Lili stood up and got a change of clothes out of a drawer. And one more thing, a bracelet, from Lafa II, made of the same material as their wedding rings. She slipped it on and it fit, but barely. Her wrists had swollen, along with everything else, “It's Movie Night tonight,” she said, putting on fresh clothes.
“Oh? Uh, are you okay with me passing? The game is on.”
“Well, it's another reason why this is a superior universe,” he said, catching clean boxers that she tossed to him, “You have football. It's preseason and all.”
“Ah, yes, very important meaningless games,” she smiled, “I didn't know you'd make me a football widow.”
“You watch sometimes.”
“Yeah, I do,” she admitted, “But I can't get into it until it gets a lot later on.”
“Well, watch with me and maybe I can persuade you to change your mind,” he said.
“Or, you can go to Movie Night with me.”
“What are they playing?”
“A French film - The King of Hearts
,” she said.
“A chick flick? Uh, no thanks,” he said, making a face.
“All right, suit yourself,” she said, “I'll take Joss so you can watch with a lot of sound and Yimar can get a little peace.”
“Thanks,” he said, “And I'll see you after, for the second half of your double feature,” he kissed her.
Jonathan yawned. First shift was basically done.
“Clear of the Lafa System, sir,” Travis said.
“Good, steady on to Earth.”
“Captain,” T'Pol said, “I'm picking up some EM radiation.”
Jonathan punched on the console on his chair, “Tripp, we're getting signs of EM radiation.”
“I see it, Cap'n,” Tripp replied, “Origin is a little difficult to detect. Could be from the Lafa System's equivalent to our Kuiper Belt. I'll keep an eye on it. Might wanna polarize the hull plating.”
“Malcolm ..?” Jonathan said.
“Ah, yes, done,” he said, fiddling with controls, “I think we'll be all right.”
“Radiation is within tolerable limits,” T'Pol said.
“Keep an eye on it when the shift changes,” Jonathan said, “And let me know if it gets intolerable.”
“Of course, Captain,” said the Vulcan.
Melissa sat in her and Jennifer's quarters, alone. She punched in to her console, “Madden to Hoshi Sato.”
“Yes?” came Hoshi's voice from the Bridge.
“Can you put me through to Ceres, to Leonora Digiorno?”
“Sure. Hang on a sec,” Hoshi clicked a few times, “There, go ahead,” she got off the line and left Melissa to her call.
“Norri!” Melissa called out when Leonora's face came into view.
“Ah, good to see your pretty face,” Norri said, “How're things going? Ya miss me?”
“Buckets,” Melissa said, “Wish I was home with you again.”
“Well, you gotta do assignments so we can eat. Being an editor isn't as lucrative,” Norri admitted.
“Any really funny typos?”
“Nothing much lately. Just the usual 'there
' for 'their
'. I've been reviewing a lot of dull romance novels. Boy meets girl. Very little girl meets girl.”
“Well, we write our own love story,” Melissa said, “With a few twists.”
“Yeah, the twists,” Norri said, “I'm not so sure I like the twists.”
“This is what you get for falling in love with someone who's bi. Temptation is all around.”
“Sure. But you don't have to give in to it.”
Movie Night was well-attended. Lili took an aisle seat. When people noticed she had Joss in her arms, and he was squirming a bit, they gave her some room.
“Good evening!” Chip Masterson called out from the front of the room, “Welcome, as always, to Movie Night. In honor of our own Jennifer Crossman getting married in a few weeks, we have some romantic films. Tonight is Philippe de Broca's 'King of Hearts'
, starring Alan Bates and I can't figure out how to pronounce this actress's name so I'll just mangle it. Gen
,” Lili called out.
Kick Kick Kick
“Ah, thank you from the Peanut Gallery,” Chip replied, “This is not just a romance, it's an anti-war story. Talk all you like; it's subtitled. Roll it, Aidan.”
The lights dimmed, and a figure sat down next to Lili. Joss squirmed a little, “Unka,” he said.
“Shh. Later, Joss,” Lili said, adjusting him in her arms and handing him the all-important dinosaur toy.
Joss only spoke one more time during the picture, when there were canaries on the screen, “Elekai,” he said.
“Yes, kind of,” said the figure next to Lili. It was Malcolm.
“Shh, shh,” Lili said, “Play a little with Dino,” she said to her son as the film continued.
“Want some popcorn?” Malcolm asked her quietly.
“No free hands,” she said, “Unless, here, if you don't mind,” she handed him the sleeping child for a second, took a few kernels, passed the bowl and took Joss back.
“You're rather quick with that,” he said.
“You get that way.”
“I didn't realize this picture would be about the First World War,” Malcolm said, “Will you stay for the discussion afterwards?”
“Only if he doesn't start to fuss. Or if he needs a change, then we vamoose.”
“Yes, of course. Motherhood seems to truly suit you.”
“I really love it,” she said, “But it is tiring. We may end up leaving even if he doesn't start to fuss,” she yawned, “I'm kind of a cheap date these days. I can't party like I used to.”
“I'm finding I prefer a quieter life now, myself,” he admitted.
“Oh, c'mon, it must be fun to be the bachelor around town,” she said.
“Only sometimes,” he said quietly, and then turned his attention back to the film.
The game got dull, and Doug ended up snoring in a chair.
She was there, darker than Lili.
He was younger than he was. Younger and stupider, he would have said, but it was a dream and you can be stupid in dreams.
She was touching him.
He remembered what that was like. It felt like it used to, two decades before.
She stopped what she was doing for a second. He kissed her. Same old feeling, the excitement.
She smiled at him, “Susan,” he said.
“I like the way you do things.”
“Oh? And what if I do them some other way?”
“I get the feeling I'd like that, too.”
She smiled again, dark brown eyes, short black hair in the tightest, kinkiest curls, small gap between her two front teeth, “When are you leaving again, Soldier Boy?”
“I don't know,” he said, “Come on. Leave Titania and come along.”
“They don't need schoolteachers on your ship, Soldier Boy.”
“You can do something else,” he said.
“You just wanna get some,” she said, then went back to things.
He didn't speak anymore. He couldn't. It felt too damned good to ruin it with talk.
The film was maybe three-quarters of the way finished when Joss woke up and began to fuss a bit, “That's my cue,” she said, and left.
She found Doug sleeping in the chair. He said the word 'Titania
She noticed his condition, and brought Joss into the other room, where Yimar was already sleeping.
“No dreaming, huh?” she said to herself.
“'Ommy, Duck Duck
,” Joss said sleepily.
“Sleep now,” she said quietly.
She returned to their room in time to see Doug jolted awake.
“Huh, oh, didn't see you come in,” he said.
“You didn't hear me, either, I see.”
“It was not a Calafan-style dream. Just a regular dream,” he said, “Didn't mean to, you know.”
“I know. So, wanna tell me about it at all?”
“It was Susan Cheshire,” he said, “I dated her a good quarter of a century ago. Haven't thought of her much in the past twenty years.”
“Does she look like me?”
“No. She's as dark as Travis,” Doug said.
“Are you jealous? I mean, it was just a dream,” he said.
“No, not jealous. I don't like jealousy. It's toxic.”
“It wasn't like, like the dreams you and I shared when we first met,” he said, “Nowhere near as good. You have nothing to be concerned about.”
“How did it end with, uh, Suzanne?”
“Susan. She turned out to be a raging alcoholic. It took me a few months to really recognize that.”
“She was probably a very hard person to love.”
“I don't know that I loved her,” Doug said, “It wasn't anything like us. I wonder why I dreamed about her at all.”
“Maybe you miss a little of that,” Lili said.
“No. I don't miss any of it,” he assured her, “Come to bed.”
“I just, uh, I just want to sleep. I’ve had a very full day. Okay?”
“Of course it's okay,” he said, watching her slip off the bracelet, “You and Number Two Son need to sleep.”
Lili crawled into bed and kissed Doug, “If I talk in my sleep, don't hold it against me,” she said drowsily.
“I never do.”
She was her age, but not pregnant. She knew him, kind of. He was someone she'd known a good thirty years before, but aged to the present. It was the big town square at New France, on Titan. Crazy dreams.
“Paul?” she asked, “Paul Mayer?”
“You look good.”
“So do you. Your grandparents around?” he asked.
“Paul, they've been dead for over twenty years.”
“Oh, well, then I guess you're free.”
“I guess so,” she hugged him, and it turned into a French kiss. Suddenly they were in the back seat of his car, parked somewhere dark. There were trees nearby.
“What is this leading to?” she asked.
“Whaddaya think? I got stuff.”
“I bet,” she said.
He brought out a fifth, and they both drank from it, “You know I love you,” he said.
“That stuff is rancid,” she said, after taking another swig, “You sure your parents know you're out this late?”
“They won't be looking for me here,” he said, “C'mon, let's get that tee shirt off.”
“You ever do this with anyone before me?” she asked.
“No,” he said.
The dream jump cut and everything felt hot and friction-y. It hurt a bit, but that was more bulk than anything else. It was all over in a few minutes.
“Don't, um, don't tell anyone we did that,” she said.
“Not to worry,” he said.
“Don't, um, don't tell anyone we did that, ” Lili said in her sleep.
She awoke, “Ugh,” she said. Doug was awake, looking at her.
“Active dream, huh?”
“I lost my virginity again.”
“Oh. Didn't turn out so well, eh?”
“No. He, Paul, uh, I told him to keep it quiet. I knew my grandfather would kill me. And it was, like, a day or so later and it was all over my High School.”
“It was a long time ago,” Doug said.
“It's a little fresh in the mind sometimes.”
“Like Susan,” he said, “I'd fix them up with each other but they're in different universes.”
“I suppose so,” Lili said.
“Commander,” Melissa said as she piloted the Enterprise
in the middle of the night, “I think that EM radiation is worsening.”
“Are we still within tolerance limits?” asked T'Pol.
“Yes, but the concentration is climbing.”
“Can you tell where it's coming from?”
“I think it's coming from all around us. I can't get a fix on it.”
“I'll alert the Captain,” T'Pol said.