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"Beth Durand. Long time no see."

Patting her hair, which is pulled back loosely on top of head and actually long enough to stay put there, she looks over at the man in the uniform that's so similar to her own.

"Well, if it isn't my favorite purser." She grins at him.

"Your favorite?" He practically preens, one hand running over his short black hair. "I had no idea you cared."

"I had no idea I did, either." It kind of slips out in spite of herself, but she laughs.

Wayne is -- was -- good guy, if a joker at times, and though they were never especially close, she'll never ever forget what happened to him that day on that flight to Los Angeles.

There's a momentary flash in her mind of how he looked crumpled on the plane floor, blood running from his eyes and nose and mouth. He didn't deserve it. None of them did.

"Thanks," he tells her dryly. He passes a hand over his face, and it suddenly changes, cheekbones becoming more noticeable, chin lengthening a little, hair fading to a dirty blonde color, eyes lightening to hazel. There's even a dimple in his right cheek. "You probably would've liked seeing this guy more."

It's Chris. Her stubborn, Catholic, just so Chris, but only in a manner of speaking. He still sounds like Wayne, and besides, he stopped being her Chris when she decided not to marry him.

Part of her is completely unfazed -- it's a dream and she knows it -- and part of her is a little horrified. Wayne never knew anything about Chris, for one thing. And for another, that's just goddamn unnerving. "I don't know about that, Wayne."

Running the same hand over his face a second time, the features too-easily change back to what they were originally. "Yeah, I hear you go for green hair these days."

That brings back a hint of her smile. "Nowadays my type's primarily the living breathing type, but yeah, you could say I have an interest in green hair."

"Oh, the living breathing type." He nods knowingly. "You always did strike me as tough to get." Sobering fractionally, he adds, "He treats you well?"

"What the hell is it with people asking me if he treats me well?"

He instinctively raises both hands in front of him as if she shouldn't take it out on him.

"Really. I might be just a washed-up Theology major, but I know enough to let go when I'm treated like crap and not to stay where I'm not wanted and when to take care of myself and my own." She pauses. "And I don't think he could treat me badly if he wanted to."

"Hey, that's all I was asking."

She lets herself drop into the seat behind her, tugging the handle of her bag so it sits in front of the empty seat beside her, and it's then that she really looks around the seats at this gate and realizes she recognizes faces.

"Wayne. These are the people from the flight." She doesn't even specify which flight, and she suspects he'll know exactly what she means.

He glances around, the nods. "Yeah."

Tired even in the dream, she shakes her head firmly. "I'm not reliving that tonight, Wayne. I'm not getting a lot of sleep as it is, and I'm going to be pretty fucking mad if I have to spend the little dream time I have on that flight."

"You ever dream about really landing the plane and saving all the women?"

She almost has to think about it. "No," she shakes her head, looking him straight in the eye, "I don't think I've ever managed to."

He doesn't answer for a minute. "It was a raw deal, Beth."

"Yeah." But she shrugs, reaching for the leather-enclosed name tag on her bag and playing with it idly. "It was for everybody. It's just what happened."

"Hey. You hear that?"

Looking up at him in confusion, she listens. "Hear what?"

"That."

Suddenly things feel a lot more surreal, and in the moment she realizes it's a baby's cry, Wayne gives her a smile and a dismissive wave.

By the time her eyes are open and she's extracting herself from the bedsheets, little Beth's cry has picked up some volume.

"Hey, little girl," she whispers, taking her out of the basket. "You've got some great timing, you know that?"

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stbethadettes

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