"Medical Log, Dr. Miva. Today, we got a very interesting new patient in the Main Hospital. The patient is a human male. Age unknown. Says his name is," the doctor, a female Calafan, read off a chart, "Charles Tucker. Came in with two human females, one has false calloo on her extremities. Also arrived with the elder brother of the High Priestess. Treve has been taken into custody." she paused to clear her throat.
"Now for information on the patient. Patient presents with severe, extensive radiation poisoning and a facial scar approximately four centimeters in length. Radiation poisoning is being treated with Cledden in injectable form. Patient is responding well to treatments. Note: patient may be slightly delusional, as per the human female who does not display false calloo. According to that female, the patient has been incorrectly referring to her as his wife."
Doug and Malcolm waited in Sick Bay. Doug stood over Lili's bed. She opened her eyes tentatively, and smiled at him weakly. "You know, your eyes are still like stones."
"Yes, he said, letting out a breath in relief. He came closer to her. She reached out and touched his hand. He bent over her and she touched his face and kissed him.
"I missed you, she said.
"Did you dream?" he asked. She nodded. "See anyone I know?" he asked.
"Treve? And how's he doing?"
"He propositioned me, actually."
Doug smiled. "So, uh, what did you tell him?"
"Douglas!" she gasped in mock indignation.
"Hayes, I suspect you're in trouble if she uses your full name, Malcolm said, hanging back.
"Malcolm?" she asked. "Come here a second. I have a secret to tell you."
Doug straightened up and switched places with Malcolm who said to him, "Do you know anything about this?"
Malcolm came closer and bent over Lili. "Yes?" he asked.
She brought her lips to his ear and whispered, "Thank you for everything you have said, and done, and everything you haven't said. And," she paused, "when it happens for you, I know it will be just as epic." She kissed him on the cheek, close to his mouth, brushing his lips slightly at the opposite corner. He shut his eyes tightly and kissed her back on her cheek, close to her mouth, and for a split second he could tell himself that his mouth was really two and a half centimeters to the left and was really squarely on hers. He put his hand behind her back and lifted her off the bed slightly in a hug.
She broke the embrace first and fell back a bit onto the hospital bed. "Doug?" she asked.
"Am I all right? When can we be together again, and try again?"
"We can't, he said, as Malcolm walked back and lightly pushed him back to her. "We just, we can't."
"Where's Dr. Phlox?" she asked.
"I am right here, Phlox said, parting the curtain in order to join them.
"I'll just. Here, Malcolm said, parting the curtain and leaving the little bed area. "Masterson, Haddon, you too, Jennifer. Let's wait outside." They followed him to the hallway in front of Sick Bay.
"Doctor, I understand what's happened. That the parts just don't, they don't fit. But what does this mean?" she asked.
"I have repaired your inferior and superior vessicles. Or, rather, I have repaired some of them while most were fused together or rerouted. There was also a hole in the back of the uterine wall. That's been repaired. The cervix is all right but had an abrasion. I also cleared your pelvic cavity of foreign fluid in order to prevent peritonitis."
"Thank you. And?" she asked.
"And that is a great deal of work. Lieutenant Commander Hayes may not be able to get here in time again, if there is another time. It is your prerogative you are both consenting adults but I would advise you, as your personal physician, that it would be an exceptionally foolish course of action."
"Doctor, I have a question. And, and, please bear with me because I don't know the anatomical terms and I'm sure my analogy is faulty. But, let's say I was stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey. I would gut it, remove the giblets, that sort of thing. And then I'd have all sorts of room to play around with. Add a cut up lemon or rosemary twigs or whatever."
"I'm not following you, Dr. Phlox said.
"Well, what if you took out something I, I wasn't really, well, using. Then would there be enough room?"
"You don't exactly have spare organs to just toss out. And that kind of butchery went out over a hundred years ago, Phlox said.
"No. There's one. Doctor, what if you gave me a hysterectomy?"
"Ensign, your uterus is, despite the repairs I have just made, perfectly serviceable. I can't condone just removing it."
"Well, I mean, I'm forty-eight years old. I won't be able to have children for more than maybe three years from now, at best. I'm already perimenopausal. If you take out my womb, well, doesn't that just kick off menopause and then it's over and done with? And then you'd have room?"
"Lili, maybe you shouldn't be talking this way, Doug said, Don't go under the knife on my account."
"It wouldn't matter any way, Dr. Phlox said, The cervix would still be in the way."
"Couldn't you just, I don't know, push it up and tie it off or something?" she asked.
"No, it's a part of the uterus itself, Phlox said, Let me think about this." He went through the curtain and walked to a different part of Sick Bay.
"Lili, this is crazy, Doug said, And I'm not going to be all right with you just tossing aside childbearing."
"I don't have children, she said, I never, we never really talked about this. Is that something that you, you want?"
"I don't know, he said, I never had a future before. It's hard for me to think in these terms. But no matter what I don't want you to just give all of that up, even to give up the possibility."
"I have an idea, Phlox said, returning. "In anyone else it would be more complicated, but since your inferior and superior vessicles have already been altered, well, that's why I am entertaining this idea at all."
"Go on, she said.
"I can deliberately prolapse the uterus. Bring it farther in front than normal, and up, not down. Then, as you suggested, pull the cervix up and secure it with an organic mesh. You'd probably feel a bit more bladder pressure at times, but otherwise you should barely notice it, I am thinking, Phlox said, It is an interesting medical challenge."
"What if, Doc, what if she got pregnant?" Doug asked.
"Well, that's the truly tricky part. An embryo would implant in about twenty-four hours. And the uterus and cervix would have to be restored to their original positions in order to allow for proper fetal development. Or to terminate the pregnancy, if that was preferred. Therefore, you'd need to know if the Ensign were pregnant within a day or so of fertilization."
"I'd have to go to a doctor and get a pregnancy test every time we made love?" Lili asked.
"No, Dr. Phlox smiled. "You'd only have to test once per day. And there are home kits you could use. If the test were positive, you'd visit your doctor immediately. The Calafans have advanced medical technology. With your records and anatomical information supplied by me, they could reverse the procedure, and reinstate it after childbirth."
"That's a lot of tests, Doug said, We'd, um, we'd buy them in bulk."
Lili smiled at him. "Yes. Doctor, do you think a pregnancy is even possible?"
"Yes. I'd say it's more of a certainty in this instance. Even with the birth control shot. When I, Hayes, when I had a chance to investigate a previous, er, sample, I tested its durability. Everything is rather resilient."
"Doctor, I never fathered a child on the other side of the, uh, in the other place."
"Circumstances are different there, Phlox said, The birth control shot, I estimate, will have an efficacy of perhaps sixty percent, versus nearly one hundred percent in the usual scenario. Assuming that this all works, of course."
"And if it doesn't, we'll try a hysterectomy?" Lili asked.
"That would be the next logical course of action."
"And if that didn't work?" Doug asked.
"Then I'm afraid we're out of options, Dr. Phlox said.
"No, Doc. We're not, Doug said.
"MacKenzie! Wait up!" Hoshi called out, following Aidan in the hall near Sick Bay.
"Oh, yes. Empress!" he waited for her.
"I was thinking, she said to him. "You know I don't have a sitter anymore."
He motioned to walk a bit but she stopped him. "Uh, Empress? Can't one of the women ?"
"No, Hoshi said, I need someone with a firm," she began to touch the outside front of his uniform and work her way downward, "hand." She smiled, seeing he was getting aroused.
"Empress, I'm, uh, no good with, with children."
"That's all right, she said, unbuckling his belt and then reaching in. "Oh, how very interesting."
"Call me Hoshi, she said.
"Ho-Ho-Hoshi," he could not get the word out, "I, uh, Tactical?" his voice rose as she played with short hairs.
"You may have heard that I'm looking for a father for my next child. Jun's just got to have a little brother. So when you landed on me that got me to thinking. And while you're a coward, you've still got good ... genes. So that's my, huh, proposition to you. Babysitter and father to my next son, or ..." she paused for a second and squeezed him hard, "or we leave you on one of the rocks in this system. What's it gonna be?"
"I'll take that as a yes." she began to get to work while crew members stared.
"Uh, Emp, uh, Hoshi?" His voice squeaked high. "Please don't, um, huh, squeeze quite so much."
"I'm the Empress. I'll do what I like."
"Why not, uh, handle the problem from, uh, the other end? From, from my end, Doug said.
"Hayes, she won't really feel much of a difference. But for you it would be a significant loss of sensitivity. And it would be as difficult to condone as a hysterectomy."
"Doc, I don't, uh, I don't volunteer this lightly. And a lot of me is screaming to take it back."
"Doug, really, I don't think you'll have to, Lili said.
"I don't want your, your body taking all of it, Doug said, This is my fault, not yours."
"It's not fault, she said.
"Well, this is all a moot point if the initial proposed procedure works, Phlox said, Perhaps it will, and we are speculating fruitlessly."
"How will you, uh, know how far to move everything?" Lili asked.
"I know the answer to that one, Doug said, Take measurements."
"Measure twice, cut once, she said.
"Yes. So before I proceed, you would need to, Hayes, you'd need to become fully aroused. I will, uh, wait outside." He parted the curtain again.
Doug began to grab at himself.
"No, wait, Lili said, Let me help you."
"You don't have to."
"I want to, she said.
"You really want to do that?" he asked.
"Yes, she said, I love you. I want to please you. And I want to be a part of you feeling good."
"I'm used to except in our dreams I'm used to women using that act as, well, as currency."
"They shouldn't, she said, I don't want to do it out of a sense of any sort of obligation, or to try to entice you to do the same for me later. I just want to do this, right now, for you."
"Here, he said, guiding her. It took a few minutes. "I, um, I'm ready now, Doc."
Phlox came back in. "I see we're ready." he took measurements. "Hayes, you can, uh, finish up. There's a room over there. I will prepare her for surgery now."
Doug was about to go when Phlox added, "I'd like for you to provide a sample while I've got you here. But Hayes, do try not to break the beaker."
When it was just the two of them, Lili looked up at Phlox. "I know you don't approve of this."
"I, well, I've been unfair, he said, And have been treating you as if you were barely out of childhood when that is not the case. And I, I spoke with Hayes. He mentioned that there are going to be other couples with this kind of mismatch in the future. He is absolutely right."
"Then let this experiment for that's what it is, I don't kid myself be a first step to bringing all of them together."
Doug returned. "I, uh, left it in ...."
"Yes, yes, of course. Now I really would like to work alone, Phlox said.
"When will you be done?" Doug asked.
"About two or three hours, I suspect. The worst part is done. Microsurgery was the most difficult part, and it's already been accomplished."
"And when can we, can we try again?" Lili asked.
"Forty-eight hours. And not a second sooner. Now, it's time. Hayes, I will contact you. Ensign, start counting backwards from one hundred, by threes."
"One hundred. Ninety-seven. Ninety-four..."