Rios rubbed his hand on his face and through his hair as he recognized, once again, dark hair peeking up from the captain's chair.
He padded closer to the bridge, his bare feet soaking up the cold metal of the floor. He let out a sigh and put his hands on his hips, letting his leg pop to one side naturally as he, once again, took in the form lounged in HIS seat.
Once again familiar feet propped up on the console, and once again for the fourth night in a row, Elnor fast asleep with his arms crossed and slightly slouched to one side. The flickering lights through the traveling ships window sending illuminating dances across his sleeping face.
Rios sighed again and shook his head. He was hoping it wouldn’t be a habit when he caught the kid for the first time. He had shook the kid awake before quite suddenly and almost got a knife to the throat.
Who knew the kid slept with one, but he certainly learned his lesson then.
Rios weighed his options and cautiously bent forward to tap his shoulder, but then suddenly stopped. His finger hovering an inch from the fabric of his shirt.
He’s never seen anyone sleep with such a...tense look on their face.
Rios straightened back up and for once took a moment to analyze Elnor as he slept on obliviously in his chair.
At first glance he did seem fairly comfortable, but the longer he looked the more he saw just how uncomfortable the kid really was.
Aside from the crinkled lines around his eyes, there was the grip of his hands around his folded arms and the slight forward crouch of his shoulders, as if he was shying away from something in his dreams. Not even his propped up feet were relaxed. There was a slight bend to the knees as if he was ready to spring up at any moment.
He couldn’t help but tilt his head at the scene before him. Then something hit Rios so profoundly he had to take a step back to process it all. A single word struck him like a jolt and he found himself standing there, staring for half a second.
Why is he coming out here in the first place?
Rios shook his head again as he finally processed that particular train of thought and even face palmed himself for not getting it the first time he saw the kid.
Then again, in his defense, it isn’t like he knows the kid very well. He sucked in a breath as he paced around in a circle before coming to stand next to Elnor again and raised a finger to tap his shoulder.
Picard would be much better suited for this talk, but here he was.
One tap was all it took.
Rios stepped back as Elnor woke up with a deep breath and looked around quickly. Stopping suddenly as he caught sight of Rios and a look of almost embarrassment coming across his young features.
Rios had both hands up as if trying to calm a startled animal and slowly went over to another chair to sit facing him. Elnor watched him quietly with furrowed eyebrows.
Rios settled down in his chair and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. He shook his head again and smiled, earning a confused look from Elnor.
“Kid…” He started with a small chuckle, “You need yourself a girl.”
Something akin to shock or embarrassment flew across Elnor’s face before he too cracked a smile and let out a soft laugh. Rios chuckled along with him.
He unfurled his legs from the console, letting them rest back on the ground. Elnor scratched his head nervously before leaning forward to mirror the same position as Rios. He laced his hands in front of him and stared down at his knuckles for a few moments before letting his eyes come back up to meet Rios’. Rios tried to have a genuine show of interest on his face as he waited for Elnor to respond.
“No, it’s not that.” He finally started, “I just...can’t seem to fall asleep in my room.” Elnor looked up to the windows and watched the blue lights for a moment, “These seem to help though.” He gestured to the windows of the ship, “Not sure why. I’ve never had problems falling asleep before.”
“Well you’ve never had to fall asleep in space before.”
Elnor let out a belated sigh, “No, I guess not.”
“Space travel can be...different, especially for first timers like yourself. Don’t take it so hard.”
Elnor pondered this for a moment, “Did you ever have trouble falling asleep?”
Rios let out a long breath and leaned back into his chair. He rubbed his face again to help assemble his thoughts for the moment, “Yeah…” He finally said as he met Elnor’s eyes again, “Yeah, I’ve had trouble.”
“What helped you?”
Rios let out a sad chuckle, “I drank myself into a stupor, but I’m not going to let you do that.” Elnor looked back at his hands and shifted in his seat. Both were quiet for a moment before Rios leaned forward again, “Hey, if it's getting to be this much of an issue, we can take it up with the EMH. He’ll have better ways to help you fall asleep...and it’ll just be between us.”
Elnor seemed to consider this for a moment and then nodded his head with a small smile. Rios gave his shoulder a hearty pat and went to stand up, Elnor following him up as well.
“Come on.” Rios motioned towards the mess area, “Until then I’ll have you try an old Earth bedtime drink that could help.”
As Rios went back to bed later, he mused on the time with Elnor. He wondered what he could do to help the kid out a little. He wasn’t sure if it was just a captain’s concern or if he really just liked the kid well enough.
A warm arm draped over him and a groggy voice whispered, “Again?”
Rios swiveled his head toward the blond head of Agnes, “He went back, he’s fine.” Agnes made a noise that could have been a confirmation of sorts, but was already back to a light snore.
Rios' thoughts made a few more rounds before they started to wander to other places. He suddenly remembered the time with Agnes and the synths. He remembered her showing him an orange cat. Spot two was it? A synth cat modeled after Data’s supposedly. Then again Picard has told stories of Data to Elnor. He knows of the cat as well and they have mentioned it on occasion. He wondered if Elnor…
Rios sat up. He had an idea, then almost immediately slumped back into bed. He’s going to have to talk to that damn hospitality hologram.
The next day was a bit uneventful for Elnor. Most of it was spent following Seven around the ship getting to know its controls and components. She took it upon herself to start teaching him how to work in a starship. Something he was extremely grateful for. He had hoped today would tire him out, so maybe he could finally fall asleep on his own, but he found he was disappointed at the somewhat mundane day today.
Looks like he wasn’t going to sleep again tonight.
He almost didn’t even want to go to bed, but he also didn’t want to attract questions while everyone started to go to bed. He eventually bid his goodnights and headed to his room. As he walked in, he figured he’d try to make himself comfortable and at least get dressed in his night clothes. He turned to the chair to get his shirt hanging over it and that's when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.
He swung around to it suddenly and was stopped just as quickly.
An orange something was curled up on his bed. Some sort of animal. It seemed to sense his attention and perked up its head. It’s pointed ears swiveled in his direction and he watched in awe as it got up and seemed to stretch far above the length it should have been capable of. It then sat down and stared at him as if expecting something.
Elnor approached it cautiously and held out a hand to it. The creature sniffed it lightly before rubbing its head into it and letting out a little mewl sound.
“Do you like it?”
Elnor’s head snapped up to see Rios leaning in his doorway.
“This,” Rios straightened up and walked in pointing at the creature, “Is a cat.”
“THIS is a cat?!” Elnor couldn't believe it. He was finally seeing a cat for the first time.
“Yes, well it’s a hologram. I had that damn Mr. Hospitality make one up for you. It’s programmed to stay in your room, I don’t need it running around the ship”
Elnor was still a little speechless and bent over to pet the cat again, “It’s vibrating. Is it supposed to do that?”
Rios couldn’t hold in the laugh escaping him, “Yes, it’s what we call purring, very soothing for some people...might even help you fall asleep to it…”
Elnor looked back up to Rios who also bent forward to give the cat a little pat to the head.
“Thank you.” Elnor really didn’t know what else to say. Rios cleared his throat and nodded, “You should name it.”
“I wouldn't know where to begin. I’ve never had to name something like this.” Elnor moved to sit next to the cat on the bed and was thrilled to see it move onto his lap.
“I always find just using what I already know is good for names.”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“I believe he made it out to be a girl.”
Elnor was quiet for a moment as he watched the cat start to knead on his legs all the while making that soothing purr sound.
“Siren.” He quietly breathed out, “Because she’s part of the ship.” Rios smiled and gave him a pat to the shoulder before starting to move towards the door, “I think that is a great name. Goodnight kid.”
Elnor eventually got the cat off of him with reluctance and readied for bed. Siren followed him around and rubbed against his leg when he stopped for anything. As he crawled into bed, she immediately set about purring and kneading on him. He gently stroked her fur, still amazed at the affection one little body can express and soon felt his eyes get heavy.
Elnor never fell asleep so fast in his life.