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JP Ens. Trovek & Amb. Zorkal - A Good Death - A Good Wife

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((Ihalainen Residence, Rovaniemi, Finland, Earth))

Arys hadn’t told Lukin what was going on. Instead, she focused on enjoying the time they had together as much as she could, and whenever he worked, she spent the night working her way through her grandfather’s medical file. 
As she came home this evening she expected enough time to bring order to her thoughts and take a shower before Lukin arrived, and she was surprised to see that he, in fact, was already back from whatever it was he had been doing. 
Trovek: :: calling out with her usual combination of snark and sarcasm:: Honey, I’m home. 


She followed the noise, tilting her head as she found him. 
Trovek: Back early? 
Kitchens were not particularly common on vessels. Quarters were more likely to have them on bases as there was far more room available.  For Cardassians, replicated food was sometimes necessary, but if one could make food from fresh ingredients, it was far superior in texture and flavor.  Not only that, the actual activity of cooking, the gathering of ingredients, chopping, searing, baking, frying, stirring, seasoning, the scents that filled the room as everything was being prepared.  There was a satisfaction that came from making something and not only doing so that it tasted good, but so that it was an artistic display.  Something that pleased multiple senses, the sense of sight as well as smell, the earth anticipating with the crackling and bubbling of meats and sauces.   
Zorkal: The meetings ended early.  
Arys leaned against the doorframe, wondering if she had finally lost it. Why was he cooking? How had he even gotten into the house without her present? So many questions, so few answers. 
He had already finished the slicing and dicing and had started the act of cooking.  Fortunately, the last couple of days had afforded him the opportunity to get acquainted with the mechanical devices of their kitchen.  While extremely primitive, like much he found in that house, it was adequate for what he needed.  
He lifted his gaze from the ancient cast iron skillet and let fall upon the woman.  He might have turned away, but something caught his interest and, instead, he studied her a moment before finally returning to his task. 
Zorkal: You are troubled. 
He didn’t have to be an empath to see it.  Perhaps it was simply because he was becoming more and more familiar with her and could read her better.  That was more likely.  
Trovek: And you are cooking. ::shrugging:: And I am not troubled.
She didn’t even sound convinced. 
Zorkal: You are far too easy to read.  You may try to hide it, but I can see it.  
Arys looked at him thoughtfully and then decided that they had moved past the point where he said something and she pretended it wasn’t true. She shrugged again and walked over to the wine cabinet - since everything is easier with wine. The fruity notes of the red liquid mixed pleasantly with that of Lukins cooking as Arys filled a glass for him, and then for herself. 
Trovek: I am-... Just some… things I need to deal with. But I’m not troubled. 
Zorkal: Liar. You are.
Trovek: :: rolling her eyes:: Fine. That aside, why exactly are you cooking? Are you trying to convince me how good of a wife you would make?
Lukin’s eyes flicked back over to her and he smirked.  Cardassian ingredients were not necessarily unheard of on Earth, but they weren’t as common as on Ops. In addition, they didn’t have as wide a variety.  So, he’d decided to take another approach - he’d looked up information about traditional Finnish cuisine. Recipes for that were easy to find.  
He noticed Arys approach and study the food he was cooking, before stealing some of the chopped vegetables to snack on them. 
Zorkal: Try that again, and you might find yourself missing a digit.
Trovek: Really? 
She looked at him with what was almost a pout while her hand moved to grab another carrot, but then decided that Lukin with a chopping knife in his hand could be slightly terrifying. 
He cast a disparaging glance at her but made no further commentary.  The water had begun to boil and Lukin tossed the two ‘destalked’ cabbages into it.  He peered at the bot, but it would be some time before he could work on the next phase.  In the meantime, he took the ham which had been sauteing on the stove with onions and tossed it into another pot which contained some thick, green liquid.  
Trovek: ::with a sigh:: You are full of surprises. 
Zorkal: Such as?
Trovek: Amongst other things, you are cooking. 
Zorkal: It is only fair that you list out the things you admire about me.
Arys rolled her eyes, deciding that really she wasn’t in the headspace to indulge him. She offered another shrug, drained her wine glass, and refilled it. 
Trovek: ::wryly:: You’re Cardassian. The perfect species. What else is there to say. 
Zorkal: Indeed, you have a point.
Lukin scraped the carrots into a bowl, then tossed them with some sort of marinade before laying them out in a flat dish.  Into the oven, they went, and when he straightened, he cast a quick look at the cabbage before throwing a few other vegetables into a skillet.  Was she waiting for him to say something more?  To ask again?  He denied her.  Instead, he prevented the scarring of the vegetables but pushing them around the skillet with a wooden spoon.  Evidently, the silence was enough of a crack for her to open the door.  
Trovek: Yesterday I discovered something that is… :: searching for the right word to use:: horrible. Not what I expected I would ever come home to. It’s why I excused myself for the evening. 
Zorkal: You seem to be handling it well.
As well as a non-Cardassian usually handled things, that was.  His people tended to be a bit more accepting of horrors.  Perhaps it had been the recent years of inflicting it upon another people, then enduring it themselves.  Times had changed, the tides had turned.  Had they learned anything?  
That was neither here nor there.  Arys knew their past as well as any foreigner, and she certainly didn’t need a lesson upon Cardassian etiquette when it came to bad news.  In truth, such things were handled differently.  There was the public face.  Then there was the private.  Sometimes the private was so much so that no one else saw it.  Would she hold on to whatever it was so closely?  
Trovek: But I need to talk to someone who doesn’t sugarcoat things. 
It seemed she would not.
Lukin did not trust easily.  None of his kind did.  He was especially careful for he walked a very thin tightrope among the factions that ruled and attempted to rule, among the players in the game.  Even though the Obsidian Order no longer existed, mild paranoia was ingrained into the very fiber of their being.  Thus far, he had not a single person he felt he might be able to confide in.  Arys, however, seemed ready to trust him. 
Lukin did not trust easily.  Nor did he betray trust easily.  Though many of his kind would have turned their backs upon their friends, even their family if it had benefited the state, and subsequently them, that was one of the ways he differed.  One of the reasons he had to be so very, very, very careful.  
Lukin did not trust easily.  The history of his people had pounded the caution into him since his birth and it was not something he could change.  He had found, however, that other species trusted easily, at least in comparison, but that trust could also be lost just as easily.  He would be sure to keep whatever she had to say close to him.  
Zorkal: Then speak.  
Arys shook her head and sipped from her glass of wine, trying to find the best way to approach what she wanted to talk about. Speaking to Lukin had a purpose, or would have, otherwise, she wouldn’t be doing it. 
Was she worried to bother him with something meaningless, or was she simply cautious to define what it is she wanted from him? 
Trovek: After dinner. 
After dinner. After a few moments of not having to think about what was happening, after a few moments of enjoying his company. 
Zorkal: After dinner?  
He cast a slight glance over at her, though most of his attention was upon the food, making sure that it did not burn or get overcooked. The cabbages were only half done, the carrots not quiet there, and he still had more preparation to go.  Letting the vegetables settle, he opened a bag and poured a measure of tiny red berries into it before adding some sugar and spice to it and placing it into a pot upon the stove. He was juggling many things at once, but Lukin had done that in many ways for many years.  
Trovek: I need you to be Cardassian. :: she sighed :: You will understand when I tell you. As I said, I… don’t want things sugarcoated, but I also don’t want them dismissed. 
That, and the fact that she was starving. She had skipped yesterday’s dinner and today’s breakfast. Even if she usually didn’t pay any attention to her needs, some part of her seemed to realize that she would need her strength for the days ahead. 
Zorkal: I will only sugarcoat the lingonberries.  
Arys nodded and left the kitchen, taking the bottle and the glass of wine with her. She sat down in the living room, onto the armchair she had asked Lukin not to use and that belonged to her grandfather, and stared out of the window. 
Lukin continued with his work, allowing her to dwell in her silent contemplations. He did not remain still, however.  His hands worked, taking the food, cutting, slicing, stirring, folding, laying it out.  In between he somehow managed to get the table set, the soup ladled, the main course and side dishes arranged, everything covered to be kept warm. Even the way he positioned the various dishes had a balance, a certain artistic flair to their position.  Only when it was all finally ready did he call for her to join him.  
Arys barely managed to draw herself away from her spot by the window but made her way to the dining table eventually. 
The table was small but sufficient for up to four - no need for more.  Upon a smaller plate, a bowl had been set, rich green peppered with dark red chunks of meat and garnished with a thinly sliced swirl of carrot coupled with a sprig of rosemary, clasped together in a pose as if they were waiting for music so they could begin their dance.  
Zorkal: I do believe this is called hernekeitto. 
For someone unfamiliar with the language, the word was as artfully spoken as the food had been prepared. 
Trovek: ::smiling:: It appears so. I knew you liked food, I didn’t think you could actually cook. When did you learn it?
Zorkal: I grew up learning.  My parents both cooked and did so quite well. Most Cardassians I know are passable cooks.
That didn’t mean they all were, but the ones he’d come across had been.  He took a particular delight in the activity, and that also afforded him the chance to show off his skills, even with food that was not familiar to him.  
She sat down, then got up again to choose the right kind of wine to go with the prepared meal, uncorked the bottle, and poured a glass for each of them. 
Lukin did not bring up the question of what she wished to discuss.  Obviously, she didn’t want to speak about it, so, instead, they discussed other things.  Snarky commentary, biting debate, it was a whole pleasant affair.  Talk meant the food was consumed slowly, enjoyed as much as the company was enjoyed.  They lingered, he brought out the second dish - kaalikaaryleet, or stuffed cabbage rolls.  Inside was rice, lamb, and finely minced vegetables.  Fried and baked, then carefully decorated with freshly made lingonberry sauce, the rich, deep red contrasted nicely with the pale green and brown. A small hill of sienisalaatti was sprinkled with chopped green parsley and the base of it was lined with sprigs.  Then, the dessert stars inset with plum jam, indentations in the dough adding depth to their shape.  There was enough for the two of them, and plenty of food for later.  Humans had a thing about leftovers.  
But the food eaten and the dishes cleaned, Arys gradually lost her breeziness. She prepared the table once more - this time she removed the unneeded chairs and any decoration from it, and placed a glass of water on each side. She vanished into the hallway, and when she returned, she placed the copied medical file on her side of the table and took a seat. 
The change in tone was quite drastic, but Lukin accepted it in stride.  He sat down upon one of the chairs, glancing down at the file. 
Zorkal: And now we come to this.
Ensign Trovek Arys 
USS Juneau 
Dalin Lukin Zorkal
Cardassian Ambassador
Starbase 118 Ops

It looks like something else is cooking here 😉

@Arys and @Alora DeVeau I loved this one, specially the title. 

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