SFR Flash Fiction / ‘For Fuck’s Sake Captain!’
Writing Prompt: For Fuck’s Sake Captain!
She was going to kill him. Cam thought as she stared at the Admiral as he stood in his characteristic annoy the Captain by shooting down all her suggestions posture; hands reversed and braced against the small of his back, back to her as he gazed out the viewport beside his desk. Not only had he rejected her snack after an obligatory couple of sips of coffee and a single bite of a singularly boring biscuit; he’d been physically avoiding her ever since by keeping the room between them, and then eventually giving her his back. He had refused to reply to her suggestions with anything outside of a clipped yes, no, or grunt of acknowledgment, and had in fact not said anything for the last several minutes. You are one moody son of bitch Admiral. She thought with an annoyed glance at the chronometer. If you’re not interested in anything I have to say then what is the point of this? “Sir,” She began with admirable calm considering her level of irritation with him.
“Go back to your office Captain.” He interrupted.
Cam jerked back in startled shock. “Sir?!”
“Go. To. Your. Office.” He bit out.
She rose uncertainly. Surely I can’t have said or done anything to deserve this? “Sir–” She tried again, took a deep breath. “I realize that we haven’t always had the uh… smoothest of working relationships,” She began a bit stiffly, because she was stunned despite having worked with him long enough to have taken the brunt of his moods often enough not to take his irritation personally. “and if you wish to replace me I–”
“For fuck’s sake Captain–” He began only to break off and swallow hard. She watched puzzled as he rocked back on his heels and dropped his head forward; his hands standing out in stark relief against the black of his uniform as he pressed them hard against his back. What the hell Admiral?! She thought as she watched him inhale and exhale once, twice, three times, and then he was heading towards the lavatory and slamming the door behind him.
For one startled moment she thought that he had had to leave because he couldn’t stand even to look at her, before the sounds of him being violently and noisily sick dispelled the notion for the absurdity it was. She was an extremely competent officer for goddsake, and whatever flaws she might have–and she didn’t kid herself that she didn’t have any–they were certainly not serious enough to cause the Admiral to upchuck his coffee and biscuit. He’s ill. She realized, and all that stiffness, withdrawn body language, and attempting to send her out had been him trying to hide it.
Okay, so what now then? She asked herself torn between the instinct to call sickbay for help and the notion that since he’d gone to some effort to keep his illness–whatever it was–private she’d best respect that. On the one hand, I risk killing him by not getting him help; on the other I risk offending his dignity by allowing his crew to see him in such a state. Quite the choice. Knowing that she certainly wouldn’t want the crew to see her spewing her guts along the corridor on the way to medical, she decided to give him a couple of minutes and then reassess the situation. If it were serious, sickbay would have to be called, but if it were something simple…. Like what? She asked herself sarcastically. Nerves? An allergy? Food poisoning? Like you’re qualified to judge. You need to call sickbay and you know it!
Pushing the thought aside with a sigh. Rules were meant to be broken right? She padded over to the door and putting her ear against it listened. Silence. She hesitated. “Er… Admiral?”
A deep sigh and then the sounds of him getting to his feet. “It’s fine Captain. Go back to your office.”
Cam lifted her ear from the door, stepped back a bit. “I can’t do that sir.” She hesitated. “At least not until I verify that you are all right.”
She heard the sound of water being run and then turned off. A moment later the lavatory door swung open and he stood in front of her; a touch paler and more drawn but on his feet and breathing. “I’m fine Captain.” He repeated.
Cam studied him warily torn between wanting to believe him and not wanting to have to deal with him dying on her watch as it were. “With all due respect sir, I think a visit to sickbay–”
He cut her off. “I’ve already seen the doctor once today Captain.” He told her levelly. “There is no need to be concerned.” His gaze dared her to disagree.
Cam snorted. “No need to be concerned!?” She repeated incredulously. “You’re suddenly puking your guts out for no apparent reason and there’s no need to be concerned?!”
Frowning he scrubbed a hand across his face. “If you don’t mind Captain–” He nodded at the sofa and chairs and Cam realised that his hand was shaking a little. Normal post turning your guts out shakiness or something more sinister? She wondered as she obediently preceded him to the sofa. To her surprise, he joined her on the sofa rather than sitting across from her as was his usual want. Catching it, he slanted her a glance, “I like to stretch out too Captain.” He told her softly and depositing himself in the corner of the sofa extended his legs in front of him in a way that the more rigid confines of the chairs did not allow. When he propped his elbow on the sofa-back and then rested his head against the palm, she understood how tired he was; it just wasn’t like him to… make himself comfortable at the expense of admirally dignity. Not, she thought slowly as she took him in, that there was anything even remotely undignified about his posture. He just seemed more human somehow–less the indomitable admiral and more… she hesitated feeling it out…
He leveled his gaze at her in his typical direct manner but there was a reserve in it that made her wonder. “I have a spinal port.” He said matter-of-factly. “Through which I receive injections in order to manage certain physiological matters.” Here he paused briefly seemingly expecting a reaction so Cam nodded to confirm her understanding. Holy crap. She thought to herself but managed not to allow that to escape. “Okay.” She said instead.
“Some of the medications irritate my physiology, make it difficult to consume food and drink.”
“That’s why you were sick?”
“That’s why I was sick.” He confirmed.
She thought about that. Frowned. “So–how do you eat?”
“I only take injections in the evening, so it doesn’t really affect the rest of the day.”
“Just dinner?” She asked.
She scowled. “But you don’t eat breakfast or lunch either, that’s why–“
“Everybody thinks I’m an android.” He smiled slightly. “I prefer to eat in my office or quarters,” He explained, “While the medication doesn’t interfere with my actual ability to eat during the day, it does affect my appetite, and I need to focus so that I get appropriate nutrition.”
“Being in the mess is that distracting?”
“It is if you’re looking for a reason not to eat something.” He told her wryly.
“I imagine the food doesn’t help either.” She added thinking of the previous night’s casserole with less than fond thoughts.
That earned her a small smile. “It has its moments.”
Cam leaned back, propped her arm on the back of the sofa, rested her cheek against her hand mirroring him. “So why’d you drink the coffee–eat that biscuit?”
A shrug. “I didn’t want to offend you… and I suppose I overestimated my ability to–” A grimace. “–eat.”
Cam nodded thoughtfully. She had been pissed at him, she couldn’t argue that. She was often angry with him for some reason or other. Reasons usually similar to tonight’s debacle. Tonight though there had been a reason for his apparently offensive behaviour. He hadn’t been feeling well and along she’d come and practically forced coffee and a biscuit on him and made it worse. She’d then compounded the problem by refusing to leave when he’d demanded she do so in an attempt to gain a little privacy so he could be ill. She’d totally misjudged the subtext of the encounter / evening and it made her wonder what else–how else, she’d misjudged him. “You have your reasons for not simply telling me I suppose?”
He stared at her for a moment, glanced down. “I–suppose… its just private.” Another little half shrug. “Not precisely an item for morning meetings.” His lips twisted in a parody of a smile.
“Does it bother you to talk about it?” Cam asked curiously because he didn’t seem particularly agitated by the conversation.
“Not if it doesn’t bother you.” There was a challenge in there somewhere Cam thought. It was her turn to shrug. “It doesn’t bother me.”