677: The Moment

by Will Lindsay and Keiran O’Sullivan
(As told by Rada Dengar and Salvek)
After That Still Small Voice of Conscience

-=The O’Sullivan Residence, County Cork, Ireland

As soon as they were out the door Keiran turned on Lindsay, trapping him between a towering Irishman and the wall. It made the proverbial rock and a hard place seem comfortable by comparison.

It was times like this that Will was reminded of just what a giant O’Sullivan really was. He was over six foot and solid himself but not only did O’Sullivan have him beaten on height but he certainly had a much fuller build and the look of furious desperation in his eyes just made him that much more imposing.

Though his words were filled with more rage than Will had ever seen from the man, he did not rush them. He spoke them slowly and harshly emphasized every syllable to make sure there could be no doubt about what he’d said.

“Right, now you listen to me very carefully, William. This is not a matter for debate. You’re not taking Liis anywhere without me, and if you so much as look like you’re thinking about tryin’ it I swear to God I won’t be responsible for my actions.”

Will tried to look as unintimidated as possible by throwing his shoulders back and rising onto his toes to try to look Keiran in the eyes but it all seemed a lost cause. Especially since he was sure that Keiran could see the sadness in his face.

“I’m sorry Keiran. The decision has been made and we’ve no time to discuss it.”

“Don’t you give me that!” Keiran sternly warned “You of all people should understand why I can’t…I can’t just let her go. I’ve…” Keiran’s words were breaking up as his head swam with images from those other timelines where he’d lost her. They were supposed to done with that here. They were supposed to have finally escaped the demands of time and space; but then they looked over their shoulders and there they were, bolting towards them and picking up speed.

Lindsay thought that right then it looked like O’Sullivan might just break. He couldn’t imagine what Keiran was going through, being asked to risk losing her yet again.

Deciding that there was no talking to the man from this position he took his chance and ducked out under Keiran’s arm while he was composing himself. Keiran seemed not to react. He had his head bowed and sounded as though he was softly praying. What exactly he was praying for, Lindsay wasn’t sure.

Once he was standing upright behind Keiran, Lindsay earnestly promised, “I give you honest my word that I will keep her safe.”

Keiran stopped his prayers and turned slowly to face Lindsay. His head was still downcast slightly as he said miserably, “Don’t ya get me wrong, Will. I have no doubt that you will do everything you can to protect her, but yer one man against the Universe with an entire ship to look after. She’s my only priority.”

Will shook his head. “I still can’t take you with me. There are concerns here above you, above me, above Liis…”

Keiran cut him off. “As far as I’m concerned there is no concern above Liis!” He screamed at Will, before taking hold of his shoulder, with a normal man this would have just been enough to secure their attention but Keiran’s grip was like a vice. It was not meant to hurt but then again Keiran wasn’t feeling in a very gentle mood at the moment.

Lindsay regretted his choice of words. “That’s not what I meant,” he protested.

Keiran twitched his free hand, feeling the urge to simply take out all his frustrations on Will.

"We're not really going down that road again, are we?" Lindsay asked. Keiran could hear the heartbreak in his voice, and immediately released him. Indeed, nothing would be gained by losing Will as a friend again, but that was not the road he feared to travel.

Lindsay let the silence hang for a minute, as Keiran composed himself.

"To hell with the orders. Would it really hurt anything if I just hid on your damn ship? Liis doesn't even need to know I'm there. No one will know." Keiran was now desperately looking for any solution other than the one Lindsay had proposed.

"They'll know, she'll know. Of course you mean well Keiran, but if you start sneaking around on her and deceiving her, you are going to lose her trust."

"That's a small price to pay compared to what I've lost before," Keiran growled.

"They don't build them tougher than Zanh Liis, you know that. She's a child of the streets and you may be her husband, but those people are the only family she's ever had. You can't ask her to simply turn a blind eye to them for your sake. Not now, not ever. Once this settles down, you'll hop a transport and meet up with us in a few days. It's only a few days," Lindsay said.

"Halius II," Keiran mumbled.

"What was that?" Lindsay asked.

"You heard me."

Lindsay suddenly forgot just how large Keiran was. He lowered his shoulder, and drove it into Keiran's chest, driving the Irishman into the ground with a massive thud.

"Why do you feel the need to bring that up every damn time?" Will punctuated the last three words by grabbing Keiran’s shirt and shaking him with each syllable. The sore spot had been found.

"Because she died, Will!" Keiran shouted, pushing Will off of him and sitting up. Keiran wheezed for air, the blow to his chest having knocked the wind right from his lungs.

"We were supposed to rendezvous with the Aries, but you felt like you could take on the Klingons all by yourself. And Aileene died because of it!"

Lindsay's head fell into his hands, and he could not stop the tears from flowing.

"Yeah, Keiran. She died. I was there too, remember? How many times can a man say he's sorry? And admit he did something stupid?"

"Not enough when I'm about to put my wife's destiny in the same man's hands," Keiran said coldly. It had been so long ago, and Will had been so careful ever since, but that one error in judgment on Will's part had always plagued Keiran in the back of his mind.

Will had been smitten with Aileene, but the lass had run afoul of the Klingon authorities and Will had decided to be her hero. Aileene paid with her life, and Keiran spent three weeks on bed rest, after the fine hands of Starfleet medical had pasted his broken body back together.

"So it's not her you don't entirely trust to make the right decisions, it's me?" Will asked.

Keiran couldn’t easily answer that right now. Will had made a mistake and he’d forgiven him for it, but forgiving and forgetting are two very different things.

That natural drive to be the hero was something that Will had never lost. It was a great asset, most of the time. It meant that he could charge into danger with no thought of what would happen to him and ask no more reward than the knowledge that he’d done it, but it also meant that he could charge into danger with no thought of what would happen to those around him.

It was a risk that Keiran had held no quarrel with taking on himself, but allowing the woman he loved to take it on was another story. He trusted Will with his life, but Liis’ was a higher priority.

Keiran mumbled as he spoke, his tone was still bitter but only so much as an angry man not sure of why. “It’s not that I don’t trust ya Will,” he said, unsure of whether it were true or a lie. “And it’s not that I don’t trust Liis,” that he was sure of. “You can both look after yourselves without me around gettin’ in the way, but Liis and I are married now and the times when we’re supposed to just look after ourselves are done.”

He lifted his head to look Will in the eye as he made his plea in his soft but commanding way “My place is with her.”

He looked up to directly meet Keiran’s line of sight. Though in many cultures this was a sign of a challenge, here it was simply a matter of respect. Besides, it’s hard to challenge someone while trying to command the tears back from your eyes. Will wanted so much to agree to Keiran’s request but he knew it couldn’t be done. As sorry as he was, his tone was explanatory, not apologetic.

“I can’t do it Keiran.” He could see the anger building again in the man at hearing that response and he couldn’t blame him for it, the same anger was growing in him at having to give it. “You know I would if I could but we’re not talking about smuggling on a bottle of Romulan Ale here. As soon as the two of you set your collective feet on my ship a thousand alarms will go off back at HQ and one of you will be dragged off.”

Keiran knew he was right. Working out whether a group of Romulans was about to abduct a child in time for it to be simple to prevent may have been beyond their abilities, but the distortion created by both he and Liis being on that ship would be hard for TI to miss.

“Can’t I…” Keiran was about to ask if he couldn’t go in Liis’s place but he stopped himself, admitting, “No, I know I can’t.”

Will was right. He could never ask Liis to remain on Earth while her crew was in danger. He’d never forgive himself if she was hurt, but she’d never forgive either of them if something happened to Lair Arie or any member of the crew because she wasn’t there to prevent it. Besides she’d be on her own either way.

At least if she went with Will, then he’d be there to watch out for her. She’d be on board one of the finest ships around, as opposed to whatever rickety old antique she would settle for if it would be the first one to get her there.

"I'm just going to deliver her to her ship. You have my word. I won't be trying to take on the Romulans all on my own. Believe me, I have no desire to come back here and explain to you why my bad judgment cost Zanh Liis her life."

Keiran could easily see things happening along the way that changed Will and Liis' approach. Perhaps they catch a glimpse of the Romulans on sensors. They see that their ship is damaged, and decide they can overwhelm their shields and beam Arie to safety. Unfortunately the Romulans have been playing dead, and as soon as Will's ship is within range, they attack and destroy his vessel.

"Just do this for me. Send me a report every hour, at least. I don't need to know where you are or what your doin', just that you're alive."

Keiran lumbered over to the front step, to sit down on something besides the moist grass. He stared off towards the hills that seemed to stretch on forever two days ago, and now seemed like a massive barrier trapping him where he sat. Will moved to sit beside him, and let the silence linger for several moments before clearing his throat and beginning to speak.

"So, what about you?"

"I have some ideas. Lassiter didn't say an'athin' about me not followin' ya as soon as I can, did she?"

"Technically, no. Thought she did say having the two of you in the same place was not a good idea," Will warned, knowing that 'same place' was a very subjective phrase.

"Technically, Will, you and I aren't even in the same place, are we? I'm here and you are half a meter to my left. So what does same place mean to ya?"

"I'm fairly certain it means you and Liis can't be on the same ship right now."

That was all Keiran needed to know.

He had favors to be called in, or, if nothing else, good material for blackmail that would serve him well in securing a ship of his own.

Keiran may very well shock the hell out of both of them, how close behind them he would be, like a shadow they could not lose.

"When will ya leave?"

"As soon as she's ready, and I'm sure you are good with all this."

"I'll be good with all this, William, when she and I are back here to finish the two weeks alone that we were promised. When she's seen Mizen Head Light and pulled a few Scots at the end of a tug of war rope into a lake. That's when I'll be good with it. For now I'm just doin' my duty as a Starfleet Officer as best I can to help my Captain and her crew, even if that means I need to stay the hell out the way."

Keiran considered getting the medkit and hypo, knocking Will out, and bringing him back around halfway to their destination when it was too late for Will to do anything about it.

By the time Liis stuck her head out the front door to see if Will was ever coming to get her, Keiran would by streaking past Neptune in Will’s ship.

But, Will was right. If he snuck off and left Liis behind, she would never forgive him. Nor would she ever be able to live with herself if the worst happened, and living with herself was something Liis was only just beginning to do.

As much as he feared what the Romulans may do to Liis if they captured her, he feared the repercussions of losing her trust even more.

He also had to consider that a child was involved. A child that Keiran cared for very much. The fact remained that Zanh Liis' presence was the most valuable asset to secure the safe return of Lair Arie. Keiran simply could not put his own concerns above the child's.

How could Keiran ever look in a mirror at his own face if he thought Lair Arie was sacrificed so he could keep Zanh Liis safe?

Will turned to see Liis standing in the door all packed and ready to go, he didn’t know how much of their conversation she’d heard.

Looking up into her eyes the temptation was still so great for Keiran to try again to stop her, to keep her safe here and damn the consequences. But he resisted, with all the strength in him, he resisted.

He rose slowly to his feet and walked silently to her, neither of them uttering a word. Once close enough he thoroughly embraced her and leaned down to whisper in her ear the only words he could find.

“Take care of yourself, Liis. Please.”


William Lindsay


Keiran O’Sullivan

(as told by Rada Dengar and Commander Salvek)

NRPG: Christmas just arrived early for me this year.

I have no proper words with which to thank you, gentlemen.

I just don't. I am humbled, and I am in awe.~ZL