Mac Pulls a Prank
Month 3, Day 10
“Our days off are coming up,” Drake reminded Smitty as they exited the lift. “Want to do something together?”
Smitty shrugged. “Any suggestions?”
Drake sighed. “I hoped you’d have some.” They started around the corner.
“Coming through!” A flurry of red squeezed between them, headed for the lift.
“Was that-?” Smitty started.
“I’ll get you!” A half-naked and wet Bugalu came running toward them, stopped abruptly. An overwhelming stench wafted over them. “She’s too fast,” he complained. “Plus, I had to stop and put on pants.”
“Pants only,” Smitty observed. “That’s hardly suitable attire.”
“Where’d you get that cologne?” Drake asked. “If I were you, I’d scrub it off and throw the rest out.”
Bugalu gave him an angry glance. “It’s not cologne. She spiked my shower!”
“What do you mean?” Smitty asked.
“That is really rank,” MacGregor added. “Please step away so we can breathe.”
Bugalu obligingly backed up several steps. “Mac did something so that I got this... stench sprayed all over me! I should have known she was up to something when she hung around even when I went to take my shower.”
Smitty nodded. “Trying to make you stop dating others.”
Drake stared at the engineer in surprise, as did Bugalu. “No,” the negro answered. “A practical joke. She doesn’t intend to disrupt anything, so she’ll be back with the antidote, and-” He stopped in sudden comprehension. “-clean up her mess!” He whirled and ran back the way he had come.
The two officers followed him to his bedroom, where he was trying to open the door to his bathroom. “It’s locked,” he said. He pounded on the door. “Bear! Don’t turn on the shower!”
“What?” came Tall Bear’s rumble through the door, then the sound of water.
A woman’s scream momentarily stunned Drake into immobility, while Smitty opened the service panel and tore out some wires. The door slid open before them.
Tall Bear grinned from the opposite doorway, one sleeve wet. Mac was in the shower stall, glaring at the AmerInd. She held a small bottle in one hand, the other was on the shower controls, while her dripping tunic and slacks were plastered against her. Drake tried to keep his gaze above her shoulders; Smitty gasped.
“I hate cold showers!” Mac declared.
“Join the club,” Smitty muttered.
“Thanks, Bear.” Bugalu grinned.
“You were helping me!” Mac reminded Tall Bear.
“I have to live next to him,” Bear stated.
“Is pay-back a bummer, Mac?” Bugalu asked. “How do I get rid of this stench?”
“Oh, pay-back is fair, I guess,” she admitted. “Hand me a towel, Bear?”
“Sure.” He stepped inside to pull a towel from the rack.
“Bear, watch out-“ Bugalu began, but was too late.
A slim arm shot out, grabbed the AmerInd, and pulled him into the shower. Almost, she slipped out past him, but he blocked her with an arm, so that the water she turned on drenched them both. “Cool off, Bear,” she told him.
“Keep her there,” Bugalu said, jumping into the small room. “It’s time for a tickle.”
“Tickle!” Smitty exclaimed.
MacGregor explained, “It’s just a bit of fun.”
“It’s a sadistic form of control,” Smitty growled.
“If she objects, she can stop it,” he told the engineer.
“That’s a chauvinistic viewpoint I didn’t think to hear from you,” Smitty returned. Laughter rolled through the small bathroom, and he scowled.
“No, in Mac’s case-“
“Enough,” Mac stated, and both men were sent staggering by a brush of her arm. “Woops!” Breaking glass tinkled, and then everybody’s eyes watered as the terrible stench invaded the entire room.
Drake’s hand reached for the exhaust fan, but Smitty stopped him. “You want this throughout the entire ship? First, we have to figure out how to neutralize it.”
“Now you’ve done it, Mac,” Bugalu coughed.
“It’s gerkat oil. Smells terrible, but it’s not toxic. Blast! That was the last of it.”
“Good!” Bear gagged.
“I have a date, Mac!” Bugalu told her.
“You’ve got time,” she returned, and dug a bag of white powder from her pocket. “Go to the gym for a shower while I clean up.” She tossed the package to him. “Add water to make this a paste, use it like soap, and the smell will be gone.”
“It better be!” Bugalu squeezed between the two older men into his bedroom, where he gathered clothes together.
“You can go away,” Mac instructed Tall Bear. “I have work to do, and I don’t need you hanging around. You might decide to turn the water on again.”
The AmerInd hesitated. “No hard feelings?”
“No hard feelings,” she agreed. “I knew it was risky, trusting one of his friends.”
“I’d like to be your friend, too,” Bear returned. “So, how can I help?”
“I clean my own messes,” she returned, and paused, tears streaming down her face. “However, I never anticipated breaking the bottle. I didn’t bring enough cleanser.”
“What is it?” Smitty asked.
“Nothing special,” she replied, and turned to face him. Her face went white and blank as she realized who he was. “Smit!” she exclaimed breathlessly.
There was silence for a long moment. She looks frozen. Didn’t she realize we were here? Maybe not. She was concentrating on Bugalu and Bear. That’s quite a stare she’s giving Smitty. Not sure she realizes I’m here, even now. Is that fear, uncertainty, what? He swung his head to study the also-silent engineer. Wow! No denying how he feels about her! If he’s been hard on her, it’s because he’s trying to keep her at arm’s length.
“Where do I get it?” Tall Bear asked. “What’s it called?
She stiffly turned her head toward him. “What?”
“Tell me where to get that cleanser,” he requested patiently.
“Oh, uh, kitchen. Baking soda. Or chemistry, but I don’t know what it’s called there.” With a nod, he was gone. Bugalu had already left. Mac got a towel and wrapped it around her shoulders with shaky hands. “I’m chilly,” she whispered, and wiped her cheeks with one hand.
Smitty flipped the switch to turn on the fan. “You said-“ Drake protested.
“The filters include baking soda.” Smitty stepped into the bathroom, skirted around the woman to the shower. “How did you get the shower to spray that... grakit oil?”
If the cold water got turned on now, I’m not sure he’d even notice it.
“Gerkat,” she corrected in a whisper. “Nothing complicated. If he’d looked, he would have seen it taped to the showerhead. When the water flowed past the tiny hole in the lid, it pulled out some oil. Just a drop or two. Doesn’t take much.”
“It’s very potent,” Smitty agreed.
“But why?” MacGregor asked. “It seems pretty-“
She whirled to face him. “Mac!” She threw herself against him, hugged him close.
Nope, she didn’t know I was here. Wetness soaked into his clothes. Cold wetness. “I don’t like cold showers, either,” he observed.
Smitty turned from the showerhead to glare at them. “I’ll get someone to repair the lock,” he stated coldly. “In the meantime, MacDowell, you’ll clean this bathroom. I want it not only spotless, but completely odor-free.”
“Of course,” she agreed meekly.
“I’ll be back in an hour to see how you’re doing,” he told her, and headed for the door. He paused to glance back, still scowling, just before he stepped outside.
“I thought he’d never leave,” Mac whispered.
“That’s supposed to be my line,” MacGregor stated.
No sexual teasing. She’s my niece. “Never mind. Why pick on Bugalu today? Has something happened?”
“Nothing specific,” she answered. “It just occurred to me that it’s been over a month since I had a good laugh.” She grinned. “So I decided to have one.”
“He wouldn’t take it personally,” she answered. “When he became family, he became fair game.”
Nobody warned me of that when I volunteered to become family. “You look tired and stressed. You sleeping okay?”
“As good as I can.”
That’s an oblique answer. “What does that mean?”
“Oh, you know. Work and... studies, and... everything.” She wiped her face with a corner of the towel. “I’d better start cleaning.”
Meaning, I won’t get any better answer out of her.
Tall Bear entered, carrying a small box. “This enough?” He tossed it to her.
“Should be,” she answered as she caught it. “Thanks, Bear.”
“Listen, since Bugalu’s busy tonight, why don’t we see a movie after the gym?”
“I told you, Bear, I don’t date.”
“It doesn’t have to be a date,” Bear told her. “We can just go as friends.”
Watch it, Bear, there’s a touch of desperation in your voice.
“I have to study.” She sprinkled white powder in the area of the broken bottle. She paused to look at the AmerInd. “Bear, it’s not looking good. But if I ever pass my probation, then we can think about being friends.” She set the box aside, squatted to pick shards of broken glass. “But even then, I won’t be dating.”
“Too fast,” Tall Bear muttered, and left again.
Is she thinking of adding another brother, or just putting him off? Or here’s a wild thought - did she actually mean it the way she said it? He leaned against the doorjamb. “Have you ever thought about adopting a sister?”
“Actually, I have,” she answered. “But the thing is, since I’ve never had one, I’m not sure how to treat one. I keep thinking what a pain it must be, having me as a sister, and the trouble I cause my brothers. And uncle. Then I wonder... what sane person would actually want to be included in that?”
“Me,” came a quiet voice over Drake’s shoulder. He turned to find Yellow Dog was behind him.
“You might want to rethink that,” Mac told her with a teasing smile. “That would make dating Bugalu or Mac incest.”
Don’t tell her that! “Well... not really,” he hurried to say, then found himself lost in the soft brown eyes staring at him.
“Doable,” the AmerInd said.
Wait, did she mean Bugalu or me?
“Why don’t you talk about it with Mac?” the redhead suggested. “He can tell you what a pain it is to be my relative. Go away, you two, and let me work.”
With a smile, the yeoman turned, and Drake followed her into the corridor. “Movie?” she asked softly.
“Sure,” he agreed readily.