Scene 1: Lieutenant Barclay at the Night Owl
I grabbed my drink and took a seat to wait for Lieutenant Nog. He was on Earth for shoreleave. I was meeting him for lunch. It was my usual spot, of course, in the back corner. An ancient folk song was broadcasting over the speakers. “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” I believe that was the title. It was just loud enough to enjoy without being a distraction from all the wonderful reasons people come to a place like this.
Sure, I could just replicate some coffee at home. But there’s just something about coffee shops. Everything about them is warm and cozy, like a crackling fire on a crisp, chilly, foggy-grey San Francisco morning. I’ve never been to one that wasn’t inviting and welcoming. They have a comforting and pleasant air, the thick aroma of roasting beans, the familiar sight of people reading or having conversations with friends, enjoying a rich warm cup of joe.
The Night Owl on Market St. had become something of a second home to me. It was a place where I could get away from my work in the engineering lab at Starfleet Command. I could come here and just relax, maybe work on my holonovel. Enjoy my coffee in peace.
I took a long, slow pull from my strong, oil-slick thick Klingon raktajino.
Scene 2: Enter Captain Katherine Janeway
The front door swung open and shut with the bright chime of bells, a kitschy feature of 20th century business establishments. I’ve always thought it was a nice touch.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like cream or sugar with your coffee?” The barista tied her vibrant green apron behind her back as she asked what turned out to be a silly question.
“No cream. No sugar. No syrups, foams, or sprinkles. Just a cup of regular, black coffee. And none of that replicated stuff. I’ve been trapped in the Delta Quadrant seventy thousand lightyears away from Earth. I haven’t had a cup of real coffee in seven years. I want beautiful arabica beans that taste like hints of smooth, melted, caramel swirled chocolate. I want beans that sound like rain pouring down on a tin roof as they’re grinded into a fine powder, releasing gentle wafts of blueberry pie memories. Just coffee, steaming hot to deliciously bittersweet perfection.”
Janeway’s love of coffee is something of a legend in Starfleet. Hearing her describe her perfect cup was like watching a passionate poet whisper gorgeous prose into the ear of a long lost lover. It clearly didn’t go unnoticed by the barista, who was all a-flush and twitterpated.
“One coffee, black, um?”
“Katherine. Captain Katherine Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager.”
“Coming right up, Captain Katherine Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager.” Annika peered back over her shoulder at Janeway as she turned to begin grinding coffee beans.
Scene 3: Janeway Finally Meets Barclay
“Uh, Captain…” I approached her as the barista turned.
“Lieutenant Barclay. It’s wonderful to finally meet you in person.”
“Oh no, it’s my pleasure Captain, my pleasure indeed. I can’t believe I’m actually standing right here with the legendary Captain Janeway.”
“Come now Lieutenant, it’s not like we’ve never met before.”
“Sure, but never in person. Oh, wow Captain—what you’ve been though, what you’ve accomplished. Oh, I’m sorry Captain. You just got home and here I am rambling on and chatting your head off like a fanboi. I’m sure all of this is very overwhelming for you. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ll leave you to your coffee.”
“Thank you Lieutenant, I appreciate the consideration. I’d love to have breakfast with you sometime soon. You can catch me up on everything I’ve missed over the past seven years.
“I’d like that Captain. Thank you.”
Scene 4: Janeway and Annika
“One coffee. Black. For Captain Janeway.”
One of the other things I like about that seat in the back corner is the great view of the front counter. It’s perfect for people watching, which is the lifeblood of a severe introvert like me and—according to Counselor Troi—was significantly better than getting lost inside of a holodeck for days at time.
“Please, call me Katherine.”
“Very well, Katherine,” she nodded slightly, raising her eyebrows quizzically. “I’m Annika Hansen.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Annika.”
Their fingers intertwined in a slightly tangled web as the mug of arabica passed from hand to hand. Annika’s face was flush again. Captain Janeway’s hand lingered longer than expected.
“Try it,” Annika encouraged with a flirtatious smile.
Janeway lifted the seafoam blue-green mug to her nose and inhaled with a sense of purpose. Warm satisfaction washed over her face. As she lowered the cup, a playful smirk appeared on her glistening lips.
She took a sip. It looked as if she was about to faint into the waiting arms of a lover she thought long dead. So many nights so far from home in the Delta Quadrant. Knowing her love of coffee, she must have dreamed of this moment often, her hands cupping and caressing a goblet of hot, toasty roasty for the first time in years.
“It’s absolutely wonderful Annika. Everything I hoped it would be and more. This is literally the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.”
“I’m pleased that you like it.”
“Oh I do, very much. You did a marvelous job.”
Annika blushed again and this time Captain Janeway’s face turned the same shade of fiery rose.
“Are you busy tonight Annika?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“There’s a little place down in New Orleans called Sisko’s Creole Kitchen. I’m told it has the best gumbo on the planet. Would you care to join me for dinner?”
“I’d love to Captain… Katherine.”
Captain Janeway took her hand, kissed it softly, and looked into her bright, warm, electrifying blue eyes.
“Until tonight then.”
“I look forward to it, Katherine.”
Justine Norton-Kertson (they/he/she) is a genderfluid author, poet, musician, photographer, and community organizer who is more addicted to Star Trek than the Jem’Hardar are to ketracel-white. They are the Editor-in-Chief of Android Press and Solarpunk Magazine. She lives outside of Eugene, Oregon with his partner, cats, and puppy. They can be found on Twitter @jankwrites.