spicy vegetable tofu. I know Rina picks out all the tofu, but law, it's good. Might be good for tonight? How's about a lesson or two from the master?" She was warming to the task and it showed in her face and the smile on it. "I'm running out of Chef Xiang's recipes. I need some help." She looked him in the eyes, carefully, but solidly. "I'm meant to be cooked for, I reckon, not do the cooking and I'd appreciate some pointers before there is a food mutiny."

"You do yourself a disservice, Kiera." Joshua returned her gaze without flinching. "You've got a very good chef inside of you, given some time."

He reached out and took the pepper from her hand and put it in his bucket. Then he ran his hand through his hair, that nervous habit he had picked up from Jackson that he couldn't quite let go. "But if you want me to teach you some recipes or even just write them down for you, I'd be glad to. Happy to know you like the spicy veggie tofu."

The annoying urge to smooth his hair back into place rushed over her. Sometimes, she felt just like his momma or a little sister. She rolled her eyes. "How could anyone not like the spicy tofu?" she asked, making a face. "It's heaven on a plate." Taking a chance, Kiera moved to stand a bit closer to him, to see if the prickly aura he gave off would make him move away. But she did have questions and if they were to cook together, heck even work together, they needed to be comfortable in each other's spaces. The ship and kitchen weren't that big.

"I'd rather you show me," she stated, waiting for his reaction. "I don't have the time to cook from a recipe or memorize them between meals. That and I've also got questions about the fresh stuff here. When do you pick it? What does it taste good in?" She put her hands on her hips, finally grinning, her eyes alight. "You gotta help me, sir Joshua! You've done made me steward and all I really know is how to get the passengers soaps, shampoos and towels and massage them or put makeup on them. For enough money, I can make them love their face in the mirror and fix the ravages of bad living and time on their bodies." She shook her head slowly. "What I'm asking and asking poorly, is will you help me in the kitchen when you can before I poison somebody by accident? I know that you probably don't have the time, but at least, can you give me some one on one cooking lessons and tell me what in here will kill somebody if I feed it to them?"

She looked around the room and inhaled the air, moist and saturated with oxygen. It was truly nice in here and all the vibrant green was as alien to her abilities to identify it as probably Joshua's abilities to find a nerve or a blood vessel in the middle of a pool of blood.

"Sir Joshua? Really?" The disbelief in his tone was evident and quickly confirmed by the slow shake of his head. And why did everyone seem to think he had this huge deficit of time? They had added one crew member and taken away a bunch of his duties. If anything, he had more time now then he had back on the Gift.

"Meet me in the kitchen, 1600 hours and I can walk you though it. In return, you have to accept my apologies for overstepping my bounds down in the cargo bay earlier."

That earned him a sardonic grin. "Apologies fur what?" she drawled. "Fur riding to my rescue from an octopus? Pshaw! Twas right kind of you sir. This filly appreciates the rescue." Humor. Anything to lighten the haunted look in his eyes. She tilted her head at him, her expression softening. "Have I earned back the right to call you Joshua yet? Doesn't matter what I think in the end you know. It's all your call. The sir is for respect and our distance from one another. Is there enough of a bridge yet?"

He hadn't stepped away from her. That was good. And she welcomed some kitchen time. She really was running out of ideas.

"I don't want you to feel like I think you're not capable of handling your job," he said seriously. "I'd be a really crappy XO if that was true."

Joshua walked over closer and put his free hand on her shoulder. "And please, please, stop calling me sir. I'm not the captain and this isn't the military."

It was alien, his hand on her shoulder, and she fought the urge not to stare at it. But much more reminiscent of Joshua before. . . She let the thought drop. Before she had savaged a well-meaning, gentle soul for caring, came the thought anyway. And she still didn't know why. Late into the nights on Boros she had pondered that and had no answer. She reached up and rubbed his hand where it lay, shaking her head. "I'd be delighted to, Joshua." She winked at him, taking a long breath before speaking again and gathered his hand off her shoulder to hold it for a moment in her own. "Thanks for the confidence. I can handle the old cuties. But I do appreciate the interference. I felt protected. So, kitchen time later?"

He gently pulled his hand back, a quick nod at her as he did so. "Yep, kitchen time. I'll have vegetables picked by then. You just come ready to learn."

Kiera cuffed his shoulder gently before turning to leave. "What are we making with all the veggies, Josh-ua?" She emphasized the first syllable of his name with a toss of her head and finished with a laugh. "You might regret giving me back your name." She kept walking for the door, not wanting to see the probably consternation on his face. Better than the haunted, no, hunted look.

"You said you wanted veggie tofu, right?" His voice floated back over his shoulder, as Joshua had already turned back to the plants to see if anything else needed picking.

"Well yeah!" She clapped her hands and caught the edge of the door. "Wonderful! Ha! Kiera's getting spicy veggie tofu!" She grinned like a Cheshire cat and danced from the doorway after giving it a pat, humming.

It was turning into a good day.

Go to Joshua's Crew Page or Kiera's Crew Page
Go back to: Timeline Season Five, Jan 2522 to Aug 2522