Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bugsy's Style

Bugsy’s Style

Day 3 (cont)


2020 Hours


Capac tugged at his exercise suit as he stepped into the gym. She won't be here. She didn't mean it the way Fiala made it sound.

Then he saw her. The red hair, of course, was easy to spot. A crowd of men watched as she pumped iron, with the AmerInd security lieutenant Tall Bear spotting for her. Her face was red, but not from her workout. What a hodge-podge of workout clothes she's got. None of it really fits, or goes together. The top looks ready to split open, but the waist is too big. Surely she could have found something that fits better than that?

Tall Bear grunted, and she stopped. "You're done," he told her, and wiped sweat from his brow. "Computer, set weight station C to 1G." Almost instantly, the big man looked relieved, while Mac's expression was disappointment.

She put her weights away. "Thanks, Bear," she told him quietly, and reached for the towel he held out.

"Let's see a movie," he suggested.

Startled, she took a step away. "Why don't you ask Yellow Dog?"

"I have," he answered, and she nodded, as if that settled the matter. "Now I'm asking you."

She looked panicked. "I don't ... do that."

"You don't go to movies?"

"Don't push," she asked quietly. "I could wind up in a lot of trouble."

"Bugalu won't care if we go out," he stated.

Doesn't he know that Bugalu's been warning men away from her?

She grimaced. "Of course Bugs wouldn't care!"


"No," she stated firmly, and turned to the beautiful AmerInd who came up behind her. "Are you done, YD?" The dusky beauty nodded. "Let's get some juice, then I've got to study. I can't believe how much I've forgotten, working on tugs."

"Race," the yeoman returned.

The redhead hesitated, and glanced at a clock. "Okay, but not long." She adjusted several pieces of her outfit as she glanced at the by-standers, suddenly took hold of his sleeve. "Capac! Come and referee." She pulled him toward the treadmills.

"How do you race on treadmills?" I can't look at her. Or her friend, either, not in those outfits.

"It's simple," Mac stated. "We set the treadmill to automatic, then we run for a set amount of time. When time's up, the one who went farthest wins." She took possession of one treadmill and set its controls, as YD did with the one next to it.

"What do I do?"

"You keep track of the time, make sure we stop when we're supposed to, and compare the distances. YD, ten minutes?"

The AmerInd nodded. Capac got them started. It looks like Mac is running faster. Of course, her friend's legs are longer, so she wouldn't need to move them as fast...

"I wondered what you would wear tonight." Capac turned to see that Bugalu had entered, one arm around slim, blond Blossom, two practice foils in the other hand.

"Loaners," Mac replied without interrupting her race.

"And not a single piece that fits," Bugalu stated. "Good news. Abdulla agreed to help you shop. Your first purchase should be an exercise suit."

"Ah, okay," she agreed hesitantly.

Capac glanced at a clock. "Time!" Both women jumped off the treadmills.

Mac turned to Bugalu. "YD's taking me shopping."

"Who's YD?" he asked.

"That's YD." Blossom pointed to the tall AmerInd. "Yeoman Yellow Dog, you apparently haven't yet met Lt Bugalu."

"Wow." Bugalu stared at the tall woman. "How did I miss you?"

The AmerInd grinned and tousled Mac's red curls. Mac rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes, I've distracted him. No need to belabor the obvious."

Bugalu agreed. "But you never used to distract me from a woman that beautiful."

That's very flattering to Yellow Dog, but insults the other two. It that's an example of his usual style, I don't know how he manages to keep getting dates.

"Mac, remind me to ask her out after shore leave," Bugalu instructed.

A dusky finger slid down Mac's arm, producing a look of confusion on her face. "I think she said, 'get in line'. I'm pretty sure that's what she meant."

"You understand her?" Blossom asked.

"We spent 4 days together waiting for the Fireball," Mac returned. "If you're desperate, you can learn new skills very quickly."

"What new skill?" Bugalu asked.

"YD can't speak," Blossom told him. "She communicates through-"

"Can," the AmerInd stated, just to make it clear.

Mac groaned melodramatically. "Two words tonight! She's become an absolute chatterbox!" She turned to Capac. "Who won?"

"What? Oh-" He turned to the two treadmills, only to find one of them had already been claimed by another crewmember. "Sorry, I ... forgot."

"That's okay," Mac said. "It's usually a draw. She turned back to the negro. "What kind of date brings you to the gym?"

Bugalu grinned. "Fencing lessons."

With Blossom? He must have a death wish!

"Let's get started, Alyce." Bugalu turned away, then looked back. "What are you doing next, Mac?"

"Study," she answered quickly.

"Good to see you're keeping out of trouble," Bugalu told her, and walked off.

"Just barely," Mac muttered, and turned to her friend. "Bear asked me out, YD. Can you warn him?" Brown eyes regarded her. "I've already told him, but they never listen!" She adjusted her clothing again, stopped as her eyes landed on Bugalu and Blossom across the room. Bugalu stood behind the blond as he guided her body into various fencing positions. "Now, that's hands-on, if you ask me," she muttered, and blushed.

"That doesn't look like a good method to teach fencing," Capac stated. I never thought Bugalu was cruel, but he flirted with YD in front of both Mac and Blossom, and flaunted his date in front of Mac, when she has obviously come to rekindle an old flame between them. Poor girl. Her heart must be breaking.

"It's a date, Capac," Mac stated slowly, still watching the couple. "The purpose of which is to wind up in bed." She stood a little straighter in sudden interest as Bugalu removed his shirt and tossed it to a nearby bench. "That's irresistible," she grinned. YD grabbed her wrist. "YD, you said I was a distraction! This is the perfect opportunity for me to ... prove it!"

The AmerInd cocked her head, then let go. Mac started across the room, right for the couple in the middle of their fencing lesson.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mac has a Drink

Mac has a Drink

Day 3 (cont)


1635 Hours


Bugalu emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around himself, even though he had told the computer to lock his bedroom door. Nobody here. Good. He toweled off to get dressed; underwear, slacks... He picked up his tunic and stopped. What was that noise? He stepped over to the doorway to the living room and looked out. I should have known.

Female uniform boots were scattered across the living room floor. A barefoot, wild-haired Mac sat at his desk, pouring the better part of a bottle of booze into a large glass. When the glass was full, she began transferring the liquid to her stomach. "Drink your own," he suggested.

She froze where she sat. "Are you decent?" she asked softly. "I mean-"

So she noticed. "I'm better than decent," he returned lightly. "Some women say I'm good." He walked over to take the bottle off the desk and see that its lid was tight. She glanced at him and relaxed. Forget it. Just act like it never happened. Why can't she keep her uniform tunic fastened? "You only left me two fingers, Mac! And you didn't ask! Let's get this straight; I will not supply your habit. You can drink your own stuff."

"I would," she answered, and downed the rest of the glass. "But I don't have any."

"None?" I've never seen her without a stash. Matt, neither.

She ungently put the glass on the desk. "I drank the last about ... eight months ago."

"So you haven't had any shore leave this past year," he breathed. That's the only reason for her not replenishing her stash.

"How did you-?"

"I have my ways," he told her. "It's true?"

"More like 2 years," she answered, and frowned thoughtfully. "No, just 17 or 18 months, I guess. It felt like years." She looked longingly at the little bit of liquid left in the bottle he held. He crossed the room to put the bottle in his cabinet. "I learned all the tricks for coaxing a few ounces of alcohol out of the dispensers. Otherwise, I probably would have gone crazy."

"Well, why don't you-"

"I just spilled my entire month's ration all over ... someone in the recroom."

Ouch! He sighed, pulled the bottle back out and tossed it to her. She caught it, grinned, and quickly added the remaining few ounces to the others in her stomach. "You are so good to me," she purred, climbing to her feet.

"You've finished my whiskey. All I've got left is vodka and tequila. What are you going to drink tomorrow?"

"Maybe I won't need any," she hoped, coming from behind the desk.

"Why did you need it today?"

She rolled her eyes and bent to retrieve one of her boots. "Smythe."

"Did he chew you out again?"

"No, not today." She moved on, one boot in hand.

"What did he do?"

"He was there!"

"Get used to it," he said as she bent for the other boot. "He's a hands-on officer."

She froze, bent double, hand reaching for a boot. "Hands on?" she squeaked.

Well, that was a poor word choice. She doesn't need any sexual tension between her and her superior officer! "He watches all his people. He knows what they're capable of; they can't pull the wool over his eyes. Not for long, anyway."

"Oh." Boot grabbed, she stood up. "That kind of hands-on. For a minute, I thought you might mean-"

She seems too red. "Not Smythe," he told her hurriedly. "You're a subordinate."

She grimaced. "Like that makes a difference."

"It does to him," he stated. Is that a clue about what happened on those tugs? She shrugged and turned for the door. "Mac, who kept you from having shore leave?"

She stopped, but didn't turn, didn't answer for a long moment. "Ultimately, Captain Nash was responsible for everything that happened on the Bartholomew." That simple truth could mean everything, or nothing. Having said that, she tossed a scared glance his way and stepped forward. The living room door opened to let her out.


She whirled around in exasperation. "I am trying to get out of here so you can get dressed for your date!"

"Fasten your tunic," he told her.

She looked down, appalled, slapped her uniform closed haphazardly, then turned and walked out. The door started to close.

The door opened wide again, and Tall Bear walked in. "You two at it again?"

"I told you-"

"I know. And I warned you yesterday to take care what the rest of the ship sees. Yet there you go, letting her walk out of here, looking like-" Bugalu cocked his head warningly, and Bear adjusted what he had been going to say. "-like she just did. Don't blame me if the rumors are flying fast and furious! I tried to warn you!"

"Yes, you did. And I appreciate it. But Mac is Mac; completely unaware of the impression she makes on others. If I tried to keep her from ... looking like that, she'd- It wouldn't be possible. The rumors might fly for a while, but they'll die down eventually."

"Then tell me one thing."


"How long before she gets tired of you? Because I really want to ask her out." Grinning, the AmerInd slid outside and was gone.

Bugalu headed back for his bedroom. And he's trying to accept that we're just friends. Mac is definitely making my life more complicated.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Term of Endearment / Loneliness

Term of Endearment

Day 3 (cont)


1532 Hours


The work day was finally ending.  It had been a nerve-wracking day of complete silence. Smitty stopped working to watch the redhead from the corner of his eye for a few minutes. She hasn't once asked for help. But she's been slow, as if she has to think intently about each project.

He turned back to work, reached for a tanderin wrench. A cold wrench I understand, but soft? Looking down, he saw his hand around hers, which was wrapped around the tool he wanted. "You have warm hands, dear," she muttered.

He let go at once. "Let me know when you're done with it." She gave one short nod, and that was the end of their conversation.

He glanced at the chronometer as she completed her project and closed the panel. Too late to start the next one. "Do that tomorrow, Lieutenant. There's not enough time to get a proper start. Report back at 0800."

She collected her tools. "Yes, dear."

He stiffened. "What did you call me?"

She faced him, face white, eyes confused. "What do you mean?"

He faced her squarely, determined to settle this. "There's been times when you called me 'dear’, instead of the 'sir' I'm sure you meant." She looked shocked, and then flushed deep red. "Let's not get the two terms confused again," he told her.

"No, dear," she mumbled, then raised her face to bark out, "No, sir!"


He watched as she put away her tools. With a glance his way, she turned for the door. "Good night, dea-Sir!" She hurried away.

He finished his own chore and closed his panel. It occurred to him that his nerves were frayed. Too much silence. I'm not used to it. Somebody's always talking on the bridge, or in engineering. I hadn't thought this one to be so quiet. I must have scared her really badly yesterday. Well, probably a good thing. I'll just stop at the nearest recroom and get a cup of tea. That'll settle my nerves.




Day 3 (cont)


1613 Hours


Capac sat down heavily and shuffled his deck of cards. Days on the bridge without Bugalu are so boring. I can never think of anything to say to Amano, so the day drags. If I were Bugalu, I wouldn't have trouble talking to Amano. Or any woman. He sighed. If I were Bugalu, I'd have a date, not play solitaire all the time.

He looked up when Mac entered, her face red. She crossed to the dispenser, manipulated several buttons, and was rewarded with a tall iced drink. When she turned around, she almost ran into the engineering ensign standing directly behind her.

"Hello, beautiful."

"Ensign," she greeted him, frowning. I don't think she likes him. She tried to step around the man, but he blocked her path again. She stared at him coldly. "Did you want something?" I’d be frozen solid by a voice that cold.

But the ensign was too hot-blooded to be stopped by a chilly reception. "You know what I want." He started to step forward, but her slim hand on his chest kept him at arm's length. "MacGregor's not here to keep us from going to my quarters. I can treat you a lot better than that old man."

Her eyes flashed with anger. "You're not my type." She gave a little push, which shoved him backward several feet.

That won't do it. Jones doesn't accept rejection.

"What did MacGregor promise you, beautiful? Because you can't actually enjoy sleeping with a man as old as your father."

Father!” She threw her drink at him. Jones ducked, the drink sailed past him and struck Mr Smythe's shoulder as he walked in. The entire drink soaked into his uniform.

"Oh, dear," Mac squeaked, suddenly white. She stared at her commanding officer in dreadful anticipation.

Already got her 'welcome aboard' chewing out, I guess. That tradition never made sense to me. But nobody ever asked me.

Smythe glared at her before he spoke. "All right," he growled. "What's going on?"

Nearly every person in the room began to speak, except Mac. Smythe studied her; folded arms, lips pressed together, white face. Smythe took a step closer, and the other voices died. "Was that your drink, MacDowell?"

She raised her face to look him squarely in the eyes. "Yes, sir." Her head canted as she shifted her gaze to Jones, now behind the older man. "I apologize. My aim was off."

"Sir, she tried to assault me!" Jones stated.

Her eyes narrowed.

"I'm sure she had a reason," Smythe stated, startling her. After a moment, he told her, "What was your reason?" She opened her mouth, blushed furiously, and refused to answer.

"I want to press-" Jones began, but Smythe glared at him and he shut up.

"I'm waiting for your explanation," Smythe reminded the redhead.

She lowered her head, took a deep breath. "Ensign Jones made a remark that ... that I took exception to."

"So you threw a drink at him?"

"He was too far away to punch," she muttered.

Smythe seemed shocked. "If he'd been closer, you'd have hit him?"

She shrugged, and hugged herself tightly. "I usually do. In these instances."

"Not anymore!" Smythe growled. Her head jerked up, her face pasty as she stared at him. "You can't go around hitting your crewmates! You can't, and you won't! From here on out, you walk away from insults! Understood?"

"But he-"

"Do you understand?" Smythe bellowed.

She swallowed and hoarsely said, "Yes, sir."

"Good. Then I won't be hearing about any outbursts on your part." He paused to watch her for a moment, as if expecting her to protest. She stood where she was, staring at the floor, her face now red. Calming down, he ran his fingers over his wet tunic and started for the door.

"Mr Smythe," she called, her voice tight and hoarse.

The senior officer faced her again. "What?"

"If I can't hit him, what do I do with him?" Jones leered, and she tensed. "Stop it! I want nothing to do with you, can't you get that through your thick skull?"

Smythe whirled his head in time to catch the leer on Jones' face, although it was quickly erased when the ensign realized his superior was watching. "Been pestering you for a date?"

"He's been pestering me for sex! I don't recall any mention of a date!"

Smythe shook his head. "That's not the way to--." He glanced back at the redhead again. "You made it clear you weren't interested?"


"Yet he keeps asking?"

"Repeatedly!" she confirmed.

"Then report him," Smythe told her succinctly.

She snorted and crossed her arms again. "Like that will accomplish anything! Nobody pays attention to that!"

"I pay attention to it," Smythe growled. "If that's not enough for you, Captain Burke pays attention to it." The redhead sighed and lowered her face, shaking her head.

Smythe headed for the door, paused as he reached the ensign. "Mr Jones."

"Sir?" the young man asked, swallowing.

"We've had that conversation before," Smythe told him.

"Yes, sir," Jones agreed uncomfortably.

"You will not be happy if we wind up having that conversation again," Smythe warned him, and walked out.

Jones stared at the redhead for a moment before he left. Mac took a deep breath and threw herself in the chair opposite Capac, wrapped her arms around her lowered head. "Bad day?" Capac asked. Brilliant! Like it wasn't obvious!

With a low growl, she suddenly started pulling her hair out of its bun, and then shook her head until the red curls bounced free. "I feel like screaming."

Capac nodded. "I've felt like that, sometimes."

"I needed that drink!" she groaned.

She's melodramatic. "Get another iced tea," he suggested. "The dispenser will give you all you want."

"Iced-" She stopped, a funny look on her face. Her eyes fell on the cards spread out before him. "Black queen on red king."

"Where?" He studied the cards.

"There. The king of diamonds," she pointed out.

"I can't do that!" he protested. "That king is sitting on down-facing cards. Putting more cards on top of it is against the rules."

"No, it's not."

He frowned at her. "I know how to play solitaire." I do it every night.

"I know 257 versions, and none of them have that silly rule," she stated.

He stared at her. "Two hundred fifty-seven versions?"

"Yeah. Why?"

Space! I thought I was lonely! But she could have any man she wants! Why spend so much time playing cards? He slid all the cards together and began to gather them. "There must be something else I can do with my time."

"Of course there is." She smiled. "Just look around, see what others are doing."

"What are you doing this evening?" I can't believe I asked!

"I'll be in the gym for a while," she answered easily. "Probably." She sighed. "And then I hit the books." Definitely gotten her 'welcome aboard' chewing out. Poor girl. She rose to her feet. "Maybe I'll see you there."

"In your books?" he asked in confusion.

She laughed. "In the gym, silly. Everybody should get exercise once in a while." She bounced out of the room.

"Capac's got a date," Fiala stated.


The other man slugged him gently on the shoulder. "Capac, we all heard it. She’ll meet you in the gym. Promised you extra exercise, too," Fiala added. "I'm jealous."

"It's not what you think," Capac said as Fiala walked away. I wish it was.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Story of Mac and Bugsy

Story of Mac and Bugsy
Day 3 (cont)
1208 Hours

MacGregor was surprised when the off-duty navigation officer unceremoniously joined him at his lunch table. "Lt Buglu," he greeted.
"I have a bone to pick with you," the negro stated. "You've got some nerve, telling Mac not to wear clothes."
Mac without clothes-- He took a shuddering breath at the thought. "Only when we're alone," he mumbled.
Bugalu told him sharply, "Don't even think about it!"
Being warned off by Bugalu? That's unlike him. "The lady is free to see whomever she wants."
"She wants you as a friend!" Bugalu hissed. "You can't do that if you let your mind wander in that direction about her." He sighed, and some of the tenseness left his body. "Believe me, that's the voice of experience."
"Then you aren't trying to eliminate some competition?"
Bugalu frowned at him. "Mac asked if you could be trusted as a friend. Was I mistaken to tell her to go for it?"
MacGregor considered. "I did ask her if we could be friends. She took exception to the idea of anything else. And I meant it. But the more I'm with her, the harder it is to keep that in mind."
"Stop thinking of her as a woman."
MacGregor shook his head. "Can't be done."
"If I can do it, you can," Bugalu returned. "Granted, it isn't easy. Think of her as an irritant, a pest. It helps if you have sisters."
"She calls you her brother."
The younger man nodded. "That's right."
"Sounds like that isn't the relationship you'd like to have with her."
"Doesn't matter. It's the relationship we have; the one she needs from me, the one I agreed to. Nothing else rest matters."
"How - exactly - did that happen? Her version was ... abbreviated."
Bugalu hesitated. "It happened suddenly. I mean, she was on campus for a month before- And I'd seen her, but she was Matt's - my roommate's - little sister. So I ignored her. Until the Horsedrawn Carriage."
I was studying for a math exam. Matt was out, maybe with his kid sister, when the visiphone buzzed. It kept buzzing, kept breaking my concentration. It was Ed, of the Horsedrawn Carriage, one of Matt's favorite hangouts.
Where's Matt?" Ed demanded.
"Out. Probably with his sister."
"No, he ain't," Ed denied. "Haven't seen him, but his sister's here-" He ducked as a bottle sailed past. "She's tearing up the place!" He winced as something crashed. "I can't take anymore, I'm calling the patrol."
"No!" I told him. She was a brand-new cadet. Being picked up on a drunk and brawling charge would not be a good beginning for her career. I knew her, slightly – she’d been hanging around Matt, but she seemed reserved, and I'd been busy.
"I've got to do something. The place is wrecked!"
"I'll be right there. I'll handle it. Just don't call the patrol!"
When I got there, Mac stood in the wreckage, glaring at everyone. Her freshman's uniform was tattered. She took a long pull from the bottle in her hand.
"Colleen, I'll take you to quarters."
She stared at me for a long minute. "I know."
Behind the bar, Ed sighed. "Go with him, will ya? He's a friend of Matt's, and-"
"Matt's not here. He's here to try, just like Baker and the others."
I was trying not to lose track of parabolas and hyperbolas. I stepped forward to ask what started the fight. As I passed, she buried her fist in my stomach. I doubled over, surprised by her strength, and then the pain. I backed away, gulping for air.
Doc, I don’t fight unless it’s necessary. I especially won’t fight a woman. But I didn’t want to be a punching bag.
Mac can fight, even drunk. I saw that right away. After she planted some kicks to my ribs, I finally her leg and twisted her off balance. She could duck, too, so not many of my punches landed where I intended. It was obvious she had practiced with her brother. She had all of Matt's bad habits, and a few others. That didn't make it an easy fight for me, but eventually I won.
We stood in our final position for some time, catching our breath. I worried I might be twisting her arm too hard, but she gave no indication of pain. "You win," she said quietly.
"No more fighting?" I had to be sure.
"I said you win. I'll go quietly."
"What about the damages?" Ed asked.
I let go of Mac to face him. "How did it start?"
Ed pointed to several unconscious male cadets, some in a corner booth, others strewn about the wreckage. "They bought her a drink. Then another. Lots of them. Obviously, they expected her to get drunk so they could … you know. Only she didn't get drunk. A couple of them passed out, which made the rest impatient. She got mad." He waved his hand around the place. "You see the results."
I shrugged. "They started it. Let them pay for it."
Ed smiled. "Suits me. You taking her home?"
"Good. Get her out of here and I’ll call the patrol. Look, Red, don’t come back. You’re trouble."
"Come on, Colleen." We started for the dormitories. I tried to talk, having lost all track of my studies, but she wouldn’t reply. At times, she had trouble with her balance, but refused my support.
I figured out what had happened. Matt hadn't let her out of his sight since her arrival, but that severely cut into Matt's social life. When he finally went out on a date, she went out too. Every two-legged wolf at the Academy had immediately moved on her.
She wouldn’t tell me where her room was. I couldn’t leave her in the middle of campus, alone. I took her back to my room, Matt’s room, told her to get comfortable, and went back to math.
Later, Matt stormed in. "Where is she? If you've touched her, I'll kill you!"
"Who?" My head was full of equations. "Oh, your sister." I looked around, didn't see her. "Colleen?"
"Little Mac!" Mac called.
"What?" She peeked from the blankets of the top bunk – my bunk, as it happened.
Matt lunged, I ducked, she jumped from the bed, and Matt stared at her. "You've got your clothes on."
I was angered by his assumption. "I got her from the Horsedrawn Carriage for you, Matt. It wouldn’t be a favor if I took advantage of her, would it?"
"She was in your bed!"
"I didn't pay attention what she did! I told her to wait for you!"
"Little Mac, tell me the truth. Did he ... make use of you?"
She seemed dazed, probably still drunk, and her gaze wandered everywhere but at Matt. "He won the fight. He had a right to … ." Matt glared at me until she added, "He didn't want me."
"But you did," MacGregor surmised.
Bugalu shut his mouth decisively. "I had a test, which I did halfway decent on, despite everything. Anyway, since I hadn't raped her, they thought I could be trusted. Can't imagine why Matt thought that; he knew me. But I couldn't disappoint them. She still needs me as a brother. She wants you as a friend. So the question becomes, are you going to disappoint her?"
MacGregor sighed. "Not if I can help it. It's just-"
They were interrupted when another tray slammed onto the table. "Men!" Abdulla exclaimed as she sat down. "He should be horse-whipped!" She tore her dinner roll into bits. "Give them some rank, and they go completely bonkers!"
"Is this something for the ship's psychiatrist?" MacGregor asked.
She considered the question. "I don't think so," she finally stated. "She seems to handle it pretty well. Bugalu, you know her. Does she need a psychiatrist?"
"Yes, but not for this," he returned.
"Wait a minute," MacGregor said. "First you say 'he', and then it's 'she'. Who and what are we talking about?"
"Mac," Abdulla stated.
Somehow, that’s not a surprise.
"As a member of her chain of command, I've just spent two hours studying ...  her files, getting to know her. And I found she hasn't had any furlough, no shore leave, in the past year."
"Eleven months," Bugalu corrected.
"You didn't look hard enough!" Abdulla growled.
"You'd better look again," MacGregor said. "Shore leave is very cyclic on a tug."
"And if you look in her main files, you’ll find paperwork that says she got them," the dusky woman agreed sweetly. "But in her sub-sub-files, you start seeing that she didn't! Like the time she was treated shipside for an injury during a scheduled shore leave. They wouldn't take her back to the ship for treatment. Or the time she was assigned to overhaul the communications console just the day before shore leave, and it was signed off as done the day everyone got back. Even on a tug, that's a 3-day job for one person. I couldn't necessarily prove it for every shore leave, but that's the impression I got. It makes me want to throttle some man!"
"Which could leave some of us wishing we were into that sort of thing," MacGregor heard himself say. The others stared at him in shock. "Now that I've put my foot in my mouth and shown how flexible I am-" Abdulla smirked and he stopped. "Maybe I'll just leave."
He disposed of his dirty dishes returned to sick bay. "Temple, come with me," he instructed, and led her to his office.
"Doctor?" She closed the door behind her.
He turned the computer interface toward her. "You're better at this thing than I am. Call up Mac's file. Not just medical, the whole thing. Get all the sub-files, too."
"Will this take long? Monroe's not back from lunch."
"She'll be back," he predicted. "As for how long, it took Abdulla a couple hours."
"Let's get started," she answered, her fingers flying over the keyboard.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hidden Secret

Hidden Secret
Day 3 (cont)
0954 Hours

Abdulla got off the turbo lift and started for the main mess hall, looking forward to a hot cup of tea. And a piece of pie. Maybe they have coconut cream today.
"Just the beautiful woman I've been waiting for."
Bugalu smiled at her from a table just inside the doorway. On the table next to his cup of coffee sat a pot of hot tea and a piece of pie. She approached warily and sat down. "Okay, what do you want?" He's still wearing last night's tuxedo, and that isn't like him. He can't be desperate for a date, because he was out with Ivy last night. And I'm pretty sure he's seeing Blossom tonight. Besides, we went out last week. But he doesn't make a habit of this, so he must want something.
"I wanted to thank you for helping Mac bone up," he returned easily. "She's been on a tug since graduation, so she's somewhat rusty."
"Yes, it isn't easy, going from a tug to a warship," she agreed, and was gratified by the sharp look he gave her. If she didn't have the grades to be assigned warship duty when she graduated, and she's rusty now, I wonder how she got here? And why is he concerned? He obviously knows her, but I haven't heard about him breaking any dates to be with her.
"Mac's from Gaelund," the black man stated. "Where men are men and women are ... good enough for breeding more men."
"Sounds barbaric."
"Definitely different. Frankly, I'm surprised she got away. She did, obviously, but not without psychological luggage. Like the idea that she can't do math. She's got more brains than she realizes."
She didn't have a problem with that equation yesterday, once I pushed a bit. I'll let that stand, though I don't think that's the whole story. Still doesn't explain why he's so concerned. "As long as she's willling to work at improving her skills, I don't mind helping. You're right, she doesn't give herself enough credit." In math, anyway.
"And I want to ask you for a favor," he added.
I knew it!
"Mac wants a new wardrobe of off-duty clothes. I was hoping you'd go shopping with her, help her decide what to buy."
"What kind of a favor is that?"
"Actually, it's a big one. If you don't, she'll expect me to go. And the last thing I want to do on shore leave is shop for women's clothes."
"Not even lingerie?" she teased. What a panicked look on his face. Like the thought frightens him. Bugalu? Afraid to see a woman in a nightgown? That's a first!
"Well, ... maybe if you modeled it," he returned with a smile.
"Nonsense. Anything I might model wouldn't fit Mac," she returned. "And wouldn't look any good on her, either."
"There, you see?" he asked. "She doesn't know what colors look good on her. She has no sense of style, not at all like you. While I can appreciate style, I don't know how to teach it to her. I really need your help with this, Abdulla."
"And what do I get if I do this for you?"
He grinned. "What do you want?"
"Maybe I'm ready for another date."
"You don't have to do me a favor to get that," he said, leaning forward. "I was thinking maybe a box of chocolates."
"Too fattening."
"They die."
How come he can buy lingerie for me, but not for Mac? "That would take all the mystery out of our next date, wouldn't it?"
"That has possibilities," she admitted. "Tell you what, surprise me." The only surprise will be what aroma he gets me, since we've eliminated everything else.
"Okay," he agreed. "First night back? Movie and ... nightcap?"
"Sounds good," she agreed. "If you're sure you're not already busy that night."
"I'm sure."
"It's a date," she returned. Would have thought he'd be starting to fit Mac into his schedule by then, but if not- Bugalu leaned even closer, to seal their agreement with a kiss, but she stopped him. "Don't get started, Bugalu. I'm due back on the bridge."
"Too bad," he muttered. She stood up and started to collect her dirty dishes. "I'll get them," he volunteered, and pressed a small disk into her hand.
"What's this?"
"He glanced around and kept his voice soft. "Parts of Mac's file. I thought somebody should be aware of it."
"Aware of what?"
He shook his head. "You wouldn't believe me. I hardly believe it, and I dug it out of a bunch of sub-sub-files. Just take a look, and deal with it as you think it deserves."
She hesitated. "Bugalu, if you and she-"
He frowned. "We're all officers, Abdulla. She’s a junior officer, but still an officer. That's not personal stuff on that disk, but it was well hidden, and wouldn't be found if someone wasn't actively looking for it. I was looking, and almost didn't find it. It should be dealt with, but I'm not in her chain of command. It would look like I'm asking for favors for a girl friend, if I bring it up. Please, Abdulla, in the name of fairness?"
"I'm not going to ask for favors for her."
"I wouldn’t ask you to. Just look at that. Verify it yourself. And then, take whatever action you think would be fair."
She sighed, slid the disk into her tunic pocket. "Okay, but no promises!" She hurried out, her break over. He had a lot of favors he wanted. And got off cheap for them, too. Still, it'll be fun shopping, especially if she's really looking for a whole new wardrobe. Wonder what mysterious secret he's got on this disk?