“Lili-Flower?” he kissed her ear.
“Hmm?” she chuckled a little.
“Scratch what I was going to say. I'll ask this instead: do you, do you mind very much my calling you that?”
“Of course I don’t. I kinda like it, Malcolm.”
“Oh, good, I'm glad. I, uh, I'm just sort of a pet names person. Called every, everyone, every woman by one or another, but it was always something more generic, like Sweetheart
. I wanted this one to be more unique and personal.”
She smiled, “That's sweet. No one's ever called me by any sort of a pet name.”
“He, uh, doesn't?”
“No. Totally practical. Just Lili or Mrs. Beckett when introducing me – which confuses the Calafans. They don't have last names, so half the time they think his full name is Beckett, or mine is.”
“Huh. You know, I wonder if I'll simply forget your real name one day, and just call you Lili-Flower.”
“Well, it's okay. Lili isn't my first name, anyway.”
“What?” Malcolm was a little incredulous, “You don't have to sit by and accept people mispronouncing it, if it's something else. Please, do tell me the right one. I want very much to get it right.”
“Oh, you get it right,” she said, snuggling a little against his chest, “It's – you recall I told you that all names are meaningful?”
“My real name – the one I was given when I was born – is Charlotte Lilienne O'Day
“Charlotte? You're a Charlotte
? Why don't you use it?”
“I am named after both of my grandmothers. And Charlotte O'Day was kind of a severe woman. I also think my mother wasn't too fond of her mother-in-law. So she called me by my middle name. Her mother was Lilienne Ducasse and Lilienne maybe was too long for a little girl, so I was called Lili.”
“The dreaded mother-in-law,” Malcolm said, “Does, uh, does he get on with your parents?”
“My parents have been dead for over forty years.”
“Oh. You, you must have been very young,” he put his hand back on her belly and the kicking calmed down again.
“Yes. Our house burned down when I was nine. My parents were trapped inside. My father died when a beam fell on him. He was found on top of my mother. I guess he was protecting her somehow.”
Kick Kick Kick
“I shouldn't have asked you about that. It's rather intimate. Too intimate.”
“No, it's all right,” Lili said, “And it's not too intimate. Look at us. We are already intimate.”
He paused for a while, then turned and put his hand on her face and turned her face so that he could look her in the eye, “There are things I want to tell you. Three words
. You know which ones they are. But I cannot. I, it's a pity. I cannot, because I know that you don't
She clapped her hand on his mouth, a little harder than she'd intended, “Oops, did I just smack you? I didn't mean to do that with quite so much vigor.”
“That's all right. I'm made of sterner stuff.”
“I, uh, I did that because, Malcolm, because I want to ask you to be patient with me. After all, it took me about two years to know the score. Let me, let me come to it in my own way, at my own pace.”
Yimar skipped breakfast and took Joss straight to the Bridge. This, she knew, was important, even if he was hungry. She'd take care of that later. Right now, this other thing, it had to get done.
She was unaccustomed to Bridge protocol so she just barged in. Chip was sitting at Communications and waved at her. Another man, taller, darker – he was sitting at the Tactical station. A red-haired guy was piloting.
“Commander!” Yimar called out, “Can I talk to you?”
“A moment,” T'Pol said. Why was the child on the Bridge?
Joss fussed a little, “Want o'meal.”
“Yes, we'll have oatmeal later. Commander, I think he saw Lili last night.”
“So he was dreaming? This is hardly a reason to come to the Bridge,” T'Pol hadn't gotten a lot of sleep for the past several days.
“Not quite. Joss, tell T'Pol. Tell her about Duck Duck
,” she picked up Joss and held him, close to T'Pol.
“'Ommy Duck Duck
!” he said, again patting his own ear.
“Is there a meaning to this?”
“Yes!” Yimar said, “He had one of our kind of dreams. Where people can move around and make contact and it's not just some random thoughts. I know humans have these kind of random thought dreams, but this one was my kind of a dream. It was a contact dream.”
“As I recall, contact passes from one universe to another. Is that exclusive?”
“No. We can contact within the same side of the pond, too,” Yimar said, “Lili has some amplifier on her – she wears a ring on a chain and my mother gave her a bracelet last year. I think she's using them, and coming here. She can tell us things about where they are.”
“'Ommy Duck Duck
“She will need to select a better and more reliable recipient for this information,” T'Pol said, “I hardly think her son can repeat coordinates.”
“I understand,” Yimar said, “I can sleep with him in the same bed and keep physical contact, and will probably be able to at least listen in. I don't know coordinates much, either, but at least I can talk coherently,” she offered.
“Perhaps. It could be another way to confront the problem. Mr. Masterson, you will coordinate this.”
Yimar turned, and Joss was brought very close to T'Pol. He reached out and patted her, “Milk?”
T'Pol raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything.
“Yes, Commander,” Chip said, stifling a laugh.
“Deb, I still think this is, well, not the best thing for you.”
“You don't need to protect my feelings, Jonathan.”
“Still, I don't want you to get hurt. I do care about that.”
“Thanks,” she smiled and traced her finger along his left clavicle, “I just, I want you to know. There are a lot of times when I've been afraid.”
“Well, that's normal.”
“Sure. I know. But, I mean, I'm in Security! We're not supposed to get that bad. And I used to. And some of that's come back now. The Witannen, they really scare me,” she said, and shook a little.
“That's the way they want you to feel. Makes them think that they're alive.”
“I know it, but sometimes I wish I could stop trembling.”
“Try not to think of them. Try...”
“I'm thinking... I'm thinking of all the times on the Enterprise
when I was scared to death ...and I would see you so busy at your command, and I would hear your voice from all parts of the ship... and my fears would fade. And now they're making me tremble. But I'm not afraid. I am not afraid.”
He kissed her, “I know this means more to you than, well, than it should. I can't give you what you truly want. But if I can make you comfortable, and if there's any way I can make it less frightening for you, tell me, Deb.”
“Keep doing that,” she said, “Just keep letting me believe things that I know, really, aren't so.”
“Travis, just, don't
“I'm sorry. I'm still sorry,” he said, shaking his head.
“I can't even respond anymore. This is awful. I never thought I'd become, well, I guess this is what it's like when you're frigid,” Jennifer said.
“Whatever I've been the cause of, Gawd, I'm sorry.”
“I can respond with, with Frank. I do. I just know I won't be able to, anymore. When we get out – if we ever do – he's gonna leave me. I know he's gonna leave me,” she cried and rocked to herself on the mattress, shaking and incoherently mumbling after a while.
“I'll do my best,” he said, “I've held back for a couple of years. I should be able to hold back a bit longer, eh?”
“Thank you,” Lili said, “Ah, look, breakfast.”
Malcolm got up and brought the tubes over, “Breakfast in bed? What are we having?”
“You want me to choose?”
“You have a good imagination.”
“Hmm. No dairy, right? Okay. How about a Mexican frittata?”
“That's an omelet, right?”
“Yes, but you don't fry it. You put it into a pan which can go in the oven – like a cast-iron skillet – and you put in whisked eggs, vegetables, that sort of thing. This will be Mexican so let's add chorizo. It's a spicy sausage. Bake it for a while until it sets, bring it out. I'll garnish it with, uh, chopped raw cilantro and scallions. And top it with fresh avocado slices. Bon appetit
!” She shoveled a big gob of it into her mouth.
“Avocado,” he laughed a little to himself as he ate some paste.
“What's funny about an avocado?”
“It's, uh,” he turned serious again, “It's something not too nice. Something I don't think I can tell you if I mean to retain your respect. Or at least your sympathy.”
“Malcolm,” she said, putting down her tube and facing him, “I'm married to a killer of fourteen men. Nothing you've ever said or done is going to shock me in the least.”
Kick Kick Kick Kick
“It has to do with Pamela.”
“She’s the doctor, yes?”
“Yes. I can't really tell you right now. But I think I will be able to at some point,” he said, “Intimate, right?”
,” she said, ignoring her food and kissing him instead.
“I just – I know this is insecurity talking. But I can't get over the feeling that you're not willing, that you are thinking of another. Despite what you've said and despite what we've done. I don't mean to be needy but I feel a bit, well, vulnerable.”
“Hmm. Put that down a sec,” he complied, “I'm gonna do something right now. And I don't know how good it'll be. I know I'm not too good at this, but I will try.”
“I don't understand.”
“Shh. Whenever you, whenever you think I'm not willing or I'm thinking of someone else, or not paying attention to you, or not caring about you or concerning myself with, with you, I want you to think, to think about this. Can you do that?”
“I would like to,” he said, hoping it would be something pleasant.
She pulled down on the blanket.
“Nice women don't..,” he said.
“Oh yes, we do,” she said. He had the presence of mind to pull her up to him and embrace her, and kiss her face before the door slid open and they were separated for exercise.