They sat in the Flux Capacitor together, tension spreading.
Fluxy was a time ship, but it wasn’t being used for that particular purpose. Instead, it was just being used for straight transportation. Levi Cavendish piloted as Otra D’Angelo sat next to him. She was half-Witannen, with flower-like chavecoi growing out of her scalp instead of hair. They could detect mood, and they were waving around something fierce and mainly changing to weird earth tones as she drummed her fingers on the console. There was a small box in her lap.
“Levi,” she broke the silence, “are you sure your mother knows I’m coming with you?”
“Uh, um, what?” He fiddled with controls on the ship. “Heh, we should go back fifteen minutes. That way, we wouldn’t be late.”
“Are we gonna be late?” Otra’s voice was tense.
“Um, maybe a little.”
“Then maybe we should go back in time.” She thought for a moment. “Actually, I think that would be a big-time misuse of the equipment. Not that this whole trip isn’t much better. How, exactly, did you convince Carmen to let us take Fluxy out for a non-temporal spin?”
“Shakedown cruise with the new dark matter converter.” There was a chronometer on the ship’s console, and it showed the date – April the 23rd – of 3111. The time was 1207 hours.
“Damn, damn, damn,” Otra muttered as she checked the chronometer. “This is so not the impression I had wanted to make.”
“Uh, it’s okay. It’s not like my mother actually thinks I’ll ever be on time for, like, anything.”
“Still!” Otra thought of something. “Did you tell her who I am?” And, she thought, that they had kinda, sorta, been dating for the past few months, if one could call it that. They had kissed exactly once, and only went anywhere on her initiative as Levi was challenged and overwhelmed in that area. But that was to be expected; social cues and norms baffled him, even at the best of times.
“I said your name.”
“And anything else?”
“Um,” he shrugged, “I dunno.”
The chavecoi turned bright orange. “Dannazione.” Damn.
“Uh, never mind. Listen, okay? It is very important to me that this goes well, all right? I want your mother to like me, or at least not think I’m, I dunno, a threat.”
“Mothers sometimes don’t like it when their sons get serious with someone.”
“Oh.” Serious? “Um, yeah.” The familiar sights of Tandar Prime came into view. “Almost there.”
Once they’d landed outside of Marci Cavendish’s building, they walked to the front desk. Otra said, “Two to visit.”
“Who are you visiting?” inquired a Bolian at the desk.
“Uh, Marci Cavendish,” Levi said.
“This is her son,” Otra explained.
“Ah, yes, he’s on the list,” replied the Bolian after a perusal of something on her PADD. “And you, Miss?”
“My name is Otra D’Angelo.”
“Not on the list. But I can let you in as his guest. Just a second,” the PADD emitted a confirmatory beep. “There. You may enter. Twelfth floor.”
“Thanks,” Otra said. The lift took seconds, but it was enough time for Otra’s stomach to flip a few times. “Are you sure she knows we’re coming?”
The lift doors opened onto a vestibule where there were three doors. Two of them were bare, standard-issue doors. One had an enormous marble cross on it, complete with Christ figure. There was also a mixed metal mezuzah, and a carved wooden pentagram. “I’m guessing this is the door to your mother’s place,” Otra commented.
“Uh, yeah.” He pressed his hand to a plate and the door opened – a direct result of him being on the Bolian’s list of approved visitors.
Marci was a somewhat large woman in a caftan. “Levi, what a surprise. I knew you’d come home for Easter, Holi, Nowruz and Passover.” She then saw Otra. “And you are?”
“Otra D’Angelo, ma’am.” Otra gulped and held out the box. “This is for you.”
Marci took the box and the women shook hands. “Thank you. Levi, who is this?”
“Otra, Ma. Do I smell ham? And matzoh? And elekai vindaloo? And, um, khoresht beh?”
“Yes, now, who is this?”
Both women looked at him expectantly. “Um, this is Otra.” He began to fidget a little.
“Otra, huh,” Marci appraised the hybrid woman in front of her. “What is this?” she brandished the box.
“It’s some homemade gnocchi I made, Mrs. Cavendish. I made it strictly vegan; I, uh, I wasn’t sure of things.”
“I’m eating ham these days,” Marci explained. “Still, that was thoughtful. Levi?”
“Set the table.”
“Oh, um, okay.” He went into the kitchen and started to gather together flatware, which clinked and clanged together, punctuating the air.
“Are you very religious, Miss D’Angelo?” Clink.
“Uh, my father’s heritage is Catholic. But we really didn’t do much with it.” Otra gulped again as she looked around the apartment’s crowded living room. There were symbols of perhaps as many religions as there were worlds in the Federation. There was a painting of the Last Supper, on black velvet, and Otra had the feeling that Marci Cavendish didn’t see that as at all ironic. There was a tallis – the Hebrew prayer shawl – artfully hanging over poles in a corner and twisted together with what looked like a woman’s hijab. In counterpoint to the velvet painting there was a large IDIC sculpture done in aluminoplastic. Bajoran religious symbols clashed with Cardassian ones, over Xyrillian, Enolian and Imvari images. It was a mishmash of iconography.
“And your mother?” Clang.
“Even less, actually, ma’am.”
“Ma? Where’s the glasses?”
“In the pantry, like they’ve been since you were two years old.”
“Your mother does not believe in God?” The statement seemed to be a cross between an accusation and a statement of disbelief, as if Marci could not believe that such a condition could be possible.
“I can’t speak for her beliefs, ma’am.” Otra shifted from foot to foot.
“And you shouldn’t,” Marci allowed. “Tell me, what do you believe?”
I believe I’ve never been more uncomfortable, Otra thought, but she said, “I, uh, I believe that there’s, well, there’s goodness in everyone, and in pretty much everything. I, uh, I believe that everyone can be forgiven, and everyone is, well, they’re redeemable.”
Levi came over, holding a cup. He put a hand on Otra’s arm. “I believe that Otra is the best person I have ever met, Ma. Where do you keep more of these? This was the only clean one I found.”
“Uh, check the sanitizer, Levi.”
“Uh, thanks.” He left, as abruptly as he’d entered the living room.
“When you get married,” Marci said to Otra, “don’t have more than one officiant. It just makes everything take longer.”
“Uh, I’ll keep that in mind.”