"And by the power vested in me by the Federation Council, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Ranma grinned at Gosnell. Gosnell gave a grin back and then moved in to kiss Lita - his new wife.
Once the tonsil fishing was complete Gosnell turned back to Ranma. "So, when is your turn coming up?"
Ranma looked over to Akane who was crying her eyes out. It's pretty obvious that this is a trait she had gotten from her father.
Ranma sighed. "I don't know. The admission was a task and a half itself. I can't even imagine the stress level of then asking her to marry me. Let alone going through with it."
Gosnell grinned. He turned to Lita and smiled at her. He turned back to Ranma. "It's worth it, Captain."
Ranma grinned and nodded. He closed the Federation ‘Marriage on Starships for Dummies' book he was using to officiate the wedding. He turned to Lita.
"Mrs. – Uh -" Ranma looked to Gosnell. "What the hell is your last name?"
Gosnell stared off into space for a minute. "I don't think I have one. I'm kind of like Madonna or Cher or The Rock."
"Hrm." Ranma groaned. "Well then Mrs. Kino." Lita grinned at him. "After the honeymoon, we'll talk about a position for you here."
Lita's eyes widened. "A position?"
Ranma nodded. "L & A –" Ranma choked when he realized that he had just used their Section 31 names. "Luna and Artemis said that you have been reintegrated into normal old Starfleet and that you could stay here with your friends and new husband. I have been authorized to give you a field commission to the rank of Commander."
Lita and Gosnell shared a kiss again. Lita giggled. Ranma bowed his head.
"I have a tactical officer/chief of security position open. You'd be fourth in command of the ship. It's yours if you want it."
Lita gave Ranma a comforting smile. "He didn't die in vain."
Ranma raised his head and nodded. "Like I said, after the honeymoon."
Lita's grin just got bigger. Gosnell's did as well.
The newlyweds looked at each other and nodded. They proceeded to walk down the aisle while the spectators showered them with fake, environmentally safe rice.
Mina, Lita's maid of honor, walked into the aisle and followed them. Ryouga, Gosnell's best man, also turned down the aisle and walked next to Mina.
Mina sighed. Ryouga watched her out of the corner of his eye.
"Always a bride's maid, never a bride." Mina whimpered.
Ryouga put his hand on her shoulder. "Come on. A super hot chick like you won't be single forever. You just haven't found anyone good enough for you."
Mina smiled at Ryouga as the two followed the couple down and out of the dining hall.
Ranma cleared his throat. "Reception in 10-Forward."
No one seemed to move.
Ranma cleared his throat again. "Free drinks."
The room was cleared in mere seconds. The only one left sitting in her seat was Akane. She looked up at Ranma and smiled.
"Should we tell them?" She asked, playing with the wedding band on her finger.
Ranma shook his head. "This is Lita and Gosnell's moment. No need to step on that."
Akane smiled. Ranma continued. "Besides, I really have no interest in this ship being damaged further by an insane Ryouga."
Akane laughed. "Wanna get drunk?"
Ranma grabbed her arm and ran out of the door with her. "You have to ask?"
10-Forward was a party zone. People were drinking, dancing, making out, and pretty much making as big of asses of themselves as possible. It was just a good old-fashioned wedding reception.
Serena, completely healed from her wounds, was doing her normal ‘what the hell is that?' dance. Raye was pounding drinks and taking turns hitting on either the boys or the girls. It was really a whoever was the closest thing. Raye knew if she stood up to hit on anyone she'd become very acquainted with the carpeting.
Mina was getting pretty hammered herself. She was sitting at a table with Ryouga. Ryouga was slamming them as fast as the waiter could bring them.
Ranma and Akane were over in the corner drinking and chatting. Akane had what appeared to be a never-ending look of bliss on her face. She was happy. So much happier than she had been in a very long time.
Ranma was talking about something. Who knows what because when he's been drinking he just talks. Not really about anything in particular. She knows that she heard the words ‘water, silk, plasma, and Baywatch' in the same sentence, so she knew if she zoned out for a bit he really wouldn't notice.
She took the time to scan the room. She smiled and giggled when she saw Serena dancing. She was glad that she was feeling well enough to twist and contort her body in such odd positions. She giggled a little more when she saw Raye grabbing at two of her nurses. One male and one female. She smiled when she saw Ryouga and Mina sitting together - sitting a lot closer together now than when they first got there. She smiled when she saw Gosnell and Lita slow dancing by the window, Lita resting her head on Gosnell's chest, the two of them dancing very slowly even though it was an upbeat song. She realized they were just so happy to be holding each other nothing else really mattered.
She scanned the room again. There were lots of people that she knew by seeing them, but didn't know their names. She did notice one person who was not there.
"- my dad said - <hic> Mr. Tendo loved her - <hic> and pop goes - <hic> the weasel?" Ranma stammered. Akane scowled at him.
"Where's Shampoo?" She queried.
Ranma looked around before he realized that he knew the answer.
"Oh – She want bridge be on." Ranma slurred.
"Oh." Akane frowned for the first time that day.
Shampoo was slumped down in the captain's chair. She sat there staring at the starfield whisking past the ship as it headed towards Starbase 332 for minor repairs and replacement crew members.
Shampoo's eyes were empty. She had never felt so much pain and sadness before in her life. Not only had she lost someone that she did care about, but she never bothered to tell him how she felt.
Not until it was too late.
It wasn't until after it happened that she realized her post-mortem confession hurt her more than it helped her. Saying ‘I love you' to the man who died protecting her after the fact hurt her.
Shampoo sighed. The stars were hypnotic. All she could do was stare at them. Just like many others who have sat in that chair.
The stars were an escape.
The stars didn't judge her. They didn't remind her how cruel she always was to him. They didn't remind her of all the times she phasered him after he glomped onto some random crew person thinking they were her.
Shampoo chuckled at that thought. She couldn't remember once when he got it right. She remembered him mistaking Ranma for her. She remembered him mistaking Akane for her. She could even remember him mistaking her two-foot-tall great grandmother for her.
She chuckled again – this one seeming a little bit more forced.
She told herself that she would not cry. Not on the bridge of all places.
"Are you okay?" A female voice brought Shampoo out of her trance.
"A-Akane." Shampoo stuttered. "Why you no at party?"
Akane looked at the stars and back to Shampoo. "Ranma's passed out." Akane grinned at the memory of having to get security to drag his unconscious body back to his quarters. She quickly lost her grin though.
"I –" Akane was lost on how to phrase this. The two of them had been rivals for Ranma for so long. This was the person that just seven days ago she was plotting against.
This wasn't the time for rivalries though. Shampoo was in pain. Akane wasn't experienced with this type of pain, but she did know pain.
"I was worried about you." Akane continued.
Shampoo sighed and turned back to the viewscreen.
"Shampoo be okay."
Akane watched the Amazon for a few seconds. She then put her hand on Shampoo's shoulder. Shampoo sniffled again.
Akane stood and slowly walked back to the turbolift. She paused to take a look at the tactical station. She looked at the Lieutenant manning the station. She stared at the black armband he and all other members of the Sisko's security detail were wearing. She sighed and turned back to the turbolift.
"Akane –" Shampoo called from her seat, never turning away from the viewer.
Akane turned around. "Yes ma'am?" She stated, surprising herself. She had never before cared about the fact that Shampoo was her Commanding Officer.
"Akane. Thank you." Shampoo finished.
Akane smiled to herself, then turned and boarded the lift.
"Deck four." She ordered as the lift doors closed.
Shampoo allowed herself to slump down farther. She closed her eyes and silently cried.
A fairly annoying beeping noise awoke Mina from one of those very deep had-too-damn-much-to-drink sleeps.
Mina leaned over her bed and hit a button on her nightstand. The beeping stopped and the computer began to speak.
"Good morning, Mina." The computer said. "It's 06:00 hours! You have one hour to get dressed and to your post."
"Ugh," Mina complained. Mina pulled the covers off of her and slid out of bed. She noticed something was wrong right away.
"I'm naked?" She asked herself. Mina never slept naked. She was always worried that they would have to abandon the ship in the middle of the night and she would be forced into an escape pod before she could grab any clothes. It was silly but that's the way she felt.
Mina decided to shrug it off. She came to the conclusion that she was just so tired and drunk that she slid out of her dress uniform and her Starfleet issue underwear, and then fell asleep before she could put on her usual boxer shorts and a tee-shirt.
Mina groggily walked into the bathroom and put toothpaste on her toothbrush. She brushed her teeth for about 10 minutes before realizing that she was standing there in the dark.
"Lights – 30 percent." Mina sputtered. The computer complied and the lights came on, albeit dim. Mina squinted though. Her hangover decided that 30 percent was still too damn bright.
Mina knew that she couldn't get ready for work with it any darker though so she dealt with it.
The blonde gargled some water to rinse the toothpaste out of her mouth. She spat it out. She looked in the mirror. She noticed something in her hair that wasn't her normal red bow.
"A bandana?" She queried.
She could remember hanging around with Ryouga most of the night. She came to the conclusion that he had given it to her as a gift.
"Sure was nice of him." Mina grinned as she stepped into her sonic shower. She activates it and spends about 10 minutes in it.
Mina steps out and walks back to the mirror. She sighs. "Sure do miss water showers." She grumbles.
Mina walks out of the bathroom and over to a dresser where she gets some underwear and puts it on. She then walks over to her closet and finds a uniform.
Once dressed Mina walks to her full-length mirror and takes a look at herself. All she needed to do now was put her red bow in her hair and apply her communicator and her pips.
She walks over towards her dresser and trips on a pair of boots. They weren't hers. These were men's boots.
"Who the hell do these belong to?" She asked herself not expecting to hear an answer.
She got one though.
"Do you have to make so much noise?" A male voice called from her bed.
Two plus two never added up so fast before in her life.
"ENSIGN HIBIKI?" Mina screamed.
Ryouga shot right up in the bed and looked around. He looked at Mina.
"Co-Co-Co-Co-" Ryouga stuttered. He looked underneath the covers and started to blush.
"RYOUGA!" Mina screamed again.
Ryouga looked at her. "Why are you in my quarters?!" Ryouga exclaimed.
Mina simply glared at him. "YOU are in my quarters. IN MY BED!"
Ryouga freaked out when he realized what was going on.
"COMMANDER! SORRY!" Ryouga hopped out of the bed and bolted out the door. Naked as the day he was born.
Mina dug around and found her communicator. "Commander Aino to Sickbay."
"Yes ma'am?" A tech said.
"I am going to be in there in a few minutes."
"What's wrong?" The tech asked.
Mina blushed. "I need the shot."
Mina glowered when she heard the tech laugh. "Better hurry before we run out. A lot of people have been getting the shot this morning."
Mina shook her head. "Understood. Aino out." She hit her communicator again.
Mina remembered the captain told her about Ryouga's sense of direction. She'd seen it first hand from the times he'd gotten them lost in space.
"Commander Aino to Security."
"Yes ma'am." A male voice asked.
"You need to find Ensign Hibiki and take him to his quarters. He's running around the ship naked."
Mina just shook her head when she heard not only the officer who answered the call laugh but several other people in the background laughing.
"Yes ma'am." The officer snorted.
Mina grumbled as she hit her communicator to end the communication. She grumbled as she walked out the door. She grumbled all the way to sickbay. She grumbled all the way up to the bridge. She grumbled the whole day long.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Engineering, Serena was screaming.
"Engineering is no place for a naked man to be! You might get it caught on something!!"
To Be Continued...