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La ta ta ta ta ta ta
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
La ta ta ta ta ta ta
(Science book)
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
(French I took)

- Sam Cooke (Wonderful World)


“I’d like to speak with Eleanor Daniels, on Lafa II,” Tom drawled.


“Are we still on for tomorrow?”

“I beg your pardon?” she asked. “Who is this?”

It had been a mistake to ask her out before the timeline had been completely reset. Feeling like a fool, Tom smacked himself in the forehead as he broke the connection.


She led him to the bedroom. “Yanno, your bed is ridiculous.”

“Yeah, it is,” Rick admitted. “Still, it’s comfortable.”

“Just, really, you could use regular old cotton sheets and be perfectly happy. Right now, it just looks cheesy.”

“Well, that’s kind of the idea.”


“Look at me,” he said.

She did so, and kissed him. “And?”

“And I am not exactly the best-looking guy out there, or even the best-looking guy in the department. I’d say Tom’s got that title all sewn up.”

“Probably. So? I’m here, aren’t I?”

“Yes,” he kissed her neck. “And while that is fantastic I, uh, the bed is the way it is because, uh, if you laugh at the bed, maybe you won’t laugh at anything else.”

“Laugh? Uh, why would I laugh?” Sheilagh asked.

“You would maybe laugh because things aren’t perfectly ideal.”

“It’s never perfectly ideal. Yet I am still here.”

He stared at her for a second. He was normally supremely confident - in fact, overly so. Tina had found that to be charming, Empress Hoshi had found it to be sexy, and Lucretia Crossman and Betty Tyler had found it to be masterful. Even Phillipa Green and the others had commented on it at least. Why was he suddenly tongue-tied and overly nervous, terrified of screwing up? What the hell had gotten into him?

“I’m really glad you’re here,” he finally got out.

“Me, too,” she said, “We, uh, our imperfections, I think they make us interesting. In a way, I think they make us better.”


Levi looked over the file he had in front of him. It was, simply, entitled Otra.

In it, he had everything he could think of about her - what she’d been wearing when she was abducted, the last words she’d said to him that day - everything. He was supposed to be helping to get the Flux Capacitor up to speed for Sheilagh or working on decrypting the Manifesto file. But all of that was forgotten as his mind was now firmly ensconced in a new, deep track - to find Otra.


They just stood in front of the bed, kissing. Sheilagh finally ended up moving Rick’s hands. “It’s, it’s okay. I want you to touch me.”

That seemed to snap him out of it and he reached underneath and behind to unfasten her bra. She, in turn, unbuttoned his shirt and pulled at the sleeves to get it off him. She then worked on his pants as he worked on her slacks. Finally, they were both naked, except for her panties and his briefs, and the two items of jewelry he always wore and never took off, on the chain around his neck.

“I guess you like me,” she said, indicating his arousal.

“You know I do.”

“And I like you.”

She lay back on the bed and let him remove her panties. Smiling up at him, she said, “You don’t really need these,” as she took off his briefs.

He got into bed next to her and kissed her arm, then worked up to her neck and her face. She took his face in her hands and kissed him. “See how imperfect I am?” she said.

“No,” he replied. The best one - well, it was entirely possible. Perhaps with a qualifier - the best one so far - yeah, that was the truth.


Kevin sat in the cafeteria, alone, rolling the most recent events over in his mind.

“I said, is this seat taken?” It was an Irish accent, seemingly whiskey-soaked - Yilta, the Calafan with the hair.

“Oh, uh, no.”

“She’ll turn up,” Yilta said.


“Otra. She’ll turn up eventually.”

“Yeah, I suppose so,” he said.

“Something else bothering you?”

“I, uh, why do you do that?” he imitated her finger-flicking gesture.

“Haven’t ya worked with Calafans long enough to know what we mean by it?”

“I guess I have. But, uh, why do you do it to me?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” she asked.

“Don’t bother.”

“Oh. Are ya spoken for, for both your nights and your days, then?”

He thought for a moment. Neither. “I’m just, I’m not, I’m not available.”

“Just to me, or are ya not available to anyone?”

“To, uh, to anyone,” he fought to not turn defensive.

“I see. Was it sudden?”

“Was what sudden?” he asked.

“Your loss,” she said, “For that is the source of your unavailability, and your discomfort, too, I suspect. For I mean ya no harm, yet you’ve got your shields up a hundred percent.”

“You don’t know anything about it,” he turned, trying not to get angry or weepy.

“I will tell ya what I do know,” she said, accent even more Irish-sounding, as if that were possible. “About six years ago, I had a baby girl. I got permission - we get permission for names since we don’t have surnames - to name her Brinka. It means Stormy.”

She paused for a second. “And she was tiny and she didn’t survive the week. My husband, Darywev, he blamed me for her death. And I blamed myself, too. I could have done something more, I thought. And you know, that kind of thinking, it’s not productive and it’s not true, but it doesn’t matter, for I thought it, just the same.”

She looked at him, trying to determine whether what she was saying was registering at all. “So I blamed myself. And Darywev did as well. He came to feel that it was not possible to stay with me, so he left, less than a year after, after Brinka went to join our, our ancestors. It has taken me years to separate the two losses out in my mind, and to understand that I could not have done anything for Brinka. She was, you see, she was born without calloo - you know the markings on our arms and legs? Purebred Calafans cannot survive without it. It was a fatal genetic flaw and no one’s fault. It simply happened.”

She sighed. “As for Darywev, I have come to realize that he needed to blame someone. And the only thing I am guilty of there is letting him place blame on me.”

“He sounds like a real SOB.”

“It was his grief talking. It consumed him until he did the only thing that he felt he could do - kill our marriage. You need not take up with me, you know,” she said, “All I suggest to you is, don’t let your grief kill off the rest o’ your life.”

She got up and left, leaving him to wonder just what she meant by that.


She was soft and curvy and smelled faintly of coconut body wash. He spent a lot of time kissing her breasts - Betty and Hoshi had been woefully inadequate in that area - and then worked downwards. Sheilagh touched his arousal a bit, but he mostly kept out of her grasp in order to stay focused on what he was doing.

When she’d climaxed, he came back to her and kissed her, his hand planted on the side of her hip. He recalled doing that earlier, when she’d been passed out. He had only looked at her and touched her there that time, for he was too much of a gentleman to take advantage of her inebriation. But he had fantasized about doing this very thing. And now he was about to.

“Sure you want to?” he asked. It was mainly a rhetorical question; her kisses made the answer obvious.

They merged and he busied himself with kissing her neck. Moving together, he could feel her panting, hearing her breathe a little and tasting a little salt on the back of her neck.

She held his hips as they moved, pushing him to the side to get on top. She leaned back - out of the way of kissing range for the moment - as he held her breasts and looked up at her face.

She smiled at him and another climax rocked her. This time he rolled her back onto her back and they continued to move together until, finally, he, too, climaxed.


Sitting in his office wasn’t doing Tom any good. Getting up didn’t help, either. Carmen had already told them all that they could, apparently, leave. The timeline seemed secure.

It wasn’t much like when he’d been assigned to the Breen home world. There was so little discipline! There were few rules. There was no routine. All of the things, all of the trappings of sameness that he needed to keep him happy, all of the stability - it seemed gone, irretrievably missing.

His door chimed. “Uh, yeah?”

“You got plans?”

“Avery, uh, don’t you?”

“Not really,” The younger man admitted. “Deirdre and Crystal are gone, I can’t find Marisol and Boris, Kevin’s fit to be tied about something and you know about Sheilagh and Rick, where they are. And, and Otra.”

“You left out Carmen and Levi.”

“I think the reason for that should be kinda obvious,” HD said.

“No clubs,” Tom said.

“Fair enough.”

“Don’t you have a place to go?” Tom asked.

“I moved outta the ‘rents’ house. I, this is the only place I got.”

“Me, too, I guess.”

“Did the honey say no?” HD asked.

“Not your concern.”

“I know. Just askin’. I’m, uh, I’m not in competition for her,” HD said, “I’ll, um, you’re busy. We can do something some other time. G’night,” he left before Tom could say anything, but it was just as well. Tom sat in his office, alone, thinking about missed opportunities.


On the Wells, as it shot past 2914, they lay together, her hair wild on his chest as she put her head down. “I can hear you breathing,” she said.

“Good. I, uh, glad to know the parts are all working.”

“They are definitely working.”

He took her face in his hands. “C’mere a sec,” she moved closer, face to face.

“Do you think we’ll do the next mission together?” she asked, kissing him.

“I dunno, but probably not. You’ll get Fluxy, and start to go out on your own, mostly.”

“So I guess I’ll mostly see you when we’re both in the office.”

“I guess so,” he said.

There was no time for another go-‘round so they got up and put on clothes, not saying anything else, for there was nothing else for them to say.

They sat and awaited 3109.


But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be

- Sam Cooke (Wonderful World)


So concludes the first section, Repairs.

Next: Part IV: Spring Thaw

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