Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Suspicions / Drake the Detective


Day 4 (cont)


1718 Hours


Jane was disappointed to see MacGregor exiting the mess hall as she entered. "Duck. I was hoping you wouldn't be done yet."

"Sorry." He glanced back inside. "I don't know if Smitty's eaten yet."

She grimaced. "I just chewed him out. I don't think supper together would work tonight."

"I won't ask; that's between you and him."

She sighed, and looked around. "Tell me you didn't want three days of leave for that redhead just so you could have time with her."

"What? Absolutely not! I've got the proof-"

She waved him to silence. "You're not the only one who suggested it, so I didn't really think- So good, you don't have a date with her." That's a guilty look if ever I saw one. Blast, another one that needs chewing out? "Let's step in here," she suggested, pointing to the privacy room.

When they stepped into the tiny room, she was relieved to see it didn't have a sofa. Don't think I could stand that. Duck's a good-looking man, and it's hard to ignore that tonight. Just like it was hard to ignore Smitty's ... attributes. Keep it together, Jane. Tomorrow is shore leave. You can wait that long. "Okay, so you have made a date with the redhead."

"Not a date. Don't let her hear you say that; she'd cancel in a heartbeat."

"Cancel what, if you don't have a date?"

"Okay, you might call it a date, but not a ... sexual date. Mac- MacDowell thinks all dates are sexual. So, yes, we're getting together, but it's not a date."

"So, you're tricking her-"

"No!" He sat at the table. "Mac is not your typical woman."

"That's for sure," she muttered, sitting down opposite him. His glance was meaningful, but he didn't comment.

"Ludwig would have a field day with her inhibitions, but she functions fairly well, so I'm not going to turn him loose on her. According to her upbringing, anything remotely sexual is forbidden. I worked hard to get her to agree to be friends. Once I saw what she'd been through, I convinced her to adopt me as an uncle. As her uncle, I am taking her fishing, to see that she actually gets some relaxation on shore leave. So, yes, we're getting together. No, it's not a date."

"Are we talking about the same woman? Hangs out with Lt Bugalu? Yet everything sexual is forbidden? That doesn't make sense."

"I didn't think so either. But she hangs out with Bugalu because he's like a brother to her. Incredible, but they both say it."

I couldn't think of Bugalu as a brother. Or that redhead as a sister. Life doesn't always make sense. Jane stood up. "Okay. For now." She frowned. "It isn't like Smitty to try to deflect my anger by casting aspersions on others. He must need shore leave as much as ... anyone."

Duck smiled. "Maybe you should authorize three days for him, too."

"Like he'd take it!" she laughed, and started for the door. "Good night, Duck."



Drake the Detective

Day 4 (cont)


2004 Hours


Drake tossed his book down on the sofa and sighed. Pre-shore leave impatience. That's what I've got. The whole ship has it. Wonder why Jane chewed Smitty out. No, none of my business. Wonder who's caught Mac's attention. Can't imagine who she thinks might charm his way into her bed. Pretty sure it's a man. Has to be someone she met that first day. First couple of hours, in fact.

Does Bugalu know who it is? Is this guy good enough for her?

He glanced at the mystery he had just tossed aside. Well, I wouldn't be a good uncle if I didn't try to find out, would I? She won't tell me, so why not play detective? It'd give me something to do, anyway. Let's see, when she came aboard, she would have been greeted by the captain, maybe one of the higher officers, and a superior. Did Smitty greet her himself, or leave it for Abdulla? Who worked the controls for the pods? Smitty would have the answer to those last 2 questions, so I'll start there.

It only took him a moment to reach his neighbor's door, which opened to admit him, so the engineer was accepting visitors. From the looks of him, he should have opted for limited admittance. Drake glanced at the bottle sitting on the table next to Smitty's elbow. That explains it. Jane's right; he's stressed. We all are. A stiff drink would taste good right now. "Care if I come in?"

"You are in," the engineer growled.

"So I am. You drinking alone tonight?"

"I have been." The engineer sighed. "You know where the glasses are."

"Thanks." Drake got a glass and joined Smitty on the sofa, helped himself to a portion of the clear liquid. He grimaced slightly as the first swallow flowed down his throat. "Do you ever drink anything besides gin?"

"Yes." Smitty nodded, and his knuckles went white on his glass.

He's tipsy. Must not be his first bottle. "All I'm saying is that a scotch or Irish-" Wait a minute. Mac does drink; she had a whiskey the other night in the officer's lounge. She must not be ready to trust me in the 'privacy' of a public park.

"Irish!" Smitty snarled. "I've had enough Irish! I'll stick to gin, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind," Drake responded. The previous bottle must have been whiskey. I'll have to remember to bring my own, next time. "I'm playing detective tonight, to keep my mind busy, you might say."

"You waste your time reading mysteries," Smitty stated. "Technical manuals, that's more like it. For you, medical journals, I suppose."

"I read those, too." But not exclusively, like he does with his journals. "Anyway, I have some questions, about the day the new crewmembers came aboard."

Smitty shuddered, tossed the liquid in his glass down his throat. "What about it?"

"I've been wondering who was there to greet them? Who operated the pod controls?"

"Kagan," he answered shortly and refilled his glass.

Tall, thin, dark hair. Hasn't been aboard that long himself. That's one possibility, probably not the only one. "Afterwards--"

"He did fine." Smitty's voice was thick. "I was hardly needed."

"So, you were there? You showed Mac to her quarters and the bridge?" This is great. He knows exactly who she met, then.

"I sent for Abdulla," the engineer admitted, his face red.

"Oh." I'll have to check with her, then. Drake remembered the 'come hither' wink Abdullah had given him the other night, and his mood brightened. That could have its own pleasures. Wonder what she's doing tonight?

"They must have dropped off her duffel at her room before coming to the bridge. They get along well. Hope Abdulla remembers she's a superior officer to her."

It took MacGregor a moment to straighten out what the other man had meant. "Abdulla will remember, if she needs to."

The engineer sighed and refilled his glass. "I used to be able to."

If Smitty was there when she got to the bridge- Whoa, what did he say? This could be more than just pre-shore leave impatience. Or it could be a really bad case of pre-shore leave lust. "What's changed?" he asked softly, his possible romantic mystery set aside at the prospect of a biological mystery.

"Space if I know." Smitty sighed, and drank half the glass down. "I have no control over my thoughts, my dreams, my body."

"That sounds serious."

"I need a woman!"

Never heard him sound so desperate.

"I need -" He stopped and glanced at Drake.

Like he's just remembered I'm here.

"I need a vacation," he ended weakly.

"As it happens, I suggested to Jane earlier that you take all three days off."

"Did you?" the other man asked suspiciously. "Why would you do that?"

MacGregor shrugged. "You seem to be under some stress."

Smitty frowned. "That's putting it mildly."

"Well, do you want all three days?" MacGregor asked. "It's not too late."

"I have work to finish tomorrow. She- I- It's not done yet."

He can't stop working. I don't like the sounds of that. Never have, but that's his way. "That's right, you said Mac needed to bone up. Sorry to hear she hasn't been more help for you, but she's been on the verge of a breakdown."

"Pushing me to a breakdown of my own," Smitty mumbled, and shook off the thought. "Well, it's over. Shore leave, then she's midnights, and I never need to see her again. Can't be too soon."

He's really taken a dislike to her. Because Jane made him give her all three days off? Doesn't sound like him, but- What's she done to get on his bad side? He can't control his body? Did he lose his temper, or-? "Smitty, you need some fun. What have you got planned for shore leave?"

"Haven't thought about it."

"You've got reservations, haven't you? Or will you sleep on the ship?"

"I've got reservations," Smythe replied. "At the Golden Star, Star of Gold, something like that. Further than that, I don't know. Hire a woman. Or six. Drink. Probably. Who knows?" He turned glazed eyes to Drake. "What are you doing?"

There are few activities we both enjoy, and he knows it. We've been friends a long time, but we seldom share shore leave. "Well, if you've seen one station museum, you've pretty much seen them all, so not that. Like you, I'll probably hire a woman." One with bright red hair. No, maybe that wouldn't be a good idea. "I thought I'd go fishing. Not likely to catch anything, but it's something to do. Basket of corned beef sandwiches, cheese and apples, whatever."

"Sounds good," Smitty interrupted. "But roast beef, not corned. And last time, you brought white wine; I prefer gin."

Last time was nearly ten years ago, just after we met. That's an idea, get the two of them together for a couple hours, let them see each other in a different light. But I can't surprise them with it. He cleared his throat. "I'm flattered you remember our last fishing trip with enough pleasure to be willing to repeat it. But, I've already invited someone, and you might not- You're welcome to come, if you like, but-"

"I'm afraid to ask," Smitty whispered, sitting very still.

"I've invited Mac," MacGregor stated softly.

"I knew it!" he snapped, closing his eyes.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Family Gathering

Family Gathering

Day 4 (cont)


1630 Hours


MacGregor looked up when the turbo lift opened, but Mac wasn't on it. He sighed and settled back against the bulkhead. Where is she? Has she changed her mind?

"I hope you aren't expecting me to do anything for you tonight."

He smiled at the nurse. "Not tonight, Beth."

"Good. Because I do have plans tonight."

He grinned. "Should I be jealous?"

She paused in surprise. "You never have been before."

"I didn't realize you'd given up dating doctors," he returned, leaning closer.

"Did you realize that doctors had given up asking me out?"

How did that happen? "Something should be done about that."

"Oh, I don't know," she returned. "I'm not desperate."

"A lovely woman like you would never be desperate," he stated. "You're too much fun." He reached out and took her hand in his.


"It's been a long time."

"Drake, don't get started, because I'm not available tonight."

"My loss, then. Maybe-"

"If I'm interrupting, we can make it another time, Mac."

His fingers convulsively tightened, and he saw Beth wince before he let go. "That's okay, Mac," he answered calmly. "We were just discussing Beth's date tonight."

"Like I said-" Mac muttered.

"You promised we'd have supper," MacGregor reminded her.

"I thought you--never mind." Beth seemed confused, and he was sure he knew why.

"It's not a date. It's a family meal."

"Family?" Beth repeated, her confusion deepening.

"We've adopted each other," Drake explained. "As uncle and niece."

Eyes wide, Beth looked from one to another. She grinned, then laughed. "Well, that's one way to do it!"

She'll make Mac think I'm trying to pull a fast one. "I mean it."

"I believe you," Beth stated. "That's the only way it would work!"

Now I'm confused. "The only way what would work?"

Beth smiled mischievously. "Mac found the man aboard most likely to charm his way into her bed, and made him a family member so he wouldn't!"

Stunned, he was doubly shocked when Mac blurted, "Oh, he's not the one most like-" She closed her mouth determinedly and lowered her red face to stare at the floor. Someone has caught her attention. Not Bugalu. And not me. I wonder who? Someone she met that first day, between arrival and getting her physical.

"I need to go." Beth eyed the redhead curiously. "Are we on for tomorrow?"

Mac's head snapped up, her face radiating sheer joy. "Yes! I just got the news!"

"Good! We'll have a great time! See you then."

After Beth left, Mac started into the mess hall. "Come on, I am so hungry!"

Once they had their food, Drake steered her to a corner table, partially hidden by a potted plant and trellis. He started to pull out the chair next to his, but she sat down across the table. Let it slide. Don't push. "Why so late?" he asked as he sugared his coffee. "I was beginning to think you'd changed your mind."

"I keep my promises," she stated softly.

"Then where were you?"

"I got lost." He looked up sharply, and her cheeks colored. "Not physically," she stated, and tapped her temple with a finger. "Up here."

That's even worse. "What happened?"

"I got on the lift, and started thinking about ... things. I didn't pay attention to anything, until-" She sighed and shook her head. "Until Ryan suggested I go to his place. Then I came to meet you."

Not too bad, maybe. We all get lost in our thoughts from time to time. He glanced at the electronic clipboard next to her tray. "Must have been interesting, whatever you were thinking about."

One slim finger touched the clipboard, as if to reassure herself it was still there. "Shore leave and ... things." She blushed and became fascinated by her meatloaf.

"Okay, here's where I become the nosey uncle and ask what's on the clipboard."

She looked up, confused by his curiosity. "My shore leave authorization."

Why in the world--? "Has it been signed?"


"Then it's in the computer. You don't need the clipboard."

"So one would think," she agreed softly, but her finger rubbed the plastic edge again.

All those shore leave authorizations that were ignored. "At least put it on a chair. Before you get gravy on it and ... short it out, or something." She hesitated, then moved the clipboard to the chair. "Speaking of shore leave, I gather you're getting together with Beth tomorrow."

She nodded. "And Abdulla and YD. To get me new clothes."

"Shopping is heaven for a lot of women," he stated. "I'm sure you'll enjoy it."

She thought about that. "Well, it'll be different. Educational, I guess."

Educational! Shopping? Set that aside. "What else have you got planned?"

Her fork dropped to her plate. A glance revealed that her face had gone white; her eyes were bleak, and tears were ready to flow. "Nothing!"

I suppose she'd planned to be with Bugalu, but after their fight, those plans are moot. Give her a chance to stay calm. "No time to plan," he stated understandingly. "So, play it by ear. One of my favorite things to do on leave - and I don't get to do it often - is fishing." He chewed a bite of chicken thoughtfully. "Maybe I'll do it this shore leave."

She looked confused. "I thought this shore leave was on a space station."

"Yes," he agreed. "B27. It's big enough to have a park, which has a lake. Well, I read the specs; it's barely a pond, but it's called a lake. And they allow fishing. They even rent the equipment." He took a bite of green beans. How do I ask her without sounding like-?

"My brothers went on fishing trips," she stated. "They always came home drunk as skunks. And smelling like skunks, too."

That's not the kind of outing I want her to picture. "I usually just make it an afternoon," he stated. "I take a picnic basket, and enjoy the inactivity."

"Sounds boring," she muttered.

"Maybe, if I went by myself," he allowed. "But I usually choose a companion so that we can have an interesting conversation." Okay, I've skirted around the question long enough. "Anything in particular you want in the picnic basket?"

She put her fork down, sat back and smiled. "I wondered if you were working up the courage to ask me to be that companion."

"It's not a date."

"No, we've established that, haven't we?" She leaned forward and fondled the handle of her tea mug.

Her fingers aren't entirely steady. She's not as comfortable with this idea as she's trying to pretend.

"When were you thinking of this ... outing? Because I know I said I didn't, but actually, I do have plans for the last day-"

The captain said she'd get the full three days of leave. "I'm on duty the last day. And you're shopping the first day, so it sounds like it needs to be the 2nd day. What do you think, 1300?"

"My brothers always left about 3 AM."

"Different kind of fishing," he returned. "Shall we meet at the park, or-?"

She stared at her plate for a time while a variety of emotions roamed across her face, including bleak hopelessness and distrust. Then she lifted her head and stared at him. Blast, what's taking her so long? Have I overplayed the innocent aspect of this outing? Or underplayed it?

"I like corned beef sandwiches," she stated, picking up her fork. "But no mustard. Cheese, bread, crackers. Oh, I don't know what's eaten at these types of things. You decide that. As for where to meet, ... I'll find you."

Success! "I usually include a bottle of white wine, but if you prefer red-"

"Wine?" She shuddered. "I'll bring my own drink."

Maybe she doesn't drink alcohol. Unusual, but laudable. "Okay, it's a date." I did not just say that!

She laughed. "No, it's not. But I'll be there."

"Good." He took another couple bites before he told her, "Mac, if you need anything on shore leave - a sympathetic ear or ... anything - I'll be at the Gold Star Hotel."

She set her cup down with a clunk, and threw her napkin atop her not-quite-completed meal. "Okay, you're not the only one who needs to get used to you being my uncle, because that just sounded like you invited me to your hotel!"

"I didn't mean--"

"Let's blame it on my nerves." She licked her lips and stood. "Because truth to tell, they're pretty shot right now. So, okay. I'll be there for fishing. I'll bring my own beverage. And ... and I'll keep your location in mind. Just in case."

"That's all I meant." As she reached for her tray, he asked, "Studying tonight?"

She hesitated. "Not exactly. Why?"

"I think you should take the evening off."

She frowned. "I've got something to do. Before shore leave. My nerves aren't that shot."

He sighed. "Okay. I guess I'm not that bossy." Yet.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Observer Again / A Little Push

Observer Again

Day 4 (cont)


1256 Hours


Smitty paused outside the mess hall, wondering what to do. The auxiliary bridge isn't done, but there's too much for me to do alone in one afternoon. I doubt if she'll show up. MacGreg'll have her in sick bay, to 'keep an eye on her'. I could pull someone in to help. Harris. Or Jones. Or I could finish it tomorrow, after the crew's gone.

"Come on, Smit, let's not be late." He looked up to see a very non-weepy MacDowell adjusting her uniform as she walked past him.

"Hey!" They both turned, saw MacGregor in the door of a privacy room. "About tonight-"

"Yes, yes, I'll be there," she stated quickly as the turbo lift doors opened.

Smitty stepped in behind MacDowell, set the lift for the auxiliary bridge. "Are you sure you're up for this?" he asked. A quickie with MacGreg and the promise of more later might have dried her tears, but it can't have neutralized that much stress!

She studied him for a long moment. "What did you have in mind, Smit?"

"Smy-" he started to correct, but stopped. Probably shouldn’t pick on details when she's so close to a breakdown. "I could give you the afternoon off," he offered.

She canted her head to one side, and then her face reddened as her gaze slid away from him. "For what reason?"

The nipple of her breast came erect under the ministrations of his fingers, matching his erection. "Oh, dear," she breathed, lowering her head to kiss him. "Oh, yes," he returned, and adjusted her position atop him for easy entry. For the reason that I can ease her stress level just as well as MacGreg! She might like it better! It would leave all of the work for me to do tomorrow. I'd never get it all done, not alone. Who's still aboard tomorrow to help me? "Wilson," he decided under his breath. "Wilson's available. And it wouldn't take long, with her."

He heard her sigh, saw her face drain to white. "Then there's no reason for me to take the afternoon off, is there?" she asked as she left the lift.

What's that mean? Apparently, she prefers to wait for MacGreg. He followed her to the secondary bridge and watched her return to work. So that's that. She's broken up with Bugalu, but MacGreg's already stepped into the breach. There's no room for me. He crossed the room to his own work. Just as well. I could get in trouble bedding a subordinate. After shore leave ... she'll be just another crewmember.

I hope.



A Little Push

Day 4 (cont)


1547 Hours


Abdulla exited the turbo lift with the electronic clipboard firmly gripped in her hand. I cannot believe he hasn't done it yet! The captain is not happy about it, either.

She paused as she entered the emergency bridge to take note of where the two were. Opposite sides of the room, like ... like opponents or something. It's not like him to take an immediate dislike to a subordinate. He might act like it sometimes, all tough and gruff, but it isn't real. I wonder what's got his dander up about Mac?

She approached him. "Mr Smythe?" He didn't respond, just kept staring into the open weapons console. "Mr Smythe?" She touched his shoulder.

The engineer jumped and whirled to face her. His panic abated when he recognized her. "Abdulla! Shouldn't you be on the bridge?"

"I was sent with a message," she replied, her voice low. "The captain says you are to sign this." She held out the clipboard. "Or else she will. In which case, she said, she will know why her intervention is necessary."

Looking confused, he took the clipboard and looked at the display. His face went pink. "Yes," he agreed, and signed the form, then tried to hand it back.

Abdulla folded her arms. "I'm also to make sure you give it to her."

"She's right over-"

"That you give it to her," Abdulla repeated. "The captain was quite insistent." Trying to let the girl see that this is not the Bartholomew and not all superiors are pigs.

"Yes, well-" He set it down atop the console. "I'll do that."

What is his problem? "Before end of shift!" she insisted, belatedly added, "Sir."

He gave her an irritated glance. "I understand, lieutenant."

Why is he so stubborn about this? You'd think I was asking him to ... to dance with me, or something! "Sir, there are less than ten minutes left to this shift."

"What?" He glanced at the clock, then stared at it. His gaze traveled to the redhead, still working across the room. His chin hardened. He picked up the clipboard, took hold of Abdulla's arm, and marched across the room. "MacDowell!"

She jumped, turned to face him. "Sir?"

"Here." He shoved the clipboard at her, turned to Abdulla. "Mission accomplished!"

Mac turned the clipboard around to read it, and her mouth dropped open in shock. The three of them stood in silence for several moments before the redhead gathered her wits together. When she looked up, her face was white. "Is this for real?"

"I signed it. It's in the computer," Smythe stated firmly.

Mac glanced at him, then lowered her face. "You won't ... change your mind?"

"Why would I do that?"

"It ... it's happened before."

"Not here. Not with me." He thought for a moment, then added, "You aren't on my shit list."

"Yet?" she asked quietly, and sighed.

Aware of the tension between them, even if she didn't understand it, Abdulla decided to change the subject. "So we can get together tomorrow." I imagined she might kiss him in ecstatic joy, or try to, but she seems almost morose. This girl is strange! "I hope you've got the money for it!" she teased.

Mac closed her eyes, leaned against the console. "Even a technician's pay adds up when you can't spend it. I have more than enough."

"We'll see. I'm not used to buying more than one item at a time, even on an officer's pay. So you might have to reassure me that we haven't reached your limit while we shop. Or possibly warn me that we're getting close. Now that your shore leave is signed, let me-" She reached for the clipboard, but Mac clutched it close.

"Let her keep it," Mr Smythe instructed. "It is in the computer, but if it makes her feel better to have the form in hand, then let her keep it. When she gets back from shore leave, she can turn it in."

"Fine with me," Abdulla agreed. "Means I don't have to return to the bridge to put it away. If I might be dismissed, Mr Smythe?"

"Yes," he agreed. "You, too, MacDowell."

"But I'm not done-"

"Leave it. There's a lot we didn't get done. I'll finish tomorrow. Wilson can help me; she's on late shift for shore leave. Won't take long with her help." Abdulla turned, but Mac seemed uncertain. "Go on," he urged. "Get a-" His voice suddenly went hoarse. "An early start on your fun."

Still clutching the clipboard, Mac headed for the turbo lift with Abdullah. "Who's Wilson?" she asked suddenly as the turbo lift whisked them away.

"Wilson? Evening shift supervisor, engineering."

Mac looked even more confused. "Is she ... Mr Smythe's ... floozy?"

If I had any doubts what her record means, that pretty well erases them. "More like his protégé. Mr Smythe does not ... fraternize ... with his underlings." Or if he does, I've never heard any whisper of it. I hope that reassures her.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013



Day 4 (cont)


1226 Hours


Drake tried not to look like he was following Mac as she ran out. Unfortunately, by the time he got to the corridor, she was nowhere in sight. He turned to the off-duty crewwoman coming up the hall. "Did you see a redhead?"

"Privacy room." She indicated the nearby door. "She looked upset."

"Exactly," he returned quietly.

The red light next to the door said the room was occupied and the door was locked. These tiny cubbyholes were scattered throughout the ship, meant to provide some solitude on a ship where privacy was hard to find. The door didn't close tight until the person inside deliberately did so, and then the door locked, keeping everybody else out. Mac didn't want Bugalu following her.

MacGregor sighed and placed his left thumb over the red light. "Medical emergency," he muttered. Recognizing his fingerprint, the ship's computer unlocked the door. He slipped inside, closed the door behind him.

Privacy rooms were tiny. Some held small sofas, and those were popular with technicians and ensigns looking for private sex. This one held a table and four chairs. One chair held a weeping redhead.

MacGregor cleared his throat. "I thought you might need-"

"Men who offer a shoulder to cry on, Dr MacGregor, are just trying to take advantage!" she declared, raising her head to glare at him.

What happened to calling me Mac? I never liked it before she started it; now I miss it. "What about a sympathetic ear?" he asked calmly. "I've got two of those."

She hesitated, uncertain. "You won't ... touch me?"

"We'll keep the table between us," he suggested, and lowered himself into the opposite chair. "You know, that argument with Bugalu sounded like ... jealousy."

She shrugged and sniffed. "People hear what they expect to hear."

He opened a drawer and pulled out a tissue for her. "I know better, and it still seemed to be flavored with jealousy. I gather he's been ignoring you?"

She wiped her eyes, but the tears kept flowing. "It's not his fault. I didn't tell him I was coming because - well, I didn't have much notice myself. And I wanted to surprise him. I thought it would be just like at the Academy, but it's not! I never should have come!" She succumbed to her tears again.

"So, he isn't giving you the attention you want," Drake suggested again.

"That does sound like jealousy, doesn't it?" Her lips curled briefly in an attempt to smile. "But we aren't-- It's not boy friend/girl friend jealousy, I just-- I need him!"

"To do what?"

Now she looked confused. "Do? Boss me around! Keep me out of trouble! Let me hang around and pester him! To--"

"Be a brother," he summed it up.


"You had one at the Academy," Drake pointed out. "He couldn't do it alone."

"Yes!" she agreed. "So he drafted another brother for me! It became a tag-team effort, and I didn't completely disrupt either brother's love life! Brothers really get upset when I interfere in their love life!" She frowned at the tissue twisted in her hands. "I need another brother, but-" She shook her head, dismissing the idea.

"There's over 300 men aboard ship," he pointed out. "Surely-"

"Most of them have already propositioned me," she returned. "And I don't just think they have! Bear's attempt to get my shirt off was downright subtle in comparison to most of them!"

I believe it. Almost every man who sees her is going to immediately think of sex. I don't understand how Bugalu avoids it. Unless it's because he has no many other outlets for his desire?

"Capac hasn't. Yet," she continued thoughtfully, then shook her head. "He's nice, but I can't see him bossing me around."

"Seems unlikely," he agreed, though he wasn't sure he remembered the name. "What about a sister, then? Out of a hundred women-"

"Some of those have propositioned me, too," she stated. "But ... it just doesn't feel right."

Is she talking about sex with a woman?

"I've never had a sister."

"I thought maybe YD-"

She grinned. "YD's fun. We have a blast together. But she's not bossy."

He sighed. I was afraid it would come to this. What's the difference? I already promised to behave. He forced his voice to be light. "What about an uncle?"

"Uncle?" she asked, looking confused.

"That's kind of like a brother, only older."

"I know what an uncle is," she grinned. "And not necessarily older. I have a brother twenty years older than me, and uncles only 2 or 3 years my senior."

"Space!" he exclaimed. The whole family must be sex-crazed.

She shrugged. "Gaelund's population is still growing." She wiped her eyes, began folding the tissue carefully. "Let's see. I haven't met all the senior officers, yet." She frowned. "Very few, actually." She shuddered. "As a rule of thumb, I avoid them."

After studying her files, I can understand why. Blast it, I thought I was obvious, but apparently not. "What if I volunteer?"

She sat back in her chair, the tissue forgotten, and studied him carefully.

What does this mean? Am I not uncle material?

"You'd do that for Bugalu?"

"For Bugalu? No," he responded. "I'd do it for you."

Her eyes clouded with confusion; a small furrow appeared between her vivid brows. "Why? What do you get out of it?"

The question caught him off-guard, and he thought before he responded. "Would you ask that if I had said I'd do it for Bugalu?" That got her. Keep going. There's a long way to go. He leaned forward, folded his hands together on the tabletop. "Let's lay our cards on the table, Mac. The first time I saw you, you set my blood to boiling."

She pushed away from the table, putting more distance between them. Keep going. Don't let her get stuck on that thought. "Of course, I'd just given a physical to YD, so my blood was plenty hot to begin with." True, but misleading. "The more I talked to you, the more you confused me. And that's still true; the more I'm with you, the more I want to solve the puzzle that is you, learn what makes you the person you are." Well, that's got her thoroughly confused. "I like you, Mac. I knew it before I even finished your medical. Knew I wanted to be friends. You've agreed to that. Would my being an uncle be that much different than my being a friend?"

She stared at him. "Being an uncle won't get you kisses. Or fondling. Or sex."

Too bad. No, I didn't have any chance of that anyway. "Figured that when I became a friend."

She reached out, touched his hand with a cool finger. "Mac, you don't have to-"

"You remind me of my daughter." Where did that come from? Still, if it works-

Her eyes were round. "I didn't know you had a daughter."

"I misspoke. I don't have a daughter. As a Fleet officer, I haven't had many chances to ... settle down. I daydream, sometimes, about how things might have been. I thought maybe I could ... experience that a little by being your uncle."

Eventually, she nodded. "Yes. I understand. Okay, ... Uncle Mac."

"Good. Glad we got that settled. Let's have supper this evening."

She straightened away from him quickly. "I don't-"

"It's not a date," he interrupted. "It's a family thing." She looks uncertain. "You have meals with Bugalu. You've shared a table with me before, and we weren't even officially friends. So why not?"

"Yes." She smiled. "Why not?" She got up, started for the door. Suddenly, she whirled around, and he found her sitting on his lap. His arms automatically started around her, but he stopped and moved them behind the chair. She buried her face against his neck, and he felt hot tears on his shoulder. "Thank you, Mac," she breathed.

This is torture. She can't possibly know what she's doing. Or is this a test? "Mac," he gasped.


"If you don't get up, I might try for incest."

She was up in a flash, standing at the door, her eyes mere slits of anger. "I knew it! Like every other man, you just want to-"

"I am a man," he shot back. "But I didn't do anything, did I? I warned you instead. I'm new at being an uncle; it's going to take time to get used to it."

She hesitated. "I have to get to work," she muttered, opening the door.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lunchtime Spat / Battle Observer

Lunchtime Spat

Day 4 (cont)


1219 Hours


Capac wasn't surprised that as soon as Bugalu got his lunch, he headed straight for Mac's table. The redhead was staring into space, a frown on her face, and seemed to have forgotten the meal before her. "Okay, what have you been up to?" Bugalu demanded as he sat down.

She flushed deep red and turned her gaze to her meal. "Nothing."

"Don't lie to me. Where were you last night?"

Why accuse her of lying? He's been in a bad mood all morning.

She blushed an even deeper red, if possible. "In my room. Mostly." She toyed with her potatoes, prodding them with her fork.

"Doing what?"


Bugalu studied her. "You're not in the brig, so you haven't hit anyone."

She tossed a guilty glance his way. "No," she stated breathlessly.

Bugalu jumped on these apparent tell-tales. "Meaning you came close?"

"I - I can't hit people anymore," she stated. "I told you-"

"That hasn't stopped you before! Who was it? And what do you think he did?"

"Think?" she repeated, stunned, and her own temper flared. "Is that what you think? That I can't tell when a guy is trying to undress me? Maybe you think I should let him undressed me before I stop him!"

"I think you over-react," he returned sourly. "I think you read too much into everything a man does. You can't know what they're thinking, despite-"

"It was pretty obvious Tall Bear was trying to get my shirt off last night!" she declared.

Brown eyes narrowed. "What was Bear doing in your room?"

"Who said we were in my room?"

"You just said- Or did you lie?"

"I said I spent most of the night in my room! Are you saying that I can't leave my quarters unless I'm with you? I'd never get out! You're always on a date!"

"I didn't know you were coming! Why is this my fault? I told you I had a date. You should have known-"

"How can I know anything?" she shot back. "I'm just a dumb girl who over-reacts and hasn't got a clue what a man's thinking! No thanks to you! Maybe I made a mistake coming here to be with you! You seem to think that if you don't have time for me, I'm just going to sit in my room! That I will see no one, do nothing! But that's not me! And you should know that!"

For the first time, Bugalu seemed to realize how loud they were, for he glanced around the room. "All right, Mac, calm down."

"Don't tell me what to do!" she yelled, scrambling to her feet. "You don't have that right! Not until you have room for me in your life. And when that happens, then maybe I'll have room for you in mine!" She turned and stormed off.

Bugalu looked bleak as she ran out. "How did things blow up like that?"

"What did you expect?" Capac asked. "You were in a bad mood, came in, accused her of lying, of being with Tall Bear. If you're too busy for her, why shouldn't she see someone else?"

Bugalu frowned. "Don't be an idiot, Capac."

I'm not going to take that from him. "Apparently, you would like to be alone," the Peruvian stated coldly, starting to stand.

"Don't go," Bugalu requested. "Sorry, I- Last night's date didn't go well, and nothing I say today is coming out right." He sighed heavily. The two of them ate in uneasy silence for a time. "I need to talk to Tall Bear," Bugalu stated thoughtfully.

Going to warn Bear off? It must be serious with Mac. He never said a word when he heard I took over his date with Blossom.



Battle Observer

Day 4 (cont)


1221 Hours


It wasn't long before the entire mess hall realized Bugalu and Mac were having a fight. Even half the room away, Tall Bear's name was heard. Conflicting emotions raged through Smitty, who refused to look that way, but was keenly aware of the argument. Good girl. Don't let him boss you around. Be your own woman.

"Blast," MacGregor muttered. "She doesn't need this, not now."

A glance at the doctor revealed a look of deep concern on the other man's face. Smitty's whirling emotions fell through the floor. He's right. Her memory loss this morning - I haven't told him about that yet - and now a big fight with her lover! She'll have a break down for sure!

"Excuse me," MacGreg mumbled, getting to his feet.

Looking around, Smitty saw the redhead fleeing the crowded room, MacGreg following. He frowned. Gone to take advantage of the situation, no doubt.

Jane leaned over the table and hissed, "Shore leave!"

"What? Oh. Yes, she does need it, that's clear," he agreed. All three days. It's as close to a vacation as can be managed.

"If you don't authorize three days for her, I will!" Jane warned.

"But-" Never mind. She's not in the mood to listen. He nodded. "Understood."