Captain Agnes Parker rubbed the back of her sore neck and rolled her shoulders. If anyone had told her how many tedious tasks a captain had to deal with every week… Currently, she was examining the ship supply lists as certain items kept going astray. She lived for such events of interstellar importance. In desperation, she began to go through the latest delivery of com-keys. It was the third key she plugged in that grabbed her by the throat.
– “Hey, Aggie… It feels so odd to say something other than Captain and ma’am after this last year. I’m not complaining… I know I deserved the deep freeze you put me into… I want so much to apologise again, but you told me once that actions speak louder than words. So… I’ve added my medical data for the last year, which should tell you more than any words could… I checked the rosters and we both have the same four-day break coming up. I’ll wait every evening between 6 and 9 at our old table in the rec area. If you feel there is nothing left to say, I’ll accept it and start looking for a new posting on another fleet ship.”
Lieutenant Riordan Morris sipped his drink slowly. One more hour and hope would officially be lost. He felt so tired and on the verge of tears. Big, strapping blokes did not cry though, so he would have to swallow hard and move on. If nothing else, this year had brought a measure of self-knowledge and balance he had sorely lacked before.
A quiet voice interrupted his musings:
– “Is this seat taken?”
He looked up and did not even try to hide the myriad of emotions that crossed his face – relief, trepidation, hope and cautious delight.
– “No, I mean yes, it is now. Can I get you a drink?”
– “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
He waved at the server, ordered more of the same and they sat in painful silence until the drink arrived. She raised her eyebrows in surprise at her first sip.
– “Guava juice, Rio?”
– “What, you don’t think it will make hairs grow on my chest?”
Aggie laughed. Then she cut straight to the chase. Aggie had never been one for doing war dances around bushes.
– “I looked at the medical data you sent me. Your weekly blood tests show that you haven’t touched any alcohol for almost twelve months. That was… good to see. Also, your daily gym routine has reduced your BMI back to more than healthy levels. Um, I’m not sure I needed the ejaculation data showing no sexual activity, apart from five minutes in the shower every morning.”
– “I needed you to see that I could stay sober and be faithful.”
– “But we haven’t been in a relationship for over a year now. And I certainly didn’t remain celibate.”
-“I didn’t expect you to. You didn’t have anything to prove.”
– “Neither did you.”
– “Yeah, I did. I knew when you wouldn’t accept my apology after how I behaved when you got your promotion that I had to prove to you I could stop the drinking and keep it in my pants.”
– “Because you getting the promotion instead of me wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was you leaving me… And I knew I had to clean up my act for myself too before I pissed away what was left of my career after the official reprimand.”
There was a long pause and then Aggie reached out and touched his hand:
– “Ok. I guess I’m ready to talk now.”