Author: jespah PM
Their lives seemed perfect – or, at least, close enough. They were happy, and together. And then they were forced to do things that they didn't want to do – and then discovered that they did want to do them. How could they go back, and save what they had?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Adventure - J. Archer & M. Reed - Chapters: 11 - Words: 74,375 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 07-16-12 - Published: 05-07-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8094409
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Their lives seemed perfect – or, at least, close enough. They were happy, and together.
And then they were forced to do things that they didn't want to do – and then discovered that they did want to do them.
How could they go back, and save what they had?
Or would it be better to do something radically different?
How could they pick up the pieces and stay together after having done that?
A Star Trek Fan Fiction By
J. R. Gershen-Siegel
PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned
Some material may be not be appropriate
for children under 13
This is a fan written work
The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by
Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee, Pocket Books. Any attempt to sell or rent this book should be reported to the copyright owners for their action
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First pdf online edition 03/01/2011
Published for TrekUnited by
"My knees hurt."
"Well, you should sit down more."
"I told you, I can't whisk when I'm standing."
"Okay, but you're not whisking right now, right?"
"So, get back into bed and I'll rub your knees."
"Oh, c'mon, not that old ploy. I know what that's gonna turn into."
"And you object? C'mere," he patted her side of the bed.
"Okay. But, really. We gotta be up soon."
"There's, um," he leaned over to check, "almost a half an hour until the alarm goes off," he kissed her.
"'Ommy!" came a high-pitched call from the other room.
"That would be me," she said.
"Hurry back," he said.
It was a few minutes before she returned.
"Is Jeremiah okay?" he asked.
"Yes, just a diaper change. And, my God! Jeremiah. How the hell did you convince me it was all right to name him that! It's not only Biblical, it's severely Biblical. Call him Joss, it's easier on everyone."
"It was my father's name," he said.
"Yes, I know. Jeremiah Logan Beckett. Named for Jeremiah and Lena Hayes, your parents," she leaned over and kissed him, "At least this one will be named for mine. Peter Matthew, for Peter and Marie Helêne O'Day."
Kick Kick Kick.
"Ow!" she complained.
"Petey's very active," he said, and then kissed her huge belly, "Come back, we'll continue where we left off."
"Who knew pregnancy would be such a turn-on for you?" she said, getting back in and trying to get comfortable, but her massive bulk made that difficult.
"It is ... you need to understand, Lili," he said, kissing her neck, which made her moan a little, "I know how it all happened. How that baby got there. How you and me put him there. Very, very sexy."
"You! So we'll, uh, do math again?"
"That's all right," he conceded, "But I miss the intimacy of regular activities."
"You know Dr. Miva said we can't do that."
"I know. I also know what you and I did last time."
"Yeah, and it was really frustrating, Doug."
"Well, I will be careful. Really, really careful. Everything will be all right," he went back to kissing her neck and put his hand on her abdomen.
"I don't want to hurt Petey," she said, patting her belly. As if in response, she got another sharp kick.
"I felt that one, too," Doug said, "Now listen here," he said, pointing his finger into her midsection, "You are not being very kind to your hostess, Young Man. You need to lay off the kicking every once in a while, Pete."
"Fat lot o' good that did," she said, then kissed him.
"'Ommy!" came their son's voice from the other room.
"Why doesn't he ever call for me?" Doug asked.
"Because you're not the Mommy. It's all very Oedipal," Lili got up again, "I'm coming, Joss," she called out.
A minute later, she returned, "Not hungry, not wet. Just wanted company, I guess."
"He can hear us talking," Doug said, "So, let's stop talking so much," he kissed her.
This time it was harder for Lili to get comfortable, "Gawd, I'm the size of a planet. Pretty soon forks and spatulas will start revolving around me," she said, "And this is only the fourth month! What am I gonna do? This is all your fault, you know."
"Yes. That beach on Lafa VI – you were totally outta control."
"Me? It was a nude beach for gosh sakes."
"I didn't know that when I booked it. You were an animal. The Calafans were staring."
"That's 'cause they could hear you. You're not exactly a little mouse when you, uh, when you know. It must kill ya to keep quiet with Joss in the other room."
"I bite the pillow most of the time in order to keep quiet," she admitted, "Poor Pete's gonna come out, thinking pillowcases make for good eating."
He smiled at her, a little more crinkly around the eyes but otherwise looking the same as he did when they'd first met almost two years before, "Well, I like to make it so that you have to bite the pillow."
She smiled at him a little, "I just get afraid. Don't want to even take a chance of hurting this baby. Neither of us knew we could have one, let alone a second. He's a tremendous gift."
"I know," he said, "I will be as careful as when we put in the windows in this house. I swear."
"I'm gonna bite that pillow in half if you keep doing exactly what you're doing right now."
"Oh? Tell me more, Mrs. Beckett," he said, kissing her ear.
"Oh, yeah. Right ... there."
"Oh, man," she said, "Doug, Doug, Doug, listen, I, Gawd, can I get a rain check? I so want to. You don't know how much I want to."
He propped himself up on one elbow and checked the clock by peeking around her massive form, "Alarm's going off soon anyway," he sighed, "Rain check. I will come to collect, you know."
"Yes, I know," she said, bending around and kissing him, "And collect the interest, too, while you're at it."
"'Ommy! Duck Duck!"
Doug sighed again, "He just wants to be entertained."
"Yeah, I guess so. When Pete arrives, he'll have more entertainment."
"Once Petey gets big enough, I guess," Doug allowed, "Man, there are gonna be a lot more frustrating days like this, aren't there?"
"Yeah. I wish that wasn't the case," she said.
"Lili, I'll, uh, I'll go put on the coffee. Then I'd really better, erm, take a shower."
She smiled at him. "I, you don't have to."
"Don't act like it's this huge chore for me to put on the coffee. It's okay. And, uh, this is okay, too. I just miss you. I miss our, our immediacy."
"I miss that, too," Lili said, "Like crazy."
"Duck Duck!" came Joss's voice.
"So, are you gonna quack like a duck?" Doug asked.
"Yes, of course. Are you gonna honk like a goose?"
"Man, I'm terrible at that. You don't wanna hear me sing."
"Of course I do! You have such a sweet tenor voice."
"Will you do that little hootchie coo dance step when you sing about the swan?" he asked.
"Yes, although I don't feel like a swan. I feel like a whale."
"You are still a swan."
"My public awaits," she said, and went into the other room.
He could hear her singing to Joss, who was clapping but doing a lousy job of keeping time, just a toddler's irregular clapping:
"The duck was quackin'"(finger snap, finger snap)
"The duck was laughin'" (two more finger snaps)
"The duck was dancin' by the water Oh goose oh
quack quack quack
The rhythm made him think he oughta
quack quack quack
He was dancing to
the samba the samba the samba
The goose was gaining passing by"
Oh goose oh
"I feel stupid."
"He's a baby. He has no idea the lyrics are silly. Now, you are the goose. The goose has to honk!"
"I'm a gander."
"Yes, I know. Can you honk a little, please?"
"Okay. Honk, honk, honk," he sang.
She continued singing, "He stopped and gave the dance a try" "Honk, honk"
"Honk, honk"he answered.
She sang, "The bossa nova had him dancing Then a lovely swan swam by, in all her majesty,
The new thing. The new swing.
and she loosened up.
Hootchie-cootchie-coo did that swan.
She joined the duck and goose and did the samba too.
You should have seen the kind of samba she could do.
They did the samba so long, they all fell right in the water.
While they were singing away,
quack quack quack, quack quack quack
o pato, " T
Then a lovely swan swam by, in all her majesty,
And Doug Beckett knew – despite his mounting frustrations – that if Lili was singing, if Joss was clapping, if Petey was kicking, and if he was honking like a goose and feeling more than a little bit silly about that, that all was right, in this or any other universe.
On the Enterprise, Malcolm dictated:
"To: Doctor Pamela Hudson, in the care of the Charon Medical Center. My dear Pamela, I trust all is well with you and you are enjoying your new job. I have been well. I wanted to ask you, I have been invited to a wedding on the thirty-first of August, 2159. The wedding will be held on Oberon. I can bring a date, and so I was hoping that you would, that is to say, I would be honored if you were to accompany me. I hope that thirty days' notice is enough time for you to clear all obligations. The Enterprise is currently headed to Lafa II to pick up a former crew member who is going to cater the wedding. Her husband is teaching a hand to hand defense class in San Francisco and I will be assisting. If you'd like to come to Earth a few days before the thirty-first, you can see me in action if you'd like. I do miss you. As Ever, Malcolm"
My dear Pamela,
I trust all is well with you and you are enjoying your new job. I have been well.
I wanted to ask you, I have been invited to a wedding on the thirty-first of August, 2159. The wedding will be held on Oberon. I can bring a date, and so I was hoping that you would, that is to say, I would be honored if you were to accompany me. I hope that thirty days' notice is enough time for you to clear all obligations.
The Enterprise is currently headed to Lafa II to pick up a former crew member who is going to cater the wedding. Her husband is teaching a hand to hand defense class in San Francisco and I will be assisting. If you'd like to come to Earth a few days before the thirty-first, you can see me in action if you'd like.
I do miss you.
He paused for a moment and fingered a bright piece of cloth, "Post script: You left your green scarf with me the last time we were together. It still is a bit redolent of Toxic. Let me know if you'd like it back. "
He sniffed the scarf a little. It did still, faintly, smell of her perfume. He hit send.
On Lafa II, Lili left their home and went to work to tie up some loose ends.
It was like a mantra, a magical talisman, every time she went to Reversal, she'd reach up and touch the sign. This time was no exception. She smiled, "Our first baby," she said to herself quietly.
Treve was there, talking to a workman, "Ah, how are things going? Is my younger nephew quieting down at all?"
"Not one bit," she said, "I'm sorry we'll be leaving you for so long."
"No, this is a good time to do the expansion," he said, "And, um, there. Thanks," he said to the workman, pointing, his bare arm a mass of silver.
"Did you get the new oven?"
"Yes. And there's the place on Lafa VI. It should be close in climate to, what did you call it?"
"Mediterranean. Kind of subtropical," she said.
"Yes. Well, we can get some land for a good price. Growing human foods won't be easy, but it will be quite the coup if we can. My people really want to try, what did you call it?"
"Hummus," she said, "Your people have been so kind to us, Treve."
"Well, we are making friends with you humans, and I think people are seeing that you're, well, you're worthwhile people to be friends with," he smiled at her.
"How is your mother doing?"
"Better. She speaks a little now. Amazing what doctors can do. I don't know if she has quite figured out that Father had something to do with her condition. I think the only reason they stay married is because, well, the First Minister can never leave the High Priestess. It's just not done," he said.
"I get the feeling, when she's stronger, your mother may very well decide she wants out, regardless of protocol. I can't imagine living in such a state," Lili said, and then changed the subject, "Please convey our thanks to her for sparing your sister for so long. She is the best babysitter I could have ever asked for."
"Well, Yimar loves Joss. You'll be gone for over a month, though."
"Do you think business will really suffer?"
"Can't say it won't fall off at all," he admitted, "I'll see if I can use the time to build anticipation for the return of the great Lili and her Roast Elekai with Olowa."
Kick Kick."My biggest critic," she said, looking down, "You can't tell me too many wonderful things or I get kicked – reminded that I should be down to earth, I guess."
"A wise child."
Jonathan sat in his chair on the Bridge. Behind stood Security Crewman Deborah Haddon, making sure everything was okay.
"Now approaching Lafa II," Travis said, looking up from his controls.
"Take us in closer," Jonathan said, "Ensign Sato, Lieutenant Reed, you're with me. See you all later," The three of them departed.
Chip Masterson and Aidan MacKenzie came in to relieve them. T'Pol got into the Captain's chair as the ship approached the planet.
In the shuttle bay, Tripp Tucker handed a box to Jennifer Crossman, "Be careful with that, it's the gift from our department."
"Yes, I know," she said.
"The guy on the Andorian home world said those are the best knives they make. I hope she's okay usin' 'em. Maybe she just wants to use her own stuff," he said.
"I think these will be fine," Jennifer said.
Crewman Melissa Madden came in, "I've got the gift from Navigation," she said. It was a lot smaller, "We weren't sure what to get so we got them candlesticks. Kind of a fall-back present but most of us didn't really know them that well. We're getting you something different for your wedding, Jenny."
"That's okay," Jennifer said, taking the smaller box, "I still can't believe I'll be married in a month."
Jonathan, Hoshi and Malcolm walked in, "Here, let me help you, Ensign," said Malcolm. He had an envelope tucked under one arm already and a medium-sized box in both hands.
The presents were loaded into the shuttle, "Okay, have we got everyone, and everything?" Jonathan asked.
"That looks like it," Tripp said, closing the door. He turned to Melissa as they watched the shuttle depart, "I bet they're havin' something really gourmet tonight."
"It might just be chicken fingers with a little kid running around," she said.
"Can you help Joss set the table, please?" Lili asked.
"Yes, just a sec," Doug brought over a chair, "Seven, right?"
"Plus the high chair."
"Got it. He'll sit next to Yimar. Okay, Joss, everybody gets a spoon. Not just Mommy."
"Are we too early?" It was Jonathan.
"No, no, oh, Gawd, it's great to see you!" Lili wiped away a quick tear and hugged him. This was not something he was expecting, nor was he expecting her bulk.
She hugged everyone, hard, a little teary. Doug hung back more, and Joss held his leg.
"Sorry," she said, wiping her face with the end of her apron, "I'm a big hormone cocktail these days."
"Wow, look at you!" Jennifer said, "You sure you're not gonna just drop any second?"
"I am sure. I'm due in January, can you believe that?" She found Joss and bent over to talk to him, "Come meet Uncle Jonathan, Aunt Jenny, Aunt Hoshi and Uncle Malcolm."
"No!" Joss said.
"Huh, we are still working on using that magical word. Okay, now, I know there are a lot of people here but we go over and we say hi when we meet people. Okay? You wanna try that again?"
This time, he came over with her.
"Your son is a year old?" Malcolm asked, "He looks like he's about three, I'd say."
"We grow them big here. He'll be one in a little over a month," Doug said proudly.
"September. When?" Malcolm asked.
"Second," Doug replied.
"Ah, that's my birthday as well," Reed said.
"Well, then I'll have to make a cake for the both of you," Lili said, "We'll still be on the Enterprise. I hope you don't mind a big shuttle on it, done in frosting."
"No, of course not."
"Pineapple, right?" Lili asked.
"Yes," Malcolm smiled, pleased she'd remembered.
Yimar came in, and Joss immediately went over to hug her, nearly knocking her over in the process, "Um, hello," she said, a shy sixteen-year old with silver arms. She busied Joss with her bracelet and then went to help Lili in the kitchen.
"We brought you your wedding gifts, a year and a half late," Hoshi said.
"And we've also got a little something for the little ones," Jonathan said, presenting a largish box.
"Can he, uh, is it anything too delicate?" Doug asked.
"There's nothing breakable or with small parts."
"Good. Here, Joss. Tear this one open," Doug brought the box to his son.
Joss's bluish-greenish-greyish eyes widened in wonder as he revealed the box's contents, "Wha–?"
"It's a sled," Doug said, "It doesn't snow on Lafa II, except on Point Abic."
"It's not gonna start a war or anything if they sled, is it?" Hoshi asked.
"I don't think so," Doug said, "Yimar, do your people mind if anyone walks on the snow on Point Abic?"
"What?" she asked, coming out, "I don't think that's ever been thought of. Oh, and, uh, dinner is served. Hope everyone's hungry."
Lili came out and was about ready to serve when Doug caught her eye, "I'll, um, I've been struggling to not do too much these days," she said, "So I'll sit with all of you."
Jonathan pulled out a chair for her, and then sat across from her, "I hope you don't think you need to cook for the Enterprise while you're with us."
"Well, I'd like to do a little," she said, "Long as it doesn't turn into a busman's holiday for me. Ah, Yimar, let's have soup first, please."
They sat down, "This is wild mushroom soup. It's made from some of the last of our supplies," she admitted.
"Good thing we brought what we did. My department's present is some things we hope will remind you of home," Malcolm said.
"Wonderful. And nobody had to get us anything. We're an old married couple. It's Jenny who's the bride now," Lili said.
"Well, we weren't here when you tied the knot," Jenny said.
"It was a shotgun wedding," Lili said, "'Cause you," she poked Joss in the ribs a little, "were already marinating."
"It was such a chore," Doug joked, "She really had to twist my arm."
"I convinced you because I appealed to your sense of efficiency."
"Efficiency?" Malcolm asked.
"They got married on Valentines' Day," Hoshi said, "Two holidays in one day."
"That's rather romantic, I suppose," Malcolm said.
"It was practical. Now he only has to worry about forgetting one day," Lili said, "Salads, please."
Yimar and Doug served.
"What is this?" Jenny asked, looking at strips of different shades of purple on her plate.
"That is an olowa. Or, rather, it's bits of a bunch of them. It's a vegetable that grows on Lafa IV. Now, the interesting thing about olowa is, as it matures, it petrifies and turns to stone. It also lightens from deep purple to, eventually, kind of an ash grey. You can't eat it then; you'll break a tooth. So what you've got here is a salad made from olowa at different stages of maturity. If anything feels too hard, all I can say is, don't eat it. I won't be offended," Lili said.
"It tastes a little like, hmm, like peanuts," Malcolm said.
"No, I've got some that's spicy," Jennifer said.
"Mine's like pears," Hoshi said.
"All of that's true. It depends on how old it is," Doug said, "It starts off kind of sweet, and then gets spicy, then it gets a bit fattier and then it's suddenly inedible one day."
"Is there any dressing on this?" Jonathan asked.
"None," Lili said.
"What's dressing?" Yimar asked.
"It's a kind of sauce for raw greens," Lili said.
"Hmmpf," Yimar replied, "Here, Joss, one more bite," she coaxed.
Jenny leaned over and whispered to Lili, "You lucked out. She's good with him."
"Yes. She's terrific. And she's not as moody as a human teenager," she raised her voice back up to normal volume again, "Main course, please."
It was a huge roast.
"Oh my God," Jonathan said, "How many people did you think you were feeding?"
"We have a big freezer," Doug said, "Uh, Lili, this really is too much."
"You'd think I'd have the proportions right by now. I'm past the 'all I want to do is eat everything in sight' phase of my pregnancy. Anyway, uh, like Doug said, don't worry about leftovers. This is," Lili took some for Joss's plate and starting cutting it into smaller pieces, "an elekai. Or, rather, it's most of the upper half."
"It's a big flightless bird," Doug explained.
"What he's not telling you is he hunted it himself," Lili said.
"Not by myself. I went with the guys. There were nine of us who brought it down."
"It must be really big," Hoshi said, tasting her food, "It tastes like chicken."
Lili smiled, "The upper half, yes. The legs taste like duck."
"That was something you said once you made a lot of. Duck, that is," Malcolm said.
"Duck Duck!" Joss called out.
"Not now," Doug said to his son.
"You, uh, huh, that was a small thing to remember for a few years," Lili said, smiling.
"Duck Duck!" called Joss again.
"He might have had enough dinner. Can you, please, Yimar?" Lili asked.
"Sure. C'mon, let's look at the sled," Yimar said, lifting Joss out of the high chair.
Clearing the plates, Hoshi and Jenny got a chance to talk to Lili, "You seem really happy," Jenny said.
"I am. I'm just a little frustrated."
"Oh?" Hoshi asked.
"Well, the super-male makes super babies, as you can see," Lili patted her belly, "But with, um, our little duck running around, there are not a lot of occasions to, uh ..."
"Say no more. We'll babysit. Won't we, Hoshi?"
"I dunno. Doesn't the girl, uh, Yimar? Doesn't she do that?"
"Not at night," Lili said, "And, you do not have to."
"It's okay. Practice for me," Jenny said, "Maybe we can take Joss up to the big Enterprise tonight and show him all the neat things and he'll feel like a really big boy. And you'll come up tomorrow like you planned. Travis can come and get you, right?"
"Or Melissa Madden," Hoshi suggested.
"I don't know her," Lili said, "Did she come on board after I left?"
"Yes, I think so," Hoshi said, "Will Joss be scared, away from you for a night?"
"He already has been a few times," Lili said, "Really, are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes. A baby gift, okay?" Jenny said.
In the other room, the men talked about hunting and the class that Doug and Malcolm were going to teach, "The combination, we need to work on that," Doug said, "Ah, coffee."
"And we've got tea. And milk for somebody," Lili said waddling in slowly as Hoshi carried the tray.
Jenny said, "Doug, do you mind if we borrow Joss tonight? Actually, I guess I should be asking you this as well, Captain."
"All right with me if it's all right with you," Jonathan said.
"Uh, hmm," Doug thought, and then looked at Lili, who nodded very, very slightly in the direction of their bedroom, "That'll be great. He's all packed anyway. I'll just, remind me to make sure you have his dinosaur."
"We do not sleep without the dinosaur," Lili explained.
"Well, I suppose if I had a dinosaur, I'd sleep better, too," Hoshi said.
In one man's mind, a switch was flipped, and something turned.
And though it was wrong, and hopeless, he couldn't help it. That old feeling. It came roaring back, and he was powerless to stop it.
They waved as the shuttle left. Dishes in the sanitizer, Doug turned to Lili, "So, whaddaya wanna do?"
"Actually, if you don't mind, open presents. You okay with waiting a little bit?"
"Only a little bit."
"Well, I feel a little like a bride all over again. And this time without morning sickness."
"That is definitely an improvement," Doug said, "I'll hand over, you tear wrapping," he handed her the biggest box.
"Hmm, this is from Engineering," Lili ripped, "Ah, it's a set of knives. These are good, titanium blades."
"I better be nice to you, then."
"Nothing to worry about," she smiled. She took a little necklace out from where it had been tucked into her blouse and looked at the charm on it, "Pity I can't wear my ring these days."
"Well, it's not fitting. Don't want to cut off your circulation."
"You always keep yours on," she said.
"Yes, I never want to take it off."
"Yeah, but you even wear it during diaper changes," she said.
"I wash my hands well," he assured her, "Okay, this is from Navigation," he said, handing the box over.
"Hmm, it's candlesticks. Not exactly our style, but okay," Lili said.
"Well, they probably had to guess. Here's an envelope."
"Ah, hmm. This is from Security. Your side of the family," she said, "A gift card, see?"
"Oh, it's that place in San Francisco. Wow, that's really generous," Doug commented, "This one's from Archer."
"A linen tablecloth," Lili said, "This is really nice. We won't put it down if we, er, use the table for, ahem, unconventional purposes," she smiled at Doug wickedly.
"Ah yes, I remember those."
"Back before I weighed about a thousand kilos."
Kick Kick Kick.
"What's that one?" asked Lili, "No, the smaller one."
"It's from Communications. Here."
"Hmm. It's a book. Jane Eyre," Lili read off the spine, and then cracked it open, "Have you read it?"
"Nope. I'm not so sure it exists on the other side of the pond."
"Ah, yes, that distorted mirror you called a universe for so long," she said.
"It was bad and it was nasty but it was how we met," he leaned over and kissed her.
"There's an inscription. It says, 'One good love story deserves another. – Hoshi and Chandler.' Who's Chandler?"
"That's Chip Masterson's real name? Holy cow."
"Is that a bookmark?" asked Doug.
"Yeah, but it's also one of those things where you can scan it with a PADD and it passes data. Here, hand me yours, please."
"Lots of other books, mostly about movies. I guess those were heh, Chandler's contribution. 'Film Criticisms throughout the Years'," she read, "Critiques from Rex Reed, Pauline Kael, Roger Ebert, etc.," she clicked around randomly and then laughed.
"What's so funny?"
"Here's one that just says, 'Clint sings like a moose.'"
"Oh, c'mon, it doesn't say that, Lili!"
"Yes it does! Here, under 'Paint Your Wagon'," she showed him.
"Well, I'll be damned. One left," he handed her the box.
"Hmm, it says Marks & Spencer on the side. That's British. This must be from Tactical. Your side."
"You open it. You're the blushing bride."
"Okay, hmm," The box was heavy, and filled with all sorts of cans and jars, some of which were wrapped in blue cloth, "Some of it is wrapped up, and some of it isn't."
"Okay, what's not wrapped?"
"Here, uh, cheddar cheese, a bag of mixed nuts," the bag crinkled a little when she lifted it, "a box of orzo and basmati rice and a small tube of curry paste."
"What are the canisters?"
"Oh, it's a kitchen canister set. Heavy," she opened one, "They're filled! Look, flour, sugar, whole bean coffee and loose leaf tea," she sniffed, "English breakfast, I think."
"What are the wrapped ones?" he asked, taking each canister from her.
She unwrapped one, "Hmm. It's a tin of kosher sausages. Little card says this one is from Ethan Shapiro," she unwrapped another, "It's a jar of chestnuts, from, uh, Karin Bernstein," Next one, "Fortnum and Mason jam, blueberry. From, uh, Lucas Donnelly."
"Yeah. Uh, you know him?"
"Yeah," Doug looked down, "Number one from the other side of the pond."
"Oh," Lili said, "Not the same guy, right?"
"I suppose you're right," Doug said. He didn't want to kill her mood, or blow his chances for later. But Lucas Donnelly was, well, his counterpart in the mirror universe was known to Doug – as the first man Doug had ever killed.
"Okay, ready for bed, Joss?" Jennifer asked.
"We already read two," she said.
"Whatever Duck Duck is, it'll have to wait for tomorrow."
"No. Here's your dinosaur. Time to sleep," she bent over him.
He touched her, "Milk?"
"Ha, no. The kitchen's not open yet. And you will be too old for that by then. I thought your Mommy said you were weaned."
"Yes, she'll be here tomorrow, with Daddy. Say good night."
"Jenn. Uh, that's okay," she crawled into bed with him and put her arms around him. Joss squirmed a little bit, but settled in soon. She smiled to herself and fell asleep, dreaming of having her own someday.
"Moving along, yes?" Lili asked.
"Yes," Doug said, "The blue cloths, how many do you have?"
"Eight. Two more to unwrap. Ha, I just realized, these are cloth napkins," she smiled, "Okay, hmm, this one is Scottish Steel-Cut Oats."
"That's gotta be from MacKenzie."
"Right you are, sir. One more. It must be from Reed," she opened it. It was a small can of pineapple rings, "Yep, these are from Malcolm."
"He must've packed that whole box himself. It's very British-centric."
"Nah. I bet he just flirted with some shopgirl at Marks & Spencer and had her do most of it," she looked at the bottom of the box, "There's an old fashioned card."
"It says, 'We don't know if you can make one meal out of all of these things at the same time, but we'd like to see you try, and we will eat it no matter what it tastes like. Congratulations from the Tactical Department'. And then they all signed their names, see?"
"Excellent. Now that that's done..."
"Yes!" she cried out.
"No, not that yet. There's one more thing. I shoulda cleared this with you first, Lili."
"It's nothing alarming. At least I don't think it is. I wrote to Laura."
Melissa Madden piloted the Enterprise in a meandering course around the Lafa System. There were lots of stars and planets to duck, lots of movement and ships. It was an interesting challenge.
"Crewman Madden," T'Pol said, "Are you aware that you'll be picking up the Becketts tomorrow?"
The course continued figure eight upon figure eight around and around.
"Laura as in Laura Hayes? As in Jay's sister?"
"Yes. My counterpart's sister. Here," he brought the letter up on his PADD.
Lili read it aloud.
"Dear Ms. Hayes: My name is Doug Beckett. I know you don't know me, but we are related. I don't want anything from you, I just want to introduce myself to you, if that's okay, and have you meet my family. I will be on Earth on August twenty-eighth, in San Francisco. I will send you the particulars if you are interested. I recognize this probably looks really strange but all I want to do is introduce myself. Please feel free to suggest any place where you would prefer to meet if Starfleet Headquarters is not acceptable to you. Thank you. Sincerely, Lt. Cmdr. (Retd.) Douglas J. H. Beckett"
My name is Doug Beckett. I know you don't know me, but we are related. I don't want anything from you, I just want to introduce myself to you, if that's okay, and have you meet my family. I will be on Earth on August twenty-eighth, in San Francisco. I will send you the particulars if you are interested. I recognize this probably looks really strange but all I want to do is introduce myself. Please feel free to suggest any place where you would prefer to meet if Starfleet Headquarters is not acceptable to you. Thank you.
Lt. Cmdr. (Retd.) Douglas J. H. Beckett"She paused.
"Well?" he asked.
"It's perfect," she smiled.
"Good. That's been, that's been worrying me a little. I really want to do that. I think she should know that, well that Major Jay Hayes may not be alive, but his counterpart is."
"He is very much alive," Lili said, kissing him and nodding a tiny bit towards their room.
"Let me show you how alive I am," he said, getting up and helping her up.
Kick Kick Kick.
The kissed and moved into the bedroom. She smiled at him, "You're already ready to get started."
"Uh huh, I thought that box from Tactical would take forever! C'mere," he stared at her and then appraised her, "A little different from when I first saw you."
"I would imagine so."
"It's all good. Sit down; let me take care of you."
"Oh, twist my arm," she said, holding her hand out. He gently turned her wrist slightly and she laughed, and then sat down.
"Here, now, back up a little. Yeah, that's it."
"Didn't I tell you? I'm as into this as you are. But, uh, you'll be careful, right?"
"Absolutely. I love you, and I love Number Two Son. And I won't do anything to hurt either of you."
"Good thing Number One Son is flying high above our heads right now. I'd rather not be explaining this to him for a few more years."
"Better be soon, Lili. The first time I saw a girl naked, I was four years old."
"Yep. She was, uh, also four. Kathy Norris. The ole - you show me yours, I'll show you mine."
"So show me yours. I'm already showing you mine," she said.
He rolled over to her side.
She shook her head, shaking off cobwebs a little, "Huh," she breathed, "That was less, uh, frustrating that time," she got up.
"Where are you going?"
"Just to the bathroom. You forget I live in there now," she said.
And, again, although he had been so very, very careful, he saw it – a spot of blood on the sheet, "Lili," he called out, trying to hide the alarm he was feeling, "Can you get dressed?"
"Uh, why?" she asked, coming back in.
"That," he pointed to the incriminating stain, "I'll get the car and call Miva."
She got dressed as quickly as she could, "Damn. Petey, I, Gawd, please be all right."
The ride to Dr. Miva's was fast, breaking about every Calafan traffic law there was.
Miva was a middle-aged Calafan woman, arms a mass of silvery scrollwork. She was yawning and stretching when they arrived, "How bad is it?" she asked.
"It wasn't much," Doug said.
"Yeah. No real change, I don't think," Lili said.
"Here, let's do the examination," Miva said.
The pelvic exam was thorough, and Miva spread some of the blood on some slides, "Now lay back," she said to Lili, "Let me check these. That will take a minute or so," she left Lili and Doug alone.
"We never should have done that," Lili said, hand on her belly, shaking a little. It was finally sinking in.
"No. I, God, I guess not," Doug said, taking her hand, "It'll, um, it'll be all right."
Lili just stared into space.
Miva returned, "I checked, and none of the blood is the baby's. It's all yours. You have a fresh abrasion on your cervix. Now, I can guess how you got it or you can tell me."
"It's obvious, right?" Doug asked, "We, uh, I, uh, I went too far."
"Right," Miva said, "Allow me to explain what is going on here, although we all know what is happening. I just feel it might help to get the message across to you both," she sighed, "Your endowment is greater than most human males. Your wife is the same size or smaller than most human females, despite having had one child already. In order to accommodate your dimensions, your wife has had an operation to clear space. Otherwise, your parts do not fit, and you can injure her – which has happened in the past. For both of her pregnancies, I have reversed the operation so that your children could develop properly. You were all right with Jeremiah, and you waited. Why are you unable to wait when it comes to your second child?"
"Actually, we didn't wait last time, either," Lili confessed, "But, uh, this didn't happen. We were okay. We, uh, only did it once then. I'm sorry."
"Look, it's not me you need to apologize to. Or to anyone, for now. But you can cause a great deal of damage to the developing fetus if the uterus or the placenta is punctured. And those are very real possibilities," Miva said, "The placenta is very large. Understand that you have gained more weight than human females are supposed to gain at four months' gestation. But that is mostly placenta. The weight gain has now mostly stopped and, instead, the proportions will change, and you'll go from perhaps five percent fetus and ninety-five percent placenta to more of a balance. And at that point, you'll have another Cesarean. But that is a good five months away. You cannot attempt this again. It is too risky to your child."
"It's all my fault," Doug said, "I pushed her."
"No, I wanted to," Lili said, "Doctor, isn't there anything that we can do?"
"I had thought that other stimulus would be sufficient, but apparently it is not," Miva said, "You can also use directed dreaming. As you are aware, it is possible for you both to have dreams that are richer, deeper and more meaningful than standard human dreams."
"I don't wanna do that," Doug said, "It's not real. Lili is here, and real. I don't have to fall asleep in order to be able to touch her. Not anymore."
"That may be so," said Miva, "But given her condition – and the complications with this pregnancy – that may be your best option. Many of my patients in similar circumstances can have rather satisfying experiences this way."
"But that's what you do," Doug said, "You all dream, you all meet your dream lovers and have your dreamy affairs with people in the other universe, and it's all dandy for you. But it isn't for me. We have different values. We just, I just, I can't do it."
"Your relations would still be with your wife. You have been with us for a long time and you keep a bit of amplifier metal on you at all times anyway," Miva explained.
"Yes. Those rings you wear. A very human tradition – we don't do that. It seems a bit possessive, like the last name thing, or having a last name at all. I don't quite get it but that's what you humans do."
"Well, I just can't get and accept what you Calafans do," Doug said.
"We could try at least once," Lili said, "You know we can have really good dreams together."
"I know we can. But, like I said, it's not real. And you! Would you be pregnant in these dreams, or not?"
"I guess it would be as the occasion required," she said.
"I'm sorry, I just can't," Doug said, "I can't go back to that when we've moved so far forward in the past two years. I'll just have to stay away," he muttered, "I'm sorry, Lili."