Month 6, Day 11
Bugalu put a hand on the bulkhead and stopped walking to emit a huge yawn. I should have protested when the captain told me to get a nap. But since she replaced me with Capac, who is certainly not ready to relieve the captain, I couldn't very well do that. If one of the senior officers had been released from sick bay, but... Don't know how long she can last. Startled by the lift door opening behind him, he whirled, found himself leaning against the wall for support.
Tall Bear emerged. "Seen Mac?"
"How do you do it? You've been on duty as long as I have, but you're going strong, and I'm... I haven't even gotten to my quarters yet."
"Training." Bear started forward. "She wasn't on the officer's deck this time."
"Matt never mentioned training to see how long he could stay awake," Bugalu stated in confusion.
Bear stopped next to him. "Who's Matt?"
"Mac's brother. My roommate at the Academy. He was in security."
"Oh. Not at the Academy. I had some training before that."
"What? Military training?"
Bear smirked in amusement. "You could say that. Apache warrior training."
"Really? I've heard rumors..."
Bear gave him a sharp look. "No, you haven’t. No one talks about it."
Bear isn't doing as well as he seems. I've never heard about 'Apache warrior training' from him before this. "So, you got relieved to take a nap, too?"
"Got relieved from the bridge. Norris is up there. That's good. Easier to stay awake moving around. Now I'm looking for Mac. Again. You seen her?"
"Not since they took her to sick bay, unconscious."
Bear's attention suddenly focused. "When was that?"
"Back when this whole thing with her started."
"Oh, yeah. Got to find her. Join me?"
Bugsy shook his head. "Captain said get a nap, so that's what I'd better do."
"True," Bear stated and turned to continue his search, stopped abruptly. "You see that?"
"No," Bear mumbled. "It’s my spirit animal. Its disapproval was for me alone."
Bugsy watched his friend walk away. What did he think he saw? How can I not know what his spirit animal is? Thought we were friends. Bear turned the corner and was gone from sight. Bugalu looked around, realized no other crew member was in sight, not even in the distance. This place is... creepy... when there's no one else around. Lights are still bright - they always are - but somehow, it makes me feel... uncertain. Vulnerable. I have got to get some sleep.
Somehow, he forced himself forward, one hand on the wall for support. His living room door was right around the corner and opened for him. Nothing to hold for support as he staggered across the room and into his bedroom while stripping off his shirt.
He kicked his boots off and started to crawl onto his bed before he realized it was already occupied, the blanket wrapped tightly around her. Who the- He blinked and realized the Who had fire red hair, mostly disarrayed by now. “Mac. Can’t blame you for sleeping. Don’t think you have for the past month or so. Still, you don’t usually make it my bed.”
She didn’t answer, being asleep, and he was loathe to wake her. Then he noticed her face was covered in sweat, and an area of moisture on his pillow under her head grew as droplets rolled down her face. “Did you finally come down with this flu? I should probably take you to sick bay.” He unthinkingly reached out to check her temperature.
Bugalu jerked his stinging hand away as Mac jolted awake and sat up. She flung the damp blanket at him and jumped to the bottom of his bed, paused in the doorway to his living room to stare at him with gray eyes.
That wasn’t a fever I felt. But I’m still awake, not knocked out cold. She looks terrible, like an animated corpse. Only greyer.
And scared. She hides it well, but I can see it in her eyes. I don’t remember ever seeing her scared before. And now that she’s put some distance between us, she isn’t running. That’s got to mean something. He kept his voice mild, normal as he tried to reason with her. “Sorry to wake you, Mac, but I really think you should go to sick bay. Maybe Verasis Flu effects you differently, since you’re a Gaelunder. Come on, I’ll take you there.” He held out his hand in invitation.
She stared at his hand and slowly backed into his living room.
He shrugged and followed, but as she slowly backed toward the door to the corridor, he casually walked to the liquor cabinet and poured two drinks. He handed one out for her. She stared at it and licked her lips, but wouldn’t come forward. He set it down atop the cabinet. “Well, here it is, in case you change your mind.”
Without looking directly at her, he sipped his drink and walked over to sit at his desk. Meanwhile, she moved to the cabinet, and when she looked down to pick up the glass, he surreptitiously opened his intercom. “Mac, what in space brought you to my quarters at this blasted hour of the night? Oh, wait. It’s the middle of your normal shift, isn’t it?”
She tossed the liquid down her throat, then coughed and sputtered. Mac wouldn’t have drunk rum; she would have smelled the difference. The look the grey face gave him was... confused... disappointed. She reached into the cabinet and pulled out his bottle of whiskey, took a healthy slug straight from the bottle. That’s more like Mac.
She looked slightly better now; at least there was a touch of color to her skin. Her mouth moved, but he didn’t hear a sound, and he frowned in confusion. Frustrated, she walked forward several steps as her body became enveloped in darkness and she labored for breath. “Bugsy!” Mac’s voice came to him dimly, as if from a great distance. “Help us! I can’t do this much longer! Don’t let them tear...” The dark aura was gone, her voice faded to nothingness, and she staggered, fell against the desk. He pushed his chair back, to keep some distance between them.
“Mac, what’s wrong?” he asked, truly confused and absolutely worried about his friend in a way he hadn’t been for a long time.
Her head jerked up, and hot green anger glinted in her grey eyes as she deliberately closed the intercom.
Her mouth thinned into a straight line he’d never seen on her before, but he knew she was ready to lay into him with all the fury she could muster. Since I can’t hear her, she can scream all she wants. I just need her to stay here until Bear - somebody - comes and gets her and we can finally sort this out.
Instead, she whirled and headed for the door. Bugalu desperately lunged to stop her. As his arms wrapped around her, a searing jolt pierced his body.