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Ginza, District: Tokyo, Japan, Earth

The next morning, Katie nervously stared at herself in a triple-mirror nested in the corner of a dress shop. She was finally in her wedding dress. The elderly Japanese woman currently fiddling with the hem had pulled off a miracle. She had made it solely from Katie's subspace requests, holophotos, and laser measurements. As Katie marveled at its beautiful construction, she knew it was perfect. She just secretly wondered if the woman inside deserved to be wearing it.

"Katie, you look like a princess," Alex smiled from a couch a few meters behind. She held a sake mimosa as Annabeth was in seventh heaven playing with Max next to her. Laria smiled from behind her hands as she watched Katie examine the different angles of her reflection. T'les stood behind the group with a champagne flute in one hand and the other hand stroking her chin as she examined her friend's appearance.

"It is amazing!" Laria exclaimed nearly jumping to her feet.

"Quite aesthetically pleasing," T'les echoed with as much excitement as a Vulcan could muster.

"Thank you," Katie said grinning. "Mayumi-san makes the best wedding dresses on the Pacific Rim."

The woman took a break from her stitching long enough to smile up at Katie and bow her head.

"Arigato-gozaimasu, Katie-sama," Mayumi-san replied.

"It really is gorgeous, Katie," another older woman with short blonde hair said coming up from behind and planting a peck on Katie's cheek. She tilted her head to the side and looked at the dress's neckline with an experienced clothier's eye.

"Mayumi-san," the woman said. "Nekku rain ga motto kuru hitsuyō ga aru to omoimasu ka?"

Mayumi-san focused her eyes and awkwardly grabbed Katie's torso. She definitely didn't like being treated like a living mannequin, but knew it was part of the process. Katie had certainly seen enough women go through it at her mom's place in California.

"Hai, Ashley-sama," Mayumi-san said nodding her head. "Anata wa yoi me o motte iru." She chuckled as she ran off to grab more thread.

"Arigato, Mayumi-san," the woman replied gratefully.

"Mom's store in Long Beach referred customers here all the time," Katie clarified. "Otherwise, I would have no chance of getting this dress. The waiting list is almost a decade."

"Please," Ashley Stone said shaking her head. "I was always lucky to have Mayumi-San trust me so much. She's the artist. I just sell the stuff."

"It also meant I learned Tokyo very well as a girl," Katie said. She was doing her best to sound chipper, but Alex knew something was off.

"Ok Katie," Alex said standing up and walking over. "Talk to us. What's going on in that head of yours?"

Katie rolled her eyes as she had the terrifying realization that she had two mothers with her on this expedition: her real one and her Starfleet one. She spent years learning to hide things from the first, but she hadn't cracked the code on Alex yet.

Katie looked back at her face in the mirror and felt so alone. As she looked around the room, she realized that the only two people who hadn't already gone through this were her and Max, and she didn't feel he would be much help for advice.

Slowly, she pulled the veil off her head and stared into her mother's eyes.

"I don't know if I can do this…" she said trying to hold herself together.

"Oh Baby," her mom said wrapping her arms around her. Annabeth and Laria exchanged worried glances while Alex downed her mimosa and set the glass down. "Of course you can do this," Ashley Stone continued. "Every woman gets a little cold feet before the wedding. It's completely normal. I nearly jumped on a shuttle to Mars the night before I married your father, and Phil is such an incredible young man…"

"It has nothing to do with him!" Katie said finally realizing the creeping feeling in her gut. "I know he's incredible. It's why I fell in love with him in the first place." Katie paused. "It's me."

"What do you mean it's you?" Alex asked concerned. Katie shook her head and looked down at the ground.

"Phil is just…he is such a caring person. He throws himself into everything with such passion, and he never lets any of my crazy push him away, even when I can tell it drives him crazy. He would never say it, but sometimes I feel like I'm a burden to him. What happens in five years? Ten years? What happens if he can't stand me anymore? He's an egghead from England and I'm a harbor chick from California who likes to drink too much. What hope do we have?" Katie said fighting back tears and burying her face in her mother's shoulder. Ashley started tenderly rubbing her back.

"Katie…" her mother said at a total loss for words. Alex hugged her from behind. T'les' ears perked up.

"If we are simply to examine this logically…"

Annabeth reached up, put a hand on the Vulcan's elbow, and shook her head slowly. T'les uncomfortably swallowed her words. Then, Annabeth curled her lip, and whispered to herself:


She passed Max to Laria.

"Hold this," she said as the Bajoran nervously took the baby. Annabeth stood up, walked over and glared at Katie.

"Katherine Stone," she said with just a hint of command tone. It took the others off guard and they turned to her with surprise. Annabeth suddenly grabbed Katie's bare shoulders and turned her to face her reflection. "What do you see?" she asked firmly.

"I'm in a wedding dress…" Katie said shaking her head, "and it looks too good for me."

"Bullshit," Annabeth said loudly. "Try again."

"I see me."

"Getting warmer. What else?"

"And I look pretty?" she said confused.

"Also true, but definitely not what I was going for," Annabeth continued. "You know what I see? I see a badass. I see a fighter, and I see a survivor. I see someone who never admits defeat no matter how hard things get, and I see the strongest crewmember on my ship."

"Really?" Katie asked in surprise.

"I'm going to give you a little insight into the chaotic mass of stupidity that is the male psyche," Annabeth said. "I did attend Dan's bachelor party with Phil and those other clowns. Do you wanna know why Phil loves you so much?"

Katie shook her head as Alex, Laria, T'les, and Ashley continued to look on in shock.

"He loves you so much because you remind him of what he wants to be: strong, confident, and loyal. You show him his ideals in practice, and he will be forever grateful for it. That's what a good wife does for her spouse. She makes him or her want to be a better person," Annabeth glanced over at Alex who was now smiling. "That is what will make you a GREAT wife."

"Maybe Captain Tigranian was right about talking to you instead…" Katie muttered.

"What?" Annabeth asked.

"Nothing," Katie said shaking her head with a laugh. "Thank you, Annabeth," Katie said gratefully.

"It's my job, both as your first officer and your friend," Annabeth said grinning as Mayumi-san emerged from the back room with tray of thread. Alex and Annabeth returned to their seats as the fitting continued. As the seamstress immediately went back to work, Ashley reached over and gently wiped her daughter's eyes. She then leaned in close and whispered in Katie's ear.

"You have some incredible people back there…"

Katie turned to her and whispered back:

"I know."

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