411: Hands Held High

by Zanh Liis and TC Blane
Awhile after Detention

-=Soundtrack: Blaze of Glory by the Alarm,
from Electric Folklore=-

-=USS Alchemy=-

An hour and fifteen minutes had elapsed since Zanh Liis had asked TC Blane to secure the training holosuite for her for 'an hour or so'.

He had been standing outside the doors for almost a quarter hour now, waiting patiently once again in parade stance as he heard three sounds emanating from within.

Phaser fire, shouting (cursing, mostly) and music.

The swearing ceased a moment, and he heard the hoarse voice of his Captain shouting at the computer.

"Increase target speed, fifty percent, decrease target size seventy-five percent!"

Then the weapons fire began again.

*Catchy tune,* TC thought to himself as the chorus repeated, this song having played on a loop at least three times while he'd been waiting for her to emerge.

He stood by for another five minutes and just as he was about to tell the computer to discontinue the program so she wouldn't overexert herself, he noticed that all firing and shouting had ceased, and all he heard was the music.

Afraid now that she may have overdone it and lost consciousness, TC overrode the security lock out on the door and strode inside. "Computer, cease musical playback."

"Belay that."

Zanh Liis was sitting in the corner of the suite on the floor, legs crossed, head against the wall and staring up at the ceiling. "Decrease volume to 20 percent." She did not direct her eyes toward him at all as she greeted him. "Thomas."

"Captain." He watched as she closed her eyes and, still fighting to catch her breath, mouthed the words of the of the song along with the music.

Blane moved to stand near, but she gestured for him to sit beside her instead.

"I only came to see if you were finished here, Captain. The party is starting,"

"Thomas Cassius Blane," Zanh Liis still huffed and puffed as she finally cast her own blue eyes up toward his as he towered over her. "Sit."

Blane lowered himself to the deck, nodding respectfully.

Liis reached over and took up a bottle of water, drinking half down quickly before speaking again. "That offer still good?"

"I don't believe any of my offers to you have ever had expiration dates, Captain," TC answered thoughtfully, as his expression questioned which offer she was speaking of, specifically.

"The one about your ears and mouth being unattached?"

"Of course. You're ready to talk about..." he didn't volunteer anything, not wanting to say anything he shouldn't before she spoke her mind.

"To talk. Yes." Liis finished her water, and then ran the cold bottle over her forehead. She had definitely had a good work out, especially for someone who was not supposed to be working out at all. Her hair was matted down with perspiration, her shirt clung to her, and her face was flushed with color for the first time in a very long time. She closed her eyes again for a moment.

"What happened to me really was bad, wasn't it?"

TC hesitated before speaking. Commander Salvek had been clear about the need to keep the recent events under wraps from the public and also from the captain herself. But she was his captain, his friend. He stared at her for a long moment as he turned over in his mind the best way to proceed.

“Yes.” He finally answered. The sound of his voice carried with the weight of the answer and his expression softened. “Yes it was.”

"O'Sullivan too?"

He nodded.

"I can't talk to Salvek about this. It would be like trying to talk to the wall." She spoke softly and with great frustration. "He's digging his feet in this time. Simply will not discuss it with me. He's gone so far as to encrypt his reports to the Admiral as being for his eyes only, meaning that I can't even read them myself. He went over my head and out-classified me, the green blooded son of a-"

"Don't be too hard on him," Blane said gently. "He is only doing what he thinks is best for his Captain."

"What about what's best for his friend?"

"You know as well as I do that sometimes it is best if you do not know.” TC answered swiftly.

Liis swallowed hard, looked at the floor and uttered three words that would alter the complexion of the situation entirely.

"Thomas, I know."

TC stared at her for a moment. He thought about the events that surrounded the captain and O’Sullivan. She knew, she remembered. As far as he was concerned Commander Salvek's orders were null and void.

“Well then. That changes everything.”

Another span of silence passed as they each adjusted to the gravity of their situation. "What do you want me to tell you?”

"I guess," Liis sighed, suddenly she didn't know. She'd betrayed her vulnerability now- and for a split second she wished she could take the words back.

Still she knew deep down that if there was a man she could trust to know of that vulnerability but not exploit it for any reason, it was the man before her.

"I suppose..." She disappeared into her own thoughts for a long time before looking over at him again; the color draining incrementally from her face with each passing second.

"Jariel saw everything?"

TC nodded.

"How did he react?"

“Better then I would have.” TC admitted honestly. “He watched another man save the woman he loves. All he could do was watch and know that it was happening because of a relationship set in another time. Another reality apart from his own. A time and place that you were not his, but O’Sullivan’s.” TC turned his eyes to the floor. “It was devastating to him although he would never admit it to any of us.”

The thought had devastated Liis as well. If someone had told her before any of this that there had ever been a life during which she was anyone else's, for any length of time, she'd have called them a damned liar. Yet she had seen and experienced what was, she knew it had been real.

It had all been as real as anything she had lived or felt in this time she called 'current'.

"O'Sullivan. He," she couldn't think of the words she needed to say to articulate what she needed most to know. She needed to know if he'd really said all she recalled. If things had really happened the way she remembered.

Though she had been unable to speak or move at the time she had heard, and felt everything that had taken place. She was certain of it. "He suffered, because of me?"

“O’Sullivan did what he needed to do.” TC declared. “He was the only one who could help. Who could save you," he paused. “The big man was torn, has been torn, over what he felt for you and his duty.” He sighed. “I think he made the right decision.”

"Do you know the strangest part of all of this, Thomas?"

He shook his head negatively from side to side.

"I have had to make that decision myself, more times than I can count. Between what I wanted and what was right. For Jariel." Her voice dropped as her eyes took on the vacant stare of one haunted by spectres of the past.

"I did it without thinking. It was natural, instinctive. No matter how badly it hurt. No matter how many times I was on the losing end of the bargain with history." She shook her own head now, running her hand back through her hair before resting her forehead against her upturned palm. "I just never imagined anyone had ever been through the same thing over me. I'm just not worth it."

She meant the words sincerely.

TC shook his head. “If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years is that we are horrible judges of our own character. Let others decide what we are worth.” He offered, with deep sincerity. "I just have one more question for you, Captain. It's bold of me to ask it, but I have my reasons. If you choose not to answer," he paused. "I don't mean to overstep,"

"Out with it, then." After she'd spoken, she wondered how long she'd been adding the last word on to her sentences without thinking. For the first time, she realized who it was she had picked the habit up from.

*Just how Keiran would have said it.*

"Does O'Sullivan know?" Blane asked at last.

"He knows." Liis wasn't ready to talk about their visit to County Cork, so she simply allowed Blane to imagine that she'd told him while they were at TI.

"How did he take it?"

"It was..." she fought for the word. So many came to mind but none properly conveyed the depth of the anguish they'd felt and shared. She ran through the options in her mind...

*Excruciating? Unrelenting? Torturous? God, just feed my heart to the lions already, I can't do this anymore...*

"It was hard, Thomas. On us both." She whispered, "But he swore to me that it helped him, somehow."

TC rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a long time, seemingly engaged in a serious internal debate. Finally, he nodded.

"This being the case, I have something for you. I found it on the desk in my quarters, just after O'Sullivan left the Sera." He glanced at her sadly. "There was a note for me attached to it, and he asked that in the event that at any point you did remember him," TC's words stalled. "It's a letter, Captain. Do you want it?"

*Of course I want it,* Liis thought, even as a singular question formed in her mind. *Is it wise to read it?* She nodded slowly. "Yes. Please, but... discreetly, Thomas. No else can know it exists."

"Later then." TC agreed.

"Not too much later?" Her words betrayed her curiosity at what the letter contained, and again, Blane nodded.

Zanh shifted position as if intending to rise. "I'd better get cleaned up for the party. By the time I pull myself together, I'll be well beyond fashionably late."

TC jumped to his feet and offered his hand. She accepted, groaning at the feeling of the stiffness in her back from sitting too long on the floor.

"Thomas," She clasped his hand still in a firm shake, pumping up and down once before releasing it. She wanted to thank him but suddenly words seemed too small and unimportant. She let her eyes speak for her, and he lowered his gaze respectfully.

"You're welcome." They moved swiftly toward the doors and just before they opened, she caught him by the sleeve.

"No one else can know I remember. Not until I'm sure it's safe. Until I'm ready. Please."

He glanced back. “Of course,” was all he said.

"One more thing?"

He waited silently.

"Our resident baker," Liis cringed as she thought of Fleur and Jariel earlier in the dining hall, the sight that had set off her little round of hyper-active target shooting.

"What about her?"

"Have you ever seen, I mean, while I was out of it, did she have any visions or memories as far as you know?"

"I haven't heard anything about it, those effected were all to give me formal reports...she did not." His curiosity was piqued, as well as his concern. "Why?"

She hesitated, but he was in this far. She had need of an ally, and she truly believed for the good of all involved someone besides herself needed to know.

"Thomas, there was a time when she was to Jariel..." she stopped, watching TC's eyes grow to the size of saucers. This he had not seen coming.


"In one of the other timelines. The one where," she paused again. *No turning back now,* she thought, and she struggled to gather enough courage to speak the next sentence aloud. "The one where Keiran and I were married,"

"MARRIED?" Blane hadn't realized things had gone that far. Liis nodded.

"In that line, Jariel married first. A young French woman, who had been part of a rescued party from a civilian transport ship that was rerouted..." she paused. "To Bajor."

“Our baker.” TC surmised.

"But you've seen no signs in her that she's aware of this?"

TC shook his head. “None.” TC made a mental note to talk to Fleur. He, as well as most of the crew, knew the fiery French woman had an infatuation with the Vedek. Now he wondered if it was not more.

"Knowing him as well as I do and judging by the way he's been acting, I believe Jariel is aware of it." Liis frowned deeply, her brow wrinkling seemingly down and into the ridges of her nose.

TC looked at her. “Talk to him.” He gently grabbed her shoulders, the gesture reinforcing his words as he repeated them for emphasis. “Go and talk to him.”

Liis' hands squeezed his own broad and steady shoulders in return; the closest thing to a hug that they had ever shared.

Completely bereft of her composure, she nodded swiftly. With the motion, the gentle jingle of her earring echoed through the empty space around them.

Then Zanh Liis wordlessly turned and hurried down the corridor, never once looking back.

-=/\=- Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012
USS Alchemy NX 53099


Commander Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity/Alchemy