She had on a new uniform, and had brushed her hair just so and had put on makeup, for the first time in a while. Ready.
He was in his quarters, just about ready, too. He had gotten a haircut for the occasion, and was also wearing a new uniform. He smiled at himself in the mirror. He walked out of his quarters, heard the door close and then smacked himself in the forehead.
I forgot the flowers!
He went back in and got the little bouquet. Shelby Pike was the Botanist on the NX-01, and she always had excess. It was 2161, and the Romulan War was still raging, but Captain Archer had insisted that something like flowers, and movie nights, be available, to give people a sense of hope and fun and a feeling that not everything was war and destruction.
The little bouquet had reds and pinks and yellows, flowers of any color but blue. That had been his condition. Shelby had shrugged and prepared the bouquet. She was no florist but she had tied it with an orange ribbon, and it looked and smelled pretty.
He smiled wryly at the flowers. Any color other than blue, for his beloved’s favorite color was blue and the woman he was taking to Movie Night was, most assuredly, not his beloved.
He got to the lift, where Tripp Tucker was waiting. “Hey, Malcolm!” he said, and then indicated the flowers, “Uh, you and Melissa gettin’ serious?”
Malcolm stared at him blankly and then realized the implications. He weighed the options as they waited for the lift, and then finally said, “May I tell you something in confidence?”
“Uh, sure, buddy.”
“It’s, uh, while these are for Melissa Madden, I, uh, I am not pursuing her. She is not the woman I want. And I am not the man who she wants, either.”
“I, um, I wasn’t sure,” Tripp said, “and I won’t say anything. I guess your, um, I dunno what to call her, she’s just so far away, is it?”
‘That’s a part of it. And he is, as well. So Melissa and I, we have this little running joke, you see. We pretend to be a couple, and try and see how many people we can fool.”
“Well, you got me,” Tripp said, “Ah, here’s the lift.”
There were two crewmen in it. “Commander, Lieutenant,” said one of the crewmen, “Sorry for the delay, but we were moving plasma relays.”
The trip in the lift was an otherwise silent one.
Malcolm got to Melissa’s quarters on C deck and hit her door chime. There was no answer, and then he heard her retching. He hit a panel and said, “Reed Security Override, Gamma Nine One Nine,” and the door slid open. He dropped the flowers onto her desk and found her in the little bathroom, cleaning her face. She looked pasty pale. “I swear, there’s no truth in advertising,” she said, “’cause they shouldn’t call it morning sickness if you’re sick after every goddamned meal.”
“What does Phlox say?”
“I haven’t told him.”
“Melissa, you are supposed to be seeing him every week!”
“I, I know,” she said, and looked down, “please, uh, I just wanted today to be normal.”
“I’m, I’m sorry,” he said, “I just want to be certain you’re not getting dehydrated.”
“Thanks,” she put a hand on his arm, “Lili told me to avoid fruit and I stupidly had the apple tart at dinner. What the hell was I thinking?”
“It’s just a mistake. I think Thomas,” he indicated her belly, which was still pretty flat, “is all right with it. But you should –” he stopped in mid-scold. It was not his place to tell her what to do. Thomas was not his kid and she was not his girl.
“I’ll be off the ship in a week anyway,” she said, “maternity leave, here I come, and away from combat. This is our last Movie Night.”
“I know,” Malcolm said, “I, I brought you something.” He brought the flowers over and then held back, “Will the aroma set you off again?”
“I don’t think so. And, thank you. No blue flowers, huh, I know why. You must miss her a lot.”
“And I know you miss him.”
“I do, and I miss Norri, too. Tommy will have three parents.”
“He shall be a fortunate child.”
“Assuming this war ends soon.”
“Do you, uh, are you up to going to Movie Night?” Malcolm asked.
“I think so.”
“We can sit near the back, and by an exit. And you shall get the aisle seat.”
“Malcolm, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you being here. I’m not her, and this is not romantic at all, but I hope it’s at least fun.”
“It is,” he said, “and tonight I want to take my friend, Melissa Madden, to see Stalag 17. And I wish to stay with her for Chip Masterson’s discussion afterwards, if she’s up for it, and if she isn’t, I shall take her to Sick Bay. And we will end the evening with me escorting her home. For these hallways are rather perilous,” he joked a little.
“And I want to go to see Stalag 17 with my friend, Malcolm Reed, and stay for the discussion, or go to Sick Bay, as, uh, as Tommy permits. And I won’t think about the fact that Malcolm isn’t someone else. I swear I won’t. I will just have a good time with my dear friend.”
“And I won’t think about how Melissa is not another,” he replied, and held his arm out. She took it.
He opened the door and she held the flowers in her hand as they tentatively stepped into the hallway, careful to not set off another wave of nausea, and for one night, the only war they thought about was the one on the screen, and they could take a break from worrying about the people they really loved, so far away.