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Lt. JG Trovek & Amb. Zorkal - "Lies And Deception!" (Part II)

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It's no secret I have been a fan of these two characters from the start.

I love this scene, thank you @Arys and @Alora DeVeau



((Lukin’s Quarters, Starbase 118))

Lukin was intrigued.  Something was up, though he couldn’t fathom what. Well, that wasn’t exactly true.  He was not without imagination and could conjure up some possibilities, but none of them seemed likely.  So, he simply resigned himself to waiting until he could speak to the person in question about the matter. 

Lukin’s quarters were not a part of the Coranum district.  There were two reasons for that.  First, paranoia.  While the newer Cardassian government was kinder than the old, it was not above certain actions that were echoes of the original.  Or perhaps he’d simply had too much experience and knew too many people in that government to be that trusting.  Taking quarters within the base’s habitat sector offered a bit more…privacy.  

The second reason had more to do with his mindset.  While he certainly could have the pick of anywhere in the Cardassian district, the idea that he was accepting of placement within what was considered Federation territory, so to speak, was a small, very subtle indication of his desire and willingness to cooperate with the conglomerate.  Even the small things mattered.  He knew that more than anyone. The downside was that it took longer for him to reach his home.  Fortunately, he was also a fairly patient man.  Most of the time.

Eventually, he came to the proper deck and, without hurrying, made his way toward his abode.  The doors parted as he approached and Lukin stepped inside. Initially, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Arys’ boots were sitting neatly at their usual spot, indicating that she had chosen the evening to visit, as she did on most evenings. And yet, something was different. 

His nose picked up the scent of roasted meats and spices, and as he stepped into the living- and dining area, he noticed the table set for the two of them, candles waiting to be lit, and plates awaiting food to be served.  

Arys in the meanwhile didn’t hear him enter. She had spent the past days - if not weeks - preparing. It had started several months ago when she had begun to learn cooking. Basic Terran cuisine at first, and then easy Cardassian recipes. And then, during one of Arys’ and Ferri’s meetings for a cup of Gelat, they had spoken about birthdays, and Ferri had told her that Lukin would be celebrating his in a few weeks’ time. While the younger woman had made sure to find out the exact date, Arys had begun planning the evening. 

Cooking was a lot like surgery - at least when it came to Cardassian cuisine - and Arys had practised this particular set of dishes several times by now, and fed them to Ferri. Ferri never complained, but this needed to be perfect. And those stupid slices of zabo-liver were just not browning the way they were supposed to.

The scene wasn’t necessarily out of place.  They often had dinner together, the table set, perhaps the candles absent, but always with an array of dishes arranged just so, and food that appealed not only to the taste, but to the senses of smell, sight, and, yes, even touch.  What *was* unusual was the person orchestrating it all. 

Lukin was a foodie, as some humans coined the term. He knew what he liked, though was not averse to trying new things.  He also had no qualms about sharing his opinions - and most Cardassians he knew were the same.  Occasionally, he made exceptions.  For instance, the first time he had ever gone to the Greasy Spoon, Lukin had almost left.  The arrangement and lack of colour made the food very unappealing.  However, as the establishment had been recommended he, in the interest of positive relations, endured. 

And he learned a lesson.

While the epitome of cuisine included a favourable appeal to all the senses, sometimes one or more could be lacking if the flavour was, at minimum, pleasant.  And, despite both the appearance and lack of nutritional value, the Greasy Spoon’s food did, at the very least, taste quite good.  

However, he still remained staunch in his belief that a truly *excellent* and the high-level course included all the aspects, not just some of them.  Thus far, what he saw was quite lovely.  She had a very balanced setting, and the candles added a different flair to the ambience.  

Zorkal: This is unexpected.

Arys turned around, not having noticed Lukin before. She wore one of the dresses she knew he liked on her, and an actual apron to protect said dress, and the way she smiled at him brought it all together. 

Trovek: I do hope so, it’s a surprise after all. And I am almost done too, so your timing is excellent.

He smiled.  Not the cynical or smirking expression that often graced his face when he was conversing with others, but a softer, gentler, more sincere hue that cast over his features.  It was a smile that was rarely given to others - but she was receiving it more and more often.

Zorkal: I see you’ve gone to a lot of effort.  Is there a purpose?

Did there have to be?  No, but Arys wasn’t known for cooking.  That was his thing for the most part.  But to have her do it?  Unexpected, and nice.

She tilted her head, wondering if he just wasn’t aware of the date, or if he wasn’t aware that *she* was. 

Trovek: It’s your birthday. 

It was.  Lukin knew that very well, but it hadn’t held a prominent place in his thoughts.  Birthdays were, usually, simply dates that marked when a person entered the world, ones to note for administrative purposes . Other than the thirtieth birthday, Cardassians didn’t do much.  Perhaps a small token, an acknowledgement, but they were not big deals beyond the ‘congratulations for surviving this long’ celebration that took place after reaching the third decade. 

Zorkal: I’m aware.  I did not realise that you knew of it.

She turned around, managing to flip the liver - she was roasting it with a few roots and fruits - just on time. It also bought her a few moments to consider her answer.

Trovek: It is part of your public record - but I will admit, a little lizard reminded me and kept your schedule clear for the evening.

Zorkal: Ah, I see.

And that explained why Ferri was so insistent on getting him out of his office.  

Zorkal: I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Trovek: Well, how about this - she also helped me to order the ingredients and tested the food when I was practising. If it’s not good, you can still be displeased at her. 

Zorkal: I can find many reasons to be displeased with her.

In truth, it was a joke.  Thus far, Lukin had few complaints about the woman, other than the fact that she was almost *too* complaint. That, he hoped, would change in time.  

Zorkal: And perhaps I should submit a consideration for a raise for her if she was at the mercy of being your test subject.

Trovek: Look at you earning yourself getting sent to bed without dinner. 

Shed smirked and elbowed him, gently of course, and then sent him back to the dining area.

He snorted, then moved over to take his seat.  Arys had gone to a lot of trouble to arrange everything, he would not interfere with her preparations.  In fact, he would simply enjoy them.

Zorkal: So I see zabo liver is on the menu for tonight.  Am I allowed to know what else is in store?

Arys joined him not much later, and began to serve the dishes she had prepared. There were five of them in total, which was similar to the extent Lukin cooked. Though the dishes were different - Arys had chosen meals for which the ingredients were difficult to find, especially outside of Cardassia. It was why Lukin hadn’t had the pleasure of enjoying them for a while. 

Trovek: We have the zabo liver with sliced, ha’ak shallots and Cardassian apples. Then we have pancakes filled with cream, Prucruk Mushroom and truffle. Theeeen ::she paused, trying to remember, and failing, the name of the dishes:: a stew with fruit-bat and ikri buns. I also made a salad and a pudding with candied Cardassian orchids. 

Zorkal: I'm impressed.

Which was the truth. Not only had she prepared some difficult dishes, but she’d also had to take no small amount of effort to procure the ingredients. In short, she had gone above and beyond.

Trovek: I might have broken several laws importing that Kanar you like, and I prepared iced Redleaf tea and Cardassian Sunset. ::pause:: And obviously there is a cake. 

Ah, kanar.  That was an indulgence that he only allowed himself every so often. Okay, maybe a little more often than that, and Verriar was always happy to oblige him in that manner. As for the laws that she broke, well he was sure she covered her tracks.

Zorkal: A cake?

Trovek: It’s a birthday. It needs a cake. 

Yes, he remembered seeing some birthdays over on deep space 10, and as far as he knew they often included cake. There had never been an explanation.

Zorkal: What is the significance of a cake on a birthday?

Trovek: Well it’s tradition on Earth, and has been for ages. 

Zorkal: And how did such a tradition come about?

Arys served the last of the food before removing her apron and taking a seat. She looked at the table filled with the different dishes she had cooked, and eventually, she lit the candles. Who would have thought she could be that kind of person, huh?

Trovek: I am actually not quite sure. I think it originated in ancient Greece - at least that is what I’ve heard. I just know that it’s tradition and… well, I thought perhaps I can share them with you. 

She offered a shrug, and began serving dinner, filling Lukin’s plate with a surprising eye for plate composition and awareness of complementing flavours. Oh yes, she had practised.

And Lukin noticed.  Noticed enough that he spent more time admiring it all than usual, appreciating the quality, but also the artistic value of everything she had accomplished.  Form, colour, placement, it was all part of the presentation, a work of art that would soon be devastated, but not without proper acknowledgement. 

Zorkal: A fine meal.  I don’t believe I could do better myself. 

Trovek: I also booked the holodeck, but if you’re tired and want to stay home, I understand. 

Home. That’s how she referred to Lukin’s quarters, while calling her own quarters ‘her place’. Still, she stayed here most of the time. It was somewhat surprising that they were managing not to intrude on each others space despite spending so much time together. 

Zorkal: A holodeck?  Even if I were tired, you’ve caught my curiosity.

Fatigue was a minor thing that would not intrude upon the enjoyment of the meal, or anything else, with Arys.  Finally finishing his survey, Lukin started with the zabo, placed it in his mouth, then sat there, slowly, carefully chewing and closing his eyes as he focused on the burst of flavour in his mouth. 

Trovek: Is it any good? 

Zorkal: It is excellent.

Even if it hadn’t been, Lukin would have lied.  Fortunately, that was unnecessary, as she had proved herself quite capable.  

Arys couldn’t quite hide a smile. It was more than the pleasant feeling of hard work paying off - just that she had trouble articulating why his praise made her happy.

Trovek: I’m glad. 

Zorkal: Back to the Holodeck.  What do you have planned?

Trovek: Oh - well this is optional, of course. I realized I never played for you, and I thought you might like it.

Ah yes, she was a musician.  Lukin was well aware of that, of how much she had studied it, but he had never had the pleasure of actually experiencing it.  Well now, that would change. 

Zorkal: What will you play?

Trovek: Terran piano.

Lukin chuckled.  Hew knew *what* she played, but he had meant something entirely different.  Ah, but let her keep her innocence, let her think that she had just told him something he didn’t know.

Zorkal: I’m honoured that I get a private audience.

Trovek: I suppose I was just looking at an excuse to spoil you.

She had already spoiled him, but Lukin wasn’t going to complain.  Oh no, he would accept it all in good humour.  It was nice.  He could get used to it. 

Zorkal: You are hereby given permission to spoil me all you wish.

But in truth, even if she didn’t, Lukin was quite fortunate to have her.  The slow dawning of his feelings for her had crept in, and more and more the true depth of them was also manifesting.  He gazed at her for a moment, then continued in his meal.  Slowly.  Carefully.  Thoughtfully.  Every bite was savoured, pondered, and appreciated.  Proper meals were not rushed, and this one certainly would not be.

Lt. JG Trovek Arys
Medical Officer
Starbase 118 Ops


Dalin Lukin Zorkal 
Cardassian Ambassador 
Starbase 118 Ops 


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