Out and About with the Nurses
The Place of Skulls
Location: Debbie's Diner
Timeline: Mission Day 15 at 2100
Kennedy Ryan Walsh stepped into Debbie's Diner. He wasn't certain what he was coaxed into by Head Nurse Miriam Lal. She had invited him to Debbie's with Nurse Glum Dogrov. Typically standard for himself he remained in his uniform off duty. The only time he was in other clothes were the pyjamas he wore to bed. Throughout his entire lifetime he knew uniformity, with attending school in Ireland he wore a uniform, when he wasn't in school he would wear something that was selected by his mother for the day which usually matched the rest of the Ryan Walsh family.
He took a deep breath. He had taken each day since returning to the Sojourner from Cho'thil. Some nights were dreamless, a few were decent dreams but the nightmares still happened. They were more manageable but he was still frightened. Counselling with the new ship's counsellor was benefitting him. Kennedy felt that his promise he made to Dr. Emni t'Nai when he first came onboard exceeded her expectations in making friends. The Delta Quadrant can be a lonely place, not quite the words she shared with him but in the back of his mind those words spoke insurmountable in her voice.
Kennedy counted his blessings that he had made friends with Irynya. He closed his eyes softly before reopening to look around for Miriam. If he could only have one friend onboard, he was happy that it was her. She was dedicated, compassionate, kind and friendly who was always there for him in the moment. He felt guilty as he hadn't been there for her in moments of crisis. He frowned to himself, isn't friendship supposed to be a two-way street?
Kennedy heard a noise coming from one side of the diner. He looked over and saw a hand waving, the hand belonging to Lieutenant Lal. Nurse Dogrov remained seated in the booth, "Doctor Ryan Walsh! We are over here."
Kennedy painfully walked over slowly. He kept his breathing exercises while he looked over his shoulder, glimpsing at the door briefly. He couldn't do that to those under his command. They invited him, and he accepted, it would be rude to leave now. Nurse Lal had sat back down into her seat before finding himself sitting down across from both of the nurses. He felt like it could possibly be a trap but doubted it. He slowly slid into the middle of the seat, "Hi."
Miriam grinned as the young doctor approached the table. "I was starting to worry you were going to bail on us," she remarked before elbowing Dogrov in the ribs--a deliberate motion to goad him into saying hello.
"For a Trill you have meaty elbows," Dogrov remarked in jest. "I guess I should not wager against the young Doctor next time. But I am pleased to see the young man sitting across from us."
Lal snorted. "We were not betting," she said to Kennedy, giving Dogrov a fake glare that was as much amusement as anything else.
Kennedy folded his hands together and settled them underneath the table on his lap as he laughed uncomfortably at Lal's comment. He wasn't sure how to respond with a verbal response. Dogrov's comment about a wager between the two Nurses, Kennedy had no real way to tell about it.
"I took the liberty of ordering a round before you got here," the Trill woman continued. "Should be here..." she craned her neck before spotting a server bearing a tray, "right about... now."
The aforementioned tray found its way to their table, a server unloading three brightly colored drinks. "Singapore Sling," the Trill woman said. "Had my first when I was at the Academy and it's been a favorite ever since. Debbie even had some actual gin on hand."
She picked up the beverage in its fancy cocktail glass, removing the cherry and slice of pineapple from the rim before taking a sip. "Try it," she said, smiling. "It's delicious."
Kennedy looked at the contents in the glass quizzically. He wasn't that much of a drinker. He had his last drink sixteen days ago on Risa. He smiled softly and thought to himself, the night I met her, the night my life changed for the better, "I don't drink..." off of Lal and Dogrov's look, "but I do have a drink once in a while... socially."
Kennedy moved his hands from underneath the table and placed them on the table as they slowly moved to hold the glass bringing it close. He left the glass on the table as he took a small sip. His eyes lit up, "PINEAPPLE!!!!!!!"
The Trill woman laughed out loud, at the younger man's exclamation. "Among other things," she remarked, still laughing. "I take it you are a fan."
She lifted her glass in a sort of mock salute. "To the medical team," she declared before taking a long draw from the glass, her eyes sparkling with mirth.
Setting her glass back on the table she fished the pineapple slice from the beverage and nibbled on it. "So how did you get into medicine?" She asked, curious about the young CMO.
"To the Medical Team," Kennedy toasted with her but took a few short sips of the drink. "My parents both practice Medicine back home in Ireland. For generations on both sides of the family, have."
"Generations?" she asked. "What must that have been like?" Pineapple consumed, she went back for the cherry that was still attached to a toothpick. Popping it into her mouth she pulled it off with her teeth, setting the toothpick next to the drink on the table. "Were they all in Starfleet?"
Kennedy shook his head 'no' as he took a longer sip from his drink, his eyes peered up at Miriam. He paused sipping as it was his turn to speak. He thought for a moment, "No, I'm the second in my family to join Starfleet. My Uncle Ben is the CMO on the Cascadia."
Lal nodded knowingly, "My family isn't big on the Starfleet front either. I've got two cousins who are engineers and another who is about to enter the Academy, but we're all the first generation in our family." She sipped her drink again. "Your Uncle Ben must be proud of your news."
"That's interesting," Kennedy replied as he tried to express interest into Miriam's family that had joined Starfleet. He pushed his drink away from him as he started to feel the effects of the alcohol in the drink that Lal had ordered for him prior to his arrival. His medical knowledge in the back of his head reminded him that should order something to eat as drinking alcohol on an empty stomach wasn't recommended. The back of his throat and his taste buds were calling him to take another sip but he placed his hands lightly to clasp onto the table.
He frowned at the mention of his Uncle being proud of him. He felt guilty that he didn't hit send in the text message that he drafted once he was told he was going to be made Acting Chief Medical Officer. He was ingrained by his mother's conditioning that we don't celebrate small accomplishments. He took in a deep breath remembering that his Uncle Ben wasn't like his mother, encouraged him not to pull out of Starfleet after he was accepted to attend the Academy when his parents pressured him to do so. He didn't know what to say about it, but the familiar nagging voice spoke again, our family drama is not to be the entertainment of others, do I make myself clear. He took in a deep breath as his anxieties were trying to control him in this moment. He needed to enjoy himself, to enjoy his time spent with Miriam Lal and even Drogrov.
"Are you okay, Doctor?" The Tellarite had gotten concerned. "You haven't touched your drink in nearly two minutes!"
The Tellarite's boisterous laughter filled the tables' ears. Kennedy found it amusing, turning his face into a grin. Shaking his head as he took another sip of the drink. He looked to Miriam, "I think he would be, I just haven't told him yet."
A look crossed Miriam's face that might have been concern or might have been understanding. It would have been difficult to tell. "You should tell him," she remarked. "It's no small thing!"
Kennedy nodded, “I’ll tell him.”
Kennedy waved the server down as they approached.
“Refills?” The server replied as they moved to the table.
“Do you guys like nachos? I’ve always wanted to try them.”
"You've never had nachos?" The voice of the speaker came from behind him rather than from one of the two people at his table.
Irynya came around to the end of the table standing next to the server as if she stood at the end of tables all day every day. "How have you never had nachos before?"
Kennedy was thrilled that Irynya was standing there. He caught himself looking at her adoringly too long. She was beautiful and always moved with such grace, “Uhhh…”
Just a sound--he couldn't answer her as he remained speechless. Dogrov noticed Kennedy’s distraction. He recalled her physical, “The young doctor is speechless! A first!” Dogrov finished his drink, “Another round of Singapore Sling!”
Dogrov’s hand slammed onto the table, “If you haven’t had nachos before Kennedy, I will share them with you.”
Kennedy looked up at her again and shook his head no, “No… I haven’t”
"You should take him up on that then," Irynya noted, nodding in Dogrov's direction as she spoke. "Nachos are amazing."
He was staring. And she was watching him staring. She drug her eyes away. "Evening, Glum, Miriam," she said with a smile, forcing herself to pay attention. "Didn't mean to interrupt. Just couldn't let such a crazy statement slide without a response." She grinned and then shot a sidelong glance at Kennedy. Holding up a PADD that was clutched in her hand she added, "Duty rotations may well be the bane of my existence."
She let her glance slide back over to Kennedy who, as it turned out, was still watching her. Her stomach turned a somersault until the server gave a low cough. "Right," she said, "See you all later." The latter, despite herself, was directed at Kennedy even if the words were meant to encompass everyone.
Quickly she darted away, taking up residence at a table in a corner.
Lal leaned forward conspiratorially as soon as the Risian was out of earshot. "Dr. Ryan Walsh..." she began, eyes betraying what she had already assumed. "You can't seriously tell me you're going to just let her walk away..." she let the thought trail off, a wicked grin crossing her features. "Go invite her to join us!"
To the server she nodded. "Two plates of nachos, all of the fixings, and another round of Singapore Slings. Add a fourth for Lieutenant Irynya. She'll be joining us."
The server left and she turned back to Kennedy. "Well?"
Kennedy looked over his shoulder to watch Irynya walk away. He found his eyes taking in her figure and then looked away quickly like he was trespassing. He took in a deep breath as he faced both Miriam and Dogrov. He was conflicted, “She did say she was working on her duty rotations. We shouldn’t keep her away from her responsibilities.”
He eyed his drink. The glass was half full in his perspective. He felt like he wouldn’t be able to finish this drink alone before the seconds were to arrive.
Lal rolled her eyes, amusement still plain on her features. “Kennedy, trust me on this. Go ask her.”
Kennedy looked back over and saw that she had now taken up a corner booth. He looked over at Lal carefully and then back at Dogrov who lightly kicked him in the shin under the table, “Go to her Young Doctor!”
Kennedy eyed his drink and took a large sip. He set the glass down. Worrying about rejection as she had to do work. He rose to his feet awkwardly giving the two of them a thumbs up as he turned around. He almost lost balance but stabilized and walked over to her gingerly, looking at her intently. He set his hands down on the side table, “I would like you to come save me from these nurses.”
Irynya looked up a touch too quickly at the sound of Kennedy’s voice. His hands were settled onto the table next to her and he was leaning towards her. Butterflies seemed to have decided to hold a rave in her stomach and so it took her a moment to realize what he was asking.
Quizzically she peered around him at Lal and Dogrov who were both doing their absolute best to not appear to be watching and were both failing spectacularly. “That bad?” she asked, with a laugh. She looked back up to him again. Good lord his eyes were blue. How had she not noticed how blue they were before?
“Well we can hardly leave you at their mercy,” she remarked, tapping at the PADD to close up her work and then holding out her hand. “Best we both go back over there.”
“Are you sure?” Kennedy asked her sincerely as he wanted to be mindful with her time, “I don’t want to keep you from your duty rotations.”
Irynya snorted. “Please… save me from duty rotations,” she said, hand still out for him to pull her up from the bench of the booth.
Kennedy took her hand and assisted her getting out of the booth’s seat with the perfect amount of grip. He held her hand unaware they were still holding hands. He looked into her eyes. He wanted to tell her she was beautiful but he was worried that she would excuse it for the alcohol he had tonight.
“That’s my Young Doctor!” Dogrov boastfully declared as he slammed his hands down on the table in an unfamiliar Tellarite tune.
Kennedy was not letting go of her hand… He was holding her hand. She let out a slightly shaky breath. It was just a hand, why did it feel like such a big deal?
Dogrov had clearly been enjoying his beverage as his tone caught the attention of diners at a few other tables. Suddenly it felt like literally everyone at Debbie’s was zeroed in on their clasped hands.
Blessedly they arrived at the table a moment later, her hand freed, she slid into the booth until she was face to face with the boisterous Tellarite nurse. She tried, and failed, not to pay attention to the exact distance between herself and Kennedy as he sat down beside her.
“So…” she remarked to fill the space. “Are those Singapore Slings?”
Kennedy carried a smile as he brought Irynya back over to his enabling nurses. He looked down realizing he was still holding her hand. He released her hand to allow her to move in the booth. He quickly got in and without realizing it their sides were touching lightly.
"They are," Miriam remarked with a knowing grin on her face.
As if summoned, their server returned, 4 of the low stemmed cocktail glasses balanced on one tray and two plates of nachos on the other. The small feast was laid out in front of them with a brief flourish before the server retreated to another table.
Irynya pulled her glass to her, fingers resting lightly on the stem of the cocktail glass. Her arm brushed Kenney's when she lifted it and for a moment she considered whether she should move. But he didn't seem to flinch, so she stayed in her place, the spot where her arm had brushed his, feeling as if it might be alive in it's own right.
"I take it you assumed I would join you?" she said, her voice teasing. "I mean, obviously you were right, but well played with the advance drink order."
She sipped the sling, pulling the cherry and pineapple garnish from the rim of the cup as she did. The pineapple was the most obvious first taste, but it was chased closely by the sweet cherry and hard to place flavors of Heering and Benedictine.
"So what party, exactly, am I crashing?" she asked, before popping the cherry end of the skewer in her mouth and gently freeing the fruit.
Kennedy cheeks rosened during close proximity to Irynya. He watched her out of the corner of his eye as he brought the glass up and took a sip of the first Singapore Sling that he had. He set the glass back down. Before looking across the table until a cherry was placed into Irynya’s mouth. His lower lip dropped as his cheeks turned a bright shade of red.
Kennedy took a moment to compose himself to be able to reply to Irynya’s question. He spoke lightly as he turned his head to face her, “I was made Acting Chief Medical Officer recently. Miriam-“
“INVITED THE YOUNG DOCTOR OUT TO DEBBIE'S FOR DRINKS!” Dogrov roared. “We entered into a wager,” The Tellarite trailed off at Miriam’s look of disapproval.
Kennedy finished his sentence, “-invited me out for drinks to celebrate.”
"It was not a wager!" Miriam protested, though her protest suggested it was, perhaps, at least a friendly agreement to see which of them was right. She was watching her new boss closely and chuckled at the absolutely unmissable blush he was sporting.
"I told her he wouldn't come," Dogrov said with a wink to Irynya who grinned back, having finished with the cherry.
"And I said he would. And…" she said emphasizing the word on it's second appearance, "I was right." The Trill woman looked from Kennedy to Irynya and back. "Don't be shy… there are a lot of nachos to eat."
Iry chuckled, bumping Kennedy playfully with her shoulder. "I'm glad she was right," she said, her eyes sparkling. "Now, I intend to watch you try nachos for the first time. Nachos are one of the divine food combinations that are absolutely made for savoring." She reached toward the middle of the table snagging a chip off of the top of the pile that was particularly loaded with toppings. Pinching it between thumb and forefinger, she set it on one of a small stack of plates their server had left behind.
Gently she pushed the plate the few inches necessary for it to be in front of Kennedy, her shoulder brushing his again as she did.
Kennedy looked down at the tortilla chip with various toppings that Irynya handed in front of him then back up. His eyes locked with hers’. He had known her eyes were hazel but due to the ambient lighting her eyes glistened like the green mountain lakes he read about in geography class as a child.
“Thank you,” he didn’t want to break eye contact but he felt the eyes of the nurses on both of them. He looked down at the nacho and then to the platter. He picked up a spoon that was set aside and dabbled a bit of salsa onto the chip. He pointed at the green bowl, “What’s that?”
Irynya giggled. "Guacamole?" She answered, her voice a question and her laugh breaking the rising tension she was feeling from the prolonged eye contact. "It's good," she remarked, scooping a dollop on top of his salsa. "Now eat before there's more on that chip than you can actually fit in your mouth."
She picked up her own drink, sipping slowly, but keeping her eyes on him as she did. It was as if her brain had settled into some sort of noticing overdrive and she couldn't quite convince herself to look away. She noticed the way his hair was specifically combed over to his right. The way his cheek bones became more pronounced when he smiled. And for a brief moment it seemed like there had been something far more significant than friendly interest in his eyes.
She took another long pull from her glass, letting the liquid distract her and beginning to feel the gin nip at her senses.
Kennedy looked over at the napkins on the table debating if he should wear one as a bib to cover his uniform with the amount of sauces that were loaded up on the sole tortilla.
He looked over at Irynya. He hadn’t looked at the sigil encrusted on her forehead in great detail. He knew that it was a significant part of the Risian identity as all of them had it. He smiled back at her and decreed “I’m gonna do it.”
Kennedy took a quick sip of his drink and brought up the tortilla with his free hand. As he moved it to his mouth, his fingers sorta lost balance and the toppings splattered on the top of the whites of his uniform. His eyes widened in shock but he took a bite of what remained on the chip. Closing his eyes as the mixture of flavours had a fiesta in his mouth.
Dogrov’s boisterous laughter filled the booth, “As you humans say, Young Doctor: you can take him but you can’t dress him up!” The Tellarite banged his hand on the table laughing.
Kennedy’s cheeks darkened as he continued chewing on the cheddar cheese in his mouth. The action helped him not to laugh, but he had never seen this side of his nurse before. He swallowed almost in a cough. With a short laugh he rolled his eyes at Dogrov before taking a sip of his drink to wash the remnants down.
“Whoops,” Kennedy looked down on his uniform before taking more of the tortilla into his mouth.
Irynya had been covering her mouth as she giggled, but at his exclamation she let out a fully bellied laugh. She snagged a napkin and dabbed at the salsa, getting the wetness of it off, but failing to remove the red blotch of it. “Who ever decided white was the right color for doctors?” she asked, still laughing.
She set the napkin back down on the booth and resumed her drink, downing the rest of it quickly, before snagging a few chips from the pile and popping them into her mouth, somehow managing to keep her fingers, lips, and uniform clean.
“Good right?” she remarked once she’d swallowed the mouthful she was eating.
Kennedy watched Irynya laugh. He lowered his head almost shamefully as he saw her hand with a napkin move into his view. He watched her clean off and dab the area that the salsa had spilled. He looked up to reconnect eye contact. He looked at her face adoringly before the tortilla entered her mouth gracefully. He was jealous that she had no spillage, “Now you’re definitely a professional nacho eater.”
Iry nodded, another one of the delicious salty treats already in her mouth as she did so. “This is not my first rodeo,” she remarked. “Although I’m still not over that it is yours.”
She wasn’t used to being watched so closely while she ate, so she swallowed the mouthful she had and picked her drink up, using it to break the space between them even as she watched his eyes over the rim of her glass. The effect was only partly successful. As she tilted the glass back a pile of ice rushed toward her. With a small sound of surprise she quickly tipped the cup back, hunching her shoulders to keep the impending icy wet mess from landing directly on her face. Her hand flew to her chin where she caught the few ice cubes that escaped. With a laugh she dumped them back into her glass.
“Ok, no more Singapore Slings for me for the night,” she remarked, eyes dancing.
Miriam Lal had watched the entire exchange with interest. She didn’t need Dr. t’Nai’s empathic sense to notice the underlying cause of Dr. Ryan Walsh’s staring or the magnetic way that Irynya didn’t seem to be able to look away.
Making up her mind she slid out from the table, hands dusting her pants. “I just remembered that Glum and I have a project we planned to complete today yet. She looked at the Tellarite pointedly indicating he should get up as well.
The boisterous man looked back at her, clearly not immediately picking up what she was putting down. “What project?” he asked with some consternation.
“You know…” Lal added forcefully… “The project we’re working on.” Not bothering to overt she reached over and tugged the other man’s elbow before making an unmissable nod at the other two officers in the booth.
Dogrov’s eyes lit. “Oh, yes…” he remarked as if he had just remembered what she was talking about. “Good night to you Young Doctor. Irynya.” And with a wave the two quit the room leaving Kennedy and Irynya in the booth by themselves.
To be continued...
=/\= A Mission Post By =/\=
Lieutenant JG Kennedy Ryan Walsh
Acting Chief Medical Officer
Lieutenant JG Irynya
Acting Chief Flight Contoller
Lieutenant Miriam Lal (written by Beth)
Lieutenant JG Glum Dogrov (written by Anth)