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Meeting Up

Posted on Fri May 17th, 2024 @ 3:33am by Lieutenant Xex Wang & Lieutenant JG Leighton Romanowski

Mission: Mean Green Queen
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1044


“...come on you muthah--” the rest of the epithet was lost in the a clatter of noise as an entire cabinet full of trauma kits cascaded out of their slots and down over Gatien Savoir's head and shoulders. He froze beneath the onslaught, which swiftly ran its course, the last couple packs tipping out to bounce harmlessly off the top of his head, cushioned by the pile of red-tinted braids he'd knotted on top of his cranium. Behind him, sickbay's doors opened, their quiet swish lost amid the clank of those last couple kits hitting the deck. This left Gatien with his back to the doors, looking decidedly put out by the objects' unruly behavior as he blinked down at the pile in consternation.

Leighton had entered sickbay clutching his left hand just as he heard the commotion come from across the room. He glanced over with a slight wince before clearing his throat. "Excuse me," he said as the man turned to look at him. He then indicated his left hand by slightly raising it, "I hate to add to your troubles but I could use your help." Leighton had been working in Cargo Bay Two reprograming the inventory computer when he'd accidentally touched a live EPS conduit that was supplying power to the unit. He'd had dermal burns before, but he'd figured the job was small enough to where he wouldn't need to deenergize the station. Unfortunately, he was now reaping the rewards of the decision.

Leighton could almost see the gears in the man's brain shift; Gatien had obviously been surprised by the young lieutenant's voice, and now he had to both a) avoid swearing and b) put aside the problem heaped in a pile at his feet to address the problem looking pained in the doorway. Still, surprised though he was, Gatien had been a nurse long enough to make the shift with just a momentary blank stare. Then without warning, he was all action. The kits in his hands were abandoned to join their fellows on the floor with a satisfying rattle, and he stepped over the pile, a reassuring smile flashing white in his dark face. "Apologies, ch--" his eyes flicked to Leighton's collar and he shifted the greeting to, "sir. What is it you've got fuh me?" He spoke with a light accent, rounded syllables with the ending consonants dropped off them.

Stepping up to Leighton, Gatien reached for his injured hand, clucking his tongue, "Pauvre bête. Dat looks like it smarts somethin' awful. Let's see if we can get some skin back on 'er, eh?" With that same reassuring smile, he escorted Leighton over to one of the pair of biobeds, indicating that he should make himself comfortable. "Now that dun look like you were tryin' your hand at cookin'. What bit ya?" he asked conversationally as he collected his basic tools.

Leighton followed the man before taking his seat on the biobed indicated. He winced slightly when Gatien gently took Leighton's outstretched hand to scan it with his medical tricorder. "Only replicator's for me," Leighton said following the man's lead to make light of the situation before sighing slightly. "No, I was working in Cargo Bay 2's computer system and forgot to isolate the power to the unit. It was a stupid mistake really, my hand accidentally grazed a live power node when i was trying to remove the isolinear ships," He said was he looked up and noticed the sharp read streaks throughout the man's intricate braids.

"Well, I daresay you'll not be makin' that mistake again, non?" Gatien suggested, looking up over the top of the tricorder with an expression of wry amusement, seasoned with just the slightest snap of censure at the carelessness of Leighton's mistake, almost like a parent who just watched their child touch the hot stove. "At least you on board; you ain't got no funny moon dust or terrestrial bugs in it. Tha's da problem with burns see," he continued to speak while he worked, perhaps seeking to take Leighton's mind off the discomfort, "Infection. Even wit' the good stuff we got here, you can get some powahful bugs sneakin' on in dere."

At long last, it seemed Gatien found the correct hypo, and with it applied, the raw, burning pain of the wound began to recede. He watched Leighton for the telltale relaxing of the features, easing of the shoulders that signaled the hypo was doing its work, and got to his own job of cleaning out the wound, making sure its bizarrely melted edges were trimmed and prepped for the dermal regenerator. He continued speaking, "What's goin' on with Cargo Bay two's computah system?" he asked without looking up from his work, hoping to keep Leighton's mind off his hand.

Leighton had relaxed his shoulders as the hypo did its magic and watched Gatien work his magic. "Nothing major. The cargo bay's computer was not syncing with the master inventory mainframe, and the diagnostic engineers determined it was a corrupted data transfer module. Luckily we are going to be upgrading the whole computer mainframe here in a few days, but Commander Cross wanted to make sure the mainframe was synced up completely before the switch," he said. He then felt himself blush slightly before asking, "You'll have to forgive me but i don't think i caught your name?"

Gatien was quick and efficient; in just a couple minutes-- conveniently, just about the amount of time it took Leighton to describe the issue, a timeframe in which Gatien made interested and encouraging sounds at all the right places-- the hand was ready for the dermal regenerator. Making sure to dial it for the particulars of the burn, he began running it over Leighton's palm, only then looking up with a crooked grin. "Nothin' to apologize for," he assured his patient, working to keep his smile from widening as he noted Leighton's blush, "I'm sure introductions were not top of yah mind with a burn on yoah hand. It's all the nerve endin's," he explained of the particular pain specific to the hand and fingers. "Gatien," he finally supplied his own name, "An' you?"

"Leighton," he replied as he allowed the nurse to rotate his hand to work on his scorched palm. He watched as the burns began to subside as the skin returned to its normal shade. Gatien was quick and efficient, similar to most nurses Leighton had dealt with in the service. There were those that tended to take longer, but Gatien was skilled, continuing to work even when he looked up when Leighton spoke. "Judging by your name and accent, I'd say French right," Leighton asked. Even though English was the standard language on Earth, Leighton had heard those who still had an accent from their native tongue, though he was by no means a linguistic expert.

The corner of Gatien's generous mouth lifted in a halfsmile that looked just a touch rueful. "In a mannah o' speakin'," he agreed of Leighton's linguistic guess, "if you go back far enough." Giving the hand one last gimlet stare, Gatien put aside the regenerator and took out his tricorder, running it over Leighton's palm to make sure there wasn't any damage that either he or the dermal regenerator missed. "But we from the North American Gulf Coast. That Cajun is hard to get outta yoah accent. Believe me," he added, and this time there was no mistaking the ruefulness. "Memère would be so disappointed you picked it out so fast," he said, although he did not sound particularly regretful.

With a decisive nod at his tricorder, Gatien stepped back from the bed and made an expansive gesture of invitation. "Anyway," he said, "you should be good ta go. Make sure you drink plenny water, more than usual, d'accord?"

"I would've guessed French Canadian, before Cajun," Leighton said with a laugh. Being from Montana, most Francophones were Canadians that had migrated from Quebec, but that was a long time ago. When Gatien was finished, Leighton flexed his palm and fingers before rubbing his wrist and giving a nod of approval. "Thanks, next time I'll be sure to isolate the power before sticking my hand into the console," Leighton said with a smile before he stood from the bio bed. He looked over at the pile of trauma kits that were still laying on the deck before looking back at Gatien, "I can help return the favor if you'd like,."

Gatien lifted his hands, palms forward in a gesture of surrender. "You dun hafta promise me anything," he assured Leighton, "Save dat for yoah CO. I'll be here ta patch ya up, same same." Following Leighton's gaze to the kits, Gatien heaved a particularly eloquent sigh. There was something about French descendants, no matter how far removed, that seemed to allow them a nearly infinite number of surprisingly articulate exhalations. "That wasn't no favor," he said, although he did sound resigned, as he started back toward the pile. "So there's no debt to be repaid. But if you really dun have anytin' else to be gettin' to..." Gatien shot him a sidelong glance, a glimmer of white teeth flashing in his smirk.

Leighton smiled back as he followed him over to the pile. "Well, this is all considered inventory," he said giving Gatien a grin before he knelt down to start picking up the kits and handing them up to Gatien.

Several hours later, Leighton was off duty and sat in the mess hall nursing a drink as he read through his final report of the day before pressing the send command on the PADD and powering the unit off. He looked up again at the doorway as he nervously waited for Gatien to show. After helping him pick up the trauma kits, Gatien had offered to meet Leighton for a drink as repayment, once their respective shifts were over, to which Leighton had accepted. There was something about Gatien, the way he smiled that was infectious, and Leighton felt slightly nervous before meeting them. Was this considered a date? Leighton wasn't sure, especially since he hadn't been aboard ship for too terribly long.

If the casual attire-- aqua shirt, dark pants-- into which Gatien had changed was any indication, at the very least it wasn't a formal date. The nurse had not only changed out of his duty uniform, but also changed the color of his hair, which was now had cheerful yellow highlights in it, contrasting with the presumably naturally dark hue of his actual strands. He wore the many braids in a half-up-half-down style, the yellow-and-black of them spilling over his shoulders as he paused in the doorway, clearly searching for someone. When his eye alighted upon Leighton, he flashed the ops officer a smile of greeting and wove his way through the increasingly full mess until he was in speaking distance. He didn't stop at Leighton's table, stepping past it even as he spoke. "I will apologize," he promised, "but first I need a drink. Do you want anytin'?"

"Sure, I'll take another ale," Leighton said before he watched Gatien continue over to the replicators. He handed his empty glass to a passing waiter before he stole another glance over at Gatien. He had noticed that Gatien's previously red braids where now yellow, and it piqued his curiosity. He was sure they had been red before in sickbay, but now there were streaks of bright yellow running through the braids.

Nodding, Gatien continued to the replicators. When he returned, it was was with both Leighton's ale and a short, simple glass filled with a honey-colored liquid and garnished with an orange peel. He sank smoothly into a seat across from Leighton and slid the other's glass over to him. "Please," he said, his voice somber but his smiling expression giving the lie to his seriousness, "accept mah most sincere apologies for mah tardiness. I'm not sure how well ya know Doctor Wang, but when he comes on at da end of your shift, dere is always 'one more thing.'" His mimicry of the doctor's precise wording was uncannily accurate, his own accent disappearing beneath the impression.

"I'm not surprised, he is certainly very thorough in all he does...or so i gathered from our time together back on the station," Leighton said with a smile and nod accepting Gatien's apology even thought it was not really necessary. Leighton took a sip from his drink as he slid the powered down PADD over to one side and leaned forward slightly resting his arms on the table. He looked up and gave a sheepish grin, "So, I have to ask, did you change the color of your braids," he said.

Gatien's expression shifted to interest and then to blank incomprehension, his glass lifted halfway to his lips. He blinked once, then glanced down at his shoulder where several of the braids sat in their bumblebee-colored glory. With mild curiosity coloring his bewilderment, he cocked his head to the side and keeping his face straight said, "No... why?" It was a pity Leighton didn't know him better-- he might have been able to catch the merest glimmer of mirth in Gatien's dark eyes.

Leighton could feel his face get hot with embarrassment as his eyes widened and he looked down at his drink. "Oh....I'm sorry i just....I could've sworn they were red earlier," he said before trailing off. He took a sip from his drink as he could feel his palms begin to grow sweaty. He cleared his throat before giving a half smile trying to save face. Leighton was prone to making social faux pas, which was probably why some considered him a workaholic mostly. Computers didn't have social cues that you had to pick up on.

Leighton's immediate shift to embarrassment instantly melted Gatien's resolve to tease him. His face cracked into a grin that somehow bypassed mocking and went straight to conspiratorial, as though they were both in on the joke. Gatien reached out covering Leighton's free hand with his and giving it a quick squeeze of... of what? If it wasn't quite apology, it was kind. "I'm just playin'," he admitted, then went on to explain, "I change 'em up when tha mood strikes." Then, sobering, he took his hand away and searched Leighton's face thoroughly for a long moment, as though looking for something in particular. Perhaps finding it-- perhaps not-- he leaned back in his chair and took a sip from his drink, a small smile playing about the edges of his lips. "Most people dun notice on a first date." The offhanded way he said it did little to answer Leighton's questions about the seriousness of this encounter. It could have as easily been a turn of phrase as anything else.

Leighton relaxed when he felt Gatien squeeze his hand. When the man later leaned away, Leighton gave a nervous laugh before sipping from his own drink. "I just remember seeing red because it matched with your regular hair color," Leighton offered as he relaxed again. He gave the man an upraised eyebrow before continuing, "So, I'm not the only one who gets the yellow braid treatment then?" His tone was slightly playful, his worry about his earlier possible faux pas quickly receding as Gatien's demeanor relaxed him.

Gatien's grin widened, the little glint of merriment in his eye glittering into full-blown mischief. "You haven't bought me nearly enough drinks ta learn who all gets tha yellow-braid treatment," he declared primly, the rounded endings and vowels of his accent light-hearted with the tease, "date or no."

"It's been awhile since i've been on a...first date..., but the last one didn't go exactly smooth," Leighton said before he took another sip from his drink. He leaned forward slightly letting his forearms rest on the table as he cupped his drink. "My date took me out to Madam Chang's back on Earth when we were both in the Academy, but he ended up partaking in too much sake. Needless to say there was no second date," he explained remembering how he'd have drug the other man back to his dorm from downtown San Francisco.

"Needless ta say," Gatien echoed a little dryly, but ducked his head to glance up at Leighton's downturned face. "Did you at least avoid tha more un-save-or-ee," this word had a definite French lilt to it, "bodily fluids?" he asked, attempting to lighten the memory for him.

Leighton laughed slightly before looking up at Gatien and nodding. "Yeah, i think he lost the meal after i closed the door on him, so there was a pretty sturdy barrier between us. Though, I don't think his roommate appreciated what he brought home," he replied remembering that he had stopped to listen to the shouts after the young man had regurgitated egg drop soup and sake much to his roommate's chagrin.

Gatien leaned back in the regulation chair, sipping thoughtfully on his drink. A light frown drew his dark brows together until the entirety of his mobile face had shifted toward suspicion. "How..." he cleared his throat, took a sip of the drink, and continued, "How long 'ave you been out of da aca-da-mee?" Leighton was clearly young but... surely not that young, if he was already a lieutenant. Nevertheless, it seemed Gatien was quite prepared to do his due diligence-- even if a touch belatedly.

"Two years ago, class of '97," Leighton said as he had noticed Gatien's subtle change in topic. He'd been in this situation before, his youthful looks not showing his true age. The constant joke amongst his family was that he didn't start shaving until his freshman year at the Academy. Leighton had accepted this by now, and he was used to the expressions when his maturity didn't fully equal his features. "I was promoted after my tour aboard the Bombay, just a few months before i received my posting here," he continued before taking another sip.

A newly minted lieutenant then. Whatever Gatien thought about this did not show on his face. Instead, he tipped his glass toward Leighton. "Congratulations," he said, any irony in his tone mitigated by his cheerful expression.

"What about you, how long ago were you at the academy," Leighton asked. He had noted on the man's uniform before the insignia of an enlisted person that all nurses customarily were. Leighton knew that even enlisted crewmen attended the Academy, though separate from the officer cadets of course.

Gatien waved one hand in dismissal. "Oh, a while ago," he said airily, and returned the conversation to Leighton. "Two years, hmm? Do you also find that time stretches oddly aboard ship? And I dun mean in amongst a spacial anomaly," he appended, making a face. Had he been in the midst of such? "I mean two years, when viewed from afar, seems like such a short time-- and yet in the thick of what is happening within those two years... such a long time."

Leighton had nodded his thanks at the compliment before he thought about Gatien's question. "I would agree with that. My time on the Bombay certainly felt like longer than two years, but I'm fairly used to it by now. My father is the captain of the Murmansk, and when i was younger we used to move around to different space stations following him before my mother and I moved back to Earth permanently. I think it has something to do with being in space, and like you said not because of a spatial anomaly, rather things move alot...differently out here," he said.

"I just wish it would do that on a daily basis," Gatien lamented. "Make the watches shortah and the off-duty hours longah." His dark gaze flicked to Leighton's PADD and away again, almost too quickly to notice. Then he lifted his drink and, finding it was nearly finished, swigged back the last of it. "Now aftah all that travelin' and spacefarin' as a 'tit-enfant, you still decided ta come on out heah. Was it everythin' you hoped an' dreamed of?" he wondered, and the tilt to his mouth suggested a touch of irony to what otherwise seemed a genuine question.

"So far it has been," Leighton said with a nod and slight smile as he finished his own drink. "It really feels like the final frontier out here, i mean not everyone in Starfleet has met the species we have so far.," he said thinking back to his time on the station. He had thought that he would be prepared, but it was still a bit overwhelming. He was used to seeing the usual Federation species and others around the quadrants, but the most intriguing aspects were some of the similarities shared between the Delta quadrant species he had already met and those back in the Federation.

"Can i get you another," Leighton asked as he indicated Gatien's empty glass.

"Please," Gatien said, both grateful and for some reason, a touch amused, "a vieux carre. I highly recommend one."

Leighton nodded with a slight smile before he stood and collected the two empty glasses and made his way over to the bank of replicators. After placing the two empties into the slot, he started to order Gatien's drink and another ale, before he paused and figured he'd try what Gatien was having. He picked up the two fresh drinks and made his way back over towards their table.

Gatien lounged while Leighton fetched the drinks, looking perfectly at home half-sprawled in the mess room chair. The pose turned out to be deceptive; as Leighton approached the table again, Gatien was on his feet almost quicker than the eye could follow, Leighton's PADD tucked under his arm while he flicked his braids over his shoulder with a practiced gesture. He swiftly relieved Leighton of his own drink, and smoothly placed his free hand on the small of Leighton's back, gently guiding him past the table toward the door. His hand was very warm. The gesture was casually intimate, easily brushed off, or not, as Leighton so chose. "Let's get outta heah. Arboretum? Or Debbie's?"

Leighton had watched as Gatien had also followed him back to the table. Their drinks not even touched, he let himself be guided towards the door, somewhat startled at the sudden change of pace. "Ummm....I'm not really sure," Leighton said before he looked over at Gatien's warm eyes and smiled slightly. He allowed himself to relax into his hold, allowing himself to be pulled closer towards the other man, before he shrugged. "You seem to be in the driver's seat now," Leighton said before laughing slightly.

Gatien's smile widened, startlingly white in his walnut face, clearly pleased with Leighton's response. "Heaven help us all," Gatien chuckled at being placed in the driver's seat. Just before they reached the doors to the mess hall, Gatien paused and loosened his grip long enough to lean away from Leighton, eyeing him speculatively. His once-over seemed to take a long time, eyes running from the tip of the young lieutenant's head all the way down to the toes of his shoes. It wasn't overtly acquisitive, or even amorous, but was nonetheless strangely direct. "Debbie's," Gatien said with a decisive nod, one corner of his mouth quirking upward, "There's somethin' there you need ta see."

Gatien abandoned his drink on a nearby table, relieving Leighton of his as well, careless of the mess he was leaving as he guided the ops man out of the mess hall and into the hallway. He remained in contact with Leighton by way of the same casual hand on his back, but gave them both space walk, crowding into Leighton only as passersby forced him to. "Would I be correct in guessin' you work too much?" he asked with an easygoing glance sidelong at his companion, once again aware of the weight of the PADD tucked under his arm.

Leighton walked with Gatien as they strode down the corridor. The familiar hum of the mess hall had given way to the soft quiet corridors as the continued towards the nearest turbolift. Leighton glanced over at the other man, spotting his PADD that was tucked under his arm before blushing slightly. "I wouldn't say I work too much," he replied before trailing off. "I just...had a few moments and wanted to knock some items off my list," he said a little sheepishly. He realized that the image of him bringing his work might;ve sent the wrong signals, but it was just a habit he had. "I guess I just strive to do a really good job is all," he said before giving a slight nervous swallow.

"Mmhmm," Gatien agreed with a noise that perfectly embodied, 'I don't believe you in the slightest.' "A'course you wouldn' say that," Gatien allowed, "I shoulda asked would yo' coworkers say you work too much?" Finally, he let the mirth through, throwing Leighton a crooked halfsmile. "I daresay you're successful in that endeavohr. I jus' wanted to make sure I got it right," he explained, without really explaining, "about goin' to Debbie's."

"I don't think I've been to Debbie's since I've been aboard, but I've heard people talking about it," Leighton offered as they waited for the turbolift to arrive. Once the doors parted with a silent hiss, Leighton and Gatien stepped inside and the doors shut behind them leaving the two alone. Leighton let himself drift slightly closer into the man as he felt Gatien's arm tighten around the small of his back ever so slightly.

"You ain't never been to Debbie's an' you've been on board how long?" Gatien demanded with mock-outrage. Then, muttering ostensibly to himself, but plenty loud enough for Leighton to hear, he added, "'I wouldn't say I work too much,'" in a passable imitation of Leighton's cultured tones. "Cher," Gatien said, and it sounded like 'shaa,' a disapproving tut in his tone. His expression sobered as he took Leighton's drift for invitation, tucking him more securely against his side, and squeezing just slightly where his big hand rested over the top of Leighton's hipbone, "You in for a treat." Mischief and intention both lit Gatien's dark eyes as he gazed down at the young ops man, but anything he was planning was interrupted by the lift's pleasant chime.

"Deck Seven", the computer informed them, "Main engineering, chemistry lab, aft observation lounge."

The lift doors opened and with a rueful smile, Gatien pulled away again, just enough for them to comfortably ambulate again, directing Leighton out of the lift. "I'm actually pretty suhprised Debbie hasn't had that thing reprogrammed," he said as they made their way aft down the curving corridor. He snorted, "'Aft observation lounge'-- hasn't nobody used that name in long." As they approached the large double doors, Gatien stepped even further away from Leighton, sketching what he imagined was a courtly bow and gesturing expansively with one hand, wide enough that the doors to Debbie's swished open. "Lieutenant, if I may present: Debbie's Diner."

Leighton could hear the sounds coming from the room as they had neared it,. Laughter and the soft hum of conversation had permeated through the closed doors. Leighton had smiled at Gatien and blushed slightly as he looked expectantly towards the doors as they parted and allowed him to get his first glimpses inside Debbie's The volume increased as the doors had opened, and Leighton's eyes widened slightly as he took in the sights. "The Bombay certainly didn't have a place like this," Leighton said with a smile as Gatien put his arm around Leightons waist and they walked in together.

To Be Continued...

A post by:

Lieutenant (JG) Leighton Romanowski
Operations Officer

CPO Gatien Savoir


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