Raw Fish

Sandford arrived at the Creole Sushi Restaurant, looking at the chronometer and then suddenly thinking he was an hour early. “No, she definitely said 1400…” He reminded himself as he walked in, looking around for Addie.

Addie spots Sandford from the end of the bar nearest the entry and sneaks up behind him giving him a pair of pinches on his sides.

He jumps, then turns “Sneaking up behind me eh? You better watch out! I might get used to it!” He grinned, leaning in for a hug.

Addie gives him a warm hug. “So? The place smells good. Have you eaten here before?” she asks as they proceed to the hostess’ stand.

“Lunch for two?” the Bolian hostess asks cheerfully.

“Yes, please.”

“Never eaten here before, and just to be clear, you’re paying, right?” He joked. “I do love sushi though, but never had creole sushi.”

He smiled at the Bolian hostess, then walked with Addie to the table.

“Can I get you something to drink?” The Bolian asks cheerfully.

“You’re asking a very dangerous question there…” Sandford quipped, winking at Addie. “But I shall have water.”

The Bolian kept her smile as she turned to Addie. “And for you?”

Addie gives Sandford a tempting smile as she takes her seat. “I’ll have a water as well. But I think we can sneak a large sake in after we order.”

She sits and begins pursuing the menu. “I looooove sushi too. I’m curious to see what this kind of fusion does to it? Sushi rolls with okra? Red beans and rice sashimi?” she jokes.

“I was hoping we could.” Sandford grinned at her as he looked at the menu. “Gumbo Sushi? Or is that Cajun? I can never remember…” He pointed. “Ah! They do have Red Beans and Rice! Cornbread too!”
He laughed, then looked at Addie.

“You look absolutely cracking today.” He adds.

Addie looks up from the menu with a smile. “Thank you, Jonny. And thanks for taking me to lunch.”

“Always a pleasure and any time.”

A waiter appears placing a water in front of them both. “Can I get you guys something to start?” he asks producing a small PADD from his apron.

“Can we get a bowl of edamame and I’ll have a squid salad to start off.” She looks to Sandford.

He looks to the waiter. “I’ll have a seaweed salad, with extra sesame seeds, thanks!”

“And can we get a large sake to split.” Addie adds.

“-and a large sake.” The waiter thumbs into the PADD. “I’ll be right out with that.” he smiles as he leaves the table.

Addie discards the lemon and straw from her water before taking a sip. “So…” she shifts alternating her crossed ankles. “It’s been a while. -since it was just me and you out.”

He interlaced his fingers, putting his chin on his hands as he looked at her. “It has. A lot has happened since too…” He smiled, putting his hands down, then he took a sip of his water. “I missed this. Just me and you.” He said, his free hand patting something in his pocket to make sure it was still there.

Addie looks down shamefully. “Jonny, I’m really sorry. We were going so well, and I didn’t expect anything like this to happen.” She pauses as the waiter returns with the sake and two white porcelain glasses and places them on the table before shuffling off. She immediately fills one and places it in front of Sandford before filling her own. “I feel I owe you an explanation.”

Sandford smiled at her, shaking his head. “You don’t owe me anything. I missed the boat. That’s all there is to it, right? Unless I was getting ahead of myself and you weren’t feeling it, in which case, that’s all on me.”

He reaches for her hand to give it an affectionate squeeze as he sips the sake.

“No we were going fine. Thyzee really came out of nowhere.” She shoots down the sake, chases it with a small sip of water and refills her cup. “I guess I led her on a little bit the night of the Winter Social. Up to that point. -shoot even up until the end of that night she and I had been just getting to know each other as friends.” Addie laughs at the recollection. “Gosh I think it was the time before that when I pegged her as Thizz-bit at Event Horizon.”

Addie returns to her more reserved manner. “Anyway, after the card game everyone was retiring and on the way out, she asked me if I was going to bed or hanging around. I told her I was going to post up at the bar for a little while longer and she asked to join. It wasn’t a romantic invitation in any way. And the whole conversation that we had at the bar was on the level too…-up until it was ending.” looks down shamefully.

He smiled. “Hey…Addie. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You and she are a thing now. I’m happy if you’re happy. You had no obligation to me at all.” He sipped a little more sake before continuing. “Thyzee approached me and was concerned I had hard feelings. I don’t. I’m not that kind of guy.”

Addie tongues the side of her cheek with a small smirk. “She mentioned to me last night that you two had had a conversation.” She takes another sip of sake as the waiter returns with their salads.

“Was there something else or did you all need a few minutes?” the waiter asks.

“Can we have a few minutes?” Addie says politely and thanks the waiter as he walks away.

“Well, anyway at the end of that night at the social, I was pretty drunk. We were sitting on the bar at Event Horizon looking out of the starview. After a long conversation, and a few more drinks, I…kinda…shifted…over to her. Really wanting to kiss her.” Addie begins adjusting her squid salad with her chopsticks looking down the whole time. “I didn’t.” She says finally looking up at Sandford. “I didn’t lean in or anything. In fact, I almost immediately just jumped off the bar and bid her goodnight. Not only was what I was thinking obvious to anyone who would have seen it, but the urge was so strong. Frankly I don’t know how I exercised the self-control.” Addie places her chopsticks across her salad bowl without taking a bite. “You can imagine what her little telepathic mind must have picked up on.”

“Oh, she did? What did she say?” He chuckled, noticing her small smirk. “I’m sure she was delighted. I mean, I don’t know her as well, but she does seem rather keen on you from what I’ve observed of you two together.” He grinned, taking his chopsticks and rubbing them together. “I can’t imagine why that is!” He joked, his tongue firmly in his cheek now too as he braced himself for Addie’s response to that. “So, I was there for the first kiss, was I?” He looked at her. “In the Embassy bar? Or was it before that?”

With a sense of relief to Sandford’s reaction Addie allows herself a laugh. “At Event Horizon? Oh she froze! I don’t even recall her saying anything at that point except maybe ‘Good night’ or something when I was leaving. I actually thought I had set our budding friendship back more than a few steps.” Addie raises up her eyes with a dreamy sigh. “But yeah, at the Embassy. She walks in with Veneela. You and I are already smashed. Veneela ushers her closer to me and Thyzee just announces in front of everyone, ‘Veneela and I have decided that I do like you.’” Addie laughs and starts turning red. “Bless her little heart.” She continues with a smitten grinning headshake, “And then when I kissed her that time, she still didn’t kiss back!” Addie leans back in her seat laughing. “Even at that point I thought it was dead in the water!”

She leans forward and finally begins eating some of her squid. “But once again, after you got hauled away by handlers,” she pauses to shame-grin Sandford, “it was just she and I alone at the fireplace. She was still being distant, and I told her that if there was going to be anything there that I needed to be wanted too.” Addie clicks her tongue. “And that’s how it all began.”

Eating as he listened, Sandford looked up, taking another sip of his sake. He studied her for a long moment. “It is still early days, as far as I’ve seen. Though Thyzee does seem…” He seemed reluctant to finish the thought, opting not to, he took another glug of the sake, refilling their glasses. “Are you happy?” He asked.

“It’s okay.” Addie says permissively while chewing, “Thyzee does seem, what?”

He sighed, putting down his chopsticks. “Thyzee seems like she’s going to really piss you off before too long. She seems a tad possessive and also might be trying to tame you, and all I have to say to that is… HA!” He chuckled, then waved. “Of course, that’s just my observations, which you might dismiss as heavily biased, which may be true. I just had to tell you that.”

Addie contemplates Sandford’s remark chewing another bite of squid. “I can see where you get that. Truth be told I actually expected her to break it off with me within the first week or two. But I realized that when she seems standoffish, or embarrassed, or even pretentious, it’s really because she’s inexperienced with this type of interpersonal, intimate relationship. Take last night, for example,” Addie dabs her mouth with the corner of her napkin and takes a drink of the sake. “It was you that she and I were talking about in the ladies room. She was jealous of the way you I and are playful together. She likes you a great deal. But possessive, you mentioned? Her?” Addie’s mouth widens into a enormous smile. “She damn well better be.”

John takes a sip of the sake as he listened, chewing on the seaweed. “I imagine our banter makes her jealous, but you and I get along very well. Veneela’s comment about us being like brother and sister had me laughing. She was protecting Thyzee there I think.” He wiped his mouth, then seemed to mull his next words over. “It’s natural with us, at least that’s what I feel. I’ve never connected with anyone on this level before. So, I can totally get behind Thyzee’s possessiveness of you because it’s exactly how I’d be if you and I were together. I suppose I am jealous. Though I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it interfere with our friendship or you and Thyzee.”

He slipped out a small black velvet looking box from his pocket, placing it on the table just beside his plate. “Now, I had planned to give you this on our next date but since this is likely going to be the next best thing…” He chuckled.

Addie takes a nervous look at the box. “You asked me earlier if I was happy.”

He looked at her, then smiled at her nervousness. “It’s a friendly gift, it’s not what you might be thinking it is.”

He opened it, revealing a simple silver necklace with a small charm that is in the geographical shape of Ireland. It has a tiny old fashioned compass in it.

Addie covers her mouth with both hands. “Jonny you’re gonna make me fuckin’ cry.” She recomposes herself. “I love it.”

He got up, taking it out of the box. “May I put it on you?” He smiled.

She nods eagerly.

Standing behind her, he gently unclasped it, putting it on her as he spoke.

“Now, the shape of Ireland is obvious. You’re a true daughter of Ireland with your beauty, charm and ability to make the boys cry with a song. The compass, I had it modified a little to be susceptible to an Irish heartbeat, so while it’s on you, you’ll always know where to go…”

He clasped it gently, resting his hands on her shoulders. Then he leaned down to whisper in her ear; “I’ll always love you, no matter where you are or who you’re with.” He gently kissed her cheek and made a move to head back to his seat.

Addie examines it fondly in her fingers then let’s it rest delicately on her chest beneath her neck. “I really love it. Thank you.” She says smiling at him appreciatively.

He smiled as he sat back down. “A pleasure.” He takes a huge glug of sake.

Addie breaks the long pause leaning forward with a sympathetic look on her face. “Thyzee and I are in love.” She says directly, watching his eyes closely. “Like, really.” she adds emphatically, briefly raising her eyes upward. “Every night we’re together, after everyone else leaves,” she says softly while slightly licking her lips. “I live for those moments. She’s all I can think about all day, and I fall further in love with her every night we’re together. You need to know that.”

“Consider it known.” He said, locking eyes with her, briefly nodding. “You’ll find no bigger champion of you and Thyzee. I can promise that.” He keeps eye contact with her. “What I said is the truth though. Maybe one day this candle I hold for you will go out, but not today. I will never make things uncomfortable for you though. On that, you have my solemn word as a friend.”

Addie reaches across the table for his hands.

Sandford takes her hands, smiling at her.

She beams back at him.

After a brief pause, she refills both of the porcelain cups to the brim, passes him his and raises hers with a chambered toast at the ready.

“To finding our way?” He smiled, raising the cup to hers.

Addie shakes her head.

“Here’s to you and here’s to me,
And friends forever, we shall be.
But should we ever disagree…”

Addie smirks.

“Then Fuck You and here’s to me!”

He laughed, clinking her cup with his own. “Perfect, though you will never actually get to, ahem, with me.” He smirked, winking and draining the cup.

Addie nods and shoots down the whole cup.

“Though that isn’t a loss at all, Thyzee is gorgeous.” He chuckled.

“Got that right.” She boasts proudly.

He laughed, then leaned forward. “I’m no competition.” He said, the self-deprecation dripping from his voice. “So, are you still wanting to be on a Starship?”

Addie’s eyes widen in alarm. “Oh shoot! Computer, what shift is it?!”

“It is currently beta shift, which began 8 minutes ago.”

“Dammit, I’m late.” She stands tucking her pendant into the neck of her uniform. “I gotta run Jonny. You going to be around tonight?”

“I may be!” He grinned at her. “Thanks for being here! It’s been nice!”

She plants a kiss on his cheek as she races for the door. “Thank you! I’ll see you later!” she hollers across the restaurant and through the entryway.”