Smith sat patiently at the dinner table as he watched Mrs. Robinson prepare their repast for the evening. He was a bit earlier than the others, by design, because he enjoyed the pleasure of her company and, honestly, had nothing better to do. He made small talk as the Robinson matriarch chopped vegetables from the hydroponic garden. Truth be told, Smith did most of the talking, but unlike other evenings, he wasn't so wrapped up in hearing the sound of his own voice that the fact something wasn't quite right would escape his notice.
“Mrs. Robinson, are you feeling ok?” he asked, his voice tinged with concern.
“What?” She turned to him. “Oh, yes. I'm fine. Just a little overly tired,” she replied, and turned back to chopping vegetables.
Smith studied her. His intuition was telling him something was wrong and the feeling only grew stronger. “Tell me, madame, you say you're fatigued. Have you had trouble sleeping lately?”
“Yes, actually. I've been waking up quite frequently and I'm not sure why.” She took a deep breath. “Bad dreams, maybe?” She took a sip from a glass sitting to the right side of the chopping block.
Smith cocked his head to the side, as if trying to decipher a puzzle. He stood and quickly walked the distance to the counter. He picked up the glass and examined it, noticing the hundreds of bubbles streaming to the top of the liquid. He took a short sniff. Antacid. “Indigestion?” he queried.
Mrs. Robinson smiled sheepishly. “Yes. I don't think lunch quite agreed with me today.”
“And what about breakfast and dinner the night before?” Smith continued. Like a bloodhound, he'd caught a scent and intended to follow it until he discovered something or lost the trail.
She stopped chopping, thought a moment, then turned to Smith, “Now that you mention it, my stomach has been a bit upset the past few nights. It's gotten much worse today.” She took a deep breath and rubbed a hand against her abdomen.
Smith was sure he knew what was wrong and proceeded in full “doctor mode”. “Have you had shortness of breath?” He took her wrist and felt for her pulse.
“Yes,” she replied. She gently, but firmly pulled her wrist away from the doctor. “But it's just because I've been so tired lately. I'm sure it's nothing.”
Smith straightened at what he imagined to be a small slight to his medical skills. “Mrs. Robinson,” he said softly, “You may be right. It may be nothing, but I would like to run a few tests to make sure.”
Mrs. Robinson's first instinct was to refuse. After all, the doctor was a bit of a hypochondriac at times. However, she could clearly see a look of concern etched on his face. He had somehow noticed or otherwise deduced the symptoms she was having. Perhaps he was on to something. He was a doctor, after all. Not that he'd done much in the way of “doctoring” in the time they'd known him.
“I don't know,” she hesitated. She didn't want to cause John and the others needless worry. More than that, she feared that not only would Smith find something, but that it would be something major, something that couldn't possibly be treated out in the vast reaches of space.
“My dear lady, I understand your hesitation,” he stated, and he truly did. He took one of her hands in both of his and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I will make you a deal. Let me run one test. I will be quiet and discreet. Professor Robinson and the others will never need to know… unless I find something. In which case…” Smith hesitated to discuss possible outcomes. He sincerely hoped he was wrong. “Well, we'll deal with that if it comes to that.” He smiled reassuringly, but behind that smile was deep concern and a tinge of fear.
Mrs. Robinson thought a moment. “Alright,” she nodded.
Smith ushered her over to a seat at the table. “In the meantime, I want you to rest.” When she started to protest, Smith cut her off, “Doctor's orders, madame.” He pointed an index finger at her to drive home his point. “You cooperate or the Professor becomes involved.”
“Call it what you wish, my dear, but if it ensures your cooperation, it's precisely what I'll do. It's for your own good.”
Defeated, she slumped in the chair and rested her head on her hand while she watched Doctor Smith take over the preparation of dinner. Smith continued the conversation he had been engaged in earlier, only this time Mrs. Robinson had absolutely nothing to keep her occupied. The droning of Smith's rich baritone voice coupled with her exhaustion soon had her snoozing with her head resting on her arms on the table.
A few minutes later, the Professor came down the ladder, famished and ready for dinner. He was followed by the Major and Will.
“I don't believe it,” West stated. “Smith doing actual work… and he's not complaining!”
Smith turned to regard West with an amused look. “If you must know, Major, this isn't work. It's a favor. To Mrs. Robinson. She's completely exhausted.”
The Professor and Major both saw Mrs. Robinson resting quietly on the table.
“I can see that,” the Professor replied.
“Are you sure your droning on and on didn't put her to sleep?” West teased.
“What?” Smith, confused at the comment, turned and saw what the men were looking at. He set down the knife he was holding and wiped his hands on his apron as he went to Mrs. Robinson's side. “Mrs. Robinson?” He shook her gently and, getting no response, he checked her pulse at her wrist. At that, she stirred a little.
“Mrs. Robinson?” Smith patted her hand and then her face.
“Smith, what's going on?” the Professor asked.
Smith ignored the question and focused on his patient. She finally came around and immediately complained of dizziness and weakness. The doctor noticed the small beads of sweat forming on her face. He pressed his fingertips to her neck. What he felt was cause for alarm.
“Smith, I'd like an answer,” the Professor demanded as he joined Smith by his wife's side.
“Help me,” Smith commanded as he lifted the Robinson matriarch out of the chair. The Professor cradled his wife as Smith handed her over and then laid her gently on the floor. Smith began barking orders. “Professor, get the first aid kit and my medical bag. It's in my cabin. Major, she'll need oxygen. William, bring me a glass of water.”
For all their speculation about Smith's competency as a doctor, they immediately obeyed without question. Will and the Professor arrived back at Smith's side at the same time. The doctor rooted through the medical kit until he found what he needed. He helped Mrs. Robinson to a sitting position, then took the glass from Will.
“Here, take this.” Smith handed her a pill and the glass. She popped the pill in her mouth and took a sip of the water.
Smith cracked open another bottle and shook out another pill into his palm. “Under your tongue,” he stated. Mrs. Robinson allowed him to place the pill there. He then helped her lay back down.
At that moment, the Major arrived with a tank of oxygen and a mask. Smith took the mask and secured it to his patient's face, while the Major turned the valve to start the flow of oxygen. Will ran off to one of the cabins and returned quickly with a few pillows.
“Good thinking,” Smith replied as he helped Will place a pillow under his mother's head.
The audience to this sudden, unexpected drama sat solemnly watching the doctor's face for any sign, good or bad, as he quietly examined his patient with a stethoscope. He removed the sphygmomanometer from his medical bag and took blood pressure readings. What he wouldn't give for an electrocardiogram right now.
“Will, get the Robot!” Smith commanded. Will ran to the ladder, but before he could disappear to the upper level, Smith added “…and about a dozen electrodes!” Will nodded in understanding and continued on his mission.
The Professor held his wife's left hand in his and stared into her eyes, the only part of her face not obscured by the oxygen mask. “How is she? What's going on?” he asked, and both he and the patient turned their eyes to Doctor Smith for the answer.
“Professor, I cannot be completely positive without further tests, but I suspect that Mrs. Robinson has suffered a mild myocardial infarction… a heart attack.”
For the Professor, it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. “Is she going to be okay?”
Smith looked down at Mrs. Robinson with a smile. “If she follows her doctor's orders, I think she'll be fine.” He then looked to the Professor. “Earlier this evening I detected certain signs that something was amiss. I fully intended to perform a battery of tests in the morning to allay or confirm my suspicions.”
“You said ‘one' test,” interjected the muffled voice of Mrs. Robinson.
“I lied,” Smith smirked. “I also lied about our agreement to not tell your husband about the tests. You may sue me for breach of contract later, if you wish.”
Both the Professor and Mrs. Robinson smiled at Smith's statement.
Smith's smirk faded. “Professor, from what I have seen so far, I have no reason to believe any serious damage was done. If we're lucky, this can be treated with medication alone.”
“Do we have the medication required?” the Professor asked.
“I had requested certain medications be included in the ship's cargo. We had no idea of the long term effects of stasis on the human body, so I figured they may come in handy at some point. We have plenty of aspirin, but the supply of other medications is limited. Howsomever, with the Robot's help, we may be able to manufacture our own if we have or can find the raw materials.”
“And if we don't have those raw materials?”
Smith knew the question was coming, but he dreaded it just the same. “I suppose we just do the best we can given the circumstances.” Neither man liked the sound of that.
Will returned with the Robot, and his sisters, in tow. “Found the Robot,” he announced as he approached. “How's mom?”
“She's doing okay,” the Professor answered.
Judy and Penny kneeled next to their father and their mother reassured them she was doing fine. Will handed Doctor Smith a handful of electrodes, which Smith placed on the table until they were needed.
“Gentlemen, it would be better if we relocated Mrs. Robinson to more comfortable surroundings. Please give me a hand getting her to a bed,” Smith requested.
The Professor waved the two men off, picked up his wife, and carried her to bed himself. The Major picked up the oxygen tank and carried it along after them. Smith grabbed his medical bag and the electrodes and followed closely after. “C'mon, ninny. Your assistance is required.”
Once Mrs. Robinson was settled in bed, Doctor Smith shooed everyone out of the cabin, except the Robot, and got to work attaching electrodes to his patient for the test.
The Professor paced back and forth across the deck while the others sat fidgeting at the dining table awaiting the results of Doctor Smith's testing.
Major West took the opportunity to address something that had been gnawing at him since this whole drama had begun.
“John, are you sure Smith knows what he's doing? Why should we put any faith in him?”
“Because he's the only medical doctor on this ship and he certainly seems to know what to do better than we do,” the Professor replied. “I would never have recognized her symptoms. Smith knew something was wrong, even before her heart attack.” He stopped pacing for a moment and walked over to the Major. In a low voice, he confided, “Before he started his tests, he assured me he would do everything within his power to help Maureen. It's not often I believe him, but I do now.”
The Major nodded and softened his stance. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay with it. We're all worried about her.”
Smith examined the long strip of paper as it streamed from the Robot. He looked over at Mrs. Robinson and smiled before returning his gaze to the EKG results.
“Alright, I think we have plenty of data to examine here,” Smith said as he tore off the long strip of paper and pushed one of the Robot's buttons. “Robot, I want you to continue to monitor and record Mrs. Robinson's heart rhythms… for the time being.”
“Affirmative,” the Robot replied.
“What does it say?” Mrs. Robinson inquired, lifting her head to try to get a look at the strip of paper.
“It confirms my suspicions, madame, that you've had a mild heart attack. Fortunately, the damage appears to be minimal.” He reached down to pat her hand. “You will be fine. However, I want you to rest for the time being. We'll start you on a low dose aspirin regimen. I'd like to run a few more tests before deciding whether or not to prescribe any more medication.”
Mrs. Robinson nodded. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it.
“Get some rest. I'll let you have visitors in an hour or two.” He stood to leave, but before doing so, gave the Robot further instructions. “Notify me immediately of any problems.”
“Affirmative,” came the Robot's reply.
As Smith left the cabin, the Professor pounced on him. “Well? What are the results? Is everything okay? Can I see her?”
The doctor smiled. “Professor, calm yourself. Mrs. Robinson is doing fine. The electrocardiogram confirms she had a mild myocardial infarction, but little damage was done to the heart. The prognosis is good, though I would like to run a few more tests. We're lucky we caught this in time.”
“You caught it in time,” the Professor corrected. “I had no idea there was something wrong. Thank you, doctor.” He held out his hand for a handshake.
Smith looked at the Professor's hand and hesitated a moment. Truth be told, Smith was reveling in the new found respect they were giving him, but somehow it seemed so foreign that he wasn't quite sure how to react. He shook the Professor's hand and suppressed a grunt of pain when the man clapped his hand on his shoulder.
“Can I go see her?” the Professor asked eagerly.
“In an hour,” Smith replied. “I want her to rest, have some peace and quiet for a bit.”
Everyone nodded in understanding.
Smith continued, “Mrs. Robinson's duties will have to be seriously curtailed for the next few weeks as she recovers. Please work out duty assignments amongst yourselves. I volunteer to cover the cooking, as my schedule allows.”
The Major couldn't help himself. “Smith volunteering for work twice in one day? Doc, bring your stethoscope over here. I think I might be having a coronary too.”
Smith rolled his eyes as the rest of the crew burst into laughter. “Funny, Major. I'll be sure to prepare something extra special for you for dinner this evening.”
The look on West's face caused a smirk to creep onto Smith's face. Everyone else tried in vain to suppress their laughter.
While the children got busy divvying up their mother's chores amongst themselves, Smith pulled the Professor aside to talk privately.
“Professor, do you recall when Mrs. Robinson first emerged from her freezing tube?” Smith asked.
“Yes,” the Professor nodded. He vividly recalled cradling his wife in his arms while Doctor Smith administered medical care. “Do you think this is related?”
“In a way. I'm not so certain now that it was a bad metabolic reaction to the freezing tube. I think it may have been another mild heart attack. I had no way of knowing at the time.” Smith's professional physician's demeanor cracked for a moment and a little emotion he had been holding at bay slipped through. His gaze left the Professor's face and seemed to stare off into the distance. He was mentally reviewing his patient's medical history, the care he gave her then, the physicals he performed at Alpha Control. “Maybe I missed something in her last physical.” He shook his head. “I can't be sure. I was working long hours then. I was fatigued. It's possible that…” Suddenly, he looked the Professor in the eye, a look of sincere apology on his face. “I promise you, Professor, if I had any inkling that something was physically wrong with Mrs. Robinson, I would never have cleared her for the mission.”
Smith, accustomed to blame being placed on his shoulders, shrank back, fully prepared for harsh words to follow, but they didn't. Instead, the Professor smiled. Smith ticked his head to one side and his brow furrowed slightly, confused at the reaction.
“Doctor, I don't think you missed anything back then and I don't think you could have predicted this. All that doesn't matter now. What matters is that you caught it in time. We were just fortunate enough to have a doctor on board who knew what to do when it inevitably happened.” The Professor's eyebrows raised slightly, “No matter how said doctor got here.”
Smith didn't know what to say, so he just nodded. He considered the Professor's words. Then the remembered the revelation from Dr. Chronos, the time merchant, and how fortunate the Robinsons were to have avoided destruction by an asteroid due to his added weight. Fortunate they had a doctor on board? Fortunate his weight threw them off course? Perhaps it wasn't fortune at all, he mused. He longed to return to Earth, but perhaps he was supposed to be here. He was needed. He had a purpose. He could accept that… for now.
Smith's thoughts were interrupted when Judy placed a hand on his arm. “Doctor Smith, would you like some help getting dinner ready?”
“Yes, my dear. I would love some help. Please, get started. I'll join you after I check on your mother.”
Their conversation over, the Professor and Major went to the upper deck to check that the systems were running properly. Truthfully, such work wasn't necessary at the moment, but they both wanted something to take their minds off of what had just happened.
A half hour later, the men returned to the delicious smell of a dinner that was almost ready. They sat down at the table with the children as Smith began preparing dishes for everyone.
“This looks wonderful, Doctor Smith,” the Professor complimented.
“It's amazing what you can do with freeze dried food,a few herbs and spices, and fresh vegetables,” the doctor replied. “I hope it's to your liking.”
Smith served Major West last. As he placed the plate in front of him, Smith commented, “As promised, Major, I added a little some special to your meal.” Smith suppressed a smirk. “Please, everyone, proceed without me. I must take Mrs. Robinson her meal.”
Everyone at the table dug into their meals heartily, except Major West. He watched everyone enjoying their food, then looked down with a grimace at his own. It looked appetizing enough, but he was concerned what Smith had put in it. Would it taste disgusting? Would it give him the trots? He wouldn't put anything past Smith, even at a time like this.
Smith returned and sat down at the table with his own plate, which was curiously not as full as usual. The doctor started eating, but after a few forkfuls, he looked up and noticed the Major wasn't.
“Major, you haven't touched your food. Is something wrong with it?”
“I don't know, Smith. You tell me,” he pushed the plate toward the doctor.
“Well, I hate to see good food go to waste,” Smith commented as he scraped the Major's meal onto his own plate. The Major watched with interest as Smith devoured the meal.
“You tricked me!” West realized. “There was nothing wrong with that food at all.”
“Of course there was nothing wrong with it. Whatever gave you that idea?” Smith answered.
The Major looked longingly at the pile of food he had just forfeit. “You said you were going to add something extra special to my meal.”
Smith smiled. “We had a tiny bit of fresh oregano left, only enough for one meal.” Smith took a healthy forkful of food. “Mmm, so flavorful. Would you like some?” Smith slid the plate towards the Major.
West looked at the plate, then up at Smith. “No thanks.”
“Suit yourself,” Smith replied. Before he shoved another forkful in his mouth, he added, “If you change your mind, there's a little extra in the galley.”
The Major eyed the doctor with suspicion. Maybe that was his game, get him to take the leftovers in the galley. He could never be sure what the wily doctor was up to. In the end, hunger won out and West decided to chance it. The food was perfectly fine, though Smith continued to prey on the Major's suspicions with a smirk here and a devious look there.
After dinner, Judy, Penny, and Will cleared the table while Smith checked on Mrs. Robinson again. He removed the oxygen mask from her face and stored it nearby in case it was needed again. He took the opportunity to draw a few vials of blood for testing.
Smith emerged from the cabin a few minutes later. He announced, “Professor, you may visit now.”
The Professor headed towards the cabin, followed by the rest of the family. Smith blocked their path. “One at a time. You'll get your chance when the Professor is through.”
Disappointed, but understanding the doctor's precautions, they returned to the table to wait. Smith occupied them with explaining what had happened and reassuring them Mrs. Robinson would be fine.
When the last of the children had left their mother's cabin, Smith returned to Mrs. Robinson's side.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better,” she replied. “How long before I can be up and about?”
“Not until you convince me you've made a full recovery,” Smith replied. “In a few weeks, I'd like to run a stress test.” Smith laid out his entire plan for her care and recovery as she listened quietly.
When Smith had finished, she attempted to sit up. Smith, not wanting her to strain herself, helped her get comfortable. Before he could remove his hand from her shoulder, she grasped it. “Thank you.”
“Any time, madame. If you ever need help getting comfortable, don't hesitate to call for me. I'll have the Robot stay right outside your door, just in case.”
“No,” she clarified, “I mean ‘thank you'… for everything. I don't know how things would have turned out if you weren't here. We're fortunate we have a doctor on board.”
“Yes,” Smith smiled. “It is fortunate, isn't it? Fortunate, indeed.”