by -=/\=- Zanh Liis
A short time after Routine Check-Up
-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-
A short time after Routine Check-Up
-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-
Twelve hours had passed since they'd beamed back to the ship.
Zanh Liis sat silently in a chair in a corner of Sickbay, cloaked in darkness of the sort that can only come from within.
She tapped the surface of a PADD, making an entry into her personal log.
The boy that I remember only from an outdated holoimage lays living and breathing before me, even if only just barely.
Doctor Hubbard had to reach deep into his bag of medical tricks to bring Carrick's biochemistry back into balance after all that was done to him on Klaestron.
We are very lucky, I'm told, that he is still with us.
Latest reports from the planet in response to the official investigation that Starfleet has launched at my request is that local law enforcement has destroyed all of the DNA stored at the facility, and sealed the building as a crime scene.
They have released the patients who were healthy enough to leave on their own and sent the rest to legitimate hospitals for treatment. Those who did not survive will be returned to their families where possible and at the very least, all will be given a dignified, respectful burial.
They have solid leads on those responsible for running this latest franchise of an unholy business that has plagued the legitimate scientists and doctors on Klaestron IV for years, they tell me.
I'm grateful that we were able to prevent future suffering of those in that particular building, but part of me has to believe that we've only managed to destroy one visible ant hill. I fear the rest of the colony will simply be relocated, instead of eradicated.
As I sit here and watch Carrick draw every breath, he sometimes shudders and cries out; trapped within dark dreams the contents of which I do not even want to try to imagine.
I am reminded so much of the terrors his father used to have almost every night, and wonder if either of them will ever truly be free of the pain of the past.
I can only hope that if things are truly set right by what we've done, that he and Keiran will finally have a real chance... not only to get to know one another, but to help each other heal in a lasting and meaningful way.
She paused, unable to write about how the uncertainty of the elder O'Sullivan's future was eating away at her, more deeply with each passing hour Instead, she simply closed the log, set the PADD aside, and turned her attention to something else.
She reached over to the bedside table, picking up an item that she'd replicated earlier. Only now she was doubting if she should give it to the intended recipient, after all.
She heard the boy's breathing speed up, and she set the item down again and stood up at his bedside. He should awaken fully soon, the doctor said, and she wanted him to know as soon as he did that he was among people he could trust.
"NO! Get away from me!" He shouted, his arms fighting against the restraints holding him down for his own protection. His eyes were glazed over and bloodshot, and Liis quickly put a strong, reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"Carrick, it's all right. You're safe." She watched as his breathing began to slow again, and he relented, laying his head back down upon the bed. "Do you remember me?"
"From the...planet." he huffed, trying to catch his breath. "You, and some humans." He seemed to be doubting the accuracy of his memory as he added "...and a really chatty Trill."
The corner of her lip turned up in just the slightest of smiles, as she nodded to him. "Yes, that would be Reece. We got you out of there, and you're aboard a Federation starship now. Safe, with people who care about you." She patted his arm once before swinging her arms in reverse and clasping her hands behind her back. "We're going to take you home."
"Where is..." Carrick looked around anxiously, searching. "....my father? Is he here?"
Zanh Liis averted her eyes. "No. We don't know exactly where he is at the moment, but we're hoping for news soon."
She returned to the chair beside his bed.
"He was on a very dangerous mission, Carrick, and something went wrong. That's why he couldn't come to get you himself. Why we were asked to come in his place."
"How didya know, I mean, how to find me?"
"It was not an easy task, finding you, young man." Zanh looked at him sternly. "See to it that you don't go wandering off, and getting 'lost' again, yeah?"
He blinked several times, quickly. "For a second there, you sounded just like," he wondered at her choice of words, specifically the superfluous one tacked on seemingly without reason at the end of her sentence.
This manner of speech was not something common to the Bajorans he'd met; but it was very common among those who were born and raised in Cork.
"You said you knew him, no?" Carrick tried again to raise his arms, and blew a frustrated sigh out from between tightened lips upon remembering that he was still restrained.
"We can take those off, I think." Liis began to untie his hands and ankles, and Carrick slowly elevated himself into a sitting position. Liis grabbed an extra pillow from the empty bed nearby, and propped it behind his back.
"Aye, thanks very much." Carrick marveled that strangers would show him such compassion whether they knew his father or not. From the way his mother had described the man, he believed his father to be an emotional recluse; incapable of caring for anything, or anyone.
The care and concern that these people had for him simply because he was his father's son caused him to question that long-held belief, as well as many of the other things that his mother had told him about his father.
"How did you know him, then?"
*Proceed with caution,* Liis warned herself internally.
"He served here, aboard my ship. He was my Chief of Security before returning to his previous, classified assignment."
"Ah yes. Classified." Carrick remembered how, when he had finally grown curious a few years before, he tried to research information about his father with the help of a family friend in Starfleet. But most of the information in his father's record had been sealed as 'classified', so he really hadn't been able to learn anything of value. "It would seem that most of the existence of Keiran Riley O'Sullivan is just that. Mysteriously classified."
"Was not his choice, believe me. He certainly never took any of those assignments to try to keep you from knowing who he was. On the contrary," She wondered if she should tell him this, but then she knew she had to tell him this. "Did you ever get the letters?"
"Your father wrote letters to you. Constantly. He indicated to me that he was able to verify your mother had received them. I wonder if she ever let you have them."
The scowl that hardened Carrick's face answered the question for her.
"I see." Liis shook her head sadly. "I'm sorry to hear that. Your father writes wonderful letters."
"He had occasion to write wonderful to you as well, then did he?" Carrick suddenly felt angry at this woman, though he had no idea why or logical reason to.
His thoughts began to race.
Perhaps she had known his father better than she had intimated; perhaps she was the reason that he'd never come back to Ireland to try again to make things work with his mother...
*Damn,* Liis thought. She needed to backpedal. Quickly.
"I was going by the log entries he recorded while he was a member of my crew." She lied. "Very expressive. I can only imagine his personal correspondence to be the same."
Carrick smiled at her, but his eyes did not match the upturned position of his lips. It was clear that, just as with his father, it was very, very difficult to deceive him.
"If you're goin' to lie to me so plainly about that then, Captain, explain to me why exactly it is that I should believe ana'thing else you say to me. Hm?"
She jumped up out of her chair, paced several steps away, and then turned back toward the table.
Carrick sighed heavily and closed his eyes again, and so did not see what she was doing as she took the book she'd replicated up into her hands, and began to read aloud from a page near the very end.
She read the description of the bridle with little brass bells that Pippin placed upon his beloved donkey and paused, looking up at Carrick as he now stared at her in a state far beyond simple amazement.
He sat upright again and reached out a hand, clamping it down on her arm tightly. "That book." His eyes were wild. "Where did you get that book?"
"Long ago, when first he told me about you, he recited to me the story of The King's Procession. Of Pippin, and his donkey."
She paused, slowly extricating her hand from his bruising grip. She held the book out to him but instead of taking it, he just continued staring at it, dumbfounded.
"I replicated this copy from archive files for you. I hoped that, since your father remembered so fondly reading this to you when you were small, that if you saw it again, it might," She shrugged, and plunked heavily back down into the chair, taking her head into her empty right hand.
"That it might remind you of what you've always known, deep inside. That he loves you, despite what your mother told you."
"How do you know," Carrick spat, "anything my mother told me?"
"Because. I told you. I know your father." Liis was trying to maintain her calm with the boy, who, admittedly and by anyone's standards, had been through a lot. But she'd been through a lot lately as well, and her temper was starting to fray.
"Because I know him well enough to know the story of your life, Carrick, at least from his perspective."
He considered her words in silence as she made him an offer. "If you want to tell me, I'd like to hear it from yours."
Just as she had seen with his father in younger days, all traces of emotion disappeared from his features, and they hardened as though he was far older than his years.
"Nothin' to tell ya, Captain." He insisted, folding his arms over his chest. "Nothin' a'tall."
*Damn stubborn O'Sullivan men. It must be genetic.* Liis cursed.
"All right." She rose a final time and turned to go. She tossed the book at the foot of his bed.
"Keep it. If you can look at it and not feel even the slightest memory of the love your father had, and has, for you, then," She shrugged once more. "Then I guess you won't have much to say to him when he gets back." She pulled the curtain back so she could exit. "I'll send in the doctor to look you over again."
"Is my father coming back, Captain?"
She didn't look at him as she answered, anxious to remove herself now from the room.
"I hope so, Carrick. We all hope so."
-=/\=- Zanh Liis
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
-=/\=- Zanh Liis
USS Serendipity NCC-2012