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Ithaca, Part 3

Posted on 23 Nov 2017 @ 10:49am by Lieutenant Sterek

Mission: History
Location: USS Avalgariad
Timeline: October 2378

(OOC content warning for non-explicit discussion of suicide and torture. Please be advised that subtext may distress.)

Sterek had known that this was coming, and yet the preliminary symptoms had hit him with such force that he had struggled not to inadvertently alert all his colleagues of his condition. Or punch one of them in the face, perhaps.

He had booked two weeks of leave and left emphatic instructions not to be disturbed for anything other than emergencies, and then he had calmly deactivated the alarms in his quarters in case any emergencies did arise. After that, fighting back the terrible emotional instability that came with this... unfortunate condition, he had drafted a full handover document for the rest of the medical team, written brief notes for Sivar and his former in-laws, and lay down on his bed with seven full hyposprays of sedative, waiting for the Lingering Death to take him.

It was not merely the mental image of T'Zara with that rifle in her hands all those years ago, a death he had caused as surely as if he had pulled the trigger himself. Even the thought of resolving the pon farr brought with it a dark and gripping sickness that had been lurking in the back of his mind since Aidoni, the sure certainty that he could no more bear the touch of another person than he could breathe in a vacuum or walk unscathed through fire. And when, five days in, there came a frantic banging on his door, his urge to beat the intruder into unconsciousness disgusted him. Instead, he took a few clearing breaths, hid the hyposprays, and opened it.

Sivar looked him up and down. "Your colleagues tell me you are not receiving communications," she said.

"What are you doing here?"

Sivar didn't answer, only strode past him, took in the ordered surroundings and the PADDs in a neat pile on his desk. "You are alone," she observed. Sterek tensed.

"You are intruding on my meditations," he told her.

"Meditating through the pon farr only works if you retain the will to live."

She picked up one of the PADDs. Sterek clenched his fists.

"I do not need your pity, Sivar," he snapped. "Not to this extent."

Sivar rounded on him suddenly. Sterek was shocked to see anger and pain in her face.

"Did you not consider that I may not be doing this out of pity? That I may actually want you to live because you are my friend?"

Her proximity was almost unbearable. Her dark, almond-shaped eyes; those artist's hands. He stepped back, to avoid reaching out. "I killed T'Zara," he said.

"Your logic is-"

Sterek interrupted her. "My arrogance. My unwillingness to release her from the marriage." His voice was trembling. "It may have been her decision, but it was a decision that I forced her to make. How can you even look at me after what I did?"

"The men who hurt you," Sivar said, abruptly. "Would you kill them, if you had the opportunity?"

Sterek felt as if he had been punched in the stomach. To bring it up now, when he was vulnerable and already emotionally compromised - he wondered for one sickening moment whether she was trying to provoke him into violence.

"I have told you this before. I doubt you have forgotten my-"

"Just answer the question."

Sterek's answer came quietly, after a long pause. "No."


He did not respond for a moment or two.

"Because they grew up in a world shaped by war and inequality and their personalities had developed accordingly," he replied finally. "Had they been born in more compassionate surroundings, they might have learnt more compassion themselves. And... because I believe that every intelligent being deserves a chance to change for the better."

Sivar's gaze was steady. "And why are you so special," she said, "that you should be irredeemable when they are not?"

This time, when she reached out her hand to him, he took it. And the strangeness of knowing that she had been closer to his late wife than he would ever be was soon chased away by the echoes of T'Zara's memory in the mind of her lover; the sense that somehow behind Sivar's skin was a ghost they were finally putting to rest.

He knew, even as his thoughts dissolved away, that her touch would not erase the pain of his losses. But perhaps it was enough, for now, to be near someone who understood.


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