Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs
Shore Leave Day 2 (cont)
1934 Hours

     In a small bar, Smitty sat in a booth, staring at his empty glass, trying not to think about what he'd seen that afternoon. What was I doing in the park? I knew MacGreg was taking her 'fishing'! Unfortunately, that seemed to be the only thoughts his mind would entertain. The redheaded mermaid slid an arm over the doctor's shoulder and leaned forward to kiss him. MacGreg pulled her closer.
     Smitty blinked, realized where he was, and looked up at the middle-aged waitress standing near his table. "What?"
     Her lips toyed with the idea of smiling. "I thought you looked a few light years away. I asked if you decided on supper yet, honey?"
     "Not yet," he told her carefully.
     She frowned. "That's not water, you know. And you've drunk a lot of it."
     "Yes." He started to nod, but the movement made him dizzy, so he stopped.
     She sighed. "That's what I thought. Look, honey, you need--"
     I need a woman. From the look on her face, he had said it out loud. He cleared his throat. In for a penny, in for-- "When do you get off?"
     She arched an eyebrow, studied him carefully. "I won't jeopardize my marriage for a one-night stand, so I pass. A fine Fleet captain like you will have no difficulty finding a date."
     "I'm not a captain."
     "Sorry. I never get the ranks right. Anyway, there's several paid-companion services on the station. Do you want the contact numbers?"
     A bright tongue moistened strawberry lips. "I really should be clinging as I do you--" His jaw clenched at the memory, but he managed to push out, "No."
     The waitress shrugged. "Then how about some food? Joe does a mean hash and eggs."
     She's as bad as a mother hen. And she's not wrong. He managed a small smile. "That sounds fine."
     She moved off, was back shortly to set food and silverware in front of him. "None of my business, I know, but if you're that hungry..." She wasn't talking about food. "...surely you could have found a crew woman to... be with?"
     She turned to him, her face lit up-- "I'll be directly under you?" He swore under his breath, shoved the memory away. His hand shook as he picked up the fork, so he put it down again. "It's not that easy." He held up his empty glass. The waitress nodded and left. Not when the one I want is a subordinate. Of course, she's not MacGreg's, so it's perfectly okay for him to... unless she complains about him. Face it, Smitty, she didn't object to his attention. He reached for the glass, remembered it was empty, and began eating.
     People entered the bar, and soon the place was packed. Good thing I got my food when I did. I'll have to give a bigger tip than I'd planned. As he ate, someone jostled his table - hard - and fell into his booth, her rear landing against his thigh. The heat of her body spread quickly, setting his blood on fire.
     "That wasn't nice," she hissed, her hands balling into fists.
     Without thinking, Smitty threw his arms around her and held her tightly. "Let it go, Colleen," he whispered in her ear. "It's not worth landing in the brig."
     She turned her head to see who held her. There's hardly an inch between our lips. I bet hers taste as sweet as they look. She's so beautiful. It's not that far to my hotel--
     "Making your move already?" she breathed. "It usually takes longer than this."
     He was surprised by her pungent breath. "You're drunk."
     "So are you."
     There's no one here to see us. I hope. Kiss her, Smitty, see how she reacts. She's coming closer--
     "Talk about luck landing in your lap." The waitress chuckled as she set another glass of gin on the table. "Will the lady have anything?"
     "Same as me," he stated. Go way. Leave us alone. Colleen, my sweet-- He breathed in her perfume. "Enjoying your shore leave?" What a daft question! Of course she is! She's been with Bugalu, and MacGreg. And who knows who else?
     Her eyes widened, and her voice was higher than normal. "Are you... canceling it?"
     Canceling! "Why would I do that?" I should let go. She'll get the wrong idea. Would it be wrong? I've got several ideas, and none of them feel wrong. Not right now, they don't.
"Captain Nash thought the only R&R I needed was in his bed."
     I could give her R&R in my-- Wait. Nash? That's why-- She's been expecting-- Yes, that's Nash's style. Just like Winthrop. It's why he still drives a tug. And has such a sour wife-- He stiffened, forced his arms to loosen their grip. "Nash is married."
     "Definitely." She shuddered. "She threatened to drum me out of the Fleet."
     "The fact that he's married didn't matter?" It doesn't, to some women."
     She shrugged, and he realized that her hand was on his arm, her thumb softly stroking him through his sleeve. "Well, he's a man. Being married didn't keep him from offering me R&R."
"In his bed," Smitty muttered. No wonder the wife wanted her gone. Obviously, she has no shame for what she's done.
     She blushed, turned her delightful lips away. "He wasn't the only one."
     How many? No, that's none of my business. Confirms what I should have kept in mind; she's not for me. He removed his arms from around her, turned her to face the table, and scooted away. "Eat your supper," he instructed. He pulled his plate to his new location and continued his meal, although the food no longer had any taste. She looked confused, but ate. Silence kept them company for a time.
      "Men... usually offer me a drink, not supper," Colleen stated softly.
     She stepped down, tucked her tiny tools into her cleavage and pulled the zipper up. "Would you care for a drink?" he heard himself ask. "I offered you a drink once," he reminded her. "You refused. Anyway, you're already drunk. What you needed was food."
     Colleen continued to eat, looking thoughtful, even confused. Smitty pushed his empty plate away, tried to keep his mind empty. She took a drink and started coughing. He reached over, slapped her back. "That's not water!" she exclaimed.
     He glanced at what was on the table; two plates that held the remnants of hash and eggs, two glasses that still held some clear liquid. "I'm drinking gin," he stated and put another inch between them. "She probably gave you the same." What's the big deal? She's already plastered. Well, she got a drink out of me, after all.
     Colleen eyed the liquid, sipped, grimaced and set it down decisively. They were silent, watching each other uncertainly, then her gaze fell. "Now what? R&R in your bed?"
      He could feel heat creep into his face - as well as other parts of him. He frowned at confirmation of his weakness. "I never said that," he growled. It's a good thing she made things plain before I stumbled into that pitfall.
     "It seems... expected," she said.
     Meaning I'm no different than Nash or Winthrop. "Not by me," he stated shortly, angry at being seen as just the same as those men. "Don't be insulting. You're on shore leave. Your time is yours." She stared at him for a long time, her green eyes clouded. Is that disappointment? No, if she's disappointed, it's not over me. "You're free to go back to MacGregor, if you want." Like he needs me to send women his way.
     She started to shake her head and stopped suddenly. Too drunk. I know the feeling. "No," she said. "Mac couldn't take anymore, so he turned me loose."
     She wore out MacGreg? And still wants more? "Where's Bugalu?"
     "On duty until morning." She sighed, and her gaze landed on his glass. "Gin? Must be an acquired taste."
     "There's nothing wrong with a good gin."
     "I prefer whiskey," she returned. "And it doesn't have to be good." She looked around to consult the clock. "I don't know what I'm going to do with myself, but I'll find something." She stood up, then paused, her face red. "If you aren't going to be like previous superiors, I don't know how to... please you, Boss."
     What does she want from me? No, that's obvious. At least, what she expects is obvious. That's not acceptable on the Fireball. Jane would skin me alive, and rightly so. "Just do your job, Colleen," he told her gruffly.
     He finished his drink, realized she was gone. A flash of red across the room revealed her speaking to his waitress as she handed over her bank card. She'd better not be paying for her meal! I ordered it for her!
     The waitress returned, handed the redhead a bottle and returned her bank card. He frowned. In her condition, Colleen doesn't need any more to drink. Well, none of my business, unless she lands in the brig.
     The waitress placed a bottle in front of him, began stacking dirty dishes. Smitty stared at the unopened bottle of gin. "I didn't order that."
     "Red sent it. You were doing so well with her, Honey. Why let her get away?"
     "She's a subordinate." He picked up the bottle. It was a very good brand. Probably beyond her means. "Are you sure she meant for you to bring me a bottle? A glass, maybe. Or perhaps she meant her own bottle."
     "Her instructions were clear," the woman stated. "What's her rank got to do with it? You're on shore leave. It looked like you were both willing."
How to explain? Colleen has expectations. "It wouldn't end with shore leave."
     "So what? If you're both willing."
     No, didn't think she'd understand. He shook his head. "We only have one night before... her boy friend gets off duty."
     "Oh." She nodded and picked up the dishes. "You're right. That fire couldn't be put out in one night."
     Not when it's already worn out MacGreg. She just wants entertainment while she waits for Bugalu. He opened the gin and poured himself a stiff drink, which he studied for several minutes. Finally, he tossed it down his throat.
     "Oh, it's you, Mr Smith."
     Smitty looked up to find a beautiful blond smiling at him. "Smythe," he corrected, his tongue thick. Definitely getting drunk. "Who're you?"
     She flushed. "I'm Monroe, the Fireball's new nurse."
     Drat MacGreg! Can't he mind his own business? If I want to get plastered, that's my affair! "You here to detox me?"
     Her blue eyes grew large. "Oh, no!" She smiled lop-sidedly. "Actually, I could use a detox myself." She lurched against the table. "Could I sit down? For a minute?"
     He indicated the opposite seat, and she sat down heavily. Poor girl doesn't hold liquor very well. Doesn't imbibe much, I suppose. Course, I don't know how much--
     "Oh, that was a strong drink," the blond muttered. Just one, then. She tried to sit straight, but had a tendency to lean. "Glad I got out of there. No telling what might have happened. They might have... raped me!" She shuddered, then grabbed the tabletop wildly.
     Smitty patted her hand comfortingly. "You're safe now."
     "Oh, I knew I would be, once I found another Fireball crew member." She adjusted her sitting. "I'm never going to one of those places again!" What kind of place? None of my business. She pulled out her payment card and frowned. "They kept the money! What did I expect? It was obviously a con job! I wish I could have seen that earlier." She wiped a tear from her cheek. "Well, I got out alive. Chalk it up to experience, that's all." She sighed deeply. "I'll go back to the ship, I guess. Can't even afford a sleeping box, with what they left me. Let alone a room with a bathtub!"
     "I have a bathtub," he muttered. Great! Rub salt in her wound. I'm a cad!
     She looked dazed. "Is it-- You're so lucky. Is it one that agitates the water? That's the apex of luxury--a long hot bubble bath!"
     I never saw the charm. A shower is quicker. "It's a 5-star hotel, so I imagine..."
     She bounced in excitement. "Wonderful! Oh, you are a gentleman, to rescue me from my follies and fulfill my deepest longing!" She put a chilled hand over his. "Words can't express my gratitude, but I promise your gallantry won't go unrewarded. Shall we go now?"
     Go where? She can't mean-- She thinks I've invited her to my room! What in space-- He took a drink, stalling for time. She's lovely. She's not engineering. And I need a woman. He smiled, the decision made. "Yes, why not?" He climbed to his feet and waved for the waitress, who was quick to respond.
     "Leaving so early?"
     "I need to settle my bill," he stated carefully, pulling out his bank card.
     "It's been settled," she returned. "Red took care of it."
     A flash of red halfway across the room as she took her bottle and her debit card from the waitress. "She bought herself a bottle," he reminded the civilian.
"Red bought herself a bottle of whiskey," the waitress agreed. "She also bought your bottle of gin, paid for both suppers and settled your tab. You haven't gotten anything since then."
     Something- someone pressed against him. "Was Mac trying to buy brownie points? Some women look for the easy way. Shall we go, Bart?"
     He winced. I hate that name. "Okay." He turned for the door.
     "Don't forget your gin," the waitress reminded him. He stepped back, and she placed it in his hand. "Good luck," she told him softly and threw a glance in Monroe's direction. "Still, you can't get burned when there isn't any fire."
     That kind of fire couldn't be put out in one night. Blast! What business is it of hers who I spend the night with?
     By the time they reached his hotel room, Monroe was clinging to his arm. Like a lovesick puppy. Colleen was holding onto his arm, her thumb softly stroking him through his sleeve. Smitty took a shuddering breath. Not much difference, I suppose. Why, then, did Colleen's touch make my whole body hot, and Monroe's makes me... uncomfortable?
     "Beautiful!" the blond exclaimed when the lights came on.
     Smitty felt a cold chill. The room was identical to MacGreg's. His gaze landed on the mussed bed. There's no mistaking that mass of red curls, even if the face is turned away. No, this is my room. This bed isn't mussed. There's no redhead in it. And won't be.
     "The bathroom's through there," he stated, pointing.
     She turned to him, an invitation on her face. "Will you join me?"
     Churning hot water. Not a good idea, as drunk as I am. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it. "Not in my condition."
     Her arms slid around his neck. "Maybe I should put you to bed." She pressed her lips to his.
     He closed his eyes. This is what I need. All the right curves, and plenty of them. He pulled her close, thrust his tongue into her mouth. "Making your move already? It usually takes longer than this."
     But what he heard was, "That's more like it." Monroe unfastened his tunic and pulled him toward the bed. "I was beginning to wonder if I had your attention, Bart."
     Wish she wouldn't call me that. They fell onto the bed, each too busy groping the other to be graceful. She's got curves. But she's blond. "Lights out," he commanded. Darkness reclaimed the room.
     It didn't take long to reach nakedness. Breathless, he fondled her breasts, anticipating the nipples would come erect. However, like his organ, they only responded to a certain point. I'm stiff enough to show interest, but not hard enough to reach climax. What's my problem? She's got curves, I can't see her hair color--
     He became aware of a weight atop him, of one hand encircling a feminine body to rest on a round buttock while the other fondled a firm, large breast. I have felt Colleen before! And compared to that, this is too... soft. It isn't the same. And there goes what little erection I did have.
     With a sigh, he rolled off the woman and muttered, "Sorry, I can't."
     "What's wrong?"
     There's an edge to her voice. Can't blame her; she expected fireworks, and I can't manage a sizzle. "Too much alcohol," he offered, rather than the truth. "I've been drinking most of the day." I could use another drink now.
     She curled up alongside him. "Maybe later."
     Not likely. "You could take your bubble bath now, if you like."
     "Bubble bath? Oh, I guess I'm also drunker than I thought. I'll stay here with you."
     Which means I can't get a drink. Too early to sleep. Would be insulting to turn on the viewer. All I can do is lay with this woman - who I can have - and try not to think about another woman - who I want, but can't have. How did I wind up in this mess?

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