“Katie!” Angela beckoned for Kat to join her in the mess hall. Kat moved over and sat down next to her.
“I’m relieved the you’re still doing well,”Angela said. “I was worried that you’d fall in with a bad crowd after your peace keeping career ended.” She leaned back. “But working on a ship, even a small one like this, that’s a nice little path, isn’t it?”
Kat nodded. “I think it suits me quite well.”
“It must have been frightening though,” Angela stated. “When you were between jobs, I mean. How long did it take before you found this position?”
“Couple years,” Kat answered.
“A… my word, it’s amazing your credits held out that long,” Angela stated.
“They didn’t,” Kat stated. She held her right shoulder. “I had to do some odd jobs for a while.”
“I see,” Angela muttered. She scratched her head. “Nothing bad, I hope.”
“I worked for a respected family,” Kat answered. “They own quite a few companies.”
“That’s good,” Angela sighed with relief. “I was worried that it might have been something shady.”
“So, what’s this guy of yours like?” Kat asked. She examined Angela carefully. “He treats you well, I trust?”
“Oh yes!” Angela declared. “My Alastair is a very kind-hearted man. He retains that kindness even when he’s mad.”
Kat let out a sigh of relief. “That’s good to hear. I wouldn’t want to see you like that again.”
“Now Katie,” Angela chided. “My Will wasn’t a saint, but he did care about me. Even if the poor dear didn’t always show it well. Let’s not speak ill of the dead, okay?”
“We’re still all clear,” Leon yawned. “No sign of anyone in pursuit or in ambush.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” Farah asked.
“Definitely,” Ophelia agreed. “But Leon is the type who needs something to hit. Monitor duty doesn’t suit him well.”
“I’m fine at monitor duty,” Leon grunted. “It’s just really boring when nothing happens. I could write Paul a ballad, play with the Baron and do my exercises while half keeping an eye on the situation and it wouldn’t make a difference.”
“Don’t you dare,” Ophelia warned. “We can’t afford to let our guard down just because things look quiet right now.”
“I’m keeping n eye on it and not doing most of that stuff,” Leon said. “Don’t you worry.”
“You’re composing a ballad?” Farah asked.
“Just in my head,” Leon said. “I’m not writing it down or anything.”
The bridge door slid open. “Hey,” Allison said. “Yuri around here?”
“Haven’t seen her since I relieved her,” Leon said.
“Weird,” Allison muttered. “She wasn’t in her quarters or engineering either. I wonder where she wandered off to?”
“Doctor, I require your assistance,” Yuri stated.
“A medical consultation won’t really help you,” Paul said. “You’d b better off going to Grace for maintenance.”
“It is not that,” Yuri stated. “I require advice.”
“Is that so?” Paul said. “What kind of advice do you need?”
“You and Leon have had a relationship for many years, correct?” Yuri asked.
“Yeah,” Paul answered. “For most of our adult lives, actually.”
“What elements have been essential to the continued smooth operation of your relationship?” Yuri asked.
“Smooth, huh?” Paul sighed. “It’s never been smooth. Keeping a relationship going takes a lot of effort, a lot of compromise and hard work. There will always be rough patches. You just have to be there for one another, listen to one another and operate as partners. Why do you ask? Are you and Allison having a rough time?”
“Lately I have had the impression that her interest is solely in physical pleasure and not in an actual relationship,” Yuri stated. “Every time we see one another, she hurriedly begins steps towards physical intimacy.”
“And it makes you feel unimportant,” Paul stated.
Yuri nodded. “I do not believe that is her intent, but the consequence is the same.”
Paul was silent for a moment. “Have you talked to her about it?” he asked.
“I am concerned that I will give her the wrong impression,” Yuri answered. “I have no desire for her to think that physical intimacy is a part of relationships that I do not wish to engage in nor do I desire to be perceived as paranoid or unreasonable.”
“All right,” Paul began. “You wanted my advice, so here it is. Talk to Allison about your feelings. You won’t connect with her by hiding them. She won’t be able to read your mind. Even a telepathic species like the Zognors or Bjoryils couldn’t read your mind. A human certainly won’t be able to. I understand that it’s difficult to share your feelings and thoughts sometimes. But a successful relationship needs open and honest communication. You need to be able to safely share your thoughts and feelings with her and she needs to be comfortable doing the same with you. If the two of you can establish that rapport, then your relationship may very well last for a very long time.”
“Communication,” Yuri muttered. “I understand. I will locate Allison and speak with her. You have my gratitude, Doctor.”
Paul watched her go and then hurried after her. “Yuri!” Paul called. The android turned to him. “Be mindful that some things need to be communicated in private, okay?”
Yuri nodded. “I comprehend. I will refrain from communicating our relationship business in public.”
Paul let out a sigh of relief, getting the distinct impression that he’d just prevented an awkward scene.