Meals aboard the Holdsworth were nothing particularly special. Most of the food was jarred or canned from what they had collected in their travels. People grew all kinds of crops, fruits, and vegetables and most were kind enough to donate to the Holdsworth. The problem was that most of it did not keep fresh for very long. They put what they could in jars or cans, but that did little to preserve the flavor. The Holdsworth did have a freezer, but space was limited. Sometimes they had meat in the freezer, but such was rare. Serum-349, in most cases, killed off livestock. The inoculation saved a good number of farm animals, but they became a very precious commodity.
Emma grabbed a plate and sat down. She realized that this was one of those nights where dinner would be especially bland. There was a piece of bread, some kind of potato hash, and tofu. None of it looked appetizing in the least. For better or for worse, Emma swallowed her disgust and dug in.
“Mind if I sit here?” A young man named Christophe LeFleur asked. LeFleur was one of the helmsmen on Holdsworth; one of several. He was with them in Agbogbloshie, driving Paul. At least in Emma's yes, he was an attractive young man. Her perspective might, however, have been jaded. There was not much competition around.
“Sure, Chris,” Emma tried to keep her smile hidden.
“How are you doing?” LeFleur asked as he pondered his food. Perhaps, in his mind, he was searching for a way to make it more appealing. Unfortunately, such was completely impossible.
“Not too shabby,” Emma picked at her tofu. “Yourself?”
“Tired, to be honest,” LeFleur replied. “Le Capitaine has me doing extra work, it seems.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Emma tried to sound reassuring. Despite her infatuation, she was not in exactly in the mood to care all that much. After violin sessions, Emma always had a headache and was definitely grumpy. If, however, one were to ask Liam, he would say that Emma is always grumpy.
“You are lucky,” LeFleur said. “That ankle of yours is your free pass!”
“Bah,” Emma forced down a bite of the potato hash. “You'd think it'd be great, but Dr. Lorentz won't let me do anything. I'm bored, Chris.”
“At least you have the luxury of boredom,” LeFleur sighed. “I haven't even had time to think.”
“They let you man the helm any lately?”
“I got it yesterday for a few hours. And then they had me redo the navigation plan a few times just to make sure we were on course.”
“That isn't so bad. You like that stuff.”
“Oui, but if you do something too many times, it can really drive on one's passion to oblivion,” the Frenchman sighed. “Still, it could always be worse. There was a time when they had me doing jobs for Dr. Lorentz.”
“That must have been terrible.”
“Worse than you can imagine.”
“I dunno, I can imagine quite a bit.”
“I am sure you can.”
“What are you doing after dinner?”
“Rudder calibrations,” LeFleur rolled his eyes.
“Oof,” Emma cringed. “Sorry about that.” And then she decided that this was her chance. Emma gave him a massive hint, “Got any night's off soon?”
“Yes, actually, I get the whole day off two day's from today.”
“Well, that's good news, Chris.” Time for another hint, “Any plans?”
“I intend to relax. It has been so stressful lately.”
“Oh,” Emma tried to keep a friendly smile. “Let me know if you decide to do anything.”
“Okay,” LeFleur said, completely oblivious. “I doubt I will, but I'll keep it in touch.”
“You're so freakin' aloof!” Jeremy, who sat at the end of the table, shouted. “Dude, you could not take a hint from a mile away!”
“Shut up, Jeremy,” Emma snarled.
“Dude, you oughtta just forget this loser.”
Emma stood up, “Shut up, I'm warning you.”
Jeremy laughed, “Yeah, whatever. You two would make the stupidest-”
“Dammit, Jeremy!” Emma slammed her hands against the table and stood. “I swear to God, one day I am going to smear your stupid ass all over the wall!”
“Yeah? Why don't you just do that?” Jeremy stood to face her.
“I'd love to, but filthy worms like you just aren't worth my time,” Emma growled as she turned around, picked up her plate, and started to leave.
“Filthy worm? That's the best you could come up with?”
Emma stopped, scoffed, and then stormed out.
LeFleur, shocked by the whole ordeal, was unsure what to do. Jeremy finally said to him, “You really are stupid, aren't you?”
“Go after her, you retard.”
LeFleur nodded and ran after Emma. He found her walking down the corridor and called, “Emma! Emma!”
She turned, “Yeah, what?”
“I'm sorry about-”
“You didn't do anything, Chris.”
LeFleur took a deep breath and then asked, “Would you like to have dinner with me on my day off?”
Emma turned the good sport, “Sure, Chris. I'd love to.”
“I heard that,” Liam said as he hobbled by on his crutches.
Emma sighed, “I'll see you then.”