Ptolemy Cumberland’s wife Minka Mazur, has died in child birth (as was revealed gut-punch style in a post spotlighted previously! See Medical Report ) And he gathers with some old friends at a beloved bar where emotions and memories stir. A heartening read by a skillful writer.<hr>
Posted on 08 Jul 2023 @ 1:20am by Commander Thaddeus Zayne & Ptolemy Cumberland
Mission: Ongoing Mission – Station Life
Location: Hula Pete’s Tiki Lounge – Promenade
Timeline: M3 D11 – 2034HRS
2500 words – 5 OF Standard Post Measure
The tiki torches were roaring merrily at the front entrance to Hula Pete’s Lounge and even though he knew that they didn’t really belong on the promenade of a Starfleet Command station, he couldn’t help but feel comforted by the familiarity. It was something he needed desperately at the moment. Something comforting to soothe the edges of his raw emotions.
Hula Pete’s was one of the newer of the civilian establishments on Obsidian Command but the lounge itself wasn’t something new. The proprietor had attempted to run the establishment on Camp Falkirk for the benefit of the Marines there, but after a couple years of butting heads with Major General MacTaryn about the rowdiness of the Marines he was serving, he’d decided to move on (read: was booted) to greener pastures. Those pastures happened to be at Obsidian Command.
Thad stepped up to the bar of Hula Pete’s, an exact replica of the one that had been in place on Falkirk. The same one he’d been at when he’d met Cora, that night he’d tango’d with the Nausicaan. Just for the hell of it, he went to about the same spot he’d been in when that had happened and leaned against the bar, waving to the young woman tending on the opposite end. But before she could get to him, a man appeared in front of him, smiling from ear to ear.
“Thaddeus!” He boomed excitedly.
Despite himself. Despite his generally cold nature, Thad couldn’t help but smile at the tavern keeper and erstwhile friend. Matthieu Aismelle was a tall, slender man with dark brown hair slicked back stylishly and soft blue eyes who had a handsome, charming smile that could light up a room without a word. His chosen professional suited him to a T and even though Thad didn’t buy into that particular variety of bullshit, he couldn’t help but feel at ease more than he had been when he walked in.
“Mon dieu! Ç’est bon de te voir! It’s good to see you!” Aismelle grinned, reaching over the bar top to take his hand. “Why have you not come to see me sooner? You are the First Officer now, yes?”
“Yeah, yeah, I am,” Thad nodded, shaking his hand, finding himself smiling back.
Aismelle held up a finger dramatically, “Ah, for this occasion,” he grinned, sweeping away from the bar to the far side and reaching into a cabinet, returning with a tall, stout bottle of brown liquid with a glass stopper in the shape of a bucking Ram.
Thad perked up at the sight of it, “Is that Coldram Scotch?”
“It is, my friend. I bought this bottle with you in mind,” he grinned, setting it on the bar with a dramatic flourish and then went to get two glasses. “I had it for you on Falkirk. I thought you might want it for a special occasion. So few men with good taste,” he smirked as he set the glasses down.
“Pretty sure the Major General would have partaken,” Thad replied with a crooked smile.
Matthieu clicked his tongue in disapproval, “I would sooner mix it with cola,” he spat. Clearly the bad blood between Matthieu and MacTaryn was as bad as ever. If he was honest, he was surprised Matthieu had survived as long as he had with MacTaryn in charge, probably in no small amount owed to the fact that Mrs. Major General MacTaryn was a regular at the lounge. But eventually it had hit its breaking point and he’d gotten the boot.
Thad laughed as Aismelle pulled the stopper on the scotch and then poured two fingers worth in either glass and restoppered it. He pushed one glass towards Thad and raised his own. “To old friends,” he smiled, “Santé!”
“Cheers!” Thad replied, raising his glass with him. He gave it a sniff and then took a sip of the brown liquid, closing his eyes as he did, overwhelmed by the flavor and the emotional impact that such a simple act had elicited. He was’t an emotional person by any stretch of the word, but the last two days had pushed the utter limits of his control over them. The loss of Minka and the soul-crushing fallout of that on Ptolemy had his heart raw and clawing for calm. Add to all of that he was now the XO on a Fleet command station whose Captain was off on an away mission and he was now having to deal with a four-pip Admiral, and he was overwhelmed on the professional side. The two stresses were fright trains hurtling at three hundred miles an hour right at one another. He had to find a way to work through it, or else, he might be the next one to go down.
“Incroyable,” Matthieu shook his head, staring at the glass and then smiling over at Thad. “It’s good?”
Thad just laughed at the absurdity of the question, “Yeah,” he finally said, “Yeah that’s probably the best I’ve ever had.”
“Bon!” Matthieu grinned. “I knew you would like this!”
Thad just nodded and took another sip of ambrosia, savoring every bit of it. He set the glass down on the bar and stared at it a moment, finally looking up at Matthieu who he could see was watching him carefully. He flashed him a comforting smile and took the stopper off to top off their drinks, starting with Thad’s.
Zayne started to reach into his pocket to pay for it, but Aismelle waved his hand angrily, “Bah!”
“Thanks,” Thad muttered.
He nodded, clinking glasses with him once more and taking another sip. Matthieu was about to open his mouth to say something else, to comfort his friend that he knew was hurting. He might have been cheerful and energetic to see him but news traveled faster than anything on a station so he was well aware of what Thad had been dealing with the last few days. But anything he had to say melted away as he watched the man behind Thad approach the bar, his jaw slightly agape.
Matthieu shook his head suddenly to get out of the funk he’d just found himself in and hurried to get another glass, set it on the counter and poured another measure of brown liquid and pushed it to the edge. Thad had his own cup to his lips and turned to his left curiously to see who was worthy of Aismelle’s best and nearly choked on his to see Ptolemy lean onto the bar, hands wide around the cup. He didn’t say anything to Matthieu or to Thad. He just stared at the cup for a moment, then picked it up and took a pull from it, setting it down and shaking his head.
“Fook, that’s good,” he grunted quietly.
Stunned, Matthieu looked at Thad in bewilderment, but poured the newcomer more anyway.
Ptolemy took the glass in hand and took another drink, and as he returned it to the bar, he reached over and put his hand on Thad’s shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly. “Cora said you’d be here,” he said quietly, his normally booming, boisterous voice subdued to a barely audible scratch. “She’s… watching Ada,” he added.
“Ptol,” Thad replied quietly. “I… I don’t know what to say.”
“Yeah,” he replied, glancing up at Matthieu, “Isn’t really anything to say, is there?” He sighed, turning back to the cup and taking another drink.
Matthieu just stood there, pouring more into everyones glass apparently now unconcerned for the cost of the bottle. A silence fell between the three men all staring pensively at their drinks, Ptolemy still resting his hand on his old friends shoulder. What was there to say to one another? What hollow words would those be? Nothing either of them said could change what had happened, nothing they said could ease the grief or answer how he was going to move forward with his life. Neither of them could tell him what he needed to hear to know what to tell Ada about why Minka wasn’t coming back, or why he was spending almost every waking hour in the Infirmary staring through the glass into the incubator his son was in. So why bother. Why even try. It didn’t matter to him what they said, only that they were there with him.
Ptolemy had only obliquely knew of Thad when they had all been on Camp Falkirk together, Minka as the Chief Medical Officer, Thad as a Strategic Operations Officer and one of the few true Starfleet personnel. But he had a close relationship with Matthieu not only because he was a bit of a barfly himself, but also because there were precious few civilians on Falkirk.
Biologically speaking, Ptolemy was alone. The rest of his family had long since died, the last of them being his parents who had died when he was eight, and had been raised subsequently in a group home. The other children in that home with him, four boys and one girl, had become his brothers and sister in every aspect. Over his time at Falkirk, he’d come to think of Matthieu as something akin to that, and in his short time knowing Thad he could see their friendship lasting. But it meant that at this particular juncture, they were the closest things he had to brothers right now.
The urge to curl into a ball in his bedroom and bawl for days, or to crawl into the bottom of any one of the bottles behind Matthieu’s bar was nearly staggering. But, he kept trying to think of Ada but also of how Minka would have probably raised herself from the dead to beat his ass for daring to neglect their children moping about her. So he was trying to be strong. Trying to face this like a man, like an adult, and like the father he needed to be. He had no idea if his son was going to survive, but that didn’t mean he had to let his daughter suffer for it. He had to be strong. He had lost his parents young and he was going to be damned if he was going to willingly let either his lose him. He was a fighter, and he’d fight this until he fell over from the effort.
“Do you remember,” Matthieu finally spoke up quietly, “The Hula Dancer auditions?” He smirked. On Falkirk he’d tried to spice up the evening activities by bringing in hula dancers, but being so far out of the way it was hard to get a steady stream of civilians so he’d opened it up to the Marines as a bit of fun on the side.
Thad looked up at him, “The grass skirt dancers?” He asked.
Ptolemy smirked slightly, “That lad that insisted he had to have a go?”
“Shit, what was his name?” Thad shook his head, “Fassel? Nessel?”
“Right, right, the ‘I spend too much time in the gym’, lad. Captain Nefassel?” Ptolemy offered, staring down and shaking his head, trying to remember.
“Newcastle!” Aismelle slapped his hand to the bar.
“Newcastle!” Thad and Ptolemy boomed in answer, their somber voices suddenly bright and loud as if a bomb had just exploded. Of course no one noticed as the bar was loud already; just the three of them who had been operating in near silence.
“The General’s wife was there for that,” Thad remembered, shaking his head thoughtfully.
“Right!” Aismelle grinned, “And everyone was terrified that this was it. Hula Pete’s was gone!”
“Until she stood up and told Newcastle to shake it like he was going to lose it!” Ptolemy offered with a grin, the first real one he’d had in days.
“God, that guy was something,” Thad shook his head.
“I remember…” Matthieu braced himself, “He came and danced over by the table with the General’s wife and… Minka was the first one to put a bit of latinum in his skirt,” he laughed. “Set the whole crowd on fire,” he laughed.
“While I was fooking there!” Ptolemy laughed in earnest this time, Thad and Ptolemy joining him.
They laughed for a few moments and then it died down slowly. They all drank to brace themselves for the crash, but Ptolemy spoke up first, “I ever tell you how I met Minka?”
“No,” Matthieu said quietly.
Thad just shook his head, glad to see his friend upright, talking and even with the slightest hint of a smile on his face. It might have been pained but it was still there.
Ptolemy smirked, “I met her after a match at this bar in Sao Paulo,” he recalled wistfully, “I’d just won and was there to celebrate with the lads,” he said, chuckling sadly to himself, “This bloke lost a fair bit betting against me, so when he saw me at the bar, he thought he’d get his lost money out of me,” he said, looking up at the two of them, “Swung at me, this lad. Missed completely, mind. Hit this lass square in the back, spilled her drink everywhere,” he laughed again to himself. Thad and Matthieu smiled as well, looking to one another briefly as if to confirm with each other that this was in fact happening.
“Minka turns ‘round, gives this bloke what for for hitting her. So what’s he do?” He laughed properly now, “He takes a swing at Minka,” he grinned.
Matthieu winced and Thad chuckled, positive he knew what she did.
“All hundred pounds of her put the lad on the deck, out fooking cold,” he laughed as he remembered, the expression twisting almost into tears as he did. He gave an almighty sniff to settle the emotions and tried to smile again, reaching for the glass. “Fooking out cold,” he said, taking a sip.
“You played football?” Matthieu asked.
“Eh?” Ptolemy replied.
“You said you’d just won a match?”
“Oh, no,” he shook his head. “I was a prize fighter. Five time Federation Middleweight Champion,” he declared proudly.
“No shit?” Thad asked, incredulous.
“Aye,” Ptolemy nodded proudly. “I said to myself, I said, Ptol. That’s a woman that can handle anyone. That’s the kind of woman for you,” he said, smiling painfully again. “And that’s what I did. I went head first after that woman. And I…” he cleared his throat and took a drink. “I wouldn’t be the me I am without her.”
“She touched all of us in her way,” Matthieu agreed, holding back a smirk. Both of them looked at him, uncertain why. “You remember how awful she was at bowling?” he asked, playfully quiet.
“Put that ball through the wall like it was nothing!” Ptolemy roared with laughter.