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Jalana

Lt.JG Solaris McLaren & LtCmdr. Sinda Essen - The Chase

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(( Starbase 11 - Banquet Hall ))

:: It was a cloudy night. The light from the gas giant they orbited caused the clouds to glow, offering an almost supernatural illumination to the Starbase streets and thoroughfares. 

Essen stashed her duffel bag in a handy flower bed before approaching the banquet hall. The big double doors were open, bright light and noise cutting through the otherwise alien evening.

She distractedly ran a grey hand through her black hair before stepping through the doors into the room beyond. Crew members from across the Conny were mixed with an eclectic assortment of what she assumed were family members. There was laughter here and there, but mostly she had the sensation that the mood was a little subdued. 

Glancing around she spotted familiar faces and almost immediately regretted coming - she should have stuck with her original plan, sneak off without anyone noticing and be back before the Conny needed to depart. ::

:: Sol was sitting at a table with her parents when she noticed Essen enter. She excused herself and approached, leaving her parents at the table. She wasn't going to subject Essen to them just yet. ::

McLaren: Hey, Ess...

:: Essen gave a guilty start. Sol frowned as Essen jumped, clearly having not meant to startle her. ::

McLaren: I didn’t mean to startle you...

Sinda: Sorry, Sol, you made me jump. Guess I wasn’t paying enough attention.

McLaren: Everything ok? oO What a stupid question Sol… Oo

Sinda: I just… have a lot on my mind at the moment. I needed a bit of space.

:: Sol considered the other woman’s face quietly, seeing the creases of thought she was trying to hide. Sol frowned again. ::

McLaren: I’ll say… you look like you have the weight of the world resting on your shoulders… and something equally important occupying your mind.
<

Sinda: Several worlds, really. That obvious?

:: Sol smiled faintly. This would be the time where anyone else probably would have said “I'm not stupid you know” but Sol was A. far more polite than that and B. liked Essen way to much to ever be that condescending to her. ::

McLaren: :: she smiled, laughing :: I’d be a pretty poor intelligence officer if I wasn't at least a little observant.

:: Sol looked back into the banquet hall and then gently pulled Essen out into the planetlight outside the banquet hall. She found them a bench where they could talk a little more privately and sat on it, leaving space for Essen. ::

McLaren: Ess… whats up? I want to help you if I can. :: her voice was light, annd she spoke quietly. ::

:: Sol didn't want to pry, but seeing her friend this troubled worried her. ::

Sinda: Something happened earlier, it’s probably nothing.

:: Ess hesitated, not wanting to say too much. As Solaris had already pointed out, she was an intelligence officer after all, and very good at piecing things together. ::

Sinda: Just something that’s got me thinking about a lot of old stuff.

:: Sol was passive, she knew Essen wasn’t exactly the most open person and didn't want to rush her. She gently took one of Essen’s hands and kissed the top of it. ::

McLaren: I don't want to pry, Ess, but I really do want to help. :: she smiled. ::

:: Ess pulled her hand away and stood abruptly. ::

Sinda: I know you do, Sol, and that’s the problem! People don’t help me, ever, and it’s messing with my head! I care about you, too, which is why I can’t drag you into something that could get you hurt, not again.

McLaren: :: with a slightly confused look :: Ess… I knew what I was signing up for when I enrolled at the Academy. Space isn’t someplace that's all kittens and rainbows… I';m bound to be hurt, it comes with the job. 

Sinda: It’s not just the physical wounds, Sol. Let’s face it, I’m not a good person. Everything I touch turns to ash. Stick with me and I’m going to rip out your heart sooner or later, and the longer we stay together the more that’s going to hurt. ::she gave Sol a pleading look:: I don’t want to, believe me, but it’s who I am, it’s in my nature. 

McLaren: :: she sighed :: I've seen no evidence that you're a bad person… you clearly care about the people on the crew, otherwise yoou wouldn't have rushed off to save them back on that Suliban planet. Bad people don't care about others. oO Something I've noticed rather first hand… Oo You only think you're a bad person because otherrs keep letting you think that...

:: Ess bit her lip. She’d let her guard down with Solaris, let her mask slip. For the first time in years, someone had gotten close to her, and she’d been happy. But that scared Essen - as much as she wanted a normal relationship, experience told her it would only end in sorrow. So it was better to run from it now. ::

Sinda: I… need some space.

:: Sol took a moment to decide what to say. If she let Essen go now that might be the end of it. She shook her head, standing. ::

McLaren: No… Everything you've said… even your posture... tellslls me that If I let you walk away… that's probably it. I can';t do that Essen, Im not letting this… :: she gestured between them :: whatever it is that we have, end, not like this.

Sinda: You deserve better. 

McLaren: Essen… I care about you too much to let you run from this. II'm not going to let you do it…

Sinda: Not going to let me?

:: He dark eyes narrowed. Happiness and love she might struggle with, but there was one default emotion she was good at. At least when she was angry she wasn’t so confused. ::

McLaren: :: Sol sighed, looking up at the sky. :: Maybe this is the wrong way… maybe makking you confront this will make you hate me… I don't know. :: SShe found herself thinking back to her conversation with Merina on the surface of Dagorin VI. She returned her gaze to Essen, trying to soften it some, though her red eyes hardly allowed it. :: Someone once described a relationship to me as a chase. They also said that if both parties cared for each other it was a simple thing. I’m prepared for it Essen… Im prepared to chase you half way across the galaxy if I have to. Because I care about you, a great deal, and I think you care about me.

Sinda: Of course I care about you! But it’s not the same.

McLaren: Then face this. Let your shields down... to me. :: Sol stepped closer to Essen and pulled her into a kiss... a kiss filled with the same passion and aggression that Essen had showed her the night they had bowled together. When she pulled away, her voice was a whisper. :: See if your world crumbles to pieces because you, Sinda Essen, care about someone else on more than just professional level. You might find yourself surprised. :: It was a challenge as much as it was a plea. Sol was gambling with her own happiness over this. And she hoped it paid off. ::

:: Essen turned away, her black hair falling forward to hide her face. She reached out to grip the back of the bench with a trembling hand, steadying herself. When she spoke, her voice was low and hoarse. ::

Sinda: It’s not my world I’m worried about, Sol, it’s yours. You don’t know me as well as you think you do, there are things I've… ::she broke off, memories of Cinder playing through her mind for a moment:: If you’re determined to chase me I can’t stop you. But if you get too close I’m scared you’ll get burned.

McLaren: Whatever you've done in the past is the past, and I can't hold it against you... :: Sol paused, sighing. :: Essen… I'm not afraid of being burned… I can't be afraid of it, because I can't tell the future.

Sinda: Your family are here. Go, spend time with them and make every second of it count. They’re more important than this.

McLaren: Do you know why my mother would tell me if she knew that one of my friends needed help and I wasn't there for her? She’d turn me right around and tell me to help them.

:: Ess felt the anger boil up again and this time she let it. Anger was good, it concealed all the other emotions. Like a fire it was immediate and all-consuming. Until later, when you had to pick up the pieces and sweep away the cold ashes.

But for now it would do the job. ::

Sinda: Just go, Sol! 

:: Sol winced, but stood her ground. She wasn't going to be afraid of the future, and she wasn't going to let Essen run from her that easily. She was prepared for the chase. ::

McLaren: :: Sol sighed again. :: Essen… my father has a saying: “Treat family like friends, and friends like family”. :: She paused again. :: I'm not going to walk away from a friend who needs help anymore than I would turn my back on a family member who needs help. :: She looked at Essen. :: I’m not letting you off the hook because you got angry at me… that wouldn';t do either of us any good. The fact that you are angry shows you care… :: she smiled. :: hopefully you can see that me not turning my back to you is the same.

Sinda: I never said I didn’t care. It’s just… ::she tailed off::

McLaren: :: Sol shook her head. :: Listen to me… if I walked back into that party, joined my parents at their table, they’d know something was wrong, and they would tell me to fix it. So I'm saving them the trouble of having to say something at all…  :: She smiled faintly. :: They would like you Essen… theyy would understand why I’m not with them… :: Sol stepped clooser, speaking quietly to Essen. :: I'm not going to just walk away from you Essen. Not now, not ever. Not even if it meant my oblivion.

Sinda: Gah! ::Essen threw her hands up in frustration:: Did anyone ever tell you, you’re the most stubborn Terran in the galaxy? Why do you have to be so bloody reasonable all the time?

McLaren: :: Sol placed a hand on Essen’s shoulder. :: I’ve told you… I want to help, Ess, so let me hhelp you… tell me whats going on… and then let's tackle le it together.

:: Essen bit her lip as she thought about it. ::

Sinda: I received a message, from someone in Cardassia. I don’t know what it’s about but I’m assuming it’s to do with my father. Anyway, I need to go and find out more, I can’t let this chance go.

McLaren: :: Sol nodded. :: Then let's go… the party can wait.

Sinda: No. ::she shook her head:: Me risking my career is one thing, I can’t let you risk yours, too. But you can promise me something.

McLaren: oO Actually… something like this would probably iimprove my standing with SFI… Oo :: Sol nodded. :: What's that?<

Sinda: If I don’t make it back, come and find me? 

McLaren: :: with a grin :: You better believe it… oO Plus if I didn't, I'd have to ttell the Captain… and that really would be the end of my careerâ… Oo :: Sol looked back to the banquet hall :: Come say hello before you go?

:: Ess looked at the bright banquet hall and shook her head. ::

Sinda: I can’t go in there, not now. Besides, I’m doing my best to avoid a certain Bajoran ex-officer. But when I’m back we’ll talk, about us.

McLaren: Alright. :: Sol didn't push it further, feeling she had, perhaps pushed enough for the moment. She leaned in and planted a kiss on Essen’s cheek. :: Taisteal sábháilte, Essen. I hope you find what you're looking for.

:: Essen offered a wan smile before stepping back and zipping up her jacket, heading off to where she’d stashed her kit earlier. ::

:: Sol watched Essen walk off before returning to the party, wondering just what Essen would find at the end of her journey. ::

(( OOC- Taisteal sábháilte = Safe travels ))


~~~

Lieutenant-Commander Sinda Essen 

Chief of Security  

USS Constitution-B 
R238401JT0

&

Lieutenant (JG) Solaris McLaren
Chief Intelligence Officer
U.S.S. Constitution NCC-9012-B
C239210SM0
 

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