“We need a still holo and a still vid. This is a big moment! Here, right here. Come on, Daddy L, you too.” Trevor’s mom paused in organizing where the members of her expanding family should stand to take off her smart and hold it out to Captain.
“Could you please? Just a couple each still holos and still vids,” she said, bustling back to stand between Leo and Trevor so she could tuck an arm around each of them. Trevor’s grandfather stood on Trevor’s other side and draped one arm across both women’s shoulders.
Captain dutifully captured the stills and gave the smart back to Trevor’s mom.
“I’m Dennis, Dennis Shandlie,” Trevor’s mom introduced herself to Captain while they both still had hands extended. “But you already knew the Shandlie part with Trevor here on her contract. And this is my dad, Lissa Shandlie.”
“Tallishen Os,” Captain replied, shaking Dennis’s offered hand. “Captain of Dockland,” she added.
“Oh! I thought you sounded familiar! We spoke early yestercyc when you arrived in orbit.” Dennis squeezed Captain’s hand between both of hers as if the brief communication where they hadn’t even spoken directly to each other had made them long-term friends. Leo chuckled.
“I warned you about her,” Trevor muttered, a sly grin pulling at her lips.
“I like her,” Leo said.
“That’s only because she said you were pretty,” Trevor argued.
“I do like women who say I’m pretty,” he agreed, smiling at Trevor and suddenly fully smitten with how perfect she looked tucked under her grandfather’s arm.
“Hm,” her grandfather said. “Last time I looked at anyone like that, we ended up having three kids together,” he said, pitching his voice so it sounded as if he was giving sage advice.
“Let me get through one baby before planning more, please,” Trevor chastised him, saying it loud enough to include her mom.
“I’m okay with planning more,” Leo offered, lifting a hand just above his shoulder to volunteer for the task. Lissa burst out laughing and stepped away from Trevor to pat Leo heavily on the shoulder.
“I like you,” the older man stated. “Don’t eat this one,” he advised Trevor.
“I can’t guarantee anything if we get stranded spaceside while I’m pregnant,” she replied easily.
“You two! As if anyone gets stranded spaceside anymore! There are more scans and trackers and readings than anyone ever needs,” Dennis said, cascading into the middle of the conversation to hug protectively around Leo’s waist.
“It’s fine,” Leo assured Dennis, squeezing her tightly. “I know she loves me enough to only take off one of my legs, so most of me will get through to a restock station alive,” he added. Lissa burst out laughing again.
Captain led the combined Daion and Coalition group to the next hold. The lifeboat there contained the nearest meeting room, and the boat’s systems were linked to Dockland while it was still in the hold. Charlotte joined the meeting as a holovid, ensuring designated representatives with authority to speak on behalf of both Daion and Coalition peoples were present during negotiations. At the end of half an hour, the few needed details were sorted out and Captain’s original idea for exchanging personnel to replace Dockland’s lead bridge crew InterStel Officer was agreed to completely by all parties. Then it was time for the shuttle to return landside.
“You sure you can get by without me?” Leo asked, smiling at Trevor. They were in a lifeboat private Captain had unlocked so they could speak personally.
“I did fine before you,” she reminded him. “Plus, there’s nothing in this Coalition ship even coming close to a hot mug of Daion tea,” she added, snuggling into the hug he held his arms open to offer. “Do I need to worry about you being solo up here?” she asked. He snorted a laugh.
“You made Lissa promise you he’d make sure I was all right.”
“Mom told you to start calling him Granddad.”
“But he didn’t. His person, his name, his decision,” Leo argued.
“We’ve got five minutes to talk and you’re going to pick it with me?”
“How else am I going to keep you angry enough to remember me for three whole cycles? I’d have to be there to only annoy you, but anger…” he sighed and then kissed his fingers as if he’d just completed a masterpiece.
“You’re a bolt,” she stated. “Kiss me?” she asked.
He answered quickly, pressing his lips to hers and pulling her body close so he didn’t waste any time on what – with him – could turn into a long and clunky verbal agreement. They ended the kiss gently and stayed close, foreheads resting together.
“You promise it’ll only be three cycles?” she asked.
“Our only options are: one, Shiner being the other pre-InterStel ship and Dockland getting overpowered so all of us evacuate using the lifeboats and Daion fleet; two, Captain winning any confrontation and the safety of Coalition and Daion peoples to co-exist is locked down in history; or three…” his voice trailed off. She leaned back looked at him, more worry in her eyes than he felt he deserved. “Or three, the whole universe gets sucked up in a cosmic implosion of time and space and none of this matters, anyway,” he finished. She laughed quietly, blinking back tears and only sniffling once. “Kiss me again before we leave the boat?” he asked. She agreed as silently as he had, the fearful tears neither wanted the other to see safely hidden behind closed eyes.
Trevor scrubbed her face with the cuffs of her sleeves while Leo used his fingers and then wiped his hands on his pants. Neither of them was tear stained, and both were dry-eyed, when they locked hands together and bravely smiled before parting to begin carrying out Captain’s orders.
After confirming three times that she really did have everything in her duffle she needed for three days landside, the third time getting glared at for asking again, Leo waved goodbye to Trevor and Dennis through the shuttle and hold windows. Lissa chuckled when Leo’s hand didn’t drop until after the hold doors sealed closed and the shuttle was zipping away.
“Three cycles isn’t actually that long, you know,” Lissa chided.
“It’s a lot longer when she’s not here, though,” Leo said.
Lissa nodded and patted Leo heavily on the shoulder. “Come on. You promised me a tour of this old ship before I have to start my shift,” he said.
“Right,” Leo agreed, finally looking away from watching the shuttle grow smaller. “Where do you want to start?”
Lissa picked up his small pack – a shoulder bag similar to Trevor’s duffle – and looked up and down the hallway they were standing in. “Let’s start with your favorite place on board,” he said.
“My favorite place?”
“It’s always a good idea to start off a tour on a positive,” Lissa said.
“That makes sense,” Leo agreed. “In that case, we’ll start off going this way.”
Leo led Lissa to the below decks control room first and introduced him to the crew members assigned in there for this shift, showing him the antique equipment and consoles. They took a long route through the ship on the way to the bridge so Leo could give Lissa a general sense of Dockland’s layout, and then went for Captain to review Lissa’s capabilities for joining the crew as her lead shift bridge InterStel Officer. As Leo expected – and Captain surprisingly didn’t, but definitely looked happy about – the shipside System Installer who had trained Trevor knew more about Dockland’s InterStel than Captain did.
Captain assigned the older man to a room only a few cabins away from Trevor and Leo’s, and Leo agreed quickly to sharing a table at the next meal when Lissa offered the company. It was a lot easier to worry about Trevor working in the assembly yard and keeping landside accommodations when someone else who loved her could explain away each of Leo’s concerns (which were rooted in simply not knowing what she was doing). Lissa provided more facts and information than Leo could imagine about the general operations of ship construction and assembly. Nothing to wonder about for why Trevor’s already a talented trainer at her age with Lissa as her grandfather, Leo thought, smiling at the family resemblance.
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A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!