by Captain Will Lindsay
...continued from part one
...continued from part one
Hearing his name and rank, Keiran finally looked up.
"'Tis I." He stood slowly, as if doing so took every ounce of strength that he had. "Keiran Riley O'Sullivan, pleased to meet you."
"William Torquil Lindsay."
"Aye." Lindsay knew, of course, just from the name that O'Sullivan's roots were in Ireland. "Got a problem with that, Sir?" His tone was playful, but the expression that soured O'Sullivan's face in response made him wish he could retract the remark.
"Only if you start somethin'." Keiran warned with marked irritability. "You should know up front, Mister Lindsay, that I'm a man in a very foul mood most days. It has nothin' to do with you, so you'd best just ignore it, no? I'm in this job to do the work, get the day over and go on to the next one. I'm not interested in bein' your mother, your teacher, or your friend. I'm the senior operative, and so if I tell you to jump I expect you to ask how high on the way up. Clear?"
*Someone, it would seem, is very...frustrated.* Will thought, eyes widening. He did his best to keep a poker face on. "How high on the way up. Understood, Sir."
"Good. We've got orders, so let's get goin'." Keiran grabbed a duffel bag from beside him and slung it over his shoulder. It was only after he emerged from behind the desk that Lindsay comprehended the full size of the man. He was just...massive.
No lightweight himself at a solid six-foot one, Will threw his shoulders back and stood tall. "Might I ask one question, Commander O'Sullivan?"
"Depends," Keiran snarled, "upon what that one question is."
"Well," Will cleared his throat, momentarily unnerved by the look in O'Sullivan's eye. "What happened to your last partner?"
Keiran spun on him. His temper had a hair trigger of late, and he grasped a handful of Lindsay's uniform tunic.
"That is one question that you'd best remember never to ask me again." Keiran rasped.
Finally, he released Lindsay and stomped out into the corridor, not looking back to see if his new partner was keeping up.
"Wonderful. Lovely to make your acquaintance, Commander. Am lookin' forward to workin' with ya." Will mumbled, wondering what the hell Lassiter and her ilk had just gotten him into. "Thanks a lot, Gem."
"That was, I found out later, right after he'd confessed to the, um." He chose his words carefully, "Change in the status of your relationship and Vox immediately intervened."
"After Ireland, the first time." Liis knew just what he meant.
"You were his very next partner." This made sense, since Keiran had retained memories of what happened in that meadow which carried over, through his next resequencing. "When did you find out the truth about his reassignment?"
"It was about a month later, linear time," Will's expression altered into one more serious than Zanh had ever seen it as he considered the memory.
"We had just returned from our first Jump together, and it had gone, by all accounts, very well. I had no way of knowing that the outcome of someone else's Jump was the one that really mattered to Keiran."
-=Flashback: 2377, Alternate Timeline: Earth=-
"O'Sullivan! Open the bloody door before I break it down!"
Will stood outside the door to Keiran's apartment, tapping his boot nervously.
"Oh, to hell with it."
He backed up, took a running leap and crashed, shoulder first, into the unforgiving, antique wooden door.
"Son of a motherless..." he groaned, rubbing the now bruised flesh of his arm.
The door had won round one.
He began pounding his fist against it again. "K, I swear if you're still alive in there, I'm going to kill you!"
Keiran's next door neighbor, an elderly lady who always had large, spongy curlers poised like antennae in her sparse gray hair and a yappy little dog in her arms, poked her head out the door and glared at Will.
"Good day, Mrs. Endicott."
She continued her withering stare. "Call the police I will, if you don't stop that racket!"
Will sighed, trudging back down the steps and out of the building.
He yanked down on the creaky metal ladder of the ancient fire escape, still cursing under his breath, and began to climb.
Keiran sat on his balcony, lighting another cigarette to replace the one he'd just finished smoking. His heart sped up at the sound of metal scraping against metal and footsteps upon the ladder's rungs.
For just an instant, he thought that it was going to be Zanh Liis who appeared on the other side of the railing, as she had so often done.
It took a moment for his mind to convince his heart that was never going to happen again.
"Jesus Christ, Keiran, what're ye doin'?" Will looked at the half empty bottle of whisky beside O'Sullivan and the overflowing ash tray. "They're ready to come and haul you off for a psych eval. Maybe I should let them. What the hell's gotten into you?"
It hadn't taken long before Will discovered that the only way to get through to O'Sullivan past the stone battlements that encased him was by getting directly to the point whenever he spoke.
They'd been through a lot together on that first Jump, and by this point, Keiran had to admit to himself that despite his best efforts, he was developing an appreciation for the Scottish guy with the quick, twisted wit.
He couldn't speak as he looked up at his partner now, he could only sigh deeply and hold his head in his hands.
"O'Sullivan, seriously I swear I am going to knock you to kingdom come if you don't say something. I might break my fist on your face, but at least you'd know I was here. Say SOMETHING!" Will demanded, snatching Keiran's cigarette and stomping it out on the ground. He summoned all his strength and gripped Keiran's jacket, lifting him up out of his chair and pushing him back up against the bricks of the building's wall.
"She's dead." Keiran was completely numb and showed no emotion as he spoke though inside, he was certain he was dying, too.
Keiran shook his head; he couldn't say her name and that word in the same sentence.
"Her next Jump. She."
Will had heard rumors about why O'Sullivan had been reassigned, only he was too much of a class act to believe the gossip swirling around his partner until this moment.
*So, it was a woman who reduced the mighty Irishman to dust.*
"Zanh Liis?" Will filled in her name, having researched as much as he could about Keiran before meeting him initially. Her name was, in fact, the only thing about Zanh that Lindsay had been able to uncover.
Everything else was strictly classified.
"Zanh Liis," Keiran moaned her name in anguish as he sank back into his chair, staring at the ground. "I should've listened to you. You were right. No one else knew. I should've left it alone."
Will knew that Keiran had been drinking, so he didn't expect him to make much sense.
"Come on, old man. Let's get you inside." He once again hoisted Keiran out of his chair and dragged him as best he could into the bedroom of the apartment.
"We've got to get you sobered up by morning, else we're both screwed. Vox expects us in his office at oh-five hundred and you're not going to be doing anything but sleeping it off unless I do something drastic."
Will procured a hypo from his backpack and applied it to Keiran's neck as soon as he'd flopped the man down onto the unmade bed.
As the hypo went into effect, O'Sullivan came around quickly. Apparently he hadn't had as much to drink as Will had thought; either that, or he sure could hold his liquor.
"I killed her," Keiran groaned, rubbing his bleary eyes. "As sure as if I'd taken my sidearm and shot her, I doomed her to that death Will. It's all my fault."
"I want to help you O'Sullivan, really I do," Will grew increasingly nervous. O'Sullivan's reputation proceeded him, and opinions varied as to whether or not he was still in possession of his sanity.
"But if I'm goin' to do that, you have to tell me the truth. All of it." Will leaned against the wall, folding his arms. "What the hell really happened between you and Zanh Liis?"
For what seemed an eternity, O'Sullivan did not answer. When finally he did speak, it was a deceptively simple sentence.
"I fell in love with her, Will."
Will knew that went against the code of conduct, but only if such feelings were acted upon. He was still foggy as to why exactly Keiran believed that this had anything to do with Zanh getting herself killed on her next Jump.
"And? There has to be more than just that."
"There was more. Once." He closed his eyes. "It wasn't supposed to happen. I let it happen, they reassigned her and now she's dead. It's wrong, it's all wrong. She had so much more to do with her life."
"So we'll fix it!"
Will flipped on the lights and Keiran winced, even with eyelids closed the glare was blinding. "We're Temporal Investigations, damn it! If she died and it wasn't supposed to happen, we go back and we fix it! Right?"
"They told me no. Said that the mistake was mine, and that-"
"Bullshit! Tell me this, whose Guardian was she?"
"William," *He has no idea the hoops I've jumped through to try to get this Jump approved,* Keiran thought, dejectedly.
"Who? If it is someone important enough to history then we have to be able to use that as leverage to get permission for the Jump. Lose the Guardian, lose the guarded, right?" Will hadn't been with TI long, but he had certainly done his homework before joining. "Right? Who was her charge?"
Keiran sat up at last, realizing that Will was correct.
Regardless of whether or not Vox liked it, Salvek, and by association Liis, were just too important to history to allow the error in the timeline to go uncorrected.
"We'll have to go over Vox' head," Keiran decided, certain now that he could not allow one arrogant man to be the doorstop that stood in the way of him keeping the promise he'd made to Liis as she lay on that shelf in the morgue.
Vox couldn't be allowed to prevent history from proceeding properly out of spite. "We need a plan."
"I'll put the coffee on," Will nodded in approval as Keiran drew himself up from the bed. "Get a shower. Colder, the better, it'll wake you up." He began giving orders as if he was the senior officer of the team.
For the first time in weeks, Keiran felt a slight glimmer of hope.
"Aye, Sir." he said softly, grabbing clean clothes from the dresser and heading to the bathroom.
=^=Captain William Lindsay
Currently on Earth
=^=Captain William Lindsay
Currently on Earth