1135: All There Is

by Rada Dengar and Lair Kellyn
After A Proposition, Part Two

-=Research and Development Laboratory of Lair Kellyn, USS Serendipity=-

Kellyn softly growled in frustration as she eyed the offending door. The sound of its chime more than annoyed her today.

It aggravated her to the point where she was ready to throw something big and heavy at the control pad with great velocity and glee and smash it to bits, in hopes of at least delaying the impending progress of any visitor who would dare to try to shine a single ray of light down onto her darkened doorstep today.

She just wanted to be left alone. She couldn’t simply lock it though, because the people who’d been visiting were too damned smart and too concerned about her tendency to, well, nearly die on more than one occasion to ignore the fact she wasn’t answering.

That intelligence would allow them to know how to override the lock in about three seconds flat no matter the complication to the passcode she set for it, and failing that, their concern would enable them to justify taking it to the next step. They knew how to take a hydrospanner and strip the whole works down to obedient strands of wires in about half a second more if required.

As the offending chime continued its grating call she eyed it coldly, just wondering why she couldn’t be left to deal with this herself. Reece had been by- supposedly to tell her that getting the window replaced between their labs, which had been one of the things broken in the melee that had taken place aboard ship during their last trip, was his top priority. Then, he said, he needed to get more Christmas lights.

Yet the sadness beneath his smile had told her why he'd really come. However neither of them could find the words to begin to discuss it. Eventually, when the realisation that it wasn’t yet the time to speak of it had struck, he'd kissed her on the top of the head and then he’d gone off to spend some time with his wife and baby. Finally he’d left her alone.

She had however barely had a chance to sulk before Rada Dengar had arrived to interrupt her solitude again. Being the genius that he was, he even arrived bearing an extra tall Mocha Latte, double chocolate with whipped cream and extra sprinkles, too, damn him. He'd further added a shortbread cookie, one of her few weaknesses from the Afterthought's vast assortment of bakery, though she couldn't possibly have imagined trying to eat.

The effort he’d gone to had very nearly made her smile, but its affect couldn’t last. Quickly the inevitable awkwardness of silence had followed- and he looked at her the same way he had on Earth when she hadn’t wanted to try to tell him what was going on that had her so upset. Rada, being as considerate, gentle and kind as he was smart, didn’t press her for long. He simply left her with her coffee and the thought that she knew where to find him when she was ready to talk.

She’d even tasted that coffee once after he’d left, though she found its warmth made her throat ache even more. Even the whipped cream could only taste bitter on her lips despite its inherent sweetness.

She was not a happy woman today.

It wasn’t that she didn’t understand exactly why Jariel was leaving- she did. She was even happy for him and Fleur, truly, that they’d take Pace and Tress to Earth, take up residence in the comfortable flat above Fleur’s bakery there and live a normal, sensible life for the first time ever. He seemed to finally have found some sense of peace, and she couldn’t have been happier for him. She just wasn’t sure exactly who she could even attempt to talk to now about Arie’s new issues with her Bajoran heritage if not the Vedek.

He knew Arie better than most other people. Though she knew he’d still be available to talk any time over subspace, she had hoped maybe some time in the arboretum gardening with Jariel would have cracked open, just in the slightest amount, the barricades that Arie had continually refused to let down for anyone else. Even Salvek wasn’t being allowed to see through them.

It was a hard enough time already and all day she’d gotten no reprieve. When Jamie Halliday had appeared mere minutes after Rada had left, that was when Kellyn had just about lost it. She wouldn’t have admitted that she did rather like the kid, especially after he nearly drowned to save her sorry ass on Sibalt. But still, today, her Halliday tolerance was lower than usual. The sincere look of concern that crossed his face before the smile he always wore returned and he bid her a ‘better day than she was currently having’ was almost impossible to stand. Now finally she’d been left alone once more and the damned chime was ringing again.

For a moment she picked up one of her heavier wrenches and swung it a couple of times, imagining the glass covering the panel shattering and raining to the deck with a sickeningly pleasing shower of color and sparks…

“Kellyn, please open the door.” Though instantly recognisable, the voice on the other side was unexpected. She hadn’t imagined he’d be back today.

She said nothing, hoping he’d just assume she wasn’t in.

She wondered though how much longer could she put off this conversation. Maybe it was inevitable. However she felt like a woman scheduled for a firing squad and was in no hurry to check that her fate was fixed.

“Kellyn, I’m worried.” Rada called from beyond the door. “I don’t want to short the lock but I will if I have to. We need to talk.”

Kellyn set down the wrench and rubbed her throbbing temples.

“Damn it, Dengar…” she muttered.

“Kellyn, Tam said something I need to ask you about.”

He wasn’t going away; she knew that about him, and it seemed he was likely to figure out what was wrong with or without her help. That was it, she thought. There was no hiding from this any longer.

“Ready, aim…” she muttered as she rose from her desk and approached the door.

As she opened it she found him standing on the other side, head tilted and eyes swirling with concern, as he held out to her a slightly stronger, less fluffy coffee based concoction, figuring by now she’d really need it.

“Before you take this,” he said, “I checked before I brought it and I know that you’re not technically on duty today.”

She was puzzled, until she caught the aroma of the beverage. It had a thick coating of cream over the top but it was no Mocha Latte. This was a much more…’fortified’ blend.

She nodded, and took the cup. As much as she didn’t feel like most companionship right now, the company of this drink seemed particularly appealing. “Thanks.”

Rada cast his eyes to the desk and found, sure enough, she’d let the first one go cold, untouched. Curdled whipped cream dotted with the remains of melted sprinkles foamed at the top of the cup, and before he said or did anything else, he moved over to the desk and retrieved it, returning it to the replicator for disposal before she could absently knock it over and ruin the piles of work that sat beside it.

She took a sip and nodded. She’d tasted this once before, at the behest of a certain Irish chief of security before he’d given up ‘the drink’. “The boys down in Engineering still call this an O’Sullivan Special?”

“They do.” Rada said. “I tried it once, and I had no voice at all for the rest of the day. But knowing you…” his words trailed off. “Well, I just thought.”

She began moving away from him towards the viewport, unconsciously trying to be as much alone as she could with someone else in the room.

“You thought I could use a good stiff drink, and likely you’re right.” She took a sip, slowly savoring the burn as it attempted to ignite something inside a chest that had gone completely cold.

Rada was clearly uncomfortable to be seeing her like this. His eyes shifted away from her reflection in the glass.

"I heard...well, I heard several things but let's start with the simplest," Rada began, clasping hands that didn’t know what they wanted to do, behind his back. "I heard you're not coming to Jariel's going away party."

Kellyn emotionlessly took another sip and again felt the whiskey swirling in its caffeinated catalyst try and fail to ignite her stuttering heart. "That's right."

"Okay. Fact one checked and confirmed..." Rada mumbled softly. He drew in a deep breath and exhaled it slowly before continuing. “I’ve also heard that for days you haven’t been coming into the cafĂ© or going much of anywhere around the ship except here and your quarters.”

"True,” she answered monosyllabically, not thinking to be disturbed by how easy this drink was going down. “But I’m sure that’s not why you’re here twice in a day.”

“No, it isn’t.” Rada sighed, looking up to her and thinking this really wasn’t the type of conversation he should be having with the back of her head. He gradually stepped forward to at least being beside her. “A little while ago Tam came to me, confused. Apparently Arie has been acting strange recently. When he finally asked her about it she said it was just ‘how Vulcans behave’…”

For as much as Kellyn’s emotions were locked down at the moment, and though this was far from new information, she couldn’t help but to cringe as he said the words. She said nothing however, merely taking a further drag, bordering on a gulp, of her drink. As it slid its way down her throat, her eyes became even more focused on the blackness outside of the window.

Rada simply looked at her, sadly wondering how long she would just ignore what he’d said. Knowing her as he did, he fought the urge to sigh: the answer was likely 'forever'. He'd have to prompt her further.

“What do you suppose she meant by that?”

Kellyn drew in what should have been a steadying breath, but her lungs felt like a sieve in which the air just moved straight through. It was clear she wasn’t going to be able to keep this from him any longer.

“I suppose she meant just what she said,” Kellyn answered flatly, never turning to him. “She’s all Vulcan now. Her Bajoran half doesn’t matter to her anymore.”

Kellyn could almost hear the shock filling his face, while he just heard a distinct bitterness to her tone. She was clearly hurt, among everything else she was feeling, and that inevitably came out as anger. It was very much a part of the Bajoran heritage Arie was now denying herself. Unusually for her, though, the fire passed quickly, as streaks of lightning bursting with energy in a humid summer sky. Within an instant her face had simply gone blank once more in a very uncharacteristic way. Even considering the straight, fixed line of her lips, it was the emptiness in her eyes which troubled Rada most.

He couldn’t understand why this would be, but there was something more important for him to say than to question Arie’s reasons.

“I don’t believe that’s true. I happen to know her Bajoran half is very important to her.”

"It is more trouble than it's worth, she says." Kellyn finished the drink in several long pulls and then paced to the replicator, disposing of the beverage's empty shell before finally turning and looking up at Rada. In the full light of the overhead fixtures he could see not only the circles beneath her eyes but the color that betrayed even more bluntly how little she'd been sleeping.

"She's so young, Kellyn...she..."

"She's twelve now, but it's not her age that's the issue. It's the mind her genetics have given her; thoughts racing so far ahead of her emotions. She's brilliant, Rada. So brilliant. She..." Kellyn wrung her hands. "If ignorance is really bliss...this is going to sound like a horrible thing to say but I honestly wish she wasn't so smart."

Rada's shoulder's sank a little and now, he did sigh. "Not horrible. I- I understand why you'd say it."

A moment of silence passed between them, and Rada wondered just what he could say now to help his friend at all.

"How do you parent a child too smart to be happy in an imperfect universe?" Kellyn whispered. "If you can't take away the pain, do you let them disappear into emotionlessness no matter what it may cost them later?" Her voice shuddered as she tried to keep her composure. "She's not entirely Vulcan. Her blood runs hot and cold, and the in-between must be hell...and I just don't know what to do for her."

"Love her." Rada moved in closer to her and whispered his insistence. "Just love her, Kellyn."

"I'm trying." Kellyn dropped her head down, blurry, tear filled eyes only half focusing upon the toes of her boots. "It's not enough."

"It has to be." Rada answered, his eyes telling of a heady mixture of sadness and determination. "It's all there is."

Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project


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