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[BACK / PLOT LOG] Capt. Neyes (ret.), Aela | "Silent Night" Pt 1

Posted on 242001.02 @ 22:01 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Captain Landon Neyes
Edited on on 242001.25 @ 14:43

Mission: Genesis

December 24th
20:32 PST
San Francisco, California - Earth


San Francisco at Christmas was a jovial and lovely place. Regardless of race, people seemed to genuinely enjoy festive lights and sparkling gifts wrapped up in glittery bows. Bells and holly boughs and fat men dressed up as a giant elf called Santa Claus filled most windows and marketing displays, and where they didn’t there were vestiges of snowflakes and pious religious depictions of the birth of Jesus Christ. How that had survived the ages truly lapsed most minds. No one questioned it. No one dared look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. They accepted it and perpetuated it largely because it was filled with feel good and stuffed with sugar and peppermint twists.

It almost made Aela sick. She rolled her eyes as she hustled down a wintry street, turning up her collar against the chill.

It hardly ever snowed in San Francisco.

The hills surrounding the city received their fair coating, but the city itself was largely spared from any notable accumulation. It seemed oddly fitting that the first white Christmas the city had seen in hundreds of years would be tarnished and tainted by horrible news. That part Aela found sort of entertaining. Rather, she would have had it not been the sort of news that would directly impact Landon and his happiness. Lifting her face towards the snowy sky, she could see the multi-colored twinkle of the lights Tristan, Landon, Zed, and Javaan had strung along the bay-front condo’s balcony rails. Even the stupid yucca tree Landon insisted upon tending to had been adorned with festive cheer and topped with a floppy red ‘Santa’ hat.

Inside she knew there’d be merriment in preparation for Santa’s arrival in the morning. Cookies would be coming fresh from the oven, dinner would be set and music would be playing. Landon would be keeping an eye on the computer, waiting for a call from his wife that would never come. All hope of St. Nicholas bringing good fortune and cheer would quickly be erased and the one who would pay the worst price of all would be sweet Javaan. Aela cleared the knot from her throat around the same time she passed the doorman and marched straight for the elevator.

---

“Listen, I need to talk to you.” The sugar cookie in Aela’s hand practically singed her skin. She’d been warned three times that it was still extremely hot, the sugar nearly molten, but she’d struck her claim regardless and wasn’t about to release her tasty prize. Landon nodded, flipping the white ball at the end of his hat back over his shoulder while he worked. He looked ridiculous, sporting a lit up array of mini lights around his neck, the goofy hat, and a t-shirt that proudly boasted ‘Dear Santa, I can explain…, but it made Javaan happy. The kid was busy torturing Tristan on some video game or another, the bells on his antler headband ringing with his every celebratory move. Javaan deserved to be happy.
Steam rose from the sink as Landon drained the water from his pot of pasta. Spaghetti was their traditional Christmas Eve fare, and tradition had become more important with every passing year he had a family again, “Can it wait until after Rochelle calls? Should be any minute.” He smiled apologetically, turning his gaze back to the task at hand. Being burned wasn’t precisely the Trill’s idea of a fun time and he’d become quite adept at avoiding incidents completely.

Aela’s nose twitched, “Funny thing… It’s about Rochelle,” Her words were quickly cut as she stuffed a warm bite of cookie into her mouth.

Her tone was mirthless, almost foreboding. Landon’s eyes flashed up and the dish towel he’d been using to help handle the hot pot found itself discarded much the same way the pot itself did, “What about her?” He asked, arching an eyebrow as he turned to check his simmering sauce. Dinner was just about ready and still the computer failed to beep and Aela now had made her cryptic comment. “Have you heard from her, Aela?”

Finishing her bite, the brunette slid away from the countertop and took her boss by the hand. A quick look told her that Javaan, Zed, and Tristan were still hopelessly ensnared in yet another round of the latest Mario Kart game and wouldn’t notice if the pair of them stole away for a moment or however long it took for her to give him the news and for him to absorb it. “Not exactly,” she answered straight, tugging him down the hall towards his office.

He followed, albeit it hesitantly, but he followed. The bright ice blue of his eyes bore into the back of her head until he was able to close the door behind them and take up a position by the office’s bay-view window. A brightly decorated sail boat was sailing serenely back into port, but otherwise the water had long since gone dark with the disappearance of the sun and the swirling undulations of the falling snow. “You mind telling me what’s going on and why my wife hasn’t called?” It wasn’t like her not to call, especially not when Javaan was there and waiting. Especially not on holidays. Part of him rejoiced in the fact that calls placed solely between them had increased and all shreds and signs of animosity had mostly been forgotten. She’d even returned his ‘Love you’s, no longer pretending that she didn’t love or care for him like she once had.

Aela slid her palms along the rough whip-stitched outer seam of her pants, splaying her fingers as her shoulders dropped and she tossed hair from her eyes, “I’ll preface by saying it isn’t because she doesn’t want to, it's because she can’t.” Real smooth.

It earned her a steadily rising brow and the entirety of his face coming away from the window to face her. The balcony lights reflected and burned along the edges of his skin, casting him in an otherworldly red hue. “What do you mean she can’t?” Landon hissed incredulously, folding his arms defensively over his chest as he felt his blood pressure begin to elevate, pulsing in and heating his ears. “Is she going to call later?” A thousand reasons as to why Rochelle couldn’t make a simple phone call to her son, to him, began to filter through his brain. Each one triggered further agitation if only because none of them were characteristic to the woman who would never shirk her responsibilities as a mother, as a wife, even if it meant placing Almar and the Vindicator on the back burner.

“No.” Her head shook slowly and her hands stilled against her hips.

“No?” He asked, both eyebrows high this time, “What do you mean no?”

The darker it got outside, the brighter the light illuminated his face. Landon’s handsome features were russet and twisted by anger - distorting her view of him as she struggled with the worst news she’d ever have to give him or anyone else.

“There was an accident in Arizona this morning,” She started and he immediately started to shake his head as if refusing to listen to the words pouring out of her mouth. It prompted her to reach for him, to press her arms against the sides of his arms, “I’m sorry Landon… I’m so fucking sorry.”

At first it didn’t click and her condolences were for nothing. An accident. Accidents happened all the time, she was prone to accidents. Maybe she’d slipped on ice. Maybe she’d taken a tumble from one of the horses. Maybe any number of things had happened and she was simply being kept for observation and pissed as an alley cat caught out in the rain about having to stay in the hospital, “Get Javaan’s things. We’ll hop a flight to Phoenix and be with her.” He nodded, slipping free from Aela’s grasp.

Aela caught him, tightening her grip and shaking her head, “No, Landon. You don’t understand.”

You don’t understand, I said we’re going to see my wife.” He bristled, refusing to come to terms with the magnitude of Aela’s discomfort or the message she was trying to convey.

“She… Rochelle’s gone, Landon!” She all but shouted, “Her shuttle crashed near Four Peaks and she’s gone. She didn’t make it.”

The pounding in his ears became a steady ringing that suffocated any and all other noise around him. Landon could see Aela’s mouth moving and the way her face screwed up with pain as she tried to both explain to and comfort him. Beyond the ringing came a throbbing pain that filled his temples and the distinct, sharp, deep rooted sensation of being punched in the guts that made him stumble and check his shoulder against the window sill. He hadn’t been physically hit, but the beating his psyche had taken was physical enough that he coughed, choked, and nearly vomited.

Bringing his wrist up to press it to his mouth, his lips encountered the worn leather band he kept from her. It had become a macabre trinket, soaked in both of their blood, sweat, and tears over the decade they had come to be part of one another’s lives and he wore it with the same religious devotion he did his wedding band. For so long that leather bracelet had been a sign of shame and had held her enslaved to the secrets of her past until one night aboard the Horizon when she’d forgotten it in his bed and it had become a stark reminder to never deny themselves that which they wanted most. Now it was once again a staunch reminder that he’d wasted time.

She was gone again.

This time permanently.

“No.” He groaned, shaking his head, “No, she’s not. She’s just up in those damn hills. She’s just being stubborn or lamenting turning thirty-three tomorrow.”

“Sweetheart…” Aela tried to croon, but crooning had never been her style, “Landon…” Her head shook as she watched his heart break to pieces right in front of her. She hadn’t ever particularly liked Rochelle, the redhead had always been far too aloof and pensive, even haughty, for Aela’s taste. Landon, on the other hand, was deeply convinced that she hung the stars that filled the night sky. Tristan, too, had nothing but admiration for the downright formidable Commodore Ivanova and then there was the fact that she’d brought Javaan into the universe. That had been her saving grace even in the middle of all the bullshit she’d put Landon through. Still… It pained Aela to know the woman was dead.

“Leave me.” Landon shrugged away her touch and turned in on himself, trembling beneath the weight of emotion that had fallen against him, “Tell Tristan and leave me, but do not let a word of this leak to Javaan.”

“Are you…”

“Not a word.”

By the time the door closed behind Aela, Landon had once more slumped against the window sill, pressing his forehead to the frigid windowpane. His arms had moved to hold himself, clinging to the warmth of his own body in an awkward attempt to hold himself together while soaking in the magnitude of the hand he’d now been dealt.

Rochelle had become more to him than just a lover or a wife. She’d become his word for hope, his rock, his port in even the roughest of storms. He wanted to scream, to hit something, to set the entire world on fire - but none of it would have changed a damn thing aside from leaving him feeling filthy and out of control in addition to broken and alone. The response was inelegant, hardly anything she deserved as a memorial and he knew she’d have scolded him for even thinking about it. It couldn’t stop him from shivering and shaking as the anxiety, shock, and cold continued to seep into his system. Or was it a direct response to his skin’s contact with the snow encrusted glass?

“God…” He breathed, fogging up the pane with the word for a deity he didn’t know if he believed in. Certainly something so omnipotent and all powerful wouldn’t condemn mere mortals to suffering while he watched from some celestial palace above the clouds. He snorted at the very thought, doing everything he could to quell what he was still lucid enough to realize was misplaced anger - as pointless as putting his fist through the window he rested against. As pointless as screaming although he was nearly certain he would combust if he didn’t release the torturous bellow that dug at the back of his throat. “Please…” He whispered, closing his eyes against the visions of falling snow and the sounds of a city celebrating a Christmas miracle while his entire world shattered and fell apart.

In the end, Landon was only vaguely aware of the sensation of his skin sliding down along the window and wall until his sinuous form pooled limply on the floor. The same could be said of his awareness of the tears that soaked his chiseled cheeks or the quiet sobs that shook his once proudly squared shoulders.

She was gone.

Just like that… No preamble. No warning. No goodbye… Gone.

… And he was cold.

---
To Be Continued...
---

Captain Landon Neyes
Retired
Starfleet

Aela
Resistance Fighter/Spy

 

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