10. In which things are discussed and nothing is resolved.

They have the very rare serious chat about once every six months or so, usually after some particularly depressing averted disaster.

This month's topic is inner reflection, which Alice find rather humorous, as their last discussion was on the merits and disadvantages of having a religion that promotes belief in afterlife, especially when reaching said afterlife involves ceremonies requiring copious amounts of fresh fruit.

Cover everything, the two of them.

"I don't care what someone said to you once, you aren't a monster. It's not like—"

"But I have been, though. You don't know, you haven't seen, you just…you don't know all the things I've done. I hurt people; I destroy them, or near enough to it. Entire races, planets, I've…" His eyes are on the ground, corners of his mouth firmly turned down.

Even his hair is drooping a little.

"And you've shown me on countless worlds that monsters can evolve, can change to something better. I've seen you help people that anyone else would consider monsters to become something better than even they could have hoped to be. I've seen you literally help new worlds form from nearly nothing."

There's a pause, and she knows he wants to say something, but he's holding back. So she waits.


"So, how would you describe me, then?"

No hesitation, absolutely no question about it.

"Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. A big ball of it. Well, a tall, skinny ball of it."

"Now, stop that, I'm actually being serious for once. Well, mostly."

Alice chooses her words carefully. She is living with him, after all. He has a right to know what she thinks of him, but she doesn't want to actually hurt his feelings when he's finally making an attempt to be open.

"Ominous. Inevitable. You are the thing that will always happen, will always be there. You are…you're what everyone dreads and looks forward to all at once. For most people, you're a light-bringer. For others…what did you call it? 'The Oncoming Storm'? I think that sums you up."

"Yes, but…how do you see me?"

This question treads on a little more dangerous ground. He knows how she feels, she's said it often enough, but they seem to avoid that conversation rather adamantly outside the heat of battle.

"You…will do what you believe is right at the cost of yourself. You will give people, creatures, a chance to do the right thing, even if they don't necessarily deserve it."

She's not done yet, but there's a pause as Alice groups her thoughts into coherency. She wants very badly to avoid the area of hero worship, as that's bound to make him uncomfortable; they both know he's not perfect, and she doesn't want him to think she's idealized him.

"I think part of the reason you do that is you hope someday someone will do it for you. You carry the weight of the universe on your shoulders, and you don't want anyone to have to share it with you, though you wish they would."

"Anything else?" She can tell the conversation is getting a bit too introspective for him, and he doesn't much feel like sharing feelings anymore. He's visibly fidgeting, obviously itching to do something a bit more active.

"You're a horrible cook, your trainers are in desperate need of a wash, and you are hopeless when you're alone, you can't even dress yourself properly. Oh, and you have the weirdest taste in fruit; why would you ever pick a banana over a pear?"

"So, you're saying the pity party is over?"

"Oui, Captain! The journey, she is awaiting us!"

"Are you sure you don't want to take a few minutes to go over your skeletons, Alice?"

"My skeletons are dusty and contented in their bone closet, thank you very much."

He jumps to his feet, the animated giddiness returning as he lunges for the controls.

"Where to this time, ensign?"

"Surprise me."

He always does.

Author's Note: If you've been keeping up with this story at all, I've changed up the first chapter just a bit. Not too much, but I've added a little bit to Alice's character. I realize how little I actually describe her, and while that is intentional, I felt she deserved a better introduction. As always, please take a moment to share a few thoughts. Thanks for reading!