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Old May 5 2012, 12:46 PM   #34
Chanukahjes
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Re: Together

“Communiqué coming in for you from Admiral Gardner, Captain,” Hoshi said.

“I'll take it in my Ready Room, thanks.” When the connection was ready, Jonathan said, “Go ahead.”

“Jonathan! I thought you'd be interested in this, seeing as you're heading back there soon.”

“Oh?”

“The Lafa System. We're looking to establish and defend a more regular trade route through there.”

“It's near Klingon space,” Jonathan said.

“Yes, that's definitely one reason. We certainly need to watch our, ahem, neighbors. But there are people who are looking to settle there. It's a new frontier, but it also isn't – it's not exactly what anyone would call a wilderness. The people are friendly and we are looking to normalize relations even more. Establish more of a human presence, even before this damned war is over. Those people might end up having to fight beside us at some point. It would be good if we had a solid foundation with them.”

“I understand that's the idea with most of our allies, or our hoped-for allies,” Jonathan said, “And, um, any specific reason to be mentioning this now?”

“Well, I understand you know the homesteaders who are already there. The Becketts, right?”

“Yes, I do,” Jonathan said.

“And if the additional settlements go well, we'll put together an official outpost. We might even open an office of the envoy – maybe even an embassy someday. We need a good presence with our allies.”

“Understood. The homesteaders have good relations with the locals. They own a restaurant and are doing well with it, so there's an interest on the ground in us humans, as well.”

“Great, that's a good basis for a friendship between peoples. Always helps when it's mutual like that. The other thing is, I heard about the training class that went wrong.”

“Yes. I don't have a way to discipline Beckett – he doesn't work for Starfleet anymore. Good thing there was no permanent damage,” Jonathan said, shaking his head.

“It did get me to wondering, though,” The Admiral said, “I was thinking, while I was watching it – he's got talent that we should be tapping. That guy should reup with Starfleet. I'd rather see him knocking out Klingons and Gorn than our own people. What the hell is he doing retired?”

=/\=

The ceremony was scheduled for the afternoon. It was a beautiful day on Oberon. Like with most domed communities, Oberon Central Control took local radiation and converted it to heat energy as a byproduct of massive life support. Therefore it was usually hot, and not just because it was late August. Even January on Oberon was hot.

Lili and Brian put the finishing touches on the food, “You've got the lobster en croute hors d'oeuvres ready, right?” she asked.

Kick.

“Yes, of course. With lots of ice. Stop fussing,” he replied.

“Well, you're my number two guy,” she said, “I know you've got it under control. You've gotten really good at this, Brian. You have a good career ahead of you.”

“Thanks. I learned from the best.”

Emotional again, she just hugged him in response.

=/\=

Anyone connected with the Enterprise was wearing a dress uniform. Pamela stuck out like a sore thumb, and much of the crew had stared when she got onto the shuttle. She and Malcolm found a seat near the back of the church, on the bride's side, “You look positively demure,” he said to her quietly.

“Heh, you should see the thong I'm wearing,” she smiled wickedly and was pleased that a few of his coworkers had overheard her.

“Now, you know our arrangement,” he replied quietly. He didn't want to look at her thongs – not anymore. But he did still redden a bit. He was still a man, after all.

She was wearing a light flouncy flower print dress with an ecru background and matching ecru pumps. Her hair was down and curling, snaking around. And then there was the hat! It was a wide-brimmed affair with peach and pink floral trim. She did look demure.

“Please, we're in a church,” she said, “I am a good girl. Until I'm not.”

The music began.

There were two bridesmaids. One was clearly Frank's sister. The other was unrelated, possibly a schoolmate of Jenny's. She had a little girl by the hand, who was strewing rose petals untidily.

Then came Joss, whose hand was held by a groomsman. Joss was walking, oh so very slowly, carrying a pillow with rings sewn on it. Careful, careful, oh so carefully. He knew he'd been charged with an incredible amount of responsibility, and his nearly one-year-old brain was overloaded with concentrating on the task. He was a solemn as a pallbearer.

Another groomsman came out, probably related somehow on Jenny's side. Then the best man, obviously Frank's brother.

And then, oh boy.

She looked like Jennifer – slender, peaches and cream complexion and green eyes. Wearing a dark green gown and carrying a smallish bouquet. Not Jennifer. Her twin.

“That's Claire,” Hoshi whispered to Aidan, who was seated next to her.

“Niiice,” Aidan said. He filed that information away for later.

Then Frank. He was a good-looking guy, dark hair and eyes, nervous in an old-style tux, calla lily and greenery pinned to his lapel. He waited.

And waited.

And waited.

=/\=

They were in a back room.

Doug looked at Jennifer. She was in her gown, irritable and pacing. The gown was creamy white, close fitting and strapless. The train came back in a fishtail, making her resemble a red-haired mermaid.

“You look beautiful,” he finally ventured.

“I can't go through with this,” she said, “Not after what I've done. I've cheated on Frank. I've cheated, I've cheated.”

“You're gonna mess up your makeup. And believe me, I can't fix that,” he said.

“I cheated. I've sinned. I've done him wrong.”

“Tell him, Jenny. Just tell him. And see what happens.”

“No. I can't tell him. Nobody's allowed to tell him,” she was getting more frantic, “God, I feel sick.”

“Well, barf if you have to. Just, uh, not on the dress,” Doug suggested, “Look, nothing I am saying is making you laugh at all.”

“No. I'm not gonna laugh right now, Doug. I feel awful. This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life and I feel horrible.”

“Well, things happened. I don't think he was expecting an untouched bride. Was he?”

“No, he wasn't. But I promised him I'd always be faithful! How about you and Lili? How are you keeping it all together? I mean, you both, well, you did.”

“Yeah,” he sighed, “We did.”

=/\=

“Where's Aunt Jenny?” Joss finally asked in the silent church, the question they all had on their minds.

Frank looked around, finally settling on the Captain, “Sir,” he said, “do you, um, is there something I should know?” he asked.

“Cold feet, I suppose. Give her a few more minutes,” Jonathan said quietly.

“I heard, uh, there was an incident with some really big ship. All of these species and their, their offspring. Maybe that's got her upset. She's obsessed with that news story, and always seems to be looking for updates, any scrap of info she can find. She, uh, she wants to start a family right away. Maybe she's upset that some people were, were kinda forced to do that,” Frank mused.

“I don't know,” Jonathan said cautiously, “It's been in the news a lot lately, as more of the information comes out.”

“Yes. And she's so sensitive,” Frank said, “It could be that or a thousand other things, I figure. I just want her to feel that everything's okay. She's got a right to be happy.”

“Then tell her.”

=/\=

“You two are doing okay, aren't you?” Jenny asked.

“Uhh.”

“Doug, if you can't work things out, what kind of hope have I got?”

He didn't get a chance to answer as Frank came in.

“Look, uh, honey, tell me what's bothering you,” he said.

“I'll just wait outside,” Doug said.

“Frank, I can't go through with this.”

“It's a lot of people,” he said, “I can understand. Maybe we could have a smaller ceremony later.”

“That's not it. I, I've done wrong by you.”

“How so?”

“Those, those people who were made to breed? That news story? There were humans on that ship. And, and I was one of them,” she looked out the window. Telling him didn't have the immediate relieving effect she had been hoping for.

“No wonder every time there's an update on the news, you seem to jump. It, um, you didn't want to do it, right?”

“No. And, and I tried to stop it. But I couldn't,” she said, teary.

“Were you at least, uh, whoever you were with, did he, uh, did he treat you okay?” Frank asked.

“Yes,” she said very quietly, “I wasn't so nice to him, but he wasn't mean. Didn't hit me or anything like that.”

“So I can, uh, I – I'm obviously not thrilled that this happened. But it did. At least you weren't hurt by the guy.”

“Frank, I can't marry you. I've been covering it up and scared to death you'd find out. And now that you know, well, I still think we shouldn't get married. I've sinned and cheated and it's like it's all under false pretenses.”

“'Course we can still get married. What's putting this idea in your head?”

“I'm a good Catholic. We're both good Catholics. Despite the, uh, premarital stuff. But if I cover this up, what else am I gonna cover up and deny? How can we build a marriage on, on this?”

“You can always tell me what's going on. Always. When I asked you to marry me, I didn't mean it was just this one-time offer that could be rescinded at any time.”

“But Frank, there's other stuff.”

“Tell me afterwards. After everyone's gone and it's just us, okay? And whatever it is, we will face it as we need to, and do whatever we need to do. But right now,” he pointed back to where everyone was waiting, “let's do this.”

“You sure?” she asked.

“Yes. I'll go back out there. You, um, dry your eyes. And get that guy to get you down that aisle for a full Catholic mass and everything. Because I'll be there. I will always be there.”

=/\=

Cocktails were quick afterwards – the real reception was scheduled for that evening. Lili ran around more than she should have, and ended up sitting and fanning herself. Joss and the flower girl got along pretty well until she smacked him with her little purse. He came to Lili, crying a bit. She shushed him but it was hot and he was getting squirmy.

She couldn't wait to get back and change and rest a little, but they were supposed to meet Norri.

=/\=

The meeting was a quick one. Norri was a pleasant woman, a little younger than Melissa. They shook hands all around and she presented Joss with a little bookmark.

“What's this? You didn't have to give him anything,” Lili said.

“No, definitely not,” Doug said, bristling a little, “We don't, uh, need anything.”

“I'm an editor,” Norri explained, “This is for data passage to PADDs. It's got all sorts of classic children's literature on it - Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, Charlotte's Web, that kind of thing.”

“Charlotte,” Lili said quietly.

Kick Kick.

“She was a spider,” Norri said, “Do you like spiders?” she bent over and asked Joss.

“Spiders?” asked Joss.

“I don't know that he's ever seen one,” Doug said.

“They're small,” Melissa said, “And kinda crawly. Wild animals,” she glanced at Doug and quickly looked away.

“Ducks!” Joss exclaimed.

“He saw ducks when we were in San Francisco,” Lili said, “Seems he loves most animals.”

“Oh, then I'm glad I got him what I did. There are animal stories in there. You might want to wait before you read Black Beauty, though. There's a lot of cruelty in that one.”

“We'll be careful not to, uh, expose him to anything inappropriate,” Lili said, looking over at Doug quickly, “He can get upset when there's tension in the air.”

Kick Kick Kick Kick.

“So can a lot of people."

Definitely,” Melissa agreed, perhaps a little too quickly.

“Look, We’re gonna go. I can see you're in between wedding bits,” Norri said, “Have fun,” she and Melissa left.

When the door had closed, she turned to Melissa and said, “Yanno, it is obvious that she is anxious and fretful and you, you're kinda nervous.”

“Me?”

“Yep. You want this to work, and so does she. But he's putting the brakes on it. He's exercising veto power over everyone, eh? It must be nice to have such power.”

=/\=

The reception was a grand affair, the ballroom capacious and elegant. Everyone milled around until Chip got on the communications system, “For those of you, who don't know me, my name is Chandler Masterson and tonight I am your disc jockey. I will be taking requests, of course, but you're on your own for weepy dedications. But first we have the bride and groom's first dance as a married couple. This song is old, bear with me. And I hope you'll get on the floor too. Show them you support 'em.”

There was a slight pause, and then Dusty Springfield's voice filled the room.

Now, when you're in love, a love song is a pleasant enough thing. And your own special song – that can be the sweetest sound. But when you're not, when your heart is breaking, a love song is a far different thing.

And so, for those whose hearts were breaking, or were already broken into pieces, every word was like a needle, and every line like a dagger.

And there were a lot of broken hearts.

I don't know what it is
That makes me love you so
I only know I never wanna let you go
'Cause you started something
Oh, can't you see
That ever since we met
You've had a hold on me
It happens to be true
I only want to be with you


Jenny was freer than she'd been in ages. She happily danced – and after the word “true”, she shook her hips a few times and the mermaid fishtail swung behind her. Huge, huge grin on her face, Frank twirled her. They'd been practicing. They were good.

“Captain, I'll take the initiative,” It was Jenny's mother, “Shall we?”

“Uh, okay,” he said, glancing over at Deb, who was standing near where Chip was DJing, looking around, a bit lost, “I'm not very good at this.”

“I'll keep track of my feet,” she said, “I'm Eleanor.”

=/\=

She could see what was happening. He was about to use it, but she grabbed it instead, “Gimme that. Someone else needs it more than you do,” she got up to deliver the article.

It doesn't matter where you go or what you do
I wanna spend each moment of the day with you
Oh, look what has happened with just one kiss
I never knew that I could be in love like this
It's crazy but it's true
I only want to be with you


It was after the word “this” that Lili lost it completely. She was already hot and teary. But that line “I never knew that I could be in love like this” – that one did it.

There was an aroma she recognized. A handkerchief was thrust near her face. “Here,” The hand holding it had a perfect manicure, dark plum polish, the color of a bruise.

Lili looked up. The handkerchief smelled just like Malcolm, “Thank you,” she said softly, and then used it.

=/\=

Malcolm was glad he had a spare. He needed it, and covered up by blowing his nose, “Weddings. All those flowers,” he said when Aidan walked by.

=/\=

You stopped and smiled at me
Asked if I'd care to dance
I fell into your open arms
and I didn't stand a chance


“I always cry at weddings,” Hoshi said when Shelby asked her what was wrong.

=/\=

Now, listen, honey
I just wanna be beside you everywhere
As long as we're together, honey
I don't care
'Cause you started something
Oh, can't you see
That ever since we met
You've had a hold on me
No matter what you do
I only want to be with you


Doug gulped down another whiskey. His third? Fourth? He'd forgotten to keep track.

=/\=

You stopped and smiled at me
Asked me if I'd care to dance
I fell into your open arms
And I didn't stand a chance


Tripp stared at the couples on the floor, “I got me a headache the size o' Florida,” he said when Travis came over.

“Me, too,” said Travis.

=/\=

Now hear me, honey
I just wanna be beside you everywhere
As long as we're together, honey
I don't care
'Cause you started something
Oh, can't you see
That ever since we met
You've had a hold on me
No matter what you do
I only want to be with you
I said, no matter, no matter what you do
I only want to be with you


Deb just stared. Chip cued up a much slower dance and set things to go on auto for a while, “Hey, I hear you're joining us on the night shift,” he said.

“Yeah, Movie Guy,” she said, a little fidgety. She didn't want to lose sight of him. At least he wasn't dancing with the mother of the bride anymore.

“Well, we need more pretty faces at night. And you are far better-looking than Hamidi,” he said.

“Huh. Uh, thanks. I think.”

“You okay?”

“Me, uh, I'm just, I'm getting over someone,” she admitted.

“Yeah. Yanno, love songs – they really, really stink when you're getting over someone. They just make you feel ten times worse,” he said gently.

“Yeah.”

=/\=

“Next victim,” Eleanor Crossman said, scanning the room. Ah, the guy at the bar, “Dance?” she asked.

“Uh, I guess so,” Doug said. The alcohol made it possible at all. Otherwise, he hated that, and never seemed to be able to do it right.

=/\=

Pamela scanned the room. No one seemed overly interesting, just a bunch of lummoxes in dress uniforms, “Wasted a perfectly good dress and manicure,” she said, looking at her perfect plum-colored nails. She bent over by the bar. José Torres noticed the stunning blonde in the black leather dress with no back, and came over.

=/\=

Brian sat next to Yimar. At least it wasn't the kids' table, although Joss was with them. After having been clonked by Gina Stone, he wanted nothing more to do with the flower girl or her purse.

“Do you dance?” Yimar asked.

“Not very well.”

“We – my people – we dance sometimes. This way is too slow, though. Do you think everyone who's dancing right now is in love?”

“Uh, I dunno. I don't think Doug is in love with Mrs. Crossman.”

“Yeah, I'm sure you're right. Do they all at least like each other?”

“I guess so,” Brian allowed, “Otherwise, why would everybody be touching that much?”

“Would you, um, if you liked me, that is, would you do that?” she asked.

“I should, uh, make sure the prime rib gets served right,” he said, getting up.

=/\=

“So I was thinking,” Aidan said, leaning over where Tripp and Travis were sitting, “there are three of them, and three of us.”

“Three of what?” Tripp asked, still headachy.

“Bridesmaids. But hands off the twin. I mean, man oh man. Another Crossman! It's like, ha, that is one serious movie premise right there,” Aidan said.

“Movie?” Travis asked, not following him.

“Yeah. You know – beautiful twins. Can't tell who's who so ya kinda, you know, split the difference – that sorta thing. Don't tell me you never thought of Crossman that way,” Aidan replied.

“Oh. Uh, no,” Travis said, “Never,” he lied.

“The hottest girl on the ship and you never, uh? You're hopeless. Anyway, there's the Ramirez girl – she's kinda young – and the flower girl's mother. I have it on good authority that she is a single mother. So, whaddaya say? I need wingmen.”

“Include me out,” Tripp said, “I got a phase cannon hitting my skull every few seconds.”

“Travis?” Aidan asked, “We could include Masterson, I bet.”

“Not me,” Travis said, “I'm just here for the prime rib.”

“Suit yourselves. Maybe I'll just take my chances with all of them,” Aidan said, getting up, “Ladies!”
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