644: Rule Thirty-three

by Ensign Hok and LT. Grace
Just Prior to Pandora's Box

-=USS Serendipity=-

After returning from Earth, Hok decided now was as a good a time as any to visit February Grace.

They had worked together since he was transferred to the Sera, and they had gotten along well enough professionally, but that was as far as their relationship went.

Beginning to envy the close relationships the senior staff had, relationships that went beyond friendship, was something Hok found he wanted, and more to his surprise, needed.

His father and brother were dead. His beloved Moogie was in a coma. He was outcast amongst his own people. Hok thought he could bury that deep inside by having a career in Starfleet.

So far, he had managed to do that, but after seeing what the people on the Sera had, Hok realized he needed to have that, too. So, here he was, standing at the door of the Reece-Grace quarters, a special gift in his hands.

The door chime rang, and February tilted her head curiously.

"We have a visitor..." She informed the half-asleep Sparrow, as she hoisted the cat from her lap and onto the floor. "They're open, come in."

Hearing February Grace's voice beckoning him to come in, Hok took a deep breath and stepped forward.

The door slid open.

February looked up to see Ensign Hok, carrying a tray that held a teapot, a small silver dome, and a single fresh pink rose from the Arboretum.

Sparrow suddenly arched his back, and hissed. Loudly.

"Sparrow, no!" February shooed the cat away with her foot, embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I don't know what is the matter with him today."

Hok's eyes squinted as he stared at the hissing feline. They were repulsive creatures, always sneaking and getting into things, and leaving hairballs everywhere.

Their only use was to catch rodents, and bring in latinum from cultures that found them to be tasty delicacies. He didn't understand why some races liked them so much, especially females.

Realizing that this feline was February Grace's pet, Hok quickly brought his gaze to her, a smile on his face.

"Hello, Lieutenant," said Hok. "I've been on board the Sera for a while now, and we've worked together, but we've never gotten to know each other. If it's all right, I brought you a small gift." He beamed another smile at her. *Rule of Acquisition Thirty-three,* Hok thought, *It never hurts to suck up to the boss.* Though he needed friendship, Hok was still a Ferengi, after all.

*Beware a Ferengi bearing gifts,* February suddenly heard the voice of previous Grace host Deveral slurring in her head. *They'll wait till you're drunk and steal the pants right off of you. *February shook the thought from her mind, silencing Grace as it tried to put her on her guard.

February was very much open and trusting of others- until they gave her good reason not to be.

"Well that's very kind of you, Hok. Please, make yourself comfortable." She gestured toward a deceptively solid looking piece of furniture across from her own chair and Hok lowered himself into it. Finding that the soft cushions gave much more than anticipated beneath his weight, he nearly tipped the tray, teapot and all, backward into his shirt.

"Dude!" February rose from her chair and took the tray. "Sorry, I forgot to warn you about the drop." She placed the tray down onto the coffee table and smiled as she looked over the contents. "The rose is lovely. My favorite. How did you know?"

"Oh, you know you can't hide anything on a starship," said Hok after he regained whatever was left of his dignity.

"And cinnamon tea!" February caught the aroma rising from the steaming teapot and her eyes grew even wider. "Hok, if there are cookies under that dome, I'd say you've hit a home run."

"Home... run?" said Hok. Why would someone hit a person that was trying to run home?

"Baseball term. I'm a Red Sox fan, myself..." said February.

Hok glanced at February Grace's feet, which were bare. No red socks there, or any socks, for that matter. Odd.

"I grew up on Earth, you see," She continued. "In some ways I'm as Human as the next guy. Girl. Person. O.M.G." She declared, borrowing one of Dabin's pet terms as she lifted the dome and saw real, home baked sugar cookies.

Suddenly, she missed Fleur Le Marc very, very much.

"Oh Hok! How did you manage to get these?" She grabbed a cookie and started happily eating it. One thing was for sure, eating for two so to speak was making her very hungry.

"I still have some old connections on Earth," said Hok proudly. Unfortunately, he had to pay top latinum for them from the money Trick London fronted him to buy the alcohol for the poker nights.

"Well, however you did it, thank you. I'm glad you stopped by, actually. I've been meaning to ask you a bit more about yourself, but things kept coming up. Before I do, though," Bru settled back into her chair, "I'm going to tell you something about me that effects you personally when it comes to your job. You see, Dabin and I, we're," she blushed, "Starting a family."

At first, Hok didn't catch what that meant, though it quickly hit him. There was going to be another little Trill running around the Sera. He smiled.

"But things aren't going by the book," continued Bru. "So I'm on restricted duty for the next few months, and that means, my good man, that you will be pulling primary helm duty until I'm back on my feet. How do you feel about that?"

Hok's mouth dropped for a moment, but he quickly recovered.

Though he was more than glad to get the opportunity to fly both the Sera and the Alchemy as much as possible, and it was a great honor to be temporarily acting as chief of the department, even though it was likely going to cut in on his time with Trick London and their poker nights. With the new added responsibility, he would need to be even more careful than he originally thought.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," said Hok. "I appreciate that you trust me with this responsibility."

"I have faith in you, I know that you'll make me proud." February now wanted to turn attention back to more social subjects, and she poured two cups of tea, one for her, one for Hok.

At first, Hok wasn't going to accept the tea, as it was a gift for February Grace. However, Rule thirty-three blared in his head like a brass band. Accepting the cup graciously, he took a sip and thought he was going to die. The revolting beverage made his lobes hurt and he felt like he was going to vomit right in front of February Grace.

Working very hard to hold it in, he took a proffered cookie and greedily devoured a large bite, but it was so sickeningly sweet, his eyes watered.

*I wonder how the cat tastes,* thought Hok as he strained to keep a straight face.

"So, Hok..." February took a sip of the tea and closed her eyes, clearly enjoying it.

Hok was pleased that February Grace was enjoying the cookies and tea, though it was a vile brew to his tastes. He had certainly hit a home run.

"Tell me about yourself."

Hok sighed quietly, knowing this part was coming. Talking about himself was the last thing he wanted to do. He simply wanted to make an impression with the boss and hightail it out of there as quickly as he could. After all, what was so special about him? His family was gone, and his business license was revoked. For all practical purposes, he had been de-lobed. Resigning himself to the inevitable, he gave the short and quick version.

"My father is dead. My brother is dead. My Moogie is in a coma. My father's enemies plotted and had my business license revoked. I had nowhere to go, so I joined Starfleet." He, of course, left out the part about the Orion Syndicate wanting to kill him. "That's pretty much the story of Hok," he said with a shrug.

"Wow. That's quite a story." February looked up at him shyly over the rim of her cup, her blue eyes honest and warm. "Sounds like the kind of guy who'd make a good friend for a Reassociated, disowned, cast-off, clumsy, duty-restricted, pregnant Trill with questionable eyesight."

Hok was surprised that February Grace was so sympathetic to him. He was also surprised at the warm feeling that was welling up inside him.

The most surprising thing, was that he liked it.

Ensign Hok
Acting Senior Flight Controller
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


LT. SG February Grace
Enjoying Cookies on Maternity Leave
USS Serendipity NCC-2012