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A Table For Two

Posted on Tue Mar 29th, 2022 @ 11:55pm by Captain Björn Kodak & Andrew Munro

Mission: Starbase Shoreleave
Location: Holodeck 2
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1930

[Holodeck 2]
[MD 1: 1930 Hours]

With the Chameloids all boarded and settled in, the Sojourner had set course for Starbase 2. There, they would offload their alien cargo for eventual resettlement on a new homeworld. But until then, Björn Kodak had been spending -- and would continue to spend -- much of his time with his people. It'd taken days of negotiations to get them to agree to resettlement, though the Captain hadn't minded the time spent convincing them. Between Council sessions, the woman Muriel had told him much about his people and shown him many things. The Chameloid's head was abuzz with all that he knew now about his people but the time spent away from the Sojo had also meant time away from Andrew.

The younger man had said it was fine -- waving Kodak off to spend time elsewhere -- but in his heart, Kodak felt guilty that he'd been less than present for his paramour, who'd been having a difficult time himself. Andrew had been going through some struggles with his health -- physical therapy necessitated by the injuries he'd sustained from the mining drones -- and while the therapy would ensure he regained his full health, it was tedious and at times painful. Kodak had made the time to attend a session here or there as Andrew desired but, by-and-large, the two men had spent the last several days apart from each other.

Hoping to catch up, Kodak had suggested a romantic dinner on the holodeck: just himself and Andrew...and, of course, a few holographic characters to inhabit the streets of the small French town in which they now walked. Situated in France's Loire Valley region, the little town of Montrésor was quaint but beautiful. Pave-stones lined the walkways between ancient buildings as the pair meandered their way to their destination, the buttresses of a castle-like structure looming above them in the distance. Horse-drawn carriages ferried others to and fro down the lanes, the clippty-clatter of hooves echoing down the alleys. It was, in a word, picturesque as the sun set over the valley-nestled village.

Dressed in casual attire that was apropos for 1920s France, Kodak turned to look at Andrew as his feet drew to a halt. "Welcome to the Café de la Marée Montante," he said, offering Andrew a sublime smile as the rosy wash of sunset colored his face. He gestured to an open-door cafe before them, a quaint little bistro bustling with life inside. "It translates to 'The Rising Tide Cafe,' in case you were curious," he said, winking. Approaching the host stand, Kodak held up two fingers to indicate how many would dine. "Rooftop, if you please," he indicated to the maître d'.

With a nod, they were escorted up a narrow well of stairs and then out onto the cafe's rooftop. As Kodak and Andrew were shown to their table -- overlooking the village and its gorgeous bath of sunlit rays -- the maître d' passed out a couple of menus and noted a server would join them shortly. Whisking away, the host disappeared back into the building, leaving the couple to contemplate their menus and each other.

"I'm glad you were up for a little walkabout," Kodak said, smiling wide. "What do you think of the place?" he asked, gesturing to the environment around them. "It's a little cafe I heard about from Ensign Grackle, who apparently grew up not far from here."

"It's perfect." Andrew smiled back at Björn. It was good to see him again and the simulated setting felt worlds apart from the ship. The quaint little French village gave the impression that nothing ever happened there and after everything that they'd been through recently, that felt relaxing. "Did you ever go to France before leaving Earth?"

"A couple of times," Kodak nodded, enjoying Andrew's smile, "but never here. Both times were to Paris. That's where everyone says you should go, so..." he trailed off then, shrugging. "I liked it there but honestly?" he asked, looking around, "I kind of think I missed the boat on seeing a charming place like this instead. I'm glad you like it," Björn said softly, reaching forward to take and squeeze one of the younger man's hands. "How about you? First time in France?" he asked, smirking and not even bothering to look at the menu yet. Nothing could make him take his eyes off Andrew in that moment, so glad was Björn to sit and just be with him.

The touch felt good, but there was something about the application of pressure that made him feel reassured and special. Andrew focused on the handsome man in front of him rather than analyzing the feeling - it was better just to experience these things. "Just once, and it was Paris too," Andrew replied. "A conference at the Université Paris-Sorbonne, back when I was doing my doctorate." He paused and sighed as he glanced at his surroundings. "We just beamed directly from campus to campus and it never occurred to me to take some extra time to explore what else was there." Andrew met Björn's gaze again. "I'm glad I stopped missing opportunities that were right in front of me."

Björn was about to comment further on beaming everywhere when Andrew's final words brought him up short. The sound of his voice died in his throat, owing in large part to the lump that had formed there. As Chameloid eyes met his human counterpart's, they looked glassier than normal, a swell of emotion building behind them. "Even after being burnt to a crisp and left alone for days at a time?" he eventually asked, his own insecurities welling up in his finally-found voice. Captains were, by design, some of the most confident people you could ever meet. They had to be. But with Andrew, Björn didn't have to project bravado. He could lower the mask and let the man see all that was behind it.

Andrew smiled reassuringly. "The benefits definitely outweigh the risks." Not that he'd done any sort of calculation on the matter, but he had a penchant for a cheeky innuendo and an eyebrow flick timed for the word 'benefits' was a more believable way of showing that he was fine and had no regrets than simply stating that fact.

"I'm happy with you spending time with your people too," he added. "Actually, I'd been pretty anxious that your path was going to end in finding some sort of mass grave." Andrew seemed relieved to be able to voice the fear, as though it were now safe to speak the words since he knew it was definitely not the case. "I know that finding them was something that you needed."

Björn squeezed Andrew's hand affectionately, his smile reaching up into his eyes. "Well, it's a good thing for it...the benefits outweighing the rest, I mean," he rasped warmly, chuckling. They'd enjoyed many such benefits since Andrew had some aboard. Some titillating, some deeper...but all worth the added work that came from being in a relationship together. Björn was happy to hear Andrew still felt that way even given all that had happened.

With a nod, the Chameloid affirmed the younger man's statement about needing to find his people. "I'll be honest, handsome," he said somberly, "I expected the same. It seemed so likely given the graveyard we found initially," Björn nodded, referring to the planet Ch'othil. "But I could not ask for more out of finding my kind. Except, maybe," he looked away for a moment, "to find my parents. But if my people were out there," his eyes returned to Andrew, "I can only hope my mother and father are, too. Somewhere," he shrugged.

"Hello, bonjour," came a happy voice from behind. "I am Claude, your server for the evening," the man -- dressed a bit formally -- said, dipping his head in greeting as he came around the table. His French accent was thick but discernible as he poured ice water from a pitcher into a couple of empty glasses that had sat before the two men. "Are we having wine tonight? Or perhaps something else, hmm?"

"Not sure what's for dinner yet, so it's hard to pair," Björn smirked, holding up the menu. "Just haven't been able to take my eyes off the handsome man in front of me. But a bottle of their house merlot, maybe?" he asked, eyeing Andrew for his reaction. When the affirmative was given, Björn looked back to Claude and nodded. "Two glasses, thank you."

"Of course, of course," Claude smiled sweetly, dipping back and heading through the door again.

"How's physical therapy been for you?" Björn asked, eyeing the menu as he awaited a response. The filet mignon caught his attention. Steak kind of sounds amazing right now, he thought to himself, his eyes flicking back to Andrew.

"Kinda dull," Andrew admitted. "I mean it is helping a lot, it's just that going through all of the stretches and movements specified in the treatment plan takes a while and I get bored." He flexed his arm and touched the pectoral muscle that had to be almost completely regenerated. "It's feeling less tight now than it did last week and I have more strength in this arm now."

Andrew jokingly picked up the menu as though it were a test of his recovered strength. "I guess I should look at this at some point this evening." He flicked through a few pages before looking up with a grin. "Spot anything you fancy?"

"I imagine those exercises aren't the most exciting," Björn nodded slowly, mentally putting himself in Andrew's shoes. "I'm glad to hear that, despite the boredom, you're seeing some results, though. Hopefully soon you'll be back to kicking my ass at Paresis Squares," the Chameloid chuckled, his eyes sparkling in the dying embers of day.

As to the menu question, the man had a quick answer. "For some reason," Björn flashed Andrew a dazzling smile, "I have the strongest urge for some meat in my mouth. Juicy and thick." Ah, innuendo. It was one of the Chameloid's favorite games with his paramour. "How about you? Anything erm...sticking out at you?" Arched eyebrow? Check. Shit-eating grin? Also check. Apparently Björn was in quite the playful mood indeed.

"I always end up going for a piece of beef," Andrew grinned, enjoying the exchange. "A good shank." Joking aside, 'Paleron de boeuf' was on the menu and had caught his eye.

Andrew set the menu down again. "So how are the Chameloids settling in?"

"I wonder why," smirked Björn with a knowing smile. As conversation shifted to the Chameloids, he picked up his water glass, took a long sip, and then set it down again. "They have settled in alright. Cargo bays aren't the most luxurious of combinations but, having seen the caves they were living in..." Björn trailed off, his mind casting back, "well, let's just say it's a bit of an upgrade. With Doctor Ryan Walsh's help, we've seen to their medical issues and they've all the food and sustenance they need. They miss the sun on their faces and the wind in the trees, though. Hopefully something their new home will eventually provide."

"Muriel says," he began again, "that my people used to live in trees. We are, apparently, arboreal in true nature. Want a banana?" Björn asked, making cute little monkey noises and lightly pounding his chest.

"That explains the upper-body strength." Andrew quipped with a pointed glance towards Björn's wide chest.

"True nature, you say," Andrew looked curious. "Is there a form that's unique to Chameloids? I mean, if they aren't taking the form of something else." There was a slight pang of guilt accompanying the question. Andrew was quite attached to Björn's current form but would it be fair to express a preference for it over some 'true' form that may exist?

Björn had been about to answer when the waiter returned. This time, the pair were ready to order. Rattling off what they wanted, the waiter nodded with a smile and then was off again, leaving the pair alone as the sun continued to set. Sitting on the rooftop as they were, the small village looked almost on fire in the blazing golds of the dying day. The Chameloid spent a few moments soaking in the view of Andrew and the sunset before speaking again.

"We do have a true form," Björn said softly. "She taught me how to assume it. And I would be happy to show it to you when you're ready. But," he cautioned, "it isn't pretty. Not by human standards, at least. It's something akin to a blend of a cat, monkey, and a bat. We can't fly," he shook his head, "but we do have vestigial wing folds that apparently allow us to glide. I say 'apparently' because I haven't quite worked up the nerve to try them out," the Chameloid chuckles, his cat-like eyes catching the golden light. "Taking our ancestral form is actually quite relaxing...I never realized how much of my energy it takes to hold another shape every day. But," he encouraged, "that doesn't mean I'm going to be gliding around our quarters everyday. I still prefer the way that I am," he noted.

"Interesting," Andrew added, somewhat distracted. He was trying to fuse together an image of the three animals mentioned in his mind but couldn't quite imagine it. As he mentally put it aside, a smile returned to his face and a mischievous glint appeared in his eye. "I have to confess a preference for your current form too."

"It'll always be who I am," Björn nodded, confirming back his own preference as well. "Maybe aged up a bit as the years get on, though," he smirked back at Andrew. "Can't let you overtake me in the Daddy Department, after all," the Chameloid chuckled softly, squeezing the man's right hand with his own. They'd not really talked about Björn's plan to keep aging himself apace of his years, though Andrew had been aware that he'd certainly done so thus far. He couldn't help but wonder how his partner took his last bit about making himself older. "What do you think of that idea?" he asked thoughtfully.

"Actually, I kind of assumed that was the plan all along." Andrew took a moment to examine the warm smile on Björn's face. "I never considered that you might be older or younger than you appear." The smile disappeared from Andrew's face as he realized the implications. "How long do your people live?"

"Longer than humans," Björn said softly, the implications not lost on him either. "Muriel said some of us have lived to almost two hundred years old. Some maybe even longer, but it's rare. Then again, hunted as we are by the Orions and Klingons, many Chameloids don't have the luxury of dying from natural causes's hard to pin down exactly how old we can be. All I know is that, whatever amount of time I have," he said with emotion, squeezing Andrew's hand, "I want to spend it with you. Unless you get bored of me. You know, make a trade for a younger model," he smirked then, injecting some humor into the heavy moment.

"Not a chance!" A smile had returned to Andrew's face as the joke landed. "At least not for a younger model." Andrew swirled the liquid in his glass and took a sip. He decided that now was as good a time as any to bring up the subject. "Did Muriel express an opinion about you being with a human? I mean, I presume procreation is fairly important to them given their numbers."

"Well that's a relief," Björn smiled back genuinely, thankful to hear that particular answer. As to Andrew's question, however, the answer would have to wait: food was arriving.

The waiter had returned holding aloft a tray, which he lowered down to remove each plate in turn, setting them out in front of the two men. After ensuring they had all they needed -- including drink refills and more bread -- the man was, once again, moving off, heading back down into the restaurant proper as the sun continued to set on the rooftop.

Picking up his fork and knife, Björn cut into his steak, pleased to find it cooked perfectly inside. "You know, one of the things I love about this program is that the holographic chef actually cooks the replicated raw ingredients. The meals don't just materialize out of thin air for delivery. Might be in my head, but I think it makes it taste better," the Chameloid said, taking a bit of his steak and letting out what sounded like an unf. "That's delicious," he nodded, dipping another bite into the juices pooling on his plate.

As Andrew tucked into his own meal, it was time to answer the man's question from a few moments prior. "So...procreation, the goal of any species' biology, I suppose. We have discussed it," Björn confirmed with a nod, his words forming around a small piece of steak he was chewing. With a swallow, he proceeded. "While mating with other Chameloids certainly helps to further the species, mating with other races is possible, too. Apparently," he smirked, "we're capable of creating a bud that's seeded by both parents' DNA. It can be carried by either attaches to the body, you see," Björn explained with some level of amusement. "When it comes to term, the sac opens and out comes a new Chameloid. So if you've ever wanted to experience pregnancy, we could make that happen," he laughed softly.

Andrew's mind was caught between intrigue at the fascinating biological process just outlined and the idea of being subject to it. Conflicting feelings deadlocked his thoughts for what seemed like far more than the few moments that had actually passed until he realized that his mouth was hanging open and consciously closed it.

"That doesn't just happen, does it?" Andrew asked, a little flustered. "I mean, is creating the bud a deliberate action?"

"Oh, it's automatic the first time a Chameloid sleeps with someone. Have you noticed any weird growths?" Björn smirked, eyeing Andrew up and down as if searching for said bud. But as the moments passed, the Chameloid couldn't help but bust into laughter. "Don't worry,'s very deliberate indeed. It can't happen accidentally. Which I suppose is a leg up on other races who enjoy sex for fun," he smiled wide, then took a sip from his drink. "And I don't even know if I want to be a dad, though Muriel and the others would prefer I help my race grow. How about you? Ever thought of yourself as a parent?"

Andrew visibly relaxed upon hearing that it wasn't possible for him to be accidentally pregnant. It'd always been a bit of a risk to have sexual relations with another species without really any information on how they reproduce, but rational thought tends to take a back seat in those moments and sometimes the risk can add excitement.

"I hadn't really thought about it, to be honest." Andrew looked thoughtful for a few moments. "I knew it wouldn't be possible biologically, but I hadn't been in a relationship serious enough before to consider adoption. Aside from the Risians, most people on Risa were only there for a short time."

"Fair point," Björn nodded, smiling at the relief flooding the younger man's features. After another bite of his steak, his eyes turned back to the sunset. The sun itself had finally sunk beneath the horizon, filling the sky with the fading of day. "Bit lucky for me though," he finally spoke again, wistfully this time. "Means you were free when I ran into you. I can only imagine what would have happened if we'd not run into your friends outside our rentals. To think I could have entirely missed out on meeting you..." the Chameloid sighed, reaching out to squeeze Andrew's hand again. "Do you miss it? Risa, I mean. It's been awhile now since you left...and life aboard a starship is so different."

"No, or at least not yet," Andrew smiled. "There are little things, like the breeze and the scents that it can carry. The ship enivronment can seem a little sterile at times, but if you spend a lot of time in a lab then that's not exactly unfamiliar." He felt the warmth of Björn's hand as it held his, comforting and reassuring. "So what did you miss during all that time you were planet-bound?"

"Believe it or not," the Chameloid smiled, "I didn't miss much at first. But as the time wore on, I felt very...aimless. Aside from my time with you," he smiled softly, "there wasn't a lot of structure to my time. I craved a routine; something I could hang my hat on, so to speak. Having endless options in front of you every day gets a little...well, exhausting," Björn chuckled. "It feels good to be back in the saddle again in that sense. How's your steak?" he asked then, pointing at the other man's meal with his fork.

"Mnnn." The noise was all Andrew could make until he finished chewing on a piece. "It's perfect." He swirled the red wine around in his glass before taking a long sip. "Do you fancy taking a stroll through the village after the meal?"

Björn gave the idea some thought and then smiled wide. "A stroll with a handsome gentleman down these delightful cobblestone streets? Sign me up," he said, squeezing Andrew's hand one last time before diving back into his meal. The two men continued talking until dinner had, at last, been finished and the plates cleared away.

As the streetlamps began to light on the paths stretching out below them, the Chameloid rose from his chair and offered Andrew the crook of his arm. Arm in arm, the pair descended the stairs from the rooftop cafe and walked out into the pleasant airs of the village, now enshrouded in the hazy twilight of evening. Together, the pair charted a course for nowhere in particular and just let their feet take them wherever they may, hanging onto each other through the gentle laughs and loving hugs and tugs along the way.

=/\= A joint-post by... =/\=

Captain Björn Kodak
Commanding Officer
USS Sojourner


Doctor Andrew Munro
Civilian Biologist
USS Sojourner


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