Reflections #60, 61 - "A slip of the tongue"


It had been a long journey, it was actually a lot of fun talking to Kitty's grandparents, and it was late before they finally turned in last night, so Evans was sleeping in late. He was slowly waking up to the sound of a heavily trafficed road. Another car drove by... And another, and another. But as Evans woke up more, the sound morphed into the sound of the sea crashing into the coastline. He slightly opened his eyes, and was greeted by the sun, shining right into it, so he immediately closed his eyes again, groaning... <Ooooh, shouldn't have had that last beer...>

A beautiful, bright, sunny day outside, a bit cold but still beautiful... He could see bare trees out his window, and the nice warm bed was heaped with blankets, topped with a quilt that looked handmade, and beautifully done. His door was closed, but he knew from a vague memory of last night that it opened into the living room. In that direction, he just barely heard some thunks and clangs... Someone was up.

He removed the enormous stack of blankets, and stepped out of bed. He looked around grogily once again, searching for some clothes. He decided the bathrobe would do, since he was planning on taking a shower anyway. He put it on, and staggered to the door.

"...gmorn..." he mumbled, to the person that was on the other side.

Nobody was directly on the other side... he stepped out of the room right into an enormous vista. The living room wall bulged outwards in a smooth curve on the south side, enormous windows giving him an extremely good view of the ocean from several meters up. From this perspective, it almost looked as if nothing was holding the house up, though he'd dimly seen the rock face it had been embedded into when they'd arrived late last night. The sun shone on a sparkling sea and a sail could be seen in the distance... it looked like the Black sunfish. An answering "G'morn!" could be heard from the side, through the open kitchen door. Entirely too cheerful for this early in the morning.

Evans looked around for a bit, trying to get his bearings. He was actually startled a bit by the magnificent open view, his soggy counciousness telling him he was going to fall into the ocean for sure. Finally, he was slowly starting to remember where excactly he was, and why. He was on shoreleave, and he was safe. He yawned and stretched, as if he had been asleep for a week, and started for the kitchen... Kitchen usually meant coffee... Coffee good...

Kitty's grandmother was bustling about the kitchen, looking like the perfect 'grandmother picture'. She even had an apron tied around her waist. "G'morning!" she said again as he made his sleepy way into the kitchen. "How do you like your coffee? Or do you prefer tea?" She actually had a real coffeemaker in the corner, one that used actual beans and water, not just a replicator to make a pre-designed cupful. The coffeepot in the maker was already full of the dark stuff.

That brought on another cheery chuckle. She gracefully poured a full cup of it, then added just a little bit of sugar. "Trust me," she said. "Grandpa likes it strong. Sailor's brew. Here you go." She offered him the cup. It was 'true coffee' alright, thick as motor oil. She tapped in a couple of commands on the kitchen console, and the room was filled with the quiet sounds of baroque music playing as a background to her bustling about and the everpresent roar of the ocean.

Evans sipped his slightly sweetened WD-40, and he was feeling better already. "Aaaahhh, that hit the spot...." he said, as the caffeine was coursing through his arteries. "Where is everybody, anyway?" he asked, looking around, and noticing a lack of Kitty and Grandfather.

"They're out in the sunfish," Grandma said brightly. "You need to get up a bit earlier than that to keep up with those two." Her tone turned to affectionate scolding. "Oh, they'll be in soon enough, hungry as hunters. Did you sleep well?" She was measuring various powders and liquids into a bowl, mixing them all together.

"Well, if it wasn't for that highway coursing right across my room, I would still be sleeping, I guess... Have you ever noticed how much an ocean sounds like a busy road?"

"I haven't... but I have never lived on a busy road." She added a couple of eggs to the mixture, cracking them expertly on the edge of her bowl and dumping in the contents.. then muttering a little and fishing out a couple bits of shell with a spoon. "Have you?"

"Well, there was a busy road near where I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. It's that growing and then dying wooshing sound, of a vehicle heading your way, and then moving away again, or a wave rolling on and off a beach. It's amazing how one is interpreted as calming, and the other as stressful, as they're both basically the same..." Evans mused. He then snickered at the muttering of the old lady cooking... "Don't bother too much with that, we could all use the extra calcium... What 'r you making, anyway?"

"Breakfast," she answered brightly, adding a little bit of vanilla. "Waffles. Do you like waffles? I can make you something different, the stuff is all out anyways." She set a large skillet on the stovetop, tapping in the commands to create Medium-High Heat for This diameter, This location.

Evans' eyes grew wide: "Waffles?! I love those! With cherries and whipped cream?! Better than fried squid!"

Another merry chuckle. "Well, I suppose you could, if you'd like. Just watch what Grandpa does to his." She started laying out strips of bacon on the heated skillet, a warm sizzling added to the sounds in the kitchen. "So you came from the other side of the ocean, did you? Do you like your home?"

"Well, yeah... Our town is one of the few places that hasn't been devastated by the third world war. Even the old station building has survived pretty well intact. It's very pretty overthere. I haven't been home in a while, though... " Evans answered.

"How long?" Grandma asked, checking the waffle iron.

"Eh..." Evans was actually caught off-guard by that question..."Well, I think for about two or so years now, to attend my father's cremation... Yeah, that was about two years ago..."

"Oh." Grandma paused in her work to walk over and offer Evans a hug. "Honey, I'm sorry."

"...Eh..." Evans was startled again..."Thanks, I guess..." he said, accepting the hug, hesitantly at first, but truely soon enough. "It's been a while now, so it's not too bad, anymore... Life goes on, and I'm very glad I got to meet Russell, one of the few doctors who *do* know what they're doing..." he added with a slight grin. "Oh, and I'm extremely glad I met Kitty, of course..."

She chuckled. "Russell, I've heard that name, too. Kitty credits him with saving her life as well." Then she sobered a bit, turning to look out the window for a moment. "I hadn't really realized that starship life would be so dangerous."

Evans snorted at that... "It shouldn't be, but it seems we just keep getting into the exeptions that confirm the rules... Did she already tell you about that mirror universe? Let me tell you, THAT was fun..." he said with a tone that made sure that it actually wasn't.

"She mentioned it, but she didn't talk about it a lot," Grandma said, tipping the bacon pan and watching the grease flow into a small cup. "Did she meet an alternate self there?"

"Eh, no... She was never born in that universe. She did meet an alternate me though... Very alternate. I really didn't like the guy. She did talk to het alternate father. Her alternate mother was already killed in a dogfight. A very ugly universe it was..."

Grandma paused at that, frowning, taking it all in. She shuddered a little. "Poor thing, no wonder she was so glad to come home. That's terrible. You know, then, how she ended up with us..." She started pouring the hot bacon grease from the cup across the waffle iron.

And yet again, for the third time in a row, Evans found himself caught off-guard. "Eh... I believe she told me that her parents are both starfleet career personell, not really a place for a child to grow up with... I believe.."

"Now you know, I don't like to badmouth people. Sometimes there's no good way to simply explain what happened." She sighed, looking out at that little sunfish sail again. "'In this universe', yes... her father talked her mother into carrying her to term. Then he came to us, and we said we'd be delighted to raise her as our own." She looked back at Evans, smiling again. She never seemed to lose her smile for long. "And it has been a delight." The smile faded for a moment again. "But no, neither of them 'had room' for a child.. in their lives."

Evans suddenly felt very sorry for Kitty... He had always grown up in a 'normal' family, with his two and only parents... Sure, his dad had passed away quite young, but everything was normal... Only now he realised how incredibly rare that actually is... "I... I... eh... That's so sad..." he muttered.

"She knows she's always got us," Grandma said, pouring batter into the waffle iron and closing it up, then going to turn the bacon over. "Some children have grown up with a lot less. We've tried to give her a stable home. I think she's turned out alright." She smiled again. "Besides, her father.. our son.. came to visit in the past couple of months. I think he's gained a new appreciation for his little girl."

"Yeah, that's true... It isn't as if she grew up in a cardboard box... This is some seaside cottage you got here. And you look like a decent couple of people, who know how to raise a child." Evans remarked. "I wouldn't want Kitty any other way. I think she's perfect, this way... As for her father, he really does know how to scare a junior grade lieutenant..." he joked.

"Oh? Did you meet him? Did he turn on the old charm?" She chuckled, looking out the window again. "You'll be seeing Kitty soon.. they just made berth."

"Yup, met the guy, scared me senseless, had a drink with the guy, and then the told me about how he won second place in the boat-race, last month..." Evans iterated. Then he looked outside too. "Oh, there she is... She looks just like on the holodeck..."

"On the holodeck?" Two figures detached from the boat, making their way up the rocky slope and out of sight from the windows. One figure was markedly shorter than the other, with a long black ponytail dancing behind her in the seabreeze.

"Yeah, Kitty made a model of the sunfish on the holodeck onboard the peggy. We used it to train for the race... That was, until we ended up in the mirror universe... Oh, and after it launched the both of us through the air, when we capsized, rounding a buoy..." Evans elaborated. Suddenly, a rumbling bubbling noise could be heard from the general direction of Evans' stomach... "Eh... Excuse me..."

Grandma made one smooth sweeping motion and had a piece of bacon on a plate, setting it at the table in front of Evans almost before the rumbling could stop. "First waffle is almost done," she said. Then she looked into his eyes as she set the plate down. "You like her very much, don't you."

Evans looked at the plate with the steaming bacon on top of it. His mouth watered, and his mind was fighting between wulfing in, and politely waiting for the rest to be seated... He decided to dig in, as he was offered the bacon anyway, and took the hot bacon between the tops of his fingers, juggling it around a bit."Ooh, ow, ow, hothothot..." Eventually, he managed to take a bite off, and he savoured the flavor. "Mmmm... Almost as much as this bacon..." he joked.

"That's not a terribly serious answer," she said, twitching the plate away from him. Just as he might think she'd taken it as some sort of punishment, she had it back in front of him, this time with a fresh hot waffle steaming away and filling it so entirely that there was hardly room for the bacon piece now.

"Just kidding..." he confirmed her suspicions. "I think she is the best thing that ever happened to me..." he added. "Eh... Do you have some cutlery?"

"Certainly." As she offered him knife, fork, whipped cream ("Because you mentioned it"), syrup, and butter, two sets of footsteps were heard thumping up the outside stairs. A moment later, Kitty and her grandfather entered the room. Kitty was wearing a light jacket, shivering just slightly, but her eyes were lit up like stars and she looked as if she was enjoying herself.

Ronald looked around at the people entering the room, and got up to give Kitty a warming hug... "Having fun without me, sweet?" he said with a slight smile. "Looks like you're just in time to watch me gobble down everything edible in a five yard radius. Should I leave you something?"

"Oh Ronald, I'm sorry.." She leaned her head on his shoulder during the hug, then smiled up at him. "The sea was calling me. Yes, save me the bacon! All of it!" She thumped his shoulder, not too hard. "Did you sleep well?"

"Yup! Like a rose." Evans just said, before sitting down again. He was hungry... "And now for my magic food-disappearing trick..." he joked.

"Right behind you," Kitty said cheerfully, settling at the table as her grandmother gave her grandfather the next waffle. His reaction to this was an education in culinary horror... he cut a wide swath of butter, spreading it across the waffle until all of the little dimples were nearly filled with melted butter... then he poured syrup on top of that until it ran around the edges of his plate and the waffle was soaked. He cut it into pieces which he stacked four-high for each happy bite. When Kitty got hers, she did a petite form of the same thing... butter, syrup, and two-high stacked pieces for each bite. She also consumed bacon until it was near impossible to tell how she kept her figure so well.

Evans looked at the ritual that Kitty and her grandfather performed on the waffle, and decided to give it a try too. He stacked them three high, before taking a bite. "Mpfh, I take if you mdonf eaf mafflef efwy day?" he mumbled.

"Oh, no, not every day!" Kitty chuckled between bacon bites. "Sometimes we have eggs instead, or pancakes, or omelettes. It isn't waffles every day."

Evans swallowed his bite. "Mind if I move in?" he asked, looking at Grandma, already cutting off a second bite.

Grandma chuckled, offering him another waffle. "As far as I'm concerned, and I say this seriously," she told him, "your other home is here."

Evans actually smiled at that. "That's really good to know..." Then his smile turned just a little bit more serious... "Makes it hard to choose, though, visit mom, or you guys, when I have the chance..."

"If you have your shoreleave with Kitty regularly," Grandma replied in amusement, "then you will probably visit both when you have the chance."

"Yes, that's true... And we still need to drive my little car through the English countryside... It just belongs there." Evans mused.

"Are you going there before this shoreleave is over?" Grandpa asked, the first thing he'd asked Evans that morning. He paused in the act of demolishing his waffle.

"Yeah, I promised mom I would drop by... It's not every day that a whole crew comes back after being declared missing in action..." Evans explained.

"We were so worried!" Grandma exclaimed. "We checked every morning and evening to see if there'd been any word yet. I bet she was worried, too."

"Oh, she was! And she burst into tears when we talked over subspace. I told her about the mirror universe, and wisely left the part about the Lantree out... She'd never let me go again..." Evans said "Kitty and I agreed to take the last couple of days of our leave to visit her in Stoke... Right, Kitty?"

"The Lantree?" Grandpa looked up at Evans suddenly and a bit sharply.

"Eh, oops..." Evans said, growing beet red all of a sudden.

"Yes?" he asked directly. "What about the Lantree?"

Evans suddenly looked very guilty, and looked at Kitty, to see how she was responding.

Kitty had paused with her fork raised halfway to her mouth and was simply listening. When he looked at her, she gave a very slight shrug. Grandpa was still looking at him, bringing the full attention of a man who'd spent years on the sea and lecturing students to bear on this one lieutenant junior-grade.

It wasn't long before Evans crumbled under the weight of the lead-heavy gaze of the seasoned seagoer... "When we got back from the mirror universe, we were in bad shape, so we asked for help. In the few days that it took the Lantree to arrive, Kitty and I managed to get all weapons and shields back online, albeit partly. Strangely enough, the ship's computer helped us. Not as a tool, but as a colleague.

"It turned out that the computer was 'infected' with a trojan horse. A tactical hologram that was to spread out into the federation, and rally ships, to come and fight for the mirror Federation. It downloaded itself to the Lantree too, but something went awefully wrong. The Lantree's computer turned rogue, and started destroying anything in it's path, beginning with it's own crew, and ending with us, the Pegasus... We were forced to destroy the Lantree... All hands, except the engineers assigned to help repair the Pegasus, lost..." Evans sighed heavily. "...and that's the short version..."

Grandpa held Evans' gaze for a moment longer, then nodded, straightening up and returning to his waffle. "Yes, that's what I'd heard, too. It's a shame, terrible shame. How are you coping with it?"

Evans' eyes turned back to the size of saucers again at that last remark, as he turned from red into white... "You already knew?! ... But why did you ask... I mean..." He shook his head, and then looked at Kitty.

Kitty looked amused, but she was trying to hide it.. glancing back down at her plate. Grandpa nodded. "I knew, Regulus told me before he left. How are you coping with it?" he asked again.

Evans mentally palmed his forehead again. "Of course... An admiral would want to know what happenes to his daughter..." Evans recomposed himself, and cleared his throat. "Ahem... Well... It's hard... Even if I wasn't the one who gave the order to destroy the Lantree, or the one actually pushing the button... Actually, I was pretty much incapacitated, after the initial attack. Ceilingtiles are heavy, y'know?"

Kitty was the one who answered that. "Yeah.. they are." And now she was the one who looked solemn, so much so that her grandmother rested a hand on her shoulder.

"Yeah... I think it was a lot harder on you..." Evans said, looking at Kitty.

"I'm ok.." Kitty said, but her voice wavered slightly.

Evans suddenly didn't feel so hungry anymore. He just stared at his plate, contemplating what had happened. How it was 'them or us', even though they weren't even enemies.

"S'cuse me please.." Kitty said very quietly, managed a smile as she got up from her chair, and disappeared out of the kitchen and into her bedroom quietly. Both grandparents watched her go and gave identical slight frowns in response.. then Grandma turned her attention to Evans. "You ok, honey?"

"...No, not really..."


Lt. Kathleen Black Chief Engineer Starbase Ronin

Lt. Jg. Ronald Evans Chief Ops Officer SB47 Ronin