Posted on March 31st, 2018 by Kathryn Harper
by Kuari, Alexis Wright, and Kathryn Harper
“You know,” Kate remarked, jabbing a bite of fish with her fork and then gesturing with it at the other two women at the table, “we really should do this more often.” After a drink of her white wine, she added, “Perhaps every Wednesday night?”
Kuari, having deleted the fancy Risian chair from her spot at the table in order to sit on the floor, turned her head sideways to bite a potato off of her plate. With her mouth full as she chewed it to pieces, she nodded vigorously in reply to Kate’s suggestion.
“Here, in particular?” Lexy asked, casually indicating their surroundings with a sweep of her arm before smirking at Kate and adding, “Not that I’m complaining, of course. I’d just be somewhat surprised if you, of all people, didn’t opt for variety.” In the spirit of her own humorous intent, she gave Kuari a slight nudge and an exaggerated conspiratorial wink.
“Oh, no, this would not even be my first choice for a spot on Risa, but it was already made, and you know that I do love variety. My point was that we all gather, so as long as the place has some charm, where does not matter.” Kate ate the bite of fish off her fork and held it in the air as she chewed and thought, finally adding, “Perhaps Kuari could even create a program to show us her home planet?”
Lexy immediately brightened, holding up her hand to cover the mouthful of food she’d just taken, too excited to wait. “Ooh, yes! I’d love to see your homeworld, Kuari!”
Swallowing quickly, Kuari straightened up as she considered the possibility. “There are programs already made, actually. Mother told me others at Starfleet were curious and she and Father made them. They remember Ruka better than I do, anyway, so it makes sense that they should design them. Mother did give me a copy.” She looked between the other two, eager to be helpful. “I could load them into the holodeck, if you want.”
“Are you kidding?!” Lexy exclaimed, still covering her mouth before gulping down her bite. “OF COURSE, we want!”
“Oh! Oh!” Kate exclaimed, dropping her empty fork onto the table as she excitedly clapped her hands together. “And on the holodeck, we could fly WITH you!”
Lexy stomped her feet with giddy delight, making incomprehensible noises of glee.
Kuari grinned, their excitement contagious. The fact that she could make them both so happy made her happy. “Sure! I never thought about that before, but yes, you could fly with me!”
“Next week, then!” Kate proclaimed, then pursed her lips in thought as outlandish ideas flooded her mind. “I wonder if I should program myself some sort of wings like, what are those mythological beings from Earth? Valkyries?”
Somewhat abashed, Lexy immediately tried to banish all thoughts of high-tech polymer wingsuits from her mind. “…Right! Something like that would definitely work.” She pondered for a moment, then offered, “Maybe we could each come up with some sort of special setting? Take turns, that sort of thing? Although… most of the places that are dear to me are on Earth, but I’m sure both of you are probably sick of that place.” She laughed light-heartedly before stuffing another forkful of delicious rice pilaf into her mouth.
“Program yourself, you mean like…holo-wings?” Kuari asked, having not considered the idea before.
“Yes! Or I could give myself a holographic flying mount, like a drago—” Kate paused in consideration of her draconine friend. “Wait, would that be rude?”
Kuari cocked her head to the side. “Were you going to say ‘dragon’? Why would it be rude?”
Lexy watched the volley of this conversation move back and forth between her companions as she quietly finished her meal, somewhat baffled as to how they had seemingly ignored almost everything she said.
“I do not know, I just wanted to make sure that it would be alright to essentially create a larger version of, well, you, and ride it around. I mean, you have let me ride on your back on the ground, but, you know…” Realizing that she was rambling a bit, Kate concluded, “I felt that it would be polite to make sure.”
“A larger version of a Rucara would be…unsettling. The idea of riding a Rucara isn’t strange to me, though. I’ve given many people rides on my back before.” Kuari smiled, remembering a holiday party several years back. “Riding one in the air, well if it’s a normal-sized Rucara, it would just look really strong to me. That would be more acceptable. Besides, it is a fiction.”
Feeling a bit like a third wheel, Lexy sighed internally and signaled for the dessert tray with a wave of her hand.
“Then it is a date! Next week we fly on Ruka, and the following week, we will visit a place of Lexy’s choosing!” Kate pushed away her empty plate and triumphantly finished the last of her wine, finding the idea of a weekly standing night of fun with these two to be positively delightful.
“Sounds great! And I’m not tired of Earth.” Kuari looked pointedly at Alexis. “There’s so much of it I haven’t seen. Planets are big, after all. I’m mostly only familiar with the grounds outside Starfleet Headquarters…” Her voice trailed off as her eyes locked onto the approaching dessert tray.
So, they had been listening to her after all, Lexy noted with mild surprise. She’d started racking her brain for some exotic alien planets that she’d visited as soon as she heard Kate’s comments, thinking her own world so over-exposed as to be no longer novel or interesting, but Kuari’s words soothed her anxiety as they so often did. “Yes, okay!” she said, with a bright smile that was only partially attributable to the approaching cheesecake. “I know I’ve taken you there before, Kate, but… don’t you think Kuari would like the hike to Blue Pool?” Lexy was already mentally planning the picnic before either of them could respond.
“Oh, I am sure of it,” Kate nodded, eyeing the chiseled holographic Risian man who was bringing the dessert tray, intent on chocolate of any variety.
Kuari’s nose was almost on top of the tray as it arrived, sniffing for something in particular herself. “Chocolate, please!” A piece of cake was put in front of her, while the cheesecake went to Alexis. The waiter moved around to Kate and offered her a look, and it was not long before the Risan had selected a chocolate éclair. The trio shared jovial conversation throughout dessert and adjourned to the pool without delay, already suitably attired to dive into the refreshingly cool water.
Kate surfaced and slicked her hair back after having swum an underwater length of the pool from her dive in off the board, luxuriating in the sensation on her skin as she slid through the water. “Ahhhhh… That feels wonderful.”
Despite Lexy’s lack of reply, her agreement was evident in the zeal with which she was hauling herself up the ladder, dripping wet, and circling back to the diving board for a second jump into the shimmering pool. She paused, noting Kate and Kuari’s positions in the pool, and took a few steps back before running and springing into a giggling cannonball calculated to hit the both of them.
Kuari, having slid onto the pool’s surface from the edge, was gliding across it like a duck. The splash from Lexy’s jump sprayed all over her, forcing her to squeeze her eyes shut, and the surface carried her up and down as the wave passed beneath her. Other than flinging the water from her face, she acted like it never happened and looked down into the pool to find Lexy, but the water was rough enough that she couldn’t spot her.
Turning her face away, Kate laughed as the splash hit her, and then searched the water for her fiancée, intending to retaliate.
Lexy surfaced a few meters away from her point of impact and wiped water from her grinning face, looking around at her companions’ reactions. She couldn’t help but laugh at Kuari’s waterfowl-like serenity, though the Rucara had obviously been hit by the splash, and began to call out to her and playfully splash water toward her — until she noticed Kate approaching from the other side with a grin and a predatory gleam in her eye. Shrieking with delight and mock dismay, she quickly submerged and kicked toward the relative safety of Kuari.
Seeing Lexy go underwater, Kate followed and with a few practiced strokes surged forward, extending tickling fingers toward her target’s abdomen.
Swimming under the floating form of Kuari, Lexy clung to her as she surfaced, protecting her own belly. Laughing breathlessly, she cried, “Save me! Save me! Risians are expert ticklers!” Kuari, reacting more to being grabbed than her words, began to swim, unfortunately right towards Kate. Lexy screamed and kicked away from the grasping, tickling fingers that brushed her skin.
After a couple of seconds of tickling, Kate broke off her attack and surfaced, grinning through wet hair and streaming water. “Got you!” she mirthfully claimed before tossing her head back to clear the hair and water from her face.
Kuari had kept going, dragging Lexy across the water. Going for speed, she was now moving her tail in a fish-like motion, waiting for Lexy to let go. After a few moments she slowed down, realizing her instinct to swim when grabbed was useless in this case as it was only her friend hanging onto her. She grinned and turned to look at them both.
As they streaked through the water away from Kate, Lexy couldn’t help but gloatingly stick out her tongue over her shoulder. Laughing, she turned back to Kuari. “Thanks for saving me!” It was at this moment that she realized she’d been bodily clinging to her friend and released her in a moment of self-consciousness, treading water to back away slightly. “Um. Sorry!” She looked down, still smiling, but her cheeks reddening slightly in bashful embarrassment.
Having unintentionally taken Lexy’s side by rescuing her from Kate, Kuari considered what action she should take next. Her grin grew and she dug her wing into the water like a keel, using it to compensate for the purposeful swing of her tail through the water that sent an impressive spray in Lexy’s direction.
Caught off-guard by the rush of water splashing into her face, Lexy’s embarrassment dissolved into sputtering laughter. There was a part of her that was filled with the nearly-overwhelming sensation of warmth and acceptance that she was so happy to have in her life, but most of her was preoccupied with the playful spirit of the moment. She used her hands, inadequate though they were compared to wings, to retaliate joyfully.
Kate ducked underwater as the giant splash approached with the sudden realization that a water fight with a Rucara was an unwinnable battle. Resolving to go down fighting, she surfaced near Kuari and Lexy, then immediately arced over and dove again, kicking in their direction as her legs disappeared under the surface.
“Computer,” Lexy commanded, turning away from Kate’s churning splash, “create miscellaneous pool toys and water gun props!” She made her way to the edge of the pool both to distance herself temporarily from the splash fight and to collect a powerful-looking gun that had appeared nearby, but changed her course when she spotted the large inflatable unicorn with a water gun slung around its neck over in the deep end of the pool, not far away. She cackled with glee as she commandeered it, clambering aboard and strapping on the plastic weapon before carefully taking aim at her friends. “Now, you two listen up! I’m the law in this here pool!” She belatedly realized that her companions were possibly unlikely to get the joke, but was too lost in her own laughter to care.
Kuari blinked as she came to face Lexy, listening to her announcement. She turned her head towards Kate. “Did Lexy complete her sidearm aiming refresher this month? Wait, I should know that. Hm…I don’t think she did. I don’t know, do you think we should be scared?”
Slicking her hair back again, Kate eyed the inflatable unicorn rider with a feigned wary glance. “I think… that she cannot possibly shoot both of us if we rush her, and that it will be an honor if I go down fighting for the liberation of this pool while at your side.” The gravitas of her voice was absurd in this situation, and it required considerable effort for Kate to keep from ruining it with a laugh.
As they talked, Lexy initially planned to surreptitiously paddle herself closer to the edge to grab a second weapon just in case, but forgot her plans moments later when she had to hide her face in the neck of her noble steed in a fruitless attempt to hide her breathless laughter.
“Right,” Kuari agreed, having no laugh in her voice. She lowered her head to the water’s surface, both eyes narrowing in on her target. “You go for her. I’ll take on her pink squeaky mount.”
With a serious nod, Kate agreed, “That makes sense. On three.” She turned to face Lexy, finally letting a smile bubble through the act. “One… two… “
Lexy grinned in the face of her peril, wondering if this is what bonding experiences and camaraderie were supposed to feel like. She hoped so; it felt good. She leveled her weapon at them and fired, determined to stand her ground — or at least, her pink inflatable pool unicorn — for as long as possible.
“…Three!” the two rebels exclaimed in unison and rushed towards Lexy. Having no qualms about destroying objects created by the holodeck, Kuari opened her large mouth around the unicorn’s head and twisted. It squeaked in dismay as the air quickly escaped and the pool toy began to deflate from underneath Lexy. Kate leapt from the water and scrabbled for purchase on the slippery float, tackling a laughing Lexy in an attempt to dismount her from the rapidly sinking unicorn.
The battle continued until they had all tired themselves out, at which point it was declared a draw and the combatants amicably retired to a more comfortable setting. As they were relaxing in the hot tub, Kate found herself feeling incredibly lucky to be part of a command team formed of those she held so dear. Kuari was content as well, her head lying on the floor at the edge of the tub. Lexy drowsed in the heat, for once allowing herself to exist in the moment, her heart light with the happiness that comes with companionship.