~ * ~A scandalized expression raced across her face, as if he’d asked for sexual favors, before she gave a reluctant, “Yes.” She transferred her gaze to the monitors of the cleaner, clearly wanting to resume her work.
He waited until he regained her attention and held out the plate. “Jake and Zak eat at the flight console all the time. It's permissible.” He took half a sandwich, bit into the bread, and then passed the other half to her.
Her gaze darted around the deck seeking escape. Probably realized he wasn’t leaving. Rising, she carefully secured her machine before taking his offering. With her first bite, her expression transformed to bliss. Food loosened her tongue.
“I didn't know food could taste like this. Is this really bread?” She fingered a crust loose and popped the piece in her mouth. “What is this? Was that butter on the bread this morning?”
Cutter felt himself puff with pride. “This is a meatloaf sandwich, with catsup. Yes, it was just buttered bread. You liked it? I baked it.” She nodded, her mouth too full to speak.
“Dinner made you uncomfortable, didn't it?”
She finished chewing and swallowed. “Very. It wasn’t only the utensils. I don’t know all the other things, like which one to use on what. I was nervous. My failure caused me to come on duty filthy.” Her hand swiped at a dark spot on her pants. Tears shimmered in her eyes. “The first norm crew laughed so hard…it is best if I don’t eat with you.”
~ * ~