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[JP] Cmdr. Desoa & Lt. Bjarnadóttir - Like A River Flows (Part I to IV)


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The same thing happens to me on EVERY shoreleave. I'm so chill, reading my sims and BAM suddenly a huge, multi part JP hits my mailbox from @Quinn Reynolds and @Jo Marshall . And I always say to myself "no no, be careful, you know what happens, it's a tidal wave of feelings with a beautiful bow and you end up so involved in the lives of two PNPCs that you can't stop thinking about them for weeks". And every time, EVERY TIME I reserve a time for myself to read them because I know they are beautiful and special and they illustrate the nuances of the human experience, from the wonderful to the terrible.

And once again here I am with a JP of this kind, with a gorgeous exploration of two broken people, with hopes and fears and those cherished moments that want to blossom but feel scary to break because they are so authentic and wonderful all the same. And here I am, spamming DMs frustrated with Petra and wanting Jal to take the first step and both of these Ems just laugh at me, but we all know that both of their characters feel so real that it's impossible not to get involved in their shared stories (and the not shared ones too!).

Thanks for this, now I want more of the peacock and the Icelandic girl.

Part I


((OOC: Takes place prior to the Rogue World mission.))


((N’Vea Hospital Gardens, Deluvia IV))


Slicing off a sliver of the iochee fruit in his hand, Jal lifted it to his lips as his eyes adjusted to the bright glare of the spring morning. Waves broke against the shoreline. Grasses moved on a silent whisper of a breeze. Budding flowers trembled on their stems. Beautiful colours the likes of which he could hardly explain alive on the wind and the kaleidoscope of shades illuminating his skin as he walked through the trodden paths. 


Several officers in Starfleet uniform passed by, in light discussion, though what about the Tyrellian didn't know. Instead, his thoughts were a few lightyears away, on a ship he'd be returning to soon; his time in the hospital a perpetual struggle with medical personnel to be released sooner than his recent injuries would allow.


Up ahead, among the pathways and rows of flowers, a familiar feeling blossomed, the sight of a good friend curled around his innards, and slivering another slice of iochee from the larger fruit, Jal fell into silent step beside her. She looked toward him, her initial grin evolving into an arched eyebrow, and she looked down at the fruit in his hands.


Bjarnadóttir: Any of that for me?


Desoa: Always.


He divided the hulled fruit in half, exposing the soft and fragrant interior flesh, and held the larger half out to Petra. A familiar gesture, as though sharing food was as natural as sharing the same space. Weeks had gone since their mission—spent in rehabilitation, slow movement, lots of rest—yet this was the one time he'd looked forward to out of the many. 


Desoa: Have you had chance to rest?


Languid footsteps carried them through the gardens, and Petra dipped her chin in a nod. Murmuring a thank you, she took the offered fruit and took a bite, wiping away a rogue bead of juice from her lip with her thumb. A loose strand of blonde hair danced on the sweet breeze, and she swept it behind her ear. There were far better reasons to visit Deluvia than recovering from injury, but there were far fewer places better to convalesce. 


Bjarnadóttir: It’s been quiet. With the Gorkon in space dock, the Admiral assigned us to patrol duties. So drills, drills, more drills, and Brunsig like a bear with a sore head. ::Her lips curled in an amused smile.:: I think he misses you.


Desoa: He would never admit so, however, I can say I have missed him and his sore head. ::His smile, small and teasing, clung to his lips.:: As I have missed you and yours, with a head possibly considerably less sore than Walter's. 


The thought of the burly human torrential force of nature, powerless to do anything other than charge and growl, stomping around the small bridge of their Defiant-class home drew a chuckle from the tall Tyrellian. Jal swallowed the last of his fruit with a wipe of his hand over his groomed beard. Long dark hair left to roam free, he tucked it all over one shoulder, feeling the warm Deluvian breeze through the thin shirt.


Bjarnadóttir: Possibly.


Truthfully, there were probably a few who had complained she was more irritable and critical than usual, too. All too aware she had got off lightly and had little to complain about, their escapades aboard the Sasu Gol had nonetheless left her feeling adrift. Jal’s injury had left her shaken, and questioning decisions she had always been confident in. Seeing her former husband and hearing him call out for his new—or was that old?—paramour had ripped open wounds she thought well-healed. 


Bjarnadóttir: Let’s just say I think everyone will be glad to have you back aboard. I lack your gentle touch. ::She chuckled.:: One day I might come for your office, but not anytime soon.


Desoa: Please do, I'd welcome the chance to watch you in the role. Another opportunity may present itself in the near future, though I'd rather not have to spend a month here again. ::Warmed by her chuckle, he bent a dark eyebrow.:: Can we agree to leave the Klingon rituals of advancement at the door?


Bjarnadóttir: Only if we keep the bloodwine.


Desoa: I believe it is illegal not to, lest we incite another Klingon raid.


Evenings on the Triumphant bathed in bloodwine flowed back up his river of recollection, especially those in the aftermath of an unforeseen rendezvous with the former keeper of her affection. Nesting birds on a neighbouring tree flapped their wings and soared into the spring sky, untethered and free. When Jal's gaze returned to his friend in the medicinal gardens, he noticed the heaviness of thoughts gathering around her eyes.


Desoa: How is Lieutenant Stoyer?


She looked across at him, blonde brows lifting. A crooked smile followed, a brief exhale of a laugh, and she shook her head. Barely a few minutes into their conversation, and he’d already read her like a book. Birdsong filled the space between question and answer, as Petra debated whether to reply. Her visit hadn’t been motivated by the intention to unburden herself, and it felt somehow selfish to do so.


Bjarnadóttir: I wouldn't know. I haven’t spoken to him since we left the Sasu Gol. 


Desoa: You surprise me. I expected—


His words failed as he reconsidered the direction they would take, down the winding pathways he had given much thought to over the weeks of recuperating. Prompted by the memory, Jal scratched the forever-marked skin of his chest through the fabric of his shirt. One sliver of an exploded artefact was all it took for him to spill much more than Tyrellian blood on the deck. 


Desoa: I am not sure what I expected. That he would check in on you. That you may on him. 


Bjarnadóttir: I don’t think he spares many thoughts for me these days. ::She lifted her shoulders in a small shrug.:: And I don’t expect him to. He’s moved on.


Try as she might, the slight salt of bitterness dusted her last words. If it had been someone else, anyone else, perhaps it would not have stung so much. But despite Cory’s promise there was nothing between them, it once more—or still—was Ayiana. 


Ayiana. Who’d stood at Petra’s side as her maid of honour, witnessed her marriage vows, and cried tears of happiness for the couple’s future. Who’d cut Petra out of her life as soon as she realised her own feelings for Cory. Who claimed she had been nothing more than “another victim of Cory’s charms” as if she’d been helpless to make her own decisions.


When her marriage had collapsed, Petra hadn’t just lost her husband. She lost her best friend, too. 


The Tyrellian beside her nodded in understanding, although he didn't truly—couldn't truly—understand why. Emotional rivers ran deeper than the surface markings than skin and bone and blood, affecting everything like a tidal sandstorm rolling in. He could appreciate the man's affections may have changed in the course of time, as affections were wont to do, but in a partnership, equal and mutual respect meant they had a responsibility to one another, to be truthful even when it wounded. 


Jal looked down at the ground in front of their feet as they moved forward, feeling those familiar feelings of loss and sadness creeping around their conversation. A question there he wanted to ask, twinned with the sensation the answer could be a discord in her harmony. 


Desoa: Do you still feel love for him?


Bjarnadóttir: No. 


She paused, and a small trough appeared between her brows. That was the truth, and yet in the same breath, it wasn’t. An incomplete picture, a complicated feeling she couldn’t express in such a simple answer. A complicated feeling she wasn’t sure she could express at all, given her tenuous understanding of it. There had been no clean break, no moment she could pick as the one she fell out of love with him. Even when she’d filed for divorce, she’d been full of doubt, wondering if she was killing a marriage she could rescue because surely, surely, she couldn’t be the only one who still cared about it.


Bjarnadóttir: I don’t know how to describe it. I never— ::She shook her head and exhaled exasperation, unable to pin down the words she needed.:: One day we were good, and the next we weren’t. He just... checked out of our marriage, and I still don’t know why. I almost wish he’d had an affair with Ayiana, because at least then there would have been a reason for things to end. A betrayal to get angry about. Indifference is worse. You’re out in the cold, with no light to guide you home.


Hurt bled through the words, no stemming it this time, and the blonde fell quiet. Petra frowned to herself, pink colouring her pale cheeks. A ramble, one she hadn’t intended on, and she wasn’t sure if it even came close to answering his question. 


Bjarnadóttir: Am I making any sense?





Commander Jal Desoa

First Officer

USS Triumphant





Lt. Petra Bjarnadóttir

Chief of Security and Tactical

USS Triumphant


Part II


((N’Vea Hospital Gardens, Deluvia IV))


Her tall friend considered her words for the length of a breath as their walk turned from a stroll to a meander, feelings and thoughts a weighted burden. Some of it he already knew, from Walter quietly, stoically seething about the lunatic lieutenant on the Gorkon discarding Unpronounceable, and as pieces came together to form a whole portrait, Jal could see why the Icelander had come to the Triumphant, so sad and tired. 


Desoa: Death by a thousand lashes is a painful way to end, but you know there is an end to the torment of it. ::He offered Petra a small, if a little concerned, smile.:: What can you do when the lashes don't stop?


Bjarnadóttir: Run away from the person holding the lash.


Desoa: Sensibly and quickly.


She chuckled, but it was quiet and lacking much in the way of enthusiasm. Sensibly, yes. Quickly? Not so much. She’d spent weeks watching him fall apart, spiralling down, worrying and fretting that something was terribly wrong. Then, after he’d nearly got himself killed in a holoprogram with dubious safeties, she finally realised what it was. He’d rather risk maiming himself than spend time with his wife. Than tell the truth to his wife.


Still, she’d given him more time. Taken a posting on the Triumphant to give them both room to clear their heads, but close enough that she could be there in a heartbeat if he wanted. While she waited, he chased Ayiana. The first she heard from him, months later, was that he had broken off... whatever it was he and the Trill were doing. As if relationships were like boots, and you could try a new pair before going back to the old stalwarts.


Yet that still wasn’t the final nail in the coffin. Even then, she’d vowed they could fix their relationship, but only if he made the effort. Showed her he considered their marriage worth fighting for. That she was worth fighting for. He’d responded with silence. Finally, the bullet to a glass heart.  


Bjarnadóttir: I did love him. Very much. But I think... he loved the idea of me, more than he loved me. 


Jal nodded slowly, and where a frown would've taken root on his features, instead those features softened. Reconciling the woman he knew, the brave and forthright Icelander with the mischievous grin and eyes to sweep his soul away, had once been in a place of so much pain parts still clung to her. The concept of loving the idea of someone struck the Tyrellian as how a parasite would love the host. One partner bearing the weight of the love, the other emotionally indifferent.


With an exhale through his nose, Jal looked across to Petra with a sliver of a smile. He'd missed their long talks and gentle walks. 

Desoa: I'm afraid he didn't deserve to love the idea of you, and he should find himself lucky he could love any part of you for the time he did. 


Bjarnadóttir: I’m sure he believed it was real. I wish he’d realised sooner that he wasn’t, but I’m glad he didn’t figure it out later. 


Desoa: As am I. 


The bold, playful flirtation of Walter's Peacock made an appearance with a wider smile, feeling a little more like himself. Fearing it was a step too far, Jal slowed to run his fingers under the petals of a growing Deluvian damsin flower reaching out on a vine towards them. He returned his gaze to Petra, smile softer. 


Desoa: If it hadn't happened, would you have come to the Triumphant? 


Bjarnadóttir: No. ::A slight smile crept onto her lips, accompanying a suspicion she knew where this was going.:: I’d probably still be on the Gorkon, lying to myself.


Desoa: Are you lying to yourself on the Triumphant, siami?


Her smile wavered, his question not the response she’d expected. It took her back to that frozen deck on the Sasu Gol, where his skin glittered like stars in a blood moon sky, each of his breaths more pained than the last. Pleas to leave, refusals to go, a crack in unshakeable foundations. Just as she thought she’d found her footing in life, the rocks slid again.


Bjarnadóttir: You shouldn’t call me that.


Desoa: Should I say it to Walter instead?


Bjarnadóttir: I suppose that depends on how jealous the Admiral is.


A soft chuckle rumbled out of Jal though tempered by the unsteady pause he saw taking root in his friend. Regret swam up through his sternum, like a river rushing to meet the ocean, curling under his ribs, waves crashing on bone. If they could remain there, exactly as they were, suspended in time in the garden, he'd never move again. Not thinking about what came before, or what may come next. Everything just as it was.


Desoa: When I could feel your grip slipping, nearly losing you to the D'ravo… ::He trailed off, the coloured markings on his skin no doubt turning warmer shades.:: No other word felt strong enough for what you have meant to me.


The Tyrellian returned his hands behind his back, leaving the damsin flower to bloom and grow in a kaleidoscope of colours, wide petals warmed by the sun and dancing on the breeze. He smiled, attempting to but not quite dispelling the feeling he'd made it worse. Clear the air. Change the focus.


Desoa: I haven't forgotten I still owe you a bottle of brennivín. Valhalla will have to wait.


Petra didn’t answer. Without warning, they’d ventured into a conversation she’d played out in her head a thousand times since the Sasu Gol, and it had never run the same way twice. Flirtation, remonstration, confession, rejection; she’d thought about them all. Now she was in the thick of it, none of them seemed right. All of them seemed right. He’d asked her if she was lying to herself, but how could she lie if she wasn’t sure of the truth?


Bjarnadóttir: Is this— ::She frowned, heat prickling under the collar of her uniform.:: Am I hurting you, Jal?


Desoa: If there is any hurt to be had, it's of my own doing. 


Jovial as he was, and serious in the moments where it mattered the most, he smiled and looked down as the site where the shard had penetrated felt hollow and dull. An apology in damsin purple eyes as they found ocean-deep blue.


Desoa: Am I hurting you?


Bjarnadóttir: No, Jal.


She shook her head, breaking from the locked gaze with a deep inhale. The Icelander wasn’t sure he could do anything to hurt her—but then, she would have once said the same of Cory. 


Bjarnadóttir: I’m not hurting. Questioning.


Unprepared for those words, Jal felt silent worry claim his forehead as Petra's eyes shifted away from his. Notes of fear ricocheted about his chest, as if miniature splinters of the crystal had broken loose and roamed.


Desoa: What do you question?


Bjarnadóttir: Are you sure this is a conversation you want to have right now? ::She nodded her head back down the path, her eyebrows lifting with an awkward smile.:: You’re not even out of hospital yet.


He followed her gaze toward his current residence, and Jal understood. Brave and stubborn Petra might be, caution slipped in there. Their conversation around Lieutenant Stoyer, the lengths she went to take herself away from a collapsed relationship, the hurt lingering there in her eyes and the slump of her shoulders when she spoke of it. Heartbreak took many physical forms, and far too many weighed on the soul for so long afterward.


The loose strand of blonde hair dancing in the breeze caught his attention, and like she had before, he tucked it gently behind her ear. 


Desoa: What do you want, Petra?





Commander Jal Desoa

First Officer

USS Triumphant





Lt. Petra Bjarnadóttir

Chief of Security and Tactical

USS Triumphant


Part III


((N’Vea Hospital Gardens, Deluvia IV))


A gentle, innocent question. A fair question. One Petra had been asking herself over and over. Yet for reasons she couldn’t explain, it kindled confusion into frustration. She batted his hand away with a scowl, ice hardening the blue pools of her eyes.


Bjarnadóttir: I don’t know what I want. I did know what I wanted, and then you—


She cut herself off, not sure what the next words would be. Exhaling a short, sharp breath through her nose, the Icelander shook her head. Anger curled like flames, only she wasn’t sure who she was angry at; the Tyrellian muddying clear waters, or herself for stomping along the riverbed with him.


Bjarnadóttir: You made it complicated.


For a brief time, confusion fell over Jal's damsin purple eyes, a dark brow arching higher, seeking to make sense of her meaning. Unsure whether to apologise for his involvement in the mess, bring her back from the verge of it all, or do nothing. Thunk in his belly and throat hollow. 


Birds twittered in the tropical canopy behind them. 


He flashed a faint smile and pointed to the small scar on the underside of her chin, where the cut on the Sasu Gol had healed, being careful not to touch her neck.


Desoa: Do the scars we have make the story worthwhile?


Bjarnadóttir: You keep asking me questions I don’t have answers to. ::Another heavy breath exhaled, willing away anger neither of them deserved.:: I don’t know anything about your scars.


The Tyrellian felt the blush of his marks on his skin as the frustration in her words rippled through him. Their relationship had taken them down many roads, but this one was wholly unique. Something deeper, affection bubbling to the surface. Jal took a short breath through his nose and pulled at his lower lip as he glanced back up to the hospital, then down through the gardens to where the river ran through.


Desoa: Do you wish to? Know more of me?


Bjarnadóttir: If you’ll tell me.


Desoa: Do you agree to a question for a question? ::He turned and gestured forward.:: There is still much about you I'd like to know. 


It was only fair, and Petra nodded. The rhythm of their feet on the ground helped to even her temper, as did the fragrant smell of blossoms and ocean as she filled her lungs deeply. That he would share at all was more comforting than she had realised. 


Bjarnadóttir: Alright. ::A few steps more.:: Tell me the one thing you really don’t want me to know.


Desoa: Easing me into this, I see. 


Amusement in the premise brought a smile as they walked, masking a small trill in his chest of what to reveal. Much of what made the Tyrellian himself was in his openness, larger than life, in stature and personality. Many of his idiosyncrasies Petra would already know; his tendency to be bombastic, make snap decisions, grin and laugh in tense situations, and dip his breakfast Voleax dirt loaf in tea.


Desoa: When you first came onboard the Triumphant, I had reservations about your ability to lead in the role. Walter advised me to be patient and observe, and it did not take long for you to prove my fears unfounded. Now, ::he sighed, moving a low branch out of the way,:: I measure everyone against you.


Despite herself, Petra smiled. Before the Triumphant, she hadn’t been a security officer, and she certainly hadn’t led a department. An outsider to the ship and the profession, she imagined it hadn’t only been Jal who’d been cautious about her abilities. She certainly had, and it had taken some bearish German snark to convince her to take the posting. “Trust me,” he’d said, “if you’re useless, I’ll throw you out of the airlock myself.”


Bjarnadóttir: That’s not so bad. ::She shook her head.:: We had the same reservations.


Desoa: Clever Captains know their crew. ::Slipping his hands into his pockets, Jal thought of a question.:: What memory keeps you up at night?


Bjarnadóttir: Memories don’t keep me up at night. ::She absently reached out, brushing her fingers over a delicate blushing bloom as they passed.:: What ifs sometimes do. What if I’d never realised what was going on with Cory? What if they had locked me up after the Yarahla? What if I’d got the Admiral killed on Starbase 173? 


What if she had left Jal behind on the Sasu Gol? Decisions she hadn’t made, actions she hadn’t taken, things that hadn’t happened. And yet they often played on her mind, knowing she’d been two steps away from disaster.


The tall Tyrellian walking beside her nodded in understanding, affected by the same affliction himself from time to time. Mind focusing and tumbling over the possibilities of the different paths he didn't take, the alternatives where a better decision could've yielded an ameliorate outcome. 


Desoa: Walter told me about the Yarahla before you came onboard. What drove you to do that? You risked everything.


Bjarnadóttir: Because I loved him. 


A shoulder rose with a crooked smile as she glanced toward Jal. It really was no more complicated than that. A wife in love with her husband, refusing to give up on him when almost everyone else—including Starfleet—had. In that situation, when there were no other options, what else could she do but join up with those taking the rescue into their own hands? A Romulan scientist who no one else would listen to, a German curmudgeon who knew how to steal a starship, and the ragtag band who joined them.


Bjarnadóttir: Starfleet had given up on the Gorkon, but Sienelis convinced us she knew how to find them and bring them home. A prison sentence was a small price to pay for saving their lives. For seeing my husband again.


Desoa: Do you think Lieutenant Stoyer appreciated your sacrifice?


Bjarnadóttir: He’s not a bad man, Jal. ::A few more footsteps padded by as she thought.:: It’s hard for all of them who were over there. Showing appreciation means reminding yourself of why you need to. Whatever I sacrificed, or was willing to sacrifice, is nothing compared to what they went through.


Desoa: I did not mean to insinuate otherwise. My experience of him spoke for itself on the Sasu Gol. ::He looked down to where their feet trod the ground, one fell step after the other.:: Hearts are complicated and not everyone is the captain of their own. 


Conversations regarding the Gorkon's disappearance in another universe had always remained short, those who had leapt into the search and rescue mission finding their contributions when they came home were not lauded with the same heroism as those on the Gorkon had gilded them with. Jal remembered reading about it, not thinking about the time that he would soon be serving with two of the founding members of the Yarahla Nine, and in close enough connection with the vessel itself.


As he looked back to Petra, he lifted an eyebrow with an amused note warmly radiating in amethyst. 


Desoa: You nearly killed the Admiral on Starbase 173?


Bjarnadóttir: Are you getting carried away? We agreed to a question for a question.


Desoa: Is that a yes?


Bjarnadóttir: Is that another question?


Responding with a grin, mirth dancing in his eyes, the Tyrellian lifted his shoulders as they stepped their next. Ocean waves breaking against the shoreline could be heard, carried on the breeze from the beach below. Petra chuckled, relaxing into a conversation sailing on calmer seas, but she could taste the storm still lingering in the air. 


Desoa: Ask me what you will.


Bjarnadóttir: I shall. ::She grinned back at him.:: What keeps you awake at night, Jal, child of Desoa?





Commander Jal Desoa

First Officer

USS Triumphant





Lt. Petra Bjarnadóttir

Chief of Security and Tactical

USS Triumphant


Part IV



((N’Vea Hospital Gardens, Deluvia IV))


Desoa: Fear. 


His honest answer came without hesitation, the depth of his voice curling around the word as memories of what they endured on the Sasu Gol arose in his mind. Beneath his thin shirt, he felt the warmth of those recollections seep up his spine, like resin extracted from tree bark. Petra’s expression shifted as he answered, sparkling amusement changing to concern and care.


Desoa: I close my eyes and I am right back there on the deck of the Vulcan ship, the dark closing in from all sides, the explosion, the smell. Part of the reason I am still here, I suspect. ::Despite the weight of the subject, he smiled at her.:: There are glimmers of light there, but not many. In time they will go, they get easier each day. 


Bjarnadóttir: Is there anything I can do?


Desoa: I enjoy our walks. Drinking tea. Our long talks. They help keep my mind from diving into the ocean of my thoughts. ::Another step forward and Jal looked down at the ground beneath their feet.:: There is a myth we are taught as children, about Vilsoi, mother of the rivers on Tyrellia. She teaches us that the way the water erodes rock with every droplet is the way we let our thoughts erode the rock of our minds, creating rivers over time. Dwelling on those fears only makes those rivers wider. 


He glanced Petra’s way with self-doubt lingering in his eyes but with the small smile of someone who took every day as it came, balancing with the recent trauma like a boulder teetering on the edge of a cliff.


Desoa: Or I am trying to control a biochemical storm of damaged synaptic nerves on a nightly basis by telling myself not to think about it.


Bjarnadóttir: Are the counsellors helping?


Desoa: They do. I imagine arranging regular visits with our own on the Triumphant will be the key to getting home sooner. ::He took a breath, the air inviting and warm, blossoms on the wind.:: Have you had thoughts on it since?


Bjarnadóttir: On the Sasu Gol?


Desoa: That does not count as one of your questions. 


Bjarnadóttir: I hope not. ::She arched an eyebrow in his direction.:: I don’t know what you’re asking me.


Desoa: About what happened there, on the ship. What we saw, the darkness we felt. All of it. 


All of it. She’d had plenty of time to think on it, while filling Jal’s large boots as he recovered. Her gaze dropped to her hands, healed and pink once more. Then to the man at her side, who’d stubbornly held on when it had seemed the end was upon them. 


Bjarnadóttir: I don’t know. ::She shook her head.:: It seems too much of a grim fairy tale to be real. The darkness eating your soul and waking the dead. But it happened, and no one seems to know why.


Desoa: As all things, I am without doubt we will find out. Our luck is just so. 


His fingers pushed into his chest where the shard of the artefact had impacted, through his flesh and sinew, bone and blood. Conducted emergency surgery on the Gorkon had yielded a successful extraction… but there were nights Jal still felt the dull pains of it still there, beset with the thought it was the movements small of slivers sliced off and embedded deeper than they knew. 


Bjarnadóttir: Isn’t it? ::A taut smile tugged at one corner of her mouth.:: But we got each other through it once. We can do it again, if we have to.


Nodding with a small hmm of agreement, those pangs of the darkness creeping in. He looked up to where the unary yellow sun began the inevitable descent toward the horizon line. It reminded him of his childhood on Palanon, the binary stars in constant orbit of one another, feeding off of one another's light. His eyes found Petra, wondering if there was much in the young woman of her younger self, if she had the same visions of the future as he had.


Desoa: What is a favoured childhood memory of yours?


There were so many. Petra’s youth had been a happy one. A loving family, a beautiful home, never wanting for anything but the fancies of childish dreams. The only strife had been the usual push and pull between child and parents, moments long since forgotten.


Bjarnadóttir: Spending time with my Amma. We used to go walking together every weekend. We’d bundle up, take a flask of tea and some snúður, and she’d tell me about the huldufólk and other old myths. ::A fond smile bloomed as she talked of her grandmother.:: She’s a professor of folklore and mythology, and looks into how the same themes appear among different cultures and species. Every time I see her, she’s got a new story.


Desoa: I would be interested to meet her. Old storytellers are the greatest judge of character. They keep so many in their heads. ::He smiled, the thought of an elderly grandmother a little different to his own. Busy with Senate duties well into her twilight years.:: What is snúður?


Bjarnadóttir: Next time we’re near a replicator, you can find out for yourself. We’ll have coffee and snúður, and your life will never be the same again.


Desoa: I look forward to it. On the Triumphant, instead of here. Life-changing occasions do need their own special moment. 


Bjarnadóttir: I’ll try to make an event of it. ::She chuckled.:: Book the holodeck and take you on an Icelandic hike for the full experience.


The idea made her heart thump in her chest, warmth curling through like tendrils of soft velvet—almost as much as the idea of doing it for real. Taking him home to meet her grandmother didn’t seem a ridiculous thing to do, but something perfectly natural. Eat kjötsúpa at her rugged kitchen table, curl up in front of the fire with hot chocolate, and listen to Amma grill Jal over Tyrellian mythology and legend. 


Desoa: I do like the cold, and the mountains of your homeland are beautiful. ::With a grin, the Tyrellian took a breath of warm Deluvian air.:: We would be like Aione and Thatius, making their journey across the mountains to find a new life on the other side. 


An old favourite of his, saved from the Tyrellian home. Tales of courage, displacement, and the seeking of a new home were common, and Jal, at least, found some comfort in them. That the experience was universal, of a kind. The slow regard for transience, impermanence, and moving forward. Blossoms of heat threaded internally, spreading like fingers over his broad shoulders.


Bjarnadóttir: ::She chuckled.:: Yes, Amma would definitely like you. 


Desoa: I would hope so. Enough to feed me tea and snúður.


Hearing her laugh, even briefly, seemed sonorous and lyrical to the Tyrellian, as he tried not to remember the woman who had come to the Triumphant. Sadness had flooded like a river bursting the banks and, powerless to stop it, Jal had listened to what Petra didn't say, consoled without needing an explanation, and tried in ways he could to make each day seem a little brighter. That she would be there for him, a year later, doing the same, warmed him through. 


Desoa: Thank you for this. For listening.


Bjarnadóttir: Thank you for sharing it with me.


She smiled, a confused twitch to her brow as she realised how grateful she was for the conversation. Not for her own unburdening, as much as she had needed it. But Jal’s willingness to talk about his own troubles, to share his thoughts and struggles, with no need for cajoling or frog-marching to a counsellor. It was honest and open, bittersweet in ways she couldn’t describe. 


Bjarnadóttir: I... rushed into things. With Cory. He proposed less than three months after our first date. We married six months after that. ::She sighed at her own earnest foolishness and shook her head.:: We hadn’t even spoken to each other’s parents. I barely knew him. And that never really changed. It’s not something I wanted to do again.


Jal nodded in understanding, and let the quiet of the chirping birds and running river fall over them for a moment as their amble slowed. When he took a breath, he thought of an old lesson, one learned in hard ways, and smiled gently, in heart and soul.


Desoa: My people believe to accept the experiences that nature has bound us to, and embrace those individuals whom destiny brings to us, but to do so wholeheartedly for the time they are here. ::Cryptic as those old words could be, he estimated Petra would discern the meaning.:: We have time. What if we share some of that time and discover what fate has in store for us?


She smiled at him, and her heart climbed up into her throat. She swallowed and took a deep breath, the words and their layered meanings slipping between her ribs and blossoming. The time she’d given to others had not been wasted. The time she had now was precious, so nearly had it been lost. Warmth flushed across pale Icelandic cheeks and she lifted her hand, brushing the back of her fingers against Jal’s before sliding her palm against his. 


Bjarnadóttir: Like Aione and Thatius.


Fingers slid between his and he brushed his thumb over the back of hers, accepting her touch with the softest of motions. Light in sapphire eyes, guarding a strong heart. A small smile tugged at the corner of his lips. 


Desoa: Like Aione and Thatius.





Commander Jal Desoa

First Officer

USS Triumphant





Lt. Petra Bjarnadóttir

Chief of Security and Tactical

USS Triumphant




Edited by Alieth
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