Tempus Fugit

BY : yncarn8
Category: Star Trek > The Next Generation
Dragon prints: 1082
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek be it the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise. I am making no money from this story.

I own nothing, so should Paramount sue me they'd get sod all, but all the same I wish to state I do not own any characters from Star Trek be they the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise. I am merely borrowing them for a while and promise to give them a wash in warm soapy water before I return them. I am not making any financial gain from this story.

However, Taryn Prior is mine along with the many other original characters in this story.

I am aware of the series of licensed books that cover the same ground as this story, but if you are a nerdy Trekker like me with a lot of time on your hands you may also know there is historical information within the Star Trek Online MMRPG and the graphic novel, Countdown which launched the Movie reboot, all of which contains conflicts in plot and timeline. I have also frequently used the websites Memory Alpha and Memory Beta in researching this story, they've been invaluable. In the formation of this story I have drawn inspiration from all these sources and therefore I have had to take some liberties including diabolical ones in terms of timeline. I have also made some changes purely because I felt like it. Call it artistic licence. I'm aware these additional sources are not considered canon per se, if you consider them canon, then this story is AU.

I haven't supplied any references for the episodes or movies used as sources in the story, but if you'd like to know where I got something from, drop me a line and I'll do my best to answer.

This story overlaps slightly with the end of Pygmalion and I was tempted to change the title to "Three Pon Farrs and a Funeral" for reasons that will become apparent. As you may guess from the title it involves time travel so I hope it won't get too confusing.

Finally, this story is very nearly complete and novel length so expect regular updates. I just have a little more work to do on some of the later chapters and I expect it to be 30 Chapters long. Each chapter is at least 4000 words so you should get a big chunk of plot each update at least.

And yes, I'm still an anal geek.

Hope you enjoy it.

Prologue

2381

Seven days after the Hyper-subspace transport test

Captain Picard's expression was grim as he stepped forward to address the small gathering in the torpedo bay. "This is always among the saddest duties a ship's Captain has to perform. It's time to say farewell to two officers, two friends that have had an impact beyond calculation on all our lives."

Data and Geordi stepped forward to close the torpedo tube. They were both squeezed together inside, his cheek resting against her head as she lay snuggled into his shoulder. Her hand upon his chest over his motionless heart and his hand covering hers. Where they not in dress uniform and so terribly cold and still you could think they were asleep.

"We honour and celebrate their lives, given in the line of duty. Reginald Endicott Barclay the Third gave his life in an act of bravery and valour to save a fellow officer having already saved the Enterprise. Taryn Boudicca Prior died as she lived, defending the life of another. We commend their mortal remains to the Earth's sun. Together, as they would have wanted." The Captain intoned.

The officers watched as the torpedo locked into the mechanism and was carried towards the launch tube. They turned to the view port, along with the rest of the crew that were gathered by windows in forward areas of the ship. The torpedo launched and silently traveled through space in an arc before vanishing into the photosphere, leaving a solar flare in its wake that barely registered on the ships sensors.

"Bon voyage mes amis." Picard added softly.

2366

Fifteen years before the Hyper-subspace transport test

"Good evening Lieutenant." Guinan smiled. "Can I get you anything?"

"Um…m…milk please, warm milk?" the unfamiliar face asked, avoiding eye contact. She smiled as she prepared his drink, appraising him out of the corner of her eye.

"New in town?" she asked.

"Uh, I just t…transferred here f…from the Zhukov." he stated, fidgeting with his hands.

She nodded. Her questions were clearly making him feel awkward and that was the last thing she wanted any of her patrons to feel. She'd met others like him, although rarely in Starfleet uniform. With the shy and reticent sometimes listening had to include watching and this one looked unguarded, an easy read to stretch those powers of observation she'd neglected for a while. He was in a mustard uniform, narrowing things down somewhat. "Not security," she thought as she looked at his eyes. "He's cerebral, intelligent, you'd almost expect to see that face in teal." she mused. "Besides, he looks fit, but not quite fit enough for Worf's standards." She put his drink in front of him and he acknowledged her with a shy half smile, again without eye contact. "Operations maybe? Too shy for the Bridge, perhaps Sensor Control or Communications…No. Engineering, he's one of Geordi's boys." she realized. "My name is Guinan, I run this place."

"Barclay…Lieutenant Reginald Barclay." he replied awkwardly.

A light flashed somewhere in Guinan's memory, but she couldn't quite pin it down. She looked at him again as he sipped his milk and gazed into the middle distance. "You are a dreamer Mr Barclay." she pondered. "No wedding ring, not bad looking either. What are you dreaming of? Beautiful women, handsome men, a well maintained impulse engine… What floats your boat?" she wondered. He turned as the doors opened and watched as Counselor Troi entered walked past the bar and sat at a far table with Commander Riker. "Well, he's definitely not gay." she concluded, reading his expression. "Is it her in particular or all petite women with long dark hair? No it can't be? Surely not?" She smiled at him. "Let me guess, you're an Engineer."

"Um…how…? Are you a t…telepath?" he asked worriedly.

"No, it was just a guess. The uniform." She smirked inwardly, clearly he'd just been thinking of something he'd prefer not to share.

"Oh, right. I…I'm a Systems D…diagnostic Engineer." he replied and returned to his drink while casting furtive glances at Troi across the bar.

"This boy's mother should be slapped for letting him leave home carrying that stammer." she thought as she moved away. "Right occupation though, and he does have that eccentric quality that all pioneers seem to have, but he's not at all what I expected." She smiled at another customer and pondered the chain of events that will cause the, albeit manly, shrinking violet at the bar to win the heart and soul of the brazen vixen she had met all those centuries ago.

Chapter 1

2381

Two weeks before the Hyper-subspace transport test.

Reg's demeanor changed as he read the communique. It was from her again, simply stating a time and a place and asking him to confirm. His heart sank as he made his reply. Why couldn't he just say no?

"Here's my final specs on the test cylinder Boss. I wanted your input before I start the build." Dan asked, interrupting him as he sat at his desk.

"It's fine, but…do we need it to scan for chronitons?" Reg asked.

"I wanted to make it as comprehensive as possible. The more data we can collect the better surely?" Dan argued. "I have the space for extra sensors…"

"Okay, but beware of making more to go wrong. The more complex it is the more likely it is we'll lose the signal in the matter stream." he handed it back. "I'll be leaving a couple of hours early today." he said softly.

"No problem." Dan smiled and walked away.

"I was t…told you'd have a k…key for me?" Reg asked nervously at the hotel reception.

"Can I take your name sir?" the pretty receptionist asked.

"Smith." Reg replied, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the cliché.

The girl handed him the isolinear key with a smile. "Room 204 Mr Smith."

"Thank you." he replied softly and trudged through reception with his head down, looking dejected. She was sitting on the bed when he opened the door to the room. "We really need to talk, I can't keep doing this…" she approached and silenced him with a kiss. "This has to stop…" he whispered then surrendered, returning her kisses fervently as she pulled at his clothing.

"Don't wimp out on me Barclay." she said as she got off the bed and walked naked to the bathroom. "We made this arrangement because it suits us both."

"Well, maybe it's not suiting me anymore." he said angrily and began to dress.

"She'll smell me on you if you don't shower before you go home." she warned through the open door as she turned on the sonic shower and stepped into it.

"Perhaps I don't care?" he shouted as he walked into the bathroom in his underpants.

"Get out!" she snapped. "For God's sake give me some privacy." she pushed him out of the room and slammed the bathroom door.

He began to pace. This situation was untenable, meeting once a week for cold, meaningless sex just wasn't him. Not him at all. It just felt dirty and sordid, not to mention leaving him wracked with guilt. He fidgeted nervously with his wedding ring until she emerged wrapped in a towel and began to dress.

"We need to talk about this." he pleaded.

"I don't have time. I need to pick up my kids and get home before my husband does." she replied tersely. "You want to stop this?" she shrugged. "Stop, no one forces you to come here. I could just as easily get a workout and a massage downstairs at the spa, although I admit you're more fun." she told him as she brushed her hair in the mirror, not even making eye contact. "See you around Barclay." she said as she walked out of the hotel room without a backward glance.

He sighed dejectedly and headed for the shower. He decided to head back to the lab for a while before he went home to face his family. He needed time to think.

"Mommy, Daddy's home…" Galatea shouted as she ran into his arms.

"Hello my baby." He kissed Galatea on the cheek. "You're getting heavy." he told her and walked over to the playpen carrying her then stood her on the floor. "Hello little babies." He leaned over and kissed each twin on the head as they sat and played. Pip offered him a building brick. "Thank you Pipsqueak. What are you building?" he asked them both, although they seemed to be waving and teething on them rather than any serious construction, they were a little young for that yet but Reg half expected to see a bridge or a complicated tower block appear whenever he turned around with Taryn for their mother. He clicked the brick into another lying in the pen and they both stared at them as though he had performed some sort of magic trick.

"There's my man." Taryn smiled and hugged him. He held her tight and lifted her feet off the ground with a growl. "How was your day?"

"About the usual." he whispered into her hair.

"One of my students quoted you in class today." she told him.

He smiled. "Did they get the stammer right?"

"Almost." she replied with a smirk as he put her down and stroked her hair. "I hope you're hungry, I've been slaving over a hot replicator for at least two minutes." she joked and picked up a baby, as did Reg and they carried them through to the kitchen to eat.

After dinner and the chaotic water-fight that was euphemistically known as bath time they changed into bath robes as they were drenched and he read Gala a story while Taryn nursed the twins, then they settled on the sofa for grown up time.

"I think Pip's going to crawl soon, he's raring to go when you put him on his tummy. Andie's a little less enthusiastic. I get the feeling she's going to be a bum shuffler like Bronnie was. She never crawled." Taryn stated. "They're growing so fast it's scary." Reg chewed nervously at his fingers. "Are you okay?" she asked, stroking his temple with the back of her finger.

"No, I'm not okay." he whispered. "I really need to talk to you about something."

She was pacing furiously but her voice was low so they didn't wake the children. "I don't believe I'm hearing this. Two months and you never said anything?" she said darkly. "You've kept this from me all this time?"

"I knew you'd be upset, and angry and…I didn't want it to come between us…It makes me feel…used and dirty…and I can't live with it anymore." he argued and she laughed mirthlessly in response. "I love you." he started to cry.

"Not enough to be honest with me it seems." she huffed.

"I…just can't do it anymore…I can't live this lie." He lowered his head hands and rubbed the back of his head distractedly. "The fact that no one's bothered that I sneak out of work is beside the point. I feel like I'm letting them down so close to the test phase."

Taryn rolled her eyes and sat beside him, taking him in her arms. "You idiot." She smiled. "You can't even cheat on me when I'm the other woman," she smirked, "So much for adding frisson to our relationship with role-play you big wuss. You could have told me you weren't enjoying it. I thought you were in the zone, playing the guilty husband."

"After the tests we can come up with a new scenario if it's what you want," he wiped his eyes, "Just… I don't want to feel like a sex object or have to treat you like one. I'm happy with our love life here, I don't really need to add frisson."

"Neither do I, but I do like to have you all to myself for an hour or two now and then." She rested her head on his shoulder. "How about this scenario? We're married, very much in love with three beautiful little children and we sneak off to a hotel occasionally to make loud, vocal, passionate and frantic love in the afternoon so we don't forget we're lovers as well as parents?" she suggested with an arched brow.

"I like that scenario." he smiled and kissed her.

"You can be the wife." she joked with a smirk. "I'll replicate a strap-on."

"That is a prohibited item under the Anal Accord of stardate 5…" he began to argue.

"It's not prohibited, okay its use is limited under article 2 but…" she admitted.

"You'll get that thing on and I can wave bu-bye to my cherry ass. You won't be able to help yourself. You know, my Dad warned me about men like you…"

"Don't flatter yourself. Besides, I'd give you a reach around." she grinned.

"I should hope so you minx." He smiled and kissed her and they fell back in each other's arms, then rolled off the couch and onto the floor with a thump. A baby started to cry over the monitor. "That will be Andie." she said, climbing off him and running up the stairs. If she was quick enough there was a chance she may be able to salvage the situation before it turned into a duet. Another wail joined in for the chorus as she reached the top step.

Reg sighed. Andie seemed to be like him, a light and uneasy sleeper. By contrast Pip slept deeply unless he was hungry or wet or his sister was screeching in his ear. Reg stood and followed her, with luck they'd be able to settle them before they disturbed Galatea who was a heavy sleeper but was far from above emotional blackmail to extort hot chocolate and a cuddle on the sofa. He wouldn't go as far as to say parenthood was killing their sex life, but it was certainly applying drag to their momentum. At least Galatea still took naps in the afternoon thanks to her physiology and if they timed it right on their days off they could squeeze in a shower together while the babies slept too. Mommy and Daddy time in the evening often involved more adult activity than talking, watching movies or practicing neuro-pressure as long as they kept the volume down in all cases.

It was all worth it though, he thought as his little green son snuggled against his shoulder. He had a serious little face that looked amusing in contrast to his tuft of dark hair. He rocked him as Taryn sang, holding Andie in her arms with her smiling up at her. Andie was all smiles, often giggling to herself unlike her brother, but when he got going he had a dirty cackle that was so infectious. Reg marveled at how different they were in terms of personality as well as complexion and yet, even at six months old they played and interacted like Binars and even seemed to have babbling conversations that only they understood. They soon drifted back to sleep and they gently placed them back in their cribs.

"Where were we?" Taryn whispered as they headed downstairs. He turned and kissed her as he reached the bottom, she was a couple of steps up making them the same height, locked in a heated embrace. "Soixante-neuf mon mousquetaire?"

"Mais oui." he replied and carried her over to the couch with her legs around his waist.

"Je t'aime d'Artagnan." she whispered as he sat on the couch with her straddling his lap.

"Je t'aime mon petit chou-fleur." he nuzzled her neck and she laughed.

"My French isn't great, but I think you just called me your little cauliflower." she told him in a soft voice.

"Oops." he smirked as he kissed her throat. "I was thinking of a different fleur. Mon cornichon, mon mange tout, mon petite brocoli." he whispered as his kisses moved lower. Reg really wasn't certain if broccoli was masculine or feminine but frankly didn't care, he'd heard the magic number sixty-nine and was currently intent on working his way down her body in as short a time as possible.

"Perhaps we should stick to just doing ze accent monsieur." she suggested. with a smile.

"What? German?" he snorted. "That was the worst French accent I've ever heard." he laughed

"Shush!" she urged him to keep the noise down with a dimpled smile. "Or better yet, we could shut up and find more pleasurable things to do with our mouths?" She cradled his head in her arms while he lavished attention to her breasts and he was instantly distracted from his goal. "Y'know, you can get warm milk out of the replicator if you're thirsty." she chided playfully after a few minutes.

"I'm trying to resolve attachment issues that I developed in early childhood." he advised her and latched on to the other breast.

"I see." Taryn smirked. "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the one that's the most difficult to wean?"

"Only because you love it, besides I was a deprived child." He gazed lovingly at her boob and then suckled again.

"You're more of a depraved child these days."

"You love that too, admit it?" he whispered, then sighed. "I suppose I should leave some for the kids." he said reluctantly.

"The more they work the more they make." Taryn assured him. "I've been considering making cheese I'm producing so much." She quirked her lip and smiled. "I've got plenty stored if you want some and I'm not here. I know how much you love milk."

"Don't be disgusting." he stated. "The container is half the fun." He kissed her passionately on the lips. "You mentioned soixante-neuf I believe?" he asked softly with a smile. There was a sudden flurry of activity as he lay on the couch and she pulled his robe open and climbed on top of him facing the other way. He went at it enthusiastically, as he always did, clutching her buttocks. He'd always felt it was his duty as an officer and a gentleman not to mention an honourary musketeer to do his utmost to ensure any woman daft enough to be intimate with him had the best possible time and he took that even more seriously when it came to his wife. Suddenly he realised she didn't seem to be as enthusiastic as he was. "Is something wrong? We can do something else if you've changed your mind?" he said softly from under her bath robe.

"It's not that." she whispered. "I don't want you to take this as a comment on your endowment but I can only just reach it with my mouth in this position. I'm too short." He uncovered his head and craned his neck to try and see. He pulled her up and down a few times by the hips to check the logistics.

"Well, how did we manage it before?" he asked.

"You were on top, you must have been sort of curled over." she explained.

"Do you want to move?" he asked.

"We can take turns if you're comfortable?"

"Okay." he agreed and went back to work between her thighs. There was a lot less negotiation when they were at the hotel. Probably because these evening trysts acted as a proving ground where they tried new things. They were frequently interrupted, hence the robes that enabled them to cover up quickly and claim they were 'wrestling' or 'cuddling' if Galatea wandered downstairs but she hadn't so far. She was normally out like a light after her bedtime story until morning. If she felt poorly she tended to grizzle and fuss which was audible long before she was in sight of them. The fact they were constantly on alert, didn't always finish what they started and had to restrain themselves vocally was why they started meeting at the hotel. He'd been excited by the idea of pretending they were having an affair at first, it felt a little naughty the first couple of times he had to admit, but it began to feel more real, as though they really were just using each other to work out their frustrations. He yearned for the intimacy they shared in their stolen moments at home while at the hotel far more than he missed the uninhibited freedom of the hotel while they snatched the odd quiet quickie during nap time. At least Taryn understood now, he should have said something sooner but she seemed to be relishing the experience of the double life. He should have known that her desire to please him would mean she would understand. Although he was currently doing the pleasing, like gangbusters if the muffled noises she was making as she chewed on her robe and the way she was quivering like pudding was anything to go by, "Oh boy…" he whispered as he felt her mouth surround him as she took her turn. "Wait, stop." he told her and encouraged her to get up.

"What? What's wrong?" she asked.

"I want you to straddle me." He pulled her gently onto his lap.

"Oh, I wanted to taste you." she pouted.

"We could do that porn thing?" he suggested, trying to manoeuvre her into position but she resisted.

"I see, you'll jizz in my face but you won't let me give you oral?" she said with a hurt expression on her face.

"It's not that…" He sighed. "Okay, it sort of is that. I like the idea, but I hear my mother's voice as soon as you start, telling me I'm debasing and degrading you. When we sixty-nined before I didn't really have time to think about it and the other times so much of my blood volume was below the waist by the time you started I couldn't think about anything." He looked away guiltily.

"I thought we resolved this issue months ago?" Taryn whispered.

"So did I but…Woah, what?" he said as she slid off his lap and knelt on the floor. "What are you doing?" he whispered urgently.

She rested her hands on his thighs. "I'm not degrading myself, I'm not about to orally rape you but I really want to make love to you with my mouth, like you just did for me. Is that alright?"

"Um…okay." he whispered. "You'll stop if I ask though?"

"Of course I will." she whispered. "I promise." He gasped as she dipped her head and began to caress him with her tongue. Within seconds he realised the very last thing he wanted her to do was stop.

"Are there any other repressive sexual time bombs lurking in that big brain of yours that I'm going to have to work on?" Taryn asked as she hugged him from behind while he was putting away some of the twins' toys.

"Probably, but none that I'm currently aware of." Reg smiled.

"So you aren't going to start screaming if I… You know we're running out of new things to do." she frowned. "Toe sucking?"

"I'm not going anywhere near your cheesy feet with my mouth." he said indignantly. Then paused. "Okay, maybe in the bath." he conceded. "There's always the bucket list?" he suggested.

"We could revisit that." Taryn smiled. "Of course there's my list too."

"I can't wait to see that." he smirked as he picked something up and turned it over in his hands. "Taryn, why do we have a very small guitar?" Reg asked with a frown. It seemed more like a real instrument than a toy.

"Emlyn sent it for the kids and it's not a guitar, it's a ukulele." she explained. "Pip thought it was great fun twanging the strings but he's a bit little for it yet. I taught Gala a few chords and she seemed to like it too. Andie didn't seem as impressed though, she didn't want to touch it but she seemed to like the sound."

"So we may have a couple of musicians on our hands?" he asked. "Hold on, you taught her some chords? You play this?"

"I showed her approximately half the sum of my knowledge on the topic in fifteen minutes. I'm not George Formby or anything."

"Who?" Reg asked.

"Although he played the banjulele not the uke." she mused.

"Play something?" he asked.

"No." she demurred. "I'm rubbish." she turned and walked away. "Ask Emlyn to play for you. He does all the cool strum patterns, even the split-stroke."

"Oh come on, I serenaded you that time…"

"You were legless." she defended and sat on the sofa with her legs tucked under her.

"If I could play anything I'd play for you." he said as he sat close behind her and nuzzled her neck. "I would use my instrument to thrill and delight you."

"You do that already." she smiled then rolled her eyes as he held the ukulele in front of her. She checked the tuning.

"Don't expect too much. I haven't played for years and my brain was messed up in between."

"I have no preconceptions." he told her as she settled against his chest.

"I used to play the tenor uke too and this is a soprano."

"Excuses, excuses…" he kissed her ear. She began to strum slowly and sing softly.

"Come into these arms again
And lay your body down
The rhythm of this trembling heart
Is beating like a drum
It beats for you - It bleeds for you
It knows not how it sounds
For it is the drum of drums
It is the song of songs...

Once I had the rarest rose
That ever deigned to bloom.
Cruel winter chilled the bud
And stole my flower too soon.
Oh loneliness - oh hopelessness
To search the ends of time
For there is in all the world
No greater love than mine.

Still falls the rain, still fall the rain,

Still falls the night

Be mine forever,

Love oh love oh love.

Let me be the only one
To keep you from the cold
Now the floor of heaven's lain
With stars of brightest gold
They shine for you - they shine for you
They burn for all to see
Come into these arms again
And set this spirit free"

"That was beautiful." he whispered and kissed her temple. "What's it called?"

"Love song for a Vampire, it was written by Annie Lennox. You should look her up, beautiful voice, huge range."

"Do you know the one of the best things about us having kids?" Reg asked as she strummed idly.

"We get to play with their toys when they're in bed?" Taryn ventured.

"No," he sniggered. "I get to hear you sing every night." he whispered and held her close.

"And that's a good thing?" she laughed.

"It's a beautiful thing." he replied.

"Well, I happen to know a certain little girl who told me she enjoyed it very much when her Daddy sang her lullabies while I was in hospital and wants to hear him sing more often." Taryn stated.

"What? So she can laugh?" he replied.

"She asked me to sing a song I didn't know at naptime the other day. Turned out it's one you and your Dad sing. She was quite shirty and said that you should sing to her at least twice a week." she advised him.

"That's a matter of repertoire rather than the performer…."

"No, she said you sing it better than Grandpa, and when I said I'd try to learn it she said I'd never be as good as you." She smiled, "You have a fan."

"Did she hurt your feelings?" Reg asked with a frown.

"Of course not, I love that she adores you and wants to hear you sing." Taryn rested her head back on his shoulder. "She has excellent taste."

"She has questionable taste just like her mother." he whispered. "I never thought it was possible to be as in love with anyone as I am with you. Then we found Gala, and had Andie and Pip and sometimes I feel like my heart could just burst out of my chest with all that I feel for all of you."

"Oh, you're really racking up the husband points tonight," Taryn giggled and reached back to stroke his face over her shoulder, "you old romantic."

"Less of the old if you don't mind?" Reg warned as Neelix jumped on Taryn's lap and sniffed the ukulele. "And I love our furry babies too of course." He frowned. "Where's Ratio? I haven't seen him all evening."

"He's sulking in the office." Taryn stated. "Gala told him off and we shut him indoors. He brought in a mouse today."

"Oh. Dead?" Reg asked.

"No. He and Neelix were playing with it when we got home." She stopped strumming. "It seemed okay so I let it go outside."

"Are you sure it was him and not Neelix?" Reg asked.

"Neelix never seems to go outside, he's too nervous. Ratio was a street cat for years and you know how much rodent life you transported from the Habitat Dome. He's the prime suspect."

"I'm not sure I like him going outside." Reg stated.

"This is rural England, not San Francisco or the Rocky Mountains. We don't have traffic or mountain lions, we have squirrels and hedgehogs. The worst he could come across is a moody mole or a stroppy badger or maybe a fox and they're more timid than he is usually. He's not a housecat like Neelix and at least he's confined to our garden by the safety field with his transponder chip." Taryn stated. "Maybe Ratio would be happier at Miffy's? He had a lot more freedom while we were there."

"No, he's okay with Neelix and fine with the kids. He's a cat and cats are supposed to hunt. It's Neelix that's abnormal." Reg argued. "He's far more likely to get into trouble there, especially in the stables. What if he doesn't see a kick from one of the horses coming?"

"It was just a thought." Taryn stated.

"Talk of the devil." Reg said as Ratio swaggered down the stairs and gave them a disdainful look with his one copper eye. Taryn smirked and began strumming again and humming along. "That's a pretty song, sing it for me?" he asked, nuzzling her hair.

"But I'm a creep, I'm a weido, what the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here…" she sang, then giggled.

"Nice." Reg said archly.

"You did ask…It's a sweeter song than it sounds from that bit." She started to play something else. "Do you like Cole Porter?" He tilted his head indecisively.

"Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It's no matter darling where you are
This chord's a swine.
Night and day.

Day and night, why is it so
That I forget the words wherever I go
In the roaring traffic's boom
Masturbating in my lonely room
I think of you
Night and day..."

Reg sniggered at some of her improvised lyrics, but appreciated the sentiment.

"Ooh. I know what I meant to ask you." Taryn smirked. "Who was the strange lady who visited while I was in hospital?"

"What? What strange lady?" Reg scowled. "No one visited while you were in hospital."

"Your daughter tells me otherwise." Taryn teased and began strumming again. "She asked me, totally out of the blue if I knew who the strange lady who visited Daddy was earlier today." She gave him a look over her shoulder. "Should I be jealous?"

"Wha… Oh it was Hope." Reg realized. "Didn't I tell you about that? I'm sure I did."

"I think I'd remember if you mentioned your ex turned up while I was in a vegetative state." she said sternly.

"Mother wrote to her from prison. Told her I wanted to get back together with her but was too embarrassed to ask. She also told her that there was a plan to bump you off, well, she said the doctors were going to withhold nutrition to put you out of your misery after you had the twins then we'd offload Gala and Pip somehow but raise Andie as our own as she could pass for Human. God knows how she knew at that point."

"What?!" Taryn exclaimed.

"Although to her credit Hope said she didn't care that Pip and Gala didn't look Human if I changed my mind and wanted to keep them. At that point Gala walked in and I made some excuse for her to go back to her room and told Hope that my mother tried to kill us all and was in the stockade and basically she'd told her a pack of lies and she was mortified and left. I felt bad for her really. I called Pete later and suggested Angie talk to her, nothing else was said about it though. I really thought I'd told you about it." He paused quietly and chewed his finger.

"She's okay." Taryn whispered.

"Who Hope?" he asked with a frown.

"Your mother. Dad's been keeping tabs on her at the penal colony. He thought Section 31 would go after her like they did Haftel. He offered her solitary if she turned in her contacts but she refused. Dad had to put her in solitary later anyway to stop her contacting people. She got letters out through another prisoner but luckily they caught it on the monitoring system and it lead them to another officer in Section 31. They wanted to keep the window open for her as a sting operation but Dad decided it wasn't worth the risk."

"Why?"

"One was addressed to you. Your block wouldn't have caught it. Dad wouldn't tell me what it said but he told me he'd show you if you wanted to see it."

"I don't want to know. She's nothing to me now. I'm more worried about Hope. It didn't end well between us but it wasn't really her fault, she just wasn't right for me. She certainly didn't deserve to get dragged into that evil witch's nefarious plot. No, I was thinking…"

"What?"

"Well, I wanted to bring you home and look after you here as soon as I could and the doctors at the hospital tried to talk me out of it. They said you were gone and I needed to come to terms with that. I thought that they had the idea I planned to keep you in the attic like Mrs Rochester, but… maybe she got to them. Maybe they were planning to starve you and not tell me. Maybe you were right not to have the twins at the hospital."

Taryn swallowed hard and moved to look at him. "I really hope you're being paranoid."

"So do I." he said and held her tight, she rubbed his arm to comfort him.

"Our Doctor would have noticed." she stated and smiled weakly but she didn't seem convinced and neither was Reg. "Do you mind if I go to bed early?" Taryn asked. "I'm feeling tired."

"You're not…I mean you'd tell me if you thought you were...?" he asked with alarm.

"No, I'm not pregnant. I just feel sleepy." she assured him. "I'd be chasing after you with two bricks trying to castrate you if put me in the pudding club this close to having the twins. I know you'd love another one, maybe another boy to even up the hormonal balance of the house, but it might not be possible naturally and I'm not sure I want to go through all the treatments and procedures when we have three wonderful children already."

Reg smiled, he frequently joked that he and Pip were outnumbered and had to stick together, the cats position in the debate was in dispute as they were male but both neutered. "I don't want you to go through all that either, it sounded awful when The Doctor told us about it and you definitely get the short straw. I just have to produce a sample. I've been doing that since I was thirteen." he stated. "Maybe we'll get lucky again. It's not like we're taking precautions." he added and nuzzled her neck. With only a three percent chance of a natural conception and neither of them serving on a Starship they decided not to bother with birth control. "If it happens it would be wonderful, but…maybe we should consider ourselves lucky and our family complete."

"Complete." Taryn smiled. "That's a good word for how I feel." she said as she snuggled into him.

"It's not like you to get tired though…" Reg frowned. "Are you getting sick?" She had returned to her pattern of sleeping two and a half hours a night, which meant Reg didn't have to see to the babies if they woke in the night, but he usually helped if they woke him. Taryn would sit up late in bed meditating, reading or looking through research then grab some sleep before the twins wanted their early feed. She'd feed them both at once with them tucked under each arm supported by pillows, something Reg regarded as an epic feat of multitasking. They'd have expressed milk at the nursery on the three days a week she worked or when he was in charge of course and they had recently started eating pureed fruit and vegetables at dinner time.

"No, I haven't slept the last few nights. I've been busy working on my thesis." she admitted reluctantly.

"Taryn…" he said despairingly.

"I know. I sort of got into it and couldn't stop, I'm so close to finishing it I can smell it." she whispered and got up, he rose as well. "You can stay up longer if you like." she told him.

"I'd rather come with you." Reg whispered. "Unless, you want the bed to yourself?"

She smirked and took him by the hand. "Come on." she whispered and led him upstairs.

He smiled as he followed her. Perhaps when it came to sexual fantasies you could overcomplicate things to the point they wouldn't work, just like engineering. His everyday life with his family was far more wonderful than any fantasy, holodeck or otherwise that he'd ever created and he wouldn't change a thing.

"I tell you they're up to something." Pete Harkin's insisted over the com link. "They were as thick as thieves when I left the house."

"You're over-reacting." Reg insisted, sitting at the terminal at the front of the classroom. "So Angie invited Taryn over for a chat and she took the twins with her. Angie loves the kids."

Pete shook his head. "Taryn called her and asked to meet up. Said there was something she wanted to discuss."

"Taryn…said that?" Reg frowned. It wasn't like her to just call people on the spur of the moment to get together, unless they were family. She usually planned these things at least two days in advance. "I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. These are the women we love, not a coven of witches."

"You have a lot to learn about marriage and women. You get three of them together that's exactly what you get. A coven."

"Andie is a little young for dancing naked around standing stones." Reg argued.

"I don't mean the baby, Angie was summoning Hope when I left."

"Hope?!" Reg exclaimed and put his hand over his mouth. What on Earth was Taryn up to? "What do you mean 'summoning', they were doing some kind of ritual?"

"No you half-wit, they opened a com channel to Boston." Pete told him incredulously. "You haven't pissed your woman off have you? Made her want to get shot of you?" Pete asked. "Palm you off on your ex?"

Reg made a number of noises before he settled on one. "N…No. We're really happy." He paused. "At least I thought we were." he chewed his fingers. He'd told her he felt bad that they broke up and guilty that his mother had used her in her plans, could he have triggered some kind of Orion sense of morality in his wife? Some kind of love debt? They had an unusual way of looking at relationships sometimes.

"I mean she's green, a woman like that has needs."

"Pete!" Reg looked pained. "All women have needs, green or not."

"Well are you seeing to her needs on a regular basis? I know it can't be easy with the little ones…."

"Not that it's any of your business we have a very active and fulfilling sex life." he snapped then blushed as he realised the students had entered the room for his class.

"I'd better go. I'll keep you apprised if I hear any more about their wicked plot." Pete said and closed the channel. The students gave Reg a standing ovation, despite the fact the class was only twenty strong.

"Alright, let's g…get started shall we?" Reg stated, still blushing furiously.

"You're an inspiration sir." One of the students, a skinny young man with acne told him. "No really Commander, they tell you pilots and captains get the girls but you prove that engineers can get hot alien pussy too."

"I'm not sure I like you referring to my wife that way but I appreciate the sentiment." Reg smiled, "Now, I believe we were discussing Geodesic Folds last time. Can anyone tell me why you can't send a communication signal via that phenomenon?"

When Reg got home the living room was empty, but there was giggling coming from the kitchen. He entered the room and found Taryn's youngest sister with the children. "Hi Bronnie. Hey kids." Reg said as he toured the dining table kissing three little heads as they sat and ate, Bronwyn spoon feeding the twins in turn between feeding herself.

"You have to go upstairs Daddy." Gala told him. "You're going out to dinner with Uncle Pete and Auntie Angie."

"I see, what's Mommy doing?"

"Probably her hair, she's getting ready." Bronwyn told him with a smile.

"Good, you're here." Taryn said as he walked into their bedroom. She was stepping into her dress, "Can you do me up please?" She turned her back to him.

"All things considered I'd rather undress you." Reg said as he pressed soft kisses to her neck and shoulder, moving her bra strap for better access.

"Reg." Taryn said sternly. "Do me up and get your arse in the shower or we'll be late. Shave too, you have five o'clock shadow."

He fastened her dress with a sigh and headed into their en suite bathroom. "Yes of course, I have to make myself all clean and fresh and gussy myself up for my hot date with Hope." he muttered sarcastically as he undressed.

"Okay, what have you heard?" Taryn asked from the doorway, "What's going on in your big weird head?" She smirked as he scowled at her. "Vulcan hearing remember?"

"I don't know what you've cooked up with Angie but I'm not playing." he declared. "I'm not going to let you hand me over to Hope as part of some twisted Orion debt ritual. I don't want to be with her, I want to be with you."

Taryn bit her lip and struggled not to laugh. "You sweet silly prat." Taryn stated and took him into her arms. "You've let your imagination run away with you." She looked up into his face. "Yes, I feel we owe Hope for what your mother did but no way am I giving you to her and there isn't any ritual involved, twisted or otherwise. Now get in the shower or we'll be late. Trevor will be here any minute."

"Who's Trevor?" Reg asked as he stepped under the shower and turned it on. Opting for sonic as they were pushed for time.

"You haven't met him, he was away on a lecture tour for our anniversary. He's my cousin, Uncle Taliesin's eldest son."

"Oh the Xeno-botanist? Your uncle told me about him."

"Well, he's tall, handsome, sensitive and dorky, which seems to be Hope's type. He's also nearer your age than mine." she explained. "Angie and I narrowed it down to him out of all my single male friends and relatives. We both think he'll be perfect for Hope."

"She, well she tried to change me you know? Will he put up with that?" Reg asked. "That was why I broke up with her."

"I changed you." Taryn stated.

"You nurtured me, you didn't have a refit program like I was an outdated starship. USS Reginald E Barclay III Constellation Class." He stepped out of the shower and headed to the sink. He really did need a shave, she was right.

"Apparently neither did she until your mother got in touch with her." Taryn said softly. "Angie told me that Hope got every direction she pushed you in from Alicia as if she was a puppet master. She assured her it was what you wanted and needed. That was why she got so upset when you told her your mother tried to kill us. She realized she'd been manipulated from the word go."

Reg froze, "If she hadn't interfered I might still be with Hope. I might not have got involved with you."

"Yes and if you had wheels you might be a wagon." Taryn stated. "It's too late to change horses now Tiger, you're stuck with me till the end of the race." She turned and went into the bedroom.

"I love it when you mix metaphors Kitten." He smiled. "Ow, shit!" he exclaimed as he cut his chin.

"Did you cut yourself?" Taryn asked from outside the room. She returned moments later with the first aid kit from the kitchen. "Let me see." she whispered in the same voice she used when Galatea hurt herself. "It's just a little boo-boo." she smiled and used the dermal regenerator on his cut. Then softly kissed where it had been.

"Are you sure we have to go out to dinner?" he whispered as he gazed into her eyes.

"Yes we do." She kissed him on the nose.

"Is this a blind date? Have you set me up with someone?" Trever asked as they walked towards the Harkins' home. As described he was tall, passably handsome and dorky, with floppy dark hair and the dark green eyes that were a trait many Priors inherited from Miffy.

"No, of course not." Taryn lied, "Angie's sister said she could come at the last minute and you're just here to make up the numbers. You can't have a dinner party with five."

"Is she lying to me?" the tall academic asked Reg.

"Yes." Reg replied and Taryn grabbed her cousin's arm as he threw his head back in despair and turned back towards the transporter station.

"Okay, I think you'll like her, and I think she'll find you fascinating and handsome. She used to go out with Reg. Tell him how lovely she is?" she asked Reg, dragging her reluctant cousin towards the house.

"She's lovely." Reg said blandly.

"So she's one of his cast offs?" Trevor said despairingly.

"You could be a bit more enthusiastic Reg." Taryn scowled.

"It's… weird you wanting me to talk up my ex, let alone dragging me to dinner with her." he protested.

"Okay, here's how it is." Taryn stated on a tone that brooked no argument. "If nothing else this will get your mother off your back about getting out and meeting people for at least a while Trev."

"How long?" he asked.

"A month or two, maybe longer if you milk it." Taryn stated. "And you said yourself that you like Hope and felt bad that you just weren't suited to her. Maybe meeting at a non-threatening social gathering surrounded by friends will stop you feeling awkward and guilty whenever Angie mentions her." Taryn told Reg.

"Maybe." Reg conceded reluctantly as they reached the front door.

"So this is the virgin sacrifice?" Pete muttered to Reg as he got them some drinks. "He's her type anyway. They made a good choice."

"Is that how you discussed me when you introduced me to Hope?"

"Yes." Pete replied flatly. "I was half expecting phasers drawn at twenty paces when she met Taryn but your disarming and engaging wife seems to have worked her magic. How does she do it?"

"I don't know," Reg whispered as he turned and watched Taryn subtly encourage her cousin to talk to Angie and Hope. "All I know is I'm well and truly under her spell." He smiled.

"Taryn was telling me about your book on the language of flowers Trevor." Angie asked over dinner.

"Sentient plants?" Pete asked.

"No," Trevor smiled shyly, "although my current project involves testing the IQ of a number of species of plant life. That book wasn't an academic work, but it was a labour of love. It wasn't very popular though, unfortunately." he said with a slight Welsh lilt to his accent.

"It should have been, I found it fascinating." Taryn stated.

"What was it about?" Reg asked.

"Throughout Earth history and most notably during the Victorian era meaning was ascribed to flowers, trees and herbs. When you gave someone flowers you were sending a particular message. What's your favourite flower?" He asked Angie.

"Dog Roses." Pete answered for her and Angie nodded with an impressed smile.

"The Dog rose symbolizes pleasure and pain." Trevor stated.

"Our marriage in a nutshell." Pete laughed and Angie glared at him across the table.

"Hope?" Trevor asked.

"Snowdrops." Reg stated without thinking with his fork halfway to his mouth and froze, giving Taryn a guilty smile.

"Hope." Trevor smiled.

"Yes?" she replied.

"That's what they mean, hope and consolation." he smiled.

"Okay Reg, what's Taryn's favourite flower?" Pete asked. Reg froze again and looked at his wife apologetically. "Oh dear." he laughed.

"I've never given you flowers have I?" Reg frowned.

"Typical." Angie stated. "She bore your twins and you didn't even give her so much as a bunch of daisies?" she said with disgust in her voice.

"There's no flower as beautiful as her." Reg defended.

"Nice try." Taryn said wryly. "Tiger lilies. But don't get them, they're toxic to cats." Taryn warned Reg.

"They symbolize wealth, prosperity and pride. Some flowers have more complex meanings, for instance white lilies symbolize youth, purity and virginity but they carry the message 'It's heavenly to be with you.' Hydrangeas symbolize frigidity and heartlessness but also say 'thank you for understanding.'"

"It sounds like a very romantic book, I'd love to read it." Hope smiled warmly at Trevor who smiled shyly showing his dimples. "I'll have to look up your other published work too. I've always liked botany."

"I warn you, some of it's a little dry." Trevor blushed.

Reg noticed Taryn exchange glances with Angie, like a silent high five involving their eyebrows. Maybe Pete had been right about the coven thing.

"You look unbearably smug," Reg told Taryn as they climbed into bed that night after they'd looked in on Galatea and checked the twins. Bronwyn was snoring on the couch when they arrived so they'd covered her with a blanket, the plan was for her to sleep over anyway. On the way home Trevor admitted he had already made another date with Hope and Taryn was on cloud nine that her matchmaking scheme was a success, "and you looked breathtakingly beautiful tonight."

"You're still in deficit on husband points. Knowing Hope's favourite flower and not mine was an epic faux pas." Taryn advised him.

"She expected flowers and gifts, you just want unlimited access to my genitalia." Reg argued as she snuggled next to him and he idly stroked the hand she placed on his chest. "She did look happy talking to him, she never seemed that…at ease with me. We got on okay but it wasn't like me and you."

"Trevor's not the most outgoing of men but he's a gentleman. Even if it doesn't work out it will be good for them both to socialize. God knows he needs some time talking to someone who isn't a plant."

"You and Angie did a good thing. I'm proud of you, although I was worried when Pete told me you were conspiring together. He made it sound as if you were taking turns stirring the cauldron."

"No, but we did get through a lot of eye of newt." Taryn replied.

Reg really hoped she was joking.

Authors note:

Songs mentioned are Lovesong for a Vampire by Annie Lennox. Creep by Radiohead and Night and Day by Cole Porter.



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