“So, whaddaya think?” Melissa asked, when it was just her and Norri in communication.
“Well ... I dunno,” Norri sighed, “We have the kid coming. And I want to go to grad school.”
“I know. We're going to lead busy lives.”
“Are these dreams restful? I mean, you're pregnant. You need to get rest, Mellie.”
“I think they are. I'll ask. But I gotta figure they are. He had – Doug had – explained a little of that to me. It's how they met, actually. I'll tell you the details some other time. But it did seem like, if it wasn't restful, he couldn't do it. And he dreamed like that for a while. But when they finally got together, he stopped.”
“Because he thought it was cheating,” Melissa explained.
Pamela and Malcolm were back in the hotel room, “Dinner?” she asked.
“Oh, sure. I'll, I will buy you dinner,” he said.
“Then I'll have a steak. But – what do you think of all this? You seem to be hot to do it.”
“Is it that obvious? I am, of course. Whatever I can get – and to not be sneaking 'round. She doesn't want that, and neither do I. I just don't want it to be some horribly clichéd affair, where we go to sordid motel rooms that are rented by the hour, or we tell him that she's traveling for some reason or another. I don't want it to be a lot of lying.”
“At least it wouldn't be,” she said.
“Yes, although it is, as I said, a half a loaf. I don't suppose Starfleet scheduling would allow more than that anyway,” he looked out the window as the lights of San Francisco began to wink on. The Golden Gate Bridge was nearby, shimmering as the August day settled into a cool night.
“Reed?! Hello! Earth to Reed
“What? Oh, sorry. What were you saying again?”
“I said – I wanted to know what you'd do if this arrangement never gets off the ground, and never happens.”
“Oh. I, uh, I don't know,” But he looked tired, and older, and set his mouth in a hard edge as he looked at the city. The lights shone in his eyes and he seemed to be searching.
“Just don't – promise me you won't die for love,” she said.
“I don't think anyone does that these days.”
“Sure they do. Remember my classmate Owen?”
“Aussie chap, right?”
“Yep. He and my other classmate, Blair – they went out for a year or so. He was totally all over her. He wanted it to be forever and all of that. Drove him to cheat on tests because he was failing out of school and they'd be separated. He wasn't thinking with the right head, know what I mean?” she said, “And when we left the Enterprise
, he was found out, and expelled. She broke up with him – she was angry that he was endangering everyone's career, and may have made it harder, when we were all sick, to get us cured. Although now I doubt he had much to do with that – I think that was just a tough thing and it was almost coincidental. But it didn't matter to her. She couldn't trust him anymore, so she said sayonara.”
“And it was on the news. You really should pay more attention to the news, Reed. We left the Enterprise
at the end of July of last year. And in early August – it was the fourth, I'm pretty sure – he hanged himself.”
“She's engaged to someone else now. His big sacrifice was for nothing. So don't do that, Reed. Don't get to that point, okay? 'Cause I might miss you a little bit.”
The morning came. They were back in quarters.
He came in and woke her by kissing her cheek. She looked up and smiled at him tentatively, “Hello.”
“I missed that,” Doug said, “Really, really missed that like crazy.”
“I was thinking. Let's go to Andoria. Let's leave this all behind. You'll, you'll get the cuff back and give it back to the Calafans. It is their artifact, after all. We'll sell Reversal
. You'll start another place. I'll reup with Starfleet and get involved with the defense of the new embassy. I could be home nights and weekends. We'd forget it all ever happened. Patch it all up again and make it right.”
“Doug, yesterday morning, you said you thought we were through. And then you said you wanted to work on things, and now you seem to still want to work on things. But, well, where is your mind at?”
“It's on the side of working on things,” he said.
“And are you gonna just try to kill him again the next time you see him?” she asked.
Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick kick Kick Kick Kick
“Partly it was him. Partly I saw Donnelly again. Weird. Just Donnelly, and I hit the same mode I was in back then. All fourteen of them – all fourteen – whenever I, I killed a guy. It was because, well, it was because he had something I didn't. Something I wanted really, really badly. Donnelly had a higher pay grade. Geming Sulu had a spot on the Enterprise
“And Malcolm has?”
“Your heart, or some of it, at least. And I want it back.”
“And you just want to go to Andoria and forget everything.”
“But you're already forgetting someone. There's a certain unnamed child. He's going to pull you back. And you should let him pull you back. He will always be a reminder.”
“He can, uh, fit in somehow. I dunno how. But he will.”
“And what of Joss? Lafa II is the only home he's ever known. He'd lose Yimar, too. And we would. And sell Reversal
? Sell it? When we've worked so hard to get it up and running?”
“That's your work, not mine, not really.”
was our dream. And you just want to toss it away,” she said.
“You can work anywhere. You've told me that.”
“I love the Calafan people. I love our home. And our friends. And you have friends there, too. I know it's not easy for you to make friends, Doug. So you'll just toss them out as well?”
“We have to start fresh. No reminders.”
“That kid is going to be a reminder.”
Kick Kick Kick Kick
“He won't remind me, Lili.”
“Yes. He will. And you will have a connection to Melissa. And I won't have a connection to Malcolm.”
“But I don't want a connection to her. I'll forego that to be with you.”
“Doug, do you love her? I keep asking you and you keep evading the question.”
“Stop asking me that,” he looked away and she couldn't see his eyes.
“You – if we go to Andoria, you get everything you want. You get this fresh start – or sorta fresh start. You get a new job. You get me far away from Malcolm. And you get to keep Melissa as well. You get it all.”
Kick kick kick kick Kick Kick Kick
“You'll have plenty,” he said, “You have Joss. And Pete. And, and me. Can't I be enough for you?”
“No more than I can be enough for you.”
“What?” he asked angrily.
“I'm not enough. Because I'll answer the question for you, since you won't. You do love her. Even if it's only a little bit. You do. There's one day, when you're fine. And you're minding your own business. And then, suddenly, the next day, you're in love. And you didn't plan it and maybe didn't want it. But it's happened.”
“I need some air,” he said, and walked out.
Melissa was on a call with Norri, and said, “I think this might be good for me. I kinda already have the whole day-night thing going anyway. Daytimes, I think of you, and love you and miss you tremendously. And then I go out at nights and I look for guys. What if I had just one guy?”
“I'd know where you were,” Norri said, “That counts for something. I have definitely worried about you.”
“Yeah. I know – I don't want another guy. He was good to me. I'm sure he still will be. I'd stay out of trouble.”
“I'd say you're already in trouble,” Norri said, patting her own flat belly, “But I can see the advantage.”
“But you! It doesn't seem fair,” Melissa said.
“It's not necessarily unfair,” Norri replied, “You'd be sleeping. Everybody sleeps. I can't get into your dreams. All that's changing now, really, is that I know, more or less, what those dreams are. But you and I, we have the big thing, the big love.”
“Yes,” she smiled, “And we're gonna be parents.”
“Yes. Thomas, right? You like that.”
“Yes. Or Tracy,” Melissa said.
“And I'll come to the Enterprise
after that wedding is over, and meet everyone?”
“Of course,” Melissa said, “I get to show you off,” she smiled.
“I do love you, you know.”
“I love you, too. And him, too.”
“And him, too,” Norri said, “I hope he loves you back, Mellie,” she closed the connection.
There was a chime at the door, “Come in,” Melissa said.
It was Doug, “Am I bothering you?”
“No. Not at all.”
“I, um, I don't know why I'm here.”
“I do,” she got up and kissed him.
“I can't do that. Can't,” he said, turning away, “It's all cheating. It's wrong.”
“It's open,” she said, “If we consent, it's not cheating.”
“I wanted it to be different with her,” Doug said, “Change who I was. Be true.”
“I know,” Melissa said.
“I have to go,” he said.
“Y'know,” Pamela said over breakfast, “I think you and he would be getting the same amount of time, actually.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Because, well, you sleep for eight hours, right? And you work for eight or so and they don't even work together. And then it's the other eight.”
“Perhaps,” Malcolm allowed, fingering the cuff a little between bites. His omelet was good but missing something.
“And what are those hours filled with? She cleans dishes, changes dirty diapers and probably takes a transport to and from work, or drives. She cooks, too, right?”
“Right. And better than the chef here,” he said.
She smiled, “You really are bitten. But, really, none of that is terribly romantic stuff. I think you're getting the better end of the deal, Reed.”
“He called it party time. No responsibilities.”
“You're a Starfleet guy. If this was conventional, you'd have to go flying off to this place and that crisis. You wouldn't be home for report cards and first steps, or to get the furniture moved. Don't knock this and keep thinking you're second best,” she said, “I think you're getting a very good deal here.”
“I think it all depends on whether he thinks he's getting a good deal. He seems to be holding veto power over all of our futures,” Malcolm said, “Pass the salt, will you, please?”
Doug got back to their quarters quickly. She was dressing for the wedding.
“I need to know,” he said breathlessly, “Will you give him up?”
She shook her head, “I can't.”
“Then – I didn't want it to be this way. But it has to. We'll go back to the Lafa System. And on the way, we'll pretend and we'll hold it together for Joss's sake. But when we are back there, I'll file for divorce. I will go to Andoria and work. And you can stay on Lafa II. And we'll, we'll work something out with the kids. And you can, uh, do whatever you want.”
Kick kick kick kick kick kick Kick Kick Kick
“And for this wedding?” she asked.
“We will smile and pretend like nothing is happening. We will not ruin Jenny's day,” he said, “And it'll be practice for how much we'll have to hold things together in front of Joss.”