Moments Like These

By JadziaKathryn

Rating: PG

Genres: general

Keywords:

This story has been read by 820 people.
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Summary: An afternoon in the galley.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all; no money is being made from this story.
A/N: This is set halfway into the first season. Written for Lady Rainbow for the 2008 Enterprise Ficathon.

 

 


 

He loved cooking, loved the satisfaction of providing not just the necessity of food but enjoyable, good food. He also enjoyed the thrill of seeing new worlds and going where previous generations had only dreamed of seeing. Most of the time, David Whitlam loved his job.

This moment was not one such time. How was a bloke supposed to get any cooking done? Did people think curried prawns made themselves? That they just leapt out of the stasis units into sauce, turning the stove on en route?

The current object of his ire was unmoved. “It’s important that you be able to defend yourself.”

He rummaged through the spices for cumin. “I thought that was your job, Lieutenant.”

“Everyone should know basic self-defense.” Ha. He’d seen what Reed considered basic. Some people went for a jog in the gym. Reed nearly ripped the punching bag in half.

“I’ll have you know I’m dangerous with a frying pan.” Then, of course, there were the knives, but he thought it better not to mention those in case it gave Reed any bright ideas about further self-defense sessions. He didn’t have time for hours of self-defense training. As it was he really should’ve demanded a third assistant before shipping out.

Reed was unmoved. “I don’t doubt it. Shall I schedule you for 1400 Wednesday?”

He only agreed because it would make Reed go away, and because he had a sinking feeling it was an argument he couldn’t win anyway. “Fine. By the way, Lieutenant, we’re out of Marmite. You’ll just have to use Vegemite now.”

His victory was sealed by the flicker of disgust that crossed Reed’s face before the lieutenant walked away.

Satisfied in that, he pulled out a jar of cracked peppercorns and a smaller jar of something called ah’jakal that had been given to them as a gift. He couldn’t remember how to pronounce the name of the planet, but neither could anyone else besides Ensign Sato and Sub-Commander T’Pol, so that didn’t bother him. The ah’jakal would add a nice touch to curried prawns, but how much to add?

“Chef Whitlam!”

Doctor Phlox was generally a pleasure, even if he could be an odd character. His enthusiasm for human food was endearing, and if he entered the galley he at least didn’t get in the way of food preparation.

“Good afternoon, Doctor.”

“May I come in?”

“Of course.” For all the doctor’s quirks, he was a good man – should that be good Denobulan? – and David considered him a friend.

Phlox looked at the large mixing bowl, one of his ever-present smiles plastered on his face. “What are you making?”

“Curried prawns.”

“Prawns?”

“A small crustacean.”

The doctor considered that for a moment. “Would that be related to shrimp?”

“Ah, yes. I forgot you speak American English. They’re the same thing.”

“Of all the species I’ve encountered, humans have the greatest variety of languages by far. Sometimes I wonder how you manage to communicate at all.”

That was alright; sometimes he did too. As a prime example there was engineering-speak. Tucker and Reed had been in earlier, loudly debating some kind of upgrades over brekkie, and he’d only understood half of their words. They were well and truly incomprehensible when they got going like that. An incident he understood better came to mind, and he decided Phlox would enjoy hearing about it. “You would’ve enjoyed the look on Crewman Cutler’s face when I referred to a pengie. That’s a penguin. Do you know what those are?”

“I visited an aquarium. Earth has a fascinating variety of sea life. However, I wasn’t aware Australia had penguins.”

Neither did half the humans in the galaxy, so he was used to it. “Everyone always thinks of the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef, but after Tassie there’s nothing until Antarctica.”

“Tassie?”

“Tasmania. It’s my home state.”

“Human political organization is even more complex than your languages.”

He couldn’t argue with that. “So what brings you to my domain?”

“I’ve been interviewing crewmembers on how they ended up on Enterprise. Is there a time you might be free to tell me your story?”

“If you stay over there, I can tell you now. It’s not particularly interesting. I was working for a big catering company and got assigned to a Starfleet dinner. They liked me so much I was invited to work for them. You wouldn’t believe how many dinners Starfleet bureaucrats have, Doctor.” Tactfully, he didn’t mention how much wine could disappear at those dinners.

“I’m sure I wouldn’t.” Phlox had pulled out a stylus and padd and was taking notes. The good doctor occasionally gave the impression that Enterprise was a giant anthropology lab.

“Captain Archer reckoned that if his crew is going to be out here for years, they should have good food. Admiral Forrest wasn’t keen on sending me off; I’m still not sure how he convinced him. All I know is it involved a seven-year old bet. You’d have to ask him for the details, and if he spills I want to know about it.” Both Archer and Forrest had muttered vague explanations and refused to elaborate further. “Anyway, here I am.”

He reached for the giant can of coconut milk he’d brought from the storeroom earlier and yanked the tab. Slowly, the lid peeled backwards to reveal the white milk inside. Curries were a particular favorite of his, but he couldn’t make them too often. There was a finite storage space, and spices were low on the priority list.

“When you began your career did you consider working in space?”

“I almost took a job as a sous-chef on the moon, but in the end I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

She had been a striking combination of red hair, quick wit, great legs, and natural conversation. “A woman, of course. Why else?”

Phlox chuckled at that. Either such things were common in the universe, or Phlox was once again gearing up to ask about human mating rituals. He sincerely hoped it wasn’t the latter.

As it happened he never found out, because another head poked tentatively around the door. “Chef?”

“Crewman Collins, come in.”

Collins took a couple of steps forward. “I have a favor to ask.”

“Ask away.”

“It’s Mike Rostov’s birthday this Tuesday, and he hasn’t had these Russian meatballs he likes since we left Earth. Apparently they’ve got rice in them and they’re boiled. That’s really all I know. But I wondered, if it’s not too much trouble, maybe you could make them?”

He’d have to look up the recipe, but that should be no problem. It was just the kind of thing he enjoyed, brightening someone’s day with a taste of home. “Certainly. I’ll be happy to.” Speaking of rice, where the devil was Zhou with the rice he’d been sent to fetch?

“Thanks, Chef! He’ll be so surprised! Oh, hi Doctor.”

“Good afternoon,” said Phlox with one of his crazy smiles.

“Well, I’m on duty in half an hour so I’ve got to go. Thanks again, Chef.” As Collins left, David allowed himself a second to wish he had lemongrass. That would’ve been a nice touch. Well, if wishes were horses… he stepped over to the message board he kept over the sink and wrote Tues.: Russian meatballs (boiled w/rice).

“Delightful,” remarked Phlox. “Those two were either going to end up best friends or terrible adversaries. I’m pleased to see they’re friends.” “One of your special cases, Phlox?” He knew the doctor paid extra attention to certain members of the crew, when he felt it necessary.

“It wouldn’t do to have roommates come to blowing, would it?”

Now and then, it was obvious that Phlox wasn’t a native English speaker, although he was better with idioms than Sub-Commander T’Pol. “I think you mean come to blows.”

“Ah, thank you.”

“But you’re right, it wouldn’t do.”

Phlox spotted the iridescent jar which held the ah’jakal. “Is that a new acquisition?”

“Yes. It’s the mildest spice they have. Those people like their food spicy as.” He’d very nearly choked on some kind of meat dish he’d been given a sample of.

“Spicy as what?”

“Nothing. It’s just a saying.”

“Another Australian phrase?”

“Apparently.” Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t heard any of the crew use it. “Anyway, I still can’t pronounce the name of that planet, but they insisted on giving us some supplies for bringing their people home. All my empty stasis units are once again full.” That made him extremely happy, although one of the fruits was so hard he might have to check a phase pistol out of the armory to crack it open. No, Reed would never allow it. The lieutenant could probably quote six regulations it would break, too.

“Yes, I was given a pair of toads. Their secretions rapidly increase the healing process of burns. I’m currently running tests to see if it works for humans, and the preliminary results are quite promising.”

The rumors he’d heard about Phlox’s methods began to make more sense. On the other hand, burns were a professional hazard, and once or twice he’d burnt himself badly enough to welcome any relief, even if it was toad secretion.

“A pair of toads? I reckon if you’re not careful you’ll have fifty before long.”

Phlox chuckled, or at least made a noise which sounded like a chuckle. “Not to worry, my friend, I was given the appropriate precautions to prevent being overrun with toads.”

“Good. I don’t want to cook toad.”

“Why not? I tried frog on Earth. It was delicious.”

“That may be, but they’re too small. It would be a nightmare. Besides, I’m not a butcher.”

“Sickbay to Dr. Phlox,” called out Crewman Cutler’s voice from the comm., no doubt saving him from further questions on why toads weren’t something he wanted to serve.

“Phlox.”

“I think you should come to Sickbay, Doctor. Your bat is acting… weird.”

“On my way.” The doctor closed the channel and gave him a parting grin. “Have a good afternoon.”

“You too. Hope your bat’s right.”

He dumped the prawns into the curry mixture and stirred until they were coated. Setting that aside, the bread should be done, so he made his way to the oven.

Just before he reached the oven Enterprise shuddered for a second. He lost his balance. The cheesecake seemed to come at him in slow motion, but he was powerless to stop the collision. With a splat his right shoulder smashed into what had been a very nice-looking strawberry cheesecake. And of course, it just had to be as Zhou came in with the rice.

Most of the time, David Whitlam loved his job.

This moment was not one such time.


Comments:

AussieSheila

yay! there's a fic with australia in it!! my home town is a few hours north of sydney! and you were dead on with the phrases! excellent! :D

blacknblue
It's always good to see background from the suppporting crew. It adds depth to the whole 'verse.
Distracted
LOL! An Australian chef, huh? I love this OC you've created. I'd like to read more of his adventures, mate. ;)

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