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JL | Com Ivanova, Cmdr Dahe'el | "Tacitus" Pt3

Posted on 241809.23 @ 08:13 by Commander Almar Dahe'el & Commodore Rochelle Ivanova

Mission: Lacuna

"Hi." He’d offered, and a stupid smile lit up his face. Nothing could have stopped his eyes from getting a little glossy as he looked at her without the mask.

Rochelle felt her breath catch, heard the gasp as her lips trembled and weakened to part as her jaw dropped and the smile faded. Her fingers curled into her belly, dragging across her bodice as she took a hasty step backwards and nearly tripped over a loose board. "L... Landon!" She managed to pant as her head and heart spun.

It felt as if someone had kicked her in the ribs, and they burned against the constraints of her gown and corset, refusing to give her the air necessary to formulate thought and a proper sentence. It wasn't fair, he was a ghost, a replication, a figment of her imagination. He wasn't really there and she, once again, had been teased by her own emotions.

No matter how many times she blinked, no matter how many times she shook her head, he wasn't going anywhere.

He was there, smiling, speaking.

Leaving the heavy satin of her bodice, shaking fingers moved to feel only the skin of her bare upper chest and the rise of her collarbone where her combadge should have been. It became real then, the moment she could feel her own warm flesh beneath her fingers and chose to reach a trembling hand towards his face, hesitating only once before touching the rough stubble along his jaw. No intruder alerts had gone off and the heat of his skin and the texture of his five o'clock shadow promised he wasn't just another dream time apparition like she'd woken up from so many times before or some cruel joke of a hologram.

"You're..." Her heart skipped, once, twice as her thumb grazed the satin softness of his lower lip. "I..." Her head shook, a curl falling free to drape across her shoulder, "You died... You're dead. But you're here... But you're dead..." The familiar welling of panic rose in her chest, the sting of tears forcing her to blink several times and chase the snowflakes from her thick lashes.

Rochelle couldn't run from him, though she knew she probably should have and the lack of oxygen combined with adrenaline forced her down further and steadily threatened to steal from her more than just her breath. She teetered on weakened knees to reclaim that one stolen step towards him with her lower lip quivering and chin dimpling as she fought to keep from crying. "I saw them take you..." She whimpered in a whisper, her eyes raking over his face and landing back on his with confusion and question smoldering within their glassy teary fathoms. Moreover, there was hope in them. Hope that he was real and by some miracle she'd been lied to and he'd made his way home to them... To her. There in the cold one more thing became ultimately apparent; she was going to faint.

The rest of the night was more of a blur spent talking cloaked in warm robes in the command suite. Showers taken, food consumed, they’d pissed the whole haunted night away playing twenty thousand questions, but none of them were the ones that mattered.

Those went unasked…

For years…

Even when things that meant the most were stolen from them and hopes and dreams turned to ashes and dust.

"Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant." The latin words burned across her quiet mind while the first gentle fingers of the cool evening wind came to stroke her dirt and tear stained cheeks. The desert below was vast and silent, filled with wonder from all directions as wide and far as the eye could see. It was purple and pink, maybe a touch of orange - painted by the sun that had only just fallen behind the mountains to the west - and the chilled night breezes had begun to set in.

Set upon that rock with her elbows on her knees, Rochelle watched as the city lights of Phoenix became a dim glow on the horizon, confirming that which she already knew... Not like she could get lost in a holoprogram at any rate. It did little to ebb the tide of hurt that remained as a residual post the so-called healing session or curry away the remnants of her tears or the swelling maelstrom of emotions in her chest. The toxic burn of alcohol against her lips and down her throat made her wince. She hated the shit with a passion, and the mind numbingly disproportionate so-called 'feel good' that it brought with every heated sip. Again, she’d digress… It was the closest she could allow herself to get to Landon's highs, trying in vain to understand just what it was that made it so damned alluring... And failing.

Fuck memories and fuck him trying to pin this shit on her.

"To ravage, slaughter, steal, these things they misname Empire: and where they make a desert, they call it peace." She recited the translation, pulling the bottle of Don Julio away from her lips and studying it and with it the parallels of Tacitus' fateful words and her own life. She'd done it all, more or less, in the name of the Vindicator - for sake of Landon - and for what? The bottle fell, shattering on the rocks below and wasting the rest of its contents away into the barren desert soil.

But she wasn't alone. Even over the soft sigh of wind through the canyons and the nearby chortle of coyotes greeting the rising stars and moon, she could hear soft foot falls against the sandy loam behind her. The owner of those steps didn’t need introduction, she’d have known him anywhere.

"Poquott." The name of the town on that stupid planet stuck in the nebula. The one the Horizon had crash landed on. The one that had almost killed Si’a and Anaxar and Claire and Landon. It sounded hollow, maybe even colored by hints of the embarrassment she felt at being caught in such an unrefined and undignified fashion. “I found out I was pregnant when I got back from trying to spring them on my own.”

Her eyes were closed to the desert wind and the dusty purple dusk that was soundly turning plum and navy as night continued to fall, “Found out I’d lost the baby on the trip back to Cold Station Theta.” Her hum was threatening to break as her jaw quivered, “ Landon’s not a stupid man, he’s foolish and selfish, but not stupid. I didn’t tell him, I never told anyone… But he knew.” Of course he had. She’d seen the sadness written across his face, she’d watched his heart break as she shut him out and refused his company in sickbay. “Ra’lin and Kaleb knew, but I never…” She drew a breath, trying to steady herself, “We never spoke about it again.” There were tears now, but they hadn’t collapsed into the hot, body shaking sobs that had once consumed her over the topic. Not yet.

Rochelle’s fingers curled into the sun warmed stone beneath them, trying to anchor herself from that angry storm, “I blame him.” She continued, strained and hoarse and raw, “I blame him because of the drugs, because he was flying with them in his system and made it so I had to go down there, save him. I traded lives and I chose wrong.”

She didn’t mean that - none of it, not a word - and she knew it deep down inside. She knew that given the chance Landon would have laid down his life to preserve the one they’d created together… Or would he? 900 years of lifetime experience and he chose to get high and pretend like life was great. She’d married a total stranger, someone with a hidden life. Deep in her throat she could feel an anguished scream just begging to rip free, but she denied it. Settling for shaking shoulders as her resolve began to crumble. Dumping this on Almar wasn’t exactly fair, but it wasn’t as if she’d asked him to stroll in, checking up on her.

He'd come upon her after setting out in search for her, she had missed their usual pre-arranged dinner and such an out of character turn had led the Cardassian to track her down, a simple task for anyone who knew her and had the balls to ask the computer for her location. he'd stepped in an observed her for a time, listening intently as she recited a phrase twice, once in a long dead Human language and the second time translated.

Moving to sit beside her on the rock only seemed natural, Almar stayed silent as she spoke, he'd felt this bubbling beneath the surface and was ready to let it flow, she was beginning the process of healing and while it would be a long and arduous journey for her to take, it would be a much healthier one in the long run once it had been spoken.

After what seemed like minutes, but had only been a few moments, a heavy, scaled hand was placed on her shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze in an attempt to soothe the shaking that was being generated by the pain flowing through her, the smooth tone of his voice began ringing out through the simulated wilds, "There are no words I can speak beyond those I have spoken time and time again, I am here for you,"

"Yeah..." She choked on her own voice, struggling to catch her breath and shaking her head in objection to the word that had sarcastically slipped from her lips, "You are, but you know what the real kicker is?" Rochelle's sniffling and the quivering of her lower lip and chin betrayed every emotion that still boiled just beneath the surface of her delicate skin and as her eyes opened, they pooled with unshed tears. Refusing to cry, refusing to break even though she was so perfectly poised and ready, "He over turned the divorce. He fought it, had Tristan say he was sick and not incapacitated, and argued I had no right to do what I did. He won. They granted his fucking request."

Almar's eyes flared for a moment as he moved the hand to her far shoulder and pulled her closer to him, his chest against her quivering shoulder, "I would argue the point, Tristan cannot be considered objective, he bares the cloned symbiont and he is his brother..." the Cardassian replied as he went through the vast number of precedents he could drag up, "The determination of his brothers mental state cannot be determined by someone who has a personal stake in this, not from a legal standpoint, it HAS to be objective, someone without bias."

"Oh you mean like the head doctors had the center he's checked into? Landon went around Tristan to have the papers drawn up." Rochelle snorted sharply, a noise most undignified and downright savage as she talked through teeth that threatened to chatter with the degree of anger and upset that boiled through her veins against the rapidly cooling desert night. "If I want to divorce him, I'm going to have to go through it in the courts. The courts are going to demand that we seek counseling for the sake of Javaan. Not even Admiral Red can force the fucking point." Her head hung, leaning to rest somewhere against both his chest and her own shoulder. "Tristan was nothing more than a post-script and delivery boy to the courts. He didn't even give me the decency of a warning."

It hurt. Her chest burned and ached as if some great beast were clawing at it, trying to free itself from the inside out. It wasn't the feeling of a broken heart, no... She'd felt that three times before, the day Tristan had walked through her ready room door - confirming that which she feared most. That fracture of her heart had come over a period of days and weeks after returning from Notura, truly believing that she'd lost Landon. The day she'd come to learn of Landon's addiction and the results of his blood work after returning from Poquott... How they'd been run nine God damned times just to be sure of the results. The day she'd come to realize she'd lost the baby, being told by Kaleb there was no miracle of science that could save her pregnancy. Those had been instances of heartbreak. This pain was different, but no less malignant, "Why can't he just take the gift given? Why can't he just accept that he's free from Tr'Bak's gaze and free from all the bureaucratic bullshit he hates so much?!" This time her voice was pinched and strangled, once more proving how close to the edge she truly was... And she hated it.

Almar sighed slightly as he held her shoulder and lent his chin on the top of her head. He ached and part of him wanted to rage against the universe, it wanted to take the ship he had built and rain fire on everyone that had worked to keep them apart, every step that had led to this situation had been caused by a single man, a constant thorn in their side and it killed the Cardassian inside to know that he was still out there. "Some people can't accept the gifts, the chance for peace would be a fine one, if we had that chance..." his voice trailed off as he began fantasizing about the possibility.

"But we don't." She responded quickly, almost bitterly, "We don't have that chance and likely never will so long as Tr'Bak is out there..." And then she sighed, screwing her jaw tight as she fought the constant welling of pain and anger building within her chest, "And even if we got rid of him, there'd just be another... and another... and another." The question as to why she'd never simply given up, left when Landon had begged her to, resurfaced and tugged, patiently, on the strings of her soul. Rochelle would never voice it, never answer it, never acknowledge it - but it was there and steadily becoming ever present as she fought for a stable hold on the new cards life had dealt her. "I have to go speak with Admiral Red. See what we can do to put some distance between us and the station and give me some time to think about things."

"Time and distance would be good, for all of us." Almar replied with a slight sigh as he planted a soft kiss on to her temple, his lips lingered there for a few moments before a second kiss, he knew what needed to be done and his mind was already rolling through the procedures, "I'll have the ship made ready and take us out to transporter range, as soon as you're ready we can depart for wherever we're being sent."

It was all she could do to nod and agree to the roughly laid 'plan' being put into place. "You don't think I'm being cowardly?" She finally asked, reaching to brush hair from her dampened cheeks.

"You've already done more than enough to face this down, its not cowardly to need time to process and put plans in place." Almar replied, his voice softening as he turned to look out over the holographic terrain.

At the sound of his voice, rumbling and soothing though it was, she felt her eyes close. She had done things to 'face it down', but those things failed to sit well with her. They nagged at her, burning and tugging at the edges of her soul and existence as a whole. "Then so be it," Rochelle sniffed with a slight nod in affirmation, "We prepare to set course to Apsha. No doubt the Admiral will send us in that direction."

(End Log)

Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS Vindicator, NX-78213-F


Commander Almar Dahe'el
Executive Officer
USS Vindicator, NX-78213-F


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