Full of Surprises
Month 2, Day 30
Drake left Bugalu’s quarters and started down the corridor toward the Chief Engineer’s quarters. Hope Smitty’s not too soundly asleep yet. He’s a creature of habit who likes a solid 8 hours of sleep.
This whole thing is my fault. Jane’s been hinting for weeks that Mac needed that off-shift she was owed, and I’ve resisted it. Because Mac’s resisted it, insisted she’s fine, just busy studying. I thought if she couldn’t admit she needed a break, it’d be counter-productive to make she take one. No getting around it tonight, though. I could detox her and send her to her station, but she’s too fragile emotionally to deal with Evans and Adams. Maybe I should speak to Smitty about that, too.
He saw a familiar form ahead, the man’s head bent forward in contemplation. Or fatigue. He’s still up? That’s unusual. “Hey, Smitty!” He jogged forward to approach the other man, who turned to face him impatiently, his hands sliding behind his back. “Good, you’re still awake,” Drake said as he approached.
“Not for long, I hope,” the engineer sighed.
“Bad news,” Drake told him. “Mac needs that off-shift; she needs it tonight.”
Smitty blinked at the news, and his brow furrowed. “It’s less than 2 hours before her shift starts. You’re a little late making that decision, aren’t you?”
“Sorry,” Drake answered. “I came to tell you as soon as it became obvious. These things don’t always give us a lot of warning.”
“I suppose not,” Smitty agreed peevishly, and glanced in the direction Drake had come. “So you’ve come from Sick Bay, have you? Dr Davis couldn’t handle this?”
Why is he suspicious? Maybe I’m just paranoid. Being drunk isn’t a reason I expected Mac would need an off-shift. “It’s Peggy’s day off, but no, I didn’t come from sick bay. I made a... house call, you could say.”
Smitty stood unmoving, staring at him, until Drake got uncomfortable. “Um, I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, Smitty, but don’t you think you should make arrangements for a replacement?”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?” Smitty asked with an evil grin. He pulled his hands from behind him to slam a bottle into the doctor’s ribs. “I’ve already made those arrangements! I just came from Colleen’s quarters, where I found she wasn’t home, so I had to leave a message that I was granting her an off-shift! That’s where I found this empty bottle! I don’t know where you made your house call, but it wasn’t at her quarters! Don’t try to fool me! She’s drunk!”
Smitty’s anger reminded Drake of some of his teachers, way back when, for he had not been a model student. And his quick wits that helped keep him out of trouble back then were put to work now to help out his adopted niece. “I never said she wasn’t. The fact she ignored her duty to escape into a bottle just shows how emotionally fragile she is. It was bound to happen, as hard as she finds it to do anything that meets with your approval.”
“Me! Don’t blame this on me!”
“I heard you flunked her again today.”
“She couldn’t think!” the engineer returned hotly. “Didn’t get any sleep today, according to Abdulla, but that wasn’t my fault! If you’re going to blame anybody, blame Winthrop! Caught her alone and wouldn’t have let her go, if I hadn’t made him! If she’s emotionally fragile, there’s your reason! It’s got nothing to do with me!”
“Winthrop!” That was an unexpected wrinkle that sent his mind skittering this way and that. “Nobody told me that.”
“She didn’t mention it? If she’s as emotionally fragile as you say, I’m surprised she didn’t need a shoulder to cry on.”
Why bring that up? Nobody’s mentioned that in over a week. “Not when she’s passed out.” Woops. Probably shouldn’t have said that.
Smitty’s eyes rounded, and then he considered the bottle Drake still held. “I thought she held her liquor better than that,” he muttered.
She does, since it took 3 bottles, not just one. But he’s not going to hear that from me. “If you drink it fast enough, it all hits at once.”
“I suppose,” Smitty agreed softly. “Wish Jane would get rid of Winthrop. Now Co- MacDowell’s got another month of worrying about her probation, and I haven’t got the slightest idea how to help her relax.” He sighed. “Well, I have to get some sleep, or I won’t be able to think. Good night, MacGreg.” He turned toward his quarters, paused. “She’s got her day off, MacGreg; the one I’ve owed her. She won’t get another freebie. I need people I can depend on. All the women have to put up with occasional skirmishes with Winthrop. I can’t expect any less from her than anyone else.”
“Understood,” Drake stated, and the engineer entered his room. Okay, she won’t be AWOL. But he doesn’t see himself as a problem for her, and he’s not going to be any easier on her. Sure hope Bugalu finds out what her problem is.
Dream, Dream, Dream
Month 2, Day 30
He was awakened when his bedroom door opened, letting the corridor light shine in his face. “What is it?” he asked, bolting upright. He saw a red uniform in the doorway. “Is there an emergency?” The woman had red hair to go with the uniform. “Oh, it’s you.” She walked over to stand beside his bed. “What do you want?”
“I need some R&R,” she told him. The door closed, throwing the room into near darkness.
“You had shore leave,” he pointed out. “All 3 days. That should be enough.” Her knee rubbed his knuckles where they rested on the edge of the bed; he could feel her smooth uniform tights.
“I wanted R&R on shore leave,” she returned. “You refused. I still need it.”
He heard the metallic sound of a uniform being unfastened. “You’re a subordinate. I don’t fraternize.” The uniform fell to the floor with a soft ripple. She leaned forward. He backed away until he was against the bulkhead. “What are you doing?”
”Looking for R&R.” She kept getting closer.
He broke into an overheated sweat. “I can’t,” he breathed, but his resolve was melting.
“Then you’re the only superior I’ve ever had who couldn’t,” she told him.
Smitty’s eyes flew open as he sat bolt upright in the dark room. Her name on his lips, he looked around, but was alone in his bedroom. A dream. That dream. Probably because she invited me to her bed today. No, she didn’t! I just think she did because I want her to want me! Forget her! Get back to sleep! He lay back down, angrily rolled to his side and adjusted his blanket. Forget her? That’s as likely as me getting back to sleep! Is that how she got her rank, got transferred here? Even her old flame Bugalu was surprised to see she’d managed it. But I suppose it makes sense, if she doesn’t know her field. Trick a superior into bed, and then blackmail him. And if I don’t watch it, I’ll be the next one.