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JP: Lt. Jack Kessler & Lt. Nesre Salo - "What Does The Heart Want?"

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((Nesre Salo’s Quarters, USS Oumuamua))

For months, Nesre had been avoiding something.  She had been avoiding
the truth.  Her first indication that something more was going on behind
the scenes had been during Valentine’s day, evidently a human custom
that V’Len had elected to adopt and Jack, of course, knew about because
he was human himself.  Even though she had spent formative years on
Earth, if it had been something celebrated there, it had never been a
big enough deal to catch her attention.

At first, she had brushed it off.  After all, the pleasant banter
between the men, their ‘outdoing’ each other had seemed to be done in
playful sport rather than any sincere romantic interest.  Of course, she
should have known better, but she had simply brushed it off as two
friends trying to do something sweet for another.

She was so very wrong.

When Jack had come to plead with her to look to V’Len in a romantic
fashion, she was no longer able to dismiss it.  His reaction, the way he
had sounded, the way he looked was completely at odds with what he was
telling her.  And Jack had certainly made it very clear how V’Len felt,
though the Trillorian hadn’t said a word.  Until now.

Now, Nesre rushed back to her room, her mind and heart both in a
whirlwind of confusion.  She had not known what to say to V’Len, but she
knew she hadn’t wanted to hurt him.  She also was uncertain - uncertain
because she very much wanted to retain someone dear to her, but knew
that if things went awry, their relationship could turn sour, and she
certainly didn’t want that. Yet..she also knew that she was struggling
herself, in a way she hadn’t wanted to admit, but now she had to face
it.  She had to face them.  She had to face herself. She had to face her
own feelings.

But before she could do that, she actually had to figure out what it was
she was feeling.  In the end, she wondered if her feelings were only
going to be one factor, and at some point, she was going to have to turn
to the right or the left.  But which way?  She didn’t know.  What she
did know was, she couldn’t do so without talking to Jack.

The doors whooshed open and she stepped within, then to the side and
leaned against the wall next to the doors.  They hissed to a close,
cutting her off from the rest of the ship, leaving her in silence.  They
had no answers for her.  No one did.  Or did they?


Jack stood in the ship’s arboretum smiling and leaning forward as Lilou
ran back towards him with an equally excited look in her eyes and a red
ball in her mouth. The dog brought herself to a halt just in front of
Jack and dropped the ball at his feet. Excitedly she jumped backwards
and started dancing around waiting for him to pick the ball up and throw
it again. Grinning at Lilou, Jack leaned to the ground and picked up the
ball, heaved back and threw it as hard and as far as he could. The four
legged Earth dog was off and running just as the ball left Jack’s finger

Salo: =/\=Salo to Kessler.=/\=

The voice on the comms call brought another smile to Jack’s face as he
watched Lilou reach the ball and pick it up. Tapping his combadge.

Kessler: =/\= Kessler here. =/\=

Salo: =/\=Would you please come see me in my quarters?=/\=

Jack paused at the request. Normally Nesre liked to be in social places
and a request to her quarters was somewhat out of the norm. Her voice
was slightly different as well. The arboretum could have been playing
with Jack’s ears but whatever the reason Nesre wanted to see him and he
was not about to say no.

Kessler: =/\= Sure ::beat:: Is everything ok? =/\=

And what was she going to say to that?  This definitely wasn’t a
conversation to have over the comms.  Even if it had been a secure
connection, that was far too impersonal a medium for such a personal

Salo: =/\=I have something important to talk to you about. =/\=

Lilou dropped the ball at Jack’s feet as Nesre’s words were repeated in
Jack’s head. Immediately he thought of the last time he asked her to the
ship's 7-Forward  lounge to ask her to help V’Len. A request that went
against every emotion and feeling in his own body but a request that he
had promised V’Len, in a roundabout way he would make. Jack picked up
the ball and threw it one more time, taking a deep breath and hoping he
could face Nesre on a professional demeanour and keep his feelings hidden.

Kessler: =/\= On my way, I just need to drop Lilou off at my quarters
real quick. =/\=

Jack closed the coms and looked down at his dog whose tail was slapping
one side of her body and flying around to slap the other side. Playtime
would be cut short but he’d be back out here with her soon enough.

He was on his way and all she could do was wait until he got there.
Nesre closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall, simply
standing there, trying to sort out her confusion and getting nowhere
fast.  The jumble of thoughts and emotions mixed together in such a
mess, she couldn’t make hide nor hair of what was what or where she
stood.  She didn’t move, not during the entire time it took for him to
arrive at her quarters.

When the bell rang, she quietly called out,

Salo: Come in.

She heard the doors open, and her head rolled to the side, grey eyes
turning upward to fall upon Jack, seeking for answers, but finding
none.  Not yet anyway.

As the doors hissed open and Jack stepped inside Nesre was leaning
against the wall near the door. A look on her face immediately told him
that she was deep in thought, emotion and if he didn’t know better he
sensed fear deep down in those grey eyes of hers. Turning to fully face
her he tilted his head slightly and stepped closer allowing the doors to
shut behind him.

Kessler: ::in a concerned tone:: Hey, what’s wrong?

Salo: Nothing.  Really.  Nothing is wrong.  I just…I’m uncertain.

Kessler: I’m right here ::reaching out and grasping her hand:: and I am
here for you, for whatever you need.

Since the day Jack had met Nesre back on DS9 with V’Len and Commodore
Kells, he had been drawn to her. Her eye’s captured him like no other
had and her warmth, caring and love for animal’s had drawn him to her
even more. Lilou, his dog, in fact had been a gift from Nesre. She
seemed to know him well and thus one of the reasons he tried so hard to
hide his feelings for her, knowing that V’Len had the same feelings.

Salo: I appreciate that.

Kessler: ::motioning with one hand to the replicator:: Can I get you a
drink, some tea maybe?

Nesre shook her head, rolling it from side to side, the wall cold, but
sturdy behind her.  It was solid, certain, sure.  Everything she wasn’t
at the moment.

Salo: No.  I need something else.

Jack glanced over Nesre, head to toe. She looked ok and not injured but
she was clearly distressed. He glanced around the room but it was clean,
orderally and nothing looked suspicious to him at first glance.

Kessler: Sure ::in a soft calming voice:: Anything, you know that.

The question was, would he give her what she sought?  He hadn’t last
time. And if she did, would it help anything?  Would it answer her
questions?  Nesre didn’t know, but at least she would know where he stood.

Salo: I need you to be honest with me.

Jack felt confused for a brief moment. Had he done something that caused
her distress? Wasn’t he always honest with her? He had always been open
with her….except for one time.

Kessler: Ok.

Nesre took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  She had come this far,
and to back out now was not only cowardly, but wouldn’t get her the
answers she sought, whether or not they were helpful.

Salo: When we had that conversation in the Lounge.  What were you not
telling me?

Kessler: I told you why I was there and what I needed to talk to you about.

She shook her head,  and straightened, standing tall and looking him
directly in the eyes.  He had said a lot on that day, had revealed a
lot, but it had all been about V’Len.  Yet, Nesre had also read some
things between the lines, hints that he was trying to hold back,
messages that he was trying to hide.  But now was not the time to hide. 
Now was the time to be honest.  Wasn’t it?

Salo: I know what you said.  It’s what you didn’t say that I need to hear.

Jack felt his stomach tighten, a hollow pit growing within as fear of
what he thought she was asking was about to become a dangerous
conversation. He took a slow and deliberate breath and stared back into
those grey eyes that had locked on to him with a grip so intense he
could not pull away. A lump grew in his throat as he raced through his
mind for an escape route.

Kessler: What I didn’t say. ::beat:: What I didn’t say.

Jack released his gaze into her eyes and turned away from Nesre and
stepped over towards a seating area. His gut was twisting in every
direction, his head was starting to run in every direction. He knew
exactly what she was asking but he also knew that his promise to V’Len
meant that he couldn’t tell her. He found himself stuck between two
friends, between loyalty to his oath and to the one standing here before
him asking him to give her his heart. Or at least share it openly with her.

Salo: Jack..

Nesre straightened up, the wall no longer offering support.  She took a
single step forward, then stopped, uncertain how to cross the distance
that lay between them.

Kessler: ::turning back to Nesre:: How do I answer you without breaking
a promise? How do I keep a promise and not hurt you?

The question was spoken out loud and was just as much for her as it was
for himself. He had tried to honour his word and tried to set V’Len and
Nesre up but in doing so had not hid his feelings for Nesre very well.
In fact, the more he thought about it the more he was sure that everyone
in the lounge that day knew what he was not saying.

Salo: What promise?  Tell me the promise that you made.

It was an order, and yet somehow the gentle undertone was more pleading
than any demand could possibly be.  She wanted to hear from him, because
she hadn’t yet.  V’Len had been open with her, and now she needed the
same from him.  What would that do?  She didn’t know.  Both of them were
near and dear to her, but at least she would know where she stood.

Here was the fork in the plasma conduit. His promise would lead to his
oath and fulfilment to his closest friend. Take the other path and be
open and honest with the woman standing before him and into unknown,
uncertain territory. Jack knew she was a close friend and he knew she
cared about him but to what level? Were her feelings of the romantic
nature or that of a platonic relationship? He knew his feelings but they
clouded his judgement of hers. There was only one way to find out. He
would have to break his promise to V'Len.

Kessler: I made a promise to V’Len. ::beat:: I promised I would not
interfere with his pursuit of you, that I would help you see how much he
cares for you.

Maybe it was enough.  Maybe she already had her answer.  No, it didn’t
make anything easier.  And she?  How did she feel?  Where did she
settle?  Did she look upon them as simply friends, or was there more
than that?  For one?  For the other?  For both?

Nesre retreated, returning to the spot and leaning heavily against the
wall once more.  She wasn’t sure where to go, or what difference this
made.  The confusion remained, the uncertainty, and the desire not to
hurt anyone, and yet not to ruin a wonderful, beautiful friendship.

Salo: I see.

oO I see? No you don't. Or do you? Why is this so hard? Why did I make
that promise? Oo

Kessler: ::softly, stepping closer to her:: I hope you do see. I am
pinned between oath and friend.

Salo: I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have bothered you.

Kessler: Bothered? You could never bother me Nesre. I think ::beat::
hope you know I would do anything for you.

She lifted her face and a small smile appeared, but the grey eyes
reflected a turmoil that would not settle.  Shaking her head, she knew
that what she needed was time.  Time to think.  Time to ponder.

Salo: No.  I…

She what?  What did she want?  She wanted both of them in her life.  But
as what?

Salo: I’m tired.  I think I need to rest.

That was not what Jack thought was coming next. His heart slowed and his
chest felt a weight of defeat settle in. He was feeling sick to his
stomach. He was losing his opportunity, the opportunity he didn't really

Jack nodded in defeat and stepped towards the door and then stopped. He
did not look at her. He stared straight ahead at the door. Escape and
his oath to V'Len remained intact. To his side, admitting his feelings
and stepping into what he hoped was a more joyful future. His heart felt
as if it were to beat right out his chest or stop altogether and then
without warning it came out.

Kessler: I promised V’Len I would not interfere with you and him because
he knows that I'm falling for you and I want nothing more than you.

The words came out soft, Warm and from his heart. The truth was out.
He'd broken his promise and now the next step was uncertain. Feeling
guilt for breaking his word and for putting Nesre through all of this
mental anguish Jack didn't wait for a reply but stepped to the doors and
let them open and stepped into the corridor.

Nesre wondered if she should call to him.  If she should ask him to come
back.  The truth was, she didn’t know. She didn’t have a right answer,
or really any answer at all.  Where did she stand? With V’Len?  With
Jack?  She cared deeply for both of them, but she also knew neither of
them were inclined toward a relationship that involved more than two
people - and truthfully, neither was she.  For some, it was a way of
life.  Perhaps for Lenshran Thule, it wouldn’t have mattered for in his
culture, a relationship involved four people.  But this wasn’t Lenshran,
this was V’Len. And Jack.  And her.

So what did she feel?  Where should she go?  What path should she take? 
As Nesre stood there, the irony of V’Len’s words were oh so true.  She
was a counsellor, talked with others about their dreams, their thoughts,
and their feelings, and yet she found herself wallowing in uncertainty. 
She laughed softly, the sound devoid of humour.  What should she do? 
How should she feel?  For the first time in a long time, Nesre didn’t
have an answer.

Jack felt numb. He moved down the corridor and out of sight of Nesre’s
quarters. His father would be disappointed, he had broken his word to
V’Len. The one thing his father had drilled into him for as long as he
could remember, his word, his oath was above all else. On top of that
Nesre had let him go, she had not stopped him. Did she not share his
feelings? Was she afraid to say something? Was she interested in V’Len
and didn’t want to hurt Jack because of their closeness? No, the latter
was not likely, Jack knew her well enough to know that she would have
told him if V’Len had won her heart. Searching his feelings, deeper than
he knew, he decided to keep his feet moving, not to turn back. Let the
moment settle in and then he would check in with her. The truth was out,
she knew his feelings now. Time would tell what this would or would not
become for them.


Lieutenant Jack Kessler
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Oumuamua


Lt. Nesre Salo
USS 'Oumuamua


This one really hit home with me. The dynamic and situation are 100% relatable!

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ARGH! I was just coming here to post this in appreciations. That's twice this week I've been scooped!!!


But seriously, Kudos to @Alora DeVeau and @Jack Kessler for dragging out this painful will-they/won't-they for the better part of a year and resisting the satisfying resolution. Very realistic!


(and man, that counselor needs some counseling, get a grip woman!!!)

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