Month 5 Day 11
“I did not lie,” Bugalu reiterated, but Della was not inclined to believe him any more this time than last. “Look, I talked her into taking a nap this morning after we had breakfast. Well, my breakfast, her dinner. But we made plans to meet for lunch, since she’s been sleeping so poorly. She never forgets our plans, so I simply waited. I didn’t realize how late it was until I heard Tall Bear get up to start his day. So I came to see if she was still here. Yes, you heard me say her name. I’m surprised you heard it, because I didn’t want to wake her, but I was relieved to find her - not only here, but still asleep.”
“Not wake her? That’s a laugh! I heard you two-“
“You heard Mac,” he interrupted. “She’s been telling me she has bad dreams and eventually falls out of bed, and today, I saw it. She was thrashing around, moaning in fear, until she landed on the floor, all twisted up in her blanket.”
That seemed to give Della pause. “You didn’t believe her? Before you saw it.”
“People don’t normally have nightmares every time they fall asleep, not even Mac. Some nightmares, yeah, I could accept that, especially given the stress she’s been under since she got here. And I’ve seen her wake up suddenly, wild-eyed and panicky, in the messhall, the rec room, where-ever she dozed off. But to continually have such bad dreams, she falls out of bed? I thought she might be... exaggerating. Like Matt sometimes did.”
Della sniffed. “Well, you don’t live with her. Actually, I don’t see her in bed often. But every time I do, she starts fussing after 15 or 20 minutes. If I don’t wake her up, she lands on the floor in short order.”
Bugalu frowned as he re-evaluated his adopted sister’s comments over the past weeks. Months. “This could be a lot more serious than I thought.”
“Yeah. Rather than exaggerating, I think she might have down-played it because she didn’t want-“ Her gaze moved to something behind him, and her back stiffened. “Did you decide what to do with the computer, Mr Smythe?”
Bugalu turned to find the officer standing outside the ‘front’ door of the Harris/MacDowell quarters, doing his best not to actively scowl.
Smythe sighed. “Take the computer to maintenance. Then take the tool belt back to engineering, and then, you’ll be off duty.”
“Yes, sir.” Harris stepped around the men to get the computer in question.
Bugalu waited for the officer to leave. If Della mistook Mac’s bad dream for... Well, it’s possible Smythe has the same idea. I can’t address it if he doesn’t bring it up. I’m not sure how to convince him, anyway. But I need to get in there and convince Mac to take this problem to Doc. He waited with gathering impatience for the officer to go away. Meanwhile, he met the man’s gaze without flinching, knowing that he had done nothing wrong.
“Lieutenant, I told Co- MacDowell to go to- to get some sleep.”
“She needs it,” Bugalu agreed, wondering if the other man would actually mention what he’d ‘heard’.
Smythe cleared his throat. “This isn’t the first time - today - that I’ve given her those instructions.”
“I’m not surprised,” Bugalu replied. “She’s been having trouble sleeping.”
Smythe’s lips made a thin line for a moment, then he finally barked, “I would appreciate it if you would forget whatever other plans you had for her for today, and let her rest.”
There it is. What he thinks he heard us doing is alluded to, but not actually mentioned. So I can’t say anything to explain. I somehow doubt he’d be as easy to convince as Della, anyway. Nothing to do but- “I understand, Mr Smythe.” He turned and walked down the hallway.
He walked steadily, but without haste. In due time, he had completely circumnavigated the ship, and was back at the Harris/MacDowell quarters. By now, Smythe was gone. Nobody was in sight, so he quickly stepped inside. Mac’s computer base was gone, taken to maintenance by Della. He cast a glance at the monitor sitting haphazardly in Mac’s desk chair, and made his way to the bedroom.
Mac sat up in her bed when he walked in, and blinked. “Oh! You’re back.”
He tried to keep his gaze above her neck. “Thought I should check on you. That was some dream you had earlier.”
“Yeah, it was rough.” She flopped back down on her mattress. “If I wasn’t under orders to sleep, I’d be ready for lunch.”
“By now, it would be supper,” he returned. “Have you been asleep all day?”
“I wish I had! You saw what happens when I sleep, didn’t you?” He nodded. “Sometimes I’m just so tired that when I do fall out of bed, I spend a few minutes distracting my brain, and then try to sleep again.”
“It would be if it worked.”
“So you just have another nightmare?”
“Every time. Pretty much the same nightmare. Other times, the distraction works so well, I forget to go back to bed. Or I wind up sleeping at my desk, like today.”
“Sleeping at your desk? Doesn’t sound very comfortable.”
“It’s not. I often wake up with a crick in my neck. Or a back spasm. But actually, I sleep longer, when I fall asleep at my desk. If I don’t get woke up.”
I didn’t wake her. She was already here, in the bedroom, when I came in. And Della was on duty. “Who woke you up?”
She looked at him in frustration, as if to say, ‘Brothers never listen!’ “I told you, Smit did.”
He froze for a second, remembering what he’d seen of her... nightwear when she had cast off her blanket and stumbled to the closet for a robe to answer the officer’s bellow. “That reminds me. Which lady talked you into buying that green lace thingee?”
She frowned and looked at the lace sleeve. “I don’t remember buying it at all.”
“Then... where did you get it?”
She made a face and rolled over, tried to get comfortable. “I have no idea.”
“Hope I’m not interrupting,” Della said, walking in from the living room. She stared at Mac. “Um, that doesn’t look like the pajamas you usually wear to bed, Mac.”
The redhead sighed. “I don’t know where it came from, Del. I was so tired, I just pulled out the next set of pajamas. What I thought was the next set of pajamas. Didn’t even notice until-“ Her face went bright red and she didn’t finish.
Della sighed in relief. “I’ve been looking for it for weeks! Laundry must have folded it up and put it in with a batch of your pajamas to send it up. You probably figured it was all your pajamas, and shoved the whole thing in your drawer.”
“Probably.” Mac tried to stifle a yawn. Her eyes closed, and she hugged her pillow close.
Bugalu grabbed hold and shook her toes where they pushed up the blanket. “Don’t fall asleep yet.”
She struggled to sit up, still holding her pillow against her chest like a life preserver. “Bugs, I know we had plans for the day, but you are the one who’s been after me for years to get some sleep. One of the ones. Months?” She paused, looking confused. “Did that make sense? I can’t tell. Honestly, I don’t know how I function anymore.” She plopped back down on the mattress.
“Plans have changed,” he said. “You just said you sleep better sitting up.”
“I don’t want to wake up stiff and achy!” she complained.
“She also sleeps better when you lie down with her,” Della stated mischievously.
Mac’s eyes opened wide and she stared at the ceiling. “When did we sleep together, Bugs?” Her voice was strangled with... fear?
“You slept. I read,” he answered. “You had just started to have a nightmare. Weeks ago. I put a hand on your arm, wondering if I should wake you. You grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go.”
“I... don’t remember it.”
“Told you, you were sleeping. And I was reading. That’s what we’re going to do now, on the couch.” A thought occurred to him, and he turned to Della. “Did you have plans for tonight?”
“Yes, I’m going out. No need to worry about me. And now that I’m finally off duty, I’d like to change my clothes.”
“Right. Mac, get up, put on a pair of your own pajamas so Della can have her lace back, and then meet me in your living room. Bring your pillow, if you like.” He hesitated, for she hadn’t moved, or even acknowledged his instructions. “Can you manage all of that on your own?”
“Working on it,” she said, and slid one leg off the mattress, to hang toward the floor. “Gimme a minute.”
Della shook her head and opened one of Mac’s drawers to pull out a set of one-piece pajamas. “I’ll help her, Bugalu. I hope she manages to wake up enough to work tonight.”
“Always do,” Mac muttered, and rolled toward the edge of the bed.
“Don’t fall out,” Bugalu told her. “You’ll bruise yourself.”
“I’ve been bruised for weeks. Months?”
Bugalu swallowed and turned to Della to whisper, “She’s heavier than she looks, Della. If you have any trouble, tell me, and I’ll come help.” He sincerely hoped it wouldn’t come to that, that Mac would manage to wake up enough, long enough to change and join him in the other room.
Della gave him a hard look. “When she’s in nothing but my green lace negligee? I don’t think so. Even you have a breaking point.”
He gave one short nod and retreated to the living room. He made a quick call to the kitchen, to make a request to the shift supervisor that someone bring sandwiches to Mac’s quarters. It was shift break, and they were busy with day shifters having supper, so it wouldn’t be right away. Bugalu agreed to that condition. Breakfast had been a long, long time ago.