As the last tourist left her, Iowa leaned against the dock, sighing tiredly. It'd been a long day, directing people all around and trying to keep them from getting lost. Sometimes she wondered how Missouri did it, putting up with such a following. Well, she probably had worse anyway. Her youngest sister was the most famous battleship of all time. Iowa closed her eyes, trying to alleviate the throbbing pain in her head. No such luck. Canfield, a former crewman, stepped down the gankplank. "Another bowache?" He asked. She nodded. He sighed. "That's the third time this week, Iowa. Maybe we should bring someone in to look at you." He said. "It's not that bad." She replied, stifling a cough. She felt his hands press against her bow. "You're a bit warm." He said and pulled out his phone. "Oh please no." She whined. "Afraid?" He teased. She scoffed. "Never!" She retorted. "But I told you, I'm fine!" She shivered, unable to hide a coughing fit. "Mmm hmm. Yeah, I can see that." Canfield said sarcastically. She glared at him but used to her crankiness, he ignored her. She huffed crossly, and rested her head on the dock, waiting for the Ship's Doctor to arrive.
Dr. Banfield did 15 minutes later. "Let's just get this over with." Iowa sighed. She wasn't happy he was here but she knew that she wasn't alright and hoped he could tell her what was wrong. He pressed a stethoscope to her chest. "Breathe deep for me Iowa." He ordered. Iowa did as she was told. It wasn't that she disliked Doctors. She was subjected to hundreds of checkups during her time in the navy, she just got annoyed with them after a while. She shivered at the cold feel of the instrument against her hull. After a few minutes, Dr. Banfield had his diagnosis. "Nothing more than a common cold virus. Have her take it easy for a few days, get plenty of rest, she'll be fine." He reported. "Mmm, that's good to hear." Iowa murmured, the sneezed loudly. "Well, bless you!" Canfield exclaimed. "Ugh." Iowa grumbled. Canfield grimaced. "Uh Iowa, come here." He ordered. "I've got snot on my nose don't I?" She asked. "Yeah. Now hold still." He ordered. Using a tissue, he wiped the glob of green goo off her snout. She giggled. "Years ago, I would've just stuck my head underwater." She said. "Now you're pampered like a princess." Canfield finished. "DON'T let it go to your head missy." She rolled her eyes. "As if." She replied.
A bus pulled up. "That's right, the youth group." Iowa murmured. "It's okay to let them on. The cold virus I've got won't recognize their immune systems as compatible. It's only contagious to other ships." "But you need rest." Canfield growled. "I don't need to watch the kids to make sure they stay in line. That's your job." She retorted. "Thanks a lot." He grumbled and went to meet the students. "Alright file off one by one." Their chaperone ordered. Her name tag identified her as Sherri. Once lined up by the bus, Canfield faced them. "Alright, now all of you will be spending the night aboard the USS Iowa. I will take you to your bunks and you will stow your gear. There will be a few activities, a few songs, then its bedtime. In the morning, I'll take you all on a tour." They murmured their assent. "One more thing!" Canfield added before chattering could start. "I'm presuming you all still have the sight, correct?" He asked. They all nodded. "Sherri, do you?" He asked their chaperone. The woman shook her head sadly. "I lost it at age 19. I'm beginning to regret that." She replied. "I see. Well, not only is Iowa old, she is not feeling well at the moment so I want you all to be respectful of that. If she tells you to be quiet, you be quiet. Are we clear?" Canfield asked. They all nodded and Canfield led them up the gangway. Iowa's watchful gaze bore on each of them as they boarded, as if daring them to cause trouble. Several met her gaze and nodded respectfully to her before continuing on.
It was about an hour and a half before the group had completed their few evening activities and were sent to their bunks before being awoke at 07:00 tomorrow morning. Iowa was looking forward to actually getting some sleep. She rested her head down on the dock, her eyes closing. She was half asleep when she heard little feet shuffling along her deck. "I-Iowa..." A timid female voice asked. "Hmm, what?" Iowa grumbled. "Sorry to bother you but I..." The girl began. Iowa yawned and raised her head up. The girl standing on her deck looked to be in 5th grade, maybe younger. She was in her nightgown and holding a stuffed pink teddy bear. "Let me guess, nightmare?" Iowa asked. "How did you know?" The girl asked. "Because when I was your age, I had the same problem. It's nothing to be ashamed up. Everyone has bad dreams." Iowa assured her. "Well mine was really bad!" She whimpered. "Oh, and what was it about?" Iowa asked. "Aliens came in and killed everyone." She replied. "Aliens eh? Well let me tell you something about aliens. 2 years ago, aliens came in over Hawaii, and my little sister fought them off." Iowa said. "She did?" The girl asked. "She did." Iowa confirmed. "So if you dream about aliens again, just imagine a big bad Iowa-class battleship there to fight them off, alright." "Alright." The girl grinned, much happier. "What's your name kiddo?" Iowa asked. "Brianna." She replied. "Brianna, don't you think you should head back to bed now?" Iowa asked. "I can't go back to sleep now!" She whined. Iowa smiled. "Well, you're always welcome to stay out here." She replied. Brianna grinned, leaping down the gangplank. "Thanks Iowa!" She squealed happily. Iowa rested her head back down on the dock. "Just keep quiet alright?" She asked. "I do hope to get some sleep myself." "I will." Brianna promised, settling down against the battleship's hull. "Iowa?" She asked. "Yes?" The battleship asked. "You're really nice." Brianna replied. "Well I try to be." Iowa chuckled, settling down to sleep. "And Iowa?" Brianna asked. "Hmm?" "Thanks." Brianna grinned. "You're welcome kiddo." Iowa murmured sleepily. Brianna curled up next to her, her warmth soothing the young human and soon both found themselves fast asleep.
In the morning, Canfield couldn't find Brianna at her bunk. He left the ship in search for her, finding her laying across Iowa's bow, both ship and girl still fast asleep. He smiled and quietly walked over. "Brianna?" He murmured. "Hmm." She stirred. "It's 7:00. The others are waiting." Canfield murmured. "Oh!" She yawned and stretched, climbing off the still sleeping Iowa. "Quietly now, we don't want to wake her." Canfield ordered. She nodded and followed him back on board. "She let me stay with her." She said to Canfield. "Yes, she'll do that sometimes. She may be a museum now but she's still Big Mamma to all her little human kids." He chuckled. "Was she a mamma to you?" Brianna asked. "Mother, girlfriend, mistress, wife... She was everything to us sailors." Canfield replied. "Everything and so much more." He stroked the nearest bulkhead with affection.
The group had breakfast, then got dressed and showered. By 9:00 Iowa herself was wide awake. She still felt crappy but the night's rest had done her some good. "Alright group..." Iowa winced at the grating sound of her voice, clearing her throat before trying again. "Alright group, today you'll be taking a tour of the engineering spaces and the gun turrets. I advice you to be gentle for the engineering space, particularly the engine rooms are the equivalent of, how should I say it, sensitive parts. So DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!" She growled. They agreed though a few of the older boys had a mischievous glint in their eyes that Iowa knew all too well. So it was no surprise to her when a few minutes later she felt the odd sensation of someone's hands up her turbine shaft. "Oy!" She hissed. "What did I tell you?" "That did not have the desired affect I was looking for." One of the boys grumbled. Iowa snorted. "If you're looking to seduce a girl, go pinch the butts of your own species but stay away from my privates!" She growled. They reluctantly agreed and there were no more issues.
Canfield led the group off the ship and onto the pier. "Now this is the part where I'll let you pet Iowa. I would advice you to treat her as you would one of your own pets. Do not stick your hands inside her mouth or her nose or any sensitive area on her face, understood?" He asked. They all agreed and one by one they stepped forward. Iowa, like most any ship handled by people, loved attention when she could get it and kids were by far her favorite. They knew all the right places to touch. Brianna was the last one to come forward. "Thank you Iowa, for last night. I really appreciate it." She said. "Ah shucks!" Iowa mumbled, ducking her head shyly. "You kids need so much attention nowadays." She laughed, giving the battleship a gentle scratch behind her ears. "After all these years, you're still the Big Mamma." She said. "Well someone's got to keep those rowdy boys in line." Iowa replied. "I heard that!" Canfield grumbled. Iowa ignored him.
The kids soon packed their stuff up, and got on the bus, prepared to leave. "I live not far from here, I walk by here every day on my way to school. I could come see you." Brianna said. Iowa smiled. "I'd like that." She said. "And don't let any bullies get you down and if they do, I'll sort them out for ya." She growled. Brianna laughed. "Thanks old girl." She replied, giving Iowa's nose one last pat before joining her classmates on the bus. Canfield stood beside Iowa as they drove away. "What?" Iowa asked him. "You, many would think ships could be their own mothers by the way you act." He replied. "And do you have a problem with that?" She asked. "No." He replied. "That's what I thought." She grunted. "Now, we have a few hours until the first tour group arrives and I suggest during that time, you take a nap." He ordered. "You're not my mother." She growled. "No, but I am responsible for your welfare and that makes me as good as your "mother". Now shut your bow, close your eyes, and rest, Iowa." He replied. She glared at him but yawning, did as she was told. "Hmm, I must be getting old." She murmured. "Kids didn't used to tire me out this much." He laughed. "Just rest Iowa, you'll feel better soon." He replied. Iowa never gave him a response. She was asleep before he'd finished uttering his sentence. He smiled fondly, resting a hand over her nose. "Sleep well, mother." He whispered and gave her a soft kiss before returning to work.