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LtCmdr Rennyn - Staying or Going


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((Arboretum, USS Apollo))

::There were moments when the bright lights caught a plant just right, and Ren could believe he was back home in Arnmere. Those moments came in flashes only, not strong enough to break through the knowledge that deckplates were under his feet, or that the air he breathed was typically bland and unnoticeable recycled starship atmosphere. The air back home was full of imperfections - mud and fertilizer and underrot from the forest line, drifting towards his nose on an unpredictable breeze.::

::He was alone in the arboretum for the moment. Even with so many people aboard Apollo, it felt empty at the moment. So many had gone down to Earth, or on short trips to nearby places. He understood Antero and Mirra had taken a shuttle away. Ren had considered going down to Earth himself. It had been home for four years, at the Academy. Parts of it were so similar to his own world. But it wasn't Trill. It couldn't replace the home he keenly missed.::

::Instead, he stood in the arboretum, considering a jonja tree. Dirin and Dee had lines of them planted around the moba fields. Two Bajoran plants, thriving in distant Arnmere. Ren had thought he could thrive far from home, too. Sometimes he had to wonder if he'd made the right choices in life. If he'd leaped off the right cliffs.::

::As he inspected his fellow expatriate, the jonja tree, Ren remembered a day long ago when the trees had not been in bloom, but the decisions that shaped his own life were beginning to form.::

((Flashback - Arnmere, Trill - 15 years ago))

::Ren's sister Vye was known as "the responsible one." It was generally accepted that she was going places, and every time their parents said so, it was a gentle reminder to the other eight Rennyn siblings that they appeared to be going nowhere. Not that they were supposed to physically go anywhere. Each was expected to take their place in the business, and stay in Arnmere forever. Each was further expected to play a functional role in expanding the success of Tro'Arn Farms and to contribute significantly to continuing operations. The expectations were high, though the success rate was so far low, though to be fair, at least half of them were still in school.::

::It didn't matter where Vye was concerned. Her high school successes had been nothing short of aggravating to Ren, only a year ahead of her, yet always in her shadow. The younger ones would be compared to Vye by their teachers for years to come.::

::At least away at university, there was a chance to get out of the shadow a little. Ren's studies in systems operations at Ledaro offered him a chance to carve his own path away from Vye, who was far on the other side of the globe, studying at a genius school with a lot of jealous geniuses.::

::Today, they were home for the holidays. The two of them had lately been the resident outsiders, the two who were away at college, their four older siblings having already come back home to start taking up their places. Even they couldn't live up to Vye yet. Their parents were anxious to have her come back. They were a little afraid she wouldn't, and it showed. It made her want to get away all the more.::

Vye: I don't know if I can do it.

::She ambled thoughtfully down Arnmere's main street, her arm laced through her tall brother's, her red mitten laying casually across Ren's mustard coat sleeve.::

::A few weeks at home over winter break called for a lot of long, slow walks in the cold.::

Rennyn: Come back to live in Arnmere? ::He inhaled the freezing air deeply, looking around at the little village he knew in every detail.:: I don't know. Maybe I'm okay with it.

::Vye shook her head, and her raven hair tousled stiffly in the cold.::

Vye: No. It's the opposite, Ren. I don't know if I can leave.

::She broke away, moving ahead by a few quick steps, until she reached a low wall at the corner of Eosh Lucaf's little restaurant, where they'd sat outside many summer nights in their lives, enjoying a meal. Eosh's elderly mother used to come out and yell at them when they were kids, for climbing the little wall. They'd thought she was a witch, maybe, and they'd climbed and climbed, to see if they could provoke her to reveal any powers.::

::Now, Vye hopped up to sit on the little retaining wall, and her feet dangled to a few inches from the ground.::

Vye: Everything about my life tells me to go. There's amazing opportunities out there for me. I don't want to be the one who stayed when going could have led me to something wonderful. But then I come back here, for a few days, a week, and it's hard to imagine leaving again. I don't know how to be away from Arnmere.

::Ren had been through the same feelings. He loved his town. His home. But what could he accomplish there? He would never fly they way he wanted to fly. He would never see all the wonders he wanted to see.::

Rennyn: You've been farther around the world than any of us. You know best what's out there.

Vye: I know there's a lot of shuttle and transporters, and I can be back here in hours or less. From the other side of the globe. But it's not the same. It's never the same.

::She stroked the wall with one gloved hand, remembering some time when she'd fallen from it, or thinking of that old lady, or remembering how she felt the starlit summer night when she kissed Eosh Lucaf's son the first time, sitting right where she was now. He hadn't come home on a break since freshman year. Would it ever be the same?::

::Ren watched his sister grow more pensive. If he sat on the little wall, his feet would touch easily. Instead, he leaned against it awkwardly and put a comforting arm around her, uncaring that it wasn't a comfortable way for him to stand, as long as she got caught up in the hug she needed.::

::Ren was only a semester from university graduation, and Vye was a year behind. They had their lives ahead of them, but at times, in those stressful, uncertain years, it seemed there was no knowing if what was ahead would be any better than the times they'd already lived. It was all about letting go, of childhood, of home, of the life they'd known, of the habits they'd formed. Letting go of old friends as they all moved toward their onrushing futures. The path wasn't clear, yet it was unavoidable. There was nothing for it but to step again and again off the precipice, not knowing which foot they would land on, aware of the possibilities, but blind to the path.::

::Once they'd made so many leaps - farewell to schoolmates and childhood friends, leaving home, tearful goodbyes, choosing their education, making new friends - the reckless process of moving forward in the maze of life started to become easier. But so many choices made and chances taken in so few short years took their toll. It would be easy to go back home and forget about all that. At the same time, it was so hard to consider turning away from all those hard won little victories and to stop moving forward.::

::Was it possible to call a permanent move back home to Arnmere a step forward? Ren considered that it might be. He could make the choice to return here, to his family and the land he loved, and take his place in their community. It wasn't remotely the same as giving up, as part of him wanted to believe. It wasn't a step back, as that part of him which had become so accustomed to taking chances, to leaping, whispered in his ear.::

::Vye leaned in closer to Ren's embrace.::

Vye: Sorry I'm whining. All these decisions to make. It's like standing on a cliff.

::Ren kissed the top of his sister's head. Their thinking had always been so alike.::

Ren: And we used to think this wall was high.

::He shifted position, hopping up to sit next to her. His feet touched the ground, but he pulled them up, bending his knees until his toes were even with hers. Their futures were uncertain, but filled with possibility. As the thrilling air of the gathering winter evening crept coldly in around them, they sat together on the precipice, deciding how far to leap.::

((End Flashback - Arboretum, Apollo))

::It hadn't taken Vye long to find her place, traveling around the globe making distribution deals for the farm, making a greater success of the family business than any other Rennyn before her. She had the best of both worlds, a place at home, and a place in the global community. She'd found her path.::

::Ren spent another decade dithering around Arnmere before he'd made his leap to Starfleet. It wasn't a path he could have predicted. The way was still not clear.::

::It was a long way from Trill. Always too far. He wished he could hug his sister now. Any of his sisters. His brothers, his parents, his nieces and nephews. He was out here to make them proud, but sometimes he was sick with missing them. It would still be so easy to go back home.::

::Moving forward wasn't easy. He'd had doors shut in his face, opportunities handed to him then taken away. Starfleet didn't make him feel safe and in control, the way he'd felt back in Arnmere, in his own domain. It wasn't easy. It was sometimes very hard. He was always standing on a precipice, not sure where he would land.::

::He considered the jonja tree. It had lived in Arnmere, far from its origins on Bajor. It lived here on Apollo too, in excellent bloom. If the jonja could go where it pleased, then so could Ren. To the corners of the universe, or maybe, someday, right back home where he started.::

::In between, all he had to do was keep on leaping.::

LtCmdr Ren Rennyn
Ops Officer
USS Apollo-A, NCC-71669

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