Month 6 Day 30
Bugalu walked into Mac’s living room. “Mac?”
Della appeared in the doorway to the bedroom, an off-duty outfit in her hand. “She’s in here, Bugalu.”
He headed for the bedroom. “Sorry to interrupt, Della.”
“I’m getting used to it,” she stated. “But are you sure she still needs you? She’s been asleep ever since I—“
Mac abruptly sat up, uttering a squeak. “I’m here, Mac,” Bugsy told her calmly, and moved to the side of the redhead’s bed.
“Guess that answers that,” Della muttered, and unfastened her uniform.
Mac rubbed her face. “What time is it?”
“1630,” Bugs answered.
“Did you have supper?”
“I grabbed a bite,” he admitted.
“Good. Now go order a pizza so it’ll be ready after the movie.”
Mac grinned and stifled a yawn. “Kolla and I finished sorting memories. We wrote the report the captain wanted. I also asked if Abdulla or Takor could administer my probation test tomorrow. If Smit isn’t there, I’ll be able to answer the questions and actually pass. Before my 6 months are over!”
“That’s great!” Bugalu responded. Although I don’t think Smythe will-
“I hope Smythe agrees to that,” Della stated as her boot hit the floor. “But he doesn’t usually. Unless he promoted the new lieutenant.”
“I’ve been told that,” Mac answered and rubbed her eyes. “But I had to ask. It will mean more to me if I pass the test before my probation is officially over!”
“I can understand that,” Della stated.
Mac stifled another yawn, and Bugalu frowned. “Here’s an idea. You sleep this evening, and we’ll see a movie in a couple days. Give me your hand.” She offered her hand, and taking it, he sat on the edge of her bed.
“I’ve been sleeping since noon,” she told him.
“Without me?” Della snickered, and he tossed over his shoulder, “You know what I meant, Della.”
“That isn’t what it sounded like,” Della returned.
Mac went on, “I’m getting better at it. I sleep half an hour at a stretch any more. I only have to imagine you’re holding my hand.”
“That is better,” he agreed. “So you’ve had some sleep.” She wants to be rewarded for getting her assignment done quickly, not to mention relaxing before she takes that test. "If we see the movie tonight, you’ll be tired for your shift.”
Mac rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’s never happened before!”
Bugalu laughed. “Okay, we’ll see the movie. It starts at 2000 hours, so get another couple hours of sleep.”
“You promise to wake me?”
“Yes,” he stated. She lay down, and he straightened the blankets, still holding her hand.
“I didn’t know you and Mac were dating,” Della whispered. “I mean, you’ve been here every night this week, but she says you’re here to help her sleep.”
Bugalu frowned but didn’t face her. “Haven’t you ever gone to a movie with your brother?”
“Don’t have a brother.” Her response was muffled, as if she was pulling cloth over her head. “My sister and I fought too much to spend time together outside home. Relax, I’m teasing. I’m almost jealous of your relationship with my roommate.” She placed her hands on his shoulders from behind and whispered in his ear, “But then I’d miss the relationship we have.” She placed a kiss on his cheek and pulled away.
“Who are you seeing tonight?” Bugalu asked.
Surprised, Bugalu turned around just as Della fastened her dress closed. “LaPour asked you out?”
“Lots of guys do. Guess he’s not as committed to Ivy as she thinks.” She approached the mirror over her dresser to touch up her makeup.
“Well, have fun,” Bugalu told her.
“Plan on it,” she answered. After a moment, she added, “If I can convince him to take me into public, maybe I’ll see you at the movie. But remember, I’m on a date, not having family time.”
He heard the door to the corridor open and close, and knew she was gone. Ivy told me LaPour was getting serious, and she couldn’t see me anymore. Obviously, she doesn’t know he’s seeing Della. And I can’t tell her. She wouldn’t believe me. I like Ivy. A lot. But I’m not ready to get serious. I just wish Ivy knew the truth.
In the living room, the intercom buzzed. He ignored it until Mac mumbled, “I’m not home. I’m sleeping.” Amused, Bugalu gently released her hand and went to answer, giving the number of the room.
“Who is this?”
Bugalu stiffened, recognizing the tone of command, though he was sure he imagined the voice’s owner. “This is Lt Bugalu,” he responded.
“Oh. Good evening, lieutenant. Should I be surprised to find you there?”
Is it… the captain? I’m not sure. “I don’t see why you would be. I date Lt Harris, and M- Lt MacDowell is like a sister to me.”
“I see.” He heard a slight tone of amusement in her voice and was 99% sure he was speaking to the captain. “Very well, let me speak with her, please.”
Her? Which her? “I’m sorry, C—Uh, Lt Harris is on a date, and Lt MacDowell is sleeping.”
“Which again makes me wonder why you are there. Do you often spend time in your sister’s quarters when she’s asleep?”
“I have been lately,” he responded. “She sleeps longer… better if I hold her hand.”
“I thought she was over that,” the other person muttered.
“Not completely,” he answered. “Umm… Captain?”
“Yes? Oh, sorry, I didn’t identify myself, did I?” She sighed. “If she’s asleep, it will wait.”
“If it’s important, I could possibly wake her--”
“No, let her sleep. I don’t want her exhausted again. It doesn’t look good on her. On anyone, really.”
That’s the first time I’ve heard the captain comment on a crew member’s looks. Quick to apply it to everyone, but... Mac doesn’t need that complication. He swallowed but offered, “She expects me to wake her around 1900. She got some sleep before I arrived, and we’re going to the movie. I could have her call you-“
“Not that important,” the captain returned. “I wanted to talk about the paper she and Kolla sent me this morning. And the test she wants to take tomorrow.”
“Did Mr Smythe agree to it?” It was out before he realized he was asking.
“That hasn’t been decided.” After a moment, she asked, “You’re seeing the movie together? That sounds like a date, Mr Bugalu.”
“With any other woman, it probably would be. But with Mac, it’s… family time.”
“How long have you known her?”
“My junior year at the Academy. She was a freshman, my roommate’s little sister.”
“Tell me, how smart is she?”
The question startled him, and he glanced back at the bedroom, but there was no indication Mac was anything but asleep. “Smarter than me,” he said quietly. “Not in the ways of the universe, because of her up-bringing. Don’t take my word for it. Check out her grades from the Academy.”
“Those are not available to just anybody who wants them.”
“So I’ve heard. But you aren’t just ‘anybody’.”
There was a pause from the other end. “Thank you, Lt Bugalu, you’ve been helpful. I’ll catch Lt MacDowell when she reports for duty tonight. Enjoy your time together.”
“Thank you, captain.” Bugs went back to the bedroom and picked up Mac’s hand. She sighed and her body relaxed. With his free hand, Bugalu opened the top drawer of her bedside table and pulled out his reader.