There was the barest blip, slightest register of an eyebrow very, very slightly arching, and it was gone in a split second. If Lili hadn't been looking directly at T'Pol, she would have missed it completely. Lili tried not to listen to gossip. She had no idea that that particular rumor had been true.
T'Pol said, "This connection should be monitored. Commander Tucker has never experienced it before."
"I would suggest that I observe as well, Phlox said, If the Ensign cannot get to sleep, I can provide a mild sleeping aid, if necessary."
"Uh, you do realize I just have Ensign's quarters. There isn't going to be a lot of room, Lili pointed out.
"We'd better go now." Tripp said.
Beth Cutler took Jun's hand. "We're going to go play with the pretty knife again!" she exclaimed, trying to sound enthused.
"Knife! Knife!" Jun squealed, running down the hallway to Sick Bay.
Dr. Morgan was less than thrilled to see them. "I've lost six animals because of you."
"Tell it to the Empress." Beth said, It's time for him to practice, before dinner. Haven't you got something you feed to the snake?"
"Hmm. Yes. A mouse." he produced a cage with a small brown mouse in it. "Jun, my boy! Come here and play."
"Thank you, Doctor. I'll, uh, I'll be back later." Beth said.
"I'm not his sitter. You are." Morgan said, And I'll need to get new supplies soon. The number of experimental animals is not infinite, you know."
"Yes, of course. I'm, uh, I'm going to the Empress right now, and I'll request your new supplies personally, she said and ducked out before he could say anything more. In the hallways, she started down the way to the Empress's quarters and then turned once the door to Sick Bay was closed. Beth walked quickly to her true destinations: first the Mess Hall, then quarters. Then the place where she'd agreed to meet Tripp.
Tripp and Lili walked together as Phlox and T'Pol walked ahead of them. "Uh, I only have one of those really small beds, she said.
"Well, I'll probably have to go to sleep more or less right on top of you, Commander."
"Ensign," he said quietly, "uh, if I get, um, aroused in any way, you won't, uh, tell anyone, will ya?"
"I'll be discreet."
"Oh, thanks, he said.
"Do you have a sweetheart on the ship?" she asked.
"Not anymore, he said, looking straight ahead and with a tone that indicated she should drop the subject quickly.
"My fault for bringing it up, she said.
"It's nobody's fault." he grunted.
"You should, um, you should take the right side, Lili said, The left side of the mattress is harder."
"Did you know, Princess, you were sleeping on a pea?" he asked. "Or, well, more like a coin of some sort. We couldn't find it in the database, though."
"Hmm. Well, I've heard this system being referred to as a crossroads a few times, Lili said, Maybe it's like the ancient Phoenicians on Earth. They were traders, so their coins are found all over the place, in all sorts of unexpected locations. Ah, here we are."
Polloria paced around. "Yimar, you're not doing it right." she whined.
"I'm the High Priestess now, Yimar said, I'll do what I like."
"Okay, um, here, you lie here, Commander, Lili suggested.
"And, here, hang on, lemme move my arm." Tripp said, And you should call me Tripp. I, uh, I don't share a bed with anyone I'm not on a first names basis with."
"That seems wise, Phlox said, while T'Pol busied herself looking at the picture on Jennifer's desk.
"Okay, Lili said, Put your left arm here, around my shoulder. Other one in front, on my belly, I guess. That good?"
She turned her head back to him and kissed him on the cheek. "Good night, Tripper."
He kissed her back on her cheek. "It's just Tripp."
The Mess Hall was easy. Beth grabbed six vegetable paste tubes, and stuffed them into her pockets and sleeves. She tried not to attract attention while getting back to pick up her bag. The halls were mainly empty, due to the game being on. "Piece of carrot cake." she whispered to herself as she hustled to the rendezvous point.
Yimar sat on her mother's bed with Chelben. "I wish you could hear me, she said to Yipran. "I do miss you so."
Doug went through his things quickly, and packed the only things he wanted. Everything else, it was waste material, so far as he was concerned. The medal for strafing a Denobulan village by himself? Into the disposer. Ganymede Hunters paraphernalia? Trash. And uniforms? Except for the one he was wearing gone. He picked up his PADD and began to type.
'Dear Mrs. Donnelly,
I would like to apologize for causing the death of your son, Lucas, about thirty-five years ago. I realize that this apology comes very late but I did want to be sure you got it.
Lt. Cmdr. Douglas J. Hayes'
'Dear Mr. Shapiro,
I would like to apologize for causing the death of ....'
And on and on for fourteen letters. And then one more.
'Dear Mr. and Mrs. Delacroix,
I would like to apologize for the recent death of your son, Brian, while on a rescue mission. I was his commanding officer for that mission, and failed to prevent his death. Brian was a good security officer and had a promising future.
Lt. Cmdr. Douglas J. Hayes'
He put the letters in the queue to go out whenever long-range communications were restored and took one last look at the picture of the nine-year-old Lili. Then he turned off the PADD for good and grabbed a small duffle and his phase rifle. The dagger was in the sheath at his side, and the smaller knife was in his boot. Ready.
The room was shadowy.
Lili and Tripp stood in the middle of it, holding hands. "Anybody there?" Tripp asked.
It was Treve. Or, rather, two Treves one was pale, the other ruddy. And Jennifer, who had complicated coppery scrollwork on her arms and was holding onto the ruddy Treve's arm. "My father, uh, our fathers, will be here soon. Then we can make contact." the pale Treve explained.
The weapons supply closet was not well-guarded. Torres was there, but hammered on synthbeer. "Old Man!" he slurred when he saw Doug.
"Uh, sure. Look, don't you wanna get a refill?" Doug asked.
"Refill? Oh, huh, s'posed to be here."
"No time to talk about this, Doug said, and punched Torres in the jaw. Torres was out. "Thanks, Doug said, helping himself to charges. He quick-marched it to the rendezvous point the Observation Lounge.
"Did she just move, Doctor?" Yimar asked hopefully.
"There are few miracles." the doctor explained. "But you can sit here and talk as long as you like. Perhaps she can hear you on some level."
"What took you so long?" asked Tripp.
"A short conversation and some correspondence, Doug explained. "Hiya, Cutler."
She smiled slightly. "I can't wait to leave here."
Doug was about to answer her when the room changed.
There were seven people in a shadowy room, but all Doug saw were crystal blue eyes. "Lili!" he exclaimed. "How? Uh, what's going on?"
Tripp answered, "Hayes," he indicated his hand on Lili's, "this is the only way I can talk to you."
"S'okay, Doug said, I trust her. Only the second woman I've ever trusted." He took Lili's free hand, his thumb rubbing her fingers.
"Aren't you gonna, like, kiss her?" Tripp asked. "Not that I'm a voyeur or anything."
"Tucker, do you realize how awkward it is to kiss your girl when she's not only holding some other guy's hand but your ex is also watching with her new fellow?"
"Hayes, my ex is busy observing this whole thing. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe it."
"We need to act quickly." The ruddy Treve said.
Tripp explained the situation to Doug. "Well, I'm no engineer, either, Doug said, I can try but I dunno if I can get this all to work as perfectly as it needs to."
"Hayes! Hayes! Snap outta it!" Tripp said.
"It's like he's in a trance or something." Beth said, We don't have time for this."
Tripp grabbed the Old Man's shoulder to shake him out of it, and the room changed.
"What the hell is going on here?" Tripp asked, blinking several times to get used to the shadows and wondering why he could no longer see Beth. He only recognized Hayes and Crossman out of a group of eight people.
"Holy cow, Lili said. She turned to the Tripp she was touching. "I do believe that's your counterpart. Tripp, say hi to, uh, Tripp."