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Ens Didrik Stennes & Cmdr Aron Kells - The Time is Always Now


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(( Boardwalk outside Starlight Chateau, Alpha Centauri ))

::Didrik fought an impulse to pace back and forth across the boardwalk that separated the beach from the busy avenues of the major Centaurian resort city, but his nerves won out and his legs returned to autopilot, marching an ovoid route between the street and the entrance to the Starlight Chateau, where the Drake's crew were already assembling.::

::It didn't help that he was wearing a rather ill-fitting dress uniform, one that bunched and tugged in all the wrong places. It made him feel even more awkward, even more like a goofy schoolboy, than he already did. On his eighteenth trip past a particularly gaudy fountain, he finally unfastened the restrictive collar, easing the flow of oxygen into his lungs. As each new person––dress-uniform wearing crew and formally dressed civilians alike––approached the entrance to the Chateau, he experienced excitement and disappointment in rapid succession. Excitement for who it could be, and disappointment for who it actually was.::

::Didrik was peering into the Chateau's main entrance, wondering if they'd missed each other, thus missing someone beaming down several meters behind him. He was surprised when he rounded the fountain and saw exactly who he'd been waiting for standing before him.::

STENNES: Aron, hi.

KELLS: (cautiously) Didrik.

::Didrik must have looked somewhat foolish, hunched over with his head poking round a corner into the building's entrance, and felt the need to explain what he was doing.::

STENNES: I was going to go in, but actually, I was waiting for you.

KELLS: Oh. You were.

:: Their positions had been reversed, Aron thought: Where once he had been exuberant to counter Didrik's recalcitrance, now Didrik was fairly pulsating with excitement while Aron was distinctly guarded. ::

STENNES: I think the ceremony and everything has already started, but would you mind walking with me for bit?

KELLS: No. I wouldn't mind at all.

:: And yet his heart felt like a marathoner's: but still he agreed, perhaps to allow himself time to say a difficult thing in the next twenty minutes. ::

STENNES: Thank you.

::The two officers stepped out onto the busy avenue, bathed by the light of two setting suns. Following Didrik's lead, they moseyed past a row of shops and eateries onto a quieter, more pedestrian-friendly street, before Didrik spoke again.::

STENNES: Nice evening, isn't it?

KELLS: I've seen better.

:: What a thing to say! He shook himself, told himself to become "more me." ::

KELLS: But I've seen a lot worse. It is beautiful, I think, the binary duality.

STENNES: It must take a lot of getting used to, living on a planet with two suns.

KELLS: Maybe if you moved here, but if you were born here, if you grew up here, it would be normal. Going to Earth, now, that'd be strange.

STENNES: Can you tell I'm stalling?

:: Aron blinked. Actually, he hadn't been able to tell, so invested had he been in his own emotions and worry. Cocooned, really. But he lied: oh, he lied. ::

KELLS: No. I couldn't. (beat) Tell me what you want to tell me.

STENNES: I guess I should. When I was on that planet in null space, after Jane and the others had beamed back aboard the Drake... (beat) half-blind, my atoms being dissolved by that mist...

::Didrik shook his head and adjusted his glasses, still uncomfortable with how they invaded his field of vision.::

STENNES: It was the first time in my career that I thought I would probably die.

:: Aron's first instinct was to show off his own veteran status and say, oh, one of those moments -- but, as he did so often when Didrik was around, he thought better of this impulse. ::

KELLS: What did you think?

STENNES: There was a moment, when I had given up. I couldn't get the propulsion system back online, and I gave up.

KELLS: And yet you're here. So...

STENNES: It was the encouraging voice of one person that shook me out of it.

:: Aron's heart kicked into overdrive as it flip-flopped, flip-flopped: Please say it. Please don't say it. Please say it. Please don't say it. ::

KELLS: Whose?

STENNES: It was yours.

KELLS: (quietly) Oh, Architect.

STENNES: Sometimes it's hard to listen to someone who knows you better than you know yourself. But I'm glad I did. Because it got me off the planet. Back to the Drake. And back to you.

::Didrik reached for Aron's hand and took it in his own.::

STENNES: Aron, I have mustered every bit of courage I have to tell you this. I know I'm not the same person you left behind, nor do I want to be. I can't re-write your past anymore than I can my own. But we both have an unwritten future, and I know I want you in mine. I just can't go another day ignoring the feelings I have for you.

:: It was now or never. Aron kept Didrik's hand in his own, squeezed it to remind them both of their lives, and dropped the bomb. ::

KELLS: I've wanted to hear you say that for months. Oh, Architect, since I arrived. But I respected your boundaries -- or I tried. I wasn't perfect. We weren't perfect. But, now.... (beat) Didrik. I'm leaving. I've been reassigned.

::If Didrik had an eternity to ponder each possible response that Aron could have given, he'd still never have guessed it would've been what he'd just heard. His heart had been pounding from his own nerves, but now everything seemed to be thrown into slow motion. The beating of his heart echoed up his temples and into his ears, too slowly, it felt, to keep his brain from shutting down. Aron's fingers, woven into Didrik's own, felt newly warm; his hands had gone cold.::

STENNES: Soon?

KELLS: Immediately. I'll still be in the general area, but I'll be on the starbase -- you know, Starbase 118.

::The Drake's nominal home port. In a perfect world, she'd return to Starbase 118 regularly, as any other member of the fleet would do. In reality, Didrik hadn't heard a word about the station since the day he stepped foot aboard the Drake, and what with the Marine and SCE teams recently added to her complement, he doubted her future would be spent quietly docked in the Trinity Sector. The adrenaline that fueled his half of the conversation thus far was beginning to wear off, unmasking self-consciousness, and now, embarrassment. He looked slightly upward, into Aron's eyes, and forced a smile.::

STENNES: I know how it is. Life in Starfleet, we go where we're assigned. And reassigned.

KELLS: I say reassigned, but I had a choice: they offered me a choice. I chose (beat) and I hoped we'd have this discussion. Because, Didrik, I want you to come with me.

STENNES: Aron, I'd––

::The sheer weight of the emotions behind his own words and Aron's made it so easy to begin that sentence. "Aron, I'd love to." But halfway through, his mind caught up with his heart, and began calculating the real weight of what Aron was saying.::

STENNES: I'd–like to ask you something.

KELLS: Then you should do so.

STENNES: Are you prepared to make a commitment to me? To call Commander Rogers and ask him to hold a ceremony for us?

KELLS: Yes.

:: But he had answered quickly, and without thinking -- which, to Aron's brand of scientist, was no meaningful answer at all. ::

KELLS: That's what I want to say. But, Didrik, it's not a rush-- there's no hurry-- we have time--

:: And how he lied! ::

KELLS: No. The hell with it. Yes, my answer's still yes.

::Didrik closed his eyes at Aron's reply. Who doesn't want to be loved? The fact that he knew, in his heart and his mind, that Aron meant it, only made it harder. With every millisecond of silence that followed, Didrik found it a million times harder to say what he needed to say.::

STENNES: I… I'm not.

::Didrik let the urge to apologize profusely come, but didn't do it, not yet.::

STENNES: I want to be with you, Aron. I want a future with you… but I'm not ready to give up everything I've worked for to do it. I wish I were, I really do, but I'm not, not yet. (long beat) I'm sor–.

::Never before had words been so hard for Didrik to say. He lowered his head, hoping the emotion welling up wouldn't break.::

KELLS: Don't say it. Not unless you mean it. (beat) I don't just love you, all right, I respect you. Never apologize for the reasons I respect you.

::A deep breath did wonders for Didrik's composure.::

STENNES: You and I have never had this conversation, but I'm sure you and your Didrik did. You know about Bajor, right? And Tiro?

KELLS: Once upon a time, there was something similar. (beat) You were leaving, not me. But I do remember.

STENNES: I don't want to hurt you that way, Aron. I don't want to walk away from this, but––

::There was always a "but."::

STENNES: I've only just started to figure out where I belong. I've made friends, stretched myself beyond what I thought was possible. I'm actually proud to call myself a pilot now, and not just a failed tactician. I know where I belong right now, and it's on the Drake, not on the Starbase with you.

KELLS: I (beat) knew you would say that. I know I can't keep you in my pocket -- that you, and I, are functions of ourselves. But I can't....

:: He didn't choke; his voice was steady. But he felt as though someone had scooped him out, from clavicles to pubis, and left the illusion of sanity behind. He had been so certain that he could convince Didrik, so sure of his clarified vision, that it seemed as if he had failed, that love had gone from the bright world in a moment, leaving it without two stars, without one star, without a star in the sky at all. ::

KELLS: But I will miss you.

STENNES: I meant what I said before. Someday, it'll be the right time for both of us. I believe that.

KELLS: (beat) You know me, now. And you know my faith. I don't want to lie so I'll tell you right now that it's tough, all right, to be a scientist with a strong faith. Biased, I've been called. A fruitcake, too, and, less politely, delusional. (beat) But we make our experiences. I have a mantra: "I have faith." I'm not damaged; I made a choice.

STENNES: That's all any of us can do, I guess. To believe. To choose. They're not really that different from each other, are they?

KELLS: I believe what you believe, because I choose to have hope and not despair.

STENNES: And I think when the time is right for us–and it will be–we'll know it, and we'll know what to do. Do you?

KELLS: I do, especially about what I'm saying. (beat) But I-- at night, when I know you're away, you're not on the same ship, a simple call but too many light years away (beat) I don't want to be afraid. But I'm afraid I'm going to be.

::Didrik took Aron's free hand, and eased into him until their bodies touched. He rested his forehead against Aron's, and they both let the flood of silence wash over them. Eventually, Didrik spoke.::

STENNES: I'm afraid too. But I don't want to be. I want to us be happy, and complete. Not afraid.

KELLS: Then we'll be strong. Because we've chosen our lives, and in them we have faith.

::The larger of the Centaurian suns dipped lower against the horizon, leaving its smaller counterpart behind to carry a dim torch until morning.::

STENNES: So, what happens now?

KELLS: We....

:: But he wasn't sure, exactly. What did you do, after all they had just done? ::

STENNES: Well, I know it's not technically "standard procedure" for an event like this, but...

::Didrik refastened the collar on his dress uniform, and looked into Aron's eyes with a smile that seemed to radiate from within him.::

STENNES: Commander Aron Kells, will you be my date to the promotions ceremony tonight?

KELLS: (quickly) Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely I will.

Ensign Didrik Stennes

Helm Officer

USS Drake

&

Commander Aron Kells

Executive Officer

Starbase 118 Operations & USS Victory

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