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Old May 3 2012, 02:32 PM   #29
jespah
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Re: Together

He left her to sleep, trying not to think about things. He didn't sleep well, and his dreams were fitful, mostly a lot of people wandering in and out but no one was talking directly to him and he wasn't talking to them. In the morning, he returned to the shared quarters to get some clothes. She was up and Yimar was showering.

“Doug,” she said, still in bed, “I don't want to end it. I do love you, you know.”

“You just told me you're in love with another man. Isn't ending it what's supposed to happen?”

“Why is it impossible for me to love – and really and truly be in love with – both of you?”

“Because it is.”

Yimar came back into the room, clad only in a towel.

“I'll, um, I'll see you at the shuttle,” he said, and left the room.

=/\=

Pamela was alone when she woke. Her PADD was flashing.

Went to the gym. See you at the class. I have to prepare.

– MR


She shook her head, “You got it bad. I even heard you talking in your sleep, saying her name. Or at least I guess it was her name. Flower something,” she said to no one, and went to her suitcase to select an outfit. A bit of bright green cloth caught her eye. He'd brought back her scarf, “I guess this is it. There's new royalty in town.”

=/\=

Laura Hayes was almost sixty, with greying brown hair and hazel eyes. She wore a black suit and had a briefcase with her. She looked at Doug with wide-eyed surprise but then was bowled over by Joss.

“Joss, take it easy,” Lili said, “He's very excited. He loves everyone.”

“He must be a very pleasant child,” Laura said.

Doug made the introductions and Yimar took Joss and amused him by showing him how to spin the thin bracelet on her wrist.

They sat down.

“I, um, this must look very strange to you,” Doug said.

“Yes,” Laura admitted, “I am, I know it's impossible. But I could swear that you were my brother's doppelganger. Although perhaps you're aged forward in time a year or so. Jay died in 2153,” she sighed, “Six years ago. At least our parents didn't survive to see that.”

“Were you and Jay very close?” Lili asked.

“A little. He was younger than me but he could be very overprotective. I guess that's military for you.”

“I know that,” Doug said, “I'm also former military.”

“He wasn't really close to anyone, not much,” Laura said, “A pity. He was a good person. Smart, capable and with a lot to offer. But no serious relationships, not even a girlfriend to mourn his passing. Then again, I never married, either. I guess neither of us were cut from that kind of cloth. But you two. A growing family and everything!”

“Yeah, um,” Doug said, looking away.

Kick Kick.

“Tell us more about Jay,” Lili prompted, “What he did for fun, that sort of thing.”

“He trained. All the time, it seemed. He always wanted to be ready. The safety of the Enterprise was his primary concern at the end. He, uh, he died rescuing their Communications officer. She sent me a very comforting note afterwards,” Laura stopped for a moment, “I'm sorry, it's a downer. Can I ask, Mr. Beckett, how are you and I related?”

“Please, uh, please, call me Doug,” he said. He looked at Lili, “You explain it.”

Me?” Lili sighed a little, “Ms. Hayes,” Lili said, “I'm no physicist. But I know that there are many universes. This one – the one that we're in – and there's at least one other viable one.”

“I don't understand.”

“I didn't, either. But, see, the other universe, it's almost a mirror of us. There are some subtle differences, though. And in ours, Jay is born on December fifth. And he's named Jay Douglas Hayes, right?”

“Uh, yes,” Laura said, a little hesitantly.

“In the other one, that same person – kind of – he's born on December third. It’s during the same year, 2102. And when he was born, he was named Douglas Jay Hayes. And he's sitting across from you.”

There was silence. Joss broke it, “'Ommy?”

“Excuse me a sec,” Lili said, going over to him.

“What does this all mean?” Laura asked.

“I'm not really Jay,” Doug said, “I grew up without a sister. And, I'm sure, without his values. I'm an imitation. Not really your brother at all. Not back from the dead, for sure. But, I hope you'll take this day in the spirit in which it was intended. Because, uh, I just want to know who that guy was, and what made him tick. And, and who loved him and all of that. Because he shouldn't be forgotten.”

“No. He shouldn't be,” she said, a little shell-shocked-looking.

“I, uh, my life isn't the continuation of his story. I don't give him a happy ending. And I probably don't give myself one, either. But at least it's not a story that ended six years ago.”

“Is there, do you know, is there some place that Yimar could take him for a few hours?” Lili asked, “I haven't lived in this area for a while, and I never paid attention to any attractions that would be good for a preschooler.”

“I thought you said he was going to go to the class and watch,” Doug said.

“I thought about that. It's hand to hand combat. I just don't think it would be appropriate,” Lili answered.

“Lili, you promised.”

Kick kick Kick Kick Kick.

“Doug, you saw how he melted down when he thought the dog was hurt. How's he gonna react when he sees a bunch of grown men fighting? I don't think he'll understand that it's all supposed to be pretend,” Lili said.

Laura glanced from one face to the other, and then said, “I think there might be a petting zoo nearby. Does he like animals?”

“Loves 'em,” Yimar said.

“Here,” Laura found the information and showed Yimar on a PADD.

“Look, Joss, they have ducks!” Yimar said, showing him a picture on the PADD.

“He's the duck,” Lili explained.

“Oh,” Laura replied.

Joss squealed, “Duck Duck! 'Ommy Duck Duck!”

Doug finally conceded, “Yeah, um, I guess he'll watch me in action some other time. Go and, um, take him to see the ducks, Yimar.”

Yimar and Joss left after Joss gave out another big hug and a kiss to a rather surprised but delighted Laura.

Laura then looked at both of them once it was just the three of them, “I appreciate your coming here, and telling me all of this. It's a lot to process. I don't even know what to call you. Cousin? Brother? Half-brother? In-law?”

“Uh, just my name is fine,” Doug said.

“I also – and this is absolutely none of my business. But – I don't even know you. And I can tell – and I'm sure your son can tell this as well – you look like you're on the rocks.”

Lili looked away.

Kick Kick Kick.

“It's that I need a job,” Doug said, and then quickly added, “But that's not why we came here. We don't want anything from you.”

“Oh. I see,” Laura said, “You said you were ex-military.”

“Yes, but I shouldn't go back into combat,” Doug said.

“Hmm, I suppose not. There's other things, though. Desk jobs and the like. Also, well, one thing I've noticed. We have been building a Xindi Embassy. And there are going to be other embassies opening up in other systems. I know there's an intention to get a human presence into all sorts of places. And those places need defenders. But, they never seem to know the terrain. The unit assigned to Vulcan almost lost a Corporal to heat stroke. They just weren't properly prepared for the climate.”

“That's a real problem,” Doug said, “I mean, a defense unit should be in place a good year or two before a facility like that opens. Ideally, more than that.”

“I believe the next embassy will be opening up on Andoria,” Laura said, “I could put in a word. Emily Stone is a good connection and knows a lot of people.”

“I, our business is on Lafa II,” Lili said quietly, “Yimar's home world.”

“Can it be moved?” Laura asked.

“It's a restaurant,” Lili said.

“Oh, hmm. Well, think about it. Oh, look at the time! I have to go,” Laura said, “Do be in touch.”

“Of course,” Lili said, “You're family.”

“I, I guess I am.”

Doug kissed her on the cheek, “I never had a sister before. Let me know if I, uh, if I need to make up for years of short-sheeting your bed, or something.”

Laura smiled, “Jay beat you to that. Bye.”

=/\=

The class was crowded. Everyone, it seemed, wanting to watch a little sparring. Lili found an aisle seat near the bathrooms.

There were eight cadets – three were female. They stood at attention as Doug explained some basic maneuvers. Malcolm stood at the back and didn't seem to know what to do with himself. Lili could see the cuff flash just a tiny bit.

“Now, we've been going over combinations for a while, remotely. But now's the time to get down and dirty. You won't really learn this unless you do it.”

He selected a cadet and let her try to punch him. He blocked her arm easily, “See what you did there? Elbow's a little too high. Next one.”

A cadet kicked at him. Lili winced. She didn't much like such things. Doug was knocked down but got up quickly. Then he felled that cadet with a hit to the man's jaw. He helped the cadet up, “See, it's distractions. Don't look at the pretty girls and don't think about anything else. Next.”

The next cadet used both hands in a swift one-two combination. Doug got her left arm pinned behind her back, “Okay, the issue here is, it's almost like a chess game. You've got to be thinking three, four, nine moves ahead. Get into your opponent's head. Watch which side they favor, which is their dominant side. Attack the weaker side and push it until you've hit the logical endpoint. If the weaker side is damaged, you may not have to face the stronger side. It might be enough to get your opponent to just up and quit.”

Another cadet came at him. He turned slightly and grabbed a wrist. The man was on the ground, practically crying for mercy, “Okay,” Doug said, releasing him, “Peripheral vision is key. She's in front of me but you're over there. She's just a distraction. Hang on, let me show you a long combination. Reed, c'mere.”

Malcolm came over, “Okay, right-cross, then left uppercut,” Doug said. Malcolm nodded.

They got down to it. Malcolm started as planned, then veered into an elbow into Doug's side. Doug countered with grabbing Malcolm's waist and hoisting him up, throwing him over his shoulder and to the ground in front of him. Malcolm got up, a tiny bit dazed, and got Doug's arm pinned behind his back. Doug shifted his weight over. Heavier and taller than Malcolm, he was able to break the grip and punched Malcolm's cheek. Malcolm punched Doug in the gut and there was the audible sound of “Oof!” as the wind was knocked out. Doug got his left back up, and uppercutted to Malcolm's jaw. Malcolm countered with an elbow to Doug's head, which knocked the bigger man down briefly.

Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick Kick Kick Kick.

Doug shook the cobwebs and got up.

It was a switch that flipped, and he kind of, sort of, saw Malcolm. But he also saw Lucas Donnelly. From over thirty-five years before. The first man he'd ever killed. Other side of the pond. It was a quick thing, designed to get Doug a raise in pay grade, nothing more.

So distracted, Malcolm was able to kick at Doug's knee and bring him down.

Doug got up and the vision was stronger. And he did what he had done almost four decades previously.

He grabbed a throat. And he started to press and squeeze.

Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick Kick Kick Kick.

Everyone just stared.

This wasn't a class anymore.

It was murder, and they were all watching it.

Lili stood up as quickly as her bulk would allow, “Stop it! You'll kill him!” she yelled.

Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick Kick Kick Kick.

“Doug! No more! Stop it! Stop!”

The kicking was too much, and she doubled over and fell.

=/\=

Doug broke out of his trance long enough to say to Malcolm, “If she miscarries, you're a dead man.”

=/\=

Pamela saw. She was torn for a second as to who to help, but she was closer to Lili. She ran over, “Quit it, ya lummoxes!” she yelled as she raced over.

She got to Lili, “Are you in labor?” she immediately asked.

Lili shook her head.

“You sure?”

“Yeah. I'm just, he won't stop kicking.”

Pamela pushed down on Lili's abdomen. The kicking only increased, “Okay, hang on. I'm a doctor,” she flipped open a communicator and called for an ambulance.

Lili shook and winced, “What are they doing? Have they stopped?” she asked.

“I think so. Look, there's the stretcher. Just, we'll get you to the Med Center. I'll go with you, okay?”

“Okay.”

The ride was quiet but Lili did ask for the doctor's name.

“Pamela. Just call me Pamela.”

“You're – you're, no. You can't be,” Lili said.

“I am. And you are Reed's girl, aren't you?”

“I suppose.”

“And the big guy's your husband, right?”

“Right.”

“Ai yi yi yeah this was a smart idea,” Pamela said, shaking her head.

“You should marry him,” Lili said.

“Me? No. I don't do such things. He wouldn't have me, anyway. I'm the bad girl.”

“C'mon,” Lili said, “He wouldn't be spending time with you if he didn't think you had some fine qualities.”

“No. I don't have any. He, uh, I saw him last night. And he is completely taken with you. He won't marry me or anyone else. I can tell. I don't know if that helps things or not. I just believe that people should have all the information. Know what I mean?”

“Yes, of course. I got a mess on my hands. And maybe blood as well.”

“I think they stopped,” Pamela said, “They better have.”

=/\=

The hospital room was small and bright. Pamela clicked open her communicator, “Reed, we're at the Med Center. I assume you and the lummox are done killing each other for one day.”

“At least he stopped,” Malcolm said, “We – the whole thing was stopped. No one wants to see that much of a beat-down.”

“Tell him I've got her here.”

“Doug,” Malcolm said, “get to the Med Center. Lili is there.”

“I don't know how to go.”

“I'll, I'll take you.”

=/\=

They arrived quickly. Doug took one look at Pamela, “You a doctor?”

“Yeah.”

“Is the baby all right?”

“Yes.”

“Good,” he said, plunking down into a nearby chair and staring into space.

“Is she all right?” Malcolm asked.

“Shaken up. And that kid is a kicking machine. It's all stress-related, I'll wager, Reed.”

“She has another four months or so to go,” Malcolm said.

“She's enormous for that stage,” Pamela said, “We can, um, let's go in. But no stressing. I mean it.”

Lili looked a little drowsy but otherwise all right, “I was so afraid,” she said shakily.

“For which one of us?” Doug asked.

“For both of you,” Lili said, “Both of you.”

“But –” Doug said.

“But nothing,” Pamela interjected, “She's allowed to worry about both of you.”

Malcolm looked down, “Whatever I have done, I cannot put you through this.”

“No,” Pamela said, “You got bitten. Hard. Don't just concede it.”

“But she's married to him.”

“Yeah, to me.”

“And you,” Pamela said, facing Doug, “you strike me as a guy who's not listening. Who's busy playing gimme, got it and gimme more.”

“She's my wife. That means there are only two of us!” Doug said.

“Look. I can guess at what's happening – I only have a few pieces of this,” Pamela said, “But not all songs are soloes or duets. Maybe yours is a three-part harmony of some sort. 'Cause I can tell you – if Reed isn't in on this, he's gonna be miserable forever. And if you're not in it, you'll be the one who's miserable. And if either of you are missing, she's the one who gets it. Actually, she's the one who gets it either way. If either of you care about her happiness at all, you'll, I dunno. You'll find a way to get this to work.”

“Pamela,” Malcolm said, “We must leave them alone for a while,” he took her by the arm, “They have to talk,” The two of them left.

“Doug,” Lili said, “I know there are cracks in our marriage. And I know that both of us have made those cracks bigger. But I think they were there before.”

“Before?”

“Yes. You weren't happy. Sure, you had lots of things that were okay for you. And some of them were truly wonderful. But you had a lot of missing pieces as well. I don't hunt with you. You don't work. You have a life filled with family obligations – and now you're about to have even more.”

“I accepted those obligations gladly,” he said.

“I know you did. And I appreciate that. But you also did it to the exclusion of yourself. You gave up who you were, completely. And you didn't have to. There are cracks in our marriage.”

“And I want to fix them,” he said.

“But just plastering them over isn't going to do any good,” she said, “It's never right when you do that. You know that.”

“What are you saying?” he asked.

“What if, instead, what if we crack it all open? And I mean really open.”

“End it?”

“No. Change it. Add to it.”

“Lili, I don't understand.”

“We are not the only parties,” Lili said, “There are – by my count – five. I had thought there would be a sixth, but I am thinking, no.”

=/\=
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