There was a communications chime. Doug answered it, “Sure, Jennifer,” he said, “Uh, Jenny Crossman has a question for me. You mind if I, uh?”
“No, go ahead,” Lili said. She hugged Joss just a little bit tighter.
“So, um, Jenny, what can I do for you?” Doug asked.
“My mother is widowed.”
“Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.”
“It was several years ago. But anyway, it's an old fashioned wedding. Will you give me away?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Jenny, um, you should know something. I, uh, on the other side of the pond, your, um, your counterpart – she and I lived together for over a year.”
“Oh. Huh. Whooda thunk it?”
“Yeah, pretty nutty,” he said.
“Did you, um, was she anything like me?”
“Looked the same, except for bigger hair and darker makeup. And, um, it was not a very good relationship, to be honest with you.”
“Well, I understand things were often out of hand there,” she said.
“She was, uh, well, it was mutual. We were cheating on each other.”
“Oh,” she said, “How?”
“She had, uh, lots of offers. Some are counterparts of people you'd know, some aren't. I just, uh, had one gal I'd see. Anyway, I've said too much already.”
“Did you, uh, did you tell your fiancé about what happened to us while we were held captive?”
“No. He doesn't need to know the gory details of that.”
“Hmm. I think you should tell him something.”
“No,” she said, shaking her head.
“Do whatever you wanna do. You're a grownup. And, uh, I'll do it. I'll give you away.”
Lili lay down to rest a bit.
The room was filled with people.
Humans, Calafans, Vulcans, Xindi, all of them.
It wasn't the holding center and it wasn't the Enterprise. Then she was in actual space, tumbling end over end.
She was moving along, hurtling toward Earth.
She got there.
Malcolm, too, was all in. He kept his distance from Pamela, even though they were sharing the hotel bed. He felt terrible as he folded his hands behind his head. He could feel the cuff behind his left ear.
He opened a door.
She was there.
They just smiled at each other for a moment. He spoke, “I was unsure of how to do this.”
“We both have to be receptive.”
“I am definitely receptive,” he said, “I am more than receptive,” he smiled at her broadly.
“Me, too. But I don't want to do any sneaking around.”
“Me neither,” he said, “The pieces still aren't quite configured properly, Lili-Flower.”
Doug walked back to quarters. He thought a bit about the girl he'd known, lo those many years before. Shelby Pike. But she hadn't been a Botanist and ex-ballerina on the other side of the pond.
She'd been the night shift pilot, just like Melissa was in this universe. But unlike Melissa – or the Shelby on this side of the pond – she'd also been a former professional.
He opened the door to quarters. Wrong room. Force of habit. Lili was sleeping in the bed they had shared. Her eyelids were fluttering something fierce – she was clearly dreaming up a storm.
Then he heard her distinctly say, “I don't want to do any sneaking around