Location: Boston, the Gateway to the Galaxy
"I, um, are you sure?" Doug asked. "Because if anything was going to make me hopelessly ugly to you, it was, it was my, my track record."
"Doug, she said, taking his face in her hands. "You will never be hopelessly ugly to me. Don't ever forget that." her face had flashes of almost anger.
"I, um," he was nonplussed. "It may be a lot for you to forgive, is all I'm saying."
"It's like the number of guys I was with before I met you. You may not love the number, but it's in the past and it cannot be changed now. What's more important is how we move ahead, together." She leaned in closer and kissed him.
He put his hand on her back and drew her close. This kiss, it was somehow sweeter than all the others, and he didn't want it to stop. Finally they broke apart. "So, er, how many have there been before me? Uh, you don't have to answer that if you don't wanna."
"No, it's okay." she smiled. "You are lucky number thirteen."
"Yes, I am very lucky, he said, fingers fiddling with the end of one of her sleeves.
"Let's, can we walk some more?"
"Wherever you wanna go. Uh, where is this place?"
"It's New Hampshire. Over there, see that peak? That's Mount Monadnock. This isn't too far from where the New England Red Sox have one of their parks."
"Do you, do you have baseball on your side of the pond?" she asked.
"Sure we do. Five bases, twelve guys on a team and a lotta fights."
"Uh, you mean four bases, nine guys on a team and, uh, only a few fights sometimes." she smiled. "What do you do for fun?"
"Fun? Huh, well, aside from the obvious," he looked at her meaningfully, "I go hunting. Fish sometimes. I do like sports, play rugby sometimes, but it's hard to get a team together. You?"
"I guess I'm more of a homebody than my job would indicate. I like land. Working it, building on it. I like to fish, too, but a part of that is just being on a boat."
"I mainly fish from piers."
"You should try boats some time."
"I should try a lot of things, I think, he said, Lili, can I ask you, how do you, um, assuming anything could work and I could be there with you, how would it all work?"
"You mean the crossing over process?"
"No, not that. I mean after."
"Well, they always need good Tactical guys, so you should be able to work with no trouble."
"Would we live together?" he asked.
"I, uh, would you like that?"
"I think so. I mean, I know this hasn't been a lot of time at all. It's just ...." his voice trailed off.
"Commander, communications just cut out." MacKenzie said to T'Pol.
"To the planet, or all communications?" she asked.
"Looks like we can talk to any of the planets. And to any ships in the area. But nothing outside the system."
"How very interesting. And perhaps an indication of how welcoming our hosts are. I'll alert the Captain."
There was a large rock in a clearing right in front of them. "Uh, Lili?"
"I think uh, I think this is our destination."
He sat down and patted his knee. "C'mere."
She sat down and faced him. "I like, I like all of this. I don't know if speculating about things is good, or if it's just going to make it all hurt that much more."
"Maybe." he admitted. "It's just, I dunno. I don't think I've ever gotten into a relationship before where I really wanted that to happen. The sex part, sure. But the rest of it? Not so much."
"Look, I don't even know if you're going to leave dirty socks on the floor or something like that."
"I don't, I swear, he said, I like the place to be clean, things put away."
"I have to be really clean for work, she said, But you might find an occasional hair ribbon in the wrong place. I guess I just sorta think I'm going to pick it up later, and then I forget and whatever it is doesn't get picked up."
"I suppose I can make allowances for that."
"You'd have to live under our laws, Doug."
"I know. I could, I would do whatever I could. I get the feeling that, with the pressure off, I wouldn't be looking to do anything like that, like going up to a Number Fifteen or anything."
"That reminds me. Since you have Reed's old job, was his counterpart, uh, Number Fourteen?"
"No, Doug said, Fourteen was Geming Sulu. It was, uh, that was how I got onto the Enterprise in the first place."
"So, uh, how did Reed's counterpart get it? If you want to tell me."
"It's a little fuzzy. A few years ago, when we got the Defiant, the Enterprise ended up being destroyed. Not everyone made it from the old ship to the new one we went in escape pods. I shoved Jenn into one and I got into another. Fought off a kid from Security for it. And I think that happened with a lot of people they were either shot or stabbed and kept from getting into pods, or they were hit and dragged out of 'em. As for Reed, specifically, it was either then or before. He had this, uh, this thing he was testing out, a torture device. I think he was hoisted on that particular petard."
"Oh, my. I'm sorry I asked, Lili said.
"When we got to the Defiant, there was no one in charge of Tactical, and I was the top guy on the MACOs. When the Empress seized power, she installed me as head of Tactical. Funny, I think that was my only actual merit promotion."
"Well deserved, I'm sure, Lili kissed him.
"I don't know about that. I think it was more a case of, everyone's blind, but my blindness is just slightly less bad as everyone else's."
"Don't you know your own system?"
"Not really. But no one does."
"Lili, remember when I told you about your counterpart, and what happened to her?"
"Of course, it was only maybe an hour ago."
"Yes, of course. Well, the Empress didn't like everyone knowing. I guess she was disappointed in how her counterpart's life had turned out on your side of the pond. I never really had that as I didn't put it all together that between me and Jay Hayes, we were the same but with switched names. Anyway, the Empress didn't like it, so she ordered the records destroyed."
"Uh, okay. But that shouldn't take out everything."
"No, it shouldn't. But the deleting was done quickly. I mean, this is the Empress we're talking about. You did what you were told, and fast, fast, fast! So mistakes were made in the deletion coding."
"Not so sure I follow you, Lili admitted.
"See, they deleted not just references to Hayes but any references to anyone named Hayes. Ever."
"Wasn't there a President Hayes?"
"There may have been. I'll certainly never know. And it's even any references to anything with Hayes on it. Like if there's a Hayes screwdriver, or a planet called Hayes."
"Humor me for a second, okay? If there's a Hayes virus or a Hayes vaccine, all of that's wiped. Same for Tucker, Sato, Mayweather, Archer, Cutler every single name. This cascaded through the entire database. So any references to, uh, to Beef a la Mayweather or Cutler Falls or a Tucker's deer were also completely erased. Left us with almost nothing. I have no idea which name or names' removals caused the most damage, but it doesn't matter now. It's all permanently wiped and cannot be recovered. The people who screwed up were, of course, tortured and killed."
"Tortured? To, to confess something?"
"No. They were tortured for the Empress's own amusement."
"Did you, um, have anything to do with that, Doug?"
"I dealt with finding them, but not punishing them. She, uh, apparently it's a thrill for her if she or her boy toy get to do that."
The Captain was roused out of a dream about water polo. Just about to take the final shot of the game! He shook himself awake as soon as he realized what the problem was.
"Let's, um, let's change the subject, he said.
"All right." she kissed him.
"I should warn you if we live together, that I snore sometimes."
"Funny, I've never seen or heard you sleep."
"True. Same here."
"Well, I talk in my sleep, Lili said.
"You give away secret recipes or something? Or do you talk about, about us?"
"I, well, Jenny doesn't say. It's probably just a few random words, although about a year ago she said I said, 'Are you searching for buried treasure?' Pretty funny."
"What were you dreaming about that you said that?"
"Ha, it was sex." she kissed him. "Not as good as this dream. Or any other one with you in it."
"You star in my best dreams, too." he said, "Are you, um, comfortable?"
"Actually, I'm a little, uh, hot." she looked at him intently.
"I think you're very hot, he said.
She broke away a bit more quickly than usual. "I, I think we're both gonna have to do laundry. Not my favorite chore."
"I can do it, he said, Come back a sec."
She got back on his lap. "Of course."
"So pretty, he said. They kissed.
"Y'know, Doug, it would really be stupid if we were to fall in love."
"True." he allowed. "We have no idea if we can be together."
They were both silent for a moment.
"It's too late now, she said.
"Yeah, for me, too." he agreed, kissing her and mussing her hair.
This time, they lay on the ground together, just touching, not saying anything, not kissing.
"I, I don't say it much. Haven't said it in many years, he said, I, uh, it's another stupid sign of weakness. You, you'll teach me to say it more?"
"Yes, of course, she said, kissing his cheek.
"I should say it now, yes?"