Episode 61: Number Nine, Number Nine

So… should I change my FleetBookTM status from “it’s complicated” to “in an on-again-off-again relationship…again”?

Captain Clerk sat on his bed, staring blankly out his window, still trying to process what had happened the night before. Sure, he and Safeway had gotten back together before, but this time it was… weird. Perhaps it was the overall daze he had been in that night. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t even been asked. She just said it should happen and it did. He wasn’t really involved in that decision, which, for all he knew, had taken place in front of Safeway’s bathroom mirror as she brushed her hair that morning.

With all of this drama rolling around in his head, Clerk just couldn’t handle being a Captain today. Or maybe he just didn’t want Info to see him like this, because he knew it would be question after question. Regardless, he called in a Personal Day Off and attempted to relax.

The ringing doorbell didn’t help.

“Okay, you win,” he said under his breath as he walked over to the door and reluctantly opened it. To his confusion, he saw nothing but the other side of the hallway… that is, until he looked down, where he saw Ensign Tolstoy’s cat trotting into the room and sniffing around. “Now wait a second. How does a cat ring a doorbell?”

Clerk turned and looked up and down the hallway, and sure enough, there wasn’t a crewmember in sight. When he turned back into his room, suddenly the cat began to change shape…

“Oh, Captain, you shoulda seen your face! Ha ha ha ha ha!” Commander Odor said, in humanoid form and nearly doubling over with laughter. “That was great!”

“Ha ha,” Clerk said flatly. “Now that you’ve made your dramatic entrance, may I ask why you’re bothering me on my day off?”

Come on. You go out on a date with your old flame, who’s now an admiral, and then you take off work the next day? What can I say? Inquiring minds want to know, Jimi.”

Just when I’d gotten used to my nickname, you’ve somehow made it annoying again. Keep up the good work. “Okay, first of all, it wasn’t a date–”

“Mmm hmm.”

“It wasn’t. She said so.”

“Puh-leeze. Next you’re going to tell me you two are dating again, but it wasn’t your idea.”

Facepalm. Deep breath. “Look, it all happened so fast…”

Odor chuckled. “You’re a real piece of work, Captain! Well… I guess I’ll mosey on over to the zoo and see what Commander Chipotlay is all up in arms about. Have a good mope, sir.”

Clerk didn’t get a chance to react, because at that moment, his communicator beeped, and he knew exactly what that meant. Odor walked out the door as the Captain picked up his least favorite technological device and read the message on its screen:


While he didn’t know what “OMW” meant, he knew “2 UR PLACE” well enough.  His stomach’s resident butterflies showed up to say hi as he rummaged around for the least dirty uniform in his room.


Clerk sat on pins and needles as he waited. He had rushed to get ready ASAP, which meant that he had forgotten the Rule of Safeway Time: “on my way” could mean any amount of time between 30 minutes and 3 days. A couple of hours had passed, which gave him enough time to run about 50 different conversations through his mind. He had just started a new one when the doorbell rang, making him nearly jump out of his skin due to being so lost in thought.

“Who is it?” As if I didn’t know.

“It’s me, honey! Sorry! I got caught up in some last minute stuff.”

“It’s okay. Come on in.”

Safeway entered slowly, a bit frazzled, but really not all that far off from her usually impeccable look. She sat down on the other side of his table, picked up a half-eaten doughnut, and chowed down. “Sorry, Jimi,” she said with her mouth full. “I haven’t had a bite to eat since breakfast.”

“No worries,” Clerk replied. “Have as many as you want.”


As Safeway continued eating, Clerk sat up, took a deep breath, and put on his game face. “So… Kathy…”

“Yes?” She sensed the seriousness in his tone.

There’s no right way to say this. You’d think with eight previous rounds of this that I’d figure it out. “…are we doing this? Again?

“What do you mean?”

“This whole… dating… thing…” It didn’t take long for the Captain to go from Abnormally Confident to Abnormally Nervous.

“Of course, dear,” Safeway said matter-of-factly. “We talked about it last night. You were there. Don’t you remember?”

“Well, it was kind of a blur… I think I missed a few things…”

Safeway smiled. “James Clerk, ever the unobservant date.” She sighed. “What in the universe am I going to do with you?”

Was dating what you had in mind? Clerk shifted in his seat. “What you have to do, what you always do.”

“And that is?”

“Uh… I forgot. I was trying to quote some old movie. I can’t remember the rest of it.”

“Will you ever give up trying to be witty?”

Never! “You know I’m still the same as I ever was.”

“I know… and I guess that’s why I keep coming back.” She sensed his uneasiness, and frowned a little. “You want to break it off again, don’t you?”

Clerk replied with the last word in the English language she expected to hear. “No.”

“You don’t? Really?

Clerk shrugged. “Nah. Might as well keep it going for now.”

“Just when I think you can’t surprise me anymore…”


Captain Clerk emerged onto the Bridge the next morning, corporate coffee in hand, and almost got to the Big Comfy Chair before Info addressed him.

“You’ve got that look on your face again, Captain.”

“What look? What are you talking about?”

“You’re dating again, aren’t you?”

Clerk rolled his eyes. “Don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s just Kathy again.”

“Oh, I see.” With that, Info shrugged it off and went back to his station.

“I hear we finally have orders!” said Lt. Eric.

“Yes we do, but don’t get too excited,” Clerk replied. “We’re just taking the Secondprize back to the shop for another refit.”

“Well, at least I get to do my job. This thing hasn’t budged an inch since I was transferred here!”

“Point taken.” Clerk sat down and was mid-coffee-sip when it hit him. “Oh yeah, there is one other thing we gotta do. I just remembered. We have to stop at Andoria and pick up Ambassador Staa’ck. No big deal.”

“I hate it when you say something is ‘no big deal’,” Info spoke up. “It always seems to make it turn into some kind of train wreck.”

Was that about the trip to Andoria, or my dating Kathy again?