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Stardate: 1703.30 [29 March, 2017]
The Betting Pool
- Jules Verne [Around the World in 80 Days]
Ryan Winnetka approached the large table, his hands full with frosted mugs. Behind him Jessie Jessup and Rico Suave followed with four pitchers of golden beer. The security officers set everything on the table and the Chicago native picked up a pitcher, moving it in front of the nurse. Ryan raised his brow when Cana failed to acknowledge the offering. He turned his eyes to follow her line of sight.
Grumbling softly, she stared at the closed doors that led separated the bar and the kitchen. She leaned against the edge of the table, brown eyes narrowing as she willed herself to have the power to see beyond the opaque walls. Cana Graves was, by nature, a patient woman - one had to be when one was so in tune with the rumour circuit of a starship. Stories moved like the currents, and it didn’t do to fall victim to knowing only the half truth. So, she’d learn to bide her time and wait. Yet, the nurse was finding her patience wearing thin as she thought of two particular crew members.
“What’s gotten into Cana?” Rico asked Jessie quietly, his light brown eyes following the other two. The blonde security officer shrugged in response as he poured himself a beer.
Mark Huntsman, Sreagon, Steven Klein, Pierce Takaesu, and Jackson Mccaslin made their way into the lounge, laughing amongst themselves as they approached the large table that had been set up for their weekly game. Dasre Lebaun followed shortly after, carrying a covered plate of cookies.
“What the frak are they doing in there? And, it better not be baking,” the nurse finally asked aloud. She crossed her arms over her chest as she stared at the closed doors.
Rico glanced at Jessup before looking to the nurse. “What else would they be doing?”
The nurse turned to the smaller of the security officers but then stopped as she stared at Dasre. Her slender finger shot out and she pointed to the plate in her hands. “What the hell is that?” She waited a beat before her eyes narrowed at the Trill. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The woman blinked as she stopped in her tracks, looking from Cana to the other guys as she blushed gently. “I just thought I’d bring something to help out Ellie,” Dasre stammered quietly. The security officer hesitantly removed the cloth from the plate and set it on the table, resting the plate on top of it.
Jessie and Ryan shared knowing looks but said nothing. “Anyone see Battey?” asked Jessie.
Cana waved her hand. “Last minute wedding plans. They get hitched in two weeks, so-”
Rico raised his brows. “That’s gonna be awkward, Sal is the best man and Annesley as maid of honor.” The Latin native shook his head and glanced at Cana. “So why isn’t Sal helping with that?”
Sreagon glanced at the plate of cookies and took one of the treats. “Does anyone know who Ellie’s bringing?” He stared at the little circle and took a bite. He nodded in approval.
The nurse shook her head. “Ellie’s going solo.” She turned her head towards the kitchen and grumbled softly.
Ryan shifted on his feet, leaning closer toward Cana. “Sal could still bring her. I’ll mention it to him.” He rolled his eyes as he lifted his mug of beer to sip. “Love the guy like a brother, but he’s such a doofus.”
The Rigelian shrugged. “Maybe he’s just not interested anymore. We all know how he is.”
“Was,” Winnetka interjected defensively, frowning toward Sreagon.
“Don’t make me frakking smack you,” growled the nurse as she stared at Sreagon with annoyance. She ran her fingers through her short brown hair. “Those two are totally made for each other. If this were a holo-cartoon, they’d have heart-shaped eyes. It’s driving me insane.”
Jessie snickered to himself at the image, hiding his mirth behind a swig of beer. He sat down and tapped his hand on the table. “We gonna play cards or matchmaker?” The farm boy nodded toward the others as they all started settling at the table.
“They’ll get together eventually,” Ryan attempted to soothe the nurse. “Sal’s real close.”
“My money’s on never,” grumbled Sreagon as he grumpily fell into a seat. “That ship’s sailed.” He sounded more hopeful than he did convinced.
Jessup shrugged as he glanced toward the Rigelian. “As cute as they would be together, I don’t see it happening either.”
Cana glared at Jessie and the Rigelian. “How about you?” She pointed to the other officers who joined them for game night. “Think they’ll get it together?”
Mark shrugged as well, a tense grin hidden behind his mug of beer. “Only for selfish reasons I say no.” Huntsman had a crush on the engineer, like many of the guys did, but he was gentlemanly about not drooling over the woman.
Quietly, the nurse continued to stare at the kitchen. Several long minutes passed as she considered assisting the security chief and the engineer. With so many officers after both Gideon and Marielle, she could easily inspire others to get involved. All the two needed was a push, and Cana wondered if perhaps several people pushing for the pairing could be just what the two needed. Nothing could motivate quite like a betting pool. “Twenty-five credits say they’ll get together in a few days,” she finally interjected over the soft murmuring of voices.
Winnetka smirked to himself as he glanced from Cana to the door leading into the kitchen. “I’ll put fifty credits on a month.”
“Hundred credits on never,” Sreagon grumbled as he nursed his beer.
“Seventy-five on three weeks.”
“Fifty on two months.”
“We’ve gotta let Battey in on this.”
The nurse held up her hands. “Okay. Okay. So there’s interest then?” She glanced around and watched as everyone nod. Her smile grew, turning more sly and mischievous by the second. “Great. Those interested, come see me tomorrow. I’ll get the books ready.”
“So what’re the qualifiers?” asked Jessie.
“I’ll come up with the details tomorrow. Just show up with credits on hand. Got it?” She pointed to the bodies in the mess.
There was a murmur that ran through the security team as they discussed amongst themselves. No one really confirmed or denied their desire to get involved until they were aware of the parameters of the bet, though everyone seemed anxious to know.
“You’re not serious,” Marielle laughed softly, the sound warm and inviting, as she crossed over the threshold. She carried a platter of beautifully decorated cannoli. The engineer looked up at the security chief as he moved beside her, flawless verdant hues twinkling with joy.
“One hundred percent,” Gideon verified as he lifted a tray above his head, his smile growing with his short laugh. They walked side by side toward the gaming table that had been set up for them, the tray of dipping sauces balanced easily on his shoulder. “He fell face first into a puddle of mud right in front of the ambassador.”
“Oh that’s fantastic!” she exclaimed, her lilting laugh only growing louder.
“I’ll take fifty credits on four days,” muttered Jackson as he passed the nurse. He watched the pair carefully before taking his seat at a card table.
The engineer paused in front of the designated table, her eyes staring down at the solitary platter of cookies. “Oh,” her head leaned to one side as she frowned. “I probably shouldn’t have made so much dessert.” She placed her silver tray down and turned it slightly. “I have one more tray in the kitchen. Petit fours of everyone’s favourite.”
Dasre Lebaun glanced toward Gideon a moment before looking apologetically toward Marielle. “I just wanted to help, they say you make things for them every week.” Her gaze shifted to Sreagon as she noticed he took another cookie from the plate, an appreciative smile on her features.
She smiled kindly at the Trill. “I do. It was super sweet, Dasre,” the engineer soothed. “I’ll just tell Bihraos to take the tray of petit fours. He’ll love it.” The engineer grabbed a cookie and made her way back to the kitchen.
“But you said they were our favorites!”
“Yeah, I’d hate to turn away your lemon bars.”
“Did you make those s’mores tarts?”
“I’ll make them again next week,” she glanced around at the pouting security officers. “I’d give Bihraos the cannoli, but the shells were freshly fried. They’d be soggy tomorrow after being filled.” Marielle attempted to reason with them, but she had a strange feeling that it was futile. The engineer took a bite of the cookie, noting the extra hard crunch to the bite and wrinkled her nose slightly as her mouth dissected the treat. ‘Baked on high heat, granulated sugar. Used weak instead of strong flour. Chocolate ratio is lacking. Taste is there, texture’s off.’ She hummed softly in thought.
Gideon chuckled to himself, shaking his head. “Just bring them out, El. You know these guys will eat them.” The half-Bajoran stepped away from the table and made his way back toward the kitchen.
“Sure, but Dasre made cookies. It’d be rude to turn them away,” she argued. Before they reached the door leading to the kitchen, the engineer offered the second half up to the security chief.
“They’re all like garbage disposals, they’ll eat every bit of what’s in front of them,” he returned easily as he picked the cookie from her fingers with his teeth. The Betazoid mix hummed quietly at the crunch, his jaw moving slowly to minimize the volume as he chewed.
“But, you’ve been complaining about how their uniforms are getting snug,” she argued teasingly as she licked her fingers clean after Gideon’s teeth scraped along her fingertips. Marielle poked Gideon playfully in the stomach. “Though, I still say we’ve got a kettle and pot situation here.”
Cana watched quietly as Marielle fed Gideon, noting the close proximity and the soft blush on the engineer’s cheeks. “So damn perfect together,” she muttered in irritation as the engineer’s bright lilting laughter filled the lounge again. Once the pair disappeared into the kitchen, the nurse turned to the security team. “It’s gonna happen, and someone’s gonna get rich out of it.” She nodded once with certainty and reached for her beer, falling into the seat next to Winnetka as she drank straight from the frosty pitcher. “I think it’s time we organized a party. Two days.”
Ryan hummed in warning, wanting to shake his head. “That’s iffy. You seen Sal in anything but his uniform since the Lorelei? Guy’s still anxious about his scars.”
She waved off the man’s concerns. “He’ll show. If Ellie’s there, he’ll show.” The nurse pulled out the packet of worn cards. “Alright. What’s the game for tonight?” Cana turned her head once more to the kitchen as Gideon and Marielle exited together. A sly smile kept her face lit with a devilish twinkle and she nodded to herself. Even if she lost, she’d win.
Copyright 2017. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud and Gideon M. Salieri, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its author. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.