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LTCmdr. Quentin Collins - The Last Encounter

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((Interior. Deep Space 33, The Arboretum.))

Quentin Collins felt a stabbing sensation. Something he had never experienced before this very second, seeing the bright and vibrant faces of his Arrow family directly after their latest awards ceremony (where they all had been richly and deservedly rewarded for their recent honourable works across the Alpha Isles).
He felt cowardice.
The people he loved the most, the people he wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with were just across the way. They were talking and laughing and drinking and living. And Quentin couldn't bear to make himself a part of it. Because he knew, he knew deeper than anything he had never known in his life, that he would ruin it. That his life and existence with these beautiful, talented, kind, and loving people he had served and bled and toiled and gained a place in the universe with would come back around full circle and he would be the dark cloud over them all that he always secretly knew he was.
It was total tripe, of course, and had Quentin the fortitude (and surety in his own ability to not immediately burst into tears as soon as anyone talked to him) to ask any one of them...they would tell him the same. But something else Quentin Collins knew was that self-loathing and doubt were some helluva things and better people than him have succumbed to it. That didn't stop him not-so-secretly hating himself for not simply walking the few feet it would take to actually TELL them goodbye. To tell them face to face just how much they all meant to him. How much they will continue to mean to him even back in Maine. How much he will think about them and worry after them and take a burning heart in the fact that they will still be out here in the Alpha Isles, fighting the good fight and continuing to bear the standard of the United Federation of Planets in a way that only they and they alone could. 
He could certainly say all these things. He had the words, the ability.
The deep well of pathos and near idolization of his crew and superiors to back it further. And yet...still he stood back. A scared little boy in a too-big suit strapped with a bag of books that he thought of as his REAL friends. It was almost horrifying to him in the moment how cyclical life sometimes was. How cruelly recursive. He had come to space to find himself and then, for his sins, he had...
Now it was throwing him backwards through time. Back to that red-headed scarecrow he was before Starfleet. With all the insecurities and self-doubts of that man-child to boot. The million-watt energy from the crew in the compartment beyond pulled him back from the dangerous brink. He took in their faces, their smiles, their anima in turn as he gazed longingly at their faces through a veil of gathering tears. Trying to store it like a battery in his soul for the long, tedious journey back home. Thinking their names like a litany as he gripped the strap of his knapsack for dear life.
Shayne. Ash. Chloe. Ayemet and Connor. Serinus. Zabi and Zenno and Dr. Ohnari and Nol. Lana Morgenstern. Cassie. Reba Kester. Starrana and Stelok and the wonderful minds of the Science Departments of three ships. Captain Oddas. Irina Pavlova, Hal Mika, Professor Sotia Dano, Kayla Drex.
An alert chimed on his comm. His shuttle was ready. Of course it was. He gave the crew...his real family one last look. A rueful, nearly cracking smile on his lips.
oO Don't forget me, Arrow. Because I certainly won't forget you...Oo
His smile widened. Thinking momentarily of the last thing he would leave them with, sitting comfortably in the Living History Annex. 
Then...Quentin Jaimson Collins, Third of his Name, turned and walked into the next phase of his life. Hopeful in the possibility that he could one day return to them all, once everything was done...
((U.S.S. Arrow, The Living History Annex.))
Standing, carefully placed and fully extended, was the sword of Chief Science Officer Quentin Collins. A note pinned to the top of the blade, addressed to the whole of the Arrow crew.
"I love you all. Be extraordinary.
Never The End.
((OOC: Thank you all for everything. My experience with the 118 has been so much richer and fuller having known and worked with you all. It's been...everything, really.))

Lieutenant Commander 

Quentin Collins III

Chief Science Officer


U.S.S. ARROW NCC-69829

ID: E239512QC0

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