Shore Leave Day 3
The meal was over, and now Smitty was in that awkward position he always encountered with a companion. The social event was over. They both knew the reason why he'd hired her, but he found it difficult to baldly suggest that time had arrived.
Small talk isn't easy for me. I don't care to ask questions about her life or thoughts. Anyway, she'd resent queries that are too personal. I've only hired her for the night and will never see her again. I should suggest we go.
A flicker of red pulled his attention to the dance floor. Bridget. He still could not see who she was with; the shifting bodies on the crowded dance floor revealed only occasional glimpses of vivid curls and yellow pantsuit.
"Shall we dance, Ms Chang?" he heard himself ask.
"If you like, Mr Smythe," she returned. Once they were among the other dancers, she said, "Perhaps 'Ms Chang' is too formal? You could call me Sunshine. Or Sunny."
He tried not to frown. She's gone to first-name basis. Now she'll want to use my first name. "Sounds delightful, Sunny." He smiled. "Call me Smitty."
She nodded. "Have you been aboard the Fireball long, Smitty?"
"Years," he returned. "I was-" He stumbled as the crowd thinned behind her, and he caught sight of Bridget, deep in a passionate kiss with her brown-skinned employer. Frowning, he changed directions, placed the dramatic couple behind him. So Bridget's working. Means nothing to me. I don't know her. It's only that she reminds me of - someone else. And I don't need to be thinking of... that person!
"Is something wrong, Smitty? You're suddenly very tense."
"It's time we got out of here," he heard a familiar voice behind him.
His head swiveled, he glimpsed the brown face of the redhead's partner as he led her off the dance floor. Not Bugalu! That would make her-! No! It's not them!
"What? Oh, sorry. I... thought I saw a... crew member."
"Someone you don't care for?"
"Hmm? No, Lt Bugalu is fine. He's just... a... womanizer, that's all."
Sunny considered that. "He's been stepping on your toes, would be my guess."
"I'm sorry, did I step on your toes?" If I can change the subject- "I don't get much practice at this, I'm afraid."
"My toes are fine," she answered, let the subject drop. They continued dancing.
"Of course we'll get more whiskey," he heard. "But no movie, and certainly not 'Horror from Mars'. You saw that enough at the Academy."
"I know what you want, Mac, but I can't spend all night doing that. I'm on duty tomorrow, and I have to get some sleep!"
Smitty froze as one word drilled a hole in his brain. Mac! "MacDowell!" He whirled. It is her! Curls, flower, pantsuit, cleavage - it's all her! He took a shuddering breath; it seemed like forever since his last one. She watched him, waiting for him to say something. He couldn't think of anything to say.
Green eyes flicked beyond him, returned. "You have a lovely date tonight, Smit."
"You are a lovely date tonight," he breathed. She's always lovely.
"Excuse us," Bugalu placed a hand on her arm. "Come on, Mac."
She turned slowly to Bugalu, and Smitty forced himself to let her go, kept his hands to himself. "He didn't cancel me," she muttered as they moved off.
Bugalu glanced back at him. "Why would he?"
As they sat together in a bar booth, she asked, "Now what? R&R in your bed?" / As they walked across the dance floor, Bugalu told her, "I know what you want, Mac, and I can't do that all night." Maybe he can't, but I wouldn't mind trying.
The view of swaying hips in bright yellow was obscured. He focused his eyes on the much-closer face of his companion. "Looks like he just stepped on your toes again."
He blinked. "I thought she was Bridget."
"From here on the station? That wasn't Bridget."
"No," he agreed. "She's another crew member."
"She's left you in the cold because of him," she guessed.
"No," he denied. "She's a subordinate. I couldn't-"
"But you want to," she muttered. He shook his head, trying to deny it. She took his arm, led him off the dance floor. "Why don't we go? I can ease your tense muscles."
How can she possibly- Blast, if my feelings are so obvious to this woman, who hardly knows my name, then how many others can see them as well? I have got to get a hold of myself!
Almost Caught Dead
Month 1, Day 9
Two transport pods touched down almost simultaneously. There's not many left to report back. I wonder who this is? The first door opened, and he gasped at the woman inside. Mac? Must be Mac, with that hair. I thought she looked good before, but this-!
"Hello, Mac." Her low purr threatened to set his blood on fire.
Bugalu emerged from the second pod and asked, "You got plenty of de-tox?"
"She needs a blasted strong dose." He reached inside her pod to pull her upright, for she'd been leaning against the pod's wall. With exaggerated care, she lifted a foot to step out of the pod. Then her leg buckled.
Bugalu caught her and somehow pulled her from the pod, despite her giggly efforts to help. She landed on the floor. The ensign at the transport controls took a step to help, but Bugalu waved him back. With a quick look at his scanner, which definitely showed a high level of blood alcohol, Drake gave her a shot of de-toxicant.
Mac's eyes closed as she slid into unconsciousness. "More," Bugalu instructed.
"You telling me how to do my job?" MacGregor growled.
"I know how much she drank."
Frowning, Drake scanned her more carefully. "Black space!" He quickly gave her two more doses of de-toxicant."
Beth looked on in alarm. "Doctor?"
"We may have to admit her to Sick Bay, put her blood through a scrubber," he told the nurse as he watched the readout. "Bugalu, how could you let her drink that much?"
"How could I stop her?" Bugalu returned. "She's Gaelunder."
"Get a double dose ready, Beth," MacGregor told the nurse.
"No." Mac opened her eyes. "No more." She struggled to stand up. "I'm fine."
"You should be unconscious about three times over," he told her. "You're still plenty drunk!"
"An' I need ta be."
She stood, with Bugalu's help. "If you tink I'd be caught shober on the Fireball looking like thish--" Her gaze moved past him. "Hello, YD."
The AmerInd yeoman walked over to separate the helmsman from his adopted sister. "Bridge," she told Bugalu, and with a glance at the clock, he hurried off.
"I should slap you into Sick Bay," MacGregor told the redhead.
She stood up straight, seemed too tall. "I am going ta ya room and go ta bed!"
"Your room," he corrected. "Go to your room, not mine."
"That'sh what I shaid!"
He shook his head, heard Beth chuckle. "YD--" the nurse started.
"Yes." The yeoman gently pulled the redhead away.
Beth looked ready to say something, then her eyes slid past him, and her light-hearted grin failed. "Here's another."
MacGregor turned to find Smitty standing outside a transport pod. The engineer's eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed, glaring at the universe from under a lowered brow. He stood solidly, legs apart and firmly planted. He was leaning forward slightly, his shoulders hunched, his hands clasped behind his back.
"You look terrible," MacGregor said, and scanned the man.
Smitty glowered. "Just give me a blasted shot so I can work," he snarled.
"Right." MacGregor took the inoculation gun from Beth.
"That's set for double-dose," she stated hurriedly.
"Good," he said, and injected the engineer. Smitty sighed and started to step away. "Not yet," he told the engineer, watching his readout.
"I need to report for duty," the man rumbled.
"Not drunk," MacGregor returned. He waited through two more slow breaths, gave the engineer another shot.
Smitty looked him over carefully. "By my reckoning, that's four doses you've given me. You only gave Colleen three."
"You insist on going to work," he returned. "Mac was going to bed."
"Yours," Smitty breathed, and loosened his shoulders to stand straighter.
"If you heard that," Drake muttered, "then you know I told her to go to her own."
"This time," Smitty added, and shifted his stance. "Can I go to the bridge now?"
Drake frowned at his med scanner. "If you insist, but you won't have a good day. De-tox can only do so much in so short a time. See me if you need help today."
With a wordless growl, Smitty walked away.
Drake looked around to see if any other transport pods had arrived, but the transport room was devoid of them. The ensign still looked stunned, but not beyond the ability to think. "We expecting anybody else?"
"No, Doctor. Mr Smythe was the last of them."