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Macallan and Pocketwatch

Posted on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 @ 7:14pm by Lieutenant Lilith Sullivan & Cassandra Leblanc-Reed
Edited on on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 @ 7:20pm

Mission: For Whom The Bell Tolls
Location: USS Majestic, Junior Officers' Quarters
Timeline: MD06, 2030

"Bye Wilfred, hope your headache goes away soon."

The door to Ensign Wilfred Wexler's quarters closed. Lilith turned away to look at her friend who was standing nearby. The smile on Sullivan's face was teetering on the edge of turning into full on laughter - a fitting response to the adventure that they had just experienced together.

"Oh Cassie," Lily exhaled, "I'm too tired to laugh, but I really, really want to right now. What the hell just happened? I didn't just imagine the whole thing did I?"

"I don't doubt for a second that we ran around Deck 2 trying to find a naked man, whilst drunk to various degrees," Cassie responded, feeling a chuckle bubbling in her throat. "But I'm starting to think that his sweet, sweet ass and lovely spot pattern is just a figment of my imagination. I saw him three times today, and I lost him three times."

That chuckle bubbling in her throat finally rolled out of her mouth. A giggle and a guffaw soon followed. "But this, this was f***ing hilarious. Reminded me of the time I ran naked around campus during a frat party..." she started when her laughter subsided, but she started laughing again at the memory.

"Oh you went to a civilian university too? Twinsies! I may or may not have stories that will make you blush, but I don't think I was ever brave enough to go streaking. What happened?"

"I ended up falling asleep behind some bushes, and had to get back to my dorm the next morning, butt naked," she finished, blushing. Not one of her most stellar academic moments, to be sure. "Anyway, we should get you home. Sleep off what's left of that whisky in your system." She studied Lilith's face, noticing the dark circles under her eyes for the first time. "And maybe catch up on some sleep, while you're at it, yeah?"

Noticing that she was studying her face, Lily hid behind her hands in protest, peaking through the gaps between her fingers. "Ah don't look! I know, I look pathetic right now, especially in the presence of such gorgeous company," she pouted. "Honestly Cass, I haven't been sleeping well, and by well, I mean at all. I think it has something to do with the thing in my head. I keep having nightmares. I don't recommend it."

Cassie gently held Lilith's hands and pried them apart. "I still think you're lovely, despite the fact that you look like crap right now," she said in jest, but she was concerned about her friend. She wasn't a doctor, but she knew insomnia, regardless of what was causing it, could have serious consequences. "I'm sorry about the nightmares though. Wanna talk about it?" she asked, offering her arm once again.

"Well, okay, but feel free to tap out whenever, I won't hold it against ya," Sullivan took the extended arm and the duo slowly meandered down the corridor. She took a deep breath, summoning up a little courage from the ether. "I think I told you I was a fighter pilot before, right? And you almost never see a fighter pilot turn into a starship conn officer unless we're talking about disciplinary issues. No, before you ask, my record is clean," she playfully nudged Cassie in the ribs.

"So we run a little differently to the starship guys and gals," Lily continued. "Five year missions ain't our thing - we do four attached to a squadron and then cycle back to instruct or do some other bulls--- admin job for two. Then they promote you out of your seat, yadda, yadda, yadda, the beat goes on.

"Anyways, last time I was attached to a squadron called the Raging Bulls, I know, terrible name - but great pilots and great people. My best friend was the squadron leader. His name was Lieutenant Michael Garner, but to me he was my Mikey. So, one day we got moved from doing lazy patrols along the Cardassian border to f---in' Starbase 234. Do you know it?" Lily asked. The emotion level was already rising in her voice.

Cassie thought for a moment, trying to remember. "I've visited with my family when I was a kid, back when my dad was covering the war for the Federation News. It didn't strike me as memorable, or pleasant, at the time."

"I don't think it's gotten any better since then," Sullivan shook her head. "So one day we got called off Alert-15, which is fifteen minutes from your bunk to your ass getting electromagnetically launched into space. It was in response to a pirate raid by some splintered factions of the Klingons and Romulans who were unhappy about the peaceful state of affairs or some s---, I dunno. We'd responded to a bunch of threats, but nothing really came of it," she trailed off. Her voice was beginning to break and the first tears were beginning to form in the corners of her eyes.

While listening to Lilith's tale, Cassie had only now realized that they had slowly made their way to her own quarters, stopping in front of the sliding door. "Come in, I'll make you some tea. And you can keep telling me the story."

Her quarters were much more spartan than what she had left behind on Earth, but it was welcoming and well kept, except for a small piles of clothes in a discreet corner near the bathroom. Photos of her friends, family, and various acquaintances, as well as visual travel souvenirs, seemed to be scattered on one of the walls. The focal point of that miniature gallery was a large framed close-up of a predator local to Andor looking directly at the camera.

"Sit, make yourself at home," she said. "I'll make us some tea."

As she boiled some water in the kettle, she rummaged a cupboard for a tea set, found it, and set it on the small table. A few moments later, she infused some tea leaves in the small black tea pot, after which she poured some in the two matching cups.

"I'm sorry Cass," Lily sniffled, wiping away the tears with her jacket sleeve. "It helps to talk, thank you. Um, where was I?"

"Romulans and Klingons wanting to pick a fight," Cassie stated as she handed Lilith a steaming cup of tea. "Careful. Hot." She returned to the table to fetch her own cup, and sat down on the couch next to Lilith.

"Oh right," the warmth of the tea seemed to raise her spirits. "Anyway, Mikey and I were in formation when we broke to pursue a bandit into an asteroid field. I was zeroed in on the bad guys and had lost my cover for a moment when I flew straight into an ambush," Sullivan laid her head on Cassie's shoulder, taking a few shallow breaths to collect what composure she could. "Cass, I should've died. It was four against one, had they pulled the trigger on me I would've been vaporized. But Mikey... he shot two of them down and disabled a third. The fourth guy shot at me, but the vector that Mike took put his fighter between mine and the incoming blast. I... I can't say it."

Lilith broke away and tried to stem the flow of tears streaming down her cheeks. For four years she had avoided discussing that moment, but whether by embedded implant in her brain, lack of sleep, or both, the erosion beneath the emotional barrier had reached a critical point. She called upon every shred of emotional toughness she had left before turning to face her friend.

"Cassie, I got my best friend killed that day. And I keep having nightmares reliving it every time I close my eyes, and... and..."

Cassie set down her cup on the coffee table and wrapped her friend in her arms. She had never been in a situation remotely resembling what she had just been told, but she knew that this kind of act was generally not made just for the hell of it. "...And he made the ultimate sacrifice. For his tribe," she whispered. "I can't even start to imagine what you must've gone through that day, or the shock that probably came after. But I swear to you, none of it was your fault. It was an impossible situation, and impossible decisions were made."

The sensation of being held and the strength of the raw emotion robbed Lilith of her ability to speak. She cried freely and openly, taking the time she needed to process the moment of catharsis with the knowledge that she was safe as long as Cassie was holding her.

The photographs on the wall stood watch as the moments passed.

Their tea remained untouched as it cooled to room temperature.

"Cassie," Lily broke the silence. "How can somebody be so selfless? I've never understood that."

"People sometimes make inexplicable choices for inexplicable reasons. But he must have loved you very much if he was willing to give up his life for yours. That special kind of love that makes friends family." Cassie wiped a tear from Lilith's cheek. "And that is freaking hard to find."

"I...I'm scared that I might've lost my only chance to find a love like that. Tell me I will, Cass, even if you have to lie. Tell me I'm going to be happy again."

Cassie held her just a bit closer. She wanted to reassure Lily, but didn't want to lie or give her any false impressions. It would only set her up for disappointment in the future.

She thought about what to say for a long time. "In time, I have no doubt you will. In all honesty, you deserve to be happy, and you deserve to find something like what you had with Michael again. And I sincerely hope you do. In the end, we're each the author of our own happiness."

"What do you mean by that?"

"It all depends on what's meaningful to you, and he clearly was. Remembering and celebrating his life can possibly help," Cassie suggested.

Taking a moment to think it through, Lilith sat up a little straighter and brought herself eye to eye with Cassie. The accrual of sleep debt and chronic fatigue didn't matter any more; she felt as clear eyed and level headed as she had been when she swore the Starfleet oath a decade ago. As softly as the first snowfall of the winter, she pressed her lips against hers and lingered for the briefest of moments, which made Cassie's eyes widen slightly in surprise.

"You make me happy," she whispered, backing away.

Cassie felt her whole body flush. She had evidently not expected the kiss, which had tasted like fresh snow falling during a cold, crisp winter day. She was equally perplexed by the following statement. Strangely, she didn't question it, considering they known each other for a short time. She didn't say a word for what felt like an eternity, and simply looked into the sparkling sapphires that were Lilith's eyes.

"Hey stranger," Lily giggled, taking her hand to lightly caress Cassie's cheek. She took a deep breath and held it for a moment, exhaling slowly through slightly parted lips as she rode the high of the sudden rush of serotonin. The anxiety of taking a leap off of the edge of an emotional cliff evaporated the instant Cassie's eyes met hers.

Cassie eventually tore her gaze away and wrapped her fingers around Lilith's, feeling a spark for the first time in a long time. "I..." she hesitated, blushing an even deeper shade of rose. "I'm not exactly sure what to say," she responded, realizing at that moment that she was trying to be too pragmatic, when her gut should be leading.

She brought her lips to Lilith's forehead, to the outer corner of her left eye, to her cheek, to her jaw, and lastly to her lips, as lightly as the flutter of a butterfly's wings, lingering for a moment at that last stop. She wanted to taste the crisp snow at least once more.

"Meeting you has brought me a certain amount of joy," she admitted, then gave Lilith that mischievous smirk. "Stay?"

A simple nod was the only response.

On the coffee table, two twin tea cups lay untouched, having long grown cold.

Lilith Sullivan
Sixty Kilograms of Mischief

Cassandra Leblanc-Reed
Playing with the Devil
Diplomatic Officer


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