How to Win a Woman
Location: 5 & Dime Lounge
"Again?" Theo slid an empty shot glass over the bar to the Counselor. "That's the second time this week."
"Third," Millie sighed as she snagged one of the bar napkins, wiping the lipstick from her lips. "This time, he was so engrossed in his work, he completely forgot."
"Sounds like he's more wrapped up in this experiment of his than he is wrapped up in you." Theo turned back, pouring the chilled vodka into the glass.
Millie chuckled, throwing back the vodka in one swallow. "The story of my life, da?"
Ensign Moro, fresh off her shift in Engineering entered the lounge. Her green eyes passively looked over the room before moving to the bar.
At Millie's indication, Theo topped off the glass again. "And this seems to be an unusual pattern for you," he stated, giving a nod to Ensign Moro as he wiped his hands on his apron.
Millie likewise gave a nod of acknowledgement to the newcomer seating herself at the bar. "It is not my fault. Apparently my friends are concerned that if I don't land myself a man--and soon--that I may quickly turn into a spinster and a recluse."
Theo chuckled and shook his head as he approached Moro. "What's your poison?"
"Vodka, no ice, lemon slice." Moro turned to Millie. "Your friends sound like my mother."
Millie chuckled, grinning at the Ensign. "My mother was the exact opposite. No relationships, no boys. Not ever. Not on her watch." She let her fingers play along the lip of her own glass as Theo poured Moro's drink. "My friends are another story. Apparently I'm the Mercutio's most eligible Bachelorette, and are either concerned with setting me up with someone in their department or ensuring I have the strength to conquer a husband for myself."
Moro raised her glass in salute. "More power to you."
Millie likewise raised her glass in a toast before downing it in one swallow.
Millie nodded at Theo's facial-inquiry for a refill. This glass, however, she simply held between her fingertips. She gave a quick glance to the mirror behind the bar, confirming the successful removal of her lipstick. She kicked off her heels, letting them drop the few inches to the floor.
Theo gave a sigh, leaning on the bar in front of the counselor. "So, how many does this make? Four?"
"Five." Millie glanced up briefly before letting a finger play along the surface of the vodka.
"And how many of those did you ask out yourself?" The bartender pulled out a small towel and polished up a spot on the weathered wood. The glance from the counselor answered his question, and he gave a soft chuckle. "You thought about asking someone out yourself?"
The sigh was evident through Millie's chuckle. "You say it as if it's that easy." She paused for a moment, eyeing her glass, before tipping it back quickly and emptying it.
"How many relationships have you been in, Counselor?" Theo folded his arms on the bar, leaning down to eye-level.
"Does a hologram count?" Theo's disapproving look answered Millie's question. She leaned in closer, holding the empty glass between their faces. Her head quirked slightly to one side, a wry smirk tugging at her cheeks, before she placed the empty glass upside down on the bar in front of him.
Theo scoffed. "None?"
Millie gave a slight shrug. "Why get attached to someone if you're only going to have to leave them again?"
Moro sipped her drink, nodding. "Because we're supposed to do what others say to meet their expectations of us which we didn't ask for."
Millie waved off the offer of a refill. She'd already had several shots in rapid succession, and though she no longer had plans for the evening, she figured it was wise to slow down a bit. "I was expected to be a career ballerina, and ran away from home to join Starfleet. You?"
"I left to get away from my parents. Was always good with machines and whatnot so I went in for engineering."
"I started in Linguistics. Turns out I was better at talking people off a ledge than talking to people in other languages." Millie shrugged. "But you are by far not the only crew member who used Starfleet to put a few star systems between themselves and their family."
Moro nodded. "Do you still dance?"
The counselor nodded. "I'm usually in the gym by 0500 if I'm on an Alpha shift rotation. It sometimes changes if I'm altering my schedule to accommodate other shifts." She slid her upside-down glass around on the bartop. "I loved dancing...but my mother was one of the instructors, and she was too toxic to continue to stay around."
Moro finished her drink. "You really shouldn't have a problem finding a date."
Millie looked up from her drink. "Why is that?"
"You're cute. I can't imagine most of the men on board not keeping an eye on you."
Millie flushed, looking almost flustered for a moment. "It's finding someone who is compatible. Someone who is interested in finding a commonality between us."
Theo's smirk grew into a grin as he leaned in closer, his voice lowered. "If she were the one setting up the dates herself, I'd be inclined to think men were her preference." He refilled the glass and slid it back to Ensign Moro. "Perhaps our little ballerina doesn't know what she's missing." Seeing the blush on Millie's cheeks, he gave a sly wink to Moro before turning his back on the two ladies and wandering to help another patron.
Moro took the glass with a slight shrug. "Just pick a guy..or girl you like and go for it. But I'm not one with a great track record."
For a brief second, Millie's eyes did a glance-over of Evelyn. "If it were only that easy. When you're the ship's counselor, there is often the assumption that I either have an ulterior motive, or that anything they say will wind up in their personnel file." She propped her elbows on the bar, leaning her chin on her folded hands.
"Hadn't thought of that. Well, I guess just don't turn down any chances and see what happens. That's always worked for me." The sarcasm on 'always' was self evident.
Millie gave a soft giggle. "I...might have punched Lieutenant Lerner in the face on our first date...and broke his nose." She gave a wince, biting her lower lip in embarrassment.
"What did he do to deserve that?"
"Cornered me in the turbolift, wanted to take me out on a shuttlecraft and 'show me a good time'. The date lasted about 10 minutes before I broke his nose to get away from his pressuring." Millie's cheeks flushed again. "I mean, he didn't even take any time to get to know me first."
Moro offered a hand. "I'm Evelyn by the way."
Millie gave a cordial smile. "Millie." She returned the handshake. "I remember you from our intake session. You've been aboard a couple of months, da?"
"Give or take. I don't come in here too often."
Millie smiled. "I am glad that you did."
Evelyn grinned softly. "Yea, me too."
Millie turned her glass back over, indicating she was ready for another round. "Now, if we're going to be completely honest, I'm surprised it's not you that all the gentlemen are flocking to."
"From your lips to my mother's ears."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hit a nerve." As if on instinct, Millie placed her hand on Evelyn's.
Evelyn shook her head. "You didn't." She hesitated for a few moments. "My parents, especially my mother, wish I was following in my sister's footsteps namely getting married and giving grandchildren. Kind of hard to do that when you're not interested in a big component of that process."
"Well, then your mother has very outdated views on relationships and children. There are plenty of interspecies couples who are genetically incompatible who adopt and raise children. There are species that don't even birth their own offspring, single adults who raise children...and there are those that choose to have no children at all." Millie gave Evelyn's hand a soft squeeze. "Besides, who says we have to listen to our parents at this age, da?"
Evelyn chuckled. "Outdated is a very..polite way of putting it." But she didn't move her hand.
Millie smiled...and also did not move her hand. "Your mother would love me, then. I'm not sure that I even want children."
That caused a snort as Evelyn took a sip. "You timed that on purpose."
The counselor laughed. "I didn't, I swear!" She leaned up, reaching over the bar for a napkin. "Here, let me help!" Placing a hand under Evelyn's chin, she gently dabbed the vodka splatter from the woman's face.
The Engineer held the other woman's eyes. "Thanks," she said softly.
Millie's cheeks flushed, but her hands didn't move from their place. "You know...those eyes of yours--"
"Oh, for the gods' sake, Millie!" Theo chimed in from the other end of the bar. "Ask the girl out already!"
Evelyn slid her eyes to the bartender, then back to Millie. "No pressure. Let's just see how things go, alright?"
Millie flushed an even deeper shade of red as she let her hands fall into her lap. "I'm sorry--" She stammered. "I'm--I'm not very good at this."
"Hey...," Evelyn put her hand on Millie's elbow, "..that wasn't a no, it was just a don't get bullied by the bartender." She gave a grin and finished her drink. "This can be a little awkward so there's no expectations."
"Well, my only experience is a guy I walked away from, a professional from a harem, a one night stand, and a holodeck program. I would caution you about having high expectations of me." Millie finished her shot of vodka in one swallow.
Evelyn switched the topic hearing Millie's tones. "So what do you do when you're not listening to people's deepest darkest secrets?"
"You'd be surprised how much of my day that actually takes up." Millie chuckled softly. "Especially given that there are many members of the crew who don't want to engage in counseling in a formal setting. I spend a lot of my free time being...creative--" she grinned, "--in how I get people to talk about what's bothering them. So, I spend a lot of time in the gym, in the holodeck...or right here in the lounge."
"I spend most of my spare time working on little projects, tinkering with things I build."
Millie smiled. "What do you build?"
"Well, right now I'm working on an interface for holographical programs. Long story short, it would allow you to be in control of a hologram which could be activated anywhere within range and you could interact physically with the environment. Its just a prototype."
"That's...pretty amazing." Millie smiled. "I would love to see it sometime."
"It's amazing if it works. A lot of my ideas don't make it to that stage but what can you do?"
"Keep trying. That's a skill not many possess." Millie gave a genuine smile.
Evelyn returned it before pushing her glass to the bartender with a slight shake of her head to indicate she was done. "So I need to get going but maybe we can talk again?"
Millie nodded. "Are you...free for dinner tomorrow?"
"I start evening shift tomorrow but I could go for lunch...or in my case breakfast."
The counselor's cheeks flushed slightly. "Breakfast it is."
Evelyn stood. "See you then."
Millie watched her new friend exit the lounge, an unusual smile on her face.
"So..." Theo coyly slid over, picking up the empty glasses and wiping down the bar. "You have a date."
"Goodnight, Theo." Millie slid off the stool, retrieving her shoes, and began the walk back to her room. She had to admit that her heart was fluttering a bit...and she wasn't sure how well she would be able to sleep tonight.
Lieutenant JG Aemilia "Millie" Stepanova
Chief Counselor, USS Mercutio
Ensign Evelyn Moro
Computer Systems Specialist, USS Mercutio