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[Round 13] Darkest Before the Dawn


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JP - Lieutenant JG Karynn Ehlanii and Commander Ben Walker - Darkest Before the Dawn

((Morning, Wilde Estate, Earth))

::Karynn yawned and rubbed her eyes as the sunlight filtered through the thin curtains of her room. She sighed. After such a late night it was far too early to be waking up, but she knew the sun wouldn't budge. Without a way to keep it out of her room, she was stuck getting out of bed.::

::Ten minutes and a quick shower later, she had wandered downstairs to the kitchen in some basic civilian clothes looking for a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal. As she sat at the dining room table, munching on spoonfuls of cereal and internally cursing the sun for waking her up, she was startled by a voice.::

:: Hearing the sounds in the room next to his, Ben got up, curious to see who else had been up all night. He walked past, pouring more coffee into his cup. ::

Walker: Mind if I join you Counselor?

Ehlanii: ::gesturing to an empty chair:: Seat is all yours, Commander.

:: Raising his arms over his head, he stretched for a moment before sitting down. ::

Walker: I guess I wasn't the only one up all night eh?

Ehlanii: ::laughing:: I wasn't exactly up all night. I was up late last night and this Earth sun refuses to let me sleep any more. I think I'll be drinking a lot of coffee today.

Walker: :: chuckling slightly:: True. Ah..I know this is...irregular. ..but may I ask you something as a Counselor?

::The Haliian put down her spoon and looked at the man. oOAre you sure its as a counselor... and not another inquiry into my personal life?Oo Thinking better of asking that question she instead nodded.::

Ehlanii: I think my tired brain can handle it. What's on your mind?

:: Ben noticed the momentary wary look in her eyes and forcibly kept himself from wincing. ::

Walker: oO Not like I don't deserve that as well. Oo Ok, something similar to what I've been struggling with. Could you help or counsel someone, who had caused harm to someone you cared about? :: Pausing for a moment, then almost blurting the next part. :: And at what point should someone stop leading, if they are causing harm to those they lead?

::Karynn smiled at the man. It was clear that he was struggling with something big.::

Ehlanii: Which question would you like me to answer first?

Walker: :: He let out a wry chuckle:: Well, the first one I suppose.

::She gazed out the window, absentmindedly twisting a strand of hair around her finger.::

Ehlanii: Could I counsel someone who caused harm to someone I care about? I always hope that I can set aside my personal feelings about a person and be professional when I'm called on to do so. I think it might be hard, depending on the magnitude of the hurt and the harm, but I would strive to be objective.

Walker: :: nodding:: I understand.. .and the second question?

Ehlanii: ::looking straight at the man:: I think that to even consider that decision, this someone should be pretty darn sure that if someone else had been in command the people who were harmed wouldn't have been. And usually that is something we can't tell all on our own. That's when we have to trust the judgment of those closest to us.

Walker: ::Frowning slightly, he paused before responding.: : So you are suggesting, that without knowing the difference, it is possible things might have turned out worse?

::The Haliian nodded slowly.:: Ehlanii: Things could have turned out much worse.

::Ben turned away from her, not wanting to let her see the pain in his eyes.::

Walker: The thing is, once...maybe even twice...I can see. But every time?

Ehlanii: ::softly:: Commander... We live and work in a dangerous environment. Its the life we've chosen to live, and a risk we've chosen to take on. Your being in command has not, I repeat NOT put us at any more risk. Your ability to think quickly and give the tough orders have saved us on more than one occasion. What has happened isn't your fault. Not this time, not any time.

::Shoving the seat violently back, he slammed his fists into the oak table as he shouted back at her, tears welling in his eyes.::

Walker: I got ETHAN hurt...don't you see?!? I knew something was up with Wilde...I knew it. But no...I had to be all mysterious.. .give him time to explain. :: He sunk back down into the chair, the violent energy release leaving him a rag doll. His next words came out softly. :: And I think I caused all of this...I think...I think I'm the one who gave the Alternate Wilde the idea.

::She fought back a wince at the bang, attempting to stay as collected as possible, at least externally. As he suggested that he caused it all, she bit back a smile, forcing herself to stay calm and neutral.::

Ehlanii: You didn't get Ethan hurt. What if you had confronted him right away and things had gotten violent right away? Ethan could be dead, and not just injured. You aren't omniscient. You can't know what might have happened. ::she paused:: Although I wouldn't mind hearing how you think you gave the Alternate Wilde the idea.

Walker: When I got transported. ..I saw...well myself. And he was amazed at what had happened and I was in a rush...and I just... :: he shrugged:: I told him what I was...where I was from. And since "he" died protectingIdril. ..it must have been the past. And therefore, it is a logical postulation that my actions started this whole issue.

::Karynn's eyebrows arched higher and higher Vulcan-style as he made his revelation. When he was finished she shrugged.::

Ehlanii: Yes, I suppose that is a "logical postulation." However, there isn't anything you can do about it now.

:: Without looking up, his words came out, almost a whisper::

Walker: I just wish...I wish I knew what to do. During a crisis, it's all so easy. Everything laid out as plain as day. But after, when the crisis is over...it's like I'm groping through fog. Guessing at what others instinctively know. A leader should KNOW what to do...not guess.

::She reached out and almost touched him, an instinctual need to comfort and encourage him. Her hand stopped short, as she realized that she hadn't asked. She left her hand there, in an offer of comfort.::

Ehlanii: Commander... ::she paused:: Please look at me.

:: Ben turned to face her, his eyes hooded. ::

Ehlanii: You said it yourself. During a crisis, you do know what to do. And you do it. That's when we need a leader the most - someone to pull us together, someone we rally behind. You are that leader. The after part? I guess that's something you can learn as you go.

:: As he looked at the Haliian, a part of him looked on with surprise as he fully understood the phrase "jaw dropping". ::

:: Shaking himself slightly, hidden by a shrug, he frowned in concentration. His forehead furrowing as he spoke. ::

Walker: But that's the easy part... how can that be so crucial? And...:: he paused again, fearful of the answer:: with everything I've done...said. You'd still...still. :: Understanding brightened his face for a moment. :: Oh...right. As the counselor... of course.

Ehlanii: Commander... you are Ethan's friend. Despite the... ::she paused, choosing her words carefully:: ...challenges that you and I have had, if he thinks that highly of you, I do too. So the things I've said, I say as both a Counselor, and a friend. That is, if you don't mind having a counselor as a friend.

:: Ben started to speak, then stopped. Started again, stopped. Finally, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, he could feel all the feelings of helplessness, of uselessness, drop away for a moment. They were still there, still something he needed to deal with, but put away once more. When he opened his eyes after a few moments, he'd regained his outward calm. ::

Walker: Thank you. And...I'm sorry. I guess on two counts.

Ehlanii: On two counts?

:: He chewed the inside of his lip for a moment before responding. ::

Walker: It's...well...you know what I said at our group counselling. ..how I...how I used to deal with things?

::The Haliian nodded:: Ehlanii: Your self-inflicted punishment?

Walker: Yes. Well, :: smiling slightly:: I've been told by several sources that such a thing is no longer an option for me. :: sobering:: But, with all that's happened...I was still in that mindset. So, seeing you...I thought I had another way. After all...what could be more painful than being told by an expert that you really are that useless. And you had the means, the motive, and the opportunity to amply repay my earlier transgression. ..and didn't. Thus my apology twice...for putting you into that position...and for believing you would.

::Karynn looked him straight in the eyes and smiled.::

Ehlanii: Commander Walker, I forgive you on both counts.

:: Almost shyly, Ben held out his hand to hers. ::

Walker: Then I guess you can stop calling me Commander... as Ethan has said at some point I'm sure...I'm Ben.

Ehlanii: ::Taking his hand with hers with a smile:: And I'm Karynn.

::Through the touch she could feel his emotions, a torrential mix of loneliness, fear, a strong sense of honor, and a surprised happiness. She smiled at his happiness as she worked through separating his emotions from her own, before casually removing her hand again.::

::She gazed out the window at the grounds bathed in a morning sunlight. Some other time she could ask him about his loneliness and fear, but for now, she would let it be. It was a new day, complete with a new friendship.: :

The End

Lieutenant JG Karynn Ehlanii

Ship's Counselor

USS Ronin


Commander Ben Walker

First Officer

USS Ronin

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One of the greatest posts I've read in a while.

Very well-written, excellent character development from both writers, both individually and in the relationship between the characters.

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