December challenge: (Not Quite) Home for the Holidays

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Enterprise1981, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Since I can only find two entries to this challenge, I figured it can't hurt to try to submit this story since it does involve the theme of the challenge to some degree.

    Note that Rebecca Sullivan was Michael Eddington's wife in the DS9 episode "Blaze of Glory" and is a regular character in my fanon universe.

    ***

    [LEFT] The time is 2100 hours, 30 minutes.

    Rebecca Sullivan awoke once the computer announced the time. She felt her forehead, still feeling a little groggy. It was nothing a cup of coffee and a quick sonic shower wouldn’t cure before she reported to the bridge for the gamma shift. As she threw the bed covers aside and rose from the bed, she felt a wave of disorientation as if her mind was in a fog. What day was it? She would ask herself this a lot the moment awoke from a long slumber. Usually, it came to her within a few seconds. But not today for some reason.

    “Computer, what day is it?” she asked.

    “Stardate 51893.6053.”

    It was one year ago today. Exactly one year since Michael Eddington was killed on Athos Four. One year since her beloved husband died, making her a widow before her thirtieth year. Thousands of her colleagues in the Maquis died when the Dominion began eradicating the resistance organization in the former Demilitarized Zone between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. But none of their deaths hit her as hard as Michael’s. As much as she tried to convince herself he was just another casualty of war, she couldn’t while in the presence of Benjamin Sisko, the man who took him from her just a few short weeks after their nuptials. Seeing Michael come to her cell’s rescue, only to be killed, was like having her heart ripped out of her chest.

    She tried to put the feelings of grief and loss that had suddenly overcome her psyche in the back of her mind while sauntering into the head. She pushed a button allowing the top of the chest of drawers to slide open and reveal a sink. Water began pouring into the sink and Rebecca dipped both her hands into the water to splash some on her face. She took a few deep breaths as a single tear escaped her eye. “Pull yourself together,” she would say over and over. “Just pull yourself together, Rebecca.”

    But she couldn’t. She was breathing heavily, as if she would hyperventilate. More tears flowed down her face as she leaned her back against the wall. Her whole body slid down the wall and she softly landed on the floor sobbing.

    ***​
    Shortly after she granted Rebecca’s request to take the day off, Limis Vircona paid a visit to her friend’s quarters. She just entered cabin without ringing. True, it was not good etiquette to do so nor was it was appropriate conduct for a captain with one of her crew, but Rebecca was the exception, their friendship going back nearly decade prior to the Maquis.
    Rebecca was curled up on the bed, hugging a pillow. She had been crying for some time, her cheeks red and tears freely flowing down. Vircona took a few steps and sat at the edge of the bed. She stroked Rebecca’s hair and gave her a consoling smile. Rebecca half-heartedly returned the smile and brushed away her tears with one hand.

    “I do still think about him, but not so much about his sacrifice,” Rebecca said somberly. “Then it hit me when the computer reminded me of today’s date. It’s been a year. A whole year since Michael died.”

    Vircona brushed a single tear from Rebecca’s cheek. She then lay down on the bed next to her friend. “I didn’t realize it either until you asked for today off,” she said. “Maybe you were just trying to convince yourself that Michael was just another casualty. Add to that not having very much time to grieve. A lot of those people who died were close friends, Becca. If you need to wallow in your own grief for a while, then you can take a few days off. He was your husband and you’re allowed to mourn.”

    “Thank you, Vira,” Rebecca replied with a chuckle.

    Vircona then held Rebecca’s face by both her tear soaked face and rested her head on her shoulder. Rebecca then wrapped her arms around Vircona’s shoulders. She still felt intense feelings of grief and loss, but now she felt less alone in the universe with her best friend by her side.

    ###

    Sara Carson sat by herself in one of the smaller crew lounges. In addition to the primary mess hall and crew lounge, a number of smaller lounges were dispersed throughout the Lambda Paz where crewmembers could have some time to themselves. The arrangement of furniture was similar to that of the mess hall, with tables for eating in the center and sofas and chairs for recreational socialization. Each of the four corners of the room contained an alcove separated from the rest of the room by a transparent aluminum screen so that individuals could listen to music or watch video entertainment programs in relative privacy without disturbing other patrons.

    Sara often went to one of these crew lounges in the middle of the night by the ship’s clock— usually defined as between midnight and sunrise on planetary surfaces—when she was having trouble sleeping. She would replicate a cup of chamomile tea and peruse the ship’s navigational logs in the hope that those would lull her sleep. With no one else in this particular lounge, she did not bother to close the corner alcove screen while listening to a series of Earth winter holiday songs that the computer had randomly selected. By the Earth calendar, Christmas and Hanukkah were two short weeks away. In the midst of the Dominion War, though, being home for holidays was a luxury very few Starfleet officers had.

    A new song began playing that caught Sara’s attention. She flung the padd in her right hand onto the coffee table and continued nursing her cup of tea with her left while considering how the lyrics applied to her own love life. At this time last year, she had given her heart to Mandel Morrison. For one, he was a very attractive man most of the women on the ship lusted for. And he seemed so sweet and charming when they first met. But then he seemed to go out of his way to sabotage the relationship after Sara let slip that she was in love with him. She tried to ignore his a for a few months until he found a way to avoid spending time with her while the Lambda Paz was on layover, at which time, she terminated the relationship.

    Unlike in the song, though, Sara had not found true love. In fact, she wasn’t sure if what she felt for Mandel was really love. She was just another woman who was easily seduced by his charming and easygoing nature. She was so lost in the thoughts of the previous year that she didn’t hear the doors part.

    Rebecca stepped inside, but then stopped in her tracks when she heard music playing. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t mean to disturb you, Lieutenant.”

    Sara leaned forward and gently set her teacup on the table. “No, it’s quite all right,” she said. “Computer, pause music.”
    “You don’t have turn it off on my account,” Rebecca said as she walked over to the replicator and ordered a glass of water. “Of course, Christmas is another four months away
    Sara was immediately thrown by Rebecca’s last statement. “I’m sorry?” she asked. “It’s in two weeks.”

    “I grew up on Volan Three,” Rebecca explained, walking towards Sara and grabbing a nearby chair. “The seasons are… or rather were radically different from Earth,” she added, sitting across from her. “There weren’t any white Christmases or green Christmases. More like tan Christmases. And add in how stardates are calculated, accounting for time dilation effects of faster than light travel.”

    “Right,” Sara said with a nod, seeming disinterested in the very complex mathematical formula. “Quite a tragedy what happened to the Volan colonies when the Jemmies laid waste to the whole planet. But why would you want to be reminded of that?”

    “It was my home for much of my life. That still means something even if the whole planet is now uninhabitable and will be for the next century.”

    “Sorry,” Sara relented, sensing some annoyance in Rebecca’s voice. “I guess I’m trying not to think about certain parts of my past.”

    Rebecca immediately knew who Sara was referring to and could sum it up in two words. “Commander Morrison,” she said. “I know his type. Guys like him don’t have girlfriends. They want to charm the next unsuspecting female, get in her pants, and then toss her aside when she wants a real relationship.”

    “You make it sound so malicious,” Sara remarked, as whatever part of her mind that was still in love with him or was still lusting for him had kicked in. But then she realized that he was the last person she should be defending. “I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.”

    “Deep down, he probably wants a real relationship,” Rebecca offered. “But you’re not obligated to wait around for him to realize it. I’ve been involved with men and women who were like Morrison. But Michael was different.”

    Saying the name of her late husband started to bring tears to her eyes while also bringing back fond memories. “He didn’t see me as just another conquest. We both made a point to keep in touch in between our meetings on Risa. He cared about me more so than the other Maquis. The Maquis may have been what his life revolved around. But I was the center of his universe and he was the center of mine. He was willing to die for me. I would imagine the last thing he said before he died was my name.”

    Sara was just as moved by Rebecca’s words. She took a few deep breaths as a feeling of guilt came over her mind. She was lamenting her own romantic shortcomings while Rebecca was experiencing a deeper sense of loss on what was a very painful anniversary. “I’m sorry,” she apologetically relented with a shake of her head. “The Jemmies killed your husband while here I am whining about a man who wasn’t who I thought he was.”

    “It’s quite all right,” Rebecca replied, leaning over and clasping Sara’s hand. “The feeling of loss is the same, that feeling that you have no control over anything and that you don’t understand the world around you as you used to.”
    “I hadn’t thought of it like that,” Sara said with a sense of relief. “We come from different worlds, you and I. But it’s good to know we can agree on a few things.”

    Rebecca gave a consoling smile. There was a sense of irony to this conversation. She was only here and not on the bridge because she needed to wallow in her own grief for a while, as Limis put it. What she didn’t expect was to be offering a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. “Sure,” she said. She leaned back in her chair and took a sip of water. “You know, we hardly ever see each other outside of the bridge shift changes and the inter-departmental consultations. But you don’t seem as uppity as a lot of the Starfleet vets on this ship.”

    “’Uppity’?” Sara repeated with a grin. “I guess you’re right. As someone who came into the service not that long ago, I guess see that Starfleet may have gotten a little complacent, forgetting all the struggles that got us to this point. Don’t forget the past, just learn from it.”

    “An axiom you can apply to your own love life,” Rebecca retorted.

    Sara nodded in agreement, but then yawned, possibly feeling the effects of the tea. “I should get back to sleep before my next shift,” she said, lethargically rising from her chair. “Christmas may be a few more months away from your vantage point, but it’s about spending time with friends and family. And our shipmates are the closest thing we have to family. And you’ve given me a new perspective on things. Thank you, Rebecca.”

    “You’re very welcome,” Rebecca said with a wide smile, something she did not expect of herself considering her emotional state just a few hours earlier.

    ###​

    Feeling her spirits lifted after her heart-to-heart with Sara, Rebecca decided to give back to someone who had always been by her side. Limis Vircona was willing to help her out of her own little funk despite all of her own emotional baggage. Now, in keeping with the Christmas spirit, Rebecca wanted to give back.

    "Peldor joi, Vira," Rebecca called to Limis while tossing over two rolled up pieces of paper and a pair of traditional inscription pens.

    Vircona dreaded hearing those native Bajoran words even from her closest and dearest friend. They were the words of greeting during the Gratitude Festival-- a celebration of Bajor's nearly completed sun-circuit around her star B'hava'el-- where the people spent three rotations embracing what they had to be grateful for and burning away their troubles before the start of the new year.

    She awoke from her self-induced trance sitting in a chair in an empty eating area, cradling a half-empty mug of coffee as Rebecca sauntered towards her. Vircona just stared pensively at the primitive writing devices that fell into her lap. "I see nothing joyous about the last year, Becca," she deadpanned, having used a word in Federation standard that best corresponded with that traditional Bajoran greeting.

    "No?" Rebecca asked, sitting in a chair across from her friend. "Despite the war, we have plenty to grateful for. You said so on the bridge after the slaughter at Sector 21607."

    Vircona sighed and stared out the nearby viewport, hoping to lose herself in her thoughts again. "That was before we lost ninety-eight ships in the Tyra system and we got fragged several times in the Betreka Nebula by unidentified ships from the future that are part of some 'temporal cold war'. Over forty of my crew have lost their lives."

    Vircona turned her gaze at Rebecca, recalling how the mission to locate Vircona's son went horribly awry for both of them. "And to top it off," she continued, "I don't whether my son is dead or alive, and some Cardassian is using him to avenge a death in the family I caused. So what do I have to be grateful for? Waiting for the day Gul Hadar says all is forgiven? The Fire Caves will freeze over first."

    Rebecca smirked, finding amusement in the Bajoran variant of the expression, "when hell freezes over." "The Romulans have now joined the war," she replied. "The invasion of enemy territory will happen any day now."

    "That's just the News Service's attempts to lift our spirits. You seem awfully cheerful for someone grieving the loss of a spouse."

    Rebecca did not want to be reminded that the one-year anniversary of the death of her husband had come and gone. It was a day she spent in her quarters wallowing in her own sadness. "Not a day goes by I don't think about Michael," she said, letting a single tear fall from her eye. "Most of the time I feel like falling to the floor and bawling like a baby even when I'm on duty. The Maquis in me still reminds me that Michael gave his life so they we could help give those Cardie bastards a taste of their own medicine. And the Maquis in me says that a starship crew's morale is only as good as its captain's. You got us through those rough times, Vira."

    Rebecca brushed her own tears away and walked over to her friend. She sat down on the coffee table, picking up the traditional Bajoran renewal scroll still perched in Vircona's lap. She unfolded the piece of paper to reveal that what was troubling Vircona had already been written on the scroll.

    Vircona gave a light grin. She leaned over to the table, setting down the piece of paper and wrote down what often had Rebecca in a mental fog during the last year. "And since burning bateret leaves might be a fire hazard," she said, walking to a weapon locker containing two phasers. She increased the settings on both of them and then handed one of them to Rebecca.

    The two women aimed their phasers at the scroll and fired, incinerating the paper. The problems of their personal and professional lives were far from solved. But seeing that symbolic representation of those problems turn to ash gave them a measure of contentment.

    It reminded them of all the positive aspects of their lives amid all the death and destruction around them. It reminded that they still had plenty to be grateful for, including the most important commodity, which they had in abundance. That was the presence of family or the closest thing they had to it.

    [/LEFT]
     
  2. Captain2395

    Captain2395 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Interesting symbolism at the end and I like this dimension to Eddington's life. Even though he's dead, you've developed his backstory. I always thought that much more could have been done with his character on DS9 but I suppose interest in him was overtaken by the events of the Dominion War.
     
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One of the goals of "Blaze of Glory" was to finish the Maquis arc and not deal with it ever again, and rightly so. And so one purpose of the series this story belongs to was to address what became of what was left of the Maquis.

    And glad you enjoyed the symbolism, which the Gratitude Festival is all about.
     
  4. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Jul 13, 2008
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    A nice, sentimental story. I also liked how you "worked in" the season!

    Well done.