"Holding On, Letting Go"
[Previous Post: "A Mixed Mind"]

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it...”
-Nicholas Sparks, At First Sight

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section C, Level 2, Counselling Department
Stardate: 63075.1545

After her meeting with Ensign Thomas, Eve had not moved from the temporary office space, studying the information about the explosion of the XANTUL as well as the crew manifest. She'd never met any of the suspicious looking crew before, either as an Intel operative or as an officer, which was a positive endorsement for the use of Natalie Portree as her alter ego during the mission. However, the station itself was teeming with others who might spoil things.

A few minutes passed and the Counsellor put the PADD down, rubbing the smooth milky skin of her forehead. It wasn't like her not to be able to make a decision. However, these were new and interesting times. They were times changed by circumstance. And despite the fact that Eve wouldn't have changed any of the decisions she made during the last mission, the smallest quantity of doubt in her choices remained.

She hadn't even seen the entire crew since they had returned to NEW ALEXANDRIA. Normally she would have hunted them down like a Vegan Fire Jaguar, relentlessly pursuing the opportunity to talk to them. Something was different now. She felt better taking each of them as they approached her, letting their own internal clocks decide when the time was right.

Normally, she would have considered much sooner that some of them would never admit their time was now. Without further hesitation, Eve left the office.

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Main Engineering
Stardate: 63075.1600

Fairborn had been working quietly, taking in each repair that was needed and logging them, forming an action plan for the next day's labor. It would be his last official duty of the day, which was completely unlike his reputation for being a workaholic. The naturally longer days of OLTHAR PRIME only served to enhance that perception. The Engineer thought that perhaps Elliot thought he had gotten off lightly with today's tasks, but tomorrow was going to be a challenge. As usual he was so focused on his work he did not see the visitor approaching.

"Lieutenant," Eve said, trying not to startle the tall hulking man responsible for keeping the ANUBIS running at top efficiency.

"Counsellor," he replied smoothly, "What brings you here?" It was no secret that although the woman's skills spanned several areas, warp theory was not one of them.

"I was curious... I wanted to see how the repairs were going."

"Not bad," the Oltharian said with guarded optimism.

Eve nodded. "As you know, it's much easier to wound something than it is to heal it," the dark haired woman said, motioning to the broken circuitry and still lifeless warp core.

"With time and hard work anything is possible." Elan said with resolution.

Eve placed her hands behind her back at a relaxed attention. "Also, I wanted to inform you Ensign Thomas is fit and able for duty. It's not unusual for humans to express joy in an exaggerated way when they have been away from positive stimulus for an extended period of time."

"Thank you," Elan said with gratitude. "I have a full schedule tomorrow and will require his assistance."

"Yes," she agreed, but could not compel herself to stop there. "Chief.. Elan, I want you to know if you should ever need my services, my door is always open."

"I am not the one laughing like a Rigellian Hyena," The Chief Engineer said, perhaps a bit too quickly, inspecting a damaged coupling.

"Everyone is different," Dalziel offered, her gray eyes clouding with frustration. "Pain and expression of said pain are not mutually exclusive. I don't have to see it to know you are hurting."

A nearly inaudible sigh escaped the Oltharian's lips. "I am fine."

Eve squared her shoulders. It felt as though each time she tried to chip away at the impenetrable fortress of the man, they ended up in a debate. "I don't seem to have handled this the right way," Eve admitted, and the words hung in the air like spiderwebs; delicate, fragile, and clinging.

"You have tried to help," Elan offered.

"But I have not succeeded," Ensign Dalziel replied. In many ways her work had only begun, or what progress that had been made, ended up damaged by their shared experience. But above all else, the trust that had built up among them had fractured in places. If she were to help Fairborn, he had to trust her. She sincerely thought he did. However, it might be that the Chief did not trust himself to relieve his burden to anyone, not even the earnest woman in front of him.

"Perhaps you measure success by a warped ruler, Counsellor." The Oltharian's choice of words was strong, but he delivered them with a genuine gentleness.

"Maybe," she admitted, "but I am equally convinced discussing our feelings does not make us forget them. It only makes them easier to understand, easier to put in their proper place."

"History is to be revered. It is the story of our great journey."

Eve thought of her adopted parents at that moment, who had taken in a Cardassian child without fear or loathing. She had spent much more time concerned about her heritage than they ever had. They treated her as a person, a unique being, and allowed her to think of herself that way, with no restrictions. That, among other things, was what allowed her to be standing in the dark Engineering hold of the USS ANUBIS, wearing a Starfleet uniform. But that was only the beginning, as far as she was concerned. "History is truly an honored thing. All of us have traveled a long way to make it here. But while history is our journey, the future is our destination. And we all deserve to travel a little lighter than we are right now. We are all a witness to history, but eventually a witness must testify."

"I.. will take that under advisement." It was all Fairborn could bring himself to say.

"Only know that I say these things to you because I care. I don't feel obligated for any other reason, other than that my own feelings and thoughts are bent towards helping others." With that, Ensign Dalziel left the Oltharian alone, defeated but hopeful her motives were clear.

"As I am obligated to my memories," Elan Talak Fairborn whispered, as he watched the resolute figure of the ship's Counsellor walking away.

Susan M Ledbetter (susanmled@earthlink.net)
Ensign Eve Dalziel