by Gira Lassiter
Concurrent with Descent into Darkness
Soundtrack: Minstrel Boy (Instrumental)
As recorded by The Corrs
Concurrent with Descent into Darkness
Soundtrack: Minstrel Boy (Instrumental)
As recorded by The Corrs
The voice of Keiran O'Sullivan snapped Dane out of his frenzy to reach Gira Lassiter.
Reluctantly the younger man slowed to a stop, his feet heavily thumping against the deck with hopeless frustration as those of an errant child caught running away from their parents in the park on vivid Spring day.
He'd been so close...
"I'll handle it," said O’Sullivan.
"Sir..." Dane pleaded..
"Said that I’ll handle it."
Dane knew too well the look in Keiran's eye and the warning in his tone. He also knew better than to object or try to argue. "Aye, Sir."
Keiran rang the chime, but Gira ignored it.
"Littlest, please. Open the door, willya? We need ta talk about this." Keiran requested softly.
After a pause that seemed much longer than it actually was, the doors slid open.
Gira looked up to see Dane standing there as well and blinked in surprise. She had expected one or the other of the two men but not the both of them together.
"Don' mind him, he was just leavin'." Keiran's flashing eyes and the tilt of his head directed Cristiane back to the turbolift.
Dane looked toward Gira as if to ask if that was what she wanted, and she nodded as she stepped aside to allow O'Sullivan in and the door closed behind them.
Dane slumped against the wall outside of Lassiter's quarters, frustrated even further by the fact that the walls on this ship were so damned soundproof.
"Why are you here?" Gira asked pointedly, clasping thin, frail arms around herself tightly. "Nick is dead. My mother wants the one thing I can't give her. There's nothing to say."
"Gira, she probably didn' even know what she was sayin'." Keiran insisted, gently placing his hand beneath her chin and lifting her face up in the attempt to make her look at him.
Her eyes continued to evade his and finally O'Sullivan gave up. He sighed, walked across the room to the couch and plunked down onto it. He ran his hands through his hair and then began doing that twisting thing that Gira knew he always did with his wedding ring when he was upset about something.
"Oh believe me. She knew exactly what she was saying." Gira muttered bitterly. "Just as she's always known it. Face it, Captain O'Sullivan. You've known me all my life. Have you ever once heard my mother speak of me the way she does of him?"
Keiran hesitated. He knew that she was right, and he was by nature and by virtue a terrible liar. "Doesn' mean that she-"
"Doesn't love me? Maybe in her way she does as much as she can. But you can't deny that she's always loved him more."
He said nothing, because there was nothing he could say.
He began to wonder if coming here to try to comfort her was such a bright idea seeing how he really didn't know what sort of comfort you could offer someone who just realized that no matter what they do they will never live up to the ideals of their parents.
It was a feeling Keiran had experienced as a boy when fighting with his father, but he’d been blessed in that his mother was quick to put herself between them and convince the older O’Sullivan to hear reason.
Gira had never had such an advocate.
"And my father.." Gira added with an uncharacteristically small, sour laugh. Keiran startled, wondering if she had been able to somehow read his mind.
"Look at him. Resequenced so many times that half the time he doesn't remember me at all and the other half he is just glad he had a son to carry on the family bloodline." She shrugged. “You’ve always been so much more of a father to me than Jonas ever was.”
Something occurred to Keiran, the mere shadow of a curious thought, but he quickly dismissed it. Rather, he tried to dismiss it because it was something that he didn't even want to think possible.
Gira walked away. Slowly Keiran stood up from the couch as she took up position by the window, staring silently out at the stars.
She stared directly at the Zenith in the distance. "I want to go back." She announced suddenly.
"I don' know if that's such a good-"
"Please. I know if you ask Captain Zanh yourself for me that she'll say yes." Gira turned back toward him, her eyes red and brimming with tears. "I need to go back."
Her small hands attempted to clasp his arms but her slight fingers couldn't reach all the way around them. She settled at last for clutching the sleeves of his shirt as tightly as she could. "Please, Captain. His quarters, it's," she began to tremble. "..the only place I can go to say goodbye."
"I don' wan’cha to go alone."
"But don't you understand? I have to go alone. I am alone. That's the point."
Keiran's heart felt as if it could break, to see such a sweet and gentle girl, one that he'd gladly have claimed as his own daughter if God had been so merciful, in so much pain.
"Well, will see what I can do."
She threw her arms around his broad shoulders. "Thank you." She whispered. "I knew that you were one person that I could still count on."
Keiran nodded, and gently brushed tears from her cheeks before turning and heading toward the door.
Once he reached it, he paused. "Only, you were wrong, just then. There’s more than one person on this ship ya can count on. You're no' alone."
The door closed behind him, and Gira felt the tremors in her hands spread up her arms, over her shoulders and down her body all the way to the floor, almost as if the power they had over her was that of a bolt of lightning, striking and seeking ground.
She realized that though it wasn't exactly what O'Sullivan had meant by what he'd said, the man was right.
She wasn't really alone.
As she hurried out the door and rushed into the hall with a clear destination in mind, she ran right into the person she was seeking.
Dane had ducked around the corner to wait until O'Sullivan left, and was just about to return to her to see if he could do anything to help.
Without a word, Gira grabbed his arm and dragged him more than led him back into her quarters.
"Gira, what are you-" Dane asked, quite bewildered by the look upon her face as she released him..
Bewilderment turned to outright shock though, as she grabbed hold of him by his shoulders and desperately kissed him.
Though every last bit of Dane wanted to be able to return the kiss that he had waited so long for, he froze. He'd dreamed of this ever since the first time he'd kissed her the night of the Captain's wedding and she'd pushed him away.
But not like this.
He couldn't do this.
He couldn't do it, not because O'Sullivan would surely kill him if he did- even though that was certain.
He couldn't do it because he truly cared for her, and he knew that she had never been as vulnerable in her life as she was tonight.
As she wrapped her arms around him and held him tighter than he'd ever imagined she could, he shook his head and spoke with as much resolve as he could gather.
"Gira," he gently pulled back, and her eyes frantically sought an explanation. "No."
"Dane, stay with me tonight." She begged, adding three words that nearly destroyed the fragile determination he was fighting so hard to cling to. "I need you."
"I'm here." he assured her, brushing her hair back gently before wiping away the fresh tears that rolled down her soft, lovely cheek. "I'm right here."
She leaned close, standing on the tips of her toes to try to kiss him again and though it was the hardest thing he'd ever done, Dane backed away a second time.
"No." He whispered again. "Gira, we can't. Not now. Not like this."
The look of disbelief and panic in her eyes quickly melted into white hot rage.
"FINE!" She screamed, turning away and leaning against the wall for strength since it seemed he was refusing to hold her any longer.
Her words began to break up as she broke down. "GO! GET OUT!"
Dane's face was glowing red, only the slightest flickering indication of the fire inside that was threatening to consume him.
He backed toward the door. Every step he took was a struggle, a battle waged between the stronger and weaker halves of his soul. Between what he knew he'd always wanted and what he knew was right.
She slid down the wall and crumpled to the floor in a heap. Pulling her knees to her chest, she folded her arms atop them and then buried her face in them.
Wracked with sobs that seemed to drown every last ember of what little spark of life remained in her, she looked smaller and more frail than he could ever remember, even more than she had in the nightmare that was the alternate reality they'd lived through.
The doors slid quietly open but suddenly he stopped, unsure what he should do.
"Gira, I'm sorry, it's not that I don't-."
"Just go away." she whispered, her words barely detectable between sobs. "Everyone does in the end."
Dane's shoulders fell, as he finally accepted that he just couldn't do it.
He couldn't leave her alone like this on the worst night of her life.
He would do what was right, he would somehow find the will to do the good and honorable thing but he would not leave her.
Then, perhaps she would understand tomorrow if not tonight just how much she truly meant to him.
Without a word, he crossed the room and dropped to the deck beside her. His fingers brushed against her hair as he softly spoke her name. Slowly she raised her eyes to him.
"My brother is never coming home." She could barely breathe the words, afraid that saying it would mean it was really so.
"I know, and I'm," he looked into her eyes, and found that somehow, he was praying to a God he wasn't even sure he believed in that she would be able to get through the days of mourning that stretched on ahead of her. "I'm sorry."
"He's gone and he's....never coming home," she repeated, needing to say it again just so that it could begin to become real. "He's..."
As she shook with sobs once more, he gathered her into his arms and held her there, whispering softly to her until she finally cried herself to sleep.
As her body gently went limp against his, Dane leaned his back against the wall.
He watched over her until his own eyes became too heavy to hold open any longer.
With a troubled heart and worried mind, as he drifted off to sleep he realized that in this moment he knew exactly what it meant to truly care more for someone else than he had ever cared for himself.
Ensign Gira Lassiter
NRPG: I know they used the song on TNG- a tip of my hat to Miles O'Brien.~Gira
Ensign Gira Lassiter
NRPG: I know they used the song on TNG- a tip of my hat to Miles O'Brien.~Gira
Note: My apologies to Ensign Grey; this post was accidentily overlooked when I was archiving, and so must be added here now to the post that came before it. Sorry, Ensign. ~ZL
My Father and His Sister
By Ensign Natalie Grey
The day after Gone
By Ensign Natalie Grey
The day after Gone
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Vol asked. “The healing process is an important part of coping with a tragedy, but rushing to get through it isn’t always the best answer.”
People had different ways of dealing with grief, based upon their personalities, but knowing what was best for people was always a challenge. Vol felt as if, by now, he knew the crew of the Sera like that back of his hand. Natalie Grey however, was still very much a mystery to him. He had only just met her, on the Captain’s order that he speak with her, knowing that she was going to need immediate counseling to begin coping with all she had seen, and all that she’d lost.
In one small miracle, it seems the cat Keiran O’Sullivan had discovered when they first arrived and toured the empty Zenith was in fact hers. Mother and kitty had been reunited, which lessened the heartache in her somewhat.
The tall Irishman had also taken it upon himself to ensure all her belongings were gathered up and sent to the Gauntlet. It had not been much of a task really. She had not even had time to unpack. Except for the items she had taken to Nick’s, almost everything was still boxed up.
“I’m not sure where I’m going yet, or what I’m going to do with myself Counselor. But the more I think about the fact that the Zenith will be departing soon, the more terrified I am that I’m never going to be able to say goodbye.”
She had told him everything when he met her. He sensed a feeling of relief beneath the grief, that she no longer was obligated to hold onto secrets that had been weighing her down. That relief only fleeting however, as every part of her wished she could still be clutching onto the secrets, rather than the alterative of the reality she now faced. Vol had only just asked her how she was feeling, and Natalie’s emotions spilled forth in a torrent.
Seems the last name Grey she shared with the Zenith’s Captain was not merely a coincidence. Natalie was his daughter, and the secret she kept from the Captain was that she was carrying on a relationship with the First Officer, Nicholas Lassiter, for several weeks. They had met at a conference for the Zenith’s command crew on Earth prior to the ship being commissioned, and tiptoed around her father since to make sure he never found out.
It had only been a day since the battle with the Domox, and Vol was very much concerned that touring the Zenith now would be too much for her emotionally. Still, she was right. Zanh Liis was overseeing repairs and staffing of the Zenith to get it back to Starbase, and if Natalie didn’t beam over now, she likely wouldn’t have the chance.
“Are you sure I can’t walk with you?” Vol offered once again. Natalie shook her head in a very much unreassuringly fashion, but Vol accepted her choice nonetheless. She stepped up onto the transporter pad, and gave the operator the location of her father’s quarters on the Zenith.
She watched Vol dissolve from view through the transporter beam, much as Nick had when she last laid eyes on him. As the Zenith took shape around her, she closed her eyes, as if not seeing it would mean it was not there, and everything that had happened would be erased. When she opened them, she was taken aback by the damage around her. Panels were shattered, wires were dangling from the ceiling. Natalie had all but forgotten that a battle had just occurred, and the Zenith had barely escaped in once piece.
She ran her hand across the name Jennings Grey on the door, and then tapped the pad to open it.
“You’d weep if you could see this father,” she lamented, as he saw the disarray in his normally perfectly arranged quarters. He didn’t have many belongings, he didn’t need them. A few of his favorite books, artifacts he had collected during his travels. What few things he had were mostly strewn on the floor now. Even the pillow on his bed had been tossed from its rightful place.
She picked one of the books up off the floor and flipped the cover open. There were several ribbons marking pages and an inscription on the inside cover.
I’ve marked some of my favorite passages. Take a read and we’ll discuss soon. Men like you and I understand.”
Natalie shut the book and read the title on the cover, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. She chuckled, and shook her head, before setting the book back on the shelf it had fallen from. “Yes father, woe is the man who must provide for all those around him with no help from anyone.”
Instinctively she began cleaning the rest of the room. Putting trinkets back where they belonged despite knowing that once the ship was returned to Starbase, the quarters would be emptied anyway and all the belongs sent back to his home on Earth. Still, if he were here, her father would have cleaned the place up, so she would as well.
Once everything was returned to its place, she sat down at his desk, and pulled the drawer open. She pulled out the holopicture and turned it on. It was father and daughter, on the grounds of the Academy, the day she had graduated. This was the first time she ever really felt he really loved her, and the first time she ever felt she didn’t disappoint him.
She tried to touch his face but her fingers only passed through the projection.
“Is it okay to cry this time, dad?” She knew how he felt about crying, but couldn’t help herself as the tears filled the corners of her eyes. They had never been quite so close as they had been when she graduated, and that was what she wanted to remember. Once she was actually assigned, they were starting all over again, towards the next goal of obtaining a promotion to Lieutenant.
Still, despite all the expectations, she never doubted for a moment that he loved her.
She switched off the projection, and held onto the base to take with her. Natalie hadn’t come here to grieve; there would be more than enough time for that. All she wanted was the chance to remember the way this place looked and say goodbye.
Despite her best efforts she knew something was still missing. Something was not the way her father would have wanted it had he been here. It dawned on her that it was the quiet.
“Computer, Mozart. Any Mozart. Continuous loop.”
She shut her eyes, and was at the small table in the corner, talking about Federation politics with her father over morning tea and cantaloupe, as Mozart played softly in the background. Of course they never agreed on anything and he always left the table knowing he was right, but she adored his time and attention nonetheless.
So that was where Natalie left it. She shut her eyes as she reached the door, listening to the music, and sipping tea in her mind, as she stepped out into the corridor and waited for the door to shut behind her. Once back in the silence of the hallway, she opened her eyes again, and said goodbye.
“I love you dad, I’ll miss you.”
Natalie kept her head held high, in true Grey fashion, for him. There was one other place she wanted to stop before leaving, to take a moment to remember the man that she loved. The same man that in the end, had saved her life.
Nicholas Lassiter’s quarters were well known to Natalie. She had made this same walk between his quarters and her father’s many times, not that her father ever knew that.
When she reached the door, she walked right in. Not the usual for her, as in the past she had always checked to make sure no one saw her when she entered Nick’s quarters. As soon as she entered, she caught a glimpse of something moving in her peripheral vision. She turned and saw another young woman sitting on the couch, going through Nick’s things.
“Oh. Oh! I am so sorry.” Natalie turned to leave, but the other woman stopped her.
“Wait! It’s okay, come in.” Gira folded up the letter she was looking at, one that she had written, and jumped up to catch the other woman. “I’m Gira,” She said, holding out her hand.
“Gira,” Natalie searched her memory, trying to place the name. She could tell by the glistening eyes that the woman had been crying and wondered if this was one of Nick’s past conquests. Then, she remembered where she had heard the name Gira before. “You’re Nick’s sister!”
“Yeah, that’s me. Nick’s sister,” Gira looked down at the floor for a moment. That’s what she had always been, hadn’t it? Nick’s sister. As if that were the greatest thing she had ever accomplished in life. “And you are?”
“Natalie Grey, from the Zenith.”
“Oh, you’re the one who came back during the battle.” Gira dabbed at her eyes in an attempt to conceal the fact she had been crying, even though Natalie had already made an observation of it. “I assume you knew my brother, if you went out of your way to come here.”
Gira offered her a seat on the end of the couch, and Natalie followed her across the room and sat. Suddenly she was very self-conscious. She felt like she had every right in the world to be here, right up until she had spoiled whatever private moment Gira Lassiter was having with her own brother. Natalie was just a girlfriend, Gira was family. For all she knew Lassiter was going to rip her to shreds for daring to have the audacity to barge into her bother’s quarters.
“You said your name was Natalie?”
“Yes,” She answered, surprised that Gira had forgotten her name already. Surely she had already heard it many times. “Didn’t Nick ever…”
“No,” Gira answered, grinning just a bit. “But if it makes you feel better he never mentioned anything to me. There’s a whole computer full of letters I sent him, and a few paper ones here too, that he never answered.” Gira waved the stack in the air for emphasis, then dropped it back down onto the couch from about half a meter’s height.
“That’s Nick,” Natalie said. “He mentioned you a few times. The star-crossed dreamer?”
“That’s me,” Gira raised her hand shyly. “Nick was always the model son and officer. Sorry, do you, uh, want something to drink?”
“No, no. I just came here to pick up some stuff I left behind.”
“Yeah, I found a few things that obviously weren’t Nick’s. I was just going to recycle them because I didn’t think anyone would be back for them, but here you are.”
Natalie blushed, knowing full well what was “Obviously not Nick’s.”
“Sorry, I… I…” She stuttered.
“It’s all right. He was a grown man.”
Natalie searched for a way to change the subject as quickly as possible. “He saved me, Gira.”
“What do you mean?” Gira stretched out her neck and rested her head on her knuckles as she spoke. Natalie rested her own hands in her lap, and kept her eyes on them as she spoke. She didn’t know how Gira would take hearing this, but she wanted him to know there was more to him then the arrogant brother that never answered her letters.
“Over there. We had found a way back to the Zenith through the portal, using a transporter, but there was only room for one of us. He could have gone, but he sent me. He stayed behind.”
Gira let her hands slide over her face as she began to cry. She knew what Natalie was saying, that her brother had chosen Grey’s life over his own.
She figured he had probably died trying to save his own neck any way possible. Now that she knew the truth, she felt guilty for having thought of him that way.
Natalie waited for her to speak, as her eyes cast down at Gira’s letters to her brother. She let her gaze fix on the name Lassiter, in Gira’s delicate and feminine script, and wondered what it would look like if she were to write her name in the same fashion. Natalie Lassiter.
“Did you love him?” Gira asked finally.
“No. Yes. I don’t know.” Natalie was terrified to even let herself answer the question. It was hard enough to say goodbye to the man she was attracted too, and dated, but even worse if she had to admit she actually loved him. “Yeah, I did. When he pushed me into the transporter, I said it. I wanted him to have that, to remember that. I’d never said it before, because I guess I never really felt it, until that very moment. So yes Gira, I loved him.”
Gira dabbed at her tears with her sleeves again, but more just spilled over to take their place. “You probably know more about him then I do. Was he happy here?”
“I think so. Nick wasn’t exactly easy to get close to, in an emotional sense. He wasn’t really the most romantic type.”
Gira laughed through the tears on her face, and shook her head. “It’s all right Natalie, you can just say it, he was an ass.”
Natalie laughed along with her. “If that’s how you want to put it. Yeah, he could be a real ass sometimes.”
“Sometimes?” Gira scoffed mockingly. “You wouldn’t believe how much hair product I found in his bathroom, and I know that’s all his, not yours.” Lassiter chuckled still as she spoke.
“Well if it makes you feel any better I’d find letters of yours lying around all the time. Even if he never bothered to answer them, he did read them. And I have to tell you too, my father loved him even more then I did I think. Executive Officer Lassiter kissed some incredible ass with Captain Grey.”
“Oh, but not as much as our mother. Admiral Lassiter thought the sun rose and set with Nicholas. If there was one thing Nick could do, its kiss ass.”
The two laughed again, and Natalie looked back down at the floor as silence soon fell between the two of them. Just mentioning her mother was enough to send Gira mentally back to the Sera and what had transpired there between herself, O’Sullivan and Cristiane.
She probably owed them both an apology, not that she would ever expect either of them to take it.
“Nick may have been an ass, but he didn’t deserve…” Natalie looked up at Gira, who nodded in understanding. She leaned forward, and rested her head on Natalie’s shoulder, sharing an embrace and tears. Several minutes passed, as Natalie held Gira, and glanced around the room, thinking of the memories she had here, and knowing they would never come again.
Gira sat back on the couch, and absentmindedly fiddled with her sleeves. “Where are you going from here, Natalie?”
“I don’t know. I have to be debriefed by Starfleet, so I’m supposed to leave on the Gauntlet. After that?” Needless to say the only thing she was sure of at this point was that she wasn’t going back to the Zenith when it was launched again with another crew.
“The Sera is an amazing ship. The people there all care about each other so much. If you’d like to stay, I know I can convince the Captain.” *Or get Keiran to,* Gira added to herself mentally.
It was too soon to decide anything, but somehow the idea of being near Gira Lassiter brought Natalie some comfort. “I’ll think about. Thanks for the offer.”
Natalie found the bag Gira had set aside with her things. She slung it over her shoulder and headed for the door. “You coming?” She asked.
“I just need a few more minutes alone,” Gira answered.
“Thanks, for this. Talking to you really helped.”
“Me too. If you want to again, just look me up any time.”
Natalie felt terrible leaving her alone here, but she knew Gira needed that time.
She took a final look around, and said a silent farewell to Nick.
She stepped out of his quarters and called for a return to the Sera. After she thanked the transporter operator, she went straight to the nearest replicator she could find.
Natalie set the bag down on it, and tapped the controls for recycling. The replicator whirred, and the bag vanished.
In her other hand, she held the hologram of herself and her father. She considered recycling that as well, for just a moment, before clutching it to her chest, and heading back to her quarters.