Mira managed to be productive most of the time between the moment Peter left and before the end of the shift. First, she went with Lynne to talk to Reeakiss. After a somewhat painful conversation with double translations that seemed to focus around how everyone was feeling, they decided that the Abbai girl could be moved to a bed in the MedLab proper. A few blood tests and a full meal later, Mira decided that Reeakiss had recovered quite nicely. Then, there was always paperwork.
In the afternoon, Carlacci spent the better part of an hour speaking to the Abbai girl, asking brief questions and making careful notes of her answers, which tended to be long and detailed. By the time they were finished, Shift One was over and he hurried over to Mira’s office.
Mira had been staring at her desk top for the last few moments not really listening to the opera she had playing. She jumped when the door swished open. She blushed and suppressed the urge to pat her small braid of hair. The doctor smiled brightly at the man in her doorway. “Hello, Peter. I hope you had a better conversation with Reeakiss than I did. The language barrier seemed grow exponentially, the longer we tried to talk.”
“I know what that’s like,” he said. “But yeah, I think we’ve gotten some good information.” He paused, smiling back. “Ready to go?”
Suddenly shy, she just nodded and followed him out. With his limp, Peter’s pace was perfectly suited to Mira’s short legs. She became distracted by what seemed to be an unaccountably large number of people in MedLab. Mira glared around at them from behind Peter’s back.
“Problem?” he asked, once they were out in the corridor and waiting for a lift.
Mira blushed again, “No, not really. Just…” She sighed and her blush faded as she suddenly turned a bright smile on Peter. “I only just realized how badly my staff must gossip to have managed to have so many people in the MedLab all at the same time.” The laughter in her voice was barely controlled by the time she stepped into the newly arrived turbolift.
He grinned. “I didn’t think I’d cause that much of a stir.”
The doors slid shut and Mira finally allowed herself a quick laugh. “No doubt it is the surprise of me actually doing something gossip-worthy. I am normally a rather dull person.”
Meanwhile, back in MedLab, Lynne stepped into the office. “Wow, she must have been flustered. Trass never forgets to turn off the music and lights when she leaves. And did you see? She let her hair down!” Good-natured laughter and heady speculation soon followed.
They said little else until they had their food and found a table in a quiet corner of the dining hall. “Not the most romantic of settings,” Carlacci said, “but then my grandma always said, ‘Romance is where you make it.'”
Mira chuckled. She shook her head, causing her braid to flail a bit. “Mine said, ‘Romance is for fools and mistresses.’ Of course, she was trying to reconcile us to a future of arranged marriages. But, never mind, what did you talk to Reeakiss about?” Suddenly seeing her tray for the first time, she muttered, “I’m not sure what it is I have here.”
“I got everything she knew about the organization she and her pimp worked for, first off. I’m going to write that up and pass it on for Tomas, so he can jump on it when he’s ready. I also found out what she knew about the drugs, which I think we can use to track down the manufacturer.”
“Oh yes, especially if she knew who her supplier got them from. There are always connections to trace back.” Mira took a few bites of what turned out to be General Tsao’s chicken. “Even the chemical makeup of the drug will be a little helpful narrowing things down. Manufacturers tend to use similar patterns and such repeatedly.”
“She was able to confirm the theory that it’s a couple of Gaim. Hopefully, they haven’t moved their lab, or at least we’ll be able to trace it.”
“That’s wonderful.” Mira smiled benignly at her chicken. “If the gods smile on Darquin he will have no trouble tracing the criminals at all.” She made the mistake of looking up at Peter and got distracted for a moment. Blinking, she said the first thing that came to mind. “I wonder how Reeakiss managed last night.”
“Actually, she told me,” Peter said. “I did have to convince her it was real, but she was glad about it.”
“Really? I would have thought that all races had an understanding of returning from death. Though, I will admit, it’s not at all common for Centauri to do so. But, it’s not so different from visits from gods and such.” Mira realized she was rambling and shut up, focusing on her food for a while.
“I think in her case it was more a matter of her thinking it was another hallucination from the drug withdrawal. But it has raised another issue for us, I think.”
Mira looked up and drew a complete blank. “It does?”
He nodded, finishing a few bites of food and composing his thoughts before going on. “I gather it was an aunt of hers, a bit of a black sheep to the family but much loved by her, who came back. She was a courier, and spent a lot of time offplanet. Something they talked about — I didn’t have time to find out exactly what — has made her decide that she wants to come back to Minbar and join the Rangers.”
“Oh my. That’s wonderful. If any cause could help focus a person past an addiction the Anla’shok can.” Mira nodded in a satisfied way. “I wonder if we have the room and are going in that direction or if she’d have to wait for another transport. Family is always so helpful. Do you think she’ll hold to her resolve?”
Peter took a moment before replying, making sure he’d gotten all the various tracks in Mira’s speech. “I think she will,” he said at last, answering the final question first. “I’ll talk to Captain Hale first chance I get, see if she’ll allow a passenger.”
Mira nodded. “If we have the room I don’t see why she wouldn’t allow one. I can always use an extra pair of hands. Gods know, so could most of the departments from what I hear. I’m glad she had a pleasant visitation as well, though. An accusatory spirit might have tipped her completely over the ledge. My father came to me.” Mira smiled softly and stared into space a moment.
“You want to talk about it?”
Mira felt so full of peace and love whenever she thought about that visit, she wondered that she didn’t burst into light like a luminary. She laughed a little. “My father was a wonderful man. I had forgotten how wonderful until last night. I had gotten so caught up in being useful I had forgotten to be alive. He reminded me. And told me I was a fool for ever thinking I had caused his death.” She giggled again. “In fact, he threatened to swat my palms for being an idiot.”
Carlacci chuckled. “Sounds like he took a lot of weight off your shoulders. I’m glad of that. You deserve it,” he said.
“Nonsense, it was my own fault for being hard headed. Did you have a good visit?”
“I did,” he said with a smile, “although I guess it was a little … unusual. Relatively speaking.” At Mira’s raised eyebrow, he elaborated, “Seems like most folks saw family, or close friends. Me, I got to meet one of my childhood heroes.”
Mira smiled at the image of Peter Carlacci as a child. “Ah. But, perhaps this hero was the best match for the topic. I know that I, personally, would not have listened to anyone other than my Father.”
“You’ve got a point. He was able to help me remember that we can do a lot of good here. He was a Ranger too, of sorts.”
“Really? I thought Rangers were specific to Minbar.”
“The Anla’shok, yes. But back on Earth, the part where I was born and grew up, there’s people called the Texas Rangers. They do some of the same things the Anla’shok do. I was one myself, once.” He pulled aside the lapel of his long jacket, revealing the silver badge, a five-pointed star within a ring, pinned to the inside. “My visitor was in the Texas Rangers three hundred years ago.”
“Ah. Then you were always part of a cause.” Mira smiled, more to herself, satisfied with this clue to his past. “It must have been comforting to suddenly be reminded of that connection between your present and your past. I suspect that that lost something in the translation,” she murmured. She looked down not quite sure what she had actually said. It was startling to realize that her tray was empty.
“No, it made perfect sense to me,” he said, smiling. He stacked his dishes back on the tray, and looked at Mira again. “Tell you what. If you’re curious, I can show you what he looked like.”
“I would like that. I don’t know much about Earth history.”
“I don’t know a whole lot about all of Earth, but I can at least tell you about Texas,” he said with a grin.
Mira laughed. “I’m sure Texas is the most interesting part of it.”
Mira and Peter walked back from the dining hall chatting comfortably. Mira laughed at something witty that Peter had said and then noticed that they had arrived at her quarters.
As they paused in front of her door an awkward silence descended. Mira nervously chewed on her lip, debating whether to invite him in or not.
Peter thought that perhaps this would be a nice end to a wonderful evening with a beautiful woman. Not the best ending, but a nice one all the same.
“Well, it’s late and I’m sure you have an early shift tomorrow,” he said. “We can get together later on if you’re still interested in Texas history. I should go.” He paused and noticed how close she was. He could smell her perfume and her lips were only a breath away. He couldn’t resist. He kissed her.
Mira was surprised to be getting a kiss when he had just mentioned wanting to depart. It didn’t make sense in the Centauri dating schema, but still she slipped her arms around this delightful man’s neck.
Peter put his hands on her hips in response and then slipped them to the small of her back. Mira gasped and jerked her lips away from his, fast. They bumped noses and chins, and the doctor turned bright scarlet with a blush.
Peter looked shocked. “I’m sorry, whatever I did.” He hadn’t let go of her yet.
Mira turned even deeper red (if that was possible) and grasped his wrists. She moved his hands up to just below her shoulders. “I think that you and I need to have a little cross-species anatomy class very soon.” She broke herself out of his grip and and turned to her door.
It took Peter a moment to realize what she meant and his blush hit even harder than hers had. “My God, I’m sorry, I didn’t m– I … hell. I should just go.”
Peeking up at Peter from the corner of her eye, over her shoulder as she punched in her code, she said, “No, that’s all right. I actually, was just very surprised. Would you like to have a glass of tea with me? I would offer Brevari, but we’re a dry ship now.”
“Uh, sure.” The words had come almost by reflex, but he took a deep breath, hesitating for a moment as he watched her step through the opened door. What’s more important, Carlacci? How you look, or how you feel about her? He gave himself the answer by following Mira inside.
"Love and dignity cannot share the same abode." – Ovid
Copyright (c) 2001 Mona Hinds and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.