I never meant to fall in love.

They walked in every day. Fresh new recruits, young men clad in crisply pressed uniforms, strutting through the door of the bar with the swagger of someone over-confident. But upon inspection of their faces, their nervous young eyes, you could tell that they weren't as cocky as they seemed. Well, most of them.

Somehow though, this young man was different. Firstly, he was without the swagger as he stepped in the door. That was the first thing that attracted my attention. Secondly, after I had stolen a look at his face, I was surprised to see that he was without that customary aura of nervousness. This man was confident of himself, I could see that.

Meanwhile, he sat down at a nearby table, then signalling my attention with a wave of his hand. I quickly turned my gaze away, hoping that my cheeks would not turn red. I hurriedly headed over and asked him what he wanted.

He looked up at me then, and I was startled to see bright, sky blue eyes. They twinkled at me, just as he offered a glowing grin. A moment passed, but it seemed to last forever, as I was lost in those bottomless eyes.

He laughed softly then, and spoke in a deep Southern accent: "Are ya okay?"

I quickly blinked, and realized that he had already stated his order. Get a hold of yourself, Ruby! I said, scolding myself mentally. Aloud, I responded.

"Sorry. Could you repeat that?"

He smiled again, and repeated his order, a beer. I quickly wrote it down, although I could have easily just remembered it. Around him though, I wasn't sure that I would.

I brought him his drink, and he finished it quietly by himself, gazing out one of the windows of the bar. I watched discreetly from the counter.

Minutes passed, and he finished his drink. Leaving a tip on the table, and also a small piece of paper, he walked out. After I was sure he was gone, I walked over, picking up the tip and reading the paper curiously. Just a single word was written there.

Charlie.

That was our first meeting, and certainly not our last. I would see him many times over the years, sharing drinks and eventually becoming friends. I got over my shyness around him, and although I yearned to share more with him (as I suspected he did as well), I never did. We both had our various relationships, but we were always friends, sharing secrets and telling gossip.

There was something though that I would never tell him. It actually became a running joke between us. You see, I have had names for my future children ever since I was a young girl, and even after several years of his prodding and guessing, I never told him.

He soon finished his studies at the Academy, and for a while I didn't see him. That time was almost sad for me, as I realized that I had come to value his friendship more than I knew. I kept it deep down inside of me though, hiding that emotion like I did so many others.

Several Starfleet projects brought him back to San Francisco, but we were never as close as we had been before. I still remember the brawl that occurred during one of these projects, the warp engine project. Future captains Jonathon Archer and A.G Robinson sure messed up my bar that night, but I forgave them.

Then came the NX-01 rumours. A new ship called Enterprise was going to be launched, captained by none other than Jon Archer. I heard all about it from my then boyfriend, a newly promoted ensign named Malcolm Reed. I guess I just have a thing for accents.

I also heard that Charlie was going to be the Chief Engineer, and that he had been promoted to Commander. Happiness ran through me for him, although, I have to admit, deep down, I felt pain at the fact that he would be gone of off Earth for seven long years.

He came to see me before he left, with a smile on his face and one last guess at the names. I kept a brave face on, having never told him my feelings for him. We talked about trivial matters, and shared a quick hug as he left. I watched the launch on the holo-television screen in my bar, wishing that crew the best luck. Along with Charlie went Malcolm Reed, and I shared a silent laugh with myself at that. I hoped that they would become friends on that long journey.

The years after passed quickly, life moving on. I would hear snippets of the ship's exploits from various sources: Starfleet officers, overheard conversations and the holo-news. I was sad to hear that Charlie's sister had been on of the millions killed in the attack on Earth, and also heard the news of the ship's triumph in the Delphic Expanse.

I watched new cadets come and go, bonding with precious few. I almost reluctant to make friends with another one of them again, after having lost Charlie to the deep reaches of space.

Several days ago though, I heard about the news of the return of Enterprise. Seven years had passed since their departure, and I knew that several had married and had children aboard the ship. I secretly prayed that Charlie was not among them, still holding on to the distant hope that I could be with him.

I sighed now, reaching for another glass to dry. No one was here during this early time of the day; everyone was either at work or at the Academy. I quietly stacked them, the bar silent save for the soft clink of the glasses against each other.

I felt a breeze hit me from the direction of the door, and just as I was about to turn, a familiar voice greeted my ears.

I stopped in mid-turn, not even hearing the words spoken to me. Could it be? I swung around to face him, and my heart jumped into my throat. Those same sky-blue eyes gazed back laughingly at me, a grin marking the familiar features. He looked none the worse for the seven years that had passed, only soft laugh lines now graced his formerly smooth features. Time had treated him well in these past few years. I thought him to be now barely into his forties, as I was still thirty-seven.

He chuckled softly, bringing me out of my reverie. "Well, is it that?" he asked.

I struggled to find my voice. "Is that what?" I croaked out.

He grinned again. "Amy."

"Amy what?" I stated dumbly.

At this, he burst full out into laughter. "Yar kids' names, 'member? Would your daughter's name be Amy?"

I too smiled. "You got one, Tucker. Try going for two out of two."

At his next action, I was left breathless. No sooner had those words left my mouth that he leaned over the bar and kissed me passionately. I return his kiss, pressing my face against his before I even knew what I was doing.

He sat back down after he was down. "Sorry about that," he said, a mischievous look in his eyes. "Dunno what came over me."

I grinned flirtatiously at him. "Must have been that Southern charm."

He hoped over the bar, and slid a warm arm across my waist. "Ah missed ya, Ruby." he stated softly, gazing down into my eyes.

"Missed ya too." I whispered, right before he pulled me in for another kiss. I treasured the moment, remembering how long I had yearned for this moment. I lost myself in his embrace, Charlie's embrace.

*______________________________________*

It was no surprise that we named our daughter Amy, although, to this day, I have still never told him my name for a son. I guess he'll just have to wait and see on that one.