Month 4, Day 30
Drake swirled the last of his coffee in his cup as they sat in the large rec room. "Why are we here?"
Smitty sighed in frustration. "I was hoping someone would be playing Atakke. It's an exciting game to watch."
Drake looked around the rec room, but the only other people present were Abdulla and Wilson, sitting at Mac's usual table, talking quietly. Wonder if he realizes- He turned back to the engineer. "It's early for the midnight people to be ready for games. From the looks of it, it's early for anybody to be here. But there's no reason why you and I can't try the game ourselves."
Smitty looked shocked. "It's a complicated game!"
"More complicated than engines? Or human bio-chemistry?" Drake asked, getting up. "Come on, before anybody shows up. We'll set it on 'easy' and try the first level. Maybe we're naturals."
Smitty sighed but came with him. "I'm never a natural. I'm always miserably poor at anything I'm doing for the first time. I always look like a fool."
"Then let's get that first time over before anybody comes in. Blue or yellow?"
Shortly after they started the game, Mac entered the room, growling in her native tongue. "Watch your language!" Wilson called to her.
Mac stopped in surprise. "You speak Gaelic?"
"No," Wilson answered. "But you obviously weren't saying what a great day it is."
Mac sat down opposite her two friends, started growling again, and then laughed.
"Mac, really!" Wilson chided.
The redhead’s laughter abated. "That last was a comment on it being a beautiful day, using the tone of voice you didn't like. You're right, it sounded ridiculous!"
"Of course it did," Abdulla stated. "Don't you remember your Tones and Inflections class from freshman year?"
"I guess I never thought of applying it off the job."
"There'll come a time when it will be... second nature. Now, before we get started, you obviously have something that's upsetting you. Want to tell us about it so you won't be distracted?"
After that, it was harder to hear what the ladies said. Like I thought, they're here to help her study for tonight's test. Hope they remember to leave her time for sleeping. And that those pills actually work so that she can sleep.
Drake turned his thoughts to the action of the game, which was fast-paced and complicated. Smitty - as he had expected - was absolutely miserable at it, although he was concentrating fiercely. At one point, Drake hazarded a glance at the engineer, who seemed to be concentrating so hard, trying to figure out what to do, that his reactions were slow. Smitty groaned as his major player in the game was killed. He had 7 seconds to choose a replacement.
“Why don’t you ask her out?” Drake asked softly
“Who?” Smitty returned, and had another player die during his distraction. “Blast!”
Why is he so stubborn? “Whichever woman has you tied in knots these days.”
“She’s a subordinate.” It was said so quietly, no one else could have heard it, even if anybody had been watching them.
At least he’s not protesting complete ignorance. “That doesn’t have to stop you. It can be done, if you’re careful.”
He could feel the engineer’s eyes boring into him as the game continued without direction. “Sounds like the voice of experience.”
Careful! Admit nothing! Why did I even start this conversation? “You just lost 3 men, Smitty.”
Across the room, Mac got up and headed for the dispenser. “Surprisingly accurate,” she said as she punched in her request. “I may not be the brightest apple on the tree, but I know how to figure out a woman’s breeding schedule. Especially my own.”
Startled by the topic of the women’s conversation, Drake moved a secondary player directly into the line of fire. “Space!”
Mac took her drink back to the table and the rest of the ladies’ conversation was quiet. Drake fought to recover from his loss in the game, but Smitty seemed unable to make his decisions quickly enough, and his entire team was systematically killed. “Okay, we were both pretty bad, but the first game is done. Care to play a second time?” Drake asked.
“Not now.” Smitty wiped his face on his sleeve. “Aren’t days off supposed to be relaxing?”
I’m not sure it’s the game that has him so tense. “Well, a change of pace, at least. Here’s an idea. Let’s hit the hot tub. That should be relaxing.”
“Fine. Whatever,” Smitty agreed, and turned for the door.
I think I need a talk with Mac, find out what the ladies were talking about. There’s no ‘breeding’ on a Fleet ship, so what was that about knowing her own breeding cycle? After her test tonight, I’ll see if she’s got strange ideas that need corrected.