Canopus Station
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Breakfast with a Small Dog

Posted on Sun Jun 27th, 2021 @ 9:18pm by Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci

Mission: S0E0: What Came Before
Location: The Medina
Timeline: Morning after “Get Out”

GUEST STARING: David as Christoph Edred

The breakup with Spires- and her exact lack of reaction to it- still heavy on her mind, Mara wandered the Medina with Ravioli. She didn’t have any particular destination in mind. She just wanted to be out of her quarters. She thought about going to talk to Meilin, but she didn’t even want to be near her friends right now.

So she walked, looking around at the shops and restaurants. Most of them were opened by now, but a few still sat empty. A candy shop caught her eye and she watched the worker in the window pulling old-fashioned taffy for a few moments. Ravioli put her paws on the window and stretched to see what was happening. “Get down, Rav,” she ordered, then she bent and scooped the dog up so she could also watch the taffy puller without adding her paw prints to the glass.

Chief Warrant Officer Christoph Edred stifled a yawn as he strolled the Medina and tried to decide where he was going to have brunch. He’d been on Hospitalist/Critical Care duty late into the previous evening, so he’d let himself sleep in this morning. But now he was hungry. As he scanned the Medina his gaze fell on the hot Chief Engineer of Canopus Station. Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci had fallen into bed with Chris because she was pissed at her boyfriend. Chris usually wasn’t into that kind of thing, but Mara was not only hot and fantastic in bed, but really nice, too. And her boyfriend was a first class jackass. So Chris took it for what it was. A one off. Then he heard scuttlebutt that Mara had broken up with Mister First Class Jackass. And now here she was. He strolled up to her but stopped a respectful distance away before speaking.

“Commander Ricci?” Chris said. It felt awkward calling her by her rank with clear images of them in flagrante delicto floating around in his head, but if she really wasn’t interested, calling her by her given name might be a bad idea.

At the sound of her name, Mara looked around and spotted none other than Christoph. As always when seeing a friend, her face lit up in a smile. “Christoph!” she said. “Please, call me Mara. We’re off duty, after all.”

Christoph grinned back at Mara. “I was hoping you’d say that,” he said. “Okay, Mara. Have you eaten breakfast? If you have, are you ready for lunch? See, my grandmother always said that both a late breakfast and an early lunch should be shared with a woman you like and a small dog, and I don’t see any other women I like who come complete with their own small dog.”

His words had the desired effect. Despite the very loud and upsetting argument last night, he had just succeeded in making her forget her troubles, even if only for a fleeting moment. “Actually, I haven’t had breakfast, yet,” she replied, finally setting the squirming Ravioli down so she could properly sniff Christoph’s knees. “This is Ravioli, by the way. She thinks everybody is here for her.” As if in reply, Ravioli sat down and panted up at Christoph happily.

Christoph gave Ravioli a moment to get used to him, then lowered his hand so she could sniff it. When the dog didn’t seem to find him offensive, Christoph crouched down and pet Ravioli a bit. “Hi there!” he said. “That’s a good girl. There’s a doggie ice cream in this for you for not making things awkward by trying to eat my ankle.” He looked up at Mara. “So,” he said. “You’ve been stationed here longer than me. Do you have any suggestions on where we should eat?”

“To be honest, no,” she replied. “Other than the Klingon Chicago style eatery. The owner is a lark. But, he doesn't open for another hour. Oh, there’s a burrito place,” she commented, catching sight of the small restaurant in question. “You like burritos?”

“Sure do,” Christoph said with a grin. “Just don’t laugh at me too hard when mine falls apart while I’m trying to eat it, and I’ll do the same for you. And we have Ravioli here to clean up the evidence of whatever misses our mouths and hits the deckplating.” When Christoph stood up, he immediately saw which restaurant Mara was talking about. He offered his arm. “If you ladies would care to come with me?”

Mara pretended to consider the proposition and then looked down at Ravioli. “What do you think?” she asked. “Should we go?” Ravioli immediately stood up and wagged her tail. “I’ll take that as a yes,” she replied and slipped her hand into the crook of Christoph’s arm. “Let’s go!”

Christoph happily led Mara and Ravioli over to the restaurant. They got a seat ‘outside’ in a corner so Ravi could lounge without fear of getting stepped on. A waiter came out and led with the statement that if they ordered quickly, they could get huevos rancheros before the kitchen switched completely over to the lunch fare. Christoph leapt at the idea. “Done! With ice water and coffee, cream and sugar please and whatever the lady wants.”

“Black coffee and orange juice,” replied Mara. “And definitely on the huevos rancheros.” As the waiter hurried off to the kitchen, Mara turned back to Christoph. “So what have you been up to?” she asked.

“I’ve been working in the ICU a lot,” Christoph said. “Fairly slow. Last night was actually kind of relaxing. I was responsible for several patients, but only one was making any real effort to die on me before the end of my shift. The others had their hiccups, but it was pretty quiet. Frankly, that’s the way I like it. Yeah, sure, an interesting or challenging case can be fun, but probably not for the patient. I had doctors and PAs who think our patients get sick, hurt, or injured for our entertainment. Anyway, what about you? How have things been going?”

Oh, so he was medical, not sciences. No wonder Meilin didn’t know him. “Not bad,” she answered, her mind going back to the previous evening. “No, that’s not true. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors by now. And yes, it was as big a fiasco as everyone says.”

“I’m sorry you’ve had a rough time of it,” Christoph replied, reaching out and touching Mara’s hand. “Really. Ending a relationship with a big row is painful and ugly and no fun.” Christoph left out any attacks on the character of Mara’s now ex-lover. It was too soon for that, and too low class for Christoph.

“It’s the first time I’ve done it this way,” she admitted, swallowing the lump in her throat. “Although, to be honest, it was harder when Remi died. He was my first boyfriend,” she added, swallowing the lump that rose in her throat nearly every time she thought about Remi.

Like most half-Betazoids, Christoph had little to nothing in the way of telepathic abilities, except with other Betazoids. However, he did have empathic abilities of some note. In particular, he possessed sensory empathy. Not only could he sense a person’s emotional state, but he could sense their physical condition as well. This last was both a help and a hindrance. Being a living, breathing, medical tricorder could be tremendously helpful in his work as a Physician Assistant, and being able to read a lover’s body had won him high scores in the bedroom. But feeling too much of a patient’s pain (or getting flashes of the condition of a lover’s bowels in the middle of sex) could be problematic. Thankfully, Christoph had near mastery of his empathic abilities by the end of high school and had only gotten better since.

The long and the short of all of that exposition is that Christoph could sense Mara’s pain and sadness. Of course, a person would have to be the most oblivious of self-centered miscreants to miss Mara’s pain and sadness at the moment.

“I’m sorry,” Christoph said. “I didn’t know about that. That must have been awful to go through. How long ago did Remi pass?”

“Hm,” said Mara, trying to do the mental math. “It was shortly after we graduated from the academy. That would have been… 16 years ago? Wow. Sometimes it feels like yesterday.”

“Tempus Fugit,” Christoph said. “Time flies. You two met at the academy, I assume?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “He… was a pretty terrible student. Asked me to tutor him.” She grinned. “I thought he was just trying to get into my pants. But, no. He actually did want help. And we became friends. Then more than friends. You know how it goes.” She smiled wistfully. Remembering the good times was much preferable to the bad. “Anyway…. the Universe lost a really good person when he died.”

“Sounds like it,” Christoph said. He paused when their food and drink arrived. “This looks good. I didn’t realize exactly how hungry I really was until I smelled this on its way to our table!” After politely waiting for Mara to start eating, Christoph started eating his own. The first few bites disappeared quickly, but then Christoph got himself under control and began to eat at a more reasonable pace. “If I may be so bold, Stephen Spires seems a bit of a contrast to the man you just described.”

Mara’s mood darkened slightly at the mention of Spires. “He was,” she replied. “He is. I guess I stayed with him because I’m a good influence. I’ve always been a good influence. Even in elementary school, my teachers would put the problem kids in my group because I had a way of making them behave. Making them better. I’m still like that. Believe it or not, Spires is much better than he used to be. But, I realized something recently. I might be good for him, but he’s not good for me. No matter how I feel about him, he’s no good for me.” The thought made her want to cry, but she pushed it away and slipped Ravioli a bit of egg. “Real eggs,” she commented idly. “Not replicated. Someone on Carpathia must have hens.”

The change in Mara’s emotional state, no matter how brief, did not go unnoticed by Christoph.

“Sorry,” he said. “Didn’t mean to upset you. And yeah, these do seem to be real eggs. Definitely coming here again.” Christoph grinned. “So… you know the story of the vampire Count Dracula? His castle is in the Carpathian Mountains on Earth. I wonder… somewhere on Carpathia, is there a vampire lord, hiding in the shadows, biding his time? Did you know that the fictional character of Count Dracula is based on a real person? A prince named Vlad Tepes, AKA Vlad the Impaler because he impaled his enemies.”

“I did know that, actually,” she replied, glad for the change of topic; his Betezoid instincts must have told him to bring up something light hearted. “And Elizabeth Bathory and all the other legends. I love Vampires. And werewolves and faeries and all the other ‘monsters’,” she said complete with air quotes. “Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein’s monster, even Dorian Grey. I think I read that book for the first time when I was about ten years old. Freaky stuff for a kid, but I ate it up.”

Christoph chuckled. “Yeah,” he said. “Vampires come off dark and mysterious and sexy… and then I read Anne Rice from the 20th Century, whose male Vampires are impotent and worse Del Toro’s The Strain from the 21st Century, in which turning you into a vampire basically makes you unisex and when men are turned into vampires, their genitels fall off, well, that ruined any fantasy I had about being that kind of a ‘creature of the night’ pretty much for good.”

“Those were actually my favorites!” Mara laughed. “Well, those and The Passage. Although that wasn’t really vampires. It was and it wasn’t. But I enjoyed it all the same. They were definitely less sexy, though.”

“Right?” Christoph said. “I mean, Rice’s vampires were still sensual, but Del Toro was totally unambiguous about the nasty-gross factor of his strigoi. Took the thrill out of the idea of living forever.” Christoph considered Mara a moment. “Anything else you enjoy reading and/or watching? Mysteries? Historical Fiction? Fantasy?”

“Action adventure and fantasy,” she replied. “I mean, who doesn’t like Lord of the RIngs? And I have the latest version of the Doctor Who Holonovels, complete with the 47th Doctor. I’m not sure I like him, though. I mean, it’s totally fine that he’s Klingon, but with an inferiority complex? I don’t know. The Doctor has never been inferior a day in his or her life. It’s just weird. I usually stick with four or twelve or thirteen. Or twenty-three.”

“But every version is a little different, right?” Christoph said. “That’s written into the story, Each actor has a bit of freedom to find their own interpretation. Otherwise, it would just become stagnated over time. I mean, even if you cast the last Cheronian in the Galaxy and had them play the Doctor for tens of thousands of years, hopefully they’d still be finding new aspects of the character 20,000 years from now.” Christoph grinned. “Though I do agree that of all the versions to give an inferiority complex to, why the Klingon? Unless of course, that was the whole point?”

“Maybe,” agreed Mara. “Or maybe he’s self-conscious about having regenerated to look like a Klingon. There are an awful lot of people of all species who don’t look kindly on Klingons.”

“Well, Klingons can be pretty intense,” Christoph said. Then he grinned. “And except for Raktajino, I can’t even look at their food, let alone watch them eat it. In fact, the less said about their food while I’m eating the better!” Christoph took a few more bites of his food, swallowed and then laughed. “Wait,” he said. “Does this Klingon version of the Doctor have a sonic d’ktahg or something?”

Mara was caught so off guard with the comment and she nearly spit eggs all over him. She managed to catch herself in time though and laughed, “no! Still the screwdriver. Although it’s far funnier to hear a Klingon talk about it than anybody else.”

Christoph grinned. “I bet!” he said. “Maybe I’ll check it out..” Christoph ate some more of his breakfast and drank more of his coffee. “I’m glad I ran into you again. I promise I’m not hitting on you the day after your break-up. That would be crass and frankly stupid. But… well, I’m happy we’re sharing a meal.”

“Good,” she said. “Because the last thing I need is a rebound guy. And to be honest, I don’t think you’d be happy with that, either. But yes, I’m glad I ran into you, too. It’s helped take my mind off… everything,” she finished with a vague wave of her hand.

“Good,” Christoph said. “Mission accomplished. And you’re right. I’d rather wait and see if I have a shot at something real than be your rebound shag.”

Unable to help herself, she laughed again. “You know just what to say to make a girl feel special,” she snickered. “Rebound shag!” Another giggle. “I think that’s the best phrase I’ve heard in my entire life.”

“I aim to please,” Christoph said. He finished off the last of his food and washed it down with water. He checked his chrono. “Listen, I’m on nights for the next four days, then I get 36 hours of downtime to transition back to days for a while. Want to get together during my downtime? Beach Day on the Holodeck? You can bring Ravi as your chaperone, if you want. Just to make sure I behave myself.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” she replied. “As long as we don’t have another Myriad visit or something. And Ravioli would LOVE to go for a swim, wouldn’t you, Rav?”

Ravioli grinned and wagged her tail.

“Great,” Christoph said. “Quick walk around the Medina before we part ways for the week? No pressure.”

Loath to go back to her solitary melancholy, Mara had already decided before he’d even asked. Still, it wouldn’t do to let on that she was eager to accept. She pretended to consider his offer and looked down at Ravioli. “What do you think, Rav?” she asked. “Do we trust him that far?”

Ravioli’s tail wagged even harder and she let out one of those barely audible ruffs that meant, “I know mummy says no barking, but I feel like this situation warrants a bark!”

With a grin, Mara shoveled the last of her eggs into her mouth and quickly washed them down with a swig of orange juice. “I guess that answers that,” she said, standing and unhooking Ravioli’s leash from the arm of the chair. “Let’s go! Oh! Almost forgot!” She quickly pressed her thumb to the PADD affixed to the table, using her credits to pay for their meal. “Breakfast is on me today,” she added.

“As long as next time is on me!” Christoph said. When they got out of the cafe’s outdoor seating area, Christoph offered his arm again. “Shall we, Miss Ricci?”

“I think we shall, Mr… uh… Christoph,” she said, then laughed. “I just realized that I only know your first name!”

“Let’s fix that,” Christoph said. “My full name and rank is Chief Warrant Officer Christoph Edred. Which means you way outrank me. Which isn’t a problem for me. Betazoid mother. I’m used to a matriarchal set up. Father’s human. And I’m a physician’s assistant. I think that’s about all we haven’t covered.”

“Okay, then, Mr. Edred, part Betezoid Physician’s assistant and Chief Warrant Officer who I WAY outrank,” she said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “That will probably work out very well because I’m definitely the alpha. Isn’t that right, Ravioli?”

Ravioli jumped once, quite happily, in response.

Mara grinned and finally slipped her hand into his arm. “See there?” she said. “I’m definitely pack leader.”


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