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Muta onagri in caritate. Instabit.

Posted on Sun Aug 29th, 2021 @ 4:36pm by Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: Rodi's quarters
Timeline: 6 Days Post "The Hills Have Eyes", evening

His quarters were always spotless. A combination of Starfleet cleaning technology and marine indoctrination meant that Rodi always made sure his space would pass inspection. He was a gunnery sergeant, far past the time of inspections. But tonight he looked around his austere space with the critical eye of a Drill Instructor who was expecting a command inspection of his charges. He had a small coffee table in the middle of his living room, made of greyed cedar, with four sturdy legs at the corners. Beneath the bay window was a wooden bench in the same greyed cedar, on it were black cushions. Across it were two simple wooden seats of the same design. They were primarily made to be functional and lasting.

He had procured a small hotplate and put it on the table. On it was an old fashioned steel kettle filled with water. A small smile formed on Rodi's lips as he looked at it, getting a momentary flashback to his childhood. Next to the plate was a cotton pouch with the precious leaves. He had carried the same little pouch with him every time he was away from home for more than a few days. It was always filled with real, grown tea leaves. It was one of the very few concessions he had made to comfort. And now he was going to share it with someone else. He took another look through his home as he sat down on one of the chairs, nervous.

At precisely 7pm, the doorbell rang, signalling the arrival of the invitee. BaoJun had changed out of his uniform, opting to be more casual in trousers and a mandarin collared tunic in soft silk died a charcoal black and embroidered with jade thread. He carried with him a small selection of dim sum given the time, though a lighter variety including a few sweet ones in case the sergeant had eaten an early dinner. He waited patiently for the door to be opened to him before smiling and bowing politely to the other man. "Rodi, good evening."

Rodi took a calm sigh, trying to center himself before opening the door. Rodi's eyes darted from the top of Bao's black hair to the hem of the trousers. He then considered how his own clothing was lacking in refinement, it being a red plaid button up with the sleeves rolled up with a white t-shirt and dark blue jeans. He met Bao's bow, but it felt a bit more awkward as he had only used it in his martial arts training. "Good evening. Please, come in." he said after straightening and gesturing into the room.

Bao slid into the room, looking at Rodi and then his quarters. Plain and simple, both his clothing choices and the decor, but also indicative of the solidness the Lagashi associated with the human. He might not be cut out for doing it himself, but he appreciated the contrast. He sat his offering down, "I brought... is snacks the appropriate word? I was not sure of your dining habits and could not locate any information on Hibernian tea etiquette for this time of the evening," he said, trying desperately not to be awkward even as his eyes gave another check of how the Irishman's clothing fit him.

For a long moment Rodi tried to parse what Bao had said. 'Snacks, that he understood. Hibernian tea etiquette however.' As his mind processed he looked at the plate with snacks. "There isn't an etiquette." Rodi finally decided to answer. "It's tea, I brew it, we drink it, and perhaps we talk." The Irishman gestured to the furniture, "Please have a seat. I'll get the tea started." Rodi, nervous? No, why would you say that?

Bao set himself on the indicated piece of furniture, noting its solid and firm functionality and resisted the urge to comment on their being no etiquette for tea. He knew, academically, that others did not necessarily have set strictures in place for social interactions but he was still used to them. He put it aside for the moment to focus on the other man. "I did not mean to offend you, Rodi. But, yes, I suppose talking would be in order. Would it be impolitic for me to ask after the well being of your family?"

From beneath the table Rodi pulled two well worn, ceramic mugs. One was white and adorned with the SFMC logo, though badly faded. The other was grey and one carried the depiction of his father's church on it, also thoroughly faded. The metal kettle went on the hotplate. "My parents are well. They lived in-land so the worst of the flooding was avoided. They've been managing a lot of the evacuees that arrived." The kettle announced its near-boil and was taken off the hotplate. Rodi warmed the pot in silence for a moment before evacuating the water and then filling it with the hot water and introducing the tea through the infuser. "My father said that he hasn't seen the church this filled in twenty years."

Nodding along Bao looked at the church on the cup. "I have never been inside a," he paused fumbling over the correct word, taking the effort to speak English himself instead of the universal translator. "kuh rees chun, church. The architecture of the ancient ones looks lovely, though."

"My father's church is well over six hundred years old." Rodi noted before filling the two well-used mugs. "For me it's not a church any more, it's home." He offered the SFMC mug to Bao as he rose from besides the table. "I believe I have a few photo's, if you'd like to see?"

"If you'd like to show me," he replied, taking the cup of tea. "I know little of your home, despite 4 years at the academy on Earth. I am always interested to see more."

After taking a final sip of his tea, Rodi put the mug down and rose from the chair. He disappeared for a moment in his bedroom before returning with a thick book bound in supple, worn, brown leather. He offered the book to Bao before picking up his mug and sitting in the chair next to him.

Bao set the cup of tea down as he gingerly but unmistakably pressed himself to the other's side opening the book and thumbing through it. "It has lovely architecture," he said. "It is nice that at least some of Earth that was has been preserved to the present, despite all the calamities of history."

"Even during the Eugenics War, and World War Three religious buildings were off-limits." He flipped a few pages in the old book, showing a large circular plaza, surrounded on both the left and right-hand side with columns, leading to a view of an ancient marble church. The photo showed Rodi surrounded by people as a figure on the balcony of the church looked over the crowd. "The home of Catholicism is situated in Rome and is considered ancient, but the city around it is truly, magnificently ancient."

"Roma," said Bao. "If I recall correctly. There were not many Catholics at the founding of Lagash, but their cathedral at Ti'en was modeled after St. Mark's, until the Breen destroyed it," he added as he studied the photos. "Is your family still religious?"

"The Dominion never did respect the sanctity of life as we did." Rodi remarked before flipping the page to show the small, humble church. Just a nave and a bell tower, with a slightly wider transept jutting out. A young, black-haired boy stood between a tall, blonde woman of Scandanavian descent, and a short, robustly built man of Anglo-Saxon heritage. "My parents, when I was a boy. My father has been the priest for our parish for forty-five years."

"I like your fathers' church more," Bao said, looking at the photo. "It fits its place, and if you and your parents are any indications, its people as well." He gave a closer look at the photo. "I see your appearance honors your mother," he added with a slight lilt in his voice. "Aside from your height and hair. Those appear to be all your father. I am glad to hear they are well," he added. "Do you have any siblings?" he asked as he leafed to another page.

In answer, Rodi shook his head before attempting to take a sip of his tea and finding his mug empty. He glanced at Bao's mug, seeing it was near the bottom. "They tried for a second child two times, the first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. The second time my mother delivered a stillborn, his name was Edward." Rodi had risen from his chair and stepped to the hotplate with another kettle of water to boil. "After Edward, they decided against a third attempt."

Bao leaned forward to set his mug on the table. "I'm sorry," he said, internally debating whether to continue the line. "I have seven younger sisters and a younger brother, so it is difficult for me to imagine what your childhood must have been like being the only child," he added. "I am the eldest, and AoLi is the youngest. I just hope he grows up to be as big a disappointment as me."

"Nor can I imagine yours." Rodi answered as the kettle started to heat up. "But we had quite a lot of pets. Dogs, a cat, chicken, and two or three geese.What about you? Any mysterious Lagashi tigers in your home?"

Bao smiled. "8 younger siblings and one overworked house-father controlled by his wives. I had a pet rock once. It died from neglect when my 4th sister was born. After that, it did not seem fair to inflict such torture on any other creatures. My 5th sister enjoys breeding ornamental koi and arowana, though."

The water boiled, but Rodi didn't notice it. "I have two questions. One, wives, as in plural? And two, where did you bury the pet rock?"

Bao actually laughed gently at the second question. "I have no idea, actually," he said. "I suspect I accidentally left it behind when me moved to a bigger compound. I have a funerary tablet for it in my quarters," he said. "And yes, wives plural. Lagashi birth rates are very skewed. Three-quarters of the population are women due to genetic damage that occurred at the Founding. The most common family structure is 2 to 3 wives and one husband. One wife for the service guarding the Pentad, one for the family's bank, and one for what's lacking, and a husband to raise the children, of which there should be many. It's not all that uncommon for there to be a second husband in larger families or if one of the husbands, like myself, prefers male companionship. You may have also gathered that arranged marriages are fairly common. Loving one's spouses is a nice bonus, not a precondition."

Rodi blinked. Then without another word, turned around and made them another cup of tea, this time an Andorian blend he had saved for a few years. The deep blue leaves steeped while the marine turned back and looked the tall Lagashi again. He opened his mouth, then closed it as he was processing, formulating and then dismissing questions for close to a minute. "I was raised in a very old religion. It championed monogamy. I am monogamous and expect the same from my partner." Rodi then turned back to the tea and grabbed the mugs, offering Bao his mug.

Bao grew slightly concerned that he may have frightened the marine off. When the other finally spoke he said what the Lagashi had already suspected anyway. He considered a joke response, something about Colonel Garlake perhaps, but something told him to be serious first, and maybe joke later. He set the mug of tea on the table and instead moved to invade Rodi's personal space, offering him his hand as an invitation but leaving him an out if he preferred while he considered the best response. "Ok," he settled on, deciding the let things be simple for the moment. He was tempted to say more but decided not to for now.

Rodi did not move away from Bao, but he also didn't move in. He inhaled the scent of his tea through his nose and blew it out over the tea. "I apologise," Rodi started, "I'm not used..." He stopped again and considered his words. "It was unreasonable of me to put my expectations out there like that. But I wanted to avoid creating a misunderstanding in who and what I am." He looked up at Bao's eyes. "I am not an easy man to be with, in quite a few ways."

The Lagashi smiled gently. "Rodi, you don't need to apologize to me for being yourself," he said. "In my language, we have a saying, love the house and its crow." He thought for a moment, trying to find the correct way to voice his own feelings. "I would be upset if you tried to pretend you were something else. You have rough edges, but perhaps you should consider that I might find some of them appealing. You can be ridiculously direct, in ways my parents would find scandalous, but I have never wondered if you meant something you said or were just saving face. Yes, you can be a little...zealous when it comes to your job, but you have never treated me like I am a porcelain doll incapable of participating." He stopped for a minute, realizing he was rambling slightly. "And now I can apologize for going on and projecting my insecurities at you."

He studied those blue and black eyes for a moment. His hand took Bao's and gave it a squeeze before letting go. Rodi reached for Bao's mug. "Thank you. Now drink your tea, then tell me more about this pet rock of yours."

Bao laughed gently as he took the cup. "Only if you will tell me about your dogs. I would have thought you'd have had goats, or perhaps sheep."


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