Dodging Bullets: Chapter 2

At precisely 0600, Kristin Westphalen's alarm sounded—like a mallet to the front of her head.

"Oh, Lord," she muttered. "I really am too old for any alcohol. Period."

She rolled out of her rack and made it to the head where the reflection in the mirror was an unpleasant surprise. Not having removed her make-up the night before, she had mascara smudges and her red hair was tousled at all angles.

Folded, spindled, and mutilated came to her mind as she took her shower and allowed the water to ease the pain in her head somewhat. After drying off, she took two aspirin hoping to ease the throbbing behind her eyes.

The doctor dressed and was headed to the mess for breakfast when her eyes fell on the two glasses on the table.

"No!" Vague, watery memories of the night before crashed through like ice water. "No," she muttered louder, as she gathered up the two glasses to clean later.

The mess hall was filled as usual with people coming on for day's first rotation.

Filling her tray with dry toast and coffee, she turned to find a seat only to come face to face with Nathan Bridger, who looked, for lack of a better phrase, bright and bushy-tailed, bristling with good humor.

"Good morning, Dr. Westphalen, I trust you slept well?"

Kristin, never at a loss for words, was momentarily speechless.

"Well, good," the captain said, "Come sit with me."

He led her to a table in the corner of the room, relatively private.

"You know that irrepressible morning attitude of yours is a little irritating every day," Kristin muttered.

"Really? I had a really good time last night. Wonderful. You didn't?"

Nathan smiled sweetly then took a sip of his coffee.

"Yes, I guess, I'm not, uhm, as good at holding my alcohol as I used to be. Headache." She tried not to move her head too much as she spoke, as the front of her head felt her brain might literally shift to the front of her face.

"Out of practice?" Nathan tried not to smile, but it was noticeable. "Perhaps you should have tried 'mother's milk.' "

"Yes, thank you, Nathan. Your gloating really isn't necessary, you know."

"Oh, I know it isn't necessary. It's just," he leaned down conspiratorially, "The alcohol did make the rest of the evening so much more entertaining."

Kristin spit out her coffee. She grabbed a napkin to wipe her chin.

"How entertaining, exactly?" Her eyes were wide with uncertainly.

The captain of the UEO's mighty seaQuest patted her hand gently and said, "I'll tell you at dinner. Perhaps we could have another entertaining evening."

With those as his parting words, Nathan Bridger rose, smiled, wished her a good day and left.

Before Kristin could gather up her thoughts into a 'what the hell have I done that I don't remember' moment, Lucas and Ben sat down beside her.

"You okay, Doc? You look a little queasy?" Lucas was peering at her closely. "Actually, you look a little—"

"Gobsmacked," she said.

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Nathan was still chuckling as he entered the bridge.

"Good morning, Commander Ford. Status?"

"Smooth sailing, sir" The commander glanced again at the captain, "If you don't mind me saying so, Sir, you look like you're in a very good mood this morning."

Nathan gave him a grin, "I am, Commander, I am."

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All morning Kristin wracked her brain trying to piece together the events of the evening before. Finally, during a routine physical on Seaman Carter, the memory of a passionate kiss hit her full on.

"Oh, my, God!"

"Doc! What is it? Am I dying?" Carter nervously grabbed her arm, she removed the blood pressure cuff.

"No, seaman, you are good to go. Dismissed."

"But…."

"Dismissed, Seaman Carter!"

He rushed out of the exam room.

"I think I am the one who is going to die-of humiliation," Kristin thought to herself. Because after that kiss, she couldn't remember anything. "Did I? Did we?"

She walked back to her office and dropped her still aching head onto her desk.