Day 3 (cont)
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."
"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."
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."
"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.
"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?