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JL | Com Ivanova, Capt Neyes, Cmdr Neyes | "Super Glue and Stitches" pt. 2/2

Posted on 241808.24 @ 13:15 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Captain Landon Neyes & Commander Tristan Neyes PhD.

Mission: Lacuna

The last bit tipped him off the edge, and she could see it in the way his face twisted in rage, shadowed by fear, "You gave me everything?! YOU LEFT me there!", he cried, nearly choking as spittle flew from his lips. As she held herself, reminding them both of the loss suffered, Landon couldn't imagine what it felt like to be her. Lost to both of them was the future they'd so looked forward to. He'd barely known she was pregnant, at least it felt that way while he staggered through the days. And the memories, storming between the fury and pain, slid Landon like an oil slick past reason and control. The thin grasp he had on himself let go, and the images of it all crashed over him. None of it was fair, none of it was their fault, but he was so goddamned angry there was nowhere for his mind to go. He had to let it out.

His breathing became chaotic and haggard. Landon could still feel the first time he woke up on Tr'bak's ship. The cold metal of the chair he was pressed against by restraining fields, unable to move. Landon pointed at Tristan, "You didn't know it wasn't me! How am I supposed to feel when the woman I stopped everything for nearly died with an imposter?! That monster of a clone had you professing your love for him and you didn't... you didn't know, it. wasn't. me. Tristan remembers more about that fucked up snowball of a planet than I do. He remembers... he uh... you sent it away. You thought... You gave him up and incestuously allowed Tristan, my brother, and symbiotic successor, to serve as your goddamned counselor. Fuck, Rochelle! What the fuck am I supposed to feel? I'm supposed to just smile and let it go? I don't know how to reconcile loving you when there's this space you apparently didn't need to fight for. The space I used to fill. Then I came back, and I lied to myself that it would all be fine. I was back and I had you.

"But sometimes...", there was the expression again, he turned away from her, "I'd see your face and have to blink, because you were covered in blood, your fucking skin so burned and maimed I didn't recognize you. Because THAT is what he showed me after you left me behind. Tr'bak ruined my life, worming and working fingers past my defenses for weeks. He found you somewhere up here," Landon grabbed his head, standing to look her in the face at a slight bend, "he found you and he pulled you out. He put something else in, Rochelle. I tried to ignore it, be like it was before. But nothing worked.

"Except the drugs." He laughed, almost in tears, the sick reality of it all coming to a head, "I knew it wouldn't last, but I was going to lose you anyway..."

"I didn't have a choice, Landon!" Rochelle could barely recognize her own voice. Hoarse, husky, and shrill... It was the hoarseness and the shrillness that seemed so alien and foreign to her ears as it rang clarion even over his bellows and laughter. "It happened so fucking fast, what was I supposed to do?! Strip him naked and compare spot charts? Give him a thousand pop quizzes? No! We were running for our fucking lives, dying, and he was you!"

"You're so fucking selfish, you know that? You think you're the only one with nightmares and losses?" That ridiculous hair was loose again, she was swiping at it again - but somehow in the middle of all that she wound up touching him as he rose. A finger brushed something, somehow, she couldn't be sure why - but it burned. The familiarity of his skin absolutely singed her, crumbling the flawed sense of resolve that she held so tightly to and it didn't take much before she was once more overshadowed by him, looking up at him while that storm raged on. She didn't dare look at Tristan or invite him or his 'wisdom' into the fray and she certainly didn't fear the man, however wild and incensed, before her.

"I sat for days fighting the commission to give you, him, it a chance. I sat there fighting because I thought he was you and had no evidence to prove otherwise - and then you were gone. No goodbye. No closure aside from someone who walked into my life that looks a bit like you, shares your symbiont, memories... I fucking hated him, Landon! I didn't welcome him with open arms! I didn't allow anything and the only reason I let him stay was because he was the only link I had to you." How the fuck had they gone so long without ever discussing this? Had they truly been so blind and ignorant to believe that ignoring this harrowing bits of the past would ever pave the way for a future anything other than flawed and destined for a legitimate fuck up?

"I felt like a fucking moron when you came back to me..." It was her turn to laugh, but it wasn't filled with amusement. It was rough and sharp, backed by heated breath and that swelling maelstrom in her chest, "I felt so fucking stupid when I found out that it wasn't you that I admitted my secrets to, but I was so stupidly happy that I had you back. I never stopped to think about anything else but glory fucking hallelujah! He's alive! Had I known, Landon?" Her weight shifted, her tongue worried her lip, and she reached - albeit it hesitantly - to cup his jaw with shaking hands. Christ alive, she was furious - but she couldn't deny him or the reality that had spun so wildly out of control. He'd lost so much weight, but his jaw still felt so strong against her palms. The heat of threatened tears prickled along her nose and she drew breath to defy them, tightened her jaw with sharp defiance.

"Had I known..." What? She'd hunt the Romulan bastard down? Go rogue? Pirate? Murderer? Put Landon out of his misery? Hers? Her head shook.

They'd met point fuck up.

"Damn you, Landon." Her thumbs stroked his cheeks subconsciously while spoke if only to deny her lower lip the chance to commit betrayal by way of a tell tale quiver - though her chin wrinkled and dimpled with the strain.

He stared at the wall past her. His thoughts spun in his head, blinding him to anything else in the room. The comfort of her holographic touch would have been hollow enough without knowing there was no coming back from this point. What made them them had died with whatever they'd left behind. The contact she gave him was welcome if out of place, like a distant relative who'd gone unseen. He was ashamed and angry. She brushed his cheek as it wetted, his emotions getting the better of him.

"I am selfish. And I feel damned. I want to trade commiserations with you but I'm lost in this. It's too much." He felt regret for blaming her, and yet he knew the pain was real. "I just want to feel like me again. I want Vaan to know I love him." Gods, Vaan. Landon had never expected to be the father to a child. For most of the boy's life, Landon had been skirting the line between sanity and complete loss of control. To be in his shoes Landon could see there being no forgiveness, to the son of a father who had suffered and failed too much to care.

"But part of me just wants to be done." He brushed the rogue hair behind her ear. "Because I know that's what we are. But Vaan,-"

"He knows. He idolizes you." Her head shook slowly and her hands fell from his face to his chest. "I don't hate you Landon." Rochelle began her reply. There wasn't anymore yelling to be done now, no point in it, "I love you, but loving you up close is killing both of us. I don't want to be responsible for that... It's why I did what I did and am doing what I'm doing." She was quiet for a minute, feebly toying with the loose fabric over his chest. It didn't feel like him under there - her Landon was so strong and sure... Or so she'd always thought. "You found parts of me I didn't know existed and in you I found a love I no longer believed was real or possible. So for all of this, the hurt, the blame game, the..." She paused, shaking her head, "Jesus... Landon, were we really that stupid to believe that burying all of this was going to end well?"

Neyes let her holographic image touch him, but he again looked away, "Try as we might, and all that."

In truth, there was always a lingering impermanence in Landon's life. With the death of his family, and being closer to death than most, the days on his life felt like borrowed credit much of the time. Time-pressed fear allowed him to push the boundaries of safety, to live life as if tomorrow was 50/50. Rochelle had managed to halt this, bringing an amazing distraction from himself that carried him for a time. It was no small thing. He was always the loose bolt, threatening to drop off at any moment. She'd managed to give him a foundation, and encouraged his better features. It wasn't enough though, to expect her to solve him and his demons by force of will alone. "When we're ready, I will be there for him." Javaan was the anchor now.

"When you're ready." She corrected him, letting her hands leave him with a final, gentle pat, "Vindicator leaves as soon as we receive new orders. We can arrange visits through this program while the ship is on deployment." There was resignation to be heard, but hope colored and curled within the sound of her voice all the same, "I think it would be best for everyone involved, it would give you time to continue with your treatment and hopefully make progress now that almost everything is out of the bag." Almost being the key word. She still burned over words unsaid and losses undefined that she'd managed to pin on him like some horribly out of fashion lapel badge.

"Sure. I can live with that." Landon said quietly.

Removing Landon from the Vindicator had nothing to do with career moves. It had nothing to do with preserving the integrity of the ship - but everything to do with getting him help and giving them both the space necessary to heal. In the course of following protocol so bring him back, along with the rest of their crew, she'd unwittingly traded in a soul to an all too willing, and waiting, devil. Kaleb had known, Ra'lin too, but neither spoke of that life again - and neither had Rochelle - after it extinguished. In many ways she'd felt like she'd somehow traded their unborn child's life for his and he'd gone off and pissed it away on a high. That it meant nothing, no mortal life, was enough for him to be happy with. That she wasn't enough. That, in his access to infinity, he'd squandered away the meaning of fleeting moments that single life creatures, such as herself... Such as Javaan... Clung to and considered precious. Somehow, somewhere in the middle of it all, the tables had turned and she'd become the martyr.

It had taken a bit to realize that wasn't exactly true, that his issues weren't her fault - and regardless of what he'd said in moments previous to the one she now stood in, she wasn't at fault for any of this beyond her complacency and not pushing the point. Part of her even doubted that the outcome would have been any different had she run off with him and away from Starfleet each time he'd asked her.

No more what ifs.

It was a breath of fresh air filled with cooling, comforting relief that soothed her worries even if it did little to alleviate the pain or the unresolved anger that still boiled. Someday she'd come to the point where she was willing to talk about it, but neither one of them were ready for that and she didn't want his pity. She wanted his respect and she wanted his health. The two of them were titans, and would always be an integral part of the lore that was and is Vindicator... But in some ways there would be a hint of resentment towards the ship that had both made and broke them.

"Anyway," she puffed on a relenting sigh. With the fire, at least the dangerous and out of control portion of it, was back under her thumb and stored away for another rainy day, Rochelle looked over to Tristan, "I stopped hating your ass a long time ago and came to peace with what happened. Mute button off."

Tristan nodded after patiently listening to their exchange for the duration, "That's good to hear." It wasn't difficult for him to separate their words from the intentions behind them. Rochelle was nothing if not honest to a fault, and she rarely coddled her crew. He knew he was no exception. He could see the resolution the two had come to was incomplete, though, and it troubled both of them. "A lot happened just now, it might be a good idea for the two of you to process for a while."

Stepping back a few paces, Landon put distance between them. The reality that they were vastly more distant to each other than this room didn't change how it made him feel. He was sick, he knew it. Without demeaning his experience, he still struggled with tackling more than his own thoughts. For what it was worth though, he understood her need to ignore parts of her life in order to continue. To let things slide for a time in order to maintain. He didn't have that luxury, obviously. Part of him resented her for it. Her life was crumbling before her eyes, slowly slipping through her fingers and she still managed to look the part of the Commanding Officer. Landon though, could only look up at the world through the narrow opening in his pit of self-doubt and broken futures. Tristan had once called it a pity-pit. Landon called it his reality. He'd been robbed of the shields that kept him in balance, the force that kept him aloft.

"Thanks for coming, Rochelle." He said quietly, the sadness still lingering.

She nodded at the younger Trill's words, choosing not to acknowledge Landon's reverse shuffle or the gap that hung between them. Colder air swirled in, trying to remind her of the pixelated shell of a man that had been standing so close her to just seconds ago. She denied it a port, leaving it to weather the storm alone. "No worries." was about all she could muster as far as words were concerned. How much more could she say that would have any significant or positive impact?

Given the circumstances? Absolutely nothing.

Brushing her hair back behind her ear, Rochelle forced herself to look up at Landon again. With their cards on the table, and so much left unsaid, the raw pain and sadness was still so very palpable. His eyes were dim and quiet again and the power he'd held through his shoulders during their little skirmish had disappeared, leaving him deflated once more. She drew breath to speak, her lips even parted - but whatever was to come stalled out and left her by way of a small sigh and small, whisper of a smile. No. There wasn't anything more she could say. Her stubborn spirit and heart refused to allow for anything more.

Tapping just above her eyebrow twice, as if to tip her hat to him, she pivoted on one sandaled foot to take her leave - an old gunslinger wheeling their horse around to ride off into the unsettled dust. "We'll talk soon, Tristan." would be the last of it before her end of the transmission was cut - and not a moment too soon. Crying in front of them, breaking at all, wasn't an option.


Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer

Commander Tristan Neyes

Captain Landon Neyes (ret.)


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