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Coffee, advice and pizza

Posted on Wed Apr 26th, 2017 @ 6:42pm by Ensign Asher Maddison MD & Paul Foster

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: The ship's kitchen
Timeline: Day 81

It was time for lunch, so Asher left the seniormost medical officer in charge while she took her one hour lunch break. She was in need of a freshly made latte and something to eat, and right now, a pizza sounded like it would hit the spot for Asher. When she arrived in the ship's canteen, she was glad to see the Medical Department's usual lunch rota didn't clash with the lunch hour the rest of the ship seemed to take.

'Perfect,' Asher thought, 'I get to enjoy some lunch in peace.'

She walked up to the counter to order her food, and seeing a button which she supposed was to call the chef to take the other, Asher pressed it gently for a half second.

Paul was in the kitchen as he was preparing the ingredients for one of that evening's dishes. He wasn't expecting any visitors at the moment - especially as the main lunchtime rush had now been and gone - but he decided to go and see who his guest was.

Seeing it was Asher Maddison - the Vindex's new Chief Medical Officer - Paul smiled at the young woman.

"Hello Ensign Maddison. How are you today?" Paul asked.

"Oh, hello, Mr. Foster. I'm well thank you, how are you?" Asher responded, smiling at the bespectacled man.

Paul smiled. "I'm well thank you - but who wouldn't be after getting an unexpected visit from you? Anyway - what can I do for you this afternoon?"

Asher beamed cutely.

"That's good," Asher replied, "I was wondering if I could be annoying enough to order a pizza..."

Paul decided to wind Asher up and pretend there was none left - even though there were plenty of ingredients available to make one from scratch. Pretending to look disappointed Paul responded to Asher.

"I'm afraid there's none left Ensign" Paul replied.

Asher grinned cutely, Paul was obviously a tease, or he just enjoyed winding people up. There had to be pizza in there, surely? She decided to up the ante a little, maybe he was just winding her up after all?

"Wait, you mean there's no pizza?" Asher replied, feigning shock.

Paul chuckled to himself - clearly his attempt to have a joke with Asher had worked.

"I'm just kidding. I can make you one up in about half an hour or so" Paul said.

"Paul!" Asher giggled, "that's so mean."

Paul smiled. "Sorry. How about you come and join me in the kitchen? It's better than sitting out here talking to the wall"

Asher smiled and accepted the chef's invitation to join him in the kitchen, eyeing the coffee machine which was either new, or Asher just hadn't noticed it before. Once they were in the kitchen, Asher watched Paul turn on the pizza oven.

'This ship really does have everything, I wonder if he delivers...' Asher mused, looking at the balding man.

"I'm probably going to sound really cheeky," Asher asked, with a cute smirk, "but you couldn't make me a coffee with that machine of yours outside?"

Paul didn't find it any trouble at all - he fancied a coffee himself so it wasn't bad timing. He hadn't yet started preparation of the dough for the pizza base so it seemed like a good time to get drinks for them both.

"Oh go on then. What can I get for you?" Paul asked.

"A latte, please." Asher replied, feeling herself cheer up already, thanks to the effort Paul was going to, she was starting to realise why the chef was so popular amongst the crew.

His food was nice, too.

Paul left the kitchen and headed out to the front - preparing a fresh load of beans for the coffee machine before giving the steamer nozzles a quick wipe. Deciding on a latte for himself to save making two separate drinks Paul placed two medium sized cups on the counter at the side of the coffee machine. Paul then placed the jug he used to steam the milk into the replicator and ordered some milk.

"Milk. Cold" Paul instructed.

A few moments later his order had been fulfilled and Paul steamed the milk. After gently pouring it into the two coffee cups Paul then added the shots of espresso one at a time - finally sprinkling some chocolate on top of the two drinks. Placing them onto a tray Paul carried them back into the kitchen and placed them down on the counter next to Asher. After taking his own Paul and placing it next to the prep area made a start on the pizza dough.

"One latte" Paul said.

"You're my hero, that looks amazing. Thank you, Paul." Asher said, accepting her latte. She watched as Paul started to prepare the ingredients, then turned to look around at the other things going on around them in the kitchen.

There was a stew of some sort on a low light, and a pan unknown contents bubbling away slowly.

"So, how do you manage to feed so many of us? This latte is amazing, by the way Paul." Asher asked, appreciating the freshly ground coffee instead of the other alternative. The replicator was alright, but the freshly ground coffee beans really made a difference.

"I'm not the only chef here thankfully. Bovek is the other chef here and we take turns - I usually do the earlier shifts and he usually does the later shifts" Paul replied.

Paul had a quick sip of his coffee before continuing.

Paul concluded. "On occasion if we're really busy then we both work at the same time to make sure we can keep on top of things - although I've always believed in preparing in advance so when it's quiet we do as much prep as possible to make our jobs easier. Hence why I've got that stew and soup on low heat at the moment - I'm going to start a casserole shortly"

Asher smiled, moving a bit closer to Paul to watch what he was doing. It almost looked automated, and it looked like it would be a decent sized pizza, too.

"Oh, I see." Asher said. "That must have been who served me last night when I came in for dinner. Is he always that happy, or was he just happy to see me?"

Paul chuckled. "He's always happy. I think he'd make a great morale officer or a counsellor"

"Bless him." Asher replied, watching as Paul started to blend the ingredients to form the dough with an electric whisk, which was surprisingly quiet.

Asher had some more of her coffee, which was hitting the spot.

"Do you have any family, Paul?" Asher asked.

Paul did have a brother but his parents hadn't been around for a while now. Choosing to stay positive about it Paul gave Asher her answer - he still had Chris back on Earth and he was one day hoping Chris would join him on the Vindex either in the kitchen or in the bar.

"Well I have my brother Chris but our parents aren't alive anymore unfortunately" Paul said.

Immediately, Asher felt guilty for asking, and rested her hand on Paul's shoulder to reassure him.

Paul smiled. "Its alright - honestly. I'm living my dream out here which is what they wanted me to do. My love of cooking food kept me going through a tough time - and here I am now. What about yourself?"

"My sister died when I was twelve, she fell from a rock face when her safety harness snapped. My parents are still alive, they live at home in England, but I haven't spoken to them for a while now." Asher replied, trying to hide the sadness she felt every time she spoke about Georgiana's death.

Paul stopped his work and looked at Asher sympathetically. He couldn't possibly imagine how difficult that must have been for Asher and her parents - and he offered her his sympathies and support.

"I'm really sorry to hear that Ensign. If you want to come and talk to me at any time - I mean any - then come and find me" Paul replied.

Asher smiled weakly.

"Thanks," Asher replied. "I always used to blame myself for it, or wished it was me in her place, but I can't change the past, nobody can. So, here I am, a Doctor on a star ship."

Paul then turned back to the prep work and continued the conversation. He was enjoying having someone else to talk to in the kitchen - it made a nice change and Paul hoped Asher felt that she could come and talk to him whenever she needed to. He wanted to be there for his colleagues and friends no matter what.

"Do you have a partner you could talk to? I'm sure they'd be really supportive if you did - before you ask me if I have one then the answer is that I'm married - to my job" Paul asked.

Asher would have normally scoffed, that question had been asked and answered in the same way so many times, but Paul's understanding nature enabled Asher to stay relaxed and feel like he genuinely cared about her feelings, and everyone else's, too.

"No." Asher replied, calmly. "Never had one, probably never will."

Paul smiled. "There's someone for everyone out there. Don't feel that way because it isn't true"

Asher sighed and watched as Paul rolled out the pizza dough into a circular shape, before he put it in the oven to bake on a pizza paddle.

"Before I forget - what would you like on top of this pizza?" Paul asked.

"Oh, erm, vegetable please." Asher replied.

Paul smiled and headed over to the vegetable cupboard to pick out some vegetables for the pizza. Taking out a red and yellow pepper, a couple of mushrooms, a red onion, two Roma tomatoes and a ramekin of sun dried tomatoes Paul placed them on the counter ready to add to the pizza base. He opened the unit in front of him to produce some tomato puree.

Paul smiled. "Shouldn't be too long now"

Again, Asher watched as Paul prepared the ingredients, losing herself in her own thoughts and her mind. Coming out as gay to Martha yesterday was beyond hard, but Asher still felt unable to admit how she felt about Tabetha, who was still off work sick and under quarantine.

"Paul...," Asher asked, nervously. "what would you do if you like, had feelings for someone, but couldn't tell them?"

Paul paused for a moment and looked at Asher. It wasn't the first time he'd been asked for relationship advice and he was sure it wouldn't be the last either.

"It's hard to say not knowing who the other person is but ultimately I think you need to tell them how you feel. Even if it's just so it's off your chest - keeping it to yourself isn't going to help sweetheart. You don't have to do it right away - you'll know when the time is right" Paul responded.

"I came out to a friend yesterday, but I didn't mention that I have feelings for another woman, mainly because I want to protect her sexuality too, but because I just don't know how to. I've never had anyone before, or had...feelings..., like these before. Now I have them, I just don't even know what to do with them." Asher said, starting to feel emotional.

Paul walked up to Asher and embraced her. She was clearly upset and Paul wanted to try and cheer her up - it was obviously a difficult time in Asher's life and Paul wanted to offer his support as best as he could.

"You're so brave for coming out and I'm proud of you. I'm sure whoever the other lucky lady is she will be extremely flattered that you're interested in her" Paul said.

Asher returned the hug, which was reassuring, and felt Paul's hand rub up and down her back gently. Finally, she gave up trying to stop, and started to sob onto Paul's shoulder.

"I just don't know," Asher sobbed. "I mean, I've never felt this way before, it almost feels like, but I'm just too scared to tell her. She's my patient, and she's two ranks higher, it's almost like it's doomed to fail or be frowned on by others before I even get to admit how I feel. It's just...she's the only person who makes me feel like I matter."

Paul nodded. "That doesn't matter. If you love her then rank and position shouldn't matter - alright it might be a bit awkward but you don't exactly have to tell everyone about it. I can see you clearly have feelings for this person and you have to tell her - because it's quite possible she could feel the exact same way about you"

Paul passed a clean teatowel over to Asher to dry her eyes.

Accepting the towel Paul offered her, Asher dabbed her eyes gently an looked at him. His vote of confidence meant so much to Asher, and maybe it could be enough to encourage Asher to bite the bullet and admit her feelings.

"Do...," Asher asked. "do you really think I should tell her?"

Paul nodded. "Go for it. No matter what happens the pair of you will have my full support"

Asher smiled cutely, Paul's confirmed vote of confidence was enough to make Asher feel she could open up to Tabetha about her feelings. They only spent one night together and had a few dates, but they were enough for Asher to decide Tabbie was the one for her, even if it meant the relationship had to be a secret.

"Thank you, Paul. That means so much."

"Don't mention it" Paul replied.

With the pizza now ready, Asher watched as Paul expertly sliced it into even segments with his pizza cutting wheel before he sprinkled a few herbs on it, to add some more taste. Accepting the pizza Paul offered her, Asher instead offered the man another hug.

Asher smiled and hugged the chef, feeling him return the embrace immediately.

"Thank you again, Paul. For the coffee, pizza, for being a friend to talk to and making me feel better. If I can ever do anything for you, then don't even think about asking, just ask." Asher said.

Paul smiled and was glad to see a smile on Asher's face again. It had been an unexpected and emotional encounter but one that had been very rewarding too. He liked to think that he'd made a new friend in Asher and hoped to see her again soon.

"I appreciate it - and you're welcome. Now go and enjoy the rest of your coffee and that pizza - you deserve it" Paul replied.

Asher beamed cutely. "Have a good afternoon, I'll see you soon."

Watching as Paul got back to work, Asher took her lunch and the rest of her coffee, which were on a silver tray, out to the dining area. She chose a seat which was close to the window and started to eat her delicious pizza, thinking about how to tell Tabetha of her feelings. It now wasn't a question of if, but it was when, because Asher now felt confident in being herself.

She loved Tabetha, and she wasn't going to deny herself that chance at happiness any longer.


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