792: Egregious: Two

by Vol Tryst and Lair Kellyn
Soundtrack: Solace, by a-ha

...continued from part one...


"In here," Lair called around the corner, intent on continuing her packing as they talked if for no other reason than she simply had to keep moving.

"Commander." Vol greeted, his tone much cooler than Lair had ever heard it before.

"Counselor. So..." Lair hated to ask, but it was the reason she'd agreed to meet Vol after all. She had begun to regret making this arrangement with Arie. She was the parent and she knew best, that should've been enough.

Instead, she now faced Vol. who was looking away from her as her leaned against the opposing wall. rubbing his temples hard. Lair set down the sweater she was holding and began to wring her hands uncontrollably.

"She should go to Vulcan." Vol said.

Lair breathed in deeply. She held that breath for a good long time, uncertain that she'd have the strength once she released it to draw another.

"All right." She exhaled. "Thank you, Counselor."

Lair moved from her own bedroom to her daughter's in order to start packing Arie's things. She didn't care one way or another if Vol followed her.

He followed her.

She quickly whisked a Starfleet pack into her hand and set it down on the bed. Moving over to the corner of the room, she scooped up a pile of Arie's favourite clothing and headed back to the bed. She noticed, finally, that not only had Tryst chosen to follow her, what was more, had not yet left.

He resumed standing in the exact same position he'd taken in the other room, half-mindedly staring at her.

"Was there anything else you wanted to say to me, Counselor?"

A pause, before Vol threw caution to the wind.

"Why did you lie to her?"

That she was taken aback was an understatement. Vol could've hit her in the gut and still the words, and their insinuation, would be far worse. Lair blinked several times before finally forming the words,

"I. I wanted to protect her from..."

Now Vol moved his fingers to press against either side of his nose. He spoke again while exhaling,

"Although the right intention, wildly supported by your motherly instinct and shared by many mothers before you, a lie is still a lie."

Lair almost couldn't recognize the man in front of her and she soon came up with a potential explanation for his wounding words.

"Vol, I-I know that in your culture, lying is egregious. But, this is a unique and altogether different circumstance than you can imagine. I lied to---"

For the second time in an all too short a time span, Vol was beginning to lose his cool.

"Lair, none of that matters-" Vol insisted, as he looked upon her with cold eyes.

"None of it matters?" Kellyn interrupted, laughing once incredulously before folding her arms across her chest defensively. "None of it matters?"

"A lie is still a lie." Vol repeated evenly.

Kellyn clenched and unclenched her fists, and for a moment Vol wondered if she might not actually come at him swinging.

She swallowed hard, and returned to packing Arie's things for the trip.

Her refusal to hold still and address him directly now infuriated Vol. "Commander, is it too much to ask that you give me a moment of your undivided attention here? I am trying to tell you-"

"You are trying to tell me that I'm a liar and a terrible mother!" Kellyn's voice rose markedly in volume. "Well let me tell you something, Counselor Tryst. Not all of us have had the benefit of a dignified upbringing on a comfortable Federation world by parents who adored us."

Kellyn did not speak the words with jealousy that Vol had enjoyed the benefits of these things and she had not; rather in desperation to try to make him understand how she had ended up where she had in life, and what a battle it had been to get there.

"Some of us grew up in cold, damp caves, moving around all the time, while our parents cared more about planning their next blow to the Occupation forces than they did in making sure their children had eaten that day. Some of us grew up knowing that every time our parents looked at us we only reminded them of their worst mistakes. The only valuable lesson my parents ever taught me was how not to parent."

She was only getting started, but Vol had heard more than enough. "You are creating a scenario that justifies your circumstance just as it would justify a parent telling their child that they came into the world in a hanky, carried by a stork!"

Lair's eyes widened. "You have no idea what the hell you're,"

Undaunted, Vol continued. "I know that it hasn't eluded you in the slightest that your daughter is wise and brilliant beyond any measure for anyone her age, or of any age for that matter. So, what in the universe do you think prevented her from deducing that you'd been lying to her, even before you admitted to it?"

"NOTHING would prevent it!" Kellyn shouted. "Do you think I don't know my own flesh and blood, Tryst? Do you think I don't know how much like her father she is? That nothing escapes her notice? That nothing..." Kellyn stopped. She slumped down onto the bed, staring off into the distance. "Do you think I had a choice, in any of this?"

The truth was that Vol knew that Lair wasn't solely to blame here. She did what she was told, even though she knew in her gut that the order was wrong, but denied her instinct and that was what Vol was in the midst of reprimanding her for. Sensing her feelings on the matter clearly, he knew that the order to withhold the truth had to have come from someone else, or several someone elses. He was already making a mental memo to see to those individuals very shortly. Still, he had no intention of letting Lair off the hook for her part in this.

"I absolutely believe you had a choice in this. You are her mother and you knew what was best for Arie. You knew that your daughter was too bright to fall for this lie, but you made the promise to continue lying to her anyway. For what? So you can cast off the blame you knew would be one day be assigned to you?

"So you can justify it by feeling, 'I made an empty promise to lie to my child who figured it all out on her own, but it's not my fault because I was just following orders!'"

"You are out of line, Counselor!" Lair railed. "Don't delude yourself into thinking that your Betazoid mind tricks scare me. The first ship I ever served on had a full Betazoid counselor, and I guarantee that there is no depth of my soul that you can try to reach that Tues K'Raye has not already left her mark upon."

Lair threw down the armful of clothes she was holding, stood up again and straightened her back and shoulders.

She no longer felt any more need to justify actions over which she, herself had had precious little control.

She'd not been told the truth about Arie's 'situation' at the beginning. Zanh Liis, acting as agent of Temporal Investigations, concealed it from the outset. By the time Kellyn had figured things out she was terrified, even as she knew Salvek had been, to go against Zanh's words of warning.

Lair knew all too well how wrong things could go if the timeline was corrupted- and she didn't want to be the one to damage it.

Moreover, she couldn't stand the thought of ever losing Arie because of an inability to keep certain secrets until there was no keeping them any longer. "You have no right to tell me how I should parent my child."

"I have every right!" Vol had officially gone off the deep end, and he knew it. He drew a deep breath as he tried to calm himself, but when he spoke again his anger was still very much present. The pounding headache he'd been experiencing was now much worse.

"How many children do you have, Counselor?" Lair raged.

"My specialized education lets me understand things in a child that most parents cannot hope to comprehend. As such, it is indeed my duty to let you know of such things regardless of your superior rank." Another deep breath, and the Counselor finally started to calm down.

Kellyn was so insulted by the idea that any time spent in a classroom learning about children could rival nearly a decade of actual parenting experience that for the moment, she was rendered speechless. Vol continued, his voice still edged in the heat of the quarrel, but altogether much calmer than before.

"Arie wants to go to prove herself to you. She keeps saying she'll be on her best behaviour, do you know why? It's not because that that's what the situation demands, it's because you ask it of her. She's auditioning for your approval, so that you'll turn around and decide that she's trustworthy and can be expected to handle any family dilemma.

"You want to save her from that, I know. She's much too young to carry the burden of these terrible tragedies, but hiding them from her is nothing more than insulting. What's more, is that she can help. You only need let her."

"How many children have you lost, Counselor?" Kellyn looked up at him with eyes that were bloodshot, but devoid of actual tears.

Vol blinked and his brows were squeezed together, his mouth agape.

"Because I've already lost one daughter. I lost her before I ever got to hold her in my arms. Before she could be born, and have her naming ceremony. Before..." Kellyn stared at the floor. "Before many people even gave her credit for being alive at all." Her hands closed protectively, fingers lacing and coming to rest against her abdomen as if denying to this day the physical sensation of emptiness left by the loss.

"I miscarried my first baby. I lost...I couldn't lose another- I..." she stopped, determined that Vol would not see her cry. She turned toward the window and sighed sharply. "All I've ever wanted to do was protect Andra."


Lair turned back to him, her expression one of total annoyance. "That's what I said."

"No. You said Andra."

Lair scowled. "I did not."

"I refuse to argue the point." Vol snapped. "I heard what I heard, and you said you 'wanted to protect Andra'."

Now Kellyn felt completely lost. She thought of the helplessness she'd felt at fifteen, the day that the small cafe had collapsed on top of them, and she'd been unable to save her seven year old sister, barely surviving the bombing herself.

She thought of how much worse she had felt, if that were possible, upon learning that her parents own resistance cell had been responsible for the blast.

They had told her time and again that it was a mistake, that they didn't know that Kellyn and Andra would be anywhere near that location- but that had never been enough for Kellyn, and they knew it. She still blamed them, and was quite certain that she always would.

The body language of both Commander and Counselor finally relaxed, though barely perceptibly. Kellyn now sat on Arie's bed and was clutching a threadbare stuffed animal to her chest; Vol was leaning back on the wall with his arms cross and his head slumped down.

"I couldn't save Andra. I couldn't save Kahs'Khiori." Lair murmured. "I was going to save Arie, if keeping the truth a secret could save her." She turned back toward Tryst. "This was not a decision I made on my own, you know." Lair tried to lock eyes, but met with only the top of Vol's head.

"I know." he responded.

"Zanh Liis, all her years of experience, and even Salvek." She shook her head, knowing it didn't matter what anyone else had done or said or not done to tell Arie the truth before now. She was the one in Trysts' sights, and nothing she said now would move that target. "I was going to protect her, damn the consequences. I always figured that even if she hated me for it once she'd grown up- at least she'd be alive to grow up. She is alive."

Vol finally raised his head to speak, though his eyes were closed. "Withholding information from her is not protecting her, Lair Kellyn. Whether she's told or not, she'll still have to face what's to come. So why not share whatever it is you know with her? If you have a fight ahead, why not fight together?"

His gaze now moved to look at Kellyn as she spoke.

"If anything bad happened to her because I tried to push adult problems onto her," Kellyn was speaking from the perspective of a person who, as a child, had been forced to shoulder far more than was her rightful responsibility for her age from the time she was very small. "I couldn't live with myself."

"You wouldn't be pushing the problems onto her, you'd be preparing her for them. Will bringing her with you to Vulcan divide your attention? Absolutely. But she's a part of your family, and the idea that you would consider leaving her behind---. Let her be an asset to you, I promise you you will not regret it."

Kellyn choked back the bitterness rising in her throat.

She felt that this was the wrong course of action, now more than ever. But she had made Arie a promise and this one she would keep, regardless of how difficult it was for her to do it.

"I will take her to Vulcan," Kellyn said softly, as she returned to going through the motions of packing. Vol pushed himself off the wall and kept his arms crossed and he took heavy steps towards the door to exit. He paused for only an instant as Lair half-whispered a final, haunting remark.

"...and I will pray to the Prophets that you're right."

Lieutenant Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project

NRPG: I must say that this is one of the most incredible and rewarding joint posting experiences I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of.

I'm really proud of the work we did on this one though Vol is the true artist at work here- I was just trying my best to keep up. Thank you, Vol.

By the way- the word Salvek used to describe this post is 'magnificent'. --LK