Paul woke up into darkness. He quickly glanced around. Okay; same quarters as always. Which meant...goddammit, he'd been having the dream again. The one where he was some sort of amateur artist living in the poorest part of 1980s New York City. And somehow, it felt...real? Like a video game with incredibly good graphics. But what the hell did the 20th century have to do with him?
He got up out of bed and started pacing around the room. Hugh was still asleep. Thank God. He wasn't about to explain his situation to Hugh. So...the dream. There'd been...fire in it, and someone laughing. This blond guy who he thought he vaguely knew. What was that guy's name? Richard or something? He cursed. He couldn't remember. It'd just been...a recurring dream where he was this person. This person who seemed to be in love with his camera. Well. Paul could appreciate being married to his work.
He sighed and decided to pace around the ship, when he noticed the time. 12:43 a.m. Goddammit. Whatever, he'd still go and walk around the Discovery anyway. He needed to think about this. Was it an effect of being permanently linked to the mycelial network? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knew?
The person he'd been in the dream had glasses. And he was...awkward to a tee. He seemed tolerant of cold, in love with every single one of his friends (whether romantically or not, Paul couldn't tell, he was that confusing), and lonely. Paul almost felt sorry for the guy. Being lonely was not something good to feel.
Paul stopped outside of one door, the placard on the front reading SYLVIA TILLY and MICHAEL BURNHAM. An idea came to him. No...that was crazy, wasn't it?
Paul took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. He was about to do something he thought he'd never even think of doing:
He was going to ask Michael Burnham for advice.
A very disgruntled Michael Burnham opened the door to see Paul Stamets standing there, looking confused, avoiding eye contact, and fidgeting with his hands. So, pretty normal.
"Lieutenant, it is two in the morning." Michael didn't even try to be polite. No one woke her up at two in the morning. Except Tilly. Tilly was okay. And actually slept in the same room as her.
"12:58," Paul corrected. "Look, Mi-Burnham, could you join me for a walk?"
"At two in the morning," Michael repeated flatly, refusing the correction.
Paul waved it away, annoyed but desperate to get to the bottom of this mystery.
"Yes. Please. I need advice."
"...Okay." Michael stepped out of the room, the door closing being her, and crossed her arms. "Well?"
Paul frowned. The shirt Michael was wearing had a red hair on it. "Is that...Tilly's shirt?" he asked.
Michael's eyes widened. She quickly brushed the hair off and responded, much more awake, "What? No!"
Paul chuckled. "Okay. You think that. But come on..." They went off down the corridor, Paul rapidly trying to explain the situation, and Michael's brain trying to keep up with this at her version of "two in the morning."
"So I'm this guy, right," Paul was saying, "and he's pretty much married to his camera. He lives in the twentieth century in New York City...no, not Brooklyn. That's all I've been able to figure out. He's awkward, and has a roommate that's blond, and friends that he falls in love with, but it's this weird mixture of romance and friendship. And, and-I feel almost...sorry for him? He's lonely. Really, really lonely."
"Uh-huh," Michael was saying.
"But that's not it. The other ones...where I am someone who's definitely not me...I'm in a bar on some sort of...dating app? With my friend? And I'm trying to get him a date. And then I'm in a park with this woman I know from college. And then I'm-somehow-in the 1960s and trying to save this girl from being eaten by a...Venus flytrap?" Paul looked at Michael, trying to see if she was understanding him. "What's going on?"
Michael shook her head. "I don't know. Ask me in the morning."
"It is morning!"
"The real morning!"
Michael said as she walked back to her cabin. The door closed behind her again and Paul stood in the corridor, absolutely, completely, befuddled.
Thane knocked on the door again, a little louder. “Vincent! Don’t tell me you slept in. Is that guy from last night still there? And don’t lie, you know I heard you...”
Vincent groaned and opened his eyes. No. Not Vincent. Paul. Wait. What?
“I’m getting up...” Paul mumbled sleepily. Okay, it was his voice. Wait, why was he Paul?
Thane called again. “Vincent!”
Paul-no, Vincent-rubbed his eyes. The Discovery was quickly fading and he was shot back into good old 2014.
He looked at the corner of his room. Shit. The guy’s body was still there. He could just make it out through the pre-glasses blurriness.
What had he even been dreaming? Some nerd-ass Star Trek shit?
He groaned and reached for his glasses and put them on. “Can you leave the apartment for a bit, Thane? I have to get this guy to leave?”
He heard Thane’s footsteps going away, and he began to deal with the body. Paul Stamets was a fuzzy memory.
Who was Paul Stamets?
Vincent shook his head and zipped up his pants. He’d forget about the weird dream and go about his day as normal.
And hide from Thane, and regret that they could never connect, yet again.
Where are you? You said you’d be here.
My roommate is still here. I need to get away from him.
Why? He gonna snitch on you or somethin?
No. He won’t.
Then the fuck is wrong?
Yeah, I’ll sure make you come.
Shit, dude, we about to fuck and you got a question?
Are you into knifeplay?
How far are you willing to go?
Far as you want to.
I’ll be right there.
vincent the doors locked
open it for me
I’ve got a date.
great youll be out in a second to open it
that guy is sure lucky
Here it came. Night. That eternal darkness of the mind that was always present with Vincent, this swirling black cloud that looked like miso soup.
That thought triggered something within him. He wasn’t sure whether he was dreaming right now-the miso bowl stared back up at him, laughter echoing over it. That echo, constant echo, terrifying echo. That echo, that echo, that echo. God, what was wrong with him? There had to be something.
He was back there. Somewhere. This was still Vincent. Vincent wasn’t-he didn’t know where he was. He was on a-he wasn’t sure. He walked down a futuristic looking corridor. This dark-skinned man past him. Bearded. Handsome. He raised an eyebrow when he saw Vincent.
“What are you doing up so late?” He asked. Vincent tried to answer, but no sound came out of his mouth. He was too shell-shocked.
He tried again.
“This is a dream,” he said, and the other man in the crisp white uniform became perplexed. He’d been expecting some other voice to come out of Vincent, maybe, but this was still recognizable.
Slowly, the man began to put the pieces together. “You’re not Paul, are you?” He asked somewhat slowly. “You look like him, you - almost - sound like him, but you can see me, you can hear me, and you’re not wearing a uniform.”
“No.” Vincent was only becoming more confused. He didn’t like confusion. Well - he himself didn’t like to be confused.
“Who are you?” Hugh asked.
“I’m-” Vincent stopped himself. How the fuck did he know this man’s name? “None of your business,” he said.
The timelines were blending together.