The dentist’s eye trailed down to his patient’s left hand and the little treasure it held. He tilted his head, a half smile present as he returned to her gaze. “With mah compliments,” Dorian replied. “Now, if yah’ll excuse me, Ah have tah make a house call.” As Jacy bubbled from the room, he called after her. "No food or drinks fah two hours! Ah know yah heard me. Stop actin' all deaf!"

The last few items went into his medical bag. Now back in shirtsleeves and vest, Dorian took a moment to clean up the infirmary. Though his readings about Droggies…Tibetan Mastiffs, according the hospital’s veterinary database…were a bit rudimentary, there were some universal basics to canine postnatal care. First and foremost, Give mom her time. The instinctual acts of cleansing each pup and directing them to the teat were the two most important basics, not to mention the essential time when the mother might reject a pup for being sickly or underdeveloped. Mother dogs were programmed to make these decisions purely of instinct. It only got sticky when humans were about to foist their morals upon a natural process. Aside from counting legs, ears, and tails, there wasn’t a whole lot that the puppies’ mother would let him do.

And that was just fine with Dorian.

Vas could reliably count little appendages. The captain was most like counting cash. So a few minutes to straighten up the infirmary couldn’t hurt.

“Excuse me, Dr. Adler?” Marisol stood in the doorway. “Got a minute?”

“Ah do,” Dorian nodded, closing the door behind her. He gestured toward the table. “Have a seat. Take off a boot.”

“But I’m…” she stopped, catching his meaning as she took in the two window panes. “Think I twisted an ankle.” A heavy boot landed on the deck, followed by a padded sock.

Adler rolled up the leg of her coveralls. “Let’s have a look. So, he said quietly, “is everything in order?”

“All good,” the mechanic nodded with a slight wince as he rolled her foot to and fro. “Everything in its’ place.”

“How about that party?” Dorian cradled her heel, slipping the other hand over her toes as he worked the joint.

“Mmmph,” Marisol grunted softly. “Smart money's on the Skyplex.”

He nodded. “Ah think so, too.. Ah’m guessin’ tha two of us need tah go shoppin’.”

“Always good to know the local merchants,” she answered. “And I love Ice Planet. You can buy me one,” the mechanic grinned.

Adler let her foot rest. “If it gets mah new equipment installed, count on it. Miss Marisol,” he proclaimed, “looks like a minor sprain. Ah’m gonna wrap it. Ah think a good night’s sleep should take care of it fah yah.” He produced an ace bandage, which he then carefully wrapped a triangular dressing. “Keep yah business close,” he whispered. “We got a passenger with some colorful history and more than one pseudonym. He’s got a habit of inserting himself into things.”

“What about the widow? Does she know?”

“Not the particulars,” he replied, “but she’s prepared. I’ll look in on her later.”

“Please offer my sympathies.”

“Of course. Now,” Dorian changed the subject, “here’s yah sock, and yah boot. If Ah don’t go check on the new puppies, Cap’n will be down here gunnin’ fah me.”

“Puppies?” Marisol’s eyes lit up. “Awww. Can I see ‘em?”

He shrugged. “Probably. Just gotta get the Cap’n outta tha way. Kindly switch off tha light on yah way out?”

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