967: Starting Over

by Wren Elton and Commander Salvek
After Picking Up the Pieces

-=USS Serendipity=-

If he had not thought it might help, he would not be standing where he was now.

Kellyn had been staring at him as he worked. No one knew how his mind worked like she did. No one but her understood the abilities he had to combine logic and emotion to bring out what was hidden beneath. After asking her to pass the hydrospanner for the third time, and being met by only her cold saddened gaze, he finally asked if there were anything he could do to help.

She could not help but wonder if any part of Salvek could be made to help Rada. Obviously he could not even speak to Rada to ask him if he wished for help to fix an illness he did no even know he had. Once he even broached the subject he would have no choice but to go forward, because there would be no way to unring the bell once Rada knew for sure there was something not right about him.

It was not Salvek’s choice to make however. Nor was it the Captain’s or the Admiral’s or the Director’s. Not, of course, that they would not have their say and balk at the very suggestion. If Salvek were to try and touch Rada Dengar’s mind, only Wren could grant such permission.

So he waited now outside the door of Wren’s quarters for her to answer the door. The very idea of his location seemed contrary to logic. Wren’s quarters. He thought back to the night in Sickbay when he had met Wren and Tam at Rada’s bedside. His impression at that moment was that there would never be a time when they were apart again.

He had been waiting over a minute since he pressed the chime, but he understood why she may need a few moments to prepare to answer the door at a time like this. So he did not ring again or call through the door. He merely waited, knowing she would come when she was ready.

Finally the patience typical of the man wise enough to know just what value real patience could have, proved itself the correct choice once again.

The door in front of Salvek was now opened and it revealed standing behind it the woman he had come here to see. The expression on her face was a sight utterly familiar to all those who knew Vulcans, though certainly not to be expected to be found where he now saw it. It was so conspicuous and obvious that Wren was trying to stop her emotions, her pain, from being conspicuous or obvious. Instead of what she must really feel, a weak and baseless smile, the type kept as much for a stranger as a friend, now adorned her features.

Though they had never been the closest of people on this ship, Salvek knew just through one look at Wren that this was neither the time nor the place to make her aware that he knew she was holding back.

“I hope I am not disturbing you.” Salvek offered, knowing it was best now not to push to be allowed in to what may feel to Wren like the closest thing to a sanctuary from everything that’s happening on this ship, but at the same time knowing that this was never a conversation to be had in a public space.

“Not at all, Commander.” Wren replied, with that certain blurred tone between indifference and annoyance that only entered a person’s words when they felt they wanted to be alone but knew that really it was making no difference. “Please come in.”

Salvek graciously accepted Wren’s offer and followed her as he was led into the quarters she now occupied with her young son. He recognized much of the decoration which had once been in their shared quarters with Rada, but the way it was arranged here in this smaller space was decidedly unfamiliar. There were some things that were just too conspicuously absent, like it was a puzzle made incorrectly to disguise that there weren’t enough pieces.

Wren led him to the nearest couch and gestured he be seated but did not stop to sit herself, instead moving to silently confirm Tam’s location with the nearest computer panel. Satisfied that he was all right, and that he wouldn’t be walking in here, she attempted to pass off her coming over here as having been for other reasons, and Salvek allowed her to do this.

“May I offer you something to drink?” she asked, feigning interest in the replicator below the computer panel.

“No, thank you.” Salvek replied, though perhaps he would have accepted the offer if he really thought Wren had wished to make it.

“Of course not.” Wren mumbled beneath her breath and once again Salvek let her believe what she wished, which was now that her comment could have escaped a Vulcan’s hearing. Briefly Wren considered maybe ordering herself something while she was here, but her stomach didn’t feel much like either food or drink today. Instead she turned and approached Salvek, choosing to take the chair across from him rather than to join him on the couch.

“What are you doing here, Commander?” she asked immediately once she was seated, not with a rude bluntness but with a tone that conveyed that she knew he’d not come here just to discuss the weather, or rather lack thereof on this ship.

Salvek appreciated her doing so, frequently having been required to be the one to move the conversation beyond the pleasantries himself.

“I am here to make you an offer.” Salvek said simply. “I assume you are familiar with the telepathic techniques studied by Vulcans?”

Wren just nodded that she was, hiding how very familiar she’d been with those very techniques when she’d known Tam’s biological father.

“It is my belief that I may be able to use these techniques to assist Lt. Commander Dengar. In theory I may be able to restore to him some of his lost memories, even if just his associated feelings without the details of specific events, while he still retains the benefits of the resequencing procedure.” Salvek continued. “However, you must understand that there would be risks. Aside from inherent invasion of privacy, there is a chance that…”

Wren cut him off before he’d finished with a raise of her hand. Any attempt to feign a smile was forgotten as Wren’s face took on a clear look of disapproval.

“You don’t need to read me the warning labels.” She advised him slightly coldly. “Even if there were no risks I wouldn’t allow it.”

Salvek found himself perplexed by this reaction.

“I’m afraid I do not understand the reason for your objection.” He replied, able to see no logic in refusing even to consider something that could help return to her someone she loved.

Wren’s response was not given in words, rather just a cold look that made Salvek wonder about the thoughts behind it. There had been something he had observed about Wren back when they first met, something about how she responded to him.

He would not assume his observation was, even after all this time, still correct, but he also could not allow any prejudice of hers to cost her this opportunity. Instead he chose to give his observation the form of a question.

“Would I be correct to suggest that you have an objection to my being Vulcan?”

Many people would have been shocked to hear such a question, even if they knew it was suspected, to be asked so bluntly, but for Wren it was nothing unexpected.

At first her eyes seemed to stare far away into the distance but then they slowly moved back and fell flatly not quite on Salvek but certainly in his direction. She knew this was not something that would be easily accepted in this modern world of interspecies federation, but Wren felt no reason to lie right now.

“Yes, I do.” She answered without emotion.

Salvek paused a moment, considering the implications this could have and questioning how a seemingly intelligent and accepting woman such as Wren could carry such a prejudice. Finally, he continued without allowing any of his personal reaction to register in his tone, deciding that while it may seem entirely illogical that he should at least show the respect of acknowledging that Wren may think she had some logic to her belief.

“May I enquire as to your reasons for that objection?”

Wren looked briefly almost disgusted that Salvek was not offended before reminding herself that it was just the Vulcan way.

She turned her head to stare again off into the distance that wasn’t there, slowly asking herself the same question that she’d asked many times when she’d looked at her son. She didn’t even turn back to him before she continued speaking.

“Tam’s father.” She said simply, seeing no reason to hold this information back. “He was not fully Vulcan but he lived the Vulcan way. Then when I fell pregnant, that Vulcan philosophy allowed him to logically weigh the costs and advantages of staying and then to abandon me, leaving me with nothing and forcing me to run away from the man I loved.”

Her voice started to become colder as she turned back to Salvek. “Sometimes I think this training in logic you’re all so fond of is just a fancy way of learning how to justify anything you want to do..”

If ever there was a way to insult Salvek’s deepest beliefs Wren had just found it and he didn’t deny that it had stung. There could be no greater lie than to suggest that their logic was somehow tailor made to suit emotional preferences. Any Vulcan who had ever had to live with a time when logic dictated a course they did not wish to follow knew this all too well.

Yet Salvek refused to allow his offence to enter his tone and instead responded with understanding.

“He hurt you.” He said and Wren made no attempt to confirm or deny it, though it could easily be read from one look into her eyes that he was right. As much pain as she may have been in though, and knowing that anger could even if only temporarily shield one from pain, Salvek knew he couldn’t finish there; not for the good of Rada, Tam or for Wren. “Have not Betazoids hurt others before?”

A bitter smile crept slightly onto Wren’s lips and she considered Salvek was behaving calmly in a completely Vulcan way when so many other species could have even become violent upon hearing what she’d said.

“I know everyone has hurt someone.” She acknowledged, then continued on to say something seemingly contradictory to all she’d said before. “You can’t judge a man by the actions of one member of his species.” Salvek clearly did not understand, so Wren kept speaking. “Being Vulcan however is more than just being a member of your species. It’s a way of living. To judge a person for how they choose to live, the philosophy they allow to decide what’s wrong and right, is something we all do. I just happen to include the Vulcan philosophy in that.”

Once again Salvek felt the sting in Wren’s words. If Wren believed that the Vulcan beliefs would allow a man to abandon his family, no matter what stage it was in, then she must think Salvek capable of that as well. He most certainly was not, and anyone who’d had the glimpse into him that a full Betazoid would, should have known that.

“It would seem your son does not share your beliefs.” He observed, maintaining for now his control over his emotions.

Wren knew what he was suggesting, that this should be Tam’s choice as well as he too had lost someone he cared about.

“Yes, I know that he has been learning from your daughter. He finds it all very fascinating.” Wren commented with clearly a deep anger hidden just below her voice. “I didn’t want to allow it but Rada did and so I agreed to it.”

“If you opposed it so much why did you agree?” Salvek asked with a little confusion, certain that Wren was not the type who’d have just gone against a deeply held belief because Rada wished her to.

“Because I know.” Wren answered slowly. “Because I know that I’m angry and I know what anger does to people. When you can sense the anger in people around you, you learn about the power it has to distort the truth in their minds. You can watch as their thoughts skip tracks, reach incorrect conclusions and then just turn away to beliefs more bitter.”

She stopped and sighed, breathing slowly before continuing.

“It’s not at all logical, is it?” She asked, not expecting an answer. “I know that I might be wrong about Vulcans and yet it still can’t change my mind. It can’t change my mind because I could be right. It’s only when someone I trust can honestly tell me I’m wrong that I can believe them.”

Salvek stopped to consider her words, they were almost completely illogical and yet he could at least in part understand. There had been many times when he himself had felt lost and had to turn to someone he trusted and to rely on their judgment more than his own. He considered that he would be thinking about this conversation, long after it was completed.

“I understand that you have no reason to trust me but I can assure you in this case you are wrong and you can get similar assurances from any other member of this crew.” He replied, noting that at least on some level Wren still seemed to be open to reason “My being Vulcan in no way means I will do anything to purposefully harm Rada.”

Wren stopped and shook her head, questioning with everything she saw in Salvek all of her convictions once again. He had not convinced her, but she couldn’t deny that this Vulcan at least would seem to have some redeeming features.

“You’re right that I don’t trust you, but I do believe you.” She declared softly. “I never thought you would do anything but try to help him. My objection had nothing to do with your being Vulcan.”

“Then I still fail to understand.” Salvek concluded..

“I don’t believe you could do it.” Wren explained, no hint of question of Salvek’s integrity of even personal abilities in her tone. “Believe me, I wish you could. There have been so many times recently when I have just imagined some sort of miracle cure. Many times I’ve seen him and just felt that if I took hold of him and kissed him just right that I might reawaken what we once had.”

Wren stopped herself again, wondering what it was about logical men that had always made her speak of things she otherwise never would.

“Rada is a very guarded man.” She added, knowing it was really a great understatement. “For years he has practiced techniques to control the patterns of his mind, effectively hiding his thoughts from telepaths like you and I. He constructs barriers, which, if you were to tear them down would tear down the man in the process. There’s no way that you can bring him back to me.”

Now Salvek understood, it was possible that he really couldn’t do it, but he still had to ask “What if he were to lower these barriers himself?”

“He won’t.” Wren quickly answered, not even needing to consider it. “He’d need to desperately want you to bring the memories back and to do that he’d need to know they were missing. If he ever does come to you for help then you have my permission to go through with it, Commander. But he won’t.”

Salvek knew it was a shot in the dark at best to come here and present his case to her. Distrust of Vulcans aside, Wren knew Rada better than anyone else, and if she believed Salvek’s attempts would fail, they would fail.

To be honest, Salvek was playing with forces he did not entirely understand. Men and woman like Lindsay, Lassiter and the O’Sullivans were not exactly forthcoming or anxious to share tales of resequencing. Its procedures, its reliability, or its long term implications.

He feared for Rada just as Wren did. If he found the memories they all wished for him to have, could he be entirely sure he would not unleash the terror of the Domox incident as well?

There was little doubt exactly how much she loved him. She would rather Rada go on, blissfully unaware of the horror contained deep inside his own soul, than risk him suffering because she wanted him to remember loving her.

He knew her feelings all to well, as he had seen them played out before on the face of Keiran O’Sullivan during the Sylph events. Perhaps the inevitable strength of emotional memories would grant Wren the same rewards as it had Zanh and O’Sullivan.

Yet, Wren’s situation was complicated by another variable the O’Sullivan’s was not.

“What of your son?” Salvek asked. “Is it fair to deny him the father he needs, that he has only recently received?”

Salvek had made it known when Tam came aboard, that he would help the child understand his heritage if Wren and Tam wished it. She had resisted Tam’s inevitable curiosity, but allowed him to spend time with Arie and learn through the child, even if she were not willing to let Salvek immerse him in the full teachings of Vulcan philosophy.

Salvek was of course willing at any time to answer any questions Tam had, but figured it was best to let Wren and Tam approach him if they felt it was time, rather than press the issue. Yet no matter how much time he did or did not spend with Tam, he could never be a father figure to the boy, and Tam did need a father figure.

That kind of guidance could only come from someone who truly loved the child as his own, as Rada Dengar did. Did, at least, until the resequencing erased Tam from Rada’s memories, and took the most important man in Tam’s life along with it.

“No, it’s not.” Wren said certainly. What rage she’d felt immediately that Salvek would even suggest she’d not thought of her son dissolved as her mind filled once again with concern for him and the life he might lead. She’d wanted so much better for him than the type of life she’d lived, with a father there but not quite there. “And I will get him his father back.”

Once again Salvek found himself perplexed by this woman, seemingly riddled with contradiction. He found it difficult to accept that she could believe she could do that when she’d refused the only possibility he’d offered her. “How do you intend to do that?”

“The only logical way.” Wren answered; the slightest of sad smiles now on her lips as she collected the cards and began to deal a new game. “I’ll do exactly what worked before to make him fall in love with me. Even if it means I have to start again from the beginning.”


Wren Elton
Manager, Afterthought Café
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012