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Two Pickled Peas in a Pod

Posted on Wed Nov 24th, 2021 @ 7:40am by Leiddem Kea (*) & Evahnae Kohl

Mission: Holoworld
Location: The Bar
Timeline: MD3 12:30
2285 words - 4.6 OF Standard Post Measure

The hiss of the doors opening and closing was normally a sound that Eva welcomed, or at the very least expected. This time, following speculation that crowded her head with possibilities but no answers, the departure of the command delegation simply left her feeling deflated. For a moment, she didn't move, staring blankly forward as her thoughts turned inwards to inspect her options, and then the brunette screwed her features into a tight grimace and reached back to slap the bar with a hand.

She propelled herself upright with renewed purpose.

"We didn't exactly empty their stores but we made a decent dent." Moving towards the trolley, she picked up a bottle in each hand to examine the labels and continued, "What did you want to keep from this?" Lifting her eyes to regard Leiddem, Eva waggled the bottle in her left hand as she put the other back in its place. "This one, I'm opening now." Her raised eyebrows became a silent invitation, a gesture towards his empty glass as she moved behind the bar to retrieve hers.

Leiddem flopped down on a chair and shrugged holding out his glass. “I will go back another time and get more.” He said not at all bothered by what had happened. He was more confused on how she was able to hide and concerned that she was bleeding enough that it had dropped onto the floor.

As much as their spoils needed to be unloaded and stored properly, Eva took very little convincing to drag herself, the bottle and her glass over to the table he'd chosen to occupy. Sinking into the chair opposite, she reached across to fill his glass with the deep burgundy wine and then followed suit with her own. "Go back?" The prospect sounded like an absolutely terrible idea, which was probably why it immediately appealed to the part of Eva's brain that handled poor decisions. "I mean, we left a lot of good stuff there but I don't know if I go back that I'll be content with just a few bottles of nectar." Her expressive eyes widened at him over a long gulp of wine. "This is turning into one of those dramatic holo-mysteries, only with higher stakes."

“You do not need to go back but I do.” He decided. The former marine could not leave a mystery unsolved. “I cannot leave the prospect of a mystery and plus the woman was gorgeous I need to know why I could not sense her. Like I do not read your mind but I know you are there. Her, it was a blank space and nothing there. It intrigues me.” He said taking a sip of the wine. It was not going down as well as the nectar.

He had a knack, or so it remained to be seen, of diffusing tension with very well-placed but possibly unintentional humor. A single, sly eyebrow regarded him whilst the twist of Eva's lips into a familiar half grin culminated in a snort of laughter that broke through some of her earlier pensiveness. "Oh, now I definitely have to go back." Her eyes teased him before Eva craned her neck around to consider the trolley of booze they'd plundered. "It's probably not good manners to try and impress someone by giving them back their own wine." She turned back to him, took a sip of her drink and then grinned. "And she already ran away from you once so you could have your work cut out, but I'm down to ride shotgun."

The man snorted. “I like a challenge.” He said thinking of Dixoho for a moment before he put those thoughts to the back of his mind. He would deal with those emotions one day but for now he had booze and a challenge. “Plus I do not think she is crew. She’s Starfleet. The voice in the distress call spoke like a fleeter.” He used to eat and breathe the fleet so knew what he was talking about.

"The challenge is half the point," Eva agreed, easing back in her chair to fold one leg over the other. The sparkle in her eyes was a tapestry of several things; their earlier drinks had created some emotional cushioning, and the wine in her hand was the start of a continued endeavour to enhance that buffer, but there was also the fact that she simply found the company of Betazoids perhaps the easiest of any, in a general sense. There had been a time where their company had been confronting, a reminder of personal deficiencies that had haunted her at her most vulnerable, but their sensibilities meshed with hers and Eva had always appreciated never having to feel like she needed to explain or, worse yet, apologise for who she was.

She tilted her head to consider him.

"If Starfleet is here, though, why are they running away from us?" Though her question was sincere, Eva offered a faint smile. "I mean, if it makes you feel any better, I don't think it was something you said."

“Who knows what happened to them. She might be trying to suss us out as we are looting.” He said casually knocking back the wine with a grimace. “Oh, it’s totally what you said or did not.” He teased pouring another glass of the burgundy liquid. It was not something he would drink normally, he preferred sweeter but it would no right then and there whilst he thought through options.

"Then I'll have to find a way to make it up to her," Eva shot back with a playful smirk, rising with her wine to slip behind the bar for a moment. In what had become a predictable cycle of late, the spiral of control had circled so far away from Eva's grasp that impulsivity had become a natural first reaction. As unnerved as she'd been during the last couple of visits to the Holoworld, the partial telepath couldn't deny an increasing curiosity that bordered on distraction. She could make a joke about it but there was some sincerity to her desire to speak with the woman again.

Having loaded herself with several more glasses and two bottles tucked under her arms, Eva scattered the table with fresh options and then reclaimed her seat. "Here, try this," she offered, handing him one of the bottles in what almost resembled a peace offering. Their first opportunity to hang out hadn't exactly lent itself towards easy camaraderie. "Medaran Riesling, has a really creamy sweetness to it. This particular label has a line of whites that they infuse with nectar, I'll keep a lookout for any." Content to finish the red, Eva watched him a moment over a sip and then asked, with boldness born of heritage and booze, "So why are you chasing after mysterious women on doomed ghost ships anyway? Seems kind of..." She screwed up her nose in thought. "...a long shot, as far as relationships go."

“Beautiful mysterious woman is all I need.” He said simply as he took a sip. He let out a soft noise at the woman and raised the glass to her in congratulations that the man liked. “But seriously I am not that shallow I swear. The look she gave me intrigued me, was like she was looking into my soul. Not many people can do that.” He blushed but even when he thought the woman a hologram he thought she was otherworldly.

Leave it to a Betazoid to romanticise the strangest things. Eyes meeting across crowded rooms was a fairly standard trope and Eva had certainly seen instant attraction play out time and time again in the spaces that she managed but there was something extra special about magnetism in the midst of peril. The oddness of it, however, gave it more credibility or at least left her feeling a degree of sympathy for the fact that he was being quite genuine in his distraction. It softened her features, and her tone, though the slow manipulation of alcohol in her system did little to curb the bartender's usual bluntness. "Well, you know once they send more people to sweep the ship again, she's just going to be harder to find unless she chooses to be. She risked a lot by making herself known to us." She lifted her eyes to the ceiling in an effort to piece her thought process into a cohesive idea. "Maybe we should have followed."

“She would have been long gone by the time we realised.” Leiddem said with a shrug. He could not feel guilty over not going after the woman when it had been a good fifteen minutes or so. He was thinking through exercises and how to approach each route one at a time. “We did our best by coming back and alerting everyone else. They will be on the look out better.”

But that wasn't exciting. She didn't say as much but, now that they were distanced from the unexpected eeriness of the strange woman's appearance and prompt disappearance, and now that they'd consumed at least two more drinks, Eva was feeling a tiny bit frustrated that they'd turned tail and fled instead of investigating further. She was also a smidge disappointed that her drinking partner, who had apparently experienced heart-pounding revelations in the single blink of an eye, could not at least address the obvious romanticism in the air. Why did guys never understand the point of the chase!

It was clearly a pointless topic though and, rather than go around in circles, Eva finished her glass off in a single mouthful and then poured fresh. "It's a shame she interrupted when she did anyway," she declared with a sly smirk. "I'm pretty sure you were about to plan an intergalactic bar crawl, right?"

“Oh, I am not the type to plan an intergalactic bar crawl. Should ask Gregnol and Jeassaho.” He said grinning widely. “Half the crew have been picked up via a bar brawl or them getting into trouble into a bar.” He explained feeling a bit like he was slipping down memory lane. “So were you picked up in a bar?” He wondered realising he had no idea how she joined the crew and he really wanted away from himself.

"Did Gregnol pick me up in a bar?" Eva rephrased that with just enough inflection to deviate from his intended meaning. Phrasing was important. She raised her eyebrows at him over her glass but took a moment to look circumspect as she conceded to answer the question the way he had meant rather than the way it had sounded. "I mean, kind of? I do own one." She grinned. "And he did put up the job vacancy but whatever way you want to look at it, I technically found you."

"Oh... so I was picked up in a bar?" Leiddem asked with a grin as she played along with his silliness. He pushed the glass away knowing his limit if he wanted to go and search the ship for the woman or do anything worthwhile that day.

That earned him a genuine laugh and an immediate plunge into self-depreciation. "If that's the case, I'm off my game. It took you less than half an hour to make eyes at someone else." A hand settled over her heart as Eva lamented, with exaggerated regret, the disappointment of second place.

The man laughed and put a hand on hers. "I think we are all off our games at the moment." He assured with a gentle smile before he pulled back and rolled his neck trying to figure out his next move.

"I'm not even sure I have a game anymore." The admission, truthful or not, was made with a resigned huff of laughter that put an end to any elaboration. A few glasses had relaxed her but Eva was several bottles away from proper intoxication. She watched him a moment over the dregs of her final glass and, after a moment, commented, "You should visit New Orleans some time. New Bourbon Street would probably make your mother disown you." She winked at him. "Worth it though."

Leiddem just offered a smile. He could see that something deep down bothered her but he did not know her well enough despite the bonding session to pry into it just yet. Another time, another place. "What makes you think I have not already been there? I was a marine." The man said with a wink as he stood. They could not sit around all day and ponder the universe when they had things to do and people to find.

"Trust me," Eva grinned. "You've not seen the best of it. Tourists never do." Without rising, Eva sized up the Betazoid for a moment and then quirked her eyebrow at him. "Maybe I'll give you the local's tour one day." She held his gaze just long enough for hers to soften and the conversation made its inevitable circle back to its beginning. "Be careful over there, yeah? The offer to ride shotgun still stands."

"I would like that." He assured with a nod. It would be interesting to see somewhere from someone who lived there. "I will be careful. You can come along if you want to. I am going to gather a crew." He liked safety in numbers.

A crew? It had been a long time since Eva had been part of anything that passed as a crew. The concept coaxed a faint smile and a glass lifted in toast before the last of the wine went down in one gulp. "I'll be ready."


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