Signs of a Problem / Part 4 - Summary
Month 4, Day 1
Smitty opened his mouth to object, then closed it again. “Yes, captain.” As he got to his feet to scurry out, Drake also stood.
“One moment, Drake,” Jane requested.
He hesitated, and by then, Smitty was out the door. “I am the doctor on duty, captain,” Drake reminded her. “And you just sent Smitty to sick bay.”
“It won’t hurt him to pace your lobby for a minute to two. I need information, and you seem to know the redhead. Is it true she can’t pass her test because she’s scared of him?”
He sat back down. “That’s Abdulla’s theory. Wilson thinks it’s hero worship. My personal belief...” He cleared his throat. “...is that they’ve got the hots for each other. I can’t be positive about that; neither one said anything to me. But it makes sense, if you think about it. If she can’t think around him because of sexual tension, and he avoids her for the same reason, and because he doesn’t fraternize... Things might get sorted out if they’d just have sex and get it over with.”
“I can’t approve of that.”
“You wouldn’t have to know about it.”
I probably would, one way or another, but I wouldn’t have to officially know.
Drake pursed his lips into a frown. “But it wouldn’t be as simple as that, of course, since she’s never had sex.”
“A virgin? At her age?”
He shrugged one shoulder. “It’s not impossible. And she’s confirmed it. Anyway, I think her infatuation has her tongue-tied; she’s never dealt with sexual tension before.”
“Tongue-tied? I could have sworn he said she’s propositioned him.”
“Yes,” Drake agreed drily. “In the middle of the night. When she works midnights.”
“Are you suggesting she might be in those ‘bad dreams’ he’s complained about?”
“To Smitty, having wet dreams about a subordinate would be ‘bad’.”
Jane took a deep breath. “True. Well, you have a patient waiting. You’re dismissed.” After the doctor left, she turned her attention to the silent Scissan. “That was a much more complicated meeting than I anticipated. Three new people, and two of them problems. While the one I thought might be a problem has fit in seamlessly.”
“May I ask questions, captain?”
“Do these meetings usually involve delving into the new person’s... sexual habits?”
“No. That subject rarely comes up.”
“The complexities of human... mating is a source of great confusion to me. Scissan sex is much more straight-forward. If our pheromones entice us, we mate. It is why one is not assigned to a ship without having met all the other crew members before hand. And why our ships are smaller than this one.”
“Do you have any comments to make regarding Nurse Monroe or Lt MacDowell?”
“I would not recognize Nurse Monroe if she were in this room. She looks much like many other humans. I have seen Lt MacDowell in the company of Yellow Dog. Considering the amount of time they spend together, and the laughter they emit, they seem to enjoy each other’s company. MacDowell has expressed an interest in learning about my race.”
“Are you willing to converse with her, share information on your cultures? She’s from a human colony that was settled by a specific country of Old Earth. This would be an opportunity to study a human - other than me - but her culture may cause you some confusion. You gave a fine report concerning your yeoman, and I’d like to hear your thoughts concerning MacDowell.”
“She is very red.”
Jane laughed. “Yes, she is. If she could wear her hair down on duty, it would probably blend right in with her uniform, they’re so close in color. Most human redheads actually have hair that’s more orange or brownish. Her vividness must come from being Gaelunder.”
“You laughed,” Takor stated. “It was a good joke?”
She smiled. “It was a good joke.”
“As I study her, may I ask her questions?”
“That is usually the best way to learn.”
“Good. I am confused as to what parents could have produced such a red daughter, and such a black son. Or perhaps there are aspects of human genetics I have not yet discovered.”
Jane paused. “What black son?”
“Lts MacDowell and Bugalu are brothers. Did you not know this?”
I think Drake said something about that, once upon a time. I don’t remember the details right now. “That would give you something to talk about. But have a care, Takor. She may decide a question is too personal, and prefer not to answer.”
“No is no. I have read this in the Fleet manual.” It hesitated. “Are we done?”
“Yes,” Jane decided. “You may go. I look forward to hearing your impression of MacDowell’s attitude, personality, capabilities. Hopefully you will have something to report within a month?”
“I will do my best,” it assured her, and left.
I just assigned an alien to assess a human who has confused one of my best officers. Hopefully, it will be a learning experience for Takor. Still, I would probably be remiss if I didn’t try to discover the truth myself. The whole ship is buzzing about how hard she studies, but still can’t pass her probational exam. If she were that stupid, she never would have graduated from the Academy.
Well, something to do besides the usual paperwork, I guess.