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were tumbling over one another. "I'm not the captain, I don't bring down the big bucks, and I'm nothing to write home about, and there's a big gap between us and the kind of life you lead that I could never understand...."

Stop it! His mind shouted at him. He'd gone too far in the other direction. Now he sounded self-pitying, needlessly tearing himself down. He was making himself sound like such a lousy catch that not only would she not be interested in spending time with him, she'd probably be willing to gnaw her leg off at the knee just to get out of the transport. "Well, maybe I could understand if I try," he amended, but he had still done himself major damage. He was positive of that.

Compliment. When in doubt, when all else fails, when you feel like you're spiralling in flames... compliment her. "You're the kind of person that makes a guy want to try," he said, and he was extremely pleased with that. It sounded sincere, probably because it was. That was the key: sincerity. He'd once heard Garibaldi cynically comment that the entire key to life was being able to fake sincerity. Once you had that down, you were golden.

But Zack realized that he didn't have to fake it. All he had to do was honestly tell her what was on his mind. Certainly that was the way to go; after all, even if she wasn't scanning his thoughts, she'd probably be able to tell if he was being insincere, right? "There's something about you," he said, "something about you that... I'm nuts about... so, uh..." He looked down at his shoes in the dimness. "I think it would be great if, you know maybe I could see you once in a while."

No response. She was probably considering it.

"Hey, listen," he said quickly, "you don't have to answer now. Take your time, think about it for a while.... Not to
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