Month 1, Day 10
Tall Bear glanced at the clock for the third time in the past minute. It's getting late. Where is she? If she changed her mind, she could have said so in the gym. Or she could have- The doorbell rang, and he grinned, then removed the sign of pleasure from his face.
It was typical aboard ship to just tell the door to open and let the visitor in. But in this case, that might be too close to inviting her in, which I promised not to do. He walked over to stand in front of the door as it opened. "Hello, Mac." I remember that exercise suit, but- What's she doing? Invited or not, she skittered past him, to stand in the middle of his living room.
"Is he still watching?" she whispered.
"Who?" He stepped out to glance both ways. Seeing no one, he went back inside, but stayed near the door. She sure looks spooked. How has she gotten her outfit so smudged? Woops, she's blushing. My eyes have wandered too much. He stepped to the desk and took a seat. "I didn't see anybody. Did someone follow you?"
"No," she answered. "He caught me coming out of a jeffries tube."
That explains the smudges. "What were you doing-?"
"Trying to get here without being seen!" she explained.
"Didn't work, then, did it?"
"Not entirely," she agreed sourly. She glanced around nervously, pulled her eyes back to him. "He seemed to think you... might not be alone."
Who would tell her a thing like that? I don't go for quickies right before work. "We are totally alone," he answered. And suddenly she is vibrating with tension. "I didn't think you'd want anybody to see you here, even for this."
"Right," she agreed, and glanced around again. What's she looking for? Her glance landed on the doorway to his bedroom, and stayed there. The bedroom? I thought she- She just took a step away from it. No mistaking that message.
"You haven't got much time before duty," he commented gently.
Her eyes glanced at the clock. "Enough time," she stated. She walked stiffly towards his desk, just close enough to set the bottle down. "I thank you for the loan, even though Bugalu didn't really give you a chance to object. I hope this brand is okay."
He kept his eyes on her face, but leaned back in his chair, putting just a little more distance between them. Like making friends with a wild animal. "Brand doesn't much matter. I only keep it around in case my dates want some."
She looked startled. "You don't drink?"
"That's... hard to fathom," she remarked.
He shrugged. "Too many ancestors were lost to white man's fire water."
"Oh. That's too bad." She glanced at the clock again. "I'd better go."
As she moved for the door, he stood, picked up the bottle and started for the liquor cabinet. "Hey, Mac," he called.
He heard her stop just inside the doorway. "What?"
"I've been thinking. Evans will try anything to get you cornered at lunch. We should talk about ways to keep that from happening. In the meantime, there's no telling when he'll let you go to lunch - it's his whim, as the officer in charge. So when he does, beep me. You don't have to say anything, and he doesn't need to know you're doing it. Just send 2 short beeps to the brig, and I'll know it's time to join you. Okay?"
She stared at him uncertainly. "I still won't date you, Bear."
"Not talking about dates. We're talking self-defense, keeping you out of the brig."
"Oh." Her face fell. "You know about me.
"Your file came marked as potential trouble because of previous visits to the brig. I took a hard look at it, and I'd be surprised if they had the right person confined."
She grimaced, but didn't answer his unspoken question. "I promised myself a new start."
"Then let's keep you out of the brig," he suggested, closing his liquor cabinet.
"Why do you care? What do you get out of it?"
He held up a hand to count the items on his fingers. "Bugalu's a good friend, I'm fairly certain he'd appreciate the help. Yellow Dog is a friend to you, and I won't mind making brownie points with her. Not to mention the chance to irk Adams and Evans." He grinned at that last thought. "That's reason enough, right there."
She frowned at the floor. "Two short beeps," she agreed, then turned and left.
He smiled. I won't mind making brownie points with you, either, Beautiful. But I'll have to keep in mind that she is just like a scared, wild animal.