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Dinner With the Rouens

Posted on Sun Jun 16th, 2024 @ 11:20pm by Lieutenant JG Toareth Rouen (née Darqa) & Gabrielle Rouen & Lieutenant Faith Hawkins & Lieutenant JG René Rouen & Zirvell Khen

2,327 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: Fortuna
Location: Rouen Quarters
Timeline: Current

Toareth was in the lavatory. Lynch had always called it the latrine, which was where Gabrielle got the word she liked to use. Of course, Rene had to be different and called it the fresher. Regardless, it was what it was and it was currently occupied by two; Toareth and Gabrielle, mother and child. Toareth was getting herself ready and Gabrielle, already ready, was sitting on a stool to the side, watching her mother go through what appeared to be an in depth ritual in preparation; cheeks, eyes, hair. Forget the hair. Toareth never bothered with her hair much as disheveled was always perfectly fine to her. She had only brushed a single lock to the side, making her hair appear a bit more disheveled before nodding her affirmation and continuing onward.

Gabrielle always found her mother's off-duty attire somewhat astonishing. Toareth liked to wear all black, a set of baggy cargo pants with way more zippers on the legs than were needed, a pair of black shiny shoes with a thick sole making her mother appear a bit taller than she really was, a black shirt that Toareth called a bardot top that also stop just abover her belly button from which hung a small black onyx. Toareth also wore something called a choker around her neck and was currently working on some black eyeliner.

"Mama," she said, "why do you dwess like that?"

"What?" Toar responded and stopped what she was doing to look at herself in the mirror. "This speaks to me. I found this fashion about 50 or so years ago and fell in love with it. I like it."

"But you look scawwy."

"No," she stopped and turned to Gabrielle, kneeling to her level. "Not scarry. Just different. You know me. I like different. Besides, do I scare you?"

"You never scarwe me Mama."

"Well then that is all that matters. As long as I do not scare you," she said with a boop on Gabi's nose. "I can scare everyone else, but, as long as I do not scare you, that is all that matters."

"Even Dada?" asked Gabrielle.

Toareth looked to the side, thought, then reconnected her eyes with Gabrielle. "Sometimes, especially Dada."

Gabrille giggled at that and Toareth gave her a wink before returning to her preparations. "Run along and see how Dada is fairing. He may need some help getting the dinner table set."

"OK," and Gabrielle hopped down and bolted for the door.

René was in the common area in the corner he had converted into a small kitchen. He was cooking a meal for the adults consisting of French onion soup, beef bourguignon and apple turnovers for dessert. Not quite the elaborate fare he had done for the first dinner date with Toareth on the Stardancer years ago, but some of Toareth's favorites. The children were welcome to eat what he had prepared or he could replicate hotdogs and macaroni with cheese which he knew most children enjoyed. He saw his daughter exit the fresher and smiled. "Bonne soirée (good evening) Mademoiselle Ladybug."

"Bonjourw," she said in response as her little legs carried her forth.

He gave a nod to the fresher door. Is Mama almost ready. Our guests should be arriving any moment now."

Gabrielle nodded to him, "Mmhmm. Mama says it's OK if she scares everyone, sometimes especialwy you. But not Gabrielwe," she beamed as she finished.

The evening had arrived. Meredith had been pestering Faith almost constantly. When are we going to see Gabrielle? When are we going to have dinner at Gabrielle's? It was a relief when a time, date had been arranged. Faith had made an effort to prepare, but time had been limited. A late finish, left little time to shower and change before collecting Meredith from Alice. Alice was Keira's best friend, who had joined her on Britannic. She looked after Meredith, her cousins Heidi and Lydia after school. And on evenings, too.

Faith and Meredith were en-route to their destination. Meredith receiving a piggy back, as requested. As always requested. Her arms were around Faith's shoulders. "Remember, what do you say when we get there?" asked Faith. She held a bottle of wine in her right hand. Courtesy of Keira, via Alice. She hoped at least one of Rene, Toareth liked it. "Thank you for inviting us." a pause. A long pause. "Um. I forgot."

"Mr and Mrs Rouen." replied Faith, reminding her daughter of how to address Rene and Toareth. "Here we are." she said, pressing the chime. Faith had chosen a plain blouse and trousers for the occasion. A dress seemed a bit much. As did doing anything special with her hair.

René looked up at the wall chronometer and noticed it was precisely the agreed upon time. He glanced at desk where Zirvell was finishing up his homework for school. "Zirvell, could you get the door please. The beef bourguignon needs one more stirring and two minutes to simmer to perfection."

"Yes sir," the Cardassian teenager acknowledged before shutting down his PADD. Unlike the others, he hadn't felt a need to preen and try to look good. After dinner he was intending to go home to his own room anyway. He stood and made for the door in deliberate paces as of to decide how long it'd take him to get there.

He forced himself to smile at the arrived guests, and stepped aside to let them in. "Please come in..." he invited them, looking over his shoulder at his hosts while still trying to figure out how to even address them.

The doors parted. That all-too-familiar swishing noise. Faith, Meredith came face to face with the Cardassian. The engineer chose not to react, but Meredith gave a beaming smile. As ever. "Hello." said Meredith. Niceties, small talk with a Cardassian? It was too soon for Faith. She carried Meredith into the Rouen family quarters. "Something smells good." said Faith, her tone subdued. Meredith was eager to join Gabrielle. "Gabrielle!" she exclaimed.

"Merw...dith," returned Gabrielle with a wave.

Zirvell smiled at the little one, the first genuine one of the evening. "Hello," he returned, "I'm Zirvell, who might you be princess?" He'd caught other girls being called princess by their parents and had observed delighted reactions from said girls. This made him believe it was something important even if he had no idea what a princess was. With the girl's distraction by the other little girl in the room, he doubted an answer was forthcoming so he returned to his homework, leaving Faith for the adults. He hadn't missed the lack of greeting and it hurt.

Gabrielle had a hold of Meredith's hand and pointed to, "Dada! That's my Dada. Dada, this is Merw...dith." And that, Gabrielle pointed to the Cardassian, "is Zirw...well. He is a Carwdassan."

The lavatory door slid open and Toareth, somewhat gothed up, stepped out into the primary living area. She regarded her guests, "Meredith," with a nod. "Faith," she looked to Faith, admired her for a second or two. "Welcome. I am glad we could finally put this dinner date together."

René wiped his hands off with a small towel. "Can I get you something to drink? Water, iced tea or perhaps you would like a glass of wine?"

"The Rouen vineyard," Toareth started, "produces some of the best wine you've ever had. You can take my word for it." Toareth went to René, touched him on the shoulder and kissed him lightly on the neck before stepping over to check on Zirvell.

Zirvell turned at the side of footsteps. "I'm fine," he lied, "I'm just tending to my homework. I'll be out when dinner is ready."

"A wine, please." asked Faith. She hoped this encounter with Rene would be more amicable. The reception she'd received from him so far suggested it should be. But yes. A drink was in order after the day she'd had. Faith watched as Meredith practically ran over to Gabrielle. She'd been looking forward to this. So had Faith, in truth. "What's on the menu?"

"I prepared Toareth's favorites if that is okay. We'll start with French Onion Soup. The main course is Beef Bourguignon and for dessert we have apple turnovers. I was going to replicate dinner rolls if that is okay." René stepped over to Faith and took the bottle of wine she had brought. It was a red from the Picard vineyard. He gave an approving nod. "Thank you for the wine. Would you prefer a glass of this or something from my family's vineyard?"

"I've never sampled anything de Picard," said Toareth as she stepped up to them. She patted Meredith on the head as the girl bolted by. "I will of course defer to Faith's decision." She stepped closer to Faith, arms up slightly as though wanting to provide a hug.

Faith nodded in reponse to Rene's answer. "I brought that for you and Toar to enjoy." she replied. "A bottle of Rouen's finest, please." a pause. Unless it was Meredith, or her nieces, hugs were not something Faith did. However, she considered it would be rude to refuse. She accepted Toar's offer of a hug, albeit reluctantly. Her arms an inch or so away from the fabric of Toar's shirt.

Toareth, in turn, hugged in the same manner. There was a time when she did not even shake hands. At that time, it was a foregone conclusion that she never hugged. Then came René, then came Gabrielle, then came a time of Toareth trying to be more social. The hug her and Faith shared was actually Toareth's first attempt at using a hug as a means of a social greeting. As awkward as she felt doing it, the moment passed sans disaster.

Toareth's emo friends, back on Earth who were part of their circle (former circle), would certainly have discouraged her from such social interaction. And though Toareth still looked the part, emo and border-lined goth, her mannerisms were far from what the average person would envision upon setting eyes upon her the first time with her dressed thus.

"Rouen's finest it is," she said as she stepped back from Faith. "As the future matriach of Famille de Rouen, I can personally attest to the quality of the family's wine." She turned and went to the closet to fetch a bottle from their personal stash.

"I look forward to finding out." replied Faith, her arms now down at her side. She still felt a little awkward, uncomfortable. Not for a lack of Rene, Toar being welcoming hosts. Faith did her best to hide it. "I like what you've done with the place." she said, trying to avoid an awkward vibe. Faith and Meredith's quarters were still a little sparce. But homely enough. Thankfully, Meredith wasn't having similar difficulties settling. She'd already made herself at home.

René went to the replicator and ordered up four wine glasses. He turned to Zirvell. "Care for one?" France was a nation that had never been one to have legal drinking age laws. Teens were not necessarily encouraged to consume alcohol, but they weren't discouraged either. René had often had a glass of wine at family dinners since he was fourteen.

Zirvell blinked at the offer, not having expected it and he hadn't been about to ask either. "I don't know..." He answered uncertainly, "should I?" He studied the bottle in the man's hand. "I don't even know what it is," he confessed as he approached, fiddling with an old broken tricorder a nurse had given him earlier with the suggestion of trying to fix it.

"Well, it is something," Toareth started, "that you do not want to drink while working on electronics or around machinery. Or do any work for that matter." She spoke in a mother-hen-ish type of way. Sure one glass of wine was not enough to impair judgment but she wanted to set those boundaries, especially among someone so fragile and impressionable as Zirvell.

René poured four glasses and handed them out. He turned to Zirvell and gave him the last glass with only a little wine in it. "You can have a taste. If you don't like it you don't have to drink it. Okay?" He turned to Faith. "You are our guest. First toast is to you."

With a grateful nod, Faith accepted the glass. Swirled the contents around in the bowl. Raised the glass, to take in the aroma. Then, she was put on the spot. "Thanks, Rene." Faith hated it when people did that. "What am I supposed to toast to?". Ah yes. Perhaps a cop out, but it'd do. "To the happy couple." said Faith, re-raising her glass. A small smile, her tone genuine, warm. A polite sip to taste was taken. A taste she enjoyed.

Toareth nodded to the toast. She could feel the painful uncomfortableness Fatih felt upon having to give the toast. Toareth always felt the same way when she was put on the spot like that. She admitted to herselt that, even now, she would have had a similar difficult time if she was in Faith's position.

As their guest offered the toast, Zirvell followed the example of the others to lift his glass though he didn't know why exactly they did this. He sniffed at the content and wrinkled his nose before taking a small sip. The taste was odd and it seemed to burn a little in his throat. "I'm sorry," he apologized, fearful of causing offense despite the earlier reassurance. The man seemed so proud of the drink's origins... "Maybe when I'm older," he offered, "but right now, it doesn't taste right..."

"We understand Zirvell," said Toareth. "Well then," she said as she looked around at everyone, the guests first, "let's eat," and she started putting the final touches on the dining table as René was bringing the food.


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