I lowered my mug of coffee. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “How, exactly, did you manage to get hold of a cheese board so far into deep space?”
“With a selection of cheeses.”
“I have my ways,” grinned Reg. His attempt at being enigmatic lasted for all of a second before his face dropped and he became gravely serious again. “Do you think it’ll work?”
He’d been trying to woo the new girl in comms ever since she’d arrived on the ship. The problem was, so had everyone else. And this wasn’t the first woman he’d gone after like this. I liked Reg, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I couldn’t help but feel that maybe he needed to be discouraged a little. It was that or he’d end up in some kind of horrible situation that, at best, would probably make him look stupid or, at worst, nearly kill us all. Again.
It was always the way with interstellar travel.
So I’d pointed out the fierce competition. I’d pointed out how there only ever seemed to be four types of woman on this ship: Aliens; Amazonian badasses with tempers shorter than that ambassador we picked up from Pygmy 7 last year; Hyper-intelligent science officers that would think Reg was a bit pathetic; And jailbait nymphs that just wanted to learn the meaning of ‘the human emotion you call love’.
“Besides, Captain has first dibs on all of them.”
Reg had screwed up his face at that. He was an old-fashioned sort of guy. “Do you have to call it ‘first dibs’?”
I shrugged. “Captain’s words, not mine. It was the subject line of that memo he sent out about it.”
“So you don’t think I stand a chance?”
“I think you’d stand a better chance if you had a penchant for wearing mustard sweaters and girdles.”
He wouldn’t be swayed, though. I tried pointing out how none of the women that ended up on this ship seemed to stick around. I’d lost count of the number of times the Captain had gone off with them somewhere, only to announce they’d ‘decided to stay’ wherever it was they’d gone. It was starting to get suspicious if you asked me.
But Reg wasn’t having any of it.
“Alright, Reg. Think of it like this; of all the women that have come aboard this ship – and I’m including women who have actually served on it, mind – how many of them have ever come down to see us in Engineering? How many?”
He thought about it. “Only the ones that want to blow up the ship-”
I joined in. “- Blow up the ship, exactly. You see? It’s a dangerous game, all…” I waved my hand at him as I struggled to come up with a suitable name for whatever it was he was up to. “This.”
“God, you’re so joyless, you know that? Where’s the romance, eh? The giddy highs of being in love? Don’t you miss all that?”
“Yes, Reg, I do. Obviously I do. I get urges, same as everyone else, you know. That’s why the Holodeck’s booked solid for the next three months and they had to bring in that new rule about mopping up when you’re done.”
“Come on, don’t you think-”
“- They even bought a new mop to hang outside the door.”
Reg just tutted and rolled his eyes.
I won’t lie – I was trying to discourage him, but I still always got a kick out of hearing his schemes to try and win his latest crush’s affections. They were usually good for a laugh, but credit where credit was due – at least he’d always try. So I asked him what his plan was this time.
He smiled, trying to be all smooth and suave, before telling me – deadly seriously – that he’d got her a cheese board, complete with a selection of cheeses.
It was a fair while before I’d stopped laughing, and he’d stopped staring daggers at me.
Now he was asking if I thought it would work. His voice had an endearingly innocent tone of sincerity about it.
But the truth was, no – I didn’t think it would work. I had two reasons.
First – she’d already gone off with the Captain. I’d seen them earlier. This meant one of two things; she was falling in love or going to die. Or possibly one then the other.
Second – we were in deep space. I didn’t think many alien races were renowned as cheese-makers, and the chances of us going past a half-decent supermarket were slim at best. Transporter or no, that cheese was not going to have been in the best shape by the time it arrived here.
I took another sip of coffee as I formulated my response.
“I think you’ve been had.”