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((Yael’s Studio Quarters - Starbase 118 Ops))


It was enough.  It was really just *so* enough.  Honestly he didn’t want to do this again, even if it hadn’t worked yet.  He felt so… fractured.  He could hardly tell what one feeling was before another would overwhelm him.  His hand beneath his good eye was damp… small drops fell into his palm, silently.  He didn’t make a single sound, save to forcibly breathe more slowly than he needed.  It helped him formulate an iota of calm when he felt anything but.


Harper:  Ashley…


Yael:  ::sounding small, without lifting his face from his hands::  … please leave.


She stood and contemplated, and then… he felt her weight sit next to him on the couch.  It was the opposite of leaving, in fact.  He wasn’t sure what to do or say about that… he had no fight in him.


Harper:  Ashley…


There was an empty moment before he sighed, sliding his hands down his face and then dropping his arms to fall on his thighs.  He knew that tone.  He took a deep breath before responding evenly.


Yael:  Yes?


Harper: I can’t leave.  Not like this.


Did she feel responsible?  There was no blaming anyone, save maybe himself to an extent.  He’d gotten what he asked for, and she’d warned him copiously.  He’d pushed, and she’d relented.  The Denobulan hybrid knew that tone well though, and she meant what she said.  He took another stabilizing breath, willing himself to slow his heart rate, slow his breathing.  It… sort of worked.


Yael:  It’s… just a deluge.  And things I knew from reports, but… reports have no texture.  It’s like… suddenly seeing color when you’ve been colorblind.


He’d had no idea what all he’d been missing.  And even if they didn’t find the answer he’d been seeking exactly, the memories they did retrieve and flesh out were heavy weights now that they fit into the structure of his recollections.


Harper: It’s okay.  We are friends. *Good* friends. You can trust me.  Sometimes we need other people.  


Remaining where he was for a drawn out moment longer, he didn’t really want her to stay.  But it was more that he wouldn’t want anyone to stay, rather than feeling it about her personally.  Hide it away, deny it, joke about it.  Wasn’t that what he always did?


Finally he moved.  He slowly eased back against the couch, letting his weight slip down into it… and then he let himself lean to the side, against her shoulder.  He took another deep breath, this one coming a bit easier than those before it.  It was no dramatic proclamation.  No neon sign in the dark.  But it was acceptance, nonetheless, and a sign he was giving up any pretense.


Silence stretched out between them, but it was a silence that grew in comfort, and his breathing finally eased off into a natural pace.  His weight seemed to increase, and his good eye was heavy. The adrenaline from the memory procedure was bleeding out of him, leaving weakness in its wake. Though he wanted to nestle in and disappear into his nest of blankets and pillows on the bed only some ten feet away, he weighed the contribution it would take in moving from where he was, leaned up against his warm friend... and it wasn't worth the change of scenery.


Before he let the exhaustion claim him, he allowed himself an honest feeling.


He was glad she stayed.


Even when he was sure he wanted to be alone, when he was being honest with himself that was just him hiding away, self defending. And he rarely felt *better* if left alone.


In reality, Denobulans *rarely* wanted to be alone.


And Kherys staying did, somehow, make him feel better. Her steadying and well intentioned presence didn't leave him in a vacuum of emotionally chaotic energy that could easily go downhill when unguided... and her presence guided it now.


He tried to fight it, but his good amethyst eye fluttered shut. Within moments there was a slightly less normal sound. A very, very light rasping sound as he breathed. It was the very hint of what could be an adorably tiny snore.



Lieutenant JG Ashley Yael


Starbase 118 Ops


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