An Old Friend
Month 1, Day 20
Smitty transferred his supper from the dumblift to his table and sat. Should have thought of this long ago. Don't have to see her having supper with Bugalu if I'm not in the main messhall. Don't know how often I can do this, though, before Jane complains I've abandoned her. Sometimes I feel like we're just a... stable for her entertainment. Not sex. Thank space she doesn't expect that. Still, sometimes I don't feel like being in the main messhall. It's too crowded. Too noisy. Impossible not to hear-
"Depends who's asking." He jumped at hearing the voice he'd hoped not to hear.
"I'm asking," MacGreg stated as they passed the door to Smitty's alcove to take the next. They had seen his was occupied and didn't even look in to see who had it.
"Yes, but are you-"
The translucent walls between the booths allowed a modicum of privacy by blurring sight and sound, so it was impossible for him to hear what else they said. For a time, he stared at the wall between the booths as he waited for- What am I waiting for? They don't know I'm here. It wouldn't matter to them if they did. If it doesn't matter to them, it shouldn't matter to me. He turned back to his meal, tried hard to appreciate the flavors.
Should have known MacGreg wouldn't let go of her. She usually eats with Bugalu, but if she's going to break that habit for anyone, I'm not surprised it's MacGreg. I've got to stop thinking about her. Them. He again concentrated on his food.
"You want me-?" That was said so loudly, he heard it plainly, despite the walls. MacGreg's response, of course, was just a blur. That can't be a surprise! Of course he wants her. A man would have to be an idiot not to. With breasts so firm, and- Oh, Blast, not again! I'm here to eat, not daydream about... anybody.
Eventually, his meal done, he was faced with the prospect of leaving. Although he disposed of the dirty plates, he could not bring himself to step outside the booth. They might see me, think I've been spying, listening to them. I haven't. Couldn't listen if I wanted to. Oh, space, I'll just have some dessert. Maybe they'll be gone by the time I get that eaten. After making his selection, he waited impatiently for the dumblift to bring his pie. It seemed to take forever.
"And flirting," Mac teased as she left the neighboring booth and the dining room.
Now they leave. No, only she left. She's not spending the evening with him? Well, even if he left now- As if on cue, the doctor left the dining room, still without glancing into Smitty's booth. -I have dessert coming. For a few minutes, he heard the mutter of voices in the hallway, but the walls did their job, and he didn't hear anything distinctly. What's taking that pie so long?
"I knew it had to be you." He looked up as Lt Cmdr Anna Humara entered his booth. "And they said you had only ordered food for one, so I took a chance that I wouldn't be interrupting anything."
"Anna!" he greeted her in pleasure. "Where have you been hiding yourself?"
"In the kitchen, where else?" She slid a slice of pie in front of him, and sat down opposite with her own slice. "I knew it had to be you, because no one else requests banana pie with chocolate sauce."
He grinned as she handed him a fork. "They might if you put it on the menu." They both began eating, and he briefly closed his eyes at the first bite. "Fresh bananas! Did you get some on the last stop?"
She gave him a sly smile. "These aren't fresh. I finally figured out how to correctly hydrate banana chips."
"Congratulations. You've been working on that since you and Michael started dating."
Her smile disappeared. "Yes," she agreed flatly.
Oh, space. I shouldn't have mentioned him. She was devastated when he left. Threw herself into work, and we've hardly seen her since. How long's it been? A year?
"I think I'm over him," Anna announced, taking the time to lick pie off her fork. "In any case, having learned to make a decent banana pie, I've decided it's time to stop hiding. I mean, why should I let him spoil my entire life? He's not worth it."
"I could have told you that."
"Yes, I remember you trying to tell me that, but I wasn't ready to listen, then. It's been over two years, and I'm tired of 20-hour days in the kitchen. I might even be ready to start dating again."
He gazed at her, the last couple of bites of his pie momentarily forgotten. She's not an underling. She's a peer. And she was fun, back before Michael's jealousy made her break off from her friends. "I'm free tonight. Maybe we could see a movie." Blast, her eyes are tearing up. Did I saw something wrong? I thought-
Her lips trembled as she smiled. "Thank you, Smitty. You always were a good friend."
"I tried to be." Came to blows with Michael a couple times when he started monopolizing her so thoroughly. Gave that up when I saw her with a black eye that time, even though I wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp. She needed me, and I let her down. "Shall I pick you up at 7?"
"Sounds fine," she stated. "Speaking of dates, who's the redhead Drake was chasing?"
For a second, Smitty's mouth clamped shut. "Communications."
Anna looked up, her eyes round with surprise. "A tech?"
"A newly minted lieutenant. She works midnights."
She shook her head. "Even so, he'd better not let the captain hear he's after a lieutenant. Burke doesn't like mixing the ranks like that."
"So I've told him," Smitty agreed.