Following Numbers and Figures
-=Starfleet Medical, Earth=-
Zanh Liis said nothing as she took William Lindsay's outstretched hand.
She clasped it firmly and pumped once before she quickly tried to release it. Will, however, held on a moment longer than she'd have liked, looking her dead in the eyes, and wordlessly asking questions to which she could offer him no answers.
Secure in the knowledge that Dengar was safely aboard the Sera once again and therefore out of reach of the clutches of Tucker Brody and his ilk, Liis was anxious to get the hell out of this building.
Bad things had happened to her here.
Or more correctly, according to her memories she had been forced to deal with the bad things that had happened elsewhere here, in this prison masquerading as a place of healing.
She turned and took off down the long hallway, leaving Keiran and Will behind without looking back.
Keiran sighed as he shook Lindsay's hand next. He had no desire to linger here either, his own memories of the place were never far from his thoughts. "Thanks for ev'ra'thin', William. Give me a day or two to get her settled in, right? Then I'll be in touch."
"Don't spend too damn long vacationing in Cork, O'Sullivan." Will teased good-naturedly. "Or I'll give the job to somebody else instead. Honeymoon's over, ya know."
"Like an'a'one else would work for you." Keiran retorted, but there was no weight to the implied humor of the remark. His voice was as hollow as the look in his eyes as he continued to stare, absently tracing an imaginary path of the steps Liis had taken to the exit.
"She'll land on 'er feet, Keiran. She always does." Will assured, just a little too easily for it to ring true to the man he was speaking to.
"Right." Keiran nodded as he disappeared down the corridor along that same imaginary path.
He caught up to Liis again at the transporter room, where she was pacing like a caged animal. "Let's get out of here, already." She grumbled, taking heavy steps up onto the dais.
"Where to?" The transporter operator asked with marked disinterest.
"Outside O'Halloran's Pub, County Cork." Liis replied. When Keiran's eyes questioned her, she shrugged. "Let's take the long way home."
"You heard the lady." Keiran agreed, gesturing to the man to go ahead.
Liis would have ordinarily teased him about the use of the word 'lady' to describe her but she was too lost in her own thoughts to do so now.
After a slow and silent walk home through the winding green hills along wandering roads, the O'Sullivans finally reached their front step. It was a much more quietly serious than triumphant homecoming this time, Keiran thought, as he unlocked the door.
Liis hesitated just a moment before she finally walked in, moving slowly past the stacked cargo containers that had been left in the entryway and all through the house.
She strode immediately into her office and pulled something out of her pocket that she'd not wanted to let out of her possession during the move.
Keiran leaned against the frame of the doorway, arms folded as he watched her withdraw the little engraved sailor's spyglass that had been a gift from TC Blane. She extended it, held it up to her eye for a moment, aiming it in the general direction of the nearest window though she wasn't really looking through it. As she did, she thought about the words that were scribed into its metal; knowing them now by heart without having to read them.
"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation."
Such a friend she'd found in the man who had given her that spyglass.
She snapped it shut and set it down on top of the desk.
Keiran approached her slowly, without a word she turned and rushed past him. He saw her as merely a blur as she hurried up the stairs and disappeared into the bathroom.
He listened to the water running in the shower and sighed again.
He wished he knew what to do for her right now, but knew there was nothing he could.
He took a moment to check the comm as he waited for her to emerge, and found among the waiting messages was one from Samthia Blakeslee.
Keiran read it with great concern and brought his hand to his chin, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Alaska, is it?" He rocked his weight from his heels to his toes, unknowingly imitating the motion that Liis would often make herself when thinking something over.
"Right then. First thing tomorrow." He sent a reply saying that of course, he would be happy to pay a visit if she thought Zander might need a listening ear. He only hoped that whatever was troubling the man, that he would be willing to speak of it.
Keiran knew from hard won experience that keeping things bottled up inside of you only set off the ticking of a time bomb that would explode later at the most inconvenient possible moment.
If you were lucky, all that meant was that you'd get into a fight or two. If you weren't it meant that you or worse, someone you loved, would end up dead.
He set the bell on the old-fashioned alarm clock on the bedside table and switched off the comm display. Liis finally emerged from hiding, wearing his bathrobe and with hair dripping wet.
She slumped down on the edge of the bed. Keiran retrieved a towel, took a seat in the middle of the bed behind her, and began to try to gently dry her hair.
She pulled away.
He gave up the attempt, allowing the towel to fall to the floor.
She dropped her head into her hands, sighing as Keiran rested his chin on her shoulder. "Here and now," he rumbled softly. As she gradually turned around toward him, he repeated the words for emphasis. "Here, and now."
Hours later as Keiran slept, Liis made her way down to her office. She contemplated beginning to sort through the packed belongings that surrounded her, but thought better of it.
Not so soon.
She felt an overwhelming frustration envelop her. She ripped Naloy's earring from her ear and threw it across the room.
She sank to her knees on the floor, remembering the faces of the people who'd stood in neatly straightened rows in the halls of the Serendipity to pay her tribute. Recalling the sorrow in their eyes, she finally broke down and cried.
She didn't stay in that uncharacteristically self-serving place for long. She found that she believed, somehow, after all that things were going ahead as they should and until she believed otherwise, she couldn't allow herself to get trapped here. She had to keep moving, even as they did. Even if that meant moving in separate directions from those she'd cared so much for, and served so closely with.
The bells on top of the alarm clock began to ring, and Keiran groaned. Hadn't he just closed his eyes ten minutes ago?
He slapped at the clock until he managed to knock it to the floor, where it was silenced upon impact. He didn't know if it'd ever work again, and at the moment he didn't really care. His hand reached out again, this time for Liis. She was no longer beside him.
He hurried to dress in his civilian 'uniform' of jeans and a button down shirt. Remembering the temperature where he was going, he also donned his well-worn leather jacket. He padded down the stairs in socks, having left his boots properly by the door for once, and sought her out.
He was surprised as his foot came into contact with the very last thing he ever expected to find on the floor. He gently picked up her grandmother's earring, noting gratefully that no damage had been done to it. He found his wife sitting in the large chair in the corner of her study.
"I've lost something," Liis rasped, rubbing her eyes.
"Another night's sleep, if nothin' else." Keiran observed, concern on his face and in his voice. He moved toward her, kissed her on the forehead before he walked to her desk and set the earring down there. "Did ya...have another visit from Naloy when ya tried sleepin'?"
"No. That's the thing." Liis fumed. "I think that's it. Show's over. End of story."
"Liis," he knelt before the chair and gently pulled her hands away from her face, enclosing them in his. "Chapter one may be over but that doesn't mean i's the end of the book."
She stared at him blankly, wondering now why he was out of bed so early. "Going somewhere?"
"Aye. Had a message from a friend, askin' for a little bit of my time today. I hope that you don't-"
"By all means, go," she said, without waiting for him to finish. "One of us should do something productive today and I sincerely doubt that it's going to be me." She gestured toward the pair of his pajamas that she was wearing, having not bothered to even unpack a change of her own clothing the night before. The sleeves and pant legs were rolled up to prevent her struggling or tripping in them, as even as tall as she was Keiran was still so much taller.
"Get some rest if ya can, no?" He kissed the top of her head. "But just in case ya can't, I'll put the coffee on before I leave. I might be late, am not sure how long this'll take so don' worry yerself over it. If ya need me, am takin' my badge."
She nodded. He kissed her once in parting, a kiss that told her that he'd much rather stay.
He rose and left without another word. Soon after, she inhaled the enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Finally, she heard the sound of the front door closing.
She went into the kitchen to find he'd left a tray for her, complete with press pot and, out of force of habit, two cups alongside the small pitcher of cream.
She took it out onto the front porch, where, in Keiran's black pajamas and her bare feet, she curled her left leg under her and began to rock on the swing.
She took in the view of the fields in the early morning mist. Her mind wandered as the coffee she'd poured quickly began to grow cold in her hands.
She became vaguely aware of footsteps falling against the steps of the porch close by but didn't raise her eyes past the dark boots that were treading toward her. "Forget something?" she asked, thinking Keiran had returned.
"Yeah." Another familiar, male voice replied. "I think you did."
Zanh's head snapped upward. She brought the motion of the swing to a quick stop.
She looked into the ice blue eyes of TC Blane, who, for once didn't wait to be invited before he sat down beside her.
"Nice jammies, Captain."
"I did?" She ignored his comment about her current attire and poured him some coffee without asking if he wanted it. She handed him the mug, which he accepted without argument. It was an unseasonably chilly morning, and he could use the warmth it would provide. "I think you forgot I'm not captain anymore, Thomas. I forgot something too?"
"Yeah. You forgot that Zanh Liis doesn't just lie down and give up a fight."
Her eyes moved away from his, once again directed toward the horizon. She said nothing.
"Unless you were just playing it incredibly cool to give Lassiter time to marinate in her own juices until you put your plan into action." Blane commented, his voice even and his expression unreadable though the sentiment did express that he clearly hoped this was the case.
"Plan? There is no plan, Thomas." She finally sipped her coffee, not even reacting as she discovered it was now far too cold to be palatable. "It's finished. My Starfleet career is over and done with."
Currently in Ireland
(drinking cold coffee)