That's my Q # 39 - 40 - "Beldar meets the charming Cleopatra"


[Starbase Ronin - Recreation Deck - Costume Party]

It was his sixth glass of synthehol and he wasn't even numb yet. Zorach touched one of his sensor rings with a finger. The rings felt like silk and remembered him of his silk pillow slips. He noticed a woman in a charming outfit and slowly moved toward her. Zorach did not have the character list memorized like Ryylar, the security chief, so he decided to wing the introductions.

"Good evening, Cleopatra," Zorach said. "I've seen Cleopatra in drawings and illustrations, but you do look more charming than anything in print. I represent Beldar of Remulak. He is a Conehead from a 20-th century comedy sketch. Not many people remember the oldies in comedy. How are you doing?"

The man's voice startled Anari out of her reverie. She'd been hovering in a corner, slipping her springwine, for most of the evening. As he complemented her appearance, Anari could feel her cheeks reddening ever so slightly against her will. Even though she doubted that he would have said anything along that vein if he knew she was just an enlisted crewman, she still hadn't heard anyone call her 'charming' since her husband's death. It was nice.

Doing her best imitation of a regal bow, Anari addressed the man who had spoken to her. "A good evening to you as well, Beldar of Remulak. At the moment, I'm wishing that the springwine were just a little stronger. And how are you faring tonight thus far?"

"Just fine. I'm drinking synthehol in case there's work tomorrow. But I prefer whiskey when I can get my hands on it. I suppose there's a little devil in all of us."

Remembering what he had said about his costume, Anari was struck, not the first time tonight, with the thought of how her lack of knowledge in regards to Earth cultural history really put her at a disadvantage at parties like these.

"I'm afraid my knowledge of Earth comedy is embarrassingly inadequate." Anari gave the man's costume a closer inspection, stopping for a moment to stare at the cone-shaped attachment on top of his head. She figured that was where the name Conehead came from. "Although I have a feeling that your Beldar of Remulak is pretty entertaining."

With a wave of her hand in the direction of the rest of the room, Anari transferred her gaze from Beldar to the other assembled guests. "What do you think of the party?"

"Very interesting. Mingling is something that improves with practice. Dostoevsky said `much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.' I tend to believe that we should say what we mean and darn the torpedoes." He laughed. Of course, in a fighter he always spoke with his weapons. <What's bugging her?> he wondered. Zorach added softly, "You are the most beautiful woman in the room."

Anari shook her head ruefully at the man's comment. There was no doubt in her mind that he was just being a gentleman by saying such a thing. But he was a good-looking man and as the saying went, she was only human. Well, Bajoran in her case but nevertheless she swore she could feel her heart skip a beat. But being honest was important to Anari. Perhaps it wouldn't bother him that she was an enlisted crewman. "While Cleopatra was known for her beauty or so I was told once, I suppose I should properly introduce myself." With a small smile, she extended her hand. "I'm Petty Officer 2nd Class Anari Bryson."

Zorach took her hand and rotated it slightly to kiss the back of her hand. "I am very pleased to meet you. I'm Charles Zorach. Mark Antony fell on his sword when he thought he lost Cleopatra. Their love affair is a famous one. You have wonderful eyes. Your lips are the color of red roses." <She's probably 22 years old, that's 21 years younger than me> Zorach thought. He grinned. "I'm sure your Mark Antony will rescue you any minute. If I were Mark Antony, I wouldn't leave your side. You're just so darn gorgeous to wander away. I have to warn you, I'm over the age of 30."

Cole had never kissed the back of her hand like that. It made her feel like the queen she was dressed as. He said he was over the age of 30; Anari had figured he was somewhere between 35 and 40 so she couldn't be too far off. Not that it bothered her. There had been a 17 year age difference between her parents. He hadn't mentioned his rank or said anything in regards to hers, which put Anari more at ease.

"The pleasure is mine, Charles. You are quite charming yourself. Since we're being honest, I should warn you of a few things as well. My rose-colored lips are the result of make-up I borrowed from my roommate." Anari paused, giving herself a moment. "And even though I'm under the age of 30...24 to be exact... I've already buried a husband."

"I'm sorry for you loss. Lindbergh said `Grief can't be shared. Everyone carries it alone, his own burden, his own way.' It is not comparable but I've lost dear friends in the war. Please, I would not wish to open healing wounds. What's your favorite color, food, and hobby?"

Although she wouldn't admit it to her companion, Anari greatly appreciated the change in topic. "Let's see...I don't particularly have a favorite color. My favorite food is anything spicy enough to burn my tongue for days but I'm rather partial to homemade hasperat. As for hobbies, I enjoy solving all sorts of puzzles. A friend of mine introduced me to Earth jigsaw puzzles so they're my latest obsession of sorts. What about you?"

"Color, blue like the blue skies of Earth. Food, steak and potatoes. Hobbies? I like to drink." He smiled. "I also enjoy logic puzzles on occasion. I spent a few years on Vulcan. It was an interesting experience. Logic was the main topic every day. Would you like to have dinner sometime?" <Bold and smooth> Zorach thought.

Anari almost choked on her springwine. She was pretty sure that he had just asked her out on a date. What would Cole think of her going out with someone else? Knowing her late husband, he would probably be irritated with her because she hadn't done so yet. But did she want to? Charles had, thus far, been quite the gentleman, which was quite alluring in itself. Maybe he wasn't asking her out at all and just was inquiring about a friendly, platonic dinner. Either way, though, what did she have to lose?

"I actually try to have dinner every night. The whole 'three meals a day' thing. However, if you referring to having dinner with you...I would love to, Charles."

Zorach smiled that honest, caring smile reserved for fond occasions of delight. "That's great. I look forward to it. I wouldn't mind being your Mark Antony for the rest of this evening, but alas there's a person with some silver bolts in his neck whom I must meet. Intelligence business and such. Anari, you are truly a Cleopatra of this century." He touched her hand and kissed the back of her hand gently. "I bid you farewell, till we meet again. Soon, I hope."

"I hope so, too."

Anari watched Charles walk away, masterfully weaving his way through the crowd. There was a soft, shy smile on her face and she could still feel the touch of his lips on her hand. What an interesting evening this was turning out to be. It definitely seemed that coming tonight wasn't so bad after all.


Petty Officer 2nd Class Anari Bryson Engineer's Mate Starbase Ronin (SB47)

Lieutenant Charles Zorach Chief Intelligence Officer Starbase Ronin (SB 47) "Beldar of Remulak"