"That's enough running for one day, she said, opening up the door.
"Different physical things, he said, taking his jacket off. "This your desk?"
"Isn't it obvious? The other one has that huge picture of Jenny's fiancι."
Doug looked. "That's Ramirez. He's in Engineering here, too?"
"No. He's on one of Saturn's moons. I forget which one, she said, I'm not so sure Jenny's quite got it figured out where they'll live when they get married."
"Well, she can probably be an engineer anywhere, he said, kissing her cheek and placing his jacket on her desk chair.
"I, uh, can we talk just a tiny bit?" she scratched her hand, which was still covered with intricate silvery scrollwork.
"It's, just, I feel like we kind of skipped over some things. Things that may be more important than we realize."
"Yes." he agreed. "Seems like jumping into bed right now, this very minute might not be the best of ideas. Despite our desires."
"I, uh, I wanted to tell you. I spoke with Treve yesterday."
"Well, I asked him if his people ever go to places and eat food that other people have prepared. He said they do it all the time, and it's a very, I guess the word is fashionable, thing to do."
"That bodes well, he said, Is there a location you, um, have in mind?"
"Yes. Or, rather, it was Treve's idea. Fep City. It's one of the smaller cities on the second-largest planet but it's where the artists and musicians and the tastemakers hang out. Plus there are other ships coming in all the time Klingons, Orions, Andorians and others. He said he doesn't have much of a diplomatic career any more but might want to work with me."
"So, you don't need a business partner?" Doug asked, looking at her a little worriedly.
"Oh, I definitely do!" she touched his face. "But it pays to have someone else who knows the space and the clientele. I think it could really work."
"I'm in, he said, If you'll have me."
She kissed him softly. "Of course. You know I love you. I can send this now." she opened up her computer.
"Oh, um, Lili?"
"I think we should talk a little more. You need to really know what you're getting yourself into. Not just for the place. But with, with me."
"I have things I need to confess to you. And then you should decide, well, decide if it's all worth it. And I'm excited about this, about all of it, but I'll abide by whatever you want."
"What kinds of things?" she asked.
"Dark things. Things you won't like, he said.
"Listen, she said, cupping his face in her hands. "I know this much. I know you're a killer, multiple times over. I know that you lived under a moral code that was different no, nonexistent versus the one here. I know that you've got a past. But I think you we have got a future."
"These are what you'd think of as atrocities, he said, swallowing hard. "I mean, fourteen is not the number. Not really. The real number is a lot higher."
"Denobulans. Xindi. Klingons."
"You went to war a lot, Doug."
"I killed Denobulan children, he said, And I got a medal for that."
She trembled a little. "Did you bring it with you?"
"No. It was the first thing I put into the disposer yesterday. I, um, this is all I brought." he emptied his pockets onto her desk, next to her communicator. A few changes of underclothes and socks. "I have, I have nothing else."
"Don't you have a knife in your left boot?"
"No. I gave it to Tripp Tucker before I left. I didn't want to have any of that with me. I don't want to feel like I need it."
She nodded. "These are " she took his hands in hers " as clean as I suppose you can make your hands. It is, that is all in the past and over on the other side of the pond. And so long as it doesn't come here, as long as you're done with all of that, it's, it's going to be all right."
"I, my temper, Lili. I might not be able to control it."
"Well, we're gonna fight sometimes, Doug."
"Yes, I know."
"Would you, would you ever hit me?"
"No. Gawd, no. I never did that. There were fellows who did on my, uh, side. That always sickened me. I intervened whenever I could. But no, I draw a line. I don't hit women. Neither did Tucker. But others certainly did." he shook his head.
"I think you'll be all right, she said, I think we will be more than a little bit all right."
"I don't deserve you, he said, sitting on a nearby chair and running his hands through his hair, parting it over to the side unevenly. He folded his arms behind his head and looked up at her standing in front of him.
"Don't say that, she said, Let me look at you."
He smiled slightly. "I also want to thank you for the best meal I have ever, ever had."
"Well, they're not all like that. I think Brian Delacroix is making dinner."
"What makes you think we'll be leaving here for dinner?" he asked. "If you, um, if you'll still have me."
"Yes, I will, she said, getting onto his lap. "So we'll save those cookies for later. A little, um, fortification."
"Crumbs in the sheets, he said, Or maybe I'll just use your body as a table."
"I was thinking."
"I'd like to, um, do it the way we did it the first time. You remember?"
"Of course. I was just sleeping, minding my own business, when I get pushed into this wall. So I push back and this girl is kissing me, so I kiss her back and then suddenly we're naked and it is hotter than anything."
"You kissed back? I kissed back. You kissed first."
"Ha, it's like you thinking I'm shorter and I thought you were taller. I guess we both wanted it to be equal."
"I still do, she said, So no more about who deserves whom, or what."
"All right. But I still say you kissed first, he said, kissing her gently. "Hmm, our clothes aren't going to just magically come off. You'd better take off the dress so it doesn't get messed up."
"Okay." She got up and pulled her dress off.
He said, You still have those markings on your arms and legs that the Calafans gave you."
"Yeah. Phlox says he can remove them whenever I want. Do they bother you?"
"Hell no. It's a road map." He smiled, taking his shirt off, revealing a grey tee. "Ha, what's this?" he said, and reached for one of her baseball caps. He put it on. "I could play fourth base, eh?"
"There is no fourth base. It's home plate, silly." she knocked the hat off his head. "Focus, Doug."
"I can't stop focusing, he said. He stared at her for a moment. "More beautiful than I thought."
He pulled her in close and pushed her into the wall.
"Ow!" she cried out.
"Oh, sorry, he said, Here, maybe, uh, let's get into bed."
She threw the blanket off and got on top of the top sheet. He lay down next to her and kissed her. "I, Lili, I want to take you there first."
"Doug, you don't have to."
"Yes. I don't, I don't kid myself. I know that women don't always get there. And I don't want you to feel you need to spare my feelings if it doesn't happen for you. So let me do this for you."
"All I, all I want to do is please you."
"You already do. Put your hands up a sec, he said and, when she had done so, he lifted the camisole off, and then took off his tee shirt. "That's what I want, he said, That skin to my skin."
"Even though this skin, is perhaps, a little older than you thought it was?" she asked.
"Doesn't matter, he said, What matters is, it is yours.
He concentrated. Touching, tasting, caressing. She gasped and moaned so much that she became hoarse. And then became giddy, giggling and trembling, body jumping.
"Now, he said, and took off his boxers. She looked at him and gasped. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"It's, uh, it's like good news and bad news."
"The good news, Doug, is, the proportions. The, uh, bad news is also the proportions. Frankly, I'm a little afraid of you."
"I'll, uh, I'll be careful, he said, Hold back if I have to." He kissed her neck. "Are you ready?"
"Yes." she whispered hoarsely.
When it was all over, he lay there, panting. "Huh. Are you, how do you, how do you feel?" he asked, once he had some semblance of his voice again. She felt incredibly hot.
"It's a little," she gasped, "Its like my first time all over again."
"Are you, how do you feel?" he repeated.
"I feel," she said, and trembled a little, "a little like I got hit with a phase cannon."
He smiled down at her. "Lili, you're so " he didn't finish the sentence as she suddenly looked strange.
He looked down and she backed away slightly and sat up. They could both see it a dark, purplish-red, rapidly spreading J-shaped stain on the top sheet.
"That's not, uh?" he asked.
She shook her head. "Call Dr. Phlox, she said weakly. "I think I'm hemorrhaging."