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All Around The Mulberry Bush

Posted on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 @ 2:37pm by Lieutenant Lilith Sullivan & Captain Jane Saulitis

Mission: For Whom The Bell Tolls
Location: Alta's Quarters
Timeline: MD07, 1600

Alta headed back to his quarters, it had been about nine hours since he'd left Lily there and he wanted to check on her, make sure she'd slept or was still sleeping. He was sincerely hoping no one saw anything, he didn't need any other rumors following him around and he certainly didn't want to make his presence an inconvenience to her. She was younger than his daughter, and despite his early attraction to her, he felt the need to look out for her in a a past generation sort of way. He avoided even thinking about the word fatherly. He stopped in front of the doors and reached for the chime just as they opened to reveal her standing there.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I was just coming to see if you'd managed to get any sleep?" She looked a bit better. Perhaps the magical mattress had worked after all.

"A little," Lilith tilted her head. "Mariame kept coming around chiming the door, so I had to chase her away with a stick so I could sleep. Betazoid women are persistent let me tell ya."

Alta barked out a laugh and then looked slightly confused as if wondering if she were serious. "Uh, how did you hear about that." He blushed slightly.

"You told me this morning, silly - remember our walk through the arboretum?" Sullivan nudged his arm. "Oh man, you are in deep. You should've seen the look on your face," she chuckled, hiding the fact that she was in the same boat. "I was joking by the way. I took a decent nap thanks to the wonder mattress and I was just finishing up making myself some lazy day carbs. I have some extra pasta and sauce if you're hungry. It's the least I can do to thank you for everything."

"Oh right. I guess I'm the one who needs sleep now. I have no idea what I'm doing, what she's doing, what's happening." He rubbed his face. "And I couldn't make myself sleep on Jane's sofa. Who wants to interrupt the honeymoon?" He let out a sigh. "It's like we're both falling apart. You and I, not Mariame. She seems perfectly normal . . . for her."

"Well, come on in and we can find the pieces at the bottom of the dinner bowl," Lilith turned around and walked back inside to the dining area. An array of pots, pans, and ingredients were littered around the cooktop, standing as evidence of a solo culinary adventure. "You should nod and say yes when a lady offers to cook for you, ya know," she winked.

"You're absolutely right, that was incredibly stupid. Isn't there some saying about the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? And . . . I just made it creepy again. You know what? I'm going to sit down over here and shut up." Alta plopped himself in the chair and glanced curiously at her to see what she was doing.

Stifling a laugh, Lily walked over and summoned two plates with elevated rims from the replicator before walking over to where the prepared food was waiting. She took a salad fork and spun a ball of spaghetti cooked to a perfect al dente from the colander, plating it right in the center of one of the plates. A healthy portion of rag├╣ bolognese followed, topped by a light dusting of freshly grated parmesan.

"And that's about it," she smiled, adding a few leaves of fresh basil for garnish and layering two hearty pieces of bread with a thick crust on the rim of the plate. "Dinner is served, mon ami. What would you like to drink? I can't recommend a glass of zinfandel enough with this."

"No offense, but I think I'm going to stay away from alcohol for the time being. You know what happened last time. Just water would be great. And it looks delicious, thank you so much Lily." He practically rubbed his hands together, completely ready to dig in and taste the food.

"Oh, that's a fair point. Okay, water it is. I might copy you. In fact, I think I will," Lilith nodded, preparing herself a plate in almost identical fashion before placing her food onto the table. She walked back to the replicator and summoned two glasses and a pitcher of ice water, making sure that the entire expense had come from her credits and rations. "Eat! Eat!" she motioned, realizing that her guest was waiting on her. "It's not as good cold, believe me."

"Hopefully you still remember what happened that night?" He gave her an odd glance as he began to devour his meal. "You'd think I hadn't eaten in days, this is so good though. I've been a bachelor far too long, need to find a wife who can cook like this. Not you!" Alta then laughed at the outburst at the end of that sentence.

"Oh yeah, drinks at Arcana, watching your eyes on me, a walk around the deck, a few more drinks... the saga continues. Somewhere along the way, I suppose you ran into Mariame," she shrugged, placing her fork back down on the table. "Oh, and stop getting so hung up on being single. Lots of awesome people are single."

Sullivan raised an eyebrow between bites of food as she watched him consume his meal. By this point, there was no doubt to the importance of sleep to the wellness of the human body and mind. It was well known and well documented. Through the small amount of sleep that Lily had managed, her perception was clearer and her awareness closer to normal than it had been at any point over the past few days. To her, something seemed off with her conversation partner.

"Alta, are you feeling alright?" Lily broke the silence. "Is there anything you wanted to talk about? I'm here for you friend."

"Yeah," he nodded seriously. "I think so. I'm just tired and confused. I need to talk to Mariame but I'm also afraid to. Does that make sense?" He looked over at her.

"It does, I'm afraid. I have been in your shoes before, it definitely sucks. You know, with whatever's going on with some of the crew, it's hard to determine what's real and what's rumor. That said, I can offer from my limited experience that if you're feeling a concern, then it's valid. You deserve an answer for your questions. And take it from me," she paused to take another bite of pasta, "you never know if you're going to get another chance to say what you need to say. Does that make sense at all?

Alta looked at her carefully feeling as if there was a long story behind that phrase but he didn't want to push. Lily seemed like the kind of girl who would open up if and when she was ready. She'd done so to him in the arboretum when he least expected it. "It does. I'll go find her when we're finished here."

"Good, I'm rooting for you. If I can help somehow, just let me know and I will," Lily nodded before beginning to collect the used dishes from the table. A quick jaunt to the replicator was all it took and any evidence of the culinary adventure she had undertaken vanished with a flash of light. Returning to the table, she took the pitcher of water and refilled both of their glasses.

"You know," she sat back down at the table and took a drink of water, "I wasn't totally straightforward with you earlier today. I did meet somebody, and I like her a lot. But I'm also terrified that one or both of us has had our emotions affected by the implants in our brains. Honestly, I'm trying not to think too much about it and just stay in the moment, but it's hard."

"Well I'm sure sickbay's been a little busy with everything going on. But have you been checked out, do you know for sure you have an implant and that this other lady does as well? Lily, I'm not sure I'm one to be giving advice but I would go where your heart takes you right now, even if later it's not leading you into the same place. I went against my better judgement and made myself miserable for thirty years. Don't go down the same path."

"Yeah, well, I kinda had that in mind when I started down this path. So we'll see. Like I said, right now, I'm happy as a clam and ain't nobody gonna take that from me," she beamed. "Now here, let me have your dishes, and I'll clean up around here so it looks less like a war zone and more like your quarters again."

"You have so much energy," He grinned. "So I'm going to let you take care of an old man." He leaned back in his chair watching her for a moment. "Can I be snoopy and ask who the lucky lady is?"

"Oh come now, you really expect me to be convinced that you don't know?" Lily shot him a look of disbelief as the last of the pots and pans disappeared. "Think about it silly, there's a bunch of rumors out there. Which one seems believable to you?"

"Well I would guess it was the lady you tried to capture the streaker with. But I don't know who that was, Jane didn't mention it. I guess she knew you and I knew each other. And I've been a bit preoccupied with my own thoughts to pay attention to rumors." he chuckled. "Besides, it will do you good to come clean and just tell me the name." He smiled innocently at her.

With her elbow on the counter, Lily propped her head up on her left hand, lips drawn to one side of her mouth. She tucked her hair behind her ear before turning to face Alta. "Oh fine, you win. You'd figure it out eventually anyway," she huffed. "Her name is Cassie, and she's the best. She laughs at my terrible, terrible jokes. Oh, and she kept me out of trouble when I was way too drunk last night. She looks at me and I just... ah, have I mentioned that I'm a total sap? Ugh, I'm sorry Alta, I disgust myself sometimes," Lily laughed at herself.

Alta was grinning like a Cheshire cat. "Cassie the diplomatic officer? I'm meant to dinner with her in a couple of hours. Join us! I'm sure she won't mind. I need someone there to give us something to talk about so I don't bore her to death with diplomatic stuff."

"Don't have to ask me twice. I probably won't be hungry, all things considered, but I'll go anywhere where there's good conversation going on. How do I look? Presentable? Oh gosh, why am I nervous all of a sudden?"

"Whoa, calm down girl. You always look pretty and there's no reason to be nervous, it's just dinner and conversation and you've probably talked with her before right?" Alta chuckled. "Maybe just run a brush through your hair . . . "

Lily shot him an icy glare, freezing into position for comedic effect before breaking into a hearty chuckle. She reached into her pocket to retrieve her PADD and looked at her untamed mane through the reflection on the screen. There were no two ways about it - Alta was right.

She definitely needed a brush.

"Is it bad that I'm tempted to use a fork to comb out my hair first?" she smirked as she walked towards the replicator to retrieve a brush. "Sometimes, I think I should just shave it all off and rock the short hair for a while. Ooh, let's see if I can get the flip right today." Lily bent at the waist and started a kinetic chain reaction that ended with snap of her head in an attempt to get the mop on her head to bend to her will.

"Ugh," she grunted in defeat. "Messy bun time?"

Alta smiled. "If you're not too weirded out by it . . . may I? I'm pretty good at braids." He held out his hand for the brush and waited to see what her response would be.

"Stop it Alta, you don't weird me out," Lily arched an eyebrow. "As long as it isn't going to make us late, I'll take all the help I can get taming this nest."

"No, we have an hour and a half before I was supposed to meet with her and it hopefully, depending on the state of this . . . it won't take me nearly that long."

"Okay then," Lilith plopped herself down in a chair and waited patiently.

He carefully began brushing out little pieces, working through the knots that appeared in places. Her hair was pretty healthy though and responded to his fingers and the brush, smoothing itself out so that he could brush the entire thing without hitting any snarls. "I don't think you should cut it, it just needs a little attention once in a while and it will behave." He parted her hair down the middle and then braided each side carefully before pinning both sides on the back of her head into a neat braided bun. "See, look at that. More than presentable. Cassie will stare."

"I'm impressed Alta! Wow, what am I going to do if you ever leave the ship?" Sullivan pouted, using the front facing camera on her PADD to inspect his handiwork. "Speaking of which," she turned to face him, "what's the plan with all of that? Are we bringing you with us all the way to the meetings?"

"Yeah, I'll be around until the negotiations are finished. It was more convenient for Jane to just take us with her, given there aren't a lot of starships out in this region of space."

"You know, I'll miss you when you go," Lily stood up and gave Alta a big hug.

"I'll miss you too, but I'm not gone yet so let's try to have fun while we can." He gave her a squeeze back. "And if you make it back to Earth you can always come visit me."

"You've got yourself a deal."

Alta Saulitis
Jane's Father
PNPC by Saulitis

Lilith Sullivan


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