Episode 67: Denial All Around

SHE SAID YES. Cadet Gotobed swallowed once. It barely registered he was nodding. SHE SAID YES. “Okay, I’ll send it over for you then.” Now all he had to do was separate her from her two lacketys during the party and hopefully ring in the New Year right! “You too! Have a nice break!” He mentally chastised himself to ease a little bit. He didn’t want to scare her aware. No. He needed to play it cool. The same way she was always so cool. It was time to work on his game plan.

Zletka heard Rao’s pad ping, but upon seeing Rao was back in the bathroom she picked up the padd herself. “Marcus is on his way for you.” She held back a chuckle when Rao almost dropped her face brush. “What?” Rao began rushing through washing her face. “What does that mean? He takes five steps and he’s on the other side of the grounds!” Pulling her hair free from the t-shirt, Rao quickly changed and urged her air to air dry. When Marcus arrived, Rao was applying the finishing touches. “Can you let him in? Please and thank you.” The smile she shot Zletka won her over initially, but seeing the flowers Marcus held only further solidified it. “Hello Marcus.” Zletka gestured for him to the enter.

Rao stepped out of the bathroom expecting…literally nothing. Instead she was staring flowers. “Oh! Thank you!” Taking the flowers she smiled. “I-” Surprise etched her features, “Yeah. I guess it is a custom.” Her smile a grew soft. It wasn’t one that she’d personally seen done often, but that wasn’t saying much.”A performance? Sure. I’d be up for it.” She nodded, her eyes going a bit wide at the mention of food trucks. “Well, I mean…” She laughed a bit. “We can’t NOT try the food trucks. That’d just be rude.”

Zletka could tell her roommate was blushing, but didn’t comment on it. “Here, I’ll put them in the vase from last time, so it doesn’t hold you two up.” Taking the flowers from her roommate she began setting them. Not all of them fit initially prompting her to get creative. In the end it looked a bit like a flower tower, but it did the job.

“Thanks Zletka, I’ll be back later!” Rao gave her a wink before disappearing out the door.

Rao was completely engrossed in the food trucks, unsure of which to try first and how much she wanted to test the limitation of her stomach. Glancing at Marcus it was unfair. He could probably try one of everything and be fine. If she did that she’d become a beached walrus and need to be carried home. Pulling him along she asked him about his day and such until she finally found it- the food truck that would rule them all tonight…the taco truck. It wasn’t until she had a taco in one hand and his hand in the other that she was finally content to relax. When he stopped she didn’t notice at first until she was jerked back. Turning to see what was wrong she wasn’t sure if it was a question or a demand. All of the words came at her so fast she almost felt a little stunned. “Wednesday night…?” A Romulan Embassy event? Her expression grew a bit uncertain. “I don’t know what Zletka is doing yet, buuuut… “ Rubbing his hand with the back of her thumb she tried to think. Did she want to go? She didn’t really know. It wasn’t really because it was a Romulan event, but more that it was an Embassy event and… She looked up at him. Why did he have to have THAT face?! “…I don’t have any plans.” And she was damn sure going to make sure Zletka didn’t have any either. “Is there any specific theme or dress code we should know about?”

The question of where Sunsan disappeared to when she stayed in Marcus’ bed was weighing on Rao’s mind when they arrived back on campus. “Hey, tonight I’m going to stay at my place.” She wasn’t sure if he was expecting her to stay with him or not, so she figured keep it simple. Not about to try and climb the tree of life, she opted for pulled him down so she could kiss him properly. One sweet kiss soon devolved to the point she wondered if Vinaa was messing with her in some crazy way. “I’ll see you tomorrow or Wednesday?” Going back in for another series of kisses a funny thought came to mind: Marcus was more about kissing on the cheek in public whereas she was more…full on. “Okay, I’m going to bed. I’ll message you what Zletka says.” The words came out in a rush as she began to walk backwards.

Rao wasted no time when she arrived back in her room. Zletka was still fast asleep so she typed up a message for her to see when she woke up. It laid everything about- well, everything Rao knew about it which was mainly the day and the time and the fact they were going to need dresses.
The following morning Tarique stood with his hands linked behind his back, dark eyes appraising his colleague’s prototype warp core. Normally she was early but in this case she was exactly one minute and twenty-seven seconds late.

“Morning!” Rao’s familiar voice earned a the Vulcan’s attention though he had known the very moment she entered the building. “Good morning. You look well rested.” He observed evenly. Rao nodded, “Yeah, last night I decided to take a break instead of…” She trailed off at the realization of what she’d almost told him. “I just decided to take a break.” Rao repeated again before walking over to her harness. “So what’s up?”

“Cadet Zletka informed me of your new arrangements with Chief D’aunchel.” Tarique stated. “Oh yeah, I got the notification Saturday and popped over on Sunday. Turns out I’m going to be assisting the lead Engineers.” Rao cut in while hooking herself up properly. “Under the supervision of Chief D’aunchel I presume.” Tarique found navigating around Rao a rather weary endeavor. “Um…Well I saw him in the beginning when he introduced me, but after I was on my own with the others. I think they meet with him after I leave, maybe? I’m not really sure since I’ve only been at it one day.” Rao shrugged inbetween hosting herself into the air. “Has anything peaked your interest yet?” Tarique asked directly. “Not really. Just a few systems rerouting ideas so far.”

“I am curious. You discovered a flaw in the middle of construction resulting in the immediate need of alterations and have now been requested to aid in the implementation. It is a logical step to keep you from divulging information It will also provide a strain on your other projects given time constraints.” Tarique replied calmly. “Hmm…” Rao couldn’t exactly argue that point. “True. I guess it is a smart way to keep me quiet since I’m sure they don’t want someone babbling on about the complications…” She reached her arm in one of the openings. “But I didn’t plan on running wild with the information anyway and so long as the ships turn out fine there isn’t anything to really worry about.” Rao’s face contorted as she tried to reach something until she finally got it. “There go.” Pulling a box out of the panel she let herself descend to hand it over. “Happy Holidays.” She smiled.

The first year Rao had presented him with a gift he had provided resistance, but now he accepted it without question. “This is representative of the array of Terran holidays which occur during this general time period.” From the weight of the box it was difficult to ascertain what was inside. “That’s right. You can open it whenever you’d like. The main gift exchange is normally-.” “Normally after your holiday trip.” Tarique remembered. “Yes! That’s right! You can save it for then.” Rao’s joy was easy to read even from their distance. “Thank you, Cadet Rao. I will wait until the specified day.” He tucked the gift under his arm before switching the subject over to their usual topic- cores.

When their time came to an end he held the door open for Rao. “Do you have any plans for the break?” Rao asked, switching over to a casual conversation as soon as they stepped out onto the main grounds. “I have been requested to play the Ka’athyra for a Vulcan event this evening. Other than that I am not certain yet.” He tilted his head. “And yourself?”

“Aside from working I’m going to a Romulan event with Marcus tomorrow night.” Rao said it as if she were still coming to terms with it. “I see.” Tarique simply processed the information. “Yeah…well, good luck at your performance. I’ll catch you later.” Rao gave him a wave before peeling off towards the trams. “Indeed.” Tarique nodded. Given the time he was unsure when Cadet Wells would attempt to reach out. In any case he already had everything for the evening laid out in his room.


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