Episode 3.5 - Welcome to Paradise
Location: Captain's Dining Room, USS Arcadia, Beta Antares Ship Yards
[Previously on Protocols and Love]
. . . . . .
Isbee flashed a full, toothy grin. "I do indeed, Captain. I felt it the first moment I saw my wife, Phylicia." The doctor didn't even need to close her eyes to recall the moment; it had been a surprise birthday party for one of the Engineering crewman on the Shawnee. The ship's lounge had been close to capacity, but the two had locked eyes across the crowded room. Phylicia had found an excuse to make conversation, and the rest was history. That had been over seven years ago, and to this day Isbee truly felt she was the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen.
"Though I can't say the same about protocols," the doctor continued, slipping back into the present moment. "I have a deep respect for both the Hippocratic Oath and the Prime Directive, but in each case we decided to remain friends." Her grin had lessened but remained, as she found herself enjoying the easy conversation with her new commander.
Oliver chuckled. "Ah, friend zone, the eternal purgatory." He took a quick glance in Korra's direction before continuing. "So, Doctor, would you and your wife like to join me for dinner tomorrow night? I'll have crewman Figuroa prepare something fresh, none of that replicator stuff."
"That sounds fantastic," Isbee smiled. "Put us down as a tentative yes. I can't imagine Licia would have a conflict, but we make it a point to consult one another before finalizing any plans." She felt her ears blush a bit as she added, "Having said that, I know she would leap at the chance to have dinner with the Captain. She may no longer be a journalist, but I'm warning you now, she will most likely have question after question for you. She'll keep it all conversational, but she has an inexhaustible curiosity."
Oliver beamed. "Well, curiosity is why we are going on a mission of exploration, Doctor. I'm looking forward to it."
. . . . . .
Oliver savored the exquisite taste and texture of his J'Roan spring sprouts before taking a small sip from his glass of Chateau LaFleur 2389. The pairing was nearly perfect.
"So, Phylicia," he said to the Isbee's wife, "the Doctor mentioned that you were a journalist?"
Phylicia politely dabbed her mouth with a napkin, quickly shooting Isbee a mischievous glance before turning her full attention to their host. "I was, Captain. Still am, on occasion... I'm a bit of a freelance writer these days. Considering trying my hand at some fiction..."
"Considering, nothing," Isbee interrupted, her face glowing with a mix of love and pride. "She's written three novels, several short stories, and has a play in the works. The only thing being considered is whether or not she wishes to publish." She flashed a large toothy smile and took a sip from her wine glass, thinking again how exquisite it tasted. Sprouts weren't always her thing, but the wine was up to the heavy lifting.
Gently teasing her own sprouts with her fork, Phylicia chuckled. "She's exaggerating of course. I've completed a handful of drafts, not anything finished. And certainly far from being ready to be read." She prepared a bite but paused before lifting it. "For what it's worth, however, my talents are at your disposal, Captain. I'm not sure what sort of press coverage you already have, and I have no interest in writing fluffy, flattering, and ultimately useless drivel, but I'm here if the need for serious work arises."
"We do have a reporter attached to us, Sayya Nurim from NAN. And I think she got the whole critical reporting covered. She's relentless." Said Oliver with a small chuckle. "But I'm sure she wouldn't mind a little competition. As for your books, whenever they are ready, I'll be happy to take a look if you want some feedback. I'm also pretty sure that we can put together a theater troupe for the plays if you are interested."
Blushing, Phylicia took a quick sip of wine. "That is very kind of you, Captain. However, competition was one of the many reasons I 'retired' from the profession. I will of course introduce myself, and let her know she can call on me to cover if needed." She subtly reached over to clasp hands with Isbee, gently stroking her fingers. "As far as my work, I wasn't being modest when I called them drafts." Feeling Isbee about to dissent, she gave her wife's hand a gentle squeeze. "That being said, it isn't often you travel on a starship with an actual working theater. But that's more you're area of interest, isn't it, love?"
Isbee admired her partner's conversational jujitsu, and simply nodded. "It's true, I am a bit of a performer. Does Arcadia have a theater troupe of its own?"
"You are full of surprises, aren't you Doctor?" Oliver said with a teasing smile. "Well, the Kesorian Theater Group was supposed to accompany us on our mission of exploration and to help showcase the Federation's diverse cultural traditions to any new civilizations we might encounter, but they pulled out in the last minute, so no, I'm afraid we currently don't have theater troupe on board. But we are a big ship with a large crew, not to mention all the civilians, who come from a wide range of backgrounds. I don't think it would be hard to start our own community theater troupe. Actually now that I think about, that's great way to bring the Starfleet and the non-Starfleet members of the crew together. Would you guys be interested in taking charge of it?"
It was silent for a moment, and then both women spoke at once.
"I think that sounds like a marvelous idea and we'd..."
"At this point, I'm unsure if my duties as CMO would..."
There was another pause as the women exchanged a look, and proceeded to have one of those wordless conversations that longtime couples could conduct. Phylicia looked intrigued, Isbee looked concerned, Phylicia looked hopeful, Isbee looked annoyed. The pair continued to ask and answer unspoken questions until Isbee turned back to the captain.
"We'll need to discuss this before we make any commitments."
"But," Phylicia added, unable to contain her enthusiasm at the prospect, "... it is idea full of merit. Thank you for considering us, Captain. Even if we are unable to accept, you will have to see Isbee do some scenes from The Voyager Monologues. She does an exquisite Janeway."
Oliver watched his guests conversed with each other in silence. He had always believed in and profited from the power and the magic of the spoken word both professionally and personally, but the wordless intimacy and understanding he was witnessing were nothing short of spellbinding. They were enviable, and part of him was envious.
Intrigued by Phylicia's revelation, he turned to his chief medical officer, and with a grin he said, "Is that right? I haven't had a chance to watch the play since it came out last year, but I heard the Admiral herself was quite fond of it. Perhaps you can be the first to give a live performance of the play in the Gamma Quadrant where we are headed?"
"Maybe," Isbee offered. "If we have enough coffee. That's my key to Janeway's character."
"That's right," Phylicia laughed. "I forgot how caffeinated you got during that show. I don't know if I can handle that again."
The doctor joined in with the laughter, remembering some funny anecdotes she thought it best not to share with her new CO. Once she'd regained composure, she lifted her wine and glanced his way. "What about you, Captain? Any hidden talents?"
Oliver rubbed the back of his neck as he considered the question.
"Well," he said with a big smile, "I do bake some really good muffins, if I may say so myself."
The truth was, he only learned how to bake muffins to impress his former chief medical officer on the Bunker Hill. She was impressed alright, but not so much by his muffins as by his effort - he did burn the muffins twice before finally getting it right. His guests, however, did not need to know that detail. It was not the time to be humble. Was there ever?
"Unfortunately I haven't done any baking since I came aboard the Arcadia, but if you are interested in muffins by any chance, I'd love to try out that brand new oven Chef Figuroa has just had installed."
"I think we'd love that too, Captain," Isbee agreed. "Speaking of, I think I see the next course on it's way. More wine, anyone?"
Captain Oliver A. Lee
USS Arcadia NCC-89015
Lieutenant Commander Isbee Foster
Chief Medical Officer
USS Arcadia NCC-89015
(NPC - Isbee)