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[Last Round 2008] Loyalty & Friendship


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((DS17 Twilight's Edge))

::Cara gave a polite nod of the head and excused herself, slipping

quietly away as part of her wondered at herself. No fuss, no mess, just

a quiet CSO slipping away as usual... Except... she hadn't been like

that lately had she?::

::A welcoming quiet yes, but not one used to remain unnoticed. It was

like she was an ensign again, just looking for a quiet place to work

herself to the bone. Of course, she needed to pack her things, deliver

the neat piles of PADDs from her office to where they belonged... So

many things to do before she left aboard the Independence! Cheeky and

Tholos had liked the ship...::

:: She shook her head slightly as she went towards where the Ronin was

docked. Who was she kidding?::

:: Ben walked silently behind her. He had an idea that she needed a moment before he interrupted, but didn't want to wait longer than necessary. ::

Walker: Commander?

::Cara remained looking ahead of her, though the familiar voice did halt her movement. If she didn't turn and face him now he was just going to walk in front of her wasn't he? But doing that would make it far too obvious she wasn't acting normally, and he'd immediately worry. No need to worry over her.::

::The Betazoid hybrid turned with a slight smile on her face, though there was still something wrong about the eyes and the voice.::

Maria: I was just going to my quarters to pack up my things, I thought I could clear out my office too, I'm sure your new CSO would appreciate not having any touches of my ways of doing things still around.

Walker: Not a joyful task I'm sure. Much like...nevermind.

::Worry, apprehension, his own sadness. Rather belatedly she realised she may have overdone the cheerfulness. Oops.::

Maria: Oh, you wanted to talk to me didn't you? I'm sorry, it slipped my mind.

Maria: oO and things slipping my mind is even rarer, well done genius. Oo

:: He sighed internally at the sound of her voice. The right words were there, but even to him it felt somehow thin. ::

Walker: We are still in the corridor. Your offer I thought was more for times with greater privacy. Something I think we need in any case.

::To be there whenever he needed her. To follow him wherever he led. Her heart sank a little further under its heavy blanket of apathy, she might have to break both those promises. How worthless of her.::

Maria: Sir?

Walker: Because...Cara. ..I need your help.

::Cara flinched, a crack zigzagging down the mirror. She'd been doing so well, all she'd had to do was escape without talking to either of them and she would have been safe, Without them re-proving exactly why she wanted to stay on this ship.::

:: But she couldn't just leave, she had to show her kindness, one last time and do all she could now... just in case she was never able to help him again.::

Maria: Of course sir, what do you need me for?

:: Even as he spoke the words, he felt another spike driven in. Here was someone who he'd come to trust, who trusted him, and she had to leave. But if she was to go, he'd not let her blame herself. ::

::He was lost in thought again, but that was hardly anything new, after all, she did it herself a lot of the time. In the meanwhile she watched his flames. So warm...::

Maria: Commander?

Walker: Just a moment. =/\= Ronin, two to beam to my...the Captain's Ready Room. =/\=

:: As the light enveloped him, he wondered again what trick of fate had conspired to put him there. Cara smiled at the stumble over the words, though the transporter didn't entirely surprise her, after all, if Jack had codes of course Ben would.::

Maria: You don't see this ship as yours yet, do you?

Walker: :: chuckling wryly:: No...I don't. This is still her ship as far as I'm concerned.

Maria: I'm sure you'll get used to it sir.

Walker: Somehow I doubt that...and believe it to be true. Hard to accept. Much like many things lately.

::There was a small silence, Cara watching quietly with hands locked behind her back, the very image of an attentive officer as he tried to think of what to say next. The half-betazoid broke the silence first.::

Maria: What did you call me here to talk about sir?

Walker: I would...presume. ..that you were talking about your transfer with Captain Mar. You don't want to go, do you?

::A slight pause before she looked at the floor. She couldn't let that blanket of apathy lift. If it did she'd have to feel it all, and in the company of someone who understood her so well she was almost sure admitting she wasn't perfectly okay would lead to that.::

Maria: ...No sir.

:: How was he going to do this? Even thinking of it was ripping into him. Taking a deep breath he started. ::

Walker: Well, I don't like it either. However, :: clearing his throat:: however it does open up a solution to a problem.

Maria: It... does?

:: Ben tried to keep his mind still, not locked down...but not showing how much this was hurting him. She trusted him...and he was being forced to send her away. But better he hurt than her. ::

::The ripples of flames were gently streaming upwards as normal, if Cara hadn't been paying attention, she might have taken it for calm, except the flames were too still and cool, making the result closer to his sadness. But it was still there at least. She wished... wished she could help him not to hurt. A gentle movement out of the corner of her eye revealed that one of her wrist ribbons had slipped out again to settle round Ben's shoulders.::

Walker: Um...It's Captain Mar. I need someone to look after her. Someone who she knows, who she might actually listen to, someone who knows her enough to know the hidden signs for when she's hurting.

::So that's it, thinking up excuses. Amazing really, how people's minds tried to come up with valid arguments for bad situations, searching for anything to make it better. Cara bit her lip slightly and looked down, fringe partially hiding her face. ::

Maria: She's going to be split from the people she cares about, of course she's going to be hurting, but that doesn't mean I can just tell her she's feeling miserable, she'd probably know that already.

::As would they, and everyone else who'd been parted from good friends. Friends who knew her well enough that they could read her silences to know something was wrong.::

Walker: Cara, your sight...it'll see through any facade she puts up. And I don't think she's as well as she's putting on.

:: As she spoke Ben mentally cursed. The same sight that he was speaking of would see right through the facade HE was putting up. A small silence fell as neither spoke.::

::She had to reply... but she could feel his sadness and her own pushing at her control of her outward movements. She had to remain strong, this was hard enough already, she couldn't show just how much this hurt, it would make him feel worse.::

Maria: oO I can't cry. Oo

::Of course, this didn't stop her voice from being croaky when she did reply.::

Maria: Commander... everyone tries to appear strong, to try not to hurt those around them. Including me.

Walker: Like that time in the garden, where you said I'd put up a rock wall, bottled it all up?

Maria: oO I must not cry. Oo

Maria: Yes, I know I said not to bottle them up... but everyone still does it. It doesn't fix anything, but it's better for everyone else that it's only me and them that know while they're in public.

::Cara didn't look up when she spoke, concentrating firmly on the floor. Feeling her resolve waver. She KNEW talking would only cause her barriers to break.::

Maria: Especially if they're in command.

Walker: I...no. Of course not. It's just... well there are things that I...that you...well it just..

::A wry smile crossed the hybrid's face with a hiccup of a chuckle.::

Maria: Commander, that was pathetic.

:: Ben let out a sigh before continuing. ::

Walker: Cara, I'm worried about her...and about you. And I don't know how to fix it.

::He cared about her, he was worried about her. Another crack shot down the mirror and Cara's fist clenched. Why did he have to be so kind now of all times? She felt her resolve fold like so much paper.::

Maria: Neither do I sir... oO I must not cry... Oo

Walker: Don't worry, we'll figure something out.

::Oh no... the room was getting fuzzy with held back tears. She wasn't going to able to stop it, she needed to get out of here, anything to stop them seeing her control break down! She needed to be strong!::

Maria: Excuse me sir, I must look a mess, I'll just go and...

::She turned to try and leave before dimly realising there would be people who'd see her flee through the bridge. But even as she thought it something stopped her.::

Walker: Cara...don't. Don't run away again.

::Something hot ran down her cheek, pausing on her chin until another drops joined it. She could at least try to get a normal tone out of the throat that had locked up. The result... it was almost normal.::

Maria: I... I'm sorry Commander... I didn't want you to see me like this.

:: Something about the response forced a laugh out of him. At her questioning look, it started again. ::

Walker: You....you don't wwa want me to see you like this? After all the things you've seen in me?

Maria: This isn't like seeing someone's emotions Commander. This is... shameful that I'm so weak.

Walker: :: Sobering:: Cara, you've seen me at my worst. At a time you need me, don't expect me to be anywhere but here.

::There was a small silence. In theory the thought of being ripped apart from someone who cared for her should break her apart further. However it seemed she'd been through so much today that it seemed she'd run out of extra sadness. She was just tiredly glad that someone cared about her enough that she was cocooned in safe warmth. How on earth could she repay him?::

Maria: Thank you Ca... Com... Ben. May I rest here for a little while?

:: Ben's heart broke and surged at the same time. She was hurting so badly, but...she'd used his name as well. And asked for help. The words came out slightly rough. ::

Walker: Of course. As long as you need. I'll watch over you as you've watched over me.

::A sign of the ultimate trust. The half-betazoid walked round to his side of the desk and carefully sat on the floor, leaning against the table. To show she trusted him when she was at her most vulnerable, though she was tired from all the emotions of today too. A slight smile crossed her face as she relaxed, eyes closing as the tears dried.::

:: Ben sat and watched her, seeing her body relax as sleep took her. He wanted to call Karynn, or Captain Mar, or even Ro...someone who'd know better what to say or do. But...they weren't here. And she'd accepted help from him...not them. He carefully picked her up, carrying her to the couch he'd added for days when it was too tiring to get to bed and covered her up. As he closed the door behind him, he wiped tears from his eyes. She'd be better for this, he knew it, and if she were awake she'd tell him the same was true in reverse. But, at this point, it was hard to believe it. ::

TBC..

Simmed by

Commander Benjamin Walker

CO

USS Ronin

&

Lt. Cmdr Cara Maria

CSO

USS Independence- A

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