Unbreakable Connection Across the Centuries

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"Ha, it's like you never left," said Melissa, accepting hugs and kisses.

"It must feel strange to you," Lili said, "But for us it's been a few days. Doug, about the cooler, you should know this."

"Bad empanadas?" he asked, "Arashi and Izo?"

"Probably," she said.

"I never wanted you to do that. But it did help, when all was said and done," he replied.

"You made something bad?" Norri asked, "How is that even possible?"

"Oh, I burn plenty of things," Lili said, "But this wasn't burning, it was olowa leaves. They're poisonous to humans."

"Aha," Norri said.

"But whatever happened, it's undone, right?" Melissa asked.

"I guess it is," Lili said, "But there's probably some other universe where we didn't succeed, and they're still dead. And another where it was only 2178 that was fixed, and whatever happened in 2166 didn't get undone."

"Maybe so," Doug said, "Plus there's Haddon. She's gone either way. I gotta, I gotta live with that."

"You didn't mean for that one to happen," Lili said.

"I know. But that hardly matters to her. I didn't think there would be a Number Fifteen. I was truly hoping and praying that."

"What's Number Fifteen?" Norri asked.

"I've committed homicide fifteen times on the other side of the pond," Doug confessed, "And Deborah Haddon's counterpart was the last one, the fifteenth one."

"Oh. But it was unintentional?" she asked.

"That one, yes. I struggle with that. I'm not a perfect person by any means. I have flaws – that's a huge one, of course. All I can hope for is to not pass that along to the kids."

"I got my own imperfections that I don't want to pass along to the kids," Melissa said.

"We all do," Norri said, "I think all we can do is make them the best home that we can, and rise above our baser natures. The five of us are partners, right? If we work together, with what's good from each of us, then I think we'll be really all right."

"And that starts with having good, happy pregnancies," Melissa said.

"Speaking of that," Lili said, taking her by the hand, "come with me."

=/\=

Rick was up and away, and set his coordinates for March 29, 3109.

It was going to be a long trip, so he figured he'd dictate his report.

But first, one thing had to be done. He sat at the HG Wells's controls. The ship was on auto; he could get up or even sleep if he wished. Instead, he talked to himself a little – a bad habit he'd picked up during so many solo missions. It could be a lonely life.

"So, it really is a bit of doggerel, you know," he said, fingering a chain around his neck, "You definitely wrote better in your life. But you had a space limit, and you just wanted to be, I dunno, you wanted to be comforting. And I bet it was comforting to her. Thanks, great-great-grand – however many greats you are."

He pulled out the chain, and there were two things on it. One was a circular medallion with his initials: RMD, a Xindi initiation medal. The other was a skeleton key, but with a solid handle. It was old – not too terribly far from a millennium. It had been passed down to him through countless hands, and the edges were slightly worn. But the clasp was intact. He put his pinkie nail under it and it came open easily. He read the inscription aloud to himself, although he'd done that before, a thousand times, but this time, he knew what it meant.

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