“So wait,” Macy said disbelievingly. “You’ve never used a gun before?”
Five expectant faces swiveled towards Bob. Jack buried his face in his hands.
“No,” Bob said. “This problem?”
Macy looked like she had just tasted some of Cammie’s cooking by surprise.
(Cammie was the worst cook on the boat, the only person Jack had ever met with the ability to follow a recipe perfectly and still have it come out tasting absolutely foul, and as such she was the only person who was comprehensively banned from being on the cooking duty roster. Matt had lobbied to ban her from being in the kitchen while food was being prepared, on the grounds that it was better to be safe than sorry, but had been shouted down.)
“Yes,” she said. “It is a problem. It means that you’re a liability on jobs. Someone’ll always have to keep an eye on you, protect you, and that means that they’ll be distracted, which is potentially deadly in a firefight.”
Bob shrugged at her. “Don’t see why. Mechanic stays with ship, yes? No need.”
“That doesn’t make you not a liability,” Macy told him. “What happens if someone ends up on the ship?”
Bob made a face. “Good at hide, can hit with wrench. No guns,” he insisted. Macy turned to Jack in a mute appeal for support, but he still had his face buried in his hands and was refusing to look up.
“You need to understand basic gun safety,” she said. “Not knowing that is a recipe for disaster, especially with the way jobs tend turn out on this boat.” She glared pointedly at Dubi and Jack. “And you should probably be able to hit the broad side of a barn, just in case an emergency crops up.”
Bob looked mutinous for a moment, but nodded meekly when faced with Macy’s most intimidating stare. Jack hauled his head out of his hands and looked wearily around the table.
“Now that that’s decided, can we please get back to who wants what on this next restocking trip? So that I don’t have to deal with the complaints when we forget something? Again?”
Dubi was arguing with Jack - again - about the wisdom of taking a job with Big Z when Macy interrupted them, scowling.
“Have any of you seen Bob?” she asked.
The three men traded looks but shook their heads. “Nope, last I saw him he was in the engine room, but that was a couple of hours ago,” Wiz offered. “Why’re you looking for him?”
Her scowl deepened. “I checked the engine room, he’s not there. We’re supposed to be having our first lesson on gun safety, so let him know I’m looking for him if you see him.”
“Will do,” Jack called after her as she stomped down the hallway towards the barracks.
“Oh, hey, Macy, are you looking for Bob?”
Matt’s smile faltered a little as Macy whirled on him, an extremely intense expression on her face. “Have you seen him?”
“He. . . he was just in the galley,” Matt said, wide-eyed, gesturing back the way he’d come.
“Thank-you,” Macy said, before turning and stalking down the hallway like a cat who’d scented her prey.
“You’re welcome?” Matt called after her uncertainly.
“What are we doing?”
Cammie and Matt were crouched at the end of one of the catwalks in the ship’s main cargo area, watching something taking place on the lower levels. Both of them jumped and whirled when Artem came up behind them.
“Shhh, keep your voice down!” hissed Cammie, tugging Artem down to crouch with them. He folded down obligingly and lowered his voice.
“What are we doing?”
“We’re watching Macy play hide and seek with Bob,” Matt answered, taking his eyes off of Macy for a moment to grin at his shipmate. Artem smiled back at him.
“Bob, I think, judging by Macy’s homicidal expression . . . shit, here she comes! Run for it!” Cammie jumped up and scampered across the catwalk in record time, slamming the door on the two boys, who took one look at the expression on the rapidly approaching Macy’s face and booked it in the opposite direction
“I wish I could vanish like Bob!” Artem huffed as he ran. Matt just nodded his agreement, saving his breath for running as fast as possible.
Wiz turned his chair around after he finished laying in the details of their course to Beaumonde and shrieked. Bob was standing in the doorway, having come up behind him at some point in the last fifteen minutes without making a sound.
“Jesus, Bob, you scared me,” Wiz said, pressing a hand to his chest. “What the hell?”
“Proving point to Macy,” Bob said, smiling at Wiz apologetically. “Don’t need gun. Best at hide. No one can find.”
Wiz frowned at him, confused, as he tried to will his heart rate into something a little less violent. “. . . I don’t get it.”
Bob let out a long-suffering sigh and vanished from the cockpit. Moments later, Artem wandered in, shaking his head.
“Bob says to tell Macy that if she can’t find him on this ship, what makes her think anyone else would be able to?” he reported, slumping into the second chair and propping his elbows on his knees.
“Oh. . . “ Wiz breathed, realization dawning. “That’s - actually a really good point.”
“Yup,” Artem agreed glumly. “I’m not really looking forward to passing that message along to Macy, though. I think she might chew my face off.”
“Get Jack to do it,” Wiz advised him. “He’s the captain, it’s what they’re for.”
Artem brightened up a bit at that. “I can do that? Thanks, Wiz!” He left the cockpit, grinning cheerfully. Wiz spun his chair back around and grinned at his console.
Not ten minutes later, Jack stormed into the cockpit, fuming. “I can’t believe you dumped this on me,” he said. Wiz grinned at him unrepentantly. “That’s what you get when you get the fancy title, Captain. Are you going to tell her now?”
“I figured I might as well get it over with. What are you doing?”
“Putting the ship on autopilot. This is one fireworks show that I do not want to miss.”