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“You slept with her, didn’t you?! Didn’t you?!” The redhead was livid. 

“I, I …” 

“Answer me!” 

“I –” 

“Don’t lie to me!” 

A sigh. A momentary flicker of an eyelid confirmed the worst. And one of the tiniest of words, said in the quietest of voices, gave it a sound. “Yes.” 

“I knew it! I knew it! Ever since you hired that, that assistant of yours, Abby what’s-her-name! I just knew. And today confirmed it. I went to the gym and she was there. She didn’t chat, didn’t make eye contact. She just looked down and she looked guilty.” 

“What, what do you want me to do?” 

“Get rid of her!” 

“I can’t do that.” 

“Why the hell not?” 

“Your career, remember?” He countered. “Your almighty career! If I fire her, it’ll go public and you’ll lose that starship posting you’ve had your eye on forever.” 

“You knew this! You knew it!” The redhead’s volume increased several notches. “This is – it is the very antithesis of respect! You did this deliberately. You just wanted to see me fail!” 

“No, I, no,” he countered, much more quietly. He tried a more soothing tack. “Remember when we met?” He put his arms around her. 

She broke free easily. “Don’t try to bribe me with nostalgia. I don’t wanna hear some cock and bull story.” 

“Lower your voice.” He tilted his head a little in the direction of the smaller bedroom, which held a potential audience. 

There was a four-year-old boy in there. During that day, his mother’s voice had been gentle and loving. “Who’s this a picture of? An Andorian? Oh, very good!” 

But now she sounded like a harridan. 

As for his father, the morning had been a normal one, as Daddy had promised to bring home a Derellian bat from the Science lab. Father and son were to study the curious creature together that evening, and see if they could understand its limited empathic healing abilities. But the bat was in a cage in the common area and, at least so far, it hadn’t squawked. 

Instead, the little boy had felt a frosty atmosphere and had been sent to bed right after supper. He had cried a little, wondering if he had been naughty. 

And now his worst fears were a reality, and he began to cry again, but quietly, as the bat finally started squealing and calling harshly and the little boy did his best to wish away the pain and not listen as the two people he loved sniped and verbally tore each other to shreds. 


It was a good twenty-six years later, 2379 by the old reckoning. And the boy – now a man – woke up, sitting bolt upright. He was panting and his eyes stung a little. He’d actually cried during the nightmare itself. 

“Wesley, are you ill?” asked an advanced Tau Alphan who Wesley Crusher called the Traveler

“I, uh, no,” Wes said, wiping his damp eyes with his fingers. “It, it was a nightmare. And I slept! Weird – ever since we’ve been working together, I don’t think I’ve slept.” 

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