Almost

Characters: Margaret Morgan, Dr. Mira Trassano

Mira puttered around MedLab almost contentedly. Almost. She truly appreciated the design of the new Medical facilities. They were neat, compact, and somehow managed to be spacious all at the same time. She turned and smiled up at S’ran-to. And some wise architect remembered to leave space for a shrine. So, the good doctor was almost content as she wandered around her domain picking up stray items and tucking them into her pockets. However, the question of Helle’s alcoholism disturbed the peace of her soul.

How could I have not seen it? Mira asked herself for the hundredth time that day. How could I have missed the drunkenness? I should have seen that if nothing else. I should have seen it and questioned her and come to recognize the disease underlying her actions.

Mira picked up a small bolt that had been kicked under the corner of a table and had missed cleanup after the workers had left. She sighed. I need to stop dwelling on this. Maybe I ought to go and get some exercising done. I can run the obstacle course or something.

A few moments later, Mira stretched on a mat in the gym. She admired her leg as she tried to press her forehead to her knee. I’m definitely closer today. Goddess, but I have a nice thigh now. I should have started this exercising thing years ago.

Morgan stepped into the gym. She had been directed down there by Mr. Carter in the MedLab. The commander looked around, but didn’t see the doctor at first.

Mira sat back up and stretched the other leg. It’s terribly calming. This exercise thing…after a while all you think about is how much your muscles hurt and how much more you can do before they Really hurt.

Morgan saw a topknot, then blinked. “Doctor?” She almost looked like a different person.

Maybe that’s why the young men are attracted to blood sports, so they won’t have to think. She heard someone call her and turned. Mira’s face was brightened with a grin. “Morgan! How are you?” She hopped to her feet.

Morgan actually started to smile, pleased by the progress she saw in the pudgy little Centauri she had seen last. “I am… well, mostly. I was afraid you’d slacked off while I was away.”

Mira laughed. “Slack off? And face the wrath of our Commander, when you returned? Never!” The short alien twinkled up at Morgan. “So, why do you say “mostly”?”

From her inner pocket, the commander took out a bottle of tablets and handed them to Mira. “These started reacting while I was gone.”

The doctor sighed. “Oh, Perfection.” She shook her head. “You stopped taking them immediately?”

“Immediately. When I passed through B5, I got CitCal 3X. It doesn’t really work, but it’s better than nothing.”

Mira nodded as she weighed the bottle in her hand. “CitCal is a good thing. For over the counter drugs it is one of the best for this disorder.” The gears in her mind almost clicked out loud while she thought. “I think I might have something that can replace this. But it would have to be fabricated. It is no longer a manufactured drug.”

Morgan sighed. “Doctor, at this point, I’ll try anything. With my duties, breaks are a constant hazard. You remember my wrist, in Vorlon space?”

“Yes. Exactly. A broken bone at the wrong moment could be fatal.” She shook the offending pills in her hand. “This is an improved version of an older drug. The new drug reacted with fewer people and was cheaper to make, so was replaced the older one completely. However, the older drug, reacts with different people than this one does. For whatever reason. You may do better with that one.”

“Perhaps. I’ll try it, if you can make it.”

Mira made a motion like she was tucking the bottle into her pocket. But, her workout clothes didn’t have a pocket. She smiled ruefully. “Of course, it will be a day or two. I have to order the materials. It is a good thing we haven’t left yet.”

“Two days may be all you have.” The commander shrugged. “Not a threat, just our proposed timetable.”

Mira’s eyebrows sought a nonexistent hairline. “So soon?” She tapped her link. “Trassano to Carter. Mr. Carter, please order the chemicals Cal34 and Lithicit from the Brethos Corporation. My authorization is Omega Pi 224.”

“Will do,” came Carter’s voice.

“Thank you, Doctor.” Morgan smiled.

“Nonsense. I’m doing my job.” Mira eyed the other woman. “And are you back at the job?”

“Yes. I came to find you as soon as I could spare a few minutes.”

Mira nodded sagely. “Ah, then you are busy.”

“Very.” Morgan’s eyed the small woman warily. “Why?”

The doctor shrugged and half turned back to the exercise mat. “Oh, no reason.” She shook the vial of pills. “I shall just put these away.” No doubt it is a good thing she is too busy to thrash me, Mira thought.

Morgan tried to hide a sudden, evil grin. “Well, I suppose I could spare a few minutes….”

Mira looked up from where she was tucking the pills into the pocket of her folded Ranger robe. “I’d hate to keep you from your busy schedule.”

Morgan took off her own robe and folded it. “Never too busy for a faithful student.”

Mira sighed. “I suppose it was too much to hope for,” she said as she faced Morgan on the mat.

“What? Haven’t you had a long enough reprieve?” Grinning, Morgan took her boots off and stepped onto the mat. She bowed to the doctor.

The doctor bowed in return. “Reprieve? I was supposed to be getting a reprieve? Nobody told Mr. Carter that.” Mira took a defensive stance.

Morgan laughed. In middle of her laugh, she lunged at Mira. Mira dodged the lunge numbly, ducking under it. She in turn lashed out with her foot at Morgan’s back. Morgan twisted away from the striking foot. She stopped out of reach and applauded. “You’ve been practicing,” she complimented.

Mira bowed in response. “I’ve had to, my head nurse has taken to pouncing on me in MedLab.” She laughed a bit. “That and accosting me with Earth jokes.”

“Now that I cannot help with. I’m only a station rat. I think you can begin learning the next stage now….”

Mira nodded. “And that is?”

“Oh, only this.” The commander dropped to mat and swept Mira’s legs out from under her. Mira fell, not too gracefully, or silently. She lay on the mat for only a moment before rolling toward Morgan and knocking her legs out as well. Morgan, not expecting any such move, was just climbing to her feet when Mira knocked her off balance. Of course, that meant that Morgan fell on Mira. But it was worth it in Mira’s eyes. Morgan landed hard, then she started laughing.

“OOF! You’ve been eating well,” the doctor complained from her position under Morgan’s butt. “I think you’ve gained some weight since your last physical.” She grinned a little at the other woman. A twinkle came to her eye. “How many doctors does it take to change a “light bulb”?”

Morgan rolled off. “How many?”

“Just one. But it costs a hundred credits and a consent form signed in triplicate.”

Morgan stared at the Centauri woman for a moment. Then, she started laughing again, harder. Mira climbed to her feet, shaking her head. “What IS a “light bulb” anyway?”

“An archaic light source. Requiring electricity, usually short-lived.” Morgan hopped up to her feet.

“Ahhh… and therefore needing frequent changes.” Mira eyed Morgan in nervous expectation.

“Exactly.” Morgan moved deliberately slow when she started a roundhouse kick to Mira’s torso. Then, she quickly ducked under and tackled the doctor. Mira fell for the feint and landed hard, underneath Morgan again.

“That’s hardly a fair move.”

“Raiders and the like will never fight fair.”

“Of course not…. where would the fun in that.” Mira sighed and climbed back to her feet again.

“Not today,” Morgan commented, “but, I ought to teach you how to avoid weapons soon.”

Mira blinked. “You mean something different from keeping my head out of PPG fire?”

The commander nodded, baring her teeth. “Knives, swords, clubs….”

Mira made an exasperated sound. “You’d think that a space-faring society would have the good manners to leave a doctor alone if they were close enough to SEE I’m a doctor.”

Morgan shook her head. “Most don’t care, I’m afraid.”

“That’s a sad thing.” Mira’s link chirped. She rolled her eyes as she activated it. “Yes, Trassano.” Morgan stood easy to the side. She was not about to interrupt a person’s work.

“Doctor,” Mr. Carter said in an even more aggravated tone than Mira’s. “Nurse Lynne just dropped a file drawer on her foot and cut her toe off. Can you come in or should I just keep this on ice?”

Mira blinked. “She cut her toe off with a file drawer?”

“It was that full bottom drawer on the metal cabinet. I think it’s broken.”

“But it’s brand new!”

Morgan covered her mouth. She had nearly forgotten Mira’s own style. The shrug could almost be heard in Carter’s voice. “Well, it’s broke now, or Lynne wouldn’t be missing her smallest left toe.”

“Bah. It’s not like she needs that one for balance. I’ll be right there. I’m leaving the gym now.” Mira tapped her link off decisively. “If Lynne drops on more thing, I swear I will drop her down the trash chute.”

Morgan bowed to Mira, amused. “We can take this up again later.”

Mira bowed back. “Thank you. Though I ought not to, considering the beating you just gave me.” Mira winked. “Come to MedLab tomorrow after your shift. I should have some pills for you then.”

Morgan nodded. “Thank you.”

Mira slipped her on her robe with it’s bulging pockets. In an instant, her familiar old bulky round shape returned. She grinned at the commander. “You’re welcome.”

Morgan went to put her boots back on. When presented with the opportunity, Mira couldn’t resist and innocently bumped the Commander as she bent over. “Oh, sorry!” she called over her shoulder. The doctor ran off laughing, almost lighthearted again. Morgan glared after the doctor’s retreating figure and then, laughed again.


(C) 1999 Mona Hinds and Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.