Rating: PG (K+)
Notes: Spoilers for Restoration. Set after "A Little Getaway."
"We were wondering," began Robin Lefler hesitantly. "What we should call you. Now that you're... well, you know." She blushed hotly, and glanced over at Soleta for help. Soleta, sitting beside Robin at the table in the Team Room, only shrugged. "I mean, how would you like us to address you?" said Robin very quickly.
Elizabeth could only stare. Of all the things she had expected to hear when Robin and Soleta had asked to have a word with her, that certainly wasn't it. Robin, face bright pink, stared down at the table.
"Well, 'Captain' is fine," Elizabeth said, bemused, looking to Soleta for clarification. But Soleta merely sat there watching Lefler, and offered no sort of explanation for the increasingly bizarre conversation that they were having.
"Oh. Yes, we know that," said Robin timidly. She cleared her throat. "I mean, what we were confused about was what goes after that part."
"What goes after that part," repeated Elizabeth. "You want to know what goes after that part."
Elizabeth hesitated, trying to figure out the best way to phrase her next words. She decided on blunt. "Sorry, I'm really not following. Which part? And what exactly are you confused about?" she asked, then added, glancing at Soleta, "Feel free to jump in at any point here, Lieutenant."
There was silence. Shelby looked expectantly at the two women sitting across from her. Finally Robin glanced over at Soleta and asked, "Ah, Soleta, would you like to explain?"
"Well then would you please?"
Soleta straightened in her chair and turned to Shelby. "What Lieutenant Lefler wishes to ask is if you plan to change your name now that you and Captain Calhoun are married."
Elizabeth frowned. "That's all?" After Robin nodded, she asked, "Well, why didn't you say so, Lefler?"
"Oh-- I just didn't want to--" Robin hesitated, and said quickly. "No reason. It's not important, really, I mean, you're from Earth and I was wondering, since you and Captain Calhoun--" She stopped, staring down into her lap, and didn't seem able to continue.
"Got married, Robin," Elizabeth said, smiling. "It's not a bad word."
"I know. I just--" Blushing hotly, she seemed to shrink down in her chair from embarrassment. "I-- never mind."
"Okay," said Shelby. "If you're sure."
Studying the table intently, Robin nodded.
"Now what's this about me changing my name?" Shelby asked, addressing Soleta. "Why would I want to do that?"
"As you know, it is an Earth tradition," said Soleta. "Though some choose not to follow it, many female Terrans still take their husband's last name when they marry." She paused and then said as an afterthought, "Though there have been cases in which the husband takes his wife's last name because he has only one name, his first name." And a couple seconds later, "Some husbands take their wives' names even if they do possess a last name." Next, "Same-sex couples in particular present an intriguing dimension to this custom, for example, many decide--"
"Thank you, Soleta," said Elizabeth hastily, cutting her off before the monologue could begin. "But why'd you think I'd change my last name?"
Elizabeth herself hadn't even thought of it until now. Before the wedding, she had barely had time to think about and process the fact that she was actually getting married, let alone consider all the possibilities now that she would be married. She hadn't realized at any point during the frantic two week period preceding her and Mac's wedding that changing her name was an option.
"You are a Terran female," said Soleta with a shrug. "It is only logical to consider the possibility of a name change after your marriage."
Soleta was right, Elizabeth knew. Her own mother had changed her last name to Shelby after marrying Elizabeth's father. It wasn't such an off-the wall question. People would probably be wondering, she realized. They'd be wondering if she would change her name to Calhoun.
Elizabeth Calhoun. She tried out the name in her head, repeated it to herself a couple times. Elizabeth Calhoun, Elizabeth Calhoun. No matter how many times she thought about it, it still sounded bizarre. She felt as if she were in grade school again, doodling the name of her crush all over her notes.
She must have had a strange expression on her face, because when she glanced up at Soleta and Lefler, both officers were looking at her, visibly concerned.
"Is everything all right, Captain?" Soleta asked.
"Yes, fine," Elizabeth said quickly. "I'm just surprised, that's all."
"I'm sorry," said Robin. "I didn't mean to be rude. It's just that my mother was wondering and she asked me if I knew, which obviously I didn't, but it got me wondering, too." She shrugged. "I asked around, but no one seemed to know."
"Oh," said Elizabeth, then smiled faintly. "You weren't rude. It's a valid question."
She wondered how many other people Robin had asked. How many other people were wondering how exactly they should address her. She tried to think back to the last couple days aboard the Trident. She tried to remember how people had greeted her in the corridors, what they had called her on the bridge. Just "Captain"? Or "Captain Shelby"? Had they only called her "ma'am"?
She racked her brain, but she couldn't remember. It just wasn't one of those things she noticed. She resolved to start paying attention now, to check if people were unsure about what to call her. If they seemed to be hesitating before they addressed her.
It seemed sometimes like everyone was watching her and Mac now that they were married. Aboard the first Excalibur, there had always been a certain level of attention paid toward them-- after all, they were the first officer and captain of the ship and it was only natural-- but never to this degree of scrutiny, she thought. Or was she just being paranoid? Like she had told Lefler, it was a valid question. It was fine that people were wondering about her last name. It showed that they respected her enough to want to call her by the correct name. It was a good thing, she told herself, and resolved to stop worrying about the possible implications behind Robin's question.
Still, she felt uncomfortable as she said to Robin, "Shelby's fine. Just call me Captain Shelby."
Robin nodded, looking relieved. "That's good. I'm glad you're keeping Shelby."
"Oh?" said Elizabeth.
"Yes, of course," said Robin. "I'm mean, there's nothing wrong with the name Calhoun. It's just that if you had changed your name, two Captain Calhouns would have been kind of confusing." She leaned forward, gesturing with her hands as she talked. "Like if I wanted to talk to you, I'd ask someone where I could find Captain Calhoun. But then that person would want to know which Captain Calhoun, because obviously there would be two of you. And so I'd tell them that the Calhoun I wanted to talk to was you, and so you'd be sent for, but the message might get confused along the way and that could become a real mess."
Elizabeth, in her surprise over the question, hadn't even considered this. "Oh. Yes, that's what I thought, too," she lied.
Soleta nodded. "You made a wise decision, Captain," she said. "Two Captain Calhouns would have likely caused a great deal of confusion among both crews."
"Yes, of course." Elizabeth smiled again. But instead of feeling pleased that both officers thought her decision was the right one (she wondered when she had even made that decision), Elizabeth still felt dissatisfied and uncomfortable. She searched for something to say. "Well, there is that other Captain Shelby in Starfleet," she pointed out and immediately felt like an idiot when both Soleta and Robin stared at her blankly.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of silence, Soleta nodded. "Ah, yes. Captain Shelby of the Sutherland."
"Right," Shelby said. "That's the one."
But she couldn't help wondering, even after Soleta and Robin left, if she had made the right decision-- whatever that was. If she should have discussed the issue with Mac first, before it had an effect on their crews.
She decided that she wouldn't worry about it. What was done was done, and so far, things seemed to have worked out pretty well. There was nothing to be concerned about. Right?