Cold Chicken and Beer? Yes, please!
Episode 2: Inevitable
Location: USS Defiant - Mess Hall
Timeline: Two Days Prior To Home Sweet Home
Dustin had awoken sometime in the middle of gamma shift, wide awake, and suddenly very hungry. Throwing on a pair of sweats, and a tank-top he padded his way to the mess hall, and from there back into the kitchens, and checked to see what might be available for him to raid this late. That meant his choices, in a lot of cases, were things that kept well refrigerated. Finally settling on a plate of cold fried chicken he pulled it out and removed the stasis cover from it. He noticed a section of some sort of beer in the cooler beside the fridge and grabbed one of those two. Turning to go back to the mess hall and eat, a chicken leg clamped in his teeth, he uttered a muffled scream, eyes going wide, and nearly dropped the plate, and the beer, as he found himself staring at the figure of a woman he'd never met before leaning against the door frame.
Once he noticed her Niamh pushed away from the frame and entered the mess hall. "I take it I'm not the only person feeling a little sleep averse tonight?" She said chuckling at Dustin's panicked expression, "sorry for the scare, I reckon that's not going help you relax anytime soon" she said wiping a tear from her eye, "Lieutenant Niamh O'Donoghue, the ship's counsellor" she greeted once she was close enough.
Looking slightly helpless as he realized he had no free hands Dustin wasn't sure what exactly to do. Nodding to the other room and trying to communicate that they should continue to the mess hall so he could set everything down he started moving, hoping she'd be able to tell what he meant. Her following him with a slightly bemused expression on her face was a good sign.
Once they'd reached a table he set his food down and removed the chicken leg from his mouth. "Sorry about that, ma'am. Dustin Campbell, helm," he said in his deep-voiced southern drawl, wiping his hand off on his sweats and holding it out to shake.
"And don't worry about the scare. I've had worse," he added with a grin.
"Niamh" the counsellor corrected as she took her seat. She'd grabbed herself a beer when the pair had made to leave the kitchen. One wouldn't harm her and she was working beta shift later on. Her schedule rotated through the shifts to ensure availability.
"So, Dustin, what's got you up?" she asked as she retrieved a parcel from the bag she'd been carrying. The mess had a wide variety of foods for the crew to choose from, but they only had what they'd stocked up on when they'd left the dock. Niamh had particular taste's and her cravings were usually specific so she'd brought a selection on board with her when she joined them after Arcadia. Tonight's snack was Eccles cakes.
"Honestly? Not a damn thing. I've been like this all my life," Dustin replied, taking another bite of chicken and popping the top off his beer bottle. Taking a swig he continued, "I'll just randomly wake up in the middle of the night starving and make my way to the closest source of food. My mom used to joke that I was going to end up fat because I'd eat so much and then go straight back to sleep, but somehow it never happened."
Niamh nodded as she nibbled on her cake, "Maybe a heartier supper is in order?" she joked, placing the cake back down onto its wrapper and grabbing for the beer, "Probably blessed, or cursed depending on your perspective, with a high metabolism. Some of us lowly humans have to go to the gym regularly in order to maintain our physiques" she added before taking a drink from the bottle.
"Yeah, I've heard about that. Sounds terrible," Dustin quipped back. "So, what about you? Why are you up and about?"
"I rotate my shift's throughout the week so that I'm available to everyone at least once a week. Today's is the beta so I get a bit of a lie-in." She shared putting her drink down and returning to her cake, "I got bored of reading my book so decided to grab a drink".
"Solid plan," Dustin noted, taking another bite, and washing it down with a quick swig of his beer. "I've never been much of a reader, I prefer to be active during my down-time. Spend a lot of time in the gym, and recently I've even gotten into a form of entertainment that was very popular back in the twenty-first century. It's called video games. Had to get a special console made just to play them, but I can see why it was appealing."
Realizing he'd started to ramble Dustin brought himself back and smiled, "Sorry, so what book were you reading?" he asked.
"They also come with the benefit of making your attention and visuospatial more efficient overtime" Niamh added casually, "I was reading The People Next Door, a suspenseful thriller authored by a 21st-century writer named Christopher Ransom, it's quite the page turned," she said, "What were you playing?"
"I keep alternating between games, one I've become absolutely addicted to is called Kingdom Hearts, and I have absolutely no idea why..." Dustin replied. "Are thrillers your favorite type of book?" he asked.
"Typically, I like reading books that demand attention," Niamh responded, "what's your game about? I'm unfamiliar with retro games" she admitted.
"It's about a boy that lives on an island with friends, and one day a massive storm blows in and he's swept away to a fantastical place where he teams up with other people, some of them characters from old movies and such, to fight these dark creatures called the Heartless. It's pretty involved, and a lot of fun," Dustin replied.
Niamh nodded as she listened to Dustin explain the game. Video games had never been her cup of tea, but his enthusiasm piqued her interest, "Sounds fun, I can't say I've ever played a game before, I was far too devoted to my education growing up" she said with a bit of a frown. She'd learned to live during her academy days but before that, all Niamh knew was school and Academy prep.
"Nothin' wrong with that, actually. If I'd been a bit more devoted to my education I might have ended up in a whole different kind of position. But it's alright, I like my work, and I'm glad I was given this opportunity while Lieutenant Rawlins is gone," Dustin replied.
"I can't say I'm too familiar with Rawlins, we did work together during the Typhon incident but nothing beyond that" Niamh shared thoughtfully, "I imagine he'll be thoroughly pleased with the work you've done in his stead" she suggested with a smile.
"Thanks! I sure hope he is," Dustin replied energetically. "I didn't get to work with him at all, but he seemed like a very good officer when I met him the day I came aboard. And the way he had the department set up, and running, was pretty impressive as well," he added with a smile.
"What are your plans when he returns?" Niamh asked curiously. Dante's return was set to be soon according to the most recent officer's bulletin. Hand-offs could get messy, though she expected it would be pretty straightforward based on what she'd observed to be Dustin's character, "Will you stay or do you have another assignment lined up?" she probed.
"That last part hasn't been decided yet, actually. But if I do stay I'll just step down into a more support type role, and stay on as just a helmsman. I came into this knowing it wasn't a permanent position, but I knew it would give me a great experience to help me later on down the road," Dustin replied, taking the last sip of his beer.
"Well, we'd be better for it if you stayed. With our track record, we could do with keeping hold of good officers", the counselor comment in reference to the Defiant's knack for finding itself in the thick of it.
Dustin blushed slightly, "Thanks, I would be glad to stay, but that's the nature of our careers. Sometimes we don't get what we would be happy with," he said with a light chuckle.
"I always have," Niamh joked with a grin, "truth be told, I'd be happy to serve anywhere so long as I'm being helpful" Niamh finished.
Polishing off the chicken leg he'd been devouring with relish Dustin nodded, "Same here, honestly. So long as I can do a good job and be of service I'll be good to go," he said. "Well, Niamh, I suppose I had better try to get at least some sleep. I wish you a good night, and pleasant dreams once you do finally make your way to bed. Thanks for the chat!" he added, standing to take his dishes away.
"No worries," Niamh said wiping her hands on a napkin before standing up politely, "I'm gunna' stay," she said gesturing to her half-eaten food, "it was lovely to meet you, all the best for the future. I'm sure whatever happens will be pleasant" she said extending her hand.
Shaking the woman's hand Dustin nodded, "Enjoy your snack."