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Furnishing the Doghouse

Posted on Tue Aug 23rd, 2022 @ 8:20pm by Malinda Baldwin [Rogers]

Mission: M1: A New World
Location: Baldwin Family Quarters

By the time they returned from their second trip to the Malon freighter, secured the evidence, took a quick shower to wash off the worst of the armor sweat funk, Marine sergeants Baldwin and Kawolski had missed the lunch service in the Mess Hall. Which was only piling onto their bad day since both had their hearts - or more correctly stomachs - set on the chili mac and cheese they were serving today. They could have gone to the replicator but Baldwin wanted to try the Lounge first. Malinda told him that they always got portions of the same food from the Mess to serve out to those that would prefer to dine in the Lounge. It was Baldwin’s hope that there would be some left over. Even if it were just half a bowl each, they could supplement it with something else, but both really, really wanted the chili mac and cheese.

“Hey, honey,” Baldwin said as the two entered the lounge and approached the bar. Malinda stood behind it and watched them walk over.

“I’m going to take a break now,” Malinda said to her coworker. Between all the events of the morning, she was behind on her scheduled break, but she was holding it. She waited for just this moment.

Her coworker, seeing her husband and the other Marine - the one that was somewhat married and somewhat not. She didn’t quite understand the whole thing but she was sure the marriage wasn’t quite official yet. Which was okay with her. Just looking at him she wouldn’t say no if he wanted a fling before he settled down. “Sure, I can mind it here. Been slow since-” She shrugged instead of finishing the sentence. Since the red alert ended and people were allowed to go back to their normal activities. People tended to avoid places where they were trapped for a while. Tomorrow business would be back to normal, but the rest of their shift today promised to be slow.

It might pick up later tonight, but they’d be off by that time.

“You, our quarters now,” Malinda said to Baldwin, her tone making it damned sure it wasn’t a joke, a jest or even a suggestion. “You also.” She turned and headed out of the Lounge and toward the turbolift to head to their quarters.

“Mal?” Baldwin called after her, finding he had to jog a bit to catch up to her. “What’s wrong?”

“We’ll discuss it in private,” she said, glaring at him and then casting one to Kalwoski as well. Then true to her word, she didn’t say anything else until they reached their quarters. But that didn’t stop Baldwin and Kawolski from sensing the seething fury she was keeping tightly coiled and caged. Both gave each other several looks, twice one or the other mouthed “what did we do?” Kawolski had seen the young couple fighting before, of course, they were a young couple in love and married but that didn’t mean everything was a fairy tale all the time. It gave him hope that he and Weaver could learn to still love each other despite having the occasional bouts of anger with each other.

The door to the quarters just closed when Malinda turned and started poking her index finger into Baldwin’s chest while she spoke. “How dare you! The both of you! To talk about Weaver and I like that!”

“Mal, the baby,” Baldwin started but she gave him an extra hard jab and he took several steps back. Kawolski stood next to the door, as if wanting to flee at the first crack in it.

“Jeremy is fine, he’s being looked after!” Malinda said. “By Weaver!” She turned on Kawolski. “She’s very upset over hearing what you said!”

“What I said?” Kawolski said, shaking his head. In all the times since the errant communication snafu that he thought about that conversation, not once did he consider anything he said about Weaver, or truth be told, what Baldwin said about Malinda to be of any concern.

“That she has a temper problem. That she hits you.” She whirled back on Baldwin. “And you! Suggesting that she’s no better than a servant or a piece of property that he owns. You think the both of them don’t get enough flak from people who don’t understand their culture and ways that you have to go turning it into some sort of backward joke?”

Baldwin shook his head, at a loss for words. “I didn’t…” but he had. “That’s not what I meant.”

“BUT IT’S WHAT YOU SAID!” Malinda’s voice bounced off the walls. “She doesn’t know you as well as I do. As well as Hunter does! She doesn’t understand that you’re giving him crap because you know he doesn’t feel that way! So yeah, that’s what he said but she didn’t hear that part because she was already stung by your words!”

Once again she turned to Kawolski. “You’re staying here tonight, I’ll have the couch made up. Weaver’s too upset and I think it’s best she gets some space. Hopefully a night will give her time to realize you were actually defending her right to be a person on her own.”

“But I-”

“You two talk about us like that a lot do you? Compare your “women” to each other? Is that what you do when we’re not around? Who else do you say it to? How many of your other buddies have joined in? Huh?” Malinda said, she was jabbing Baldwin’s chest again.

“No, honey, I,” he said as he grabbed her hands, if only to stop her from jabbing him. It hurt. “We never speak badly of either of you.”

“Today was a fluke then?”

“No! I was only telling him what you -”

“Stop! Stop right there! You think you’re going to try to blame me for this?” She said, breaking free of his loose grip and moving several steps away. “That somehow I gave you permission to talk about us like that?” She glared at Baldwin. “I swear, if I didn’t think it would be better for Weaver to have some time alone you’d be sleeping on the couch!”

“I’ll just find a place to stay for the night,” Hunter said, not even questioning that he wasn’t allowed to go to his own quarters.

“No, you’ll stay here, by the time you both get off duty, I shouldn’t be so angry anymore. And Jeremy will be home so we can’t fight anyway.”

“Honey,” Baldwin said, stepping closer to her. “We never say anything bad about you. I wouldn’t let it. I love you.” He stopped, still several feet away. “I love you.” he repeated.

“I know that you butthead!” she said, shaking her head. “If I didn’t know that you wouldn’t be staying here at all! It just hurts to hear those things being said. Not so much about me, but about her.”

Kowalski sighed. “I didn’t mean to hurt her. She never should have heard that. I don’t know why it was played over the shipwide but…” He shook his head. “I didn’t mean anything to be mean. I’m very proud of who she is and that I get the chance to prove that I’m worthy of her. Just like Baldwin does with you.”

Malinda chuckled in spite of herself. “Stop trying to flatter me. He got me pregnant and felt marrying me was the ‘honorable’ thing. I still know what his family thought of that.”

“They love you, just as I do,” Baldwin said, closing the distance. “I’m sorry what we did upset you. And Weaver. You know that neither of us thinks badly of her. We love her, as my sister, as his wife. Just as they love you as a sister. And Jeremy, well, he loves you as the world.”

“Stop it, I’m mad at you, you goofball.”

“I know,” he said, holding her. “But it’s very important that you hear the good stuff as well as the bad. No, I only want you to hear good stuff.”

She pulled away, “Stop it, I married a badass Marine, not some pulling lovesick schoolboy. Be a badass Marine again and stop trying to smooth talk me. You’re still in trouble and you’re still going to pay for this.”

Baldwin pursed his lips and nodded. “I know. But does that have to be now?” He gave Hunter a glance and then dropped a wink. He was sure they’d talk about this later. And his desire to speak with Warren only intensified. “This badass Marine is turning into a shopping schoolboy because he’s starving. We missed lunch. We were working and couldn’t get back in time.”

Malinda rolled her eyes. “How can you eat that stuff? It’s worse than gakt!”

“Okay, now I know you’re mad at me. How could you say something so hurtful and cruel?” He smiled as he said it and gave Hunter another wink. Kawolski shook his head. They were weird, that’s all he could say about this.

“It’s really good,” Kawolski said. “And filling. I mean even in field rations it's good. One of the few things that are.” He shrugged. “You got any left at the Lounge?”

“The two of you,” she sighed. “Spare the galaxy that you two ever found each other. But at least you’re in one spot. Where I have to suffer for it.”

“But?” Baldwin asked.

Malinda sighed. “You’re worse than Jeremy.”

Baldwin smiled. “He is his daddy’s boy after all. So?”

Malinda poked him in the chest once more. “Yes, you know I saved some for you.”

“YES!” Baldwin and Kalwoski said at the same time, each forgetting that they were still in the doghouse with Malinda. Baldwin crossed the room to give Kalwolski a high five, both celebrating.

“All of this over food,” Malinda sighed walking to the door. Her break was just about over and she wanted the boys to get back to work as well. Just so they couldn’t get into any further trouble today.

“Second thing we love the most,” Baldwin said.

“Second?” Malinda asked, another small smile. “Do I want to know what’s the first?”

“Being Marines,” they answered in unison. Then gave each other another high five.

Malinda sighed. I love him, I really do love him. She reminded herself. Even if he is an overgrown toddler.


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