Drink & Chew Gum
Location: After 11
Timeline: Date 2371-08-26 at 2230
4513 words - 9 OF Standard Post Measure
She always liked it when the bottles behind her bar were straight and well-organized. She wasn’t a control freak by any stretch of the imagination, but this was one area where she tended to want things perfect. After all, it was all she had.
Natalia Perez, or Nat as the crew called her, wasn’t sure if she was happy she’d come along on their unplanned whirlwind adventure to the Delta Quadrant or not. On one end, she had nothing on Terra and no one to miss her. On the other, it was exhausting trying to figure out what alien race was going to pop up next and send undead charging through her lounge. Nat lived one day at a time, and it was a good thing, because she was at the mercy of these military uniforms.
After 11 had been open since 16:30 hours, but she was used to long hours behind the finely-designed bar. It was just that today, not a single interesting person had walked in. She was bored, and the lul between customers saw her leaning back on a stool, looking every bit as numb as she felt.
It had been some time since Ilan had visited After 11. Her schedule had been too busy as acting chief of science for her taste - she hated it, but what choice did she have? Tonight, she had more or less said to hell with everything, she was getting drunk and laid and science could wait. She was wearing a dark green wrap top dress with a skirt that flipped and moved with every step. It was so short that it gave the hope of one errant flip might show something quite enticing, but of course it was purposefully designed to never do any such thing. Her heels were a shiny gold, and she wore matching accents of a gold necklace and gold earrings. Her makeup was apparent but not caked on. She looked gorgeous.
She was here to find someone new before she defaulted to one of her old faithful options if necessary. They were fine, but she liked new. Walking up to the bar, she greeted Nat with a smile. “Evening.”
Nat’s affect tended to be neutral. It was hard for one to tell if she didn’t care what people thought or just didn’t know how she came off to people. She wasn’t overtly positive or negative and often stored up a certain curiosity in people who never thought they knew the real her.
“Ilan Ocara in the green fuck-me wrap.” Nat said, her large eyes looking the scientist up and down without any signaled feeling. “Boys, beware. What’s your poison tonight?”
“What’s on special?” Ilan asked, leaning forward slightly on the bar with her pretty green eyes resting on Nat, taking her in. She wasn’t unattractive, she wasn’t stunning, Ilan wasn’t picky.
“I got a few crates of this amazing Banean Liquor they call ‘shandreil. It’s smooth on the way down and tastes like strawberries.”she said, shifting slightly. That kind of attention was normal for her, of course. What bartender wasn’t flirted with? She liked the game, but only when it was fun. “The girls around here can’t get enough. Profits are through the roof.”
“Alright, I’ll take one of those then, why not.” Ilan flashed a charming grin, flirting, but not really expecting it to go anywhere. It was just her way. “Seems not too busy in here tonight. Something else going on somewhere?”
“It’s pretty much a free for all on Banea. Apparently they’re, like, terrified of us and will just let Terrans kinda do whatever they want.” Nat responded, her Puerto Rican accent subtle over her even and un-accentuated words. “I guess a lot of people are just down there basically treating them like shit. Meaning not many people are up here drinking by booze.”
“Well, shit.” Ilan sighed and tapped her nails on the bar. “That does tend to limit my options. What a shame. Maybe it’s just a get really drunk night.”
“You give up too easily. Hookups don’t just fall out of the sky. Of course, the beautiful ones never know that.” Nat said, and she smiled then. She turned and grabbed a tall, slender glass with a broad base and grabbed the drink she’d promised. Pouring it quickly with a practiced hand, she closed the bottle and quickly cut a strawberry-slice garnish for it. Putting it on the glass, she brought it over and slid it to Ilan. “You have to tell me what you think.”
Nat was wearing a black sleeveless shirt with a v-neck that drifted all the way down to her sternum. Since she was almost totally flat chested, it was more of an elegant look than a tempting one. She wore tight blue jeans as well.
“Oh I know that full well, I just have standards.” It wasn’t entirely true or false, she usually had them, but tonight they were practically nonexistent. She pulled the glass over and picked it up, giving it a sip and mulling over the taste. “Yeah, tastes like strawberries. It is pretty good.”
“Oh standards, right.” Nat said without inflection as she leaned on the bar. “Maybe I can play matchmaker. Tell me about your type and I’ll see if I can find it.”
Ilan had to work to focus, keeping her attention on Nat. She didn’t want to be rude, but talking with people like this was boring; it felt like they had no life or pizzazz in them, and right now she just wanted some fun. “Breathing and consenting.”
“Oh, fuck. You’re desperate. High praise for the one who goes home with you.” Nat responded, a slight smile appearing on her face. There was something playful about it in a relatable sort of way, but she hadn’t seemed to rise above the feeling of boredom that was looming over her that day. It was clear Nat was talking to Ilan on purpose, but there weren’t many options also. “The replicator makes some pretty radical tools. And believe me, I would know.”
“Oh I know. Sometimes people just aren’t worth the trouble.” Ilan laughed softly and took another sip of her drink. “But, at the same time, it can be lacking in certain aspects, and I don’t really want lacking if I can help it tonight. I’ve been working too hard for that.”
“So breathing, consenting, and not lacking. You’re getting pickier and pickier by the second.” Nat said, her large eyes moving to the doors as they opening and a group of knuckle-draggers from engineering walked in cackling. She rolled her eyes, a hint of some thought she didn’t share, and looked back at Ilan. “These guys have the same requirements, give or take a few.”
She looked back at the again as they found a table on the far side of the lounge.
“They probably aren’t clever enough to make their own fun down on the planet. They’re here every night. Every single night. One of them told me I was hot in an ‘attainable dominatrix’ sort of way so, obviously they’re my favorite people.”
She looked down for a moment, seemingly about to move on when something came to her.
“Dare me to go over there and get them to do something nasty?” She asked in a quiet, semi-degenerate way that would remind more of a fourteen year old boy on a playground than a grown woman in a bar.
“Mmm?” Ilan pulled her attention from the group and back to Nat and lifted a brow. Sometimes fun and games could be amusing on their own. “Like what?”
Nat thought for just a second, life coming to her face as she planned the mischievous act. She grabbed a glass from nearby and popped something into her mouth quickly.
“I bet you 20 crowns I can get that big boy right there to swallow my gum.” She said and smiled, looking at Ilan with interest. “No tricks. I can be very convincing when I want to be.”
Ilan leaned in, swirling her drink in her hand and smirking. “How about I save my crowns and you do it anyways just for fun?”
Nat pursed her lips, a hint of sassiness escaping her at the suggestion. Scoffing a bit, perhaps jokingly or maybe not, she filled the glass she’d pulled with water and brought it to her lips. Drinking for the next few seconds, her large eyes moved with a strangely intense indifference from Ilan to the men, and back again.
“I thought you were here to have fun, fuck-me wrap.” she said before sitting the glass down. “Whatever, I’m bored as shit so I’ll bite.”
She rounded the bar and walked over to the table with a slightly seductive stride. She didn’t overdo it, but left it all to mere suggestion. She stopped at the table and suddenly her gray sarcastic personality seemed to melt away. She was smiling convincingly, like she was having fun with the boys.
“Hey, boys. What’s up?” she said, adopting a west coast American accent that was a bit less than subtle. To men who didn’t really pay attention, it wouldn’t make a difference. “I saw my favorite customers come in and I wanted to say hi.”
“Oh hey, Nat. How are you?” One of them spoke up immediately and leaned forward, his eyes communicating an intense and immediate interest. “We’re pretty good here tonight.” He answered the question before she even asked it, clever in his mind.
“Oh damn, that means the poison isn’t working.” he said with a smile, placing her hands on her hips with a feigned attitude. “I figured you’d be down with almost everyone else on Banea. I’m glad you decided to come down here and give me your money instead.”
“Well we wouldn’t want to abandon you to boredom.” The same man chuckled and the group looked at each other in a conspiratorial way. “Thought you could use some entertaining.”
“What do you mean, like you’re going to do some song and dance routine for me?” She asked, smiling and then tossing her long hair. “Or do you mean you’re going to let me step on your balls with my high heels?”
The line was delivered with total confidence, a smile on her face and intensity in her eyes. For the observer, she seemed genuinely interested in what she suggested.
The men all laughed for a moment as if she were making a joke, jostling each other with elbows and exchanging looks. Then one of them noticed the intensity she was still looking at them with and stopped, blinking.
“Wait you serious?” He asked.
Nat leaned in, the smile on her lips turned up quite genuinely as she came in very close to the man who was doing all the talking.
“Do you want me to be serious? Are you a bad boy who needs to be punished?” She asked, looking him up and down convincingly. It was over the top, but men often regarded such behavior from women favorable in a bar setting. She was desperate to hear his answer.
From her spot at the bar, Ilan let out a bark of a laugh and then quickly buried herself in her drink, though she was still wearing an expression of genuine amusement.
The man, transfixed, seemed to not even notice the sound. “Uhhh…. M-maybe?”
“I bet you are.” Nat said, biting her lip hard and looking at the other men. “But let’s be honest, I’m just flirting with you to get your money. I have too much fun on my own.”
She turned to the man again and looked surprised.
“Hey, does this gum taste like cherries to you?” She asked, and then leaned in quickly, kissing him passionately. Her hand found his chest and played there suddenly around his nipple as she used her tongue to tease at his. During the exchange, her chewing gum was visibly transferred from her mouth to his. She pulled back and smiled, her large eyes on his. She was waiting for an answer.
Totally taken off guard, the man had sloppily returned the kiss and then sat back, blinking stupidly for a moment with his mouth slightly agape and the pinkish hued gum just hanging there.
“Uhhh…” He began and closed his mouth, giving it a couple of chews still in a daze. “Yeah… yeah it does.”
“Swallow it.” She said in a menacing, coquettish voice as she watched him, seeming very interested in watching him do so.
“Huh?” He questioned stupidly again.
“Yeah, fucking do it!” One of the other men jeered. The rest of the group had turned on the unfortunate victim of Nat’s attention and seemed to be quite enjoying the show.
“I said swallow it, Bitch.” She said, raising her voice and getting the attention of most everyone in the bar. She reached up and slapped him sharply across the face.
If he hadn’t been inclined to do it, the shock of the slap across his face accomplished her goal. Whether through reflex or obedience, he swallowed the gum while staring at her stunned. The rest of the group erupted into mocking laughter, and Ilan joined in from the bar.
“Wha…?” The fooled man began slowly.
“Nice.” She said, standing up tall again. She didn’t join the others in their laughter, but instead dropped the act and returned to her old semi-awkward ambiguous self. “Well I’m going to go back to the bar because you guys are fucking weirdos.”
She spoke ironically and grinned while she turned around and went back behind the bar. Smiling at Ilan, she leaned on the surface.
“I’ll be waiting for that credit transfer, science geek.”
Chuckling, Ilan flipped her hair back over her shoulder smoothly. “You’ll be waiting a while, chica,” her voice was friendly and she flashed a smile, “remember, I said I’ll save my crowns and you’ll do it for fun and looks like you did just that.”
She leaned forward then toward Nat. “Tell you what though, how about I buy you a drink for the show? No strings attached, I promise. Just the drink.”
“Hell yeah; can’t say no to that.” Nat said with a grin as she went back and started to make herself a drink. “There’s nothing more fun than messing with a man. They’re so stupid; the perfect victims.”
“Gods they really can be.” Ilan agreed with a sigh, watching Nat make the drink. “There aren’t really many Terran men that can’t be led around by their dicks. If it wasn’t so useful, I’d say it was legitimately sad.”
Nat laughed at that; it was easy and casual, more a release of air than anything else. She’d never been particularly manipulative with the art of temptation, sticking instead to little games and small was of making money off of whatever particular projection men placed on her. She was like a chameleon at times, taking whatever social form works best for her. If it profited her, all the better.
“Sad why? It’s not your fault they can’t work their brains.” She said, finishing up the Sazerac she had been making. She lifted it to Ilan, licking her lips. “To getting them to do whatever we want.”
“Hear hear!” Ilan toasted with a laugh, touching her glass lightly against Nat’s and then taking a sip. “So what do you think of everything that’s been happening around here lately?”
“This shit with the Baneans? It’s crazy. I don’t know anything about aliens or anything like that, but I would have learned my lesson from the Ocampa, personally.” She said, sipping the drink and licking her lips again. “Of course the only benefit of that security lady being taken is that it drove Andrei back into the lounge. Poor baby was so sad; I bet he killed so many of them.”
She pouted, her face indicating nothing at all. It was hard to pin down what she really thought about it or if she was speaking ironically.
“Other than that, it was super fucked up. Not as bad as the Vidians though.” She concluded and took another sip. “How about you? You were down there during the search, weren’t you?”
“Yeah, I was and yeah, he did. Pretty terrifying really but also kind of romantic in some sick and twisted way?” Ilan’s brows raised slightly and she finished off her drink. “I’ll take another of these, please.”
“Terrifying?” Nat asked, her interest clearly piqued as she picked up a new glass and prepared it the same way as before for Ilan, then slid it to her without dealing with the old one. “Tell me about it.”
“Hm? About what exactly?” Ilan asked, her brows raising slightly higher as she took a sip of the new drink.
“I don’t know, tell me something scary that happened.” Nat said, her large eyes moving down the bar a few times like she was checking they were largely alone. “Whatever, I like a good story every now and then.”
“Oh. Hm. Well,” Ilan leaned in, speaking in a conspiratorial tone, “when we beamed down there, we were in a Banean control room with civilians and military all. The captain did his song and dance and left, then Andrei was up. He lined up these poor bird people and just started blowing them away which I know doesn’t sound exciting, but it was just how he did it and the look on his face. Like they weren’t even worth the energy or time and their existences were meaningless.”
“Oh wow.” Nat said, the change in her face was slight as the corners of her mouth ticked up and her eyes widened. “How did the rest of them react to that? Did they try to stop him?”
“No, they didn’t. Would you if you had a guy like Andrei towering over you just exterminating your friends like they were cockroaches?” Ilan chuckled. So Nat was one of these types - she couldn’t say she was greatly surprised.
Nat’s breathing increased and her smile became more obvious than before. She shook her head silently at first, sipping her drink. And then, when she finally spoke, her tone was understated.
“No, but I wouldn’t mind watching.” She said, her fingers dancing temptingly over the surface of the bar. “You know…for having stories to tell.”
“Uh huh… that’s definitely why.” Ilan replied, clearly amused by the other woman’s reaction. “If you want truly frightening though, you’d be better off looking at Cassiel. The slaves are still terrified of even a remote mention of her,”
“Is that because of the Lovarr stories? The slaves who work the lounge are terrified of her.” She said, seeming curious but with a hint of being unsettled this time.
“Yeah.” Ilan confirmed, not missing the bit of a shift in the way Nat reacted. Down for a lot, but maybe not down for anything. Or perhaps it was “down for whatever the hot man was doing”.
Vengeance killing was one thing, but bloodbaths were quite another in Nat’s mind. Regardless, her mind flirted over the idea of both of them with the same interest. It was just that one scared her more than the other. She pulled her drink to her lips and looked over Ilan’s shoulder.
“So, you came down here for someone consenting and I think you might have a few candidates. Take your pick so I can watch you flirt with them.”
“Who says I haven’t picked already?” Ilan challenged, finally giving Nat a flirtatious wink. Right after she did so though, she turned around in her seat and browsed the offerings. “Some candidates… but are they good candidates? Eh.”
“I’m sure my gum-swallower over there could give you two or three minutes in limbo.” Nat said, turning to another customer as they entered and taking their order disinterestedly. “With two or three inches at that.”
“Ew.” Ilan’s nose wrinkled and she shook her head. “Yeah no, not him. If anything I can go to one of my tried and true mounts I’m sure, but I was just in the mood for something new. Maybe I’ll have to settle for the new drink.”
“I’d volunteer but I’m not sure you could handle me.” Nat said with the flash of a quick and taunting grin. “And, on top of that, we don’t close down until 1am. My work schedule makes excitement kind of difficult. On the other hand, though, I get to sleep in unlike most of you.”
“Sleeping in is highly underrated.” Ilan chuckled and played with a lock of her own hair. “Now whether I can handle you or not, who knows.” Ilan knew of course, but that wasn’t what people like Nat wanted to hear in a return to their banter.
Nat gave a half grin, seeming satisfied with the response. She finished her own drink with a flourish and placed the glass in the replicator for recycling. She spoke while she worked, seeming casual and relaxed.
“If your bedtime isn’t too early, we could see if you can or not.”
“We could… are you worth losing sleep for?” Ilan challenged, mostly playful, and smirked while giving Nat a wink.
“I’ve never heard a single complaint.” She said, looking up at Ilan and giving her a dead stare that indicated a lack of feeling, though her lips were still set in a smile. “No one would dare complain.”
Ilan grinned. Obviously, she wasn’t having the same reaction as many did around Nat, but she did at least look like she was amused and having a good time. “Wouldn’t they? Why?”
“Complaining is the fastest way to get punished, Ilan.” The bartender said, and she smacked her palm on the bar in front of her. She shrugged. “Let’s just say I have a particular set of skills and interests which are more highly sought-after than most would think.”
Oh she was one of those. Ilan laughed genuinely this time, her green eyes shining. “Oh, no. No, I absolutely believe you in how highly sought they are. Especially by that over there.” She nodded toward the men that Nat had previously been toying with. “There’s definitely a type.”
“Yes. There is.” Nat said with a shrug. “My curse is that they creep me the fuck out. Lurkers make me sick. Normally I can get them to pay me and do what I say without actually having to touch them though. I’m working on it. In the meantime, my machinery and the holodeck keep me from getting desperate and making some regrettable mistake.”
Nat smiled then and leaned in, her large eyes showing a great deal more temptation than before.
“You need to decide if you want to risk a mistake. Otherwise, you might want to go back to one of your boring safe options.” Her smile made it clear she was stifling a laugh. Whether she had been genuine in all she said or if she was just having fun was anyone’s guess. For her, impressing people was a lot less important than having a good time with herself. Sometimes others could join if they had the right temperament.
Ilan listened intently, her pretty eyes still showing plain amusement at the turn this evening had taken. While she hadn’t lost complete sight of her initial goal for the night, her interest had shifted to the conversation and exactly how far and where it would go. Of course she had exchanged some conversation with Nat before, but it was surface level and nothing impactful. The slow night had presented a different opportunity. What she was offering wasn’t exactly Ilan’s cup of tea, but she could be adventurous if it wasn’t going to be a one sided adventure.
“I’ve got no problems with a little risk but…” She leaned in closer and lifted a hand like she was going to touch Nat, but her fingers simply caressed the air near her cheek. “I like to touch, and kiss, and other things… and be the boss sometimes.” She pulled back and her smile eased. “But I understand if that doesn’t interest you. Everyone has their own little things.”
Nat seemed genuinely charmed by Ilan’s response and, though she didn’t blush, her expression certainly showed it.
“I’ll see what I can do.” She said, turning her head as the doors opened and a sudden influx of customers started to enter the lounge. “Now go powder your nose or something. I’ve got to act normal around here.”
“Sure.” Ilan chuckled, paused, then smirked. “You know, if you wanted to, you could always bring someone along. Maybe your bubblegum boyfriend back there? We could see just what all he’s willing to do.”
Nat looked over to him for a second before returning her gaze to Ilan. She gave a shrug.
“I’ll see how he behaves between now and then.” She said evenly. “I don’t know if he could handle it without telling everyone he knows. He’s stupid like that, I think.”
“Probably. I trust your judgment. Where do you want to meet and when?” Ilan asked curiously. Of course she didn’t trust Nat in the slightest, but it wasn’t like this scenario could cause harm.
“How about here? As good a place as any.” Nat asked with a flat flourish of her hand. “And don’t worry; the doors to the lounge lock so we won’t be interrupted.”
“Risky. I like it. Why not, I’ll come by after your shift is over.” She finished her drink and paid for them with a press of her thumb against the area on top of the bar to do so. With a wink and a smile, she slid out of her seat and sashayed away without another word.
Nat watched the science officer go, her lips parting as the woman’s back turned to her. She was excited at the prospect of being with her; she was exciting and pretty, but though it wasn’t the first time she’d flirted with a woman, it would be the first time she’d done anything more. And more than that, her statements about being extreme had failed to do the subconscious work of scaring the woman away. Maybe she’d invite a man after all for the sake of some familiarity..