651: Beyond Belief

by Fleur Le Marc
Following Written for Her

-=Takesian Plains, Bajor=-

Fleur stared at the words on the page in shock and dismay.

She had watched him write them, right before her eyes, as though she was not standing in the room.

She couldn't help but ask herself as she dissected the lines one by one in forensic detail if they were only the ravings of a man delirious with fever, or the true emotions of one so shy that he was unable to reveal them to her under any ordinary circumstances.

I wish you could see and feel the way you made me feel in another time, when we were husband and wife, and believe that I want you to make me feel that way now.

"I wish I could believe it, too." She whispered to the empty room.

The sound of the soup pot threatening to boil over brought her quickly to her senses, and she hurried to the stove to turn it off.

Had she really been reading and rereading his letter so long that it was now finished? She checked the chronometer and sure enough, it was time to wake him.

As she approached him, though, she was loathed to do it. Nights had been so fitful for him due to the fever, to see him so still and at peace in sleep was a gift.

She was about to turn around, deciding to keep the soup warm until he woke up on his own and asked for it, when she heard his voice and stopped.

"No! You're still not listening to me!" He exclaimed, sounding frustrated. He lifted his arms from the bed to sign, but in his dream only half finished the gestures, making them impossible for her to interpret.

"I'm telling you, it's not that I don't-" He began to thrash about, and Fleur wrung her hands, debating if she should try to rescue him from the dream.

"No! It doesn't have to be this way! I'm trying to tell you how I really feel," he declared. He heaved a heavy sigh.

Just as Fleur reached out to touch his hand, again Camen began to sign and speak at the same time.

The only word she could make out now amidst his incoherent mumbling was a name; one that cut her to the heart.


Fleur stopped mid-motion and backed away. *Liis?*

Her heart sank, and she was certain it was breaking in her very chest as she hurried from the room.

"Liis, we can't go on like this," Camen continued, but only after Fleur was too far away to hear. "I can't pretend any longer. It's over."

Fleur leaned her hands flat against the counter in the kitchen, too stunned to cry.

No matter what he had written, it seemed he had not finished working out all of his feelings for Zanh Liis after all.

She had little time to dwell on her confusion, however, because she nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of a frantic pounding on the door.

"Delle?" Fleur was shocked to see the Vedek here, and even more shocked to see who she had brought with her.

"She's sick," Delle was near panic as she held a glassy-eyed Gillan Tress out toward Fleur. "The fever came on her so suddenly. I don't understand it. She had the vaccine, she was supposed to be safe."

Tress began to wail and nearly leapt from Delle's arms into Fleur's. She shook as she rested her head against Fleur's shoulder.

"Mama," she repeated softly over and over, a pitiful mantra to try to comfort herself.

Her curls were damp against her forehead, her cheeks bright red with fever.

"My god, Delle, is anyone else sick too? Pace?" Fleur asked.

"He seems to be all right. Two of the other children show early signs, but they've been quarantined with their family." Delle had tears in her eyes. "I hate to have to ask this of you, child, knowing you are already overwhelmed caring for Camen,"

"No no, it's all right. Go. Get some rest, before you get sick too." Fleur insisted. Tress's wails had dropped to whimpers, and she twisted a strand of Fleur's hair around her chubby fingers as she clung to her tightly.

Delle debated telling Fleur the rest of what she'd just heard, unsure if it was wise to do so or not.

She decided in the end that Fleur needed to understand the full scope of the developing situation.

"I am so sorry to have to tell you this, but it seems that young girl, the one that came to visit Camen from Altaan..."


"Yes. She apparently came down with the fever shortly after returning to the orphanage, and now there's a full blown outbreak there."

"Oh my God." Fleur worried not only for all of the children, but she worried what would happen to Camen when he heard the news.

She had no idea that he'd been awakened by Tress's cries and was standing just over her shoulder.

"How many?" He asked, gravely concerned as he leaned against the wall and fought to stay on his feet.

"Sixteen, by last count. But the number is expected to rise...and Camen," Tears fell down Delle's cheeks as lowered her eyes to the floor. "One of those stricken is Vedek Timal."

"We have to send help." Camen's eyes focused with intense clarity now, and he stared at Fleur as she gently rocked Tress side to side on her hip.

"We've got to contact Starfleet. Favors are owed to me, we can have all of the Federation's best resources here within,"

"There is a team already on the way," Delle advised. "Two doctors, medical supplies..."

"Did you hear the names McKay or Hubbard?" Jariel was certain that if Starfleet had contacted the Serendipity and told Liis of the situation, she'd have made their very best available to Altaan in a heartbeat.

"No, I'm sorry. I can't recall their names, but I know those were not the ones spoken to me."

"I have to go there." Jariel announced. Both Delle and Fleur gasped.

"No! You are in no shape to go anywhere!" Fleur objected.

"When is the team due to arrive in orbit?" Camen demanded.

Delle sighed. "By last report, thirty-six hours."

"Then in thirty-six hours they will beam me to their ship, and I will accompany them to Altaan. I warn you, if you do not assist me in making this happen, Delle, I will find my own way there and could be at risk of exposing others to the remnants of my fever."

Delle knew better than to argue with him. "As you wish, Vedek Jariel. I will be sure that the message is sent. May the Prophets guide your steps."

She hurried along on her way, and Fleur rushed into the other room, setting Tress down onto her cot and bundling her up in blankets. "Tress, hungry?"

The baby simply stared at her, moaning softly.

[[Hungry?]] Fleur made the gesture, knowing that Jariel had been teaching Tress a few simple signs to enhance her language development in recent days.

Tress shook her head 'no'. Then she stuck her thumb into her mouth, clutched onto Fleur's blanket with her other hand, and closed her eyes.

"Stay here, chou chou, I will be right back." Fleur kissed Tress's head, and tears began falling down her face at the sensation of the baby's skin burning up.

She looked up and locked eyes with Jariel.

"Camen, we have to go with you."

"Absolutely not, Fleur. You can't."

"Don't you understand?" Fleur insisted, raising her voice to him for the very first time that she could remember. "Altaan may need Vedek Jariel, but Tress and I need Jariel Camen!"

Camen stared at her a long moment in something of a state of shock.

Finally, he did the only thing he could do.

He pulled her into his arms and held her, as her tears of fear and sadness rained down onto his shoulder.

Fleur Le Marc
The 24th Century's Answer
to Florence Nightingale

Currently on Bajor