Chapter 1 - Nightgowns and Nightmares

Millie stepped out of the bathroom, pulling the full-length sleeves of her nightgown over the hem of her gloves. She gave a quick peek in the bassinet at the sleeping Wohan, giving a sigh of relief. The kitten had been harder to coax into her crib from Millie’s arms over the past few days, but today seemed to be better. It was understandable, given Millie’s absence for several weeks.

The Counselor gave a sign, sitting on the edge of the bed.


Evelyn was sitting in bed reading over a technical manual on a new generation of starship computer processors. “That little purr is more soothing than white noise.”


Millie nodded, glancing over to the bassinet again. “It will be good to get her back into her rhythm again. She went down a lot easier tonight.” She stood just enough to pull back the covers, shifting to sit against the headboard on her own side.


Evelyn set her PADD aside and turned on her side facing Millie. “So, she’s sound asleep and its only 2326….” She let her intention hang in the air.


Millie gave a quiet sigh, pulling her hands into her lap. “Ev…” she said softly.


Evelyn smiled as she leaned in.  “Yes?” she said just as softly.


Millie shifted away as Evelyn closed the distance. She felt her heart pounding in her chest. “Ev–” she said, more insistently


When Millie pulled away Evelyn stopped her lean. “What is it?”


“I–” Millie looked away. “I can’t, Evelyn.”


“You can’t?’  Evelyn withdrew to her side of the bed.  “Or you won’t? You’ve been back for three days and nights now and you haven’t even kissed me. I know the transporter thing was traumatic but I’d think that would make you want to be closer to someone.”


Millie opened her mouth to say something, but her voice immediately caught in her throat. She blinked several times, trying to will the tears to stop. “I can’t,” she said in almost a whisper.


“Did something happen, like with your hands?”


Millie’s lower lip trembled, and she bit it, giving a nod. “It didn’t just happen, Ev. There’s something wrong with me, something dangerous, and I can’t–” Millie took in a deep breath, feeling an unusual surge of panic in her chest.


“Did you tell the doctors, they can find a treatment.”


Millie shook her head emphatically. “They can’t change this. It’s always been–always been a part of me, the part we didn’t have answers for.”


“You’re not making any sense. If you’ve somehow always been dangerous it didn’t stop us from anything before.”


“Because I didn’t know what I was doing.” A tear trailed down Millie’s cheek. “I didn’t realize how I was affecting people without–without them agreeing to it.”


“I can tell you how you’ve affected me, which was the whole plan tonight.”


“I don’t want to hurt you. I’ve already done enough…” Millie started to reach out a hand, but quickly pulled it back.


“Hurt me? None of this makes any sense.  Will you just talk to me?”


“I just want to keep you safe, sweetheart. From the moment you showed up to rescue me from an alien army, I knew that I would spend every moment of my life protecting you.” Millie swallowed hard. “I need to keep you safe.” She finally looked at Evelyn. “Knowing that my touching you has the potential to harm you, to change you…”


“Wouldn’t it have already changed me, and I feel fine?”


“That’s what I’m afraid of…” Millie said softly. “That your falling in love with me wasn’t…


“Is the touch permanent or do you have to have constant contact?”


“I don’t know,” Millie said softly. “But you know how everyone always seems to joke about my ‘magic touch’? It’s–it’s not magic.”


“Then what is it?”


“It’s me. It’s–it’s from my father’s side of the family.” Millie’s eyes fell to the hands in her lap. “And they use it to hurt people, to influence people…”


“You don’t even know who your father is.  You told me he was never around.”


“He wasn’t. He can’t be.” Millie looked up to Evelyn. “And nobody can ever know who he is. Not if I’m going to keep all of us safe.”


“You’re not going to tell me?”


Millie searched Evelyn’s face, saw the hurt, saw the start of tears in her eyes. She reached out with a gloved hand, brushing a strand of hair out of Evelyn’s face. “Remember that first shore leave after you rescued me? I disappeared for several days without a word? It was him. He had his thugs kidnap me, threatened to hurt you.”


“Your father kidnapped you and wanted me dead. Who is he?”


“James Nadall. Patricia’s psycho ex-fiancee.”


Evelyn’s mouth opened, then closed.  A moment passed before she spoke. “Does she know that she could have been your stepmother?”


“No!” Millie caught herself and glanced to the sleeping child, making sure her sudden outburst didn’t wake La’lana. “She can’t ever know, Evelyn. If she found out, I don’t think it would go well for anyone.”


“Now that is something that makes complete sense.” She took a deep breath. “We have to figure something out…” she motioned the space between them.  “I don’t want a roommate. I understand your concern but you can’t wall yourself off from everyone, especially me.”


“I know, I know.” Millie sighed. “But I also know that people have this…ability to persuade people with their touch. All the times that I’ve diffused situations with what I thought was a calming touch was something more than that. I don’t know if it’s like a telepathy or–” She let her gloved hand brush up against Evelyn’s arm. “I’m just afraid I’ve been using it on you all this time, and I…I don’t want to.”


“So your very carefully made plan is to never touch me again?”


“God, Evelyn.” Millie sighed again. “You have no idea how much this scares me. That all those times that you just melt into euphoria was me–me influencing your feelings and emotions.”


“So you just think I’m some simpleton who cannot make her own decisions on who she wants to be in love with? I think maybe you’re overestimating this ability of yours.”


Millie shook her head. “I did it first when I was at the Academy. A cadet was about to jump off a building, and I got my fingers on their arm and told them they didn’t want to jump…and then they answered that they didn’t want to jump. I’ve put my hands on diplomats and crew members and the Captain.” She looked down at her hands again. “That first shore leave…you were going to head off to your conference, and I kissed you and wished that you would change your mind and want to stay, to–” Millie’s voice caught. “To let me take you to bed with me. And you just…melted in my arms.”


“Because I wanted to.  Not because you made me. I thought you were cute since I laid eyes on you.”


“I don’t ever want to hurt you, Evelyn, and I’m just…scared.” Millie’s voice wavered and she blinked as another round of tears threatened to fall.


“I’ll make you a compromise deal.  Outside these quarters if you want to be careful about potentially influencing people for your job, I get that.  But inside our quarters, we live our lives.  I’ll take the risk.”


“Are you sure?” Millie’s question was a hoarse whisper.


“Kiss me.”


Millie’s gloved hand trembled as she reached out to cup Evelyn’s cheek. “I fought so hard to come back to you. Twice.”


“Thank you for all you went through, but you’re back now.”


Millie closed the distance, kissing Evelyn with desperate passion.


Evelyn returned it, the stress of the discussion melting away.  After a moment she pulled back.  “See, I’m not brainwashed, and you’re still cute.”


Millie pressed her forehead to Evelyn’s. “I don’t ever want to be apart from you.”


“I will never be apart from you.” Evelyn’s voice was robotic and her expression stoic, before she slid her eyes over to Millie with a wink. “See, told ya.”


“Does this mean I can stop wearing these horrid nightgowns?” 


“God, I hope so.”