Claire was back in their cabin, looking through the small porthole at the darkening ocean beyond as the evening fell. Her face looked sad, and she felt very far from home. The last month hadn't been an easy one for her, and finding herself today in this situation hadn't helped. She missed Frank, even though she didn't want to.
            Behind her the cabin door opened, and Trevor came noisily in. He clapped his hands in anticipation when she turned around.
            "OK, let's go." he said.
            "Trevor, if you think I'm going to rub oil on any part of-"
            "I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about not staying cooped up in here."
            "Trevor, as I explained, we can't get involved with-"
            "And as I explained Claire, you're still in a little need of a lot of fun. You need to get out there and have a good time, illusion or not. Here, let me show you something."
            "Careful, Trevor. I know a lot of tender places to kick..."
            Hands on her shoulders, Trevor guided her over in front of the mirror. Together they looked into it, his face hovering next to hers. "Look at that face, very cute, a little pouty. All in all a good thing. Not to mention how good yours looks. Now. Tell me. What's wrong with this picture?"
            Claire wasn't really in the mood for this. "I don't know, Trevor. That you're in it?"
            "What's wrong is that the face that you're wearing is the exact same face I saw in Chicago. The exact same face that's been moping day after day. The exact same face that finally convinced me that you needed to be dragged to a street carnival for your own good. It's going to take some fun to get you out of your funk. Fun you won't let me show you in here."
            "What makes you think I'm in a funk, Trevor?"
            "You've been in a funk ever since you broke up with Frank last month. The doctor I set you up with two weeks ago was just collateral damage. You didn't even try for a second date with Dr. Hunk-stein."
            "Well, you're wrong Trevor. I've just been... busy."
            Trevor nodded. "So busy you haven't found the time to move Frank's picture from where it's face-down on your dresser?"
            Claire looked over at him. "How did you..."
            Trevor shrugged. "I'm a god. Here's my bit of psyco-analysis. You're afraid to face that picture, Claire. And you won't get past this melancholy you're in until you do. So here of there, my goal is still the same. After dinner I went looking. There's a very noisy party near the bow in the third class open area, and I've booked us a connecting passageway. Feeling better about yourself is the first step, and what could make you feel better than being hit on by a bunch of drunken men from steerage. I'm busting you out of this cell, Claire. Cram some fun into your heart, and the self-esteem thing will follow. Or is that supposed to be a shot of whiskey? Either way, they have them both. Let's go cut a wooden rug."
            He began to push her to the doorway. Claire was reluctant. "Trevor, I don't really want to go and be-"
            "Course you do. Let's go have some fun. Unless you prefer being alone with me in small room all night." He smiled and waited.
            She saw his grin. "Drunken slosh fest it is then. Lead on." They both left the cabin.

            The brightly lit third class open area was bustling with people, all of which had come below decks when the night air above had grown colder. They stood together in small clusters, laughing and drinking over a backdrop of music from the impromptu set of musicians playing in the room's center. All in all, a relaxed and festive atmosphere.
            Trevor moved through them easily, a hopeful smile plastered across his face. He saw the almost boundless potential inside the room. There was nothing like a slow, boring voyage combined with alcohol and members of the opposite sex to help the mating ritual along. Throughout the years it had always been highly effective. And here he had found his fish barrel. It was time to aim and shoot. He walked up to someone.
            "My good man! I don't believe we've met. I'm Trevor Hale." His voice suddenly dripped with romantic implications. "Don't be alarmed but I just walked by this very cute, red-headed Irish rose who's been eyeing you like a fresh batch of haggis! That's a compliment by the way," Trevor paused,"I think..."
            Claire watched the crowd from across the room. She was seated on a bench along the far wall. As her eyes passed over the many passengers around her, they finally stopped on Trevor. Curious, she watched him closely as he moved from person to person. What was he doing? Trevor was back at the man he had just accosted and was pulling him to his feet. With a firm nudge he pushed the reluctant participant towards a redhead standing nearby. When the man finally spoke to her, her eyes lit up and she smiled warmly. Trevor nodded as if that were exactly what he had expected before he moved on. He quickly seated himself by a surly older woman, who seemed to only want to be left alone. Claire could just make out Trevor's voice in the crowd.
            "You had better watch yourself young lady," Trevor was saying. "A beautiful woman like yourself is a prime candidate for the many bachelors prowling this particular dating pool. So let's narrow the field a bit before we throw out some chum to the chums. Tell me what you like, and the room will provide..."
            Claire couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. Trevor was being Trevor. She almost laughed. He was still trying to set up couples. Even here where there was no string of beads to his credit. Even when he was surrounded by what was most likely a two bit illusion from a second rate hypnotist. He still believed he was Cupid.
            Claire watched as the woman he was sitting next to asked him a question. Trevor didn't pause as he answered. "Who am I? I'm the god of love, doing a little field work. Just thought you might... hey, where are you going?" The woman had stood and left the moment he had answered. Trevor shrugged and got up again, looking for another victim.
            Claire shook her head. Trevor never let up, did he? She thought of the irony of the situation. A delusion within an illusion. As if he wasn't messed up enough already. Well, she had better head him off before she had to sweep up the pieces. Claire was just about to go over and stop him when another woman plopped down on the bench next to her, shoving a drink into her hands.
            "Good evening, Mrs. Collins. Why are you sitting here alone?"
            Claire looked over and recognized who it was. It was the woman Trevor had been talking to on deck that afternoon, just before he had tried to drag her to the departing tender. She was a young, vibrant woman. Brown hair cascaded down the side of her face. Her mouth held an easy smile. She seemed to be enjoying herself. The drink she held had definitely not been her first for the night. But as Claire looked closer she noticed something else. A sadness lingered behind her eyes, hidden deep. She was doing her best to put up a brave front, but Claire didn't need to be a psychologist to see it. Reminding herself where she was, Claire realized it was foolish to care about an illusion.
            "I'm sorry," Claire answered her question. "You must have mistaken me. I'm not Mrs. Collins. My name's Claire. Claire Allen."
            "Oh, right." the woman said lightly. "I forgot. I hope I didn't upset you." She leaned in close, voice dropping to a whisper. "Don't worry. Trevor told me about your 'condition'."
            Claire tried to stay calm. "My condition?"
            "It'll be our secret. But if I may be allowed to say so, you and Mr Hale make quite an attractive couple."
            Annoyance hovered over Claire's face. "We're not a couple."
            "Whatever you say, Mrs. Colli-" the woman stopped herself. "Excuse me... Claire."
            Claire could see that the woman didn't believe her for a second. She gave her a level look. "I didn't get your name?"
            The woman seemed surprised. "My name? I told you that last night. I'm Eileen. Don't you remember?"
            "I suppose I don't." Claire said simply. "I guess it might have something to do with the fact that..." she laughed awkwardly, "Well, that your not a real person, to be totally honest with you."
            Eileen's laugh was real. "You and Mr. Collins must have had a deeper fainting spell today than we all thought." She didn't seem offended that Claire refused to accept her reality. Eileen did her best to emulate the festive mood in the room, but Claire knew better. Eileen continued. "Well don't you worry...umm, was it Claire today? I'll believe enough for the both of us." She patted Claire's hands, oblivious to the concern on Claire's face. Claire looked away and sipped her drink.
            Across the room Trevor had already moved on to his next target, a target he had been planning to get to all night, but hadn't talked to yet. It was the man Eileen had been watching on deck. Trevor walked straight up to him. "Hello again! I forget your name. Must have tipped back more mugs than I should have last night."
            The man recognized him. "Good evening, Mr. Collins. It's me, William. I do hope you are feeling better."
            Trevor lied. "William! Now I remember. I'm sorry, it just slipped my mind. How could I forget such a handsome hunkster such as yourself. I'm sure several of the women here aren't having the same problem."
            William seemed amused by Trevor's enthusiasm. "As usual, you tend to exaggerate Mr. Collins."
            Trevor laughed. "Funny thing. It's only an exaggeration until everyone believes it. My real name is actually Trevor Hale. Mr. Collins was just an alias."
            William blinked. "An alias? Whatever for?"
            "Well, my significant other over there," Trevor waved his hand across the room at Claire as he spoke in a whisper. "Pardon the expression, but she hates the term wife. Won't even acknowledge it, infuriates her. Anyway she has a 'condition'. An embarrassing ailment of refusing to believe certain people are who they say they are. Olympus knows I've done my best for the little nutball, trying to find her what therapy I could. I'm a... a therapist myself actually. Sure. Umm, why not? That's how we met, until she won me over with her charms. But nothing I've tried has helped her. Now she's even taken to calling herself Claire Allen. Disturbing, isn't it?"
            William looked at Claire in a new light. "Hmmm."
            "Anyway, leeches, chemicals, body massage... nothing seems to work. So I'm transporting my 'patient' better half to Chicago for treatment from some very gifted specialists in the field of mental do-hickeys. Which... now that I think of it is loaded with irony." Trevor smiled, enjoying this too much. He had better reign himself in before his story got too elaborate.
            William took a drink of the beer he was holding. "It all sounds expensive. If you have the means for all that, why are you travelling third class?"
            "Well, Sparky over there is a little uptight about being recognized. Paparazzi, Entertainment Tonight, that sort of thing. We're trying to keep a low profile..."
            William nodded, not quite believing Trevor's story. "Well, she's quite beautiful, Mr. Hale. You're a very lucky man in any regard."
            Trevor smirked. "Not as lucky as you'd think. Claire's quite a handful. And not only in the good way. But since we're talking about getting lucky, let's talk about you. See that woman sitting next to Claire?"
            William pretended to take a closer look, even though Trevor knew he had been watching her all evening. As Trevor and William looked over, they noticed Claire and Eileen were watching the two of them as well. Eileen quickly looked away when she realized William was looking.
            Keeping up the act, William smiled as if recognizing her for the first time. "Ah yes. Eileen. You, uhh... tried to introduce us last night." By the tightening of Williams shoulders, the introduction hadn't gone well.
            Regardless, Trevor's face brightened. His previous persona, if so it was, had obviously had the same goals he did. Trevor continued his pitch. "Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. Claire tells me that Eileen over there is really into you."
            William didn't understand. "How could she possibly be in me?"
            "Sorry, still getting this language thing worked out. I mean she's attracted to you. You know, she's thinking about you in that romantic, knocking boots sort of way."
            "Boots? She's a dancer?"
            Trevor smiled as he thought about it. "Of the best kind..."
            Across the room, Claire had noticed Eileen look away when the man Trevor was with had looked over. Still facing the crowd, Claire lowered her eyes as she spoke.
            "Can I ask you a question, Eileen?"
            "Certainly... Claire." Eileen forced herself to use Claire's new name.
            "Who was it that hurt you so?"
            Eileen was caught off guard for a moment. She let it pass, trying to cover it behind an unconvincing smile as she replied smoothly.
            "I don't know what you mean, Miss Allen."
            "Yes. You do. I can see it in your eyes. You try to hide it, but it's there. Maybe I can help. If you tell me about it." Claire looked at her, waiting.
            "I thought you didn't believe I was even real. Why would you want to help me?"
            Claire's smile was full of caring. "Because real or not, I can't stand idly by when I see someone in pain. Look... don't believe what Trevor told you. He likes to goof around, but his stories are just stories. I'm not insane. I'm totally lucid. And I think you need someone to talk to. I'm here, it might as well be me. I'm not going anywhere."
            Eileen continued to stare out into the crowd, not facing her. The room before them was a mass of people. The air was filled with laughter and music. But Eileen's face became serious. "That man, standing next to Trevor. I'd never met him until last night when Trevor introduced us. But when we tried to talk, I just couldn't. I don't understand why exactly... But I couldn't do it. And since last night... well, I never thought I would feel this way about anyone again." Eileen looked at Claire. "I haven't been able to get him out of my thoughts. Trevor caught me watching him up on deck this afternoon. I couldn't find it in myself to talk to him then either." She looked back at William. "I still can't."
            "Why? What is it Eileen?"
            "I just can't trust that he's attracted to me."
            Claire thought that was a strange choice of words. "Trust? You... don't think you can trust him." Claire realized there was an underlying problem that Eileen wasn't addressing. "Well, I'm no expert but it seems obvious to me that he's attracted to you. Sure, Trevor may be trying too hard to push you two together, but I wouldn't dismiss his instincts. He can be a pretty good judge of character sometimes."
            Eileen's laugh seemed empty. She turned to Claire. "What could he possibly see in me?"
            Claire tried to make her see. "You'll never know until you find out. Besides, you're very attractive. Why wouldn't he be interested?"
            Eileen didn't seem to believe it. She sighed to herself. "That's a good question. Why indeed."
            Standing in the crowd, Trevor was still trying to convince William. "So why don't you go over there?"
            "I don't know, Mr. Coll-... I mean... Mr. Hale. We had barely spoken before she found some excuse to leave last night. What makes you so certain she's interested in me?"
            "Radar love, baby."
            "I see. What's radar?"
            "Let's just call it perception. Come on. She's young, she's beautiful, she's in throwing distance. So throw her a line. She's a dam of pent up desire just waiting for you to open up the floodgates. Admit it. You sure wouldn't mind sharing a lifeboat with her, would you?"
            "I suppose. But we're basically strangers, Mr. Hale. I wouldn't know what to say." Trevor could see William was weakening even as he protested.
            Trevor pressed on. "Look, start out by just talking to her. The best erogenous zone on a woman is her heart. Tickle that and you tickle her soul."
            William smiled, caught up in it. "And how does one tickle that?"
            Trevor smiled back. "Be creative. Try a song, a poem... a dirty limerick."
            "I'll admit, Mr. Hale, that she has caught my eye on more than one occasion. But to just go up to her is forward."
            "Hey! No one has ever claimed to find true love by mail-order. Well, not yet anyway. You have to physically go over there and make the first move to get anywhere."
            "But what would I say?"
            Trevor moaned. "Do I have to write you a script? Tell her she's beautiful. Tell her that she smells nice. Tell her that her scent reminds you of flowers from home. That her eyes glitter like moonlight on the ocean. Quote a poem. Sing a song. Plagiarize baby!"
            "A poem you say?" He and Trevor both looked over at Claire and Eileen.
            Trevor's face became thoughtful. He decided to get William started. "She walks in beauty, like the night..."
            William smiled when he heard it. He knew this poem. "...of cloudless climes and starry skies," he replied.
            Impressed, a smile pursed Trevor's lips as he nodded. Looking once at William, they both turned and continued to recite together, both watching Claire and Eileen.
            "And all that's best of dark and bright-"
            As they continued, Trevor's mind wandered. His eyes caught Claire's. She was watching him closely, and he realized she was curious about what he was doing. Somehow that made him feel better. As Trevor looked at her, with her eyes on his, he felt a warm sensation cross his chest. Trevor allowed himself to remember how beautiful she was, and the rest of the room seemed to fall away.
            "-meet in her aspect, and her eyes. Thus mellowed to that tender light, which heaven to gaudy day denies..."
            Beside him, William stopped reciting when he noticed Trevor's reaction. Turning he saw the look on Trevor's face as he gazed at Claire with barely concealed adoration.
            Eyes still only for her, Trevor didn't notice as he continued. "One shade the more, one ray the less had half-impaired the nameless grace which waves in every raven tress..."
            It finally broke into Trevor's consciousness that he was the only one speaking, breaking his reverie. He found William looking at him knowingly.
            "It would seem Mr. Hale, that I'm not the only one who has found himself smitten here."
            Trevor smiled. "I wouldn't go that far. I'm just fond of the poem. I was a bit of a ghostwriter on it."
            "And you really believe a simple poem will work?"
            Now Trevor really was becoming exasperated. "Look, whatever works is whatever works! There's no set formula. If something bombs, try something else. Keep trying until you find something that moves her, touches her, makes her laugh. The functioning word here is TRY."
            William's face sobered up, as if he were about to admit something painful. "Mr. Hale, I'm just not ready. I just lost my-"
            Trevor thought he was stalling. Grabbing William by the shoulders, he began to push. "Less talk, more walk. We're going over there. Time to sink or swim, no pun intended. Just forget about the water, take a deep breath, and dive in. The lifeboats can wait."
            Claire moaned when she saw Trevor and William walk up to them. She was on the verge of getting Eileen to open up. Talk about unbelievably bad timing. Eileen wasn't in the mind set for Trevor's dating games. She was very vulnerable at the moment. And Claire could already see the scorch marks of a crash and burn forming. Beside her, Eileen stiffened as they walked up. Standing silently before the two women, William didn't seem much better. For the thousandth time since she had known him, Claire found herself wishing that Trevor would just butt out.
            Trevor didn't seem to notice. "Hello beautiful ladies. Hi honey." Trevor leaned in for a kiss but was stopped by a heated glare from Claire, who obviously wasn't in a joking mood. Smiling, Trevor pulled back, never tiring of rattling her cage.
            "Eileen," Trevor began. "William here tells me that he's from the same hometown as you. Where did you say that was again, William?"
            "Actually, I don't think I ever told you which-"
            "Great! The two of you should have a lot to talk about."
            Claire stood up angrily. "Trevor, could I talk to you?"
            Trevor recognized her tone. He had obviously boiled her hot buttons again. No doubt he was in for every excruciating detail of what she felt he had done wrong. But if it allowed Eileen and William to be alone together, he was all for it.
            "Excuse me," Trevor said. "I think I saw someone inventing Riverdance, and we're going over to toss him overboard. We'll be over there where-" Claire grabbed him and yanked him away.
            They walked out of ear-shot into a quiet corner of the crowd. Behind them, Eileen and William were still gripped in an awkward silence. Claire whirled on Trevor, her voice angry and soft.
            "Trevor, what the hell are you doing?"
            "I'm sorry, we must not have met." he said sarcastically. "I'm Cupid, god of love." He held out his hand in greeting.
            Claire batted it away, not amused. "Why are you interfering with these people's lives, Trevor?"
            "It's kinda what I do. I thought that was clear by now. Haven't you been paying attention the last few years?"
            "You're still trying to set people up?" Her voice was incredulous, trying to make him see the absudity of it.
            "Of course."
            "For what possible reason?"
            Trevor spoke as if it were as plain as the light of day. "Because... they really need it?"
            "Trevor, these people either exist only in our heads, or most of them will be dead in three days. That doesn't bother you?"
            "All the more reason to start early."
            She couldn't believe it. "You really don't care about these people's feelings, do you? You don't care that you're setting them up for what can only be heartbreak and loss. They may not know what's going to happen in the next few days, but you do! But you don't care what they might lose, that's secondary, isn't it? Everything is always secondary to your all-important mission. Why don't you think about somebody else for once."
            "I am. Their feelings are why I'm doing this. I don't see a string of beads anywhere, do you? This isn't about that, Claire. I'm trying to give them a little happiness-"
            Claire didn't want to listen. "Eileen is in a very vulnerable state right now! She's confused, she's unsure. And what she doesn't need is the self-proclaimed god of love force feeding here some new boy-toy. For that matter, William doesn't seem to be chomping at the bit either. Why can't you just leave things alone, Trevor?"