1126: A Wonderful World

by Rada Dengar
101128.2200
After Constant Beauty

-=A turbolift, USS Serendipity=-


Having beamed back on board the Serendipity, Rada naturally had only one place he wanted to be. That place was at Wren’s side and he wasted no time in ordering the turbolift to take him there. As it arrived on her floor however he stopped, immediately remembering that there was somewhere he wanted to stop off first and something he wanted to collect.

“Main Engineering.”

As anxious as he was to get to see her, Rada wasn’t complaining about this slight delay. In fact as the turbolift drew him back to his Engineering department, he wasn’t complaining about anything. As the door parted, once again immersing him in the beautiful sounds of a functioning warp core, he actually drew in a slight breath in awe of its magnificence.

Whereas his previous pace had been a hurried one, stepping inward his steps were slow as his hand passed along the smooth texture of the wall, just proving to himself this was real. As he felt that it was, and saw that he really had returned, he couldn’t prevent the joy from flooding his features.

In this moment, he felt like he could out-smile Jamie Halliday, though he still thought it was better not to try. It’d require bearing a lot of teeth at one another in a way that he’d often seen Klingons doing as a preparation to mating. It’d be just his luck that a Klingon officer who’d been recently transferred over would just see that, then ever so casually comment to the Captain how he’d been flirting with his officers and seemed to be very much enjoying it.

In ship’s time, much as with Cork’s, it was late here and wonderfully quiet, so Rada was able to take his time moving towards his office without anyone noticing he was there. So he continued moving slowly, his eyes moving backwards and forwards just taking this all in, like he was seeing it all for the first time.

Finally arriving at his office door he ordered it to open, finding to his luck that had there been any order to prevent his access it must have been revoked already, as it slid open and let him in.

He didn’t bother to call for the light. He once again moved with purpose, now towards his desk. Then his smile almost seemed to double as he pulled open the top left hand drawer, to find the item he was looking for was exactly where he’d left it.

Not even realising he was doing it, Rada actually found himself singing a very old song he’d recently heard when he was on Earth, as he examined the item in his hands.

“I see trees of green…Red roses too. I see them bloom, for me and you...”

He chuckled slightly to himself, thinking about how unlike him singing this song was. He knew his voice wasn’t nearly deep enough to do it justice but he really didn’t care. Being back here was so intoxicating it was like being drunk, except without the inevitable fear that you’d be called upon to repair the shields in a crucial moment and end up being sick on them instead.

The item in his hands was really just a small trinket and probably wouldn’t mean a thing to most. In fact for an unfortunate amount of time it didn’t mean a thing to him. It was just an utterly insignificant golden coloured metal ball whose top was similar to a bottle cap. It was used as part of a join in many of the areas when power conduits need to be redirected and there were probably hundreds if not thousand on board the ship exactly like it.

This one however was special. Tam had given him this one. One day they spent together the boy had discovered it lying around on the deck, and he’d decided that it looked like a really small trophy. He then proceeded to hand it to Rada, explaining that it was a trophy for the best day ever.

Since then, though Tam probably didn’t even know this, Rada had taken to keeping it in his quarter by his bed. Only when he came across it after losing his memories he forgot what it meant, and so he brought it Engineering intending to put it to use when it was required. Somehow he never thought to mix it in with all the rest though and now he was very glad he hadn’t.

Slipping it into his coat pocket, he was about to leave when he noticed a single PADD that had been placed on the desk in his absence. Figuring he should just take a look to make sure there’s nothing here that can’t be handled later, he eased himself back into his chair.

Then he moved about, finding the most comfortable position, and that position was exactly where it’d always been.

Leaning backwards, again the emotion flooded his face.

He had no idea how much he’d missed this chair.

Maybe it was just how he was feeling today, but it really did feel like one of the most comfortable chairs in all the worlds. It was the type of chair that was so comfortable that you felt like it deserved a chair of its own, then genuinely considered trying to sit it on top of one, before you realised that if someone walked in they may conclude you were some sort of megalomaniacal madman, attempting to assert your superiority with a flimsy self-made double throne. Worst of all, given it would have probably quickly fallen over that would likely have reflected badly on his engineering abilities, and not just his general intentions regarding galactic conquest.

Content to not conquer anyone right now, Rada picked up the PADD and began to read what id displayed. As he slowly took in the reports of the damage the Sera had undergone in his absence, his eyes widened in concern.

It was that sort of fear born of an impossible hypothesis that dug into your very core with bladed manifestations of what almost could have been. This ship had undergone such damage and been at such risk that he was certain if only he’d been there; were it just for that one small turn of fate, then he’d have beamed up to discover everyone was dead, and himself as well.

He was very relieved that hadn’t happened. Forgetting about everyone else, just coming across your own corpse really had a rather disconcerting quality to it, and it could be just generally disappointing as well. Luckily Rada was very much alive today and he truly appreciated that fact.

Well, he had to appreciate it now. A wise man had once told him you could tell the people who left appreciating life until after they were dead because they’re the ones in the coffins complaining.

Drawing in a deep breath, Rada simply considered how amazing his life really was. He was so happy he didn’t even think about the risk of finding himself in a coffin while he was still alive, though he had thought of it often before.

Of course, he would never accuse a member of the medical profession of acting improperly, but the fact did remain that when you were misdiagnosed as dead they tended to beam you into space or shoot you into a star, which does rather make the misdiagnosis part a little moot. Yet historically speaking misdiagnosing someone as alive and sending them back on duty had almost never had the equivalent effect. Mostly you just got a reputation for being lazy.

It wasn’t that Rada thought it was a particularly likely this would happen to him. Most of the ways he feared he would die didn’t involve a whole lot of chance for misdiagnosis, unless amputation from the neck up could be mistaken for a really bad head cold. Even still, unless and until his head had actually been cut off, he’d rather his doctor err on the side of caution.

Though he’d like to think otherwise, he had to admit that assuming he were buried alive then he probably would be one of the ones complaining. However assuming he were dead, then he was confident that they wouldn’t hear a peep out of him. When it came to appreciating life he certainly didn’t plan on waiting.

For as comfortable as this chair was, and it really was so comfortable that he swore he could never let Commander Reece sit in it lest it go the way of Kellyn’s Kava rock candy, there was some place that he’d much rather be.

Just once more while he was still here he smiled and let out a little laugh, looking around and remembering this really was his life.

Quickly placing the PADD back down on his desk, and patting his pocket to confirm the required item was still contained there, Rada rose from his chair.

Then just softly as he walked, he once again continued to sing.

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…”

Lt. Commander Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1125: Constant Beauty

by Rada Dengar
101109.2200
After Nothing Left Unsaid

-=O’Sullivan Residence: County Cork, Ireland, Earth=-


It was quiet in County Cork tonight, save only for the crackling beat of the flame that danced before his eyes. It was not a sad sort of a quiet that seemed to have overcome the rest of the world, but merely a subdued one. There were faint murmurs of personal conversation that travelled far on the stillness of the air. Every so often you could even hear a little laughter, which somehow always achieved a greater volume than the joke that had inspired it. It wasn’t really loud laughter though.

This was the type of night where those willing and able to listen could really hear how Mother Nature felt. Tonight, she was in a quiet mood too. There was only the odd distant sound of the local animals; Rada lacked the experience to say exactly which ones, but they weren’t the sounds of animals in conflict. They were just all tending to the communicative matters of their daily lives. Rada meanwhile tended the fire.

There really wasn’t much to do with it. A sufficiently large branch at its core ensured it’d burn well into the night, regardless of their involvement. A log had been placed here nearby which he was using as a makeshift seat. To his left and just behind it, he placed a cup of water. To his right a pristinely kept wooden handled rake rested against a nearby wooden stump and every now and then Rada would use it to sweep stray embers into the centre to keep the flame neatly contained.

Throughout the evening many people had and would keep an eye on it and now Rada took his turn. It gave him an excuse to be alone, to just appreciate the moment, after others had earlier left the fire for more comfortable positions to be seated while they dined.

It wasn’t that he wanted to be alone because he was sad. It was true that he was worried about Kellyn but that was an area in which he knew he’d just have to wait. It was just that for so long his mind had been clouded and muddied by mistakes in his memories; which he knew he had to sort through still, that now it was finally as clear as the sweetly natural air around them he had a lot of thinking to catch up on.

Perhaps he should have been pondering the great mysteries of existence, or his place in the vast galaxy. Tonight however he found himself simply admiring the continued waltz of the flame.

At first, he didn’t even notice the footsteps on the soft ground of the approaching Keiran O’Sullivan, here to check that everything was alright. When he finally arrived though, Rada did not startle. Here merely turned his head to look upward to speak, revealing an understated but content smile.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it sir?”

“The countryside, yeah?” Keiran asked, questioning what Rada had meant.

“The land is beautiful,” Rada acknowledged. “However I was referring to the flame.”

“’Tis warm,” Keiran mused as he lowered himself onto the log next to Rada. “Will be very welcome as the air begins ta cool down. Though I get the feelin’ that’s not what ya meant.”

Rada shook his head, still just smiling almost in awe of what he was seeing.

“It’s beautiful because it’s constant, Commander. I’m so very far away from where my life began. I look to the ground here and it is not the grass that as a child I felt between my toes. I look up at the sky and through the clouds, but those are not my stars. However no matter who you are or how far you’ve come, given the right atmosphere and some good wood, fires always burn the same.”

Keiran studied Rada, wondering where he was going with this.

Rada at the same time found himself truly taking in every aspect of the fire. The gentle crackling of the wood, those eternal elegant games of the light; the same flame belonged to all who saw her. He didn’t know how anyone, including himself in the past, could fail to observe just how beautiful that was.

“I know I miss this land when I’m away,” Keiran thought, though it was less a matter of grass and soil and more of the less tangible things that he could find here. “Are you wantin’ to stand on Angosian soil again?”

Rada thought about the possibility for a moment.

“No, sir,” Rada answered truthfully. “I’m just remembering it.”

Angosia III may have had his grass and his stars, but it was not his home to miss anymore. His home was up in orbit, wherever Wren and Tam may at this moment have been. So his homeworld, with all its wonders and follies, was an experience not so much missed as it was simply recalled.

“I recall that things were simpler there.”

Keiran was a man who could appreciate many of the good things in life being no more complicated than they needed to be and he nodded that he understood.

“Sometimes simplicity can be something ya miss on its own.”

The older he got, the more Keiran realised that statement was true.

“Yes, but not always. I remember something one of my lecturers at the academy once asked us. He was a small man but one with a booming voice and a very large presence in a room. It was late in the day and a lot of people’s minds had started to drift away the lecture. Realising this, he stopped and asked us a question to try to wake us up. He asked us if we knew what you got when you started taking apart a warp core. First you strip away the casings, the regulators and the controls. Then you tear out the housing for the dilithium crystals and drain the antimatter away…” Rada smiled a little and turned to Keiran again. “Do you know what you get at the end?”

Keiran thought about the remaining components for a moment then shook his head that he didn’t.

“Stranded,” Rada answered with a slight further curl of his lips.

Keiran laughed softly, more from surprise than anything else. He couldn’t recall Rada ever telling a joke with him before.

“I know you should never trade away the things that really make the difference in life for simplicity,” Rada explained.

“A wise way ta think about it,” Keiran added.

Rada neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement. He didn’t consider himself wise, but it was something to aspire to. He knew that he worried a bit too much more than a lot too much. In fact to be honest he had considered three times in the last two minutes the possibility that he’d be blamed if a stray ember somehow travelled the impossible distance and defied all laws of thermodynamics to burn down the Captain’s house. It was however a serious concern as unless this bizarre hypothetical perversion of natural laws somehow followed to physical force and just general fighting ability then in a conflict with Keiran O’Sullivan he was at a bit of a disadvantage.

He also knew he probably shouldn’t need to hide his personality to survive when he was in trouble, and that even if he did then requiring a toffee or indeed any other small treat was probably not the most adult way to go about it. Even still as he thought about it, after he’d lost and regained his memories, he liked himself better than he used to before it.

“I feel I should thank you, sir,” Rada said, picking up his drink from beside him, which had warmed quite a bit itself, and drinking a few mouthfuls to try to restore some of the liquids the fire was taking out of him.

“Thank me fer what, lad?” Keiran asked curiously.

“On Sibalt,” Rada started quietly, for the first time the smile really leaving his face completely. “We were sitting by a fire like this and you tried to help me. I couldn’t see it for what it was at the time, or to understand how hard it must have been. Now I do though.” Rada sighed, though it wasn’t really a sad sigh. “I think there’ll be a lot of people in this crew I owe thanks to.”

With everything he’d been through before and since, Keiran was surprised that Rada would even remember let alone think of that conversation they’d had.

“Don’t worry about thanks, yeah?” Keiran suggested, though he appreciated that Rada was not the type to easily forget his gratitude. “Ev’ra’one will just be glad ta see you back at yer post.”

“I have to worry about it, sir,” Rada answered, the smile returning to his voice if not his face. “I haven’t worried nearly enough recently.”

Keiran ran over the last sentence in his mind, wondering just how he should take it.

“What d’ya mean by that?”

“It’s just something I’ve realised recently, sir. I can’t speak for everyone but worrying; really worrying about something going wrong, is what I do when I’m happy.”

Keiran thought about the statement and first it seemed a little strange and a little sad, until he really thought about it again.

“I think I know what yer sayin’. ‘Tis like havin’ a child. One of the happiest experiences of your life but ya never again fall asleep without wantin’ ta be sure they’re alright.”

Rada could certainly relate to that. It was a curious and beautifully natural thing how even having seen that Tam was absolutely fine before he ever heard the news that anything had happened while he was gone, he still worried for him in retrospect.

“It’s sort of like falling in love,” Rada thought aloud, an expression halfway between sadness and amusement crossing his face. He remembered all too recently thinking of the Captain and Keiran and wishing he had what they did. All along it’d been right there just waiting for him to remember it.

“A lot like it,” Keiran agreed, his own concern for his wife surfacing now. He and Rada were very different people, as were Liis and Wren, but the effect love had was something they could all agree on. “Fire’s not the only thing that’s the same no matter how far y’ve come.”

Rada finished off the contents of his drink and put the cup down again where it’d been.

“Nor is it the only thing that is beautiful,” Rada acknowledged, thinking that for all that he still saw in the flame he was spending far too much time appreciating one of the relatively paler beauties in existence. He turned again to look towards Keiran. “Would you mind, sir, if I left to go back to the ship a little early?”

“Of course not, lad. Is there somethin’ wrong?”

“No, sir,” Rada answered, picking up the cup again and beginning to stand. “There are just some people up there waiting for me.”

Lt. Commander Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1124: Nothing Left Unsaid

by William Lindsay and -=/\=- Zanh Liis
Soundtrack: So I've Been Told by Ed Harcourt
Stardate: 101111.20
Concurrent With I Do Declare
 
 
-=Starfleet Medical, Behavioral Sciences Wing: Earth=-

 
To say she stepped forward with trepidation would have been the understatement of the millennium.

As a cold wind rushed and whistled its way through the empty courtyard, she found her hands shaking within the pockets of her jacket. No matter how deeply she dug them in, they refused to take on any warmth.

She came this time to Starfleet Medical not as a patient but as a visitor and yet as her feet dragged along the cobblestone path, she swore she felt little difference. No matter the role she was meant to play, the air itself around her still felt haunted. She heard no other footfalls, nor even traffic in the distance. Even the distant trees seemed to barely move with the wind, as if to say that the chill in the air as it skimmed across the nearby water feature was felt by her alone.

She had intentionally come here alone. She had no idea how she was going to react to actually being in this particular location, and she didn’t want anyone near and dear to her to be around to see just how uncertain she was that she could go through with this.

She only felt any semblance of courage stepping forward because she knew that even after one more step, as long as she was still here alone, she could register any sort of reaction that her emotions may demand of her without fear anyone she knew would see and take note of it.
 
If one step turned to ten, now nine, that’s when everything would change.

The doors would activate, sensing her approach.
 
She’d be hit first by the smell, before the sights this place held even began to register.
 
It was something that they were supposed to have overcome by this point in humanoid evolution, she thought, but they had woefully and epically failed.
 
Perhaps they could travel at speeds that to previous incarnations of their kinds would have been impossible and seemed too much to even dream of. Certainly they could initiate first contact with species the universe over, and in most cases make at least a peaceful exchange of hellos and how do you dos.
 
They could not, it seemed, stop a medical building from carrying that same basic stench.
 
Perhaps it was the lingering smell of uneaten food. More likely, it was the fact that they were still also working on ways to force those who were lost inside the prisons of their own minds into a sonic shower on a daily basis. 
Disinfectants had been long since done away with. They were replaced by powerful energy sweeps, capable of killing all damaging bacteria that may come in along with visitors and staff alike. Forcing them to step through a decontamination scanner before they were even allowed into the wards made doubly sure. Still somehow, against all odds the place still had the damned familiar medicinal smell that Liis remembered only all too well.
 
More than that, she remembered the last intangible component to the smell of this place- a thing which no one could ever possibly rid it of.
 
It was fear, and that odor bled from the soul of every person kept here in one way or another, in every tear, every drop of sweat and every blood cell within their bodies. It permeated the patients, the people who were to care for them, and most of all those who came to this place not knowing what to expect when they found the person that they were going to see.
 
For all her experience here, real and then forced into her imagination by way of deception that felt every bit as true, Liis didn’t know what to expect. When she saw the empty, broken man she’d come to see, she didn’t even know how she’d feel.
 
She also didn’t know why she was doing this, and that was the truth. She told herself it was that it was her report and request that had put him here instead of prison and she had to come here to justify to herself why that was. She just had to see that in any singular, small way at all that he was better off here than there. She didn’t know what the hell she was going to do if she couldn’t find it.
 
As she passed step five, she felt a heavy burden upon her shoulders. She realized that he might have somehow regained his senses by this point and been asking to go home. She had to stop herself from forgetting that the last time she’d seen him he’d been screaming to the point of exhausting his voice completely. Shortly before that, he had turned his own weapon upon himself and she’d only just been able to prevent him taking permanent and decisive action to finally end his long suffering.
 
It was only now, as she stood upon the last step of concrete she could occupy before those sensors would kick in and at least the exterior doors of the place opened wide to swallow her up, that she really rethought that decision. Perhaps the most merciful thing she could have done for Brody would have been to let him.

She drew a deep steadying breath into shallow lungs.

She knew she had to see him. She had to know what was still there to see.

So as much as her entire body seemed to fight against her and as her hands still shook at her side, she forced her boot to strike the ground again.

Just as expected, the doors slid open. Just as predicted, the smell enveloped her like a wave that flooded outward.

Now she knew there was no going back and her steps pulled her forwards, until without her knowledge and certainly not with her consent that same door snapped shut behind her.

She was really back here and the beckoning silence of the outer world, was overpowered by the lonely cacophony of doctors deep in discussion as they walked, and the familiar repetitive beeping of some far off life sustaining machinery.

She drew in another balancing breath. Still, she felt she was suffocating. 

Surveying the area, decorated in typical Federation d├ęcor with potted plants that seemed to struggle to survive here, Liis immediately spotted a young woman, a girl really, at the mercy of a line. There was only one reception area and she was the only available member of staff; expected to have an answer for every query and a solution to every complaint.

Seeing no alternative, Liis moved to take her place at the end of that line that was as least a dozen people long. She hated the idea of having to wait any longer here than the minimum time possible.

Yet she couldn’t ignore that she was here. She couldn’t forget the sounds. She couldn’t ignore the smell. So she just made herself concentrate on the painting of a field of flowers positioned on the opposite wall, staring into it, trying her best to distract her mind from the reality of where she was again. She promised herself that as soon as she finished here the welcoming landscape of Cork would surround her, all sights and sounds and fragrances she'd welcome, because they represented home. Most of all she promised herself that a cold empty metal bed did not await her this night, but that Keiran's strong, loving arms would embrace her as she fell asleep instead.

It was not so easy to believe though; it never was, and as the line moved slowly forward she just found herself drifting back to having been here before.

"Liis."

She jumped inside, and outside as well for all she knew, when she heard a voice call her name. Yet as deep as she was in her thoughts and her memories she didn’t immediately place it.

"Zanh Liis." She turned towards it to see who’d spoken, and she found it was none other than William Lindsay.

"William?" she responded, her mind returning again to the present, though her thoughts still taking a few seconds to truly clear. "What are you doing here?"

"Was about to ask you the same question," Will answered, and there was something very different, something sterner, in his tone than she was used to hearing.

Liis actually paused for a moment as if so unsure about the answer to that question that she didn’t know what to say.

"Brody?" Will asked, getting his answer from her expression without her needing to speak it. "Are ya sure you want to do that?"

Liis didn’t want to admit to her uncertainty, so instead she changed the subject.

"You still haven’t answered my question."
 
"Before I do, there's somethin' you need to know. Something I want to be the one ta tell ya mehself."
 
Liis folded her arms, stepping forward only at the urging of the person behind her in line as he impatiently cleared his throat to tell her the line had moved. "Oh?"
 
"He's back in the Director's chair."
 
Liis' eyes widened. There was no need to elaborate on who 'he' was. "Good behavior?"
 
"If you can believe it. Kinda makes ya wonder what constitutes bad to these people, doesn't it?"
 
Liis showed no reaction. "So what of you then? Seeing him back there finally drive you over the edge?" She made a hollow attempt at humor, again pressing him in her way for the reason he was in this location.

"Am scheduled to make my next jump tomorrow mornin’," Will explained, none of the usual enthusiasm in his tone for the chance of adventure. "They wanted me ta answer some questions before I went."

"A psych eval?"

"No, it wasn’t," Will said, shaking his head with a look of frustration entering his features at what had just happened. "Was supposed to be. Then all they wanted was ta ask me about what happened on the Poseidon. They wanted meh opinion on the actions of the Sera’s officers."

"What did you tell them?"

"Not what they wanted me to," Will answered, knowing Liis knew both him and Temporal Investigation’s love of scapegoats well enough to know what he meant.

"So then you’re definitely leaving tomorrow morning?"

"Aye."

"Without saying goodbye?"

Will looked exasperated, they both knew whom they were talking about him saying goodbye to.

"He won’t listen no matter what I say," Will replied softly; clear fatigue in his words. "What d’ya expect me ta do?"
 
"I expect you to do what Keiran would do in your place. I expect you to say something whether you think he'll listen or not. I expect you to follow that unwritten code that says that Jumpers never leave anything unsaid."
 
Will ran a hand back through his hair and shifted his weight from foot to foot. "Is not so simple this time." His blue eyes met hers again as he added, "Keiran O'Sullivan will forgive a man an'a'thin where his own trouble is concerned. But when it comes ta you..." he shrugged his shoulders. "Nothin's easy for Keiran where you're concerned."
 
"Has it ever been?"
 
He looked away, knowing she'd read him too well to accept a lie as answer.

"We're holding an informal get together in Cork tonight, to reunite the command crew." Liis said. "I'm asking you, Will. As a favor to me." She reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing once. It was only then that he realized she was shaking. "Don't leave without at least looking him in the eyes once. If you do, we may all come to regret it. Don't,"  her eyes searched his for any sign she was getting through. "Don't do that to him. Don't do it to yourself, and don't do it to me."
 
Will’s lips parted as if to respond, but no words came out. Then before he could find them they were interrupted.

"Can I help you?" The girl tending the line asked at last, and Will stepped aside as Liis approached the desk. 
 
"Captain Zanh Liis, USS Serendipity." Liis said, "I'm here to see Tucker Brody."
 
The woman scanned the database before her and frowned. "I'm sorry, Captain, but Dr. Brody is not allowed to have visitors."
 
Liis' shoulders sank. "By order of?"
 
"Admiral Jonas Vox."
 
Liis’ eyes narrowed as she and Will exchanged a glance. "I'd like to speak to the attending physician on call."
 
"Sir…"
 
"I'd like to inform him that I have clearance from Admiral Gemini Lassiter, and that I will not be leaving until I have seen Dr. Brody. So we can spend all day playing a rousing round of 'whose Admiral has final say' or you can stop wasting all of our time and introduce me to Dr. Brody's attending physician so that I can get in, get out, and we can all get on with our lives."
 
Will noticed that Liis' diplomatic skills- which were iffy at best under even the most simple of circumstances, seemed stretched to the extreme point of their limits now. The girl sighed, and with the grumbling of the ever-lengthening line behind the Bajoran, she relented.
 
She pressed a few buttons on the panel before her and motioned for Zanh to step aside. "The Attending will be with you momentarily, Captain. If you would be so kind as to wait over there."
 
"Thank you." Liis stepped aside, and Will followed, shaking his head.
 
"Liis are you sure that-"
 
"No."
 
He nodded and took a step toward the exit, knowing it was time to get out of her way and let her do what she felt she must. "Cork. Tonight."
 
"Yeah."
 
"At the house, you say?" 
 
"I didn't, but yeah."
 
Will gave her a thoughtful expression and then, in an instant he was gone.
 
"See you there," she whispered, and then she spun as a door behind her opened and a familiar voice spoke her name.
 
"Hello, Liis. Been a long time."
 
The very last of the color drained away from Liis' cheeks. She instantly recognized this man- he had been one of her doctors here in the past, along with Brody. He was not in that role any longer, though, so she took the liberty of addressing him more informally to remind him that as officers they were on equal footing now. "Ellis. I've come to look in on Tucker and I'm not leaving until I do." She pulled a data chip from the interior breast pocket of her leather jacket and held it out to him. "Authorization, signed by Gem Lassiter. You remember Gem. You really don't want to interrupt her busy day to tell her that you've turned me away."
 
"Why would I turn you away?" The doctor said, his eyes turning venomous as he stepped closer. "You're the one who put him here. It's only right you should see what you've done." He moved back to the door he'd emerged from, and placed his hand against the panel beside it to unlock it. It opened, and Liis' heart leaped into her throat as she realized where she was really about to go.
 
"Come on." Dr. Ellis Moore said, leading the way. "You want to see? Fine. Follow me. I'll show you what's left of Tucker Brody."
 
Captain William Lindsay
Temporal Investigations Agent

and

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

1123: I Do Declare

by TC Blane and Dabin Reece
101109.2100
After Like a Bucket of Cold Water

-=Crew Quarters, USS Serendipity=-


“You are an absolute peach, you know that right?” Dabin said, as he plopped Sophie down on the floor of Fleur’s quarters.

“Tell me something I do not already know.” Fleur answered.

Sophie immediately clamored for the nearest toy, in this case a small set of wooden blocks with hand carved Bajoran letters on them that Jariel had had replicated for Tress to play with. Sophie cheerfully began to stack them up into a small tower.

“Easy to entertain this one.” Dabin remarked, as any worries he had about leaving Sophie with the sitter for the evening melted away.

“Like her dad,” Fleur muttered.

February knelt down and kissed Sophie on the top of the head. The girl mumbled in response and kept right on stacking her blocks.

“Thanks so much Fleur, we’ll try not to be too late,” Bru said.

Fleur’s features softened a bit into a smile, with a twinkle in her eyes as she watched Sophie play, and Tress approach to see what her little friend was up to. “Is all right, really. Take your time.”

“We should go Dabin, Commander O’Sullivan will have dinner ready soon.”

“Right!” The couple stepped out into the corridor, and proceeded in the direction of their next destination. As soon as the doors snapped shut, Dabin remarked to February, “Has it always been this easy to be a parent?”

“No,” February chucked to herself. “You know that as well as I do.”

“But, like, it doesn’t get more complicated than this right? We’ll always be able to just give her some blocks, and know that is all she needs to keep herself content and occupied, right?” Dabin asked hopefully.

February shot him an Are you kidding? glance.

“Are you sure this shirt goes with jeans?” Dabin asked, changing the subject and tugging uncomfortably at the collar of the polo shirt he had chosen to wear. He knew bonfire or not, it gets nippy in Ireland, no matter what day of the year it is, so the t-shirts stayed in the closet.

“You look fine. You’re just not used to wearing a shirt with a collar.”

Dabin continued to fiddle with his collar and sleeves, until they reached their next destination. He pressed the door chime, and waited a moment for a response. He was about to press it again, when the door slid open. Instead of looking directly into the eyes of Salvek or Lair Kellyn, he found himself looking down, though not nearly as far as he used to, into the eyes of Lair Arie.

“Hi Arie! How are you!” Dabin said, excited to see the girl who was, truthfully, one of his best friends.

“I am well, Commander Reece?”

Dabin furrowed his brow, and looked at February, who just frowned back.

“Commander Reece? People only call me that when they are mad at me.” Dabin paused, then added, “You aren’t mad at me, are you?”

“Anger is illogical. I have no need of such hindrances anymore.”

“O….. kay. Well, I just wanted to see if your mom or dad were home, I thought we could walk them to the transporter room.”

“Mother and father have already departed for the planet’s surface.”

“Are feeling all right, Arie?” February asked. Worry bounced back and forth between Bru and Dabin, not so much in words but rather in emotions.

“I am well.” Arie replied flatly, offering no other information.

“So, what happened to Raff? That’s what you used to call me.” Dabin asked, now wondering what he had been thinking when he commented just moments ago about how easy parenting was.

“A name I assigned to you because of your resemblance to the giraffe, a long necked spotted mammal native to Earth’s African continent. I was simply too young to realize that you were in fact a native of Trill. To continue to refer to you by a name I know to be factually inaccurate is not logical.”

“But I liked that name,” Dabin said, almost pleading. February could feel his heart breaking.

“I am sorry.” Arie said, robotically.

February stepped up to speak, “We left Sophie with Fleur, Tress and Pace for the evening. I’m sure Fleur could use a hand and Sophie and Tress would love to play.”

“I would prefer to meditate.” There was a moment of awkward silence, as everyone waited for someone else to speak. Arie finally added, “Is there anything more?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Reece said.

“Then, good day.” Arie took one step back, and the doors hissed shut.

Dabin turned towards his wife and shrugged. “Transporter room it is then.”

-=O’Sullivan residence, County Cork, Ireland=-

The couple materialized a safe distance form the bonfire. Before they even turned to walk towards it, the voice of Keiran bellowed out that the food was ready.

Dabin ushered Bru in the direction of the table. Keiran had created quite and impressive array of choices. His appetite had vanished after speaking with Arie, but the sheer smell of this place began to reawaken his empty stomach.

“Help ’rself Dabin, Ms. Grace. I went into town and visited my old friend Timmy today. I promise ya, ya won’t find fresher cuts than these.”

“Just the one in my heart,” Dabin said softly.

“Come again?” Keiran asked, not quite sure what he had just heard.

“Nothing!” Dabin smiled. “It’s beautiful, thanks for going to the trouble.”

Keiran was far too sharp to believe it, but he let the matter drop for now. “When ever’a’one has their plate, we’ll begin.”

"Wait, aren't we missing somebody? Tall? Brunette? Wrinkled nose and four pips?"

"As I've already said," Keiran said, adding softly under his breath, "maybe I should put up a sign..." he looked up, pasting on a smile again to try to hide his own worry over the uncharacteristic lateness of his wife to a gathering of her crew. "The Captain has been detained and gave us her blessing to start without her."

"Swell. I'm starving. Thirsty too."

"We have an array of beverages out, Reece, or I can always pop in and replicate something for you..."

"A Slurpee, perhaps?" A voice interrupted from behind them. Dabin gulped. February cringed.

*Great, just fine.* Bru thought to Dabin with frustration. *Somebody told him about the Declaration...* She tried to force her lips up into a smile and turned toward the man she'd dreaded having to try to explain this situation to: none other than Commander TC Blane himself.

"You're still hurt," Bru frowned suddenly, surveying TC's arm as it was secured to his chest with a sling. He'd nearly refused to wear it, but the LMH had said it was mandatory if he wanted to return to duty and since the Captain was still unavailable and Salvek had needed to see to some pressing family matters upon his reunion with his wife and daughter, TC had been 'it'.

"Just a toasted wing. I'll be back to normal in no time." TC said, shrugging. "But as sweet as you are, February Grace, I refuse to let you change the subject so easily." TC turned toward Dabin, who suddenly felt as if he was wilting beneath the heat of the Commander's stare. "What did you do to it?"

“Huh, well.” Dabin scratched the back of his head with one hand as he held his plate with the other. “Hey! I think the fire is going out! Maybe I should get some wood.

Blane looked over his shoulder at the roaring bonfire, which flames extended a good three meters off the ground. He then looked back at Reece.

“Not even close, eh?” Dabin asked.

“Nope.” Blane said. “Spill it.”

“I already did spill it. That’s the problem. What’s the big deal with this Declaration thingie anyway?”

TC shook his head. “I find it really depressing that such a historic document has withstood numerous world wars including near nuclear holocaust only to be nearly destroyed by you and a slurpee.” TC shook his head. “What is a Slurpee anyway?”

Dabin smiled and was about to reply but TC held up his hand cutting him off. “It doesn’t matter.”

“You are about to find out the significance of the Declaration of Independence. You see, as acting captain, I’ve had the pleasure of having a stimulating conversation with an Admiral Hancock from Starfleet Command today.” TC sat down next to Dabin. “Do you know Admiral Hancock?”

“No I don’t, but that name sounds familiar.”

“Oh, well he is from Starfleet’s Federation Affairs division. You know, the guys who keep all of the worlds of the federation all touchy feely with Starfleet. They keep the peace when a Starfleet ensign starts a bar room brawl on Bajor, you know, stuff like that.”

He paused to make sure Dabin was listening. “Well it seems that even though you talked your way out of incarceration over this, the head curator of the Smithsonian is, understandably, still quite…” TC paused again looking for a socially acceptable word. “…displeased by the ordeal. In fact he is screaming that he would like to add a one Dabin Reece to the extinct animals display.”

TC sighed and rubbed his eyes. “For reasons beyond my own comprehension I informed the Admiral that it was not Dabin season and I assured him that I would personally come up with a suitable reprimand to fit the situation. At first I thought about having you pull custodian duty at the museum, but I figured they would never allow you back in. Then I thought there might be some sort of aid you could render in the restoration of the Declaration, but I figured they would once again not allow you any where near the museum.”

Blane took a swing of ale and continued.

“But I think I’ve come up with one for you. Since you do not seem to understand the significance of the document, I think you should figure it out. I want a dissertation on the Earth’s Declaration of Independence and how it relates to current political and social view of the Federation.” TC smiled. “And I want it in seven days.”

Dabin’s mouth hung open. “You want me to write a book report? I’m older then you, pointy, and the Captain put together!”

TC stood up and straightened the pull over sweater he was wearing. “Oh, and make it good because I am going to have a history expert grade it. The grade that you get will determine if any further discipline will be required.”

Dabin sighed. “Who’s going to grade it?”

TC smiled evilly. “Commander Briggs.”

“Can’t we just go the restoration route? I’m a scientist, I can separate glucose from cellulose!” Bru tried not to grin as Dabin pleaded.

“But then you won’t learn anything will you? Besides I don’t think letting you anywhere near that document is a very good idea. Compared to some of the accidents you’ve cause we were lucky to get off for the price of a slurpee.” Blane moved to step away, but Reece caught him.

“Wait! How long does this report have to be?”

“At least 10,000 words, and yes it has to be in Federation standard. I know the Trill language is much more wordy so no cheating and using it to get to 10,000 quicker. And I’ve taken the liberty of sending a message to the crew informing them that they are not to help you.”

Dabin snarled and stomped his foot, Damn Blane, always one step ahead.

“I’m always one step ahead of you Reece, remember that.”

“I’ll be back in a bit Dabin,” February turned to leave. He gave her hand a quick squeeze as she headed off.

“All right, all right, I’ll write your report on the thingie that means stuff.” Dabin lowered his voice, “So I’ve only had time to scan a few reports. What happened to you all out there?”

TC shrugged. “The same thing that always happens to us. Bad guys come seeking revenge, try to take over the ship, find out that we won’t cooperate, someone of the crew displays some incredible ingenuity and we beat aforementioned bad guys.” He smiled. “Just another day in the saga that is the USS Serendipity.”

He patted Dabin on the shoulder. “Enjoy the meal.”

“What about Liisy?” Dabin asked, his voice even softer now so that O’Sullivan would not hear.

“You know the Captain. Her feelings are between her and whoever she chooses to share them with. Suffice it to say this mission took a greater toll on some than others.”

TC slapped Reece on the shoulder, eliciting an “Ow!”, then made his way over to the food table where O’Sullivan was hovering around watching his guests enjoy the meal that was spread out for them. TC picked up a plate and paused as he thought about what he wanted.

“Admiral Hancock?” Keiran asked quietly with a slight smile on his face.

TC looked back at the big man with a thin smile. “Yea.” He then turned his attention back to the food. “Nice spread, how are the sweet potatoes?”

*********************************************
Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

and

Commander Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012