Waking up

Imagine being on the Voyager after escaping the aliens who abducted you. You set course to earth together with Captain Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Harry and Seven. Icheb gets a crush on you. Neelix teaches you how to cook. The doctor sees you as his personal psychologist. Tom and B’Ellanna are having a furious marriage.
But your abductors come back to claim you as their property.
(_Stardate 54400 – 54470; Season 7, episode 10 – 13)

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4. Eating worms

Stardate 54404.8, May 28, 2377, evening. My heroic act had spread among the crew like a wildfire. Icheb himself made sure of that. He was so grateful, he asked me out on a date, but he himself didn’t call it a date. It was a ‘thank you dinner’.

But before that happened, Seven escorted me to the doctor. She had extracted her nanoprobes and had prepared a file with all the details of the procedure.
At the infirmary, the doctor studied the file nodding, pacing, grumbling ‘hmm’ and ‘uhu’. I, in the meantime, waited next to Seven in the same position as her. I noticed that folding my arms behind my back, wasn’t me. So I fold them in front of me. By the time I had figured that out, the doctor had looked up from the IPad, or whatever they called it these days.
“Yes, this procedure is accomplishable. We can start right away.”
I smiled and almost danced my little happy-dance. It was a go, I would no longer be blind.
“But…” the doctor continued, “your eyes will have to rest for a few hours and I heard you have a date…”
“Icheb doesn’t prefer to call it a ‘date’,” Seven interrupted.
“But he confirmed to me that, by the definition of a romantic rendez-vous, it is in fact a ‘date’,” the doctor replied.
“Did Icheb say these exact words?” Seven continued her deduction.
“Well, no, I only inclined that…”
“It’s not a date.”
The doctor sighed, shook his head and I just stood there, smiling.

Two minutes later, I lay on the operation table. Seven watched from a distance. Some tools hovered above my head. The injection of the nanoprobes in my neck didn’t even hurt.
“Okay, now close your eyes.”
He tied a blindfold around my head.
“You will have to wear this until tomorrow. So I hope this won’t influence your date.”
“It’s not a date, doctor,” Seven pronounced.
“He came to me for advice, it better be a date!”

Their little quarrel started to annoy me, so I wanted to leave the infirmary as soon as possible.  But the doctor didn’t allow me to leave on my own, and Seven was too busy and had to go to the opposite direction. I had to wait for Neelix.
Seven left and the doctor sterilized the table. He started singing and he had this serious look on his face.
“You know I can still see you, right?” I said after a while of studying him in his natural environment.
“Yes, you can see like a dolphin can see ultrasounds.”
“You should make a happy face when you sing happy songs.”
He gave me his biggest smile and sang even louder. Neelix entered at the moment the doctor ended and took a bow. He applauded.
“Wonderful, doctor! I see you have already given our guest one of your performances.”
But before the doctor could speak any more than: “Thank you! This song was written by…” Neelix took me by the arm and dragged me out of the infirmary.
“Don’t think I’m a rude person, Lin,” Neelix explained himself, “but once the doctor starts chatting, he doesn’t stop.”
I had the feeling I was walking in a neon-videogame, where sudden surprise jumped in front of me. Neelix was a good guide and brought me to the mess in one piece.
“Icheb isn’t here yet, his shift ends in half an hour. He wanted me to prepare something special for you!!”
He laid one of my hands on the counter and left me there. I smiled because of his energy.
“What’s for dinner, then?”
“Nebulian noodle soup!” he announced. Behind me, someone let out a loud groan, moved his chair backwards and walked back to the doors.
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that, Harry!” Neelix shouted from the kitchen.
“You ruined my family’s traditions!” Harry sounded angry, but not too serious.
Now, Neelix was throwing around with pots and cutlery. I moved closer to the sound and found a wall.
“Harry gave me the recipe one day, but regenerating noodles costed to much energy… The Voyager was having a difficult time, not much delithium left.”
“You can make food with only energy?”
“More or less. The generators can give you anything you want. So, instead of noodles, I used Nebulian worms from the garden. You can’t see or taste the difference! I used to make the recipe every week because everybody liked it so much, But after a month or two, someone found out. It wasn’t a secret, but the crew found out and now I only make it once a month. The captain still likes it…”
“Does she know yet?”
“Well, she doesn’t often eat with the rest of the crew… But please, Lin, you must taste it!”
“I will, I will.”
I now stood next to him, smelling the salty Chinese spices.
“My mother used to fry onions and grasshoppers. She called it ‘healthy fries’. She was into yoga and stuff, so I’m used to exotic food. Your fire is too hot, the bottom is burning.”
“Hmm, thank you,” he turned the stove lower, “how nice of your mother to introduce you to other cultures!”
I laughed: “Yeah…”
He added water and the worms. He proudly said: “That will do. Dinner will be served in fifteen minutes!”
His soft hands took my arm and navigated me to one of the chairs in the mess, a table for two. Almost everybody in the mess had left now. They had taken a piece of fruit or had used the generators. They were genuinely scared of the noodle soup…
The cook tripped around and put stuff on the table in front of me. I could detect a candle and metal cutlery. Then, I touched the soft napkin, folded into a form. I giggled.
“I’m sorry for the ugly swan, I only recently started napkin folding. I don’t yet have the golden touch.”
“I can’t see, Neelix, but it feels like a swan to me. Don’t worry.”
I could hear him smile, I swear. He went off again to get a lighter. He put on the candle.
“Icheb will be here any time now. Do you want something to drink?”
“Something appropriate for a sixteen-year-old who just had surgery,” I joked.
“Apple juice!”
Oh gosh.
Someone entered and I recognized him at once. He moved straight to his target, me.
“I see Neelix decorated the table…”
“He did a great job.”
“The napkins are… creative.”
He took a seat and cleared his throat.
“How has your day been?” I asked to break the ice.
“Great, I almost died.”
Oh gosh.
But, after only ten minutes and two apples juices, we were already talking about 1) the whole crew, 2) school and 3) the adventures.
Even though I couldn’t see his face and didn’t know when my soup was in the spoon and when not, I could hear the expression in his voice, very subtle. He finished a sentence in a hirer tone if he told something I probably wouldn’t believe.
“No way! That’s impossible!”
“But they found a way to separate the two individuals again by –(very technical explanation I didn’t understand).”
And I got to tell him incredible facts about the earth in the 21st century.
“The science-fiction films they made don’t even predict the future like this!”
“There are some similarities,” Icheb told me, flat tone.
“Like?”
“Fasers.”
I finished my bowl delicious worms and reached for my glass. I accidently touched Ichebs hand. He, then, awkwardly took it and we said nothing for three long seconds.
“I’m really tired, I should go sleep,” I said as I carefully pulled my hand back.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“OH, no. I only never happened to be a fan of blind dates.”
“…”
“Oh gosh, whatever your facial expression is right now, that was a joke!”
And then, he laughed.
“I’ll take you to your quarters, so you can rest.”
“That would be very kind, thank you.”
Suddenly he was stiff, a little bit clumsy. He was nervous. We walked through the ships while holding hands. At the doors of my quarters, I wanted to kiss him on the cheek, but I missed and touched his lips for a moment.
Oh, that will do. I really wanted my sight back, this was so awkward.
“Goodnight,” he said. He sounded so confused.
“Good night.”
The doors shut and I let out a scream of pure stress.

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