Location: Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
He found himself on a roof deck, with assorted small tables and chairs. There were brown cattails in vases on the tables. She was sitting at one. He approached, and tried to remain nonchalant. "I guess I'm hopelessly ugly, he said, swallowing.
"No, no, of course not. Far from it. Please sit down. And, um, it's a little chilly out here, Lili said.
He willed himself out of his normal sleep attire, and into a pair of blue jeans, black boots and a black watch flannel shirt, to go along with her turquoise hoodie, jeans and sneakers. "Good idea. So, um, was it what I was wearing last night?"
"No." she smiled wanly. "Boxer shorts and a tee shirt are pretty standard sleeping clothes for a guy."
"Then, um, please tell me. What is it? What's so wrong? Let me try to fix it, he said.
"I oh, man. Do you not know?"
She sighed. "I, I don't know how to break this to you."
"Direct is best."
"You're, you're dead."
"Oh, get off me, Aidan!" Jennifer snarled.
"I haven't seen you all day. And suddenly you're moved in. Which is, um, great. Very unexpected. So this means we can do it more."
"I gotta think."
"Think later." he commanded.
"Do you even know why I'm here?" she bristled.
"Yes. You can't live without me."
She made a sound and rolled her eyes. "I am here because the old man, well, I got tired of him, she said, avoiding the truth.
"Of course, Aidan said.
"And he's whipped enough that I even got him to move my stuff. But this is gonna change things. Gotta figure out what he's up to."
"Worry about him later, Aidan said, You. Me. Now."
"Dead? Huh? Lemme tell ya, I am not dead. Here, I'll prove it to you." he got up to get closer.
"No, no. Please. It's not that I don't want to. I do. And that's what's so disturbing to me. You're dead, and this cannot be happening. It's all dreams and wish fulfillment anyway, and there's always a catch, and that's the catch." her voice was becoming higher pitched and she was speaking faster as a lump rose in her throat.
"I'm, I'm not, I'm not dead, he said, How can I show you that? What, what kind of proof do you have? What's making you think that?"
"I I saw." she was now really crying, hot tears hitting her face and bouncing off and onto her hoodie.
"Your, your body. I saw them put your body in a big tube and shoot it off into space."
"What? When? And I, I don't get it. Not just this but also, you saw me? I never saw you before yesterday."
"You, you don't remember me?"
"I know I never, ever saw you before. I would have known."
"You and I, we would nod in the
hallways. We didn't say much. We were not friends. But you could recognize me, I know you could! The Enterprise isn't a huge ship."
"Enterprise? That ship was destroyed a few years ago."
"Des-huh?" she just started to cry even more, and waved him off when he was all set to bend over her and comfort her. It took her a few minutes to finally get the lump back down to a manageable size.
"So, um," he said, "this is weird. You think I'm dead, and I think the Enterprise is dead. And we have the same kind of proof, eyewitnesses, we're both eyewitnesses. I'm not, I'm not a logical guy. If I were a Vulcan or something, I bet I'd have this all figured out already."
She nodded but did not say anything.
"Hmm, wait. What was the name of the guy who you saw shot off into space?"
"It, it was your name. It was Hayes. Major Jay Hayes."
"Damn, damn, damn!" Commander Tucker was in no mood.
"Something wrong, sir? And, if I may ask, sir, wasn't your shift over hours ago?"
"Ramirez, I hardly ever sleep these days. Oh nine hundred hours, eighteen hundred hours, or oh two hundred hours like now, it doesn't matter. I am always on. The Empress doesn't seem to have a problem with me working myself to death."
"Uh, no, sir." Ramirez fidgeted.
"Check the sensors. None of them seem to be working."
"Sir, I ran a diagnostic four nights ago."
"Then run another one. Actually, better yet. Take every blessed sensor out and check it manually."
"Sir, that'll take weeks."
"Crewman, you've got orders." Tucker walked away, muttering to himself. "Stupid screwed up database."
"Okay, well, that's not me. I mean, my last name is Hayes. But Jay is my middle name."
"Yep. My first name is Douglas. C-call me Doug. And, um, I was a Major for maybe all of five minutes. I'm a Lieutenant Commander now."
"So you're not .... But the doctor said your DNA matched the sample."
"I, I don't think I am. Not that guy, no. I don't think so. But you, um, you said about the Enterprise. Tell me more about the Enterprise. Tell me, tell me something. I've got a feeling I may have an explanation if you can give me enough to go on."
"Hmm. Well, um, today there was an investigation. Or, well, kind of a meeting."
"I told you, you left a calling card and all, hence the DNA test. And the Exec level, they wanted to make sure there wasn't some mad rapist running around, having sex with random sleeping women. Dr. Phlox said ...."
"Yes. My doctor's name is Phlox. He's a Denobulan."
"Yes, I know. And he's also, he's dead."
"Nu-uh, Lili shook her head. "Captain Archer doesn't go around hiring dead doctors or anything like that."
"Archer? Archer is your captain?"
"So, I am thinking I am starting to understand what's going on here. Um, who else was at this meeting, if I may ask?" Doug said.
"Commander T'Pol and Ensign Hoshi Sato, because they are the two most senior women on the ship."
"Huh. T'Pol is also dead."
"And Ensign Sato?"
"We don't call her that anymore."
"Oh?" Lili asked. "I'm getting really confused."
"Do you know what a multiverse is?"
Tucker buzzed the Empress about twenty times before she finally answered. "Yeah, what?" Travis Mayweather lay next to her and glared.
"Empress, I got almost no working sensors anymore."
"So fix them."
"I would, but there is nothing to fix them with, and no instructions anywhere."
"You've been going along fine without instructions. Really, Commander, would you quit calling me at such crazy hours?"
"Empress, this can't wait."
"Yes, it can."
"But that database, it's all messed up. It's like, it's like Swiss cheese in there." Tucker complained.
"Do your usual magic. Bye." She hung up. "Now, where were we?"
"Isn't that where there's, like a million trillion universes? And in one, you and I are talking, and in another I'm sitting and reading a book or whatever?"
"Pretty much. Could even be finer grained than that. Maybe in one you're wearing a red dress, in another you're wearing a green one and in another one you're wearing tan."
"Not tan. It doesn't look good on me."
"Okay." he smiled. "But think of it that way."
"None of that's ever been proven, she said.
"Yes, actually, it has. See, a few years ago, when Forrest was our Captain, ...."
"Forrest? He was an Admiral when he died, Lili said.
"There's another difference."
"Oh, sorry to interrupt."
"That's okay. Um, Archer was the First Officer and he heard rumors of an advanced ship, possibly from a different universe. We investigated and, lo and behold, the fellow was right. It was the Defiant. Took
it over and it became pretty useful when the Enterprise herself was destroyed and that was, well, it was about two years ago. There was a power struggle there always is and Archer ended up being poisoned by his lover. She then took over the ship, had a kid, consolidated her power over that year and then wasn't just an Empress in name only. Now she really is the Empress."
"Don't tell me it's my roommate who's the Empress."
"Only if you're rooming with Hoshi Sato."
"How close are we?"
"We have been reviewing every scrap of a record we can find on them, First Minister. We have a truly excellent candidate."
"Let's hail them tomorrow."
"Ha, no. Holy cow. So this is somehow there's a crossing over that's happening again?" Lili asked.
"I, I think so. See, the ship is actually from the future. Your future. I am assuming you're from its own private universe although maybe you aren't. Can't say for certain. But, I mean, right now it's 2157."
"Yes." he smiled. "Thirtieth, right?"
"Well, I think it's the thirty-first by now, she said, I think you and I have been asleep for a while."
"You're, um, you're probably right. Look, uh, is it okay for you to give me your name? I, I feel like I'm at a disadvantage. Are you, uh, okay with that?"
"Yes, of course. No manners here." she smiled. "My full name is Charlotte Lilienne O'Day. But nobody calls me Charlotte and no one calls me Lilienne. They call me Lili."
"I don't think I've heard a more beautiful name."
"Don't be silly, my parents gave me the initials C-L-O-D."
"They probably didn't mean to do that, Lili, Doug rolled the name around for the first time.
"Hmm, I suppose not. Can't ask 'em now."
"They died in a house fire when I was nine."
"Oh. I didn't mean to pry."
"It's all right. Not like you would have known." she reached for his hand, voluntarily.
He touched her hand and they were both taken aback with a spark arced between them. "Whoa!" he said, Even though it's a clichι, it looks like sparks really do fly between us."
"Maybe it's because we haven't touched for over a day." She pulled him close to her the sparking had stopped and kissed him.
He smiled and opened his eyes when they broke apart. "I missed you. I missed that. And I was concern no, afraid. Yes, afraid. I was afraid I would never see you. You remember that sensor I told you about? The one that recorded your heartbeat? It wasn't functioning, or something. No heartbeat today. I was scared that you were gone, or dead or out of range forever."
"I'm right here, she said.
"Let's, um, let's get out of here. Wherever here is, Doug said.
"This is actually my old restaurant in San Mateo. Which I will show you some other time, she said, looking at him intently.
They were back in private quarters. "Hang on, I'll change out of these, he said.
"No, no, let me."
"Well, I've been the one holding back. And I remember how good our second night was together, so I want to do something like that for you."
"Oh, you liked that, eh? It's Tantric."
"Huh, where did you learn to do that?" she asked as she removed his shirt.
"I did basic training in Cambodia. Had my first encounter there, too."
"I, I see. I liked that we faced each other all night. If there had been light, I would have been looking in your eyes, you know."
Doug smiled and steadied himself as he lifted one foot, then the other, for her to take off his boots. "Why would I be with a beautiful girl and not want to look right at her during it? Makes no sense to me otherwise."
She straightened up. "Lie back on the bed, and I'll get your jeans off."
"Yes." he grinned. "You take the right side. The left side of the bed is harder than the right."
"Same's true of my bed. Funny, she said.
"Well, maybe they repurposed the old equipment from the Enterprise and put it in the Defiant. Just 'cause it's old, doesn't mean it doesn't work."
"Oh, I see things are working very, very well, she said.
"C'mere, he said, when he had recovered his voice. They kissed for a long time and stayed together all night.