637: All My Days

by -=/\=- Zanh Liis
After Light The Sky
Soundtrack: Walk Forever By My Side by The Alarm

-=O'Sullivan Residence, Ireland, Earth=-

After the fireworks ended, Liis and Keiran set about the bittersweet task of saying goodnight to their remaining guests.

She could hardly wait until the next time she could talk to Salvek, Kellyn, and Rada. She just didn't know how to thank them for their help with the fireworks.

She would to take care to watch out for a future opportunity to repay them for all the work they'd put into the display; making the end of the evening one of the most memorable events not only of her wedding day, but of her life.

As they said their parting words to the rest of the O'Sullivans, Liis' head was swimming. She was still more than a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of them, and again tried her very best to put the right name with the right one of Keiran's neices and nephews. She knew it'd take time to be correct with any confidence or consistency, but fortunately, they were a very patient lot.

*My neices and nephews,* She was astounded at the thought.

She hugged each of Keiran's three brothers fiercely, thanking them again for all the work they'd put into not only the house but the wedding as well.

His three sisters hugged her fiercely, each one quietly thanking her for all she'd done to make Keiran so happy.

No thanks needed, she assured them; she felt she was the one by far getting the better end of the bargain.

She promised to send them all copies of the family holoimages they'd posed for over the course of the evening- which, she figured were probably responsible at least in part for the fact that she was seeing everything through a flash-induced haze.

Or maybe it was just that she was so happy she couldn't see straight.

Last of all they'd found Carrick, sneaking a cigarette out back where he thought no one would find him.

Liis sighed and took it from his mouth without comment. She plunked it down into the glass of water he held in his right hand, and Carrick couldn't help but laugh. "He warned me you'd do that if ya caught me."

"Aye, I did." Keiran confirmed.

"You'd be wise to listen to any warnings your father gives you about me, Carrick. Anything he says, it's all true." Liis tried to glare menacingly but the smile affixed to her face made the attempt rather unconvincing.

Carrick set the glass aside, and suddenly he was hugging her.

"I'm so happy for you, la," he whispered, and she knew he was sincere. She felt tears return to her eyes as she remembered another hug they'd shared, in the alternate reality that they both still recalled with devastating clarity. "For the both of ya. Mind that."

"We love you, Carrick," Liis whispered back, kissing him on the cheek. "You mind that."

"I'll be wantin' to spend some time with ya before we go back to the ship," Keiran hugged his son next, and Carrick nodded.

"Aye, Da. But 'tis your honeymoon and all..."

"We'll make the time." Liis insisted.

Keiran nodded in agreement. "I'll ring you in a day or so."

"See ya, then." Liis kissed his face one last time, and as Carrick was about to say goodnight, he realized he had a dilemma.

"Goodnight...Captain?" His tone indicated he wasn't sure what he should call her, and Liis shook her head.

"Liis." She replied. "Just Liis."

Carrick grinned. "Goodnight, Just Liis."

"Oh, the sense of humor. I know right where you got it."

He winked at her, and they watched him walk until he finally disappeared down the hill toward his uncle's house.

Keiran took Liis' hand and led her back around to the front of their home. They stood on the porch and gazed out into the yard, which gave no indication now that there had been such a huge celebration here such a short time ago.

Without saying a word, Keiran swept her into his arms and carried her over the threshold into the house.

Setting her down once they reached the living room, he turned to the entertainment console and switched it on. Music began to play. "I was wantin' to ask you if..."

Suddenly he noticed something in the room he had not observed before, and he froze in place.

She spoke his name softly in question, sweeping up behind him and placing her hand on his shoulder. She followed the line of his vision until she came to a small picture, framed and sitting on the shelf.

It was an image of his parents, on their wedding day.

Keiran picked it up and stared at it. A lump came to his throat as he missed his mother now gone, and his father, rapidly disappearing.

"I'm sorry they couldn't be here," she whispered, putting her arm around him.

"They were," he replied softly, "Right here." he patted his hand against his chest and Liis closed her eyes; too struck by the sight to do anything else. "She loved him, ya know. No matter what, she always loved him."

"That's the thing about O'Sullivan men." Liis answered, turning him around to face her. "Once you fall in love with one, it's forever."

He gently set the picture back down and was about to finish the question he had previously begun to ask, but Liis held her hand up.

"Oh! I almost forgot. Be right back." She hurried to the coat closet in the entry way, rifled around on the top shelf and pulled out a small wrapped package. She handed it to him and he tilted his head in confusion.

"Your wedding gift."

"I thought the cufflinks were my wedding gift."

"They were, really. This is just...something more."

Intrigued, Keiran began to loosen the paper gently at the edges, but stopped. "I don't have anything for you."

Liis laughed out loud. "Are you kidding? Do you see where I'm standing?"

She twirled in a circle and her dress rustled softly. "You gave me our home, Keiran. You built that beautiful bed upstairs. And these," She held her left hand out and regarded her rings with amazement.

"Not only did you give me the one I had my heart set on," she indicated the signet ring, "But this one. I have been wanting to ask you all night, why this one too?"

Keiran smiled a wistful, dreamy smile. "Two reasons."

He said no more, and Liis laughed again. "Do I have to guess?"

"I'm gettin' to it," he laughed too, trying to formulate the words. "Reason one; it takes only the slightest amount of light in the darkness to make diamonds shine. I wanted you to be able to look down at that ring, even on your most difficult days, and remember that "When it is darkest,"

"...men see the stars." Liis echoed his words as he quoted Emerson and looked away.

"Liis?" He was confused by her expression, having no way to know that was the very quote she had herself recited bitterly after his funeral while she was living the paradox.

"I'll remember." She was very grateful that she could now associate the words with the sound of his voice once again. "I promise. Curious, what was the second reason?"

He drew her hand up toward him, kissing it gently.

"The Perseids. I want you to look at the fire and light of those gems and think of them, knowin' that I love you even more now than I did the night I first showed them to you."

She kissed him slowly. "I will."

She smiled on him anew. "Go on, open your present. I warn you though it's nothing fancy." She laughed again as he tried so carefully to neatly remove the paper without tearing it. "Oh for heaven's sake, don't mind that, just have at it!"
He grinned and ripped the paper away, revealing a small, leather bound book.

He instantly recognized the symbol embedded in the cover, and now he was the one whose expression changed. He ran his hand over the spine, afraid to look inside.

"Go ahead," she nudged him gently. "Look."

He drew a slow, deep breath and steadied himself, opening the cover. His breath caught as he saw three words written in her hand upon the very first page.

Letters to Keiran
"Vol said," she explained, "That I needed to sort my feelings out somehow, if I didn't want to talk to him about them. He suggested that he didn't care how I did it, just as long as I did it." She indicated the pages, watching as his eyes brimmed with tears. "So, I wrote to you. I never imagined."

She threw her arms around him, "I'm so glad that you'll get to read them."

"You and I both, my darlin'." He set the book down on the nearest surface so he could embrace her. "'Tis the very best gift I could ever ask for. Thank you, Liis."

For an instant he thought of the other lives he'd lived; ones in which moments like this were only a memory.

He counted himself damn lucky that tonight was a brand new beginning.

"Let me take one more look at you, my bride."

He drew back and gazed at her as she shifted her weight from her heels to her toes and back again. Even after all the events of the day, she still looked stunning.

Holding his hand out to her, he bowed gallantly at the waist. "Would be honored, Mrs. O'Sullivan, if you'd share the last dance of the night with me."

"I thought you'd never ask. But first, one thing..." Liis raised her foot from the floor to try to unfasten the straps of her heels and teetered. Keiran quickly intervened.

"Please, allow me." He dropped to one knee and gently freed her from them, one shoe at a time. He set them aside and out of the way, and then rose.

He held his arms open to her, and Liis sighed contentedly as she settled into them.

"Have a confession to make," he declared, resting his chin against her head as they began to sway.


"Yeah. Went to visit Ma today."

Liis looked up at him, suddenly nervous. She caught her lower lip between her teeth and waited for him to go on.

"Was lovely of you to take flowers."

"Was wishing that she could be here, to see you and Carrick together again." She paused, "How did you know it was me?"

"I know you."

He kissed the crown of her head, knowing too that he couldn't live with keeping the rest from her. "I also...know that ya went there to talk to somebody else."

Liis grew concerned, but quickly found there was no need to be.

Keiran tilted her face up and kissed her passionately, in his way thanking her for all she'd said while standing in that cemetery.

Slowly he danced her around the room, singing into her ear along with the words of the song he'd chosen for just this dance alone.

When their dance was over, Keiran once again lifted Liis into his arms and carried her through the house.

As they reached the bottom of the spiral staircase leading up to the bedroom, he observed the tight curl of the space, the length of her legs, and the train of her gown.

Slowly, he tilted her from side to side, considering.


They looked at each other and burst into laughter.

"Best not try it, O'Sullivan," she warned. "Between the width of your wingspan and the berth of this dress, we're done."

"Wait a second." Keiran carried her back through the house the way they'd come, into the kitchen and to the standard, second staircase along the far wall.

"I knew I had them put these in for a reason!" He laughed. "Whoa!" She hurried to clasp her arms around his neck as the combination of her laughter and the silk of her gown made her slip, almost out of his grasp.

He reestablished his firm hold and effortlessly carried her up the stairs; through his own office space, down the hallway beyond the guest room, and finally into the bedroom via the secondary entrance to the master bathroom.

"Well, we've had a day in the country haven't we? I've enjoyed the grand tour..." She couldn't believe how determined he'd been to complete the task of spiriting her away as he saw fit. "But I could have just walked up the stairs on my own, you know."

Keiran grinned seductively. "Aye," he whispered, pressing his lips to her ear, "but where's the fun in that?"

-=/\=- Zanh Liis (O'Sullivan)
-=Just Married=-
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

636: Better Ideas

by Rada Dengar
Not Long After To Sleep and Always Be Still

-=County Cork, Ireland=-

Rada was utterly exhausted. It had been a long couple of days. His uniform was a mess. On the bright side the bags under his eyes were so large now that there was no chance of the Angosian being mistaken for human. On the very not bright side, his sustaining hopes of finally being done had been shattered by the seven simple words: “We’ll have to dismantle this, you know?”

He could have cried as he realised that everything they’d built would have to be taken down. He was far too tired for that, even standing was a bit much for him at the moment. He and Kellyn were even too tired to argue anymore tonight about which of them had won. They’d have to argue about it in the morning.

Just as he was about to say to himself that that was it for tonight and to beam up to the ship for some sleep he noticed Wren approaching. She looked lovely. She had chosen a simple yet elegant dark blue dress with swished as she walked. Her dress was understated because tonight was not a night that she’d want to pull focus. She was smiling sympathetically at what she could see was a very tired Rada.

“The fireworks were wonderful,” she said.

“Thankyou,” said Rada although he was so tired that his words were quite slurred “I don’t personally understand the appeal.”

“I know,” she laughed softly, knowing that really there were few things Rada liked less in life than flashing lights and very loud bangs “but to those of us strange people who do enjoy this type of thing it was very nice.”

She placed her arms around Rada’s neck and kissed him. Rada could barely lift his head but managed to just get it high enough to meet her lips with his. As she drew her lips away from him he did something that no woman likes to see a man do after she’s just kissed him; he began to yawn.

“Hey!” She said, as she cheekily slapped his arm.

Rada replied with a very meek “Sorry,” as his eye lids began to close.

“I think that it’s time we took you back to your quarters.” she said as she placed her arms back around his neck.

“That is an excellent idea,” he replied as he began patting himself repeatedly on the chest.

“You do realise that you’re not wearing your communicator?” she said with a smile as Rada realised that she was correct. He considered contacting the ship to ask them where it was for a good few seconds before realising he’d need a communicator for that.

“That would be a problem,” he admitted.

“Yes it would,” she confirmed.

“I’m far too tired to be thinking for myself at the moment,” Rada added with a laugh as his head began to droop.

“Well, that’s what girlfriends are for.” she replied with that sweet smile of hers as he rested his head on her shoulder. “It’s been a lovely night, hasn’t it?”

“Yes, it has,” he confirmed, very grateful that she was here to support his weight but even more grateful that she was here.

“During the wedding I sort of started to think…” she added as Rada jumped back into full consciousness with thoughts of what she could have been thinking about.

“No no no, not about that.” She replied quickly as she realised that Rada may have thought she was talking about getting married.

“Okay,” said Rada as he rested his head back on her shoulder before realising that she hadn’t actually said what she was thinking about and looking back up at her “About what then?”

“I’ve been thinking about my quarters,” she said with a voice which said that she found herself in a bit of a predicament.

“What about them?” he asked as he rested his head back on her shoulder.

“They’re a bit big, aren’t they?” she asked, giving nothing away yet.

“I’ll talk to someone about having them fixed in the morning,” he replied. He couldn’t understand why Wren would be worried about her quarters being too big but if she would be happier with smaller ones then he would help her get them.

“Your quarters are a bit big too,” she commented in that same ‘it’s an annoying problem’ tone.

“I’ll talk to someone about having them fixed in the morning too,” he confirmed. He couldn’t grasp why she would care about his quarters being too big but was too tired to think about it.

“Oh, let’s not bother anyone else…” she said, wondering how long he was going to take to get the hint.

“You want me to do something about them myself?” he said looking up at her confused “I really don’t have any authority over room allocation. I guess I could put up some extra walls to shrink your current quarters down a bit” in his sleep deprived state this made perfect sense.

“Extra walls?” she asked rhetorically, pretending to take some time to consider this “Well…I guess we could do that…extra walls may fix the problem…but I may have a better idea.”

“What’s that?” asked Rada although he was half way into a dream already.

“My quarters are a bit big for two people but not for the three of us.”

“That’s true,” said Rada, he was about to point out that this would still not solve the problem of his quarters as if it was too big for one then it was definitely too big for none when he realised what she was saying and snapped back up. “You want me to move in with you?”

“Don’t you want to move in with me?” she asked acting shocked at the thought that he was rejecting her.

“Of course I do!” Rada blurted out.

“Are you sure? Because I was thinking that perhaps it’s a little too soon…” she teased as she let go of him and turned away to hide her smile.

“Absolutely not!” said Rada his voice was wide awake now although his body clearly wasn’t as he stumbled around to look at her “I’m going to beam up right now and start moving my stuff,” he said as he began patting his chest again. Eventually he remembered that his communicator wasn’t there.

“Perhaps you should wait until morning,” she suggested as she looked sweetly in his eyes. Rada was about to object that he didn’t want to wait until morning when he had a better idea. He leant in and kissed her slowly and he kept kissing her. As he reluctantly released her lips she considered teasing him a little with an overly dramatised yawn but decided she had a better idea too; she kissed him again.

Lt. SG Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

635: Straight On Till Morning

by TC Blane and February Grace
Following Lights Out

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

TC had finally made his way back to the ship from the reception and went directly to Sickbay, not even taking the time to change out of his tux.

A little birdie had told him that Reece and Bru had been
beamed back to the ship for a medical emergency the report also said that she was fine and resting comfortably.

TC however had to see for himself. She was, after all, his adopted little sis.

The doors to Sickbay parted for him as he strolled past them. He eyes scanned to room for the LMH only to find another man in medical blue, who he did not recognize, standing in the middle of the room reading information on a pad.

TC would have chalked it up to a new nurse if it was not for the cluster of pips on his collar that indicated him to be a full blooded commander. A little young TC thought but they seemed to be making them that way now days.

"Can I help you Mr…" The man asked as he looked up from the PADD. "Bond, James Bond I presume?"

TC blinked not understanding the joke folded his arms across his chest. "Blane, Commander Blane, and you are?"

The man imitated TC, folding his arms across his chest. "Commander Hartcort. CMO USS Revolution."

TC frowned. "The Revolution? Why are you here?"

Lance smiled. "Well just hitching a ride was the plan but Starfleet figures you've been with out a real live CMO for bit so they asked me to check out your setup here." He tossed the PADD onto a table. "So here I am."

TC whose natural instinct was to be untrusting, frowned. "Where is the LMH?"

"Offline for a bit as his program restructures and updates. I ordered him to shut down before he crashed. Plus there are several upgrades and updates that were long overdue that I thought should be done while the ship was in orbit."

Lance could sense TC's distrust. "Everything is in order, Commander. I assure you."

TC nodded, knowing that Zander had been in charge and that no one would have gotten on the ship with out the proper orders.

"February Grace was beamed from the planet’s surface. How is she?" TC asked.

"She's going to be fine. She's resting comfortably but she'll have to stay off of her feet for a while so you'll be with out a helmsman for a bit." Lance led TC over to the curtained bed where Bru and Dabin were.

TC nodded. "How long?"

"For the rest of her pregnancy." Lance explained as they reached the curtain.

TC who had been reaching for the curtain stopped and turned back to Lance.


Suddenly, a conversation TC had shared via communicator with the Captain days ago but only half heard at the time made sense.

He'd been juggling ten things at once when the Captain had commented quickly in passing that the ‘Reece family would need more room...’ and something about how part of the surprise conversion she wanted made to her old quarters for them was for a 'nursery'...

Lance instantly realized that TC did not know, in fact he never considered the reality that Bru might not had told anyone about it yet. After all they did not even know the sex of their child until Lance said something.

It was one of the realities of filling in at a strange Sickbay. The reports can only tell you so much about those you are treating. So much of the real life knowledge is lost.

"Sorry, I did not realize that they had not told anyone yet." Lance replied sincerely. "You can visit for a bit but she really does need to rest." He added before turning and walking back to the CMO's office.

TC turned back a gently pulled the curtain back to reveal Dabin and Bru.

Bru seemed to be sleeping as Dabin sat faithfully at her side.

"How's she doing?" TC asked.

"Better," Dabin said softly, clearly concerned as he held her hand. "She's not going to like being off duty for the next couple months, but it is what it is. All that matters is that she's all right."

Dabin didn't care about anything else. If the very law of gravity needed to be put on hold so that February could get well, then the Universe would just have to find a way to get along without it.

February heard TC's voice and for an instant, and, not processing what he said, thought she was on the bridge. She tried to open her eyes. "Course and heading, Sir?" she asked groggily.

TC smiled at Dabin, understanding that she was not fully awake.

"Second star to the right, and straight on till morning."

"Course and speedlaidin, Commander Blane..." she continued, slurring the words together slightly as she finally looked up.

Then, Dabin heard her think three words very clearly as TC's words truly registered.

*Wait a minute.*

February bolted upright, looking around in near panic. "I'm in Sickbay!" She grasped Reece by the wrist. "Dabin, the baby,"

"Is fine, you're all fine. You, Grace, baby. But we have to keep you off your feet for the duration, doctor's orders."

February sighed. She wondered why nothing with her could ever be simple. Women worked throughout their pregnancies all the time, she never imagined that she wouldn't be able to perform her job just because she had a baby on board.

"I'm sorry, I hope that it won't be too much of an inconvenience for everyone," her chin quivered.

"Inconvenience?" Blane scoffed. "Don't you worry about that. The only thing that matters is your health, and that of my future..." He grinned.

"We'll get back to you on the gender, there, Chief." Dabin said, not wanting to tell anyone else before he told February herself.

The thought leapt into his head, though, and February's eyes instantly filled with tears as she heard it loud and clear.

"Your future niece." February blurted. "We're having a girl."

TC smiled. "So I guess I'll be seeing more pink in your future."

"You can count on it." Dabin sighed with relief, feeling much better now that February was again awake, and smiling up at him.

"TC, you've been amazing since you stepped into the role of brother to me," February said softly, reaching out now for Blane's hand and squeezing it tightly. "I just know you're going to be the coolest uncle ever."

TC grinned wide. "You know it." He then turned to Dabin and playfully punched him in the arm. "Congratulations, Pops."

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer and Chief of Operations
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Lt. SG February Grace
Senior Flight Controller
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

634: Lights Out

by February Grace
Concurrent with To Sleep and Always Be Still

-=County Cork: Ireland, Earth=-

Tired and ready to go back to the ship, February waited patiently as Reece wound up his conversation with Padraig O'Sullivan.

Her hypospray had worn off half an hour ago, and she knew that it was only a matter of time until the hiccups returned. Still, Dabin was having such a good time, she couldn't bring herself to cut it short.

"That's some funky language you've got there, pal. All those extra consonants that just go nowhere. Boggles the mind and believe me, my mind has seen some crazy shi..." he stopped, remembering his wife's warning that the Irish were, as a group, generally very offended by profanity.

"Crazy stuff. Thanks for giving it the old Academy try but I guess I'll have to stick to insulting people in Federation Standard, Trill, and the occasional Bajoran."

Padraig, the quietest of all the O'Sullivan siblings, shook Reece's hand and then began to gather up his children for the trip home. "Was a pleasure to meet ya. Stop by next time you come this way, no?"

"No. I mean yes. I swear I have to figure out how to program the Universal Translator for Cork." Dabin grinned. He looked up and saw that Bru was nearly nodding off in her chair in the corner, and he marveled at her. She had to be one of the most patient people in the Universe, that was for sure.

In her hand, she still clasped the tiny bell from the centerpiece, something the Captain herself had insisted that they take home with them as a remembrance of the occasion.

"Feb-ru-aryyyy," Dabin whispered. She startled, opened round blue eyes, and smiled at him.


"Time to go home sweetie. You ready?"

"Dude," she said, placing her hands on the arm of the chair and preparing to stand. "I am so ready. Don't know what is going on but my feet are killing me. Let's go home. The cat is going to be so hungry when we get back he may attempt to eat me. Don't say it. Don't think it either."

February had progressed to the point of exhaustion where everything she said could be taken five ways and then some.

*Wouldn't dream of it.* Dabin thought. "Come on, my babies. Let's go home."

The instant February stood from her chair, she knew something wasn't right. Her heart fluttered in her chest, and she couldn't seem to draw in enough air.

Her hearing instantly changed from the ambient noises she'd been listening to all night to a roaring akin to an angry ocean. Then it went to a dull hum, and then to total silence. Her field of vision narrowed, and then an instant later, went completely black.

"February!" Dabin gasped, catching her as she lost consciousness before she fell to the floor.

He looked around to see if Dalton McKay, who had been wandering around a little while earlier using his mobile emitter, was still here. Not immediately finding him, he pulled the communicator from his pocket and hailed the ship.

"Reece to Serendipity, medical emergency. Two to beam directly to Sickbay!"

[Stand by, Commander.]

"No! I will not stand by! Somebody better energize now or I'm personally going to kick every ass involved in the delay when I get up there! GO!"

An instant later, they materialized on the ship.

Dabin hoisted Bru onto a bed and grabbed the nearest tricorder. He began scanning her. Channeling the knowledge of past host Rilan, he was able to determine quickly that her life wasn't in any immediate danger.

"Where the hell is Doctor McKay?" Reece shouted.

An unfamiliar man popped his head around the corner. "You called for a doctor?"

"Who the hell are you?" Dabin demanded, stepping between the man and February, "And what are you, twelve years old? You can't be a doctor."

"I am, in fact, Dr. Lance Hartcort, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Revolution. Pleased to be insulted by you." Lance tried to wrestle the tricorder away from Reece for a moment and then gave up, reaching across the biobed and retrieving another. "I assure you, whoever you are, I can help this woman."

"Look, Doogie Howser, I don't care where you came from or what you're doin' here. I want the flashlight and I want him NOW!"

"He's gone offline awhile for routine maintenance to his program. He was running nonstop for days since your last CMO left and the trip down to the planet for your CO's wedding was the last straw. His program was so degraded that he came back up here speaking the most insane combination of Texas drawl and Irish drunk I've ever heard."

"Fine." Dabin growled. "This is my wife. She's pregnant and she passed out. Her heart rate is sluggish, respiration shallow-"

"You a medic?"

"I was a physician once. Hosts ago."

"Well then," Lance wondered why Dabin was so flustered that he didn't just continue examining her himself, then he remembered. This was his wife and she was carrying his baby. Little wonder the man was panicking.

"Was she all right before then?" Lance asked, looking up. "Did she say anything out of the ordinary?"

"She said...that her feet hurt." Dabin replied. Lance immediately looked at her ankles and saw that they, along with her feet were swollen and that the straps of her shoes were literally leaving indentations in her skin.

"Let's get rid of those," he indicated the shoes and Dabin began to remove them as quickly as he could. "Looks like she's having some circulatory issues..." he wondered where all the nurses had gotten to, but decided just to put Reece to work in their absence. "We need to get all the clothes off of her. Are you comfortable with helping me here or should I activate the ENH?"

"I can do it." Dabin said, regaining his composure. Soon,

February was covered only by a sheet. Color returned to her face as her respiration seemed to stabilize.

Hartcort poured over the scanner readings coming in. "Yeah, just as I thought. Look at this...what did you say your name was?"

"Reece," Dabin said, realizing he hadn't said but Hartcort was too polite to put it any other way. "Commander Dabin Reece, Chief of Sciences. This is February Grace, my wife."

"Take a look at this, Commander Reece," Lance brought up a screen of information and pointed to it. "Her blood oxygen dropped, her heart rate first spiked then plummeted, and her circulation in general, well," he shrugged. "Has she ever been pregnant before?"


"Her symbiont isn't the healthiest one I've ever seen." Lance commented, frowning.

"No, it's not." Dabin thought back and realized that it was barely more than a year ago that she'd gone through the whole ordeal on Trill and nearly lost her life and Grace's.

"Seems that the symbiont and the baby are fighting for their fair share of available resources. That means blood supply, oxygen, all of it. It's putting stress on her heart, her vascular system, her kidneys." He frowned again. "Is she 'fleet or civilian?"

"She's Chief Flight Controller."

"Not for the rest of her pregnancy, she's not." Lance remarked, beginning to tap notes into the computer with astonishing speed. "She's officially on medical leave until after she recovers from delivering your daughter."

"Did you say..." Dabin's mouth fell open. He and February had not accessed the information on the baby's gender yet, figuring that they should hash out the name issue first and pick one for each they really liked before they found out which they'd be using. "...daughter?"

"I'm sorry. You didn't know? Everybody usually knows by now."

"It's all right." Dabin said softly. He tucked the sheet in around February gently, then reached out to caress her face.

"Our daughter, Bru..."

Hartcort began preparing a series of hyposprays and administering them to February one by one.

"This will help oxygenate the blood, this will stabilize her heart rate. This one is to help stimulate her renal system." He looked up at Reece with utmost seriousness.

"Three lives are at stake here, Commander, if she does not follow orders and stay on bed rest. By that I mean, she may take a short walk once a day to get out of your quarters, perhaps to the arboretum but that's it. No exertion, no adventures, and no stress. Got it?"


"Good. I'm going to want to keep her here overnight for observation."

"No argument. Can I stay with her?"

"If you stay out of the way."

Reece nodded in agreement. "You've got to..." Dabin unfastened his tie and tossed it aside. Suddenly, he felt like he was the one having trouble breathing. "You've got to take good care of my girls, all right?"

"I will, Commander." Hartcort assured him. "I promise."

LT. SG February Grace
Doing her best Sleeping Beauty Impression
in Sickbay aboard the USS Serendipity NCC-2012

633: 24 Hours

by Rada Dengar and Salvek
The Day Before To Sleep and Always Be Still

-=County Cork, Ireland=-

Kellyn’s grass-stained knees once again lowered down to the ground below. Launcher number seven had been a particular challenge. It sat in a low-lying area that was sufficiently soaked from recent rains to turn the already soft ground below into pure mush. To compensate, they had to drive a foundation pier six feet into the ground to provide a support stable enough to handle the recoil.

Salvek had tapped four members of security to assist with the project, feeling the brains were more then well represented and brawn was going to be more necessary to accomplish the task. From the pool of four, Rada and Halliday chose Ensign S’evla, a Vulcan, and Ensign Bjorn, a human from an area of Earth called Scandinavia. Bjorn’s name supposedly meant, ‘bear’; at least that was what he told Rada. Judging by the amount of chest hair sprouting from beneath the man’s uniform, Rada was inclined to believe him.

Salvek and Kellyn selected Ensign Bemar, a Bolian, and a newcomer to the ship; a massive man from Security by the name of Dwan Tubman.

Tubman stood well in excess of six feet, and that was just his biceps.

When asked for a demonstration of his strength, Tubman had simply asked Salvek to pinch him. Curious whether he could actually find a nerve to pinch on the stump that was commonly referred to as a “neck”, Salvek reached out and champed his fingers down on the man. Tubman simply chuckled. He may have been fashioned from pure muscle, but apparently he was still slightly ticklish.

It was Tubman who drew the task of driving that pier for the launcher into the ground. He swung a fifty-pound sledgehammer above his head like it was a ball of yarn, and brought it down on the head of the metal rod, driving it down into the pilot hole that had been dug.

Kellyn watched the depth closely with a tricorder.

“Stop!” She said when they reached the prescribed depth.

“Yes ma’am,” Dwan answered, exactly as he did to every command Kellyn issued.

Salvek and Kellyn quickly set the launcher, and ran through the testing of the firing sequence.

“Did you enter the disarming code?”

“Did you?” Kellyn asked back.

The launcher began to hum.

“Shit!” Kellyn declared eloquently. “Duck.”

Salvek, Kellyn, Tubman and Bemar each put as much distance as they could between themselves and the launcher, and dove for cover. A single shell burst forth into the midday air, creating a flash that was barely visible against the sun, but an explosion that was loud enough to shake the ground beneath them.

Salvek, who had thrown himself over his wife to protect her, rolled off to the side, and pulled her up into a sitting position.

“Do you think anyone heard that?” She asked.

Salvek’s communicator gave them the answer they did not want to hear.

[Dengar to Commander Salvek.]

“Yes, Mr. Dengar,” Salvek replied wearily, he noted that Rada’s voice contained much more energy than was typical, like a man on an adrenalin high.

[I just felt like I should call and commend your team on the expedience of their efforts. We weren’t planning on firing one of those for hours yet. Dengar out.]

This brought a smile to Kellyn’s lips and a raised eyebrow to Salvek’s forehead. It wasn’t long ago that Rada would have died before he even considered teasing the XO.

Truthfully Rada hadn’t even considered it. He was so hyped up on sugar from his toffees and that highly contagious competitive spirit that his actions were roughly five minutes ahead of his thoughts at the moment.

-=23 Hours 50 Minutes Later=-

Finally Rada’s team had only one more launcher to prime. The hours had marched on and on and his energy had diminished considerably by this time. Everyone was tired, cranky and wondering why they agreed to set up a pyrotechnics display in the very wet hills of Ireland anyway. Well, everyone except Halliday that was. Rada could swear that if it weren’t for S’evla being there to remind Jamie how human efficiency was reduced when they did not receive adequate sustenance, that he wouldn’t have even stopped to eat.

Rada was on his grass covered back on the wet ground with everyone else gathered around attempting to direct their torchlight at the spot where Rada was working. A spot that somehow every one of the larger lights they had set up to compensate for the growing darkness had missed. He cursed under his breath that they couldn’t have been firing these fireworks inside a starship where it was nice and dry and they could simply turn on a light if they needed to.

“Sev,” Rada said through closed teeth as he twisted his arm around the launcher trying to get to the keypad. He couldn’t fully open his mouth because he had used it to remove a locking pin, which he then found that he had nowhere to drop. “This is the last of them right?”

“That is correct,” S’evla said in that dignified Vulcan manner which was intended to convey the fact that she was not nearly as tired as she was. She may have looked like she was as tired as she was but looks can be deceiving.

“Then contact Commander Lair’s team to inspect our work, and Bjorn, I need you to contact the groom whom I assume will be the husband by now and to tell him that we’re done.”

Rada wasn’t sure whether they would be married yet as he didn’t have a chronometer with him. He had brought one with him but Bjorn had stepped on it, Rada wouldn’t really have minded except that it was on his wrist at the time.

“But you are not finished yet,” S’evla objected.

“No, but I will be by the time anyone arrives,” he replied.

As the two security officers went off to make their respective communication, Halliday announced excitedly, “I can’t believe we’re almost done. To be honest with you I thought a politician stood a better chance on Chalnoth than we did of pulling this off.”

Rada would have asked another man why then he had insisted on raising the stakes if he didn’t think that they could do it, but knowing Jamie he’d have an irritatingly satisfactory answer. As Rada input the final code his combadge began to chirp. “No, don’t you dare,” he threatened. It best not to be Kellyn announcing that they’d just won by the few second it would take him to enter the last digits.

“I’ll answer it,” said Jamie as he bent down and snatched it from Rada’s chest before he had a chance to tell him to wait until he’d finished. He said cheerfully in a voice reminiscent of an over polite secretary, “Rada Dengar’s communicator. Jamie Halliday speaking.”

Kellyn was the person on the other end and she was doing just what Rada feared. [I’d just thought that you should know that we have officially just finished…now.]

“So have we!” Rada yelled to the combadge through still gritted teeth as his hand finished its task, collapsed on the ground and sent water from the puddle Rada found himself in flying into the air.

[Sorry Rada,] she said. After working two days straight she was not going to let him just take her win away like that. [We contacted you first!]

“I am sorry,” Salvek said carefully on the other end. He approached Kellyn as gently as possible knowing that this news would not be well received by his wife who had very much gotten into the competitive spirit. “I just received a message from Ensign S’evla announcing that they were finished and it was before you initiated contact. Assuming they pass our inspection, it appears they were finished first.”

Kellyn shot him a vicious glance to clearly show that this was not welcome news. A smile began to form on Rada’s lips as he thought that they just might take away the win.

Halliday cut that short as he happily told Kellyn, “Actually, no we weren’t. We only just finished now too.”

Then Jamie said as if it didn’t really matter at all, “Oh well, let’s call it a draw.”

Salvek was relieved. Rada couldn’t believe it. None of them could. Well, except for Jamie obviously. Two days work without sleep or showers where half the time they were cold, wet and in the dark and neither team could even claim the victory.

A more violent man than Rada would have strangled Halliday at that point and part of Rada wished he were such a man, or that Bjorn were. Rada had a feeling that he and Kellyn would be arguing about this for a while.

Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Lt. SG Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

NRPG: You two never, ever disappoint, that’s for damn sure. In fact, your brilliance actually frightens me LOL ~ZL

632: 48 Hours

by Rada Dengar and Salvek
Two Days Before To Sleep and Always Be Still

-=Conference Room One, USS Serendipity=-

Rada Dengar, Jamie Halliday, Lair Kellyn, Hok, Shayne Todd, and Commander Salvek crowded around the conference room table.

At the head of the table stood Keiran O’Sullivan, with a large aerial view of the area surrounding the future home of Liis O’Sullivan on the display screen behind him.

He nodded, grinning to each of his once-again crew mates as they settled into their seats, wondering what had prompted this spur of the moment meeting.

“Thank you all for comin’, it means a great deal to me.”

Everyone nodded, and waited for him to continue.

“I have a great favor to ask of you all. I’m hopin’ with your help I can put on a little fireworks display for the Captain after the wedding.”

“How little.” Salvek asked immediately, knowing that when humans used that adjective it usually meant the exact opposite.

“Wellllllllll.” Keiran began, as he tapped the display, and a series of cross-hairs appeared dotting the hills around the house. “Twenty launchers at these locations, installed by the expert hands of the finest engineers in all of Starfleet.”

“And our role?” Hok asked, wondering why Todd and himself would be needed for an assignment meant for the engineering staff.

“Welllllll,” Keiran stressed the word again, and coughed from deep in his throat. “Yourself and Ensign Todd will be piloting the shuttle craft overhead for the really high altitude shells.”

“We’ll need to load the shells into a hollow torpedo tube. Should be no trouble at all,” Todd said.

“We can be ready within an hour,” Hok added.

“I see no reason we can’t prepare right now,” Todd said.

“Then by all means don’t let me stop ya,” Keiran said. “With the First Officer’s permission of course,” He said, deferring to Salvek. It still took a bit of getting used to being part of a chain of Command again, after being the Captain himself for so long.

“Dismissed,” Salvek said, as he leaned back in his chair. He waited for the pilots to leave before continuing. “Your plan is quite ambitious.”

“Impossible is more like it,” Kellyn said. “Do you have any idea how long it will take the replicate the shells and launchers, let alone install the launchers? Do you have any idea how many safety protocols there are for a pyrotechnics display of that magnitude?”

“Not to mention the mounting locations. What are we going to brace these against? I’m willing to bet there isn’t a massive titanium infrastructure hidden under those rolling green hills,” Rada chimed in.

“Oh, na come on Commander Lair. Aren’t you and your husband the ones who just broke the time barrier? Didn’t ya once dismantle a bomb with that earring of yours? Didn’t ya once take on an entire Borg cube to save your husband from assimilation? You’re not scared of a few little tubes to shoot some fireworks up into the air are ya?”

Kellyn sat with her arms crossed, “You’ve been reading my bio.”

“Well I needed something to butter ya up with.”

“It’s still not possible,” She said, “Not in any reasonable time anyway.”

“It may be possible,” Halliday began, “If we make it interesting.”

“A bet?” Rada asked.

“A bet.” Halliday replied.

“Betting is not an appropriate motivational tool,” Salvek protested.

“But you haven’t even heard our offer yet,” Halliday said. “Rada, tell me you have an offer.”

“Oh, I think I’ve got an offer,” Rada began. Keiran very quietly inched away from the table. If the engineers were willing to talk themselves into doing this project, than he was more than willing to let them. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is the best course of action.

Kellyn leaned over the table, intrigued to hear what Rada would say next.

“It seems to me that the best motivation has always been competition.” Competition wasn’t generally much of an incentive for Rada but if the stakes were high enough even he found the appeal. “That’s why I think that we should split the task into two groups with ten launchers to set up each. Whichever group finishes theirs first is the winner.”

“Alright that sounds fair, but the question is what do we get if we win?” replied Kellyn.

“Well, the Sera is due for manual confirmation of structural integrity soon. Checking every square centimeter of the ship twice with a tricorder and every time we find even the tiniest discrepancy between what the computer data and what the tricorder says we have to run a diagnostic and once we correct the error we have to start all over again.

"We have to spend hours stuck inside Jeffries’ tubes; many of which weren’t taken into account when the ship’s environmental systems were designed and so will be running at twenty degrees above optimum. We have to crawl through I don’t want to know what to gain access to some areas of the ship, and by the end we all end up tired, dirty and dehydrated. It’s my suggestion that this time only half of us will.”

Kellyn considered for a second then nodded that she agreed to this, Halliday looked excited about the idea and Rada was a little scared at just how confident Kellyn seemed that she wouldn’t be on the losing team.

“Your team against my team?” she said with a challenging look in her eyes.

Rada was afraid she would suggest that.

Halliday looked expectantly from Kellyn to Rada as if to ask which team he would be on. Rada saw the look in Kellyn’s eyes which said that there was only so much of Halliday’s constant smiling that she could stand.

“Okay. Jamie, you’ll be on my team,” Rada said. Kellyn mouthed thank you to Rada but still kept that look in her eyes like there was no way she was going to go easy on him.

Rada turned to Salvek. “Commander, I take it you will be joining your wife’s team?”

“I am,” confirmed Salvek, though he may not approve as gambling as a motivation he did think that it was only logical that he participate in this way so as to make sure that each team was sufficiently equipped giving the task the highest probability of being completed.

“Okay, once a team’s finished the other team will be contacted to check over the work and record the time. Then when the time’s up, assuming both teams are finished, it’ll be the team which finished earliest that wins,” said Rada. Salvek nodded that he found this acceptable.

“I will prepare a list of personnel I believe have equivalent skills for each team,” replied Salvek as he left to begin preparation.

“How about a bit of added incentive?” asked Kellyn.

Rada thought he had plenty of incentive already but apparently Jamie didn’t, as he said enthusiastically, “The more the better.”

“If both teams finish before the deadline then the bet stands as is. I imagine that the winning team will wish to have some kind of celebration of their victory. How about if either team finishes after the deadline, then the leader of the losing team has to serve the drinks?”

Rada wasn’t sure about this but Jamie quickly agreed for him. “Sure, let’s do that.”

Even though neither of them were Terran it seemed appropriate for a handshake to seal the deal between Rada and Kellyn.

“Good luck,” she said cheerfully with her hand extended, although the expression on her face said you’ll need it.

“To you too,” replied Rada and shook Kellyn's hand briefly before turning around and beginning to make plans with Halliday. They only had forty-eight hours to make this happen or he’d end up working as a waiter. He wasn’t going to waste a minute of them.

Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Lt. SG Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

631: Light the Sky

by -=/\=-Zanh Liis
After the wedding reception


-=The O'Sullivan Residence; Ireland, Earth=-

The cake had all been served.

The Meade shared among the guests, and the traditional toasts made.

A ways off in the distance, Keiran's family began taking down the tables and chairs inside the tent, their continued chatter making for a sweet soundtrack as the bride and groom looked up at each other from across the garden and realized that for the first time all night, they were finally alone.

Liis' hair had half fallen out of the clip by now; tendrils cascading loosely around her face tossed about by the evening breeze.

Her lips turned up into a slow, sultry smile as she saw her husband approaching.

His tie was now hanging around his neck undone; the top buttons of his shirt unfastened. She looked down again at his wrists and found to her amazement that he was still wearing his wedding gift.

He had never in his life looked more handsome.

Smiling at her now in the way that only he could, Keiran stole her breath away.

He curled his finger and beckoned her nearer with the mangled one-word local greeting that, when he said it, had the power to stop her cold.


The autumn air was chilly and as he observed her shivering, he quickly removed his jacket and draped it over her bare shoulders.

"I'm sure this looked much better on you than it does on me," She laughed, grateful for the warmth of the coat and the man who had given it.

"Don't bet on that," he replied reverently, reaching out to caress her face.

Liis closed her eyes and smiled. "Careful, O'Sullivan. You'll spoil me."

"You've been through a lot. Seems to me you could stand a wee bit of spoiling."

Her lips parted in surprise as she looked up at him.

This was not the first time he had spoken those very words to her.

She remembered clear as day that he said exactly the same thing during their first real conversation in this timeline. In the arboretum, the day that they were officially introduced.

The day that his smile had so taken her off guard, only at the time she had no idea why.

Before she could recover enough to speak, he took her hand and tugged her gently across the lawn, away from the last of the dwindling crowd.

He led her toward the arbor, and Liis saw two chairs arranged side by side beneath their favorite tree.

The placement of the furniture looked rather...premeditated.

"What's all this then?" She indicated the scene with a curious tilt of her head.

"You'll see. Please, sit down," he rumbled with soft laughter as he observed her slowly swivel her hips to the side in an attempt to sit gracefully in what she had been referring to all night as 'this thing'. "If you can." He added.

"I am so glad," she sighed slowly as she finally settled in and straightened her gown, "that you didn't suggest a blanket on the grass this time."

"A wise man plans ahead for these things."

"Indeed he does." Now she was really curious. The look in his eye told her that he was up to something, and she was dying to know just what. "So, what else have you been planning ahead, a chuisle?"

"Mmm, soon enough." He smiled, positioning his chair in just the right spot so he could observe, not what was about to take place, but instead her reaction to it. "Close your eyes for a moment. Please."

Liis pretended to be annoyed, but secretly she loved every minute of this. "All right. They're closed."

He took his combadge out of his pocket and tapped it.

"O'Sullivan to Salvek, stand by."

[Acknowledged, standing by.]

In turn, from his vantage point down the meadow, Salvek executed the next command in the perfectly scheduled sequence.

[Salvek to Fate and Destiny,] he addressed Ensigns Hok and Todd simultaneously as they piloted their respective shuttles. [Stand by for countdown.]

"O'Sullivan to Cristiane." Keiran continued, seeing to the last small, but important detail of his plan.

[Here,] Dane answered, causing Liis to crack one eye open in wonder as to where 'here' was.

"No no! Keep them closed until I tell you, Missus O'Sullivan."

[Sir?] Dane asked, sounding rather confused.

"Fine." Liis sighed again, the anticipation driving her mad.

"Ready, Dane?"

[Aye, Sir.]


[By your leave.]

"Go." Keiran held his breath and watched, waiting to see if the plan that he had put together with the help of a full quarter of the Sera's officers in the past two days was about to come together, or fall apart.

Each person on his team began a synchronized ten-second countdown; and Keiran counted softly aloud along with them.

When he reached 'one', he wrapped his arms around his wife and pressed his lips to her ear.

At 'zero', the sound of music began emanating from every open window of their house.

"Liis, my darlin'," he whispered. "Look up."

Her eyelids fluttered open and she puzzled as she tried to figure out what she was looking for, exactly.

She heard the initial explosion and startled as she raised her eyes heavenward.

The instant she recognized the song that was playing and saw the first flashes of light explode miles above, she started to cry.

Fireworks erupted across the night sky, set off not only by two of the Sera's shuttles flying in formation overhead, but also from launchers on the ground that Salvek, Lair and Dengar had taken great pains to set up. They had been careful to situate them down the hill and obscured from view to keep their existence secret, until now.


"We did it," Dane sighed with relief, slumping down onto the front steps of the house to watch the show.

"We did it," Kellyn clapped her hands in excitement, grinning at Rada, and then at Salvek.

"Pretty!" Arie exclaimed, spinning in joyful circles as she watched from a safe distance with Wren and Tam.


Forgetting she had ever felt cold, Liis allowed Keiran's jacket to drop from her shoulders and fall across the back of her chair.

Rising slowly she took a few steps forward, wrapping her arms around herself as she wept tears of disbelief at the beauty surrounding her.

She was simply overwhelmed by the meaning of Keiran's gesture, and all the trouble he'd gone to in order to make it.

He followed in her footsteps and stood just over her shoulder. Placing arms around her waist he leaned down, resting his chin on her shoulder.

He whispered a few carefully chosen words in her ear.

Liis' shoulders shook. His words were a reference to the song that they used to sing in the camps.

The song Liis' grandmother used to sing to her, when she was so very small.

The song she had blocked out the words to for so many years because it was just too painful to remember them.

"I know we're a little late for the Perseids this time," he added, "but I hoped this would be the next best thing."

"It is...you are..." she stuttered breathlessly, "perfect."

She grasped hold of his arms tightly as they encircled her; finding that, he too, was trembling.

Streaks of heliotrope, crimson and gold lit up the darkness of night, illuminating her features in soft colors as Keiran held her close.

"That girl, that child of war, may be a grown woman now. Still, you've always carried her pain," he explained, his voice breaking. "My prayer is, and has ever been for you to sleep peacefully." He kissed the crown her head. "I pray that you'll find peace now, and at last, a home. Knowing you're always, always safe in my arms as you sleep. I..." he closed his eyes, "I love you, Liis."

Liis sobbed, and slowly he rotated her around to face him.

She clasped her arms around his neck as they slowly began to dance, swaying side to side beneath the stars.

She kissed him deeply, unaware that anyone else in the world existed even as Keiran's family emerged from the tent in the distance behind them.

The O'Sullivans gathered now without a sound; in awe of the fireworks, but more amazed still by the sight of their brother as they had never seen him.

In love and at peace, finally having found his way home.

-=/\=- Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

630: That Life

by Dane Cristiane
Near the End of the Reception

-=County Cork, Ireland, Earth=-

Dane wandered away from the crowd.

The party atmosphere held little appeal for him now and anyway, he had something he was supposed to do inside the house. A mission to accomplish for Keiran before an appointed time which was drawing very near.

As he reached the back door, he heard movement within and startled. He had just placed a key in the lock but found that the door that was supposed to be secured was ajar.

*No one was supposed to be inside the house.*

He reached instinctively for his phaser, tucked beneath the jacket of his suit.

Stealing around the corner from the kitchen into the livingroom, he heard rustling among the gifts scattered around the room. He took a breath, double checked to be sure his phaser was set to stun, and then jumped into view.

"Don't move!"

Gira Lassiter slowly raised her hands into the air in a gesture of surrender. "Wouldn't think of it."

"Oh, god." Dane quickly holstered his weapon. "I didn't know it was you."

"Or you would've shot first and asked questions later?" She joked. "You are a very nervous person, Dane Cristiane. You should take up meditation. Maybe some Yoga. Though..." She laughed softly as she returned to lining up beautifully wrapped boxes up around the perimeter of the room. "As tightly as you're wound, you'd likely snap in half."

"What are you doing in here anyway?" Dane grumbled, "Party is out there." He gestured toward the door with his eyes.

"Well, the table was about to collapse under the weight of all the presents. So I volunteered to bring some into the house and Captain Zanh gave me her key." She held up the old fashioned, silver key as evidence.

"All the packages have to end up here later, anyway. Hey, wait a minute," she wagged an index finger at him. "What are you doing in here? I'm told that the party is out there."

"I have a task to complete. By request of the groom."


"Top secret."

"I see. Well, you know, I was only his navigator on one of the most secretive missions in the history of Starfleet, but who am I to quibble over security clearance."

She continued busying herself with arranging and rearranging the gifts. She wasn't accustomed to men looking at her the way that Dane looked at her, and it made her anxious. The more anxious she got, the faster she spoke.

"Gira," Dane sighed at last, moving closer, taking a package from her hands before setting it aside. "A few nights you spent hours kicking my ass at that damned game before falling asleep on my couch. Why is it still so hard for me to talk to you?"

"I don't know," She shuffled her feet. "Maybe it has something to do with what you said at Illusions." She regretted blurting the words out as soon as she'd said them.

Dane reddened. Those words had been a statement declaring that he was "the man she was going to marry."

"I wondered if you remembered that."

"I remember everything. That's the problem. That's why I'm such a complete and total failure as a Starfleet officer and 'The Future of Temporal Investigations.' She spoke the words like an advertising announcer, and Dane cringed.

They were her mother's words, not hers. He would have been willing to bet on it.

"You're not a failure. You're..." he paused, "You're too special for that line of work. You don't belong in it."

"Special!" She laughed bitterly. "I'm special! Is that what they're calling it these days? I was unaware." She took it as an insult though he had meant it as anything but.

"That's not what I. Anyway, think of it, you can do anything you want now. Go anywhere you want." He was curious if she had thought yet about just where she would go.

"Yes, and I will." She agreed, with new determination, remembering O'Sullivan's words of encouragement. "That's why I'm going to University of Betazed. I'm going to study theater, like I've always wanted to."

"Theater?" Dane was surprised. He had guessed from the moment he saw her that she was an artist in some form, just from the way she carried herself. A musician, he thought, or maybe a painter. He had not figured her for an actor.

"It's easy to be other people." Gira explained softly, "Take on their traits, their personalities. Show their face to the world." She ran her hands up and down her arms, suddenly cold. "It's much harder just being yourself."

Dane knew too well from his past what it meant to lie about who you were. He had, in his own way, been an actor for years.

Becoming first whatever the market demanded of him; then masking all of what he considered to be his weaker emotions behind an anger so toxic that it had nearly cost him everything.

"You are..." he spoke slowly, choosing his words cautiously. "Very good at being yourself, when you just forget the world for awhile."

Gira realized how close he was standing now and her chest rose and fell rapidly. She stared at him a long moment, tempted, but then turned away.

"You're going to take up the job. Aren't you."

"Yeah. I am."

She flew back at him, her expression desperate. "Why? After all you've seen? Even after the paradox, and Zanh and O'Sullivan...all of it? You still want that life of insanity?"

"I don't want the insanity but I do want to be like him." Dane answered, indicating Keiran. "I want to help. To be a part of something bigger than I am."

"Know the problem with things that are bigger than you are, Cristiane?"

He shrugged.

"They usually eat you alive." Her voice was tremulous as she stormed around the room. "I saw what it did to my family. What it's done to Keiran O'Sullivan and every member of the crew that I loved aboard the Perseids. Look at him, at the toll it's taken on him. Do you really want to be like him?"

Dane could think of no man he wished to be more like than Keiran O'Sullivan. He nodded.

"You're crazy." Gira shook her head as she took a large step backward. "Do I feel like a failure because I can't stay with TI and become the Jumper my mother wanted me to be? Of course I do. But am I just as grateful that I got out of it? You bet I am."

She threw her hands into the air helplessly. "How can you want any life that could turn out as badly as ours did in that paradox? Then one where instead of watching him marry today, I had to help bury him out there, in that yard beneath that tree!" Tears spilled from her eyes as she gestured emphatically to points beyond the window.

Dane rushed up to her, holding her at arms length.

"Don't you see, though? That was the wrong result! Because the work was done to correct it, we did get to see him marry her. He's alive, his son is alive,"

"Somewhere, at some point," She was ghostly pale, her voice chilling in its tone of warning, "Someone had to pay a price for that."

Dane reacted to the sadness in her eyes instinctively, and without thinking. He pulled her closer, held her face in his hands and kissed her.

Gira responded just as instinctively, her arms coming together around his neck as, at first, she returned his kiss.

Just as suddenly she broke from him, again backing away. "I can't," she whispered, "I can't do it, Dane."

"Do what?"

"I can't...care about someone who is going to choose that life." She looked truly sorry to have to say it, but felt she had no other choice. The idea of ever loving, or being loved by, a man who lived the life O'Sullivan had scared her senseless.

Clearly, Dane discovered, he had reached her in a way he hadn't dared to hope. Only problem was even though she was obviously attracted to him too, she wasn't willing to face the future that he was choosing.

"I'm sorry." She repeated. "I just can't." Without looking into his eyes, she bolted for the door.

"Gira, wait." He moved quickly, catching her hand just as she reached for the handle. "When you're...studying theater at the University of Betazed. Would it be okay if I wrote to you?"

She sighed, brushing away her tears as she prepared to return to the public eye.

"You can send letters if you want." She closed her eyes for an instant as she freed her hand from his. Then she turned the handle, pushing the door forcefully outward.

"I just can't promise you I'll have the heart to read them."

Ensign Dane Cristiane
Communications Officer
and Aspiring TI Jumper
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

629: Your Presence is Requested

by Zander Blakeslee and Keiran O'Sullivan
During the Captain's Wedding Reception

-=County Cork, Ireland, Earth=-

Samthia worked her way around the crowd at the reception greeting people that she knew as well as those she did not with her typical charm and glowing demeanor. She was careful to avoid physical contact with any men she greeted. She was always on guard to prevent her Deltan pheromones from causing any unnecessary discomfort to the opposite sex.

Not that it prevented those who she passed near from turning to look, stare, and ogle. More then one Irishman had to be slapped back into the reality that their wife was standing next to them.

Samthia smiled warmly and hardly noticed those minor reactions from the lesser sexually developed races any more. She knew it was unavoidable.

Unlike most of her race who joined Starfleet she had chosen to put aside her vow of celibacy. She tossed that aside when she had fallen in love with a human and then married him; her husband, Zander.

Her smiled faded at the thought of him. She wished he could have come too, then she would have had someone to slow dance with. Not that she had not been asked when the slow music started to play; flattered as always she had politely declined. She knew that her husband would not mind her dancing with someone else. His trust in his wife was unending. It was Samthia who was uncomfortable with it. She preferred to dance with only the one she loved.

She finally made her way to the new husband and wife and smiled warmly at them both. She had not had the opportunity to meet Keiran previously but knew much about the man from Zander who, like the majority of the crew, liked him.

“My warmest and most sincere congratulations on your union.” Her voice was thick with the accent of her home world. She did not use the Universal Translator for social events feeling that it was not very personal. Plus, times like these were always a good opportunity to work on her English.

“I bring warm regards and blessings from my husband also.” She added.

"I'm so sorry that Zander got stuck minding the store." Zanh said, sincerely meaning it. "That's the problem when you're as good at what you do as he is. You prove you're indispensable and your social life goes out the airlock."

Samthia beamed. She was endlessly impressed with Zander and always had been, but hearing the Captain speak of him so highly only made her prouder.

"You are very kind. He is looking forward to congratulating you himself upon your return."

"Tell him to hold the thought a little while, no?" Keiran smiled. "I plan on keepin' the Captain all to mehself for the next two weeks. Nothin' for her to do but relax and know that if she tries to lift a finger, I'll be right there, standin' ready to prevent it."

"Sounds like heaven." Liis sighed. She'd done nothing but work, for years. She was looking forward to fully enjoying the first real vacation she'd ever taken.

"I don't want to keep you," Samthia smiled politely, "Especially with such lovely music playing. You must be anxious to get in a dance."

"Yes...enjoy the party...oh, and be sure to take a couple pieces of cake home for your boys." Keiran replied, stealthily changing the subject.

He did this intentionally, knowing how Liis felt about dancing in public.

To her, slow dancing -the only kind she would ever consider doing and even then only with him- was a very intimate thing.

So much so that she had told him in advance that though music at the reception was most certainly welcome by her as was dancing by their guests, that she wished to fore go the traditional 'bride and groom dance' in front of everyone.

"Thank you." Samthia smiled.

"Thank you for coming to our wedding. Be sure to take some flowers back from the tables too, if you'd like. I don't know what we'll do with them all." Liis added.

"'T'was'a pleasure to finally meet you properly, Lieutenant." Keiran concluded, "Your husband is a fine man, and I look forward to workin' with ya."

"Same here. Again, congratulations."

As she moved away, Liis sighed a different kind of sigh than she had the moment before.

"What'sa matter, darlin'?"

"My senior staff works entirely too hard." She thought a moment, fiddling with the chain of her earring. "Keiran, do you have your communicator on you?"

"Not on your life! 'Tis the day I finally got to marry Zanh Liis. The rest of the world can spin for all I care." He gave her the wink that made her heart race. "I'll go and fetch it. Right back."

He kissed her cheek and disappeared into the crowd. The first person he saw was a very forlorn Dane Cristiane.

"You look like you just lost your best friend, boy. Why the long face?"

"It's nothing, Sir." Dane said, not wanting to be a buzz kill in Keiran's time of joy and knowing that he definitely had the gift. What 'it' was, was watching Gira laughing, spinning around out on the dance floor with Keiran's son.

*Appropriate.* Dane thought, considering his research had told him that she was named for the word in Italian meaning 'spin'; inspired by a song that her mother liked, called "Gira con me questa notte".

*She's certainly put me into a spin cycle.*

Keiran followed his line of vision and nodded in understanding. "I see. Well, why don't you go and ask one of my nieces to dance? No, wait, what the hell am I sayin'? I don't want you anywhere near my nieces." He pushed Dane gently forward. "Go get another plate of food. I'll see you later."

Dane found, despite himself, he was laughing. "You're quite a man, Keiran O'Sullivan." He said softly, deciding that maybe checking out the dessert table wasn't the worst idea in the world.

Keiran returned to Liis a few moments later with his combadge in hand. "M'lady," He bowed gallantly.

"Thank you, sir knight. I'd curtsy for you, but in this thing the results would not be pretty." She tapped the badge. A lopsided grin curled the corner of her lip and she gazed deeply into Keiran's eyes as she spoke. "O'Sullivan to Blakeslee."

Keiran put his hand to his heart, raised his eyes to the ceiling and tilted backward, indicating that the sound of her calling herself by his name threatened to make him swoon.

[Captain?] Zander said, surprised to say the least to hear her voice. [Is everything all right?]

"Almost, but not quite. I have need of my Chief of Security down here, on the planet. I'm giving you a direct order to change into something appropriate and get down here immediately. Leave Samson in charge. All he has to do is keep the ship from running into the moon. Might be a stretch, but I think he can handle it."

[He says that he thanks you for the vote of confidence, Sir.] Zander laughed, relaying Micah's message.

Samson knew, of course, that Zanh was only teasing.

[He also says congratulations. But can I ask, what it is exactly that you need me for?] Zander wondered if perhaps too much Meade had been consumed and he might have to assist in reigning in some unruly, and likely very large, O'Sullivan relatives. [Should I bring back-up?]

"Not necessary. The problem is, there's a beautiful young woman down here who has no one to dance with. Tonight, that constitutes an emergency in my book." Liis responded. "You're the only man for the job. You have fifteen minutes to comply with my order, so you'd better move." Before he could respond, Liis concluded the conversation. "We'll save you some cake. Zanh out.]

Keiran shook his head. "You are quite somethin', Zanh Liis."

"And don't you forget it," she whispered, leaning in to steal a kiss.

-Fifteen minutes later –

Zander walked into the tent and looked around.

He was dressed in his dress whites having not been able to find anything more appropriate with in the time frame allotted. He suddenly noticed that he was, in fact, the only one there in any sort of uniform.

“Yikes.” He whispered to himself as several sets of eyes turned towards him.

He was going to turn and flee but his eyes fell on the newly married captains. He figured that would be a safe direction. He worked his way through the crowd to them.

“Commander Blakeslee reporting as ordered.” He saluted then held out his hand to Keiran. “Congratulations, sir.”

"Many thanks." Keiran gave him a firm handshake. "'Tis a mercy you're here. Been telling cousins and in-laws all night long that your fair wife is taken, but they don't seem to be takin' the hint. Best if you dance her around the room to show 'em the truth of it."

"I'm sure I don't have to make that an order." Zanh smiled as Zander next shook her hand. "I know that as you always do, you will perform this duty with thoroughness, honor, and dedication."

"Yes, Sir." Zander nodded. He scanned the crowd for Samthia, but the tent was packed.

"I think she was at Reece and Grace's table. Poor thing. Though she was able, I'm sure, to give February some advice on motherhood."

Zander’s head whipped around. “Really?” He smiled. “Good for her!”

"Motherhood?" Keiran's eyebrows shot upward. Somehow, with all that had been going on he had missed out on hearing that particular bit of news. "Little Bru, she's...in a family way?" Though Grace was in fact very tall, she was so thin that she seemed barely there at times, and many people referred to her as 'little'.

"That she is." Liis replied.

"Well, it is a day for good news." Keiran smiled.

Zander finally spotted his wife, seated, as the Captain had guessed, at the same table with Bru and Dabin.

“There she is.” He turned back to the two captains. "Congratulations again. Enjoy this whole evening. The only thing that tops it is the arrival of your first child.” He winked as he turned away and headed for his wife.

Liis stared at Keiran with wide eyes at hearing Blakeslee's remark. Her heart started to pound, and her hands suddenly felt clammy.

The woman who had faced constant danger and unthinkable obstacles in her life and work up until this point was rendered speechless and terrified by the very concept of motherhood.

She knew full well how important having another child had been to Keiran in the past timeline, and it was something they never got the chance to do.

She had honestly never given the idea of ever having a child of her own -with anyone-any serious thought. Her work had always been top priority, and since she felt she'd never marry it followed that she would never have children.

Keiran immediately took note of her changing expression, and grasped her hands in his.

"Liis, if ever the time comes when you're ready to think about that, you know me well enough to know how I feel. But," he kissed her forehead gently. "I couldn't ask for any more blessings than I've been given already. I'm the happiest man alive just standin' at your side. Mind that, no?"

She smiled and nodded. Her heart rate began to return to normal.

"Besides," his eyebrows elevated. "We've got to finish raisin' Dabin Reece before we even consider givin' him a sibling." He was pleased to find that his remark had the desired effect, making her laugh.

He looked up as he heard his name being called, rather impatiently at that.

"Looks like Molly's up to ninety over somethin'. I'd better go see what i'tis. Right back."

As she watched him patiently approach the one of his sisters closest to him in age but most unlike him in temperament, she marveled.

She was amazed how, just by being present in her life, he made anything that had seemed absolutely impossible in the past, suddenly very possible.

*Never allowed myself to imagine bringing a child into this life...* She thought, her eyes never leaving him. *But...*

A moment later he was back at her side, and she wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly.

"Problem?" she asked.

"Not for anyone but Molly." Keiran rumbled softly with laughter, shaking his head. "I talked her down, not to worry. Everything is," he squeezed her back, "...just grand."

LT. Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief of Security/Tactical
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Keiran O'Sullivan
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

628: Long Time No See

by TC Blane and Fox Margolis
Following Fast Friends

-=Wedding Reception Cork, Earth=-

TC ate his piece of cake as he sat at the table admiring the gift that had been presented to him by the captain. He was astounded by just how suitable it was to him. Practical and simplistic in it’s function yet containing so many tools to get just about any job done.

It would be not only something that he would cherish, but use also.

He slipped the Swiss knife into his pocket as he rose to get another piece of cake. As he made his way towards the buffet table he saw someone he had not seen in quite sometime. He smiled as he approached, happy to have the chance to get reacquainted.

“Ms. Margolis. Fancy seeing you here.” He nodded to his former shipmate.

A quirky smile fell on to Fox's face. "Ms. Margolis? What kind of greeting is that among old friends?" she playfully asked.

The look TC returned her was one both serious and mirthful. "A sincere one," he replied, a hint of a light tone in his own voice.

Fox surveyed the food choices, wondering which of the desserts to sample. She watched as TC also looked at the selections and then went for the most simple one: the wedding cake. So, she followed suit, grabbing a slice and a fork. The two of them walked away from the buffet table, plates in hand.

After enjoying a couple of bites, Fox said, "So, everyone knows what I am doing these days, what is going on with you?"

TC gave her a knowing look over his piece of cake. "Everyone may know what you are doing, but no one knows how you got that job in Starfleet Recruitment, their star recruiter."

"I'd say it's one of my many secrets, but let's just say that someone got a bright idea, and to San Francisco I was ordered. But you are avoiding my question," Fox playfully continued. "What is new with you?"

He smiled as he munched on another piece of cake. “Same old same old. Trying to keep the ship in one piece and my captain from killing herself. Earned another pip and new scars for my efforts.” He smiled broadly.

He looked up to the tent roof as thought if there was anything else that had been momentous in his life since he last saw Fox.

“Yup, that about sums it up.” He looked at her. “Not too exciting.”

He took another piece of cake off of his plate and bit into it. “How about you?”

Fox giggled. "You call a promotion and keeping Zanh Liis in line 'not too exciting.' What does it take?" Not waiting for him to answer her question, she answered his instead. "Sad to say, my life has been my work, which despite all of the glitz, is really not as glamorous as it looks. Though I do have to say," she added lightheatedly, "it is nice waking up each morning, knowing that some enemy, entity, or other baddie has decided to wreck havoc on my day."

"As opposed to the Starfleet brass," TC chimed in.

"Oh, they are a whole other mess." Fox stopped and thought about it for a few seconds. "You know, you might have it easier. At least you know who your enemies are." The two officers shared a smile.

“Yeah.” He put the plate down. “Not as easy as you think.” He thought about all of the recent problems that had been caused by TI and Spec Ops. “So you gonna be hanging around for a bit or are you just here for the wedding?”

"I'm just here for the wedding. I was able to snag a couple of days off." Fox finished off her slice of cake. "But who knows? You never know when or where I just might pop up."

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


LT. Faustine Margolis
Starfleet Recruitment Office

NRPG: Poor TC we all know keeping Zanh from getting herself killed is a full time job LOL

We were indeed glad to see you pop up, Fox!
Thanks again and come by anytime!~ZL

627: Fast Friends

by -=/\=- Zanh Liis and TC Blane
Immediately Following Past, Present, and Future

-=County Cork, Ireland; Earth=-

He heard the swish of her dress as she moved, announcing her approach before she opened her mouth to speak.

"The next President of the Federation, ladies and gentlemen; Thomas Cassius Blane."

Blane laughed. "Not on your life."

"Glad to hear it, because I need you to stay exactly where you are." Her eyes were bright and expressive. "On Sera's bridge and keeping my 'fat out of the fire'."

Certain that she must be tired by this point in the evening, Blane pushed a nearby chair out with his foot and offered it to her.

"Only if you sit too."

"As you wish." He retrieved a second chair and watched closely for her reaction to what he was about to do next.

He flipped the chair backward and smirked, imitating her habit of turning chairs the wrong way to straddle them. It wasn't exactly the most lady-like habit, but it was quintessential Zanh Liis.

She laughed, highly amused.

"If I tried that in this thing there would be a catastrophic breakdown of bridal gown structural integrity unlike anything Ireland has ever seen. An epic wrenching of sequins from silk. Tragic."

She reached into the small handbag which had been looped around her wrist by a satin ribbon all evening.

"I meant to give you this upstairs before the ceremony, but I think now is better." She pulled out a small box. "Here you go."

TC stared at the box, which he knew contained some representation of the traditional gift that a bride gave to thank those standing up in her wedding. Being he was a man and not the standard matron of honor, he couldn't resist making a joke.

"Oh, I hope it's the pearl earrings I've always wanted..."

"Sadly, no. Maybe for Christmas." She jested. "But I think it is something that is almost as handy to have around as you are. You may already even own one of these, but..." she shrugged and watched as he pulled the ribbon from the box. "This one is from me. I hope you like it."

TC lifted the lid, his mouth falling open as he saw the amazing Swiss Army Knife inside.

It was dark in color, with an authentic Rosewood handle inlaid with his initials. It also seemed to have every possible tool known to man contained within that handle.

"Captain...I...Thank you." Was all the man managed to utter.

She smiled as she watched him look over his new toy, but soon her expression turned serious. The rest of the company seemed to disappear from the room as her mind replayed images from her history with TC Blane.

"Thomas," she smiled, shaking her head in amazement. "How far we've come."

-=Flashback: Eighteen months ago; USS Independence=-

"Afternoon, Mr. Blane." She greeted him casually. She waited to see his reaction before setting down her food at his table. She had sensed for a while now that he was a man who didn't entirely trust her as his leader, no matter how swiftly he carried out every command he was given.

"Mind if I join you?"

TC's eyes narrowed as he studied the acting CO, wondering if she had an ulterior motive. He was still uneasy since the incident in the brig and fully untrusting of those with secretive power; a side effect of his years with special ops. He sat up, brushing off powdered sugar from his uniform, the remnants of the calorie filled treat that he had just consumed.

"Have a seat." He kicked out a chair with his foot.

Zanh side-stepped the moving piece of furniture and waited for it to come to a stop. She set down her plate, turned the chair backward and straddled it to sit. She draped one elbow over the chair's high back. She picked up a fork with her left hand, poking her food with it.

"Much obliged."

"Don't even know where to start with all this," she gestured toward the food London had stacked on her plate, using her fork. Then she gestured to the empty plates in front of him as she settled on trying a bite of the hasparat. "I take it you found the food selection satisfactory, TC?"

His eyebrow rose just slightly at her use of his name instead of his rank. She noticed instantly that it seemed to rub him the wrong way and added, "If I can call you TC? Everybody else around here fares far worse when I get past calling them by their rank. But with you, I'm thinkin' I'll stick with TC, or perhaps Thomas, if you prefer."

She knew that some found her difficult to understand, or work with. Once you reached a certain rank, it was a given that not everyone was going to like you. She would have been willing to wager that Blane was one of those people. Still it was not in her nature to be difficult with anyone, just for the sake of it.

Now TC was not sure where this was going. He shrugged his shoulders. "I suppose you can call me whatever you would like. You are a ranking officer."

He knew he was being defensive but was careful not to be too abrasive. In the back of his mind a small voice told him that he might be looking too deep into Zanh Liis' intentions. Still, he could not shake his instinct to be careful around her. He opted to try to be civil back, to see where the conversation would lead. He observed her plate and pointed to it.

"I'd start with the vegetables, they are rather good. If you like your food spicy," he offered. "That meatloaf looking thing there is also really good." His eyebrows raised in thought. "I never inquire too deeply into food. Sometimes, not knowing what it is or where it came from is preferable," he forced a smile. "As long as it is good going down."

"I suppose there are times when ignorance truly is bliss," Zanh countered, gesturing to the meat. "'Cause that 'meatloaf looking thing' is rinta stomach. On your native Earth, I think there is a similar dish. Called haggis."

She watched his expression change, then hastily added, "Kidding, I'm kidding. It's meatloaf. I approved the menu myself ahead of time." She took one bite of the vegetables he had suggested, and then another. They were indeed quite delicious. "You see, I find that with my food, as with my officers, I like to know in advance where I stand."

Trick London swept by and dropped off a cup of coffee for her. She nodded her thanks and then lifted the cup to her lips before speaking again.

"So, in case you're more particular about your ranking officers than your dining adventures, I want you to know straight up that I think you've been doing a hell of a job in the ops post, Lieutenant. I know you'd have preferred to stay in security. But sometimes, we're all called upon to serve in positions, or under people, we'd rather not."

*Ahh, now I know where this is going,* thought TC Blane. Her instincts were quite good.

"Thank you for the vote of confidence, Sir," he leaned forward and took another sip from his glass. "Permission to speak frankly?"

She nodded.

"Straight up, I don't know how to take you just yet, " he leaned even closer so he could speak in a lower tone, one that only she could hear. "That incident in the brig, with Windsor and the prisoner. Does not sit well," he paused, thinking of how to proceed. "I've dealt with your type before, in a past life and it did not sit well then, either. So, let's make a deal. When I know that your crew sits above your alliances of the past, then maybe we'll be friends. Until that time," he stood up, "you're simply a senior officer, and I will follow your orders to the best of my ability."

TC pointed to her meatloaf. "Enjoy your meal." He turned and made his way toward the exit, not giving her the opportunity to respond.

Zanh pushed her plate away and drained her coffee dry. She stood up and prepared to make one circuit around the room before heading back to the bridge.

Her eyes followed TC Blane as he disappeared from sight, and she was thinking that her impression of him had been correct from the get-go.

He hadn't seemed to her to be the sort of man who would shrink back from an insinuation, and his reaction to hers did not disappoint. He didn't try to blow sunshine. Even if he hated her guts, she knew she could work with him because he was willing to speak his mind, regardless of how many pips were on the collar of the person he was addressing.

It would likely have bothered the hell out of him to know it, but in that aspect even if none other, they were very much alike.

*Yep,* she thought to herself. *I knew I was going to like that guy.*

-=End Flashback=-

"A slip of latinum for your thoughts." Blane asked, though he had a feeling that he already knew. He too had been thinking about the first real exchange they'd had, at the reception following the medals ceremony for those, like himself, who had served on Bajor during the rescue and recovery after the Plains' disaster.

"I was just wondering if you know how to take me yet."

He laughed, fully remembering the conversation from the past. "At face value, sir, at face value." He grinned. "With the utmost trust."

TC's mind began to wander as well, through the many conversations they'd had since that first one. Exchanges which, over time, had built up the level of implicit trust that now existed between them.

His memories took him back to a dark time the previous winter, when they had managed to extricate her from Aertok, barely alive.

He remembered standing in Alchemy's Sickbay, watching over her as she lay motionless in stasis...

-=Flashback: One year ago, USS Alchemy=-

TC glanced at Jariel. “She is not destined to perish like this.” He closed his eyes.

“When he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."

He glanced over at Jariel, who had a questioning look upon his face.

TC smiled slightly. “Shakespeare.” He explained. "I should go," his words implied one course of action, but his body language indicated another. His feet were still very much planted to the floor beside the chamber.

"Would you like a moment alone with her?" Jariel asked, and then without answering he moved to the doorway. "I could use a cup of tea. I didn't want to leave her alone. I would return in just a few minutes, if you would stay."

TC nodded. “Of course.”

Once Jariel was gone, TC drew in and released a long, slow breath. He started to say something, then stopped. He started a second time, and then sighed. Folding his arms across his chest once again he simply stared at his fallen captain, his thoughts silent for the moment.

It was then that TC noticed the Doctor had left a PADD on the counter beside the chamber, and he couldn't resist the urge to pick it up. Scrolling down, he saw two words that jumped out at him off the screen. Those words were "Self Inflicted".

TC realized what she'd done, and understood immediately why. With his background, it wasn't hard to comprehend. Still, looking at the results of that action before him, he hated that she'd had to make that choice.

He wondered if she had lost faith in her own rescue, or if time had simply run out. Knowing that the information in her head would be incredibly valuable to many of Starfleet’s competitors, she made the only choice available to her.

He leaned in close to the glass and stared at his captain’s face. He knew that she could not hear him, but he believed that her spirit would.

“Even if we are trained to die, we have got to believe that we're going to live.” He stared hard at the still form in the tube.

“No one gave you permission to die. So don’t you abandon your post. Or I swear, I will hunt you down in the afterlife and drag you back.” He tapped on the glass. “You know I would find a way.”

-=End Flashback=-

He glanced up at her now, observing that she too had retreated once more into her own thoughts...

-=Flashback: Weeks Ago, USS Alchemy=-

Zanh Liis had been taking out her frustrations on holographic targets for over an hour, and he wanted to be sure that she didn't overexert herself, given she was on medical leave.

Afraid now that she may have overdone it and lost consciousness, TC overrode the security lock out on the door and strode inside. "Computer, cease musical playback."

"Belay that."

She was sitting in the corner of the suite on the floor, legs crossed, head against the wall and staring up at the ceiling. "Decrease volume to 20 percent." She did not direct her eyes toward him at all as she greeted him. "Thomas."

"Captain." He watched as she closed her eyes and, still fighting to catch her breath, mouthed the words of the of the song along with the music.

Blane moved to stand near, but she gestured for him to sit beside her instead.

"I only came to see if you were finished here, Captain. The party is starting,"

"Thomas Cassius Blane," Zanh Liis still huffed and puffed as she finally cast her own blue eyes up toward his as he towered over her. "Sit."

Blane lowered himself to the deck, nodding respectfully.

Liis reached over and took up a bottle of water, drinking half down quickly before speaking again. "That offer still good?"

"I don't believe any of my offers to you have ever had expiration dates, Captain," TC answered thoughtfully, as his expression questioned which offer she was speaking of, specifically.

"The one about your ears and mouth being unattached?"

"Of course. You're ready to talk about..." he didn't volunteer anything, not wanting to say anything he shouldn't before she spoke her mind.

"To talk. Yes." Liis finished her water, and then ran the cold bottle over her forehead. She closed her eyes again for a moment. "What happened to me really was bad, wasn't it?"

TC hesitated before speaking. Commander Salvek had been clear about the need to keep the recent events under wraps from the public and also from the captain herself. But she was his captain, his friend. He stared at her for a long moment as he turned over in his mind the best way to proceed.

“Yes.” He finally answered. The sound of his voice carried with the weight of the answer and his expression softened. “Yes it was.”

"O'Sullivan too?"

He nodded.

"I can't talk to Salvek about this. It would be like trying to talk to the wall." She spoke softly and with great frustration. "He's digging his feet in this time. Simply will not discuss it with me.
"He's gone so far as to encrypt his reports to the Admiral as being for his eyes only, meaning that I can't even read them myself. He went over my head and out-classified me, the green blooded son of a-"

"Don't be too hard on him," Blane said gently. "He is only doing what he thinks is best for his Captain."

"What about what's best for his friend?"

"You know as well as I do that sometimes it is best if you do not know.” TC answered swiftly.

Liis swallowed hard, looked at the floor and uttered three words that would alter the complexion of the situation entirely.

"Thomas, I know."

TC stared at her for a moment. He thought about the events that surrounded the captain and O’Sullivan. She knew, she remembered. As far as he was concerned Commander Salvek's orders were null and void.

“Well then. That changes everything.”

-=End Flashback=-

Liis returned to the present as she heard Keiran's voice over her shoulder, softly asking if she was all right as she and Blane stared at each other wordlessly.

She nodded, her earring jingling as she moved. She reached out and took Blane's hand.

"Thomas," she began, but found there was nothing she could say. How do you thank a man for his loyalty, his friendship, and all that accompanied them with mere words? She found the task simply impossible.

"I know, Zanh Liis." He nodded, squeezing her hand in reply. "That's what friends do. They look out for each other." He rose from his chair and clapped his hands together, grinning again. "Well, I hear there's a cake to be cut soon. I want a large piece, please. Lots of frosting."

"You can have a whole tier if ya want." Keiran declared, shaking Blane's hand firmly. "Thanks, brother."


Just as Blane was about to walk away a matronly, redheaded woman approached and looked at him expectantly.

"Evening, Ma'am." Blane offered, lowering his head respectfully.

She began quickly rambling on in the native language, leaving TC a bit dismayed. Keiran started to laugh, and he widened his eyes at the tall blond Commander.

"Seems you've made quite an impression on the locals, Thomas."

"How so?"

"Mrs. McConaughey here- she's mother to my sister in law Colleen, by the by..."

"Of course she is." TC replied as if that were obvious.

"She wants ya to know that..."Keiran repeated the same phrase that the woman had just spoken, and left Blane to wonder a moment what it meant. "Tá triúr iníon le cumhdach againn."

Blane stood fast, knowing if he was patient, Keiran would deliver the translation.

"Means, 'we have three marriageable daughters."

TC blinked twice, his facial expression not changing. “Well, it good to know I am marketable, Sir." He smiled.

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer and
the Bride's Best Man
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


-=/\=- Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

NRPG: I figured it was high time to roll the 'highlight reel' in tribute to Mr. Blane...

Mister Blane, the writing we've done together this nearly past two years has produced posts that are among my all time favorites, ever, of anything I've ever written anywhere, with anyone. And in 12 years, that means hundreds upon hundreds of posts, among which yours stand out like gems. I can't even begin to tell you how many titles immediately jumped into my head when I tried to pick posts to reference here.

The above are but a few examples of key moments in the relationship between Blane and Zanh. It has gracefully evolved from that moment of sheer genius you had at the beginning (him kicking out the chair, which immediately set the tone) into the amazing fellow officer relationship/friendship that they have today.

Thank you so much for being so generous with what you write. Serendipity, and ST: Alchemy itself could not be what it is and I definitely could not be as proud of our body of work if you were not such a huge part of it.

So thanks, D.

As we near our one year anniversary here on the Sera soon- this is something I've been wanting to say for awhile.

You took a leap of faith, the very first person to jump in and join us, and Salvek and I couldn't be happier that you did.

I can't wait to see what we'll write in the future.

Thanks for everything. ~ZL