680: The Sum of Our Memories: One

by **William Lindsay
and -=/\=- Zanh Liis
Following My Shadow
Soundtrack: A Dustland Fairytale by The Killers and Pride (In the Name of Love) by U2


-=County Cork, Ireland; Earth=-

Waiting for her on just the other side of the tallest hill beyond the house, Will tapped his foot and sighed impatiently.

Then, he considered again the look upon Keiran's face as he accepted what was about to happen, and could no longer blame the man for wanting to hold his wife fast at his side, just as long as he possibly could.

Liis trudged toward him and as soon as she came to a stop, Will handed her a combadge.

"I have mine," she reached into the pocket of her black leather jacket and produced it, but Lindsay still shook his head.

"Take this one. Give me that."

"Why, what are you-"

He snatched it from her hand and tossed it up into the air.

Before it fell to Earth, he took his weapon from his belt and fired, vaporizing it. He offered only two words of explanation to her to account for his actions.

"Trust me."

"O…kay." She frowned, finally affixing the pin he'd given her to her clothing.

"Lindsay to Vanguard, two to beam up."

The automated command Will had programmed into the controls of the ship that TI had issued to him for this mission responded just as planned, and a moment later, he and Liis stood in the cockpit.

She didn't say anything about the size of the ship, or the fact that apparently no one else was intended to go on this trip with them. She had worked for years on a small ship such as this, and she found present company to be a lot more acceptable, and confidence-inspiring, than that of Ashton Ledbetter, with whom she had been forced to share such close quarters on the first ship to bear the name Polaris.

"Where are we going anyway?" she asked.

"The Sera's last known location- or I should say, where they will be at the time they're attacked, is in orbit of Lethus IV."

Liis nodded with satisfaction upon hearing this. The Lethus system was not far away, not at all. Even if they weren't allowed to 'skim'- i.e. skirt the edge of the timeline in order to get there faster- (just one step shy of making an actual Jump) with such a small, fast, and maneuverable ship, they would make the trip a short one.

"How long?"

"About twenty-six hours. You should get some sleep, Liis. I know that I woke you."

"No." She refused, with a definite shake of her head. "I want to see every piece of intelligence that you have on Taris. The ship she is on, the people she's recruited for her cause this time...all of it."

"Yes sir." Will suppressed a smile as he situated himself in the pilot's chair and brought the engines online. "I'll route the information to your panel." He was impressed, he had to admit, with her work ethic. As upset as she'd been just ten minutes ago and as horrible as she must be feeling, she had managed somehow to set it all aside and was entirely focused on the task at hand. "Is there...anythin' else I can do for ya?"

"You can tell me this thing has a replicator." She replied absently, already beginning to read through the material that the computer was displaying. "I am going to need a hell of a lot of coffee by hour twenty-three."

"Don't worry about that. I'll be drinkin' it right along with ya."

As the ship lifted from the ground, Liis couldn't help but glance forward through the viewport, watching as the green landscape of Ireland rapidly disappeared beneath her, and feeling a little more lost with every meter of space that separated her from Keiran.

"Tell me something." She droned softly, even as she glanced down at the streaks of light created by the panels as the colors danced off of the diamonds in her wedding ring.

"Sure. If I can."

"Tell me that you didn't know this was going to happen when we were driving around Scotland, baring our souls."

Will shook his head, his eyes haunted as the ship bolted through the atmosphere, climbing ever closer to open space. "I swear to ya, I did not."

Liis accepted this as truth. Lindsay had no reason to lie beyond avoiding the inevitable confrontation if he confessed to keeping this secret from her. Some men would choose that path, but William Lindsay was no coward. She simply answered “Thank you,” and returned to her task.

As they sped away, Liis watched the Earth behind as it seemed to rapidly shrink down. Keiran, their home, Ireland; all reduced to the size of a pebble. It was almost inconceivable that such things held so important could seem at the same time so small. Once clear they entered into Warp and even old Sol became just another tiny light.

She ordered them both a coffee from the replicator and returned to her scrolling carefully through the intelligence on Taris. It was, for the most part, just as she’d expected.


Still, there had to be a weak link in there somewhere; a follower whose head could be turned, a flaw in her ship’s design. Something, anything she could make use of- and she was going to find it. Her mind buzzed loudly, the sound of her own conflicting thoughts and emotions making it very difficult to concentrate.

She wanted nothing more than to wake from this nightmare, roll over in bed and find Keiran fast asleep beside her. This time, there would be no such comfort. Every time she closed or opened her eyes, her surroundings remained the same, and he was far from here. She groaned loudly.

"Problem?" Lindsay inquired.

"It's too quiet. Can't think."

Lindsay laughed softly, instantly knowing exactly what the problem was even if she was too lost in her own thoughts to figure it out for herself.

"You have spent too many years working with him, haven't you? I've just the thing." He tapped the computer panel, brought up an audio file directory, and initialized it.

An instant later Liis startled in her chair beside him as the sound of a ringing guitar echoed through the cockpit. A slow, lopsided grin eclipsed the look of concern on her face for just a moment, and she nodded to him approvingly.

"Since it seems you've a weakness for the company of Irishmen, a little U2 ought to help keep you going along the way." Will offered. Thinking again about his oldest friend and adventures past, he smiled distantly. "Music always seemed to help him at times like this."

"Helps me too." She said, saluting him with her coffee mug. "Turn it up, William. Turn it up loud."

He did as she asked and then raised his voice to be heard above the din. “This suit your mood or your prefer something else?"

"Suits it just fine." Liis took the liberty of leaning over Lindsay's shoulder a moment, tweaking the bass and reducing the treble before turning the volume down just a percentage point or two so that she could still hear and be heard by him.

"You know, I don't know if this holds true for you as well, but I could always judge the man's mood the moment I entered the room he was in, based upon what he was listening to." Will observed.

"Yeah. Well." Liis replied uneasily, thinking of all the days that news spread quickly amongst her senior staff to avoid her at all costs; based purely upon the fact that she was holed up in her Ready Room and blasting songs from American Idiot by Green Day. "Another thing we have in common, I guess."

Will smiled as he reflected on just how much the two really did have in common. He’d never known Keiran before Keiran had known Liis; and so wasn’t sure just which way the influence had run. But it was just little things that he noticed, like how Liis would play with the chain of her earring in the same way that Keiran would fidget with his ring.

They were just those ordinary things that everyone did to some extent but that when you knew someone, you began to see patterns and meanings to them. In Keiran and Liis they often seemed indicative of a person inside their mind as much as they were in the current conversation. With all those memories to work through; most of the time memories just out of reach, he could understand spending some time on introspection.

As Liis worked, Will kept himself occupied navigating the ship. Of course it was a simple path so the computer could have gotten them there just as easily but he found it relaxing, well that and Liis was too involved in what she was doing for conversation and he found just sitting there to be far too boring.

Observing her became something of a pastime of its own, and he had to stifle the urge to laugh as he heard her mumble something extremely profane or sarcastic every so many pages of reading. She was in so many ways such a stark contrast to the "Hail Mary" reciting, upright and proper O'Sullivan...but in many other ways, she was the very reflection of his soul.

-=Flashback; 2381 current timeline; A courtyard at Starfleet Medical: Earth=-

Will hadn't spoken to Keiran since the man had announced that it was his honest intention to once again, in this timeline, tell Zanh Liis how he felt about her.

This was because his friend was refusing to listen to reason and letting his heart lead his head. He was doing this knowing full well how badly it had turned out in the previous branch of space-time; still willing to risk everything that he was and the life that he knew, and for what?

For love?

*For love.* Will scoffed; experience had taught him just how crazy that was. *No such thing exists. There is lust, there is infatuation, but there is no substance to any of it that lasts.*

Keiran had told him that he was wrong, and that a life without her wasn't living at all. Will had damned him for his foolishness, and then closed the channel between them, after effectively ending their friendship with one brutal sentence.

"O'Sullivan, you're going to regret this."

Now just two linear years and some months after making that fateful decision, Keiran was feeling the full consequences of his actions and willing to die in the attempt to forget them.

Will had come, not to say 'I told you so', but to try to offer what support he could. He also had a less altruistic reason, to assuage his conscience for the fact that he hadn't been there when Keiran truly needed him. He had let his best friend fall, standing alone. What kind of man did that make him, after all that Keiran had done for him?

Will hated to answer that question even to himself, but he knew one thing for damn sure. He would not let O'Sullivan close his eyes for what could be the final time before that resequencing procedure until he knew how much Will regretted turning his back on him.

He found Keiran sitting by a small reflecting pool, staring down into it as his hands searched the pockets of his jacket for his lighter. Somehow it'd gone missing. Finally he gave up, withdrawing the cigarette from his lips but still clutching it between his fingers as the pond once again seemed to garner his full attention.

He heard the sound of a similar lighter flicking on behind him and turned to see a familiar face, hand extended, waiting to give him a light.

Keiran accepted the flame from the lighter and puffed to get his cigarette to catch, but then turned back to the pool, ignoring the man who had provided it.

*If William wants to make amends, he's going to have to do a hell of a lot better than lighting one damned cigarette.*

"Keiran, I." Will had never been one to easily admit when he was wrong; especially in instances where he felt that he wasn't actually wrong but that his actions were, in fact, completely correct and justified.

Instances like this one.

Had it really been so wrong of him to bail on O'Sullivan because he couldn't stand to watch the man destroy himself all over again?

Was it too much to ask of Keiran to think with the brain in his head and not any other part of his anatomy when it came to that woman?

**Captain William Lindsay
(As told by Rada Dengar)
Temporal Investigations
Aboard the USS Vanguard


-=/\=- Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012