The young woman was sitting in her quiet office enjoying the last few moments of the day. The days like this one were few and far between as she thought to herself this one was relatively nice. There was no rush on the paperwork she had just completed, and there were no deadlines being held over her head. She enjoyed days like this. It was the thing she did this job for instead of the rush of hurry up and wait which most of the projects she consulted on actually were. She had the task of making sure that the teams attached to the base that she worked for were medically capable to complete their tasks as well as advising them on while they were in the field. She had many tasks including as the base pathologist when needed which she was grateful was not a lot but still too often. She took a deep breath in and looked at the clock again. It was almost nearing the most acceptable time she could leave her office and head home. Of course, if she was needed after her normal working hours, she could be reached on her cell, that was also all too common, but she looked at the schedule on her computer and nothing had been placed for the next few days. A smile appeared. It was just the calm before a storm she knew, but she would gladly accept the calm and then deal with the storm as it happened.
Her phone rang bringing her out of the reverie she was in. She glanced at it before she knew she should pick it up. The idea that it was ringing somehow snapped her back into the moment and she sighed, “Doctor Jones.”, she said as she picked it up.
“You could sound more excited.”, the voice on the other line said, and she knew something was up. He never called unless things were bad, at least bad for him.
“What do you want Darren?”, she asked. Her older brother who called only when he had something to brag about, or he was neck deep in trouble, and he needed a line thrown to him sighed as well.
“Is that any way to treat your brother, KitKat?”, Darren asked.
“I hate that nickname.”, she stated. “So yes.”
“I have a problem.”, he said, and she knew she normally had to pry it out of him on the reason he called her. The fact that he just stated it told her this was not one of his normal problems.
“What?”, she asked.
“So, you know I told you me and the guys from College were getting together at the vacation property this week right?”, Darren said. The vacation property he was speaking of was their father’s idea of a fun time. He had bought a plot of land when she was an infant and built a log cabin on the property. Since her own father was one of those super-sized families with nine siblings and each of them had a super-sized family as well, himself included he continued to build other houses on the property so the whole family could do things together. As the family grew apart and did less as a complete group, he gave his children leave to use it whenever they wanted.
“Yes.”, she prompted as her brother stopped talking.
“It looks like I can’t make it at least for a few days into it.”, Darren said.
“Okay.”, she said still not seeing what her brother’s problem was.
“I am the host of this get-together and it is well on dad’s property so I can’t be there and I can’t call it off. Some of the guys are bringing their families and everything.”, Darren said.
“Okay. I still don’t know why you are telling this to me.”, she said.
“Can you go up there and at least get them settled in until I can go up there?”, Darren asked. Hook, Line, Sinker she knew she was in for it.
“Darren you do realize I have a job where I can’t just take time off, right?”, she asked.
“Come on.”, he said.
“Darren, I can try, but I can’t stay up there very long.”, she said. “It is a two-hour drive up there and back. I will have to stay for a day or so right?”, she asked.
“Probably, I guess.”, he said.
“Why can’t you go up there?”, she asked realizing he had glossed over the reason why he couldn’t go to meet his friends from college. She knew they got together a few times a year until a few years ago. The group of fifteen men had started to grow up and start families of their own. Now the get-togethers were a yearly thing. She had met them all when they were in college. A group that spanned the four years of college in age she had been nearly fifteen when the older ones had graduated. She remembered being dragged to the ceremonies with her brother for each of the men. She had never really thought of them again except one until a twist of fate, and she had been recruited to work for the military but not in it after medical school and stationed at the base. She had run into one of the men her brother had been friends with and the one she had thought of. She smiled and shared information with him and then moved on. At some events, they had both gone to they would nod to each other but nothing more, it wasn’t like they were friends. He was friends with her brother nothing more.
“I had an, um, accident.”, he said.
“An, um, accident?”, she asked not liking the sound of that, “What does that mean?”
“Look something happened at work, and I am stuck in the hospital for a few days.”, he said. She could tell there was much more to the story, but she also knew from experience he was not going to say more. “Could you do that for me, please. It would be like three days max. Basically, go up there and unlock all the cabins and make sure they somewhat behave though their wives and girlfriends will do most of the hard work for you on that.”
“Three days, huh?”, she asked.
“That’s all.”, her brother said.
“I will go and talk to my boss. So you said it was on Friday to when?”, she asked.
“Like Tuesday or Wednesday. They are there till the following Monday.”, her brother said.
“Okay call me back in fifteen or so.”, she said not knowing if he was on his cell phone. She hung up the phone and walked through the maze of hallways and up two floors to her boss’s office.
“What do I owe this pleasure, Doc?”, he asked as she knocked on the open door and he looked up.
“I have a favor to ask.”, she said.
“Come in and have a seat.”, he motioned for her to take a seat in front of him. He waited for her to get seated and comfortable.
“So I need a few days off next week.”, she said.
“We don’t have anything on the schedule, do we?”, he asked.
“No.,” she said with a smile.
“Then I don’t see why not.”, he replied. “It isn’t like you to ask for time off. So even though the request is informal, I will let you have it this time.”
“Thanks.”, she said.
“So, what do you plan on doing?”, he asked with a glint in his eyes.
“My brother and his friends from college get together once a year sometimes more, but it is an annual event. Something happened to my brother, and he has to miss a few days of it though he is the host this year. He asked me to go up to our dad’s place and unlock it for them and basically keep an eye on them until he can get up there.”, she said.
“What happened to your brother?”, he asked as he eyed her over.
“Something at work. He is in the hospital.”, she replied.
“Are you sure you just need a few days off?”, he asked.
“I guess I should ask for more just in case. So can I have the week off instead?”, she asked.
“Again I don’t see why not.”, he said as he scratched off the dates and rewrote them and then had her sign the request which he had already approved with his signature.
“Thanks, boss.”, she said as she stood with her copy of the paper in hand.
“You deserve it.”, he said as she went for the door. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“That isn’t saying all that much, you know.”, she replied as she walked out the door and down the hall. The older man sat in his chair chuckling.
“I know my dear that is why I hope you do something wild for once.”, he said under his breath so she couldn’t hear him even though she was already on the stairs. She was headed back to the section that her office was housed in when she ran into a wall of muscle as she was reading the paper in her hand and not paying attention.
“Hello, sweetheart.”, she heard the wall of muscle say as two arms had locked around her and steadied her on her feet. “If you wanted to be in my arms all you have to do is ask.”
“Shut up Akechi.”, she said without looking up.
“In a hurry, my dear.”, he asked.
“I am expecting a phone call from Darren if you must know.”, she said as she started to walk away.
“About the trip this week?”, he inquired.
“Actually yes. Something came up, and he will be late getting up to the cabins.”, she said over her shoulder.
“Figures.”, he replied. The simple response was enough to let her know how well the group understood her brother and his behaviors.
“I will be standing in so there is no disruption to your vacation and fun.”, she said holding up the chit she had in her hand.
“Wait you?”, the man in back of her said in a voice she was sure she had never heard from him before. It was almost shocked. She had known of him professionally for years as well as being the younger sister to one of his friends from so many years prior, she had never known him to be shocked before. It was something that was almost endearing about him that he was never really shocked or surprised. He at least never showed it if he was.
“Yes me.”, she said as she spun around to face him, “Is there a problem with that?”
“I don’t believe there is, my dear.”, he replied with the mask of indifference locked on his face.
“Why do you treat me like that?”, she asked as she took three steps in his direction instead of the way to her office.
“Whatever do you mean?”, he asked.
“Like I am thirty years younger than you and a small child? My dear, sweetheart, or Princess? I am not a child.”, she said.
“I know that.”, he said with his smirk. “Does it bother you?”
“You know what, nevermind. You have done this since you were in college.”, she said as she turned back to head to her office and wait for her brother to call. He had followed her part of the way but stopped dead in his tracks as she turned to the last hallway. He watched the woman return to her office and began thinking to himself maybe this trip would be worth his time after all.