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Chapter Notes:

Melissa's final theme - Joe Jackson - Get that Girl


“Let me show you how alive I am.” – Doug Beckett

“I don't want you to be in danger. You're my sister and I love you. Besides, Father will kill me if you get hurt.” – Treve

=/=



“Fall?”

“Yes. Fall,” she insisted.

“It's not that easy.”

“No,” she said, “It's terrifying.”

“But, she might not,” Q said, again absent.

“More fighting?”

“Yes.”

“The fighting is risks, right?”

“Risks I would rather not be taking,” Q said.

“And it's sacrifices as well, yes? But you would rather not be making those, if you had your druthers.”

“No. I would prefer not to.”

“But they are in your face anyway,” she said, “You can make sacrifices that you don't really want, or you can go clear-eyed into a risk that you embrace. Take a chance, and see what happens, eh?”

“If – this is not a risk you want me to take,” Q said, “If things go badly, there could be a great deal of collateral damage.”

“Life is risks,” Lili said, “Even tiny things like dancing are.”

“Yours aren't like this.”

=/=



“Now, I wanna see everybody out there! This next one – I know you all know it – it's by The Sweet Cupcakes – and it's dedicated to the ladies of the NX-01 and their many admirers. And I count myself among them. Here it is – 'Tough Girl'!” – Chandler (Chip) Masterson

=/=



“Well, you take chances every time the music starts up. I mean, Malcolm feels like everybody's watching him. He and Doug can't loosen up that way at all. I'm glad that at least Malcolm eventually embraces it.”

“I don't mean dancing or something so small. You need to understand, the war is creating supernovas in Kathryn's time period.”

“Oh.”

“And here, there are effects as well.”

“Is it that storm out there?” Lili asked, “I haven't forgotten, my family and a funnel cloud are intimately acquainted now. What kind of danger are they in?”

“They are – it is a wrapping,” he said, “The other effects are in space. The NX-01 is affected.”

“What's happening to the Enterprise?”

“It drifts off course, again and again. Nothing too much, not yet,” he said, “Right now they mainly think it's pilot distraction or slight malfunctions.”

“But it'll get worse?”

“It will if the war continues for too much longer. It will affect plenty of other things as well and other time periods.”

“But the main events – they're safe, right?” she asked.

“Probably,” he said.

=/=



“I'm not a piece of china, Reed.” – Pamela Hudson

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“You sound uncertain. Is my family all right? Is the Enterprise? Is – even though I've never met her – is Kathryn all right? And Joy?”

“So far,” he said, “Let us go, and I will show you another piece. It will hide you.”

“Another negative? No, thanks.”

“Negative? What kind of an ego have you got that you think that, just because you and Doug and Malcolm are gone, that the good times no longer roll?”

“Huh. It's not negative?”

“No. It isn't. And it will afford you some protection.”

“Then I'll take the baby.”

“It may be stressful,” he cautioned.

“I can handle that. Can you safeguard my family?”

“What do you think that storm is for?” Lili picked up Declan, and the scene began to change again.

=/=



“Officer, I swear I was only doin' ninety.” – Kevin O'Connor

“Ah, Joss, you should give the next piece to Miss Melissa over there. She is going to become very special to you.” – Malcolm Reed

=/=



There was a PADD, on the front passenger seat of a moving car, and it scrolled through the slide show. There was Tommy in a scouting uniform, and then an adult Tommy being promoted to the rank of Ensign. Marie Patrice was surrounded by models – human, Calafan and Andorian – at the end of a fashion show, with the logo of MP Fashions behind. Another photograph was of Marie Patrice, Jia, Yinora and Ines at a day spa, all in fluffy white robes and mud packs, clowning around a bit. Then there was a picture of Neil, looking sweaty, with a finisher medal draped around his neck and Yinora on one side, and Ines on the other, both of them kissing his cheeks – his tee shirt said, 'Kiss me, it's my first 5K.'

Then the PADD slid onto the floor of the car.

“Oh,” Lili said, “Do you control the order of the pictures, Q?”

“No. It's random,” he said.

Melissa was driving, and muttering to herself, “Damned Calafan alphabet!”

The area she was driving in was crowded with small Calafan homes, squat and single-story. There were tiny yards in front, not as big as the one in front of Lili and Doug's home. Taller buildings loomed in the moderate distance.

There was a clock on the dash, and it scrolled through the time – eleven fifty one, and then the date, February twenty-first, 2204.

“I am late! I am so late!” Melissa complained to no one, “Enne Street, where the hell is Enne Street?”

“Enne Street?” Lili asked, “This is the Eastern side of Fep City, I think, at least, from the orientation of the high rises. Enne Street is on the West end.”

“It's near a body of water, yes?” Q asked.

“Yes. That's why it's named that – enne means water,” Lili pointed out.

“Damn!” Melissa slowed down, and there was some honking behind her, “Oh, keep yer tunic on!” she yelled back at whoever was honking, “I am going as fast as I can!”

“Why doesn't she just use the directions on the PADD?” Lili asked, “If she pulls over and puts the destination address in, she can get directions. She doesn't have to be lost.”

“Stupid PADD! Where the hell is it?” Melissa asked, as if in response. She rummaged around on the floor of the passenger side, but the PADD had already slid under that seat, “I swear, these streets were laid out by drunken perrazin.”

“Where's she trying to go?” Lili asked.

“You can't give her directions, you know,” Q reminded her.

“Where the hell did they move Reversal?” Melissa asked, an edge to her voice. She finally pulled over and put her face in her hands, “Is it Enne Street or Dary Street? I forget. Oh, God, I forget.”

“It's the corner of Enne and Dary. The corner of water and fire,” Lili said.

“She cannot hear you,” Q said.

“Unless it was moved, well, that's where it is. Enne curves around and Dary is a long, straight street. If she can't find the PADD, she can ask anyone how to get to Dary Street,” Lili said.

“Late for my own birthday party!” Melissa complained, “Seventy years old today and I can't find the damned restaurant. A place that's been in the same place since I was, what, fifty?” She paused, “No, it was before I was thirty. Before Neil and Tommy were born. Before, before Kevin,” she touched her bracelet, the one that Doug had given her, with the oval and the three circles.

“This is a high point?” Lili asked.

“Just watch,” Q reminded her.

There was a loud bang, and smoke appeared nearby.

“Is she all right?” Lili asked, a bit alarmed.

“It's not the car. It's out there,” Q indicated.

There was rising black smoke from the remains of a shuttle that had hit a small Calafan home.

Melissa got out of the car. She was maybe a half a block from the wreckage, and ran toward it.

=/=



“Someone else will be just as scared as you and me and Lili are gonna be, wondering if their little one will ever come home.” – Melissa Madden

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The scene shifted, and Lili could recognize it, “This is Reversal, right?”

“Yes,” Q said.

“They changed the banquettes. Huh,” she said, despite herself, “There's the family.”

“Where the heck is Mom?” Tommy asked. He was tall, and a bit dark, well-built. He was in civilian clothes, but his bearing was military, as was his haircut.

“I'll call,” Joss said, “You're still supposed to be a surprise,” he clicked open a communicator, “Meliss? Yeah, it's Joss. Uh, you got an ETA?”

“Uh, soon. Very smoky here,” she said.

“Smoky?” Ines asked, “Jenny, can I borrow your PADD?” She clicked around her daughter's PADD until she found the news, “There's an accident on the Eastern side. A, uh, a shuttle. It looks like it hit a Calafan house. Um, Ali and Fep streets.”

“Meliss, are you okay?” Joss asked into the communicator.

“It's black and smoky and icky,” Melissa replied, “And I'm lost,” she said, a bit teary, “I forget where Reversal is. I'm sorry.”

“It's okay,” Joss said.

“Somebody should go get her,” Marie Patrice said.

“Yes,” Declan said, “She's, uh, if she isn't using the PADD for directions, well, someone definitely should.”

Joss turned back to his communicator, “Can you use your PADD for directions?”

“I don't know where it is,” Melissa replied, “Did I take it with me?”

Tommy looked around at the rest of them, “Shouldn't she know that?”

Marie Patrice just nodded, “We didn't want to worry you.”

“Well, I'm plenty worried now,” said Tommy, “I'll go.”

“You don't know how to go,” Marie Patrice said, “Even with a PADD, that area is tricky – street signs can be missing and they're all in Calafan script anyway. I can go with you. Ken, do you mind?” she asked her date.

“No, not at all,” he said.

“Tommy, don't be angry,” Norri said, “We watch every day, and it's not necessarily bad. And we don't always see the subtle changes. You've been away a lot, so it's a much bigger contrast. But she's under stress. So she forgets. That's all.”

“C'mon,” Tommy said to Marie Patrice.

=/=



“I know you'll only try to fix it. And I just don't want to be fixed. This is me. This is who I am. And it's ugly and it's messed up and it's wrong but it's still who I am.” – Pamela Hudson

=/=



The scene shifted back to the crash site.

Melissa was ankle deep in rubble, pulling at bricks and bits of twisted metal. Calafans were beside her, silver and copper, clearing debris, “There, over there,” said a heavyset silver fellow, “I think I see some movement.”

“Huh. Maybe,” Melissa said, “Let's concentrate there.”

The two of them pulled up a beam together, and it was true. There was a small Calafan girl, clutching a stuffed linfep doll, “Where is Mommy?” she asked as they pulled her out.

“There, uh, there was one Calafan lady,” Melissa said, “Emergency services took her to the Med Center. We can make sure you get there, too.”

“Is Mommy going to be all right?” insisted the child.

“I think so,” said the man.

Another man came over, “Yidary!” he exclaimed when he saw the child.

“Papa!” she answered.

“Come, we will go to the Med Center. Your mother is there now. Uh, and thank you,” he said to the two of them.

Tommy and Marie Patrice pulled up, and got out of their car.

“Ma!” yelled Tommy.

“Huh. I could swear I heard Doug,” Melissa said to the heavyset Calafan man, who just looked at her blankly.

“Melissa!” called Marie Patrice, coming over, “Are you all right?”

“Yes, uh, Pamela,” Melissa said absently, “Ducks!” she said to Tommy.

“It's me, Tom. Not Joss,” he said.

“Oh, Gawd, Tommy!” she said, hugging him close.

“We're gonna take you to your birthday party,” Marie Patrice said, just as a Calafan press photographer and reporter came over.

“No pictures,” Tommy said, shepherding them back to the two cars.

=/=



“You've got steps one and two and eighty-seven of the formula, and they don't all fit together properly.” – Pamela Hudson

=/=



“What's wrong with her, Q?” Lili asked, as the three of them returned to the hospital room. She put the baby on the changing table and started to change his diaper.

“It's the very beginning, the first stages of a disease called Irumodic Syndrome,” he replied.

“So she'll lose her memory?”

“Yes,” he said, “But in this instance, she dived right in, and risked herself. You were right; she could have asked for directions and moved on. Plenty of others did that day, both human and Calafan.”

“No one's under an obligation to stop and help,” Lili said, “But she did. She has training in that area, you know.”

“It's in the process of being forgotten, though,” Q said.

“Then it wasn't, perhaps, her training kicking in. Maybe she just did it because it was the right thing to do.”

“All for people she didn't know – and for the barest of thanks as well.”

“Sometimes we risk ourselves for rewards. And sometimes we don't get those rewards. It doesn't necessarily mean that the risk was a bad one.”

“But it was foolish. If this had happened not too much later, enough of her training would be gone that not only would that child not have been saved, but Melissa would have put herself into danger, and imperiled the other rescuers.”

“But it worked out,” Lili said, “Second-guessing it, and seeing all of the ways it could go wrong, well, that's not necessarily productive, right?” she finished the diaper change and picked up the baby and brought him over to the bassinette again.

“There are trillions of possible scenarios.”

“True. And I imagine that most of them, when you really get down to it, don't affect things much. Would that child have survived without her assistance?”

Q was distant for a moment, “I have reviewed the alternatives. For over half of them, the child dies. In another thirty percent, she becomes disabled because her legs are crushed.”

“So Melissa does a good thing. Even though she's not perfect at it. Even though it wasn't planned. It turns out all right. There were ways for it to all go wrong. But it didn't.”

“The odds were not good,” Q admitted, “But she beat them.”

“Q, what are the odds for the war to end favorably for you?”

“I don't know.”

“Can't you guess?”

“I don't guess,” He said indignantly, “There's too much at stake.”

“Oh, but you do. I mean, was it a foregone conclusion that anything I'd have to say to you would be of value?”

“Hmm. That's correct.”

“Once again, it's that you can't see the end. And that bothers you,” Lili said.

“Doesn't it bother you, not seeing the other side of the bridge?” he asked.

“You got me there. That definitely does bother me. I would like to know that this isn't all for naught.”

“As would I,” he said.

“I guess we both need to just dive in and see what happens.”

“I, uh, the fighting, as it continues. And, as we continue,” he said, “I am seeing it change.”

“Change?”

“Yes. I came here, originally, and it was about Kathryn. And then, it seemed to be about the one we are calling Joy. And now, I think, it's about me.”

“It seems to be,” she allowed, “My family is all right?”

“Yes, they are.”

“Then I don't mind this,” she said, “At least, not so much as before. I won't lie to you. I would prefer to have my family here, and show off my little one. But so long as they are safe, I can do this. Help you, if this is helping.”

“It is making me think,” he said.

“Me, too.”

=/=



“I freak out about plenty of things. But I can tell you're doing your best to make it easier. I just don't feel like I need to freak about, uh, about this.” – Melissa Madden

“Everybody keeps asking me this, and I hadn't said anything. It's not that I didn't feel it. I just – I don't say it much. It's a difficult three words. But I do. I love you, Melissa.” – Doug Beckett



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