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JL | Lt Sha'mer, Lt MacLeod | "Summer in a Field of Heather"

Posted on 242005.08 @ 12:59 by Lieutenant Craig MacLeod & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Lacuna

First had come the shock. Absolute shock. It had hit Craig like the angry sea against a seawall, sending up spray and residual flooding no matter how fast the wall stood against it. There was still that wetness from the overflow that rose up and overtook the senses, proving that there was no way to escape such power. He'd nearly been taken to the deck by it and the wave of intense nausea that had followed like a kick to the gut or groin. Groin, he'd decided as he steadied himself, groin indeed. By the time he'd realized his nose was bleeding, he also realized where the shock and rush of emotion had come from.

From there it was a blind following of his feet, not unlike the time he'd ventured through Poquott (same exact feeling) to find her nearly dead in the dirty snow of a back alley way. This time there was no snow, no alleyway, no nearly dead. Just a cluttered supply closet in need of a serious detailing, "Ra'lin?" He called softly when at last he caught sight of her. Tugging on a pant leg, he crouched and eventually began to slowly crawl towards her, "Ra'lin? I'm 'ere... I'm juist saying I'm 'ere." He murmured to her as he finally came within inches of touching her, but drew up and sat with his back against a bulkhead and his hands in his lap. The emerald of his eyes had long softened, worried with the predicament he found them, her, in. "I'm 'ere, lass."

The situations then and now were at the same time vastly different and almost the same. Back then, Ra'lin had been beaten within an inch of her life and would've died there in the snow if Craig hadn't found her and brought her back. Back then, too, in utter despair, her wild talent had managed to get a hold of the sword in the swordcane she'd wanted to grab, but instead of landing into her hand where she'd have at least a chance to defend herself against her attackers, it had appeared in the chest of the man in front of her. The man had looked down, perplexed, at the inches of steel sticking out of his chest with nobody to hold it, then had sagged to the ground. Ra'lin had never learned whether the man had survived or not.

This time, Ra'lins mind had taken her to the place where she could do the least harm, a spot she had discovered earlier seeking safe places to rest, with the least amount of other minds nearby. And now that all her mental shields had been stripped away, she'd withdrawn deep inside herself, and all time had stopped for awhile.

But now there was this voice, calling her name, and even hurt and withdrawn as she was Ra'lin recognised – not the voice, as such, but the mind which spoke it. And it meant only one thing to her: SAFE.

She moved, slowly, like a sunflower turning to face the light and heat, moved towards him, but stopped just before she touched him. She wasn't really aware, wasn't really thinking, not yet, but she did realise on some deep level that if she touched him, if she entered once again the sanctuary of his mind (scent of heather/sound of seagulls and droning bees/smell of sea carried by the wind, layers of warm and cool air brushing against bare skin) the temptation to stay there would be too great. Leaving two minds in one body, and one body without a mind. No. Not now. Not.

But still: SAFE.

With her cognitive and, to some degree, coherent, Craig felt the smallest beginning tines of relief begin to prickle along his senses. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that this too could be overcome, but there was always the question of how and how long. Where this sort of thing wasn't in his wheelhouse, he'd found that most things to do with the young woman beside him often found themselves leaping over that minor obstacle and becoming inoperable in the way they became distinctly interwoven within him. Her needs became his needs. Her pain, his pain so on and so forth on down the line... But only in instances of extreme urgency it seemed.

This was one of those times.

"Ye'll be a'richt, it'll a' be a'richt." He continued to croon. This time, though, his folded hands came undone and gently gripped her upper arms to guide her to him in a careful embrace, "Ra'lin... It's ok now."

And just like that, the connection was there, back again. The one spot Ra'lin had visited before and which felt safe. Somewhere deep inside his mind, in a landscape which held only good memories for both. She leaned into his embrace, felt his warmth, noticed how his comfortable smell mingled with all the other scents in the air. SAFE

"Well…" she sighed at last, "here we are again…"

"Fer a time." He rumbled in response, bending to catch her temple with his lips. Beyond that, the salt breezes and swaying heather played against him, them, and left him having to brush his hair back behind him to save her from having it whipped against her pretty face. "It cannae be forever, bit fer a moment or twa ye kin rest. Then we ha'e tae face th' real world." and it would be the both of them facing the world, together. Ra'lin was in no shape to go out there on her own, and he in no frame of mind to allow her to do so. Not when she was still shaking within his arms the way she was.

Time within mental space often held little relation to the outside, real, time, and that was a good thing. "I don't want to face the real world," Ra'lin said, softly, after a time. She especially didn't want to face one aspect of that real world. If she ever saw that other woman again – and chances were she would, soon enough, because even a ship the size of the Vindicator sometimes seemed to be more like a small town than like a city – she had no idea what she would do. Freeze? Lash out, and this time do real damage? Ra'lin shivered at the idea. Even now, she feared, her actions would've affected people. She had no idea how badly.

"Neither dae I maist o' th' time, but I dae it fer I ken there's things I dae wantae face that happen tae dwell in th' real world." Craig responded, tugging her closer in emphasis. While the memory of heather and the sea, the highlands in late spring, were ideal and homey and comforting, he couldn't help but long for the present in which she lived and breathed.

Ra'lin gave the minutest of shrugs. "Right now, the things I don't want to face outweigh the things I do." She pulled away slightly so that she could look up at him. "I've hurt people, Craig," she whispered. "I know I have. I tried to hold it back but… I couldn't."

"Ye ga'e me a nose bleed. Nae one cam rushing doon tae medical, nae emergencies wur called. I think tis safe tae assume that a' is weel in th' grand scheme, Ra'lin. Bit ah ha'e tae ask... Whit happened?" One large hand moved to begin to smooth through her short cropped hair, stroking and soothing the very best that he possibly could while the lines of his face were drawn tight with concern.

Soothing helped only so much. "I'm worried about Rochelle. She's… we've been in mental contact before, kinda by accident. It should've faded by now, but still, stuff like this can have unexpected effects, and she's not well, Craig. I'm worried about her."

Catching her chin between his index and thumb, Craig carefully guided her gaze to his, "Th' Commodore is tough a nails. She mibbie git a hooter bleed 'n' a headache 'n' is likely vera worried aboot ye." He reasoned with a lift of his brows and furrow of his forehead, "Now I ask ye again, wifie, whit happened? I cannae fix whit a dinnae ken." The gulls cried out all above them in raucous laughter as if they'd watched this particular scene thousands of times and hadn't ever had it lost its entertainment value. His focus wasn't on the gulls. It was on the woman in his arms and the way the scent of sun warmed heather played with the scent that could only be identified as 'Ra'lin'. It was a comfort, one that tried to ease away his worries as hers were pried at and beckoned forth so he could absorb them and make them disappear just the same.

"I-…" Ra'lin began, bit her lip, stared down. Then the dam broke and all the rest spilled out, not in words, but in the mental shorthand of fragments of mindspeak and images which made communication so much more efficient than mere words could ever be – and so much more intimate and intensive. She… I had encountered her before [shorthand story of the encounter in the ready room, Amelia's actions, Ra'lins sub-zero-temperatures angry reactions.] Then we met in the turbo lift and she apologised told me she was acting under orders [Interposing thought: Archer Jerk never liked him anyway… if her story's true! ] then suddenly she touched me, kissed me [images] and I freaked warned her off felt myself losing control and she followed me!!! I [unclear image sudden spike of something sudden change in location, added image of sword penetrating one of the assailants back in Poquott, confusion] and then I [image of explosion] couldn't hold it back… And with that last bit, a deep, deep sense of shame.

With his eyes closed, Craig could see and feel the impacts as they came. Each one so lucid and more disturbing than the next. The burly Scot's jaw clenched and his arms instinctively wound tighter around Ra'lin in a protective embrace. "Nae good." He muttered against her temple, "Nae yer fault, lass. DiAngelo is nae good." More muttering while the sun warmed them both. Before he'd found her, he'd treated the other half of the equation and it now made sense. The woman was profoundly troubled, unfit for duty. It didn't sit well with him, but he was powerless to do more than report what he'd encountered first hand. Ra'lin would have to do the rest. "I kin go wi' ye up tae speak wi' Dahe'el 'n' Rochelle. Something needs tae be said 'n' dane tae mak' sure this doesn't happen again. Hud she tried it wi' Rochelle, she'd hae her bloody head knocked aff, sae I'd say yer reaction is mair than justified."

Ra'lin sighed. "Yeah, someone normal might've hit her, only stupid me almost fried her brain." She glanced up, briefly. "I didn't even know that was in there. I mean, that didn't even happen… back then." No, in the past she'd 'only' been beaten up. Somehow this had felt like a worse invasion.

"Quit." He huffed, "Yer nae stupid, Ra'lin. Even if ye hud, she'd ha'e gotten whit she wis due fer sic a stupid mo'e." Craig's grumbling only seemed to intensify as he picked his way through the situation over and over again. Each time he came to the same result; the girl, DiAngelo, wasn't stable and Ra'lin had taken the brunt of the selfishness that shone through above and beyond the instability. "Ye know this tae be true."

"Not about the brain fry. It… it really scared me. I really think if I'd send it out to her, what'd been left of her brain would have leaked out of her nose. Porridge. It's-" Ra'lin cut herself off and pressed her hands against the sides of her head. "Managed to tear all my shields down too, I think." She looked up and sighed slowly. "It's time to get back, isn't it?" she said at last.

The Scot was silent for a time, taking it in and pondering it. It mulled around his mind, being savored and organized, ""Tis normal tae be scared 'n' worry, bit some fowk juist aren't worth yer concern or time." He finally answered, gripping Ra'lins shoulders and gently pushing her back to be able to see her and lock eyes, "And aye, lass, tis time tae gae back."

Another sigh. "Will you come with me… to see Almar or Rochelle, about this? They need to know, I think…" She didn't look forward to it. What she wanted most, once they'd return to what she thought of as 'the real world' would be to crawl away here in the ship's hold, far away from any bright mind, except for those she trusted most. And this mind, this man… she loved it here. She trusted him, deeply. …Loved him. Maybe.

Offering her a shy half smile, Craig nodded and cupped her chin again, "I weel. We'll gae on up there 'n' weather that storm." He nodded, leaning forward to lay a kiss on her forehead. There was a longing for something more, some complex gesture of his emotional investment, but given the actions of the day and her stressful response to it, keeping her happy and calm took a position of paramount importance over his own wants and desires. "C'mon, let's git this done sae we kin git ye home 'n' tucked in."

Ra'lin gave a small nod. "Mental blocker. That's a device that shuts out all mental and telepathic stuff. I'm going to need it when I wake up. Otherwise-" [image of a comm panel where hundreds of voices were all talking, shouting, laughing, screaming at once, a deafening roar of voices.] "Straight to sickbay then?"

Craig's head shook softly, "Na need. I kin carry ye oan up tae Commander Dahe'el's affice if yi'll want - bit this needs tae be handled." He murmured against her hairline, "Wull tak' ye hame when we're done as weel, let ye rest." The Scot's eyes closed, his arms once again wrapping around her as if to shield her from all the ills and troubles and tribulations that tried their damnedest to assault her. DiAngelo was an issue, but an issue that was well out of his jurisdiction to handle all alone without screwing up some regulation or another, he was certain. The point remained that he'd do his damnedest to protect Ra'lin, he owed it to her at the very least.

Ra'lin nodded, weakly, wearily. She was holding herself together with Craig's strength and mind as a shield, and she would last while that strength lasted. After that, she felt, she'd be crashing hard. She sighed. "Then let's get it over with." She took his hands and willed herself – themselves – back into what would be called the 'real' world, though few places felt as real as the one in his mind.

Away from the sun warmed highlands, Craig shivered feeling lost and disoriented. The only anchor he had to focus on was the woman he'd gathered into his arms and he was quick to bury his nose in her hair and allow his eyes to close while he steadied himself. Closet. Janitorial. Ra'lin. Need to get to Dahe'el. The shaking began to subside the longer he chanted that mantra within his headspace. "C'mon, lass..." He groaned against her scalp as he unfolded his lanky legs and moved to stand. It was harder to do while keeping hold of her, but he managed. Light as dandelion fluff, she was. "Let's get this ower wi' sae we kin sit 'n' get ye taken care o' proper." And thus began the trip to the XO's office with a woman draped in his arms and worried tension plastered over his face.

To be continued...

Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer
Captain's Yeoman

Lieutenant Craig MacLeod
Chief Medical Officer


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