Title: Food for Thought

Author: MJ

Author's e-mail: mjr91@aol.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/mj/

Date: 05/01/03

Rating: PG


Pairing: R/other, obviously.

Sequel to: Companion piece to The Food of Love

Summary: Musings about a relationship

Spoilers: Nah, not really

Archive: The usual suspects, otherwise ask

Author's note: Kyrdwyn's fault of course. Other notes, see end.

I suppose the crew thinks they should know more about me… if they think of me at all. Few do, besides some of the other officers and the crew assigned to work for me. But where would they be, if not for me? It's my job to keep them alive, isn't it?

When I do walk down the corridors, or into my work area, I don't even have a name as such—they address me formally. Rank, title, that's an officer's lot. To crew, the officers don't have identity.

And when my own staff think of me, I'm sure it's with a groan. First in, in the morning. Last out at night. Looking over their shoulders, knowing they have to do the work, knowing I can do it better myself—I just can't do *all* of it myself, and so I look on as lower-ranking, far less experienced crew try to learn the ropes and work their own way up.

I started at the bottom myself, had to prove myself. I'm not a department head on Enterprise for nothing. I've worked hard to be the best at what I do, and I am the best. I wouldn't be here otherwise. When Captain Archer was told to pick the best crew in Starfleet for this mission, I was the first name on the list for this job.

I didn't come easily, though, and I suppose I'm still a bit of a thorn in the captain's side now that I'm here. Can I help it if I want to do things properly? Can I help it if shoddy work, sloppy work, bother me? He thinks I'm a bit prickly, I suppose, and I am, I admit it. But I want the best, nothing less, so vigilance is the order of the day. I can't be as relaxed as the captain is; the results of such laxness would be devastating.

So I suppose you could also say I'm a bit of a loner. I've been asked to socialize more, but I prefer not to. There's too much to do in my job, too much I have to concentrate on, too much to learn as we travel. I have to make adjustments that no one who wasn't out here could ever anticipate—it's not like the same piece of work on Earth at all. My idea of spending free time has been to go to my station and tinker, work on new ideas, see what needs to be changed, what needs to be developed.

Until recently, I would have said I didn't have time for the luxury of a relationship. And make no mistake, a relationship is a luxury to a man like me, a man who admits he's married to his work.

I'm not sure quite what did it. We've served together on this ship since it first set course. We've seen each other every day. And, I have to admit, at first he rubbed me the wrong way.

We clashed, we argued. Not always politely. And I stood my ground—what would you expect? In my field, I'm the expert, not him. And I don't like being told what to do. Especially by someone who doesn't know the subject.

But he became a challenge to me. I needed to find out what made him tick—to find out what he wanted, what he wanted of me.

Finally, and it wasn't easy, I managed to get a clue about him. It took days, weeks, but slowly, very slowly, I began to get some insight. And then, one day, I finally got the last piece of the puzzle.

He wanted pineapple.

Pineapple? I could do pineapple.

Pineapple chicken. Ham with pineapple sauce. Carrots with pineapple glaze. Pineapple sorbet. Pineapple sundaes. Pineapple upside-down cake. They all started creeping on the menu.

The crew wanted a tropical picnic theme for one dinner. I made mai tais. With a special one with a pineapple spear in it just for him. Because he'd started to notice my food, and he'd started to mention it to me. I think he noticed his mai tai. I know he had three of them that night, and I could have sworn he made eyes at me.

I dreamed about those eyes in my sleep.

I lured him back to the galley to talk one night; I pulled out a wedge of Wensleydale with cranberries in it that I'd been hoarding, and a pile of water crackers, and I made a pot of Assam tea. I got him talking about England, about food he'd eaten in school and at home, about places he'd been and the foods he'd met.

And then, in the middle of telling me about his family's going to Malaysia, he looked up at me, right into my eyes. And he said the words that changed both of our lives.

"Have you ever had Malaysian pineapple rice?"

Me, of all people—there I was, lacking in a culinary experience. But I'm not too proud to admit there's something I don't know. And we were out in space to explore—I might have been learning and cataloguing alien foods, but I could also learn a few new foods from back home while I was out here.

It was 2200, and all I could do was hand him an apron and a knife, and grab the nearest PADD.

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles a knife. His cuts were even, precise, nearly surgical—not as rapid as someone who cooks regularly, of course, but nicely done. And he knew to go easy on the blade. Respect for a knife is important. I suppose it is to the weapons men as well as it is to the galley crew, because he certainly had it.

He chopped, diced, deveined a few shrimp. And when he was done, he looked over at me and asked me if I felt like stir-frying.

Trust me, no one stir-fries the way I stir-fry. I didn't work two years in a Vietnamese restaurant for nothing. He wanted to see stir-frying? He was getting stir-frying. After all, he'd already lit the fire under my wok, hadn't he?

Half an hour later, we were sitting on one of my work stations trying to feed each other with chopsticks.

An hour later, we were finding new uses for leftover pineapple.

You'd be surprised what I know how to do with food. I know I surprised him.

It's interesting, you know—here we are, probably the two most private people on the ship, together. But maybe that's why. Maybe that's one of the things we see in each other.

That, and my having a pair of hands that can do things most people only dream about.

Like making pineapple truffles with dark chocolate coating.

The ones I'm making right now. I think it's going to be a very, very interesting night.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to the author.

Star Trek and Enterprise are copyrighted by Paramount. We don't own 'em—we just play with them. No money was made.
Please do not repost material without requesting permission directly from the author.
Archer's Enterprise is maintained by the Webmistress.