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[ROUND 10] Lt.Cmdr. Whale & PNPC Dr Shelley: Bleak Horizon


Alleran Tan
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----

Lt. Commander David Whale

First Officer

USS Constitution

http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Whale,_David

&

Doctor Fiona Shelley

Medical Department

USS Constitution

http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Shelley,_Fiona

-----

(( Risa - Zuriah Beach ))

:: Now this was more like it. Whale would never be confused with a "beach person" -- lying out on a beach was never really his idea of a good holiday -- but being on a real beach, feeling real sand between his toes, listening to real waves rolling onto shore and smelling authentic salt air... this was a hell of a lot better than some holodeck approximation. ::

:: Inhaling deeply, Whale looked out across the ocean, past the few sailboats to the horizon. This particular beach was not one of the "œprettiest" on Risa (though on Risa, it seemed everything was pretty, so it was all relative), so it was not nearly as crowded as most of the others -- it was the primary reason Whale had decided to come here. The fewer people, the better. It was nice to be out of uniform; it was nice to not have someone or something demanding his attention every second... but most important, it was just nice to relax. To relax and just enjoy a nice view. ::

:: In more ways than one. ::

:: He couldn't help but watch as a young woman jogged down the beach wearing what was perhaps the smallest bikini that could be produced before it could no longer be sold as a bikini, but as thread. But somehow, the young woman was making it work. Not that it was a huge mystery as to how -- she was probably twenty five, in fantastic shape, a slight sheen of sweat on her tanned skin... Whale recognized her as a Constitution crew member, but couldn't recall her name or even in which department she served. ::

SHELLEY: Sightseeing?

:: Turning quickly away from the receding form of the jogging woman, Whale saw Fiona Shelley standing a few metres behind him, strawberry blond hair tied back in a loose ponytail, a lopsided smirk on her lips. ::

WHALE: Uh... well... you know, as first officer, the physical condition of our crew is very important to me.

SHELLEY: Uh-huh.

:: She glanced toward the jogger, who had stopped a little ways down the beach and was taking the opportunity to stretch. ::

SHELLEY: Were you planning to test her fitness levels?

WHALE: The thought had crossed my mind, but I didn't think it would be a good idea. After all, my heart was only recently repaired -- I'd hate to have Doctor Stone go through all that work for nothing.

SHELLEY: Your logic impresses me, David.

:: With the playful banter out of the way, an awkward silence followed. Neither really knew what to say next, despite the fact that they had a great deal to discuss. After several long moments in which the pair stared at the sand, the water, the boats, the horizon -- anything but each other -- Whale, sighing and running a hand through his hair, motioned for the Doctor to walk with him along the beach. ::

WHALE: Look. I'm... I'm sorry. I had no right to put that burden on you.

(( FLASHBACK - 5 months ago ))

(( Spacedock Earth - Temporary Crew Quarters ))

WHALE: I left the Independence because of you, but not because you did anything wrong.

:: Still not looking at Shelley -- trying desperately NOT to look at her -- Whale never the less felt the doctor step up beside him. ::

WHALE: Quite the opposite, actually. Everything you did -- everything you do -- is right. Right for ME, I mean. What really surprised me is how long it took for me to realise it and I even get the impression T'tala may have figured it out first.

SHELLEY: David...

WHALE: Shh, I'm kind of on a roll here.

:: Unseen by Whale, the doctor began, ever so slightly, to smile. ::

WHALE: I don't know why I didn't see it coming, but there it was. I'd started... :: pause :: I had feelings for you that went beyond our friendship. So I left. I didn't want what I was feeling to make your life difficult. I mean, you're married-

SHELLEY: I'm aware of my marital status.

:: Fear was still tying his internal organs in knots, but it seemed to be loosening its grip bit by bit. Whale had expected the doctor to put some space between them the closer her got to the truth, but she'd actually moved closer and now she... she was holding his hand. Making him turn to face her. ::

SHELLEY: And I still would have liked a goodbye.

WHALE: I wanted to, but I honestly wasn't sure what I'd say.

:: He smiled sadly. ::

WHALE: I may have asked you to run away with me.

SHELLEY: I may have said yes.

WHALE: What?

:: Had she really said...? ::

SHELLEY: Nothing. Forget I said it.

(( PRESENT ))

(( Risa - Zuriah Beach ))

:: Of course, he still hadn't been able to forget what she'd said. ::

WHALE: Honestly, if I'd known you were transferring to the Constitution, I wouldn't have said anything.

SHELLEY: David...

WHALE: No, I mean it. I'm truly sorry. I know it can't have been easy for you, especially with me being the XO now-

SHELLEY: David, stop. You have no reason to apologize. This... this thing we have -- whatever you want to call it -- it's complicated.

:: She chuckled a little. ::

SHELLEY: So very, very complicated. :: pause :: But there's something there and we both know it. Until you told me, I didn't know for sure how you felt, but I knew...

:: Pausing, Shelley swallowed heavily. She could feel a blush creeping into her cheeks. ::

SHELLEY: I knew how I felt.

WHALE: How you...?

SHELLEY: Of course! Why do you think I was so mad that you left the Independence without saying goodbye? Why do you think I requested a transfer to the Constitution?

:: Of course, she wasn't sure at the time that it had been the right decision. ::

(( FLASHBACK - 6 Months ago ))

(( Earth - Shelley family home in White Rock BC ))

REGINA: And... this guy you mentioned...

:: Shelley quickly turned back to the ocean view, avoiding her sister's gaze. ::

SHELLEY: David.

REGINA: Yeah, David. He sounds like a good guy.

:: Shelley kept silent. ::

REGINA: And he serves on the Constitution now, you said?

:: [...] it. She should have know Regina would make the connections. Whatever differences Fiona and Regina had had over the years, Fiona had always known and been willing to admit that her sister was extremely bright. And at the moment, Shelley kind of wished she wasn't. ::

SHELLEY: Yes. He transferred there a little while ago.

REGINA: Just before you did.

:: Closing her eyes, Shelley took another long sip of coffee, feeling the liquid warm her insides and hoping the caffeine jolt would hit soon. She hadn't been sleeping very well. ::

SHELLEY: What's your point, Reggie?

:: Taking a sip from her own mug, Regina sidled up beside her sister to share the view. She shrugged. ::

REGINA: I don't have a point, just making conversation.

:: There was a long, long pause... ::

REGINA: Does he make you happy?

:: Shelley snapped her head around to stare at her sister. ::

SHELLEY: What?!

REGINA: Does he make you happy. This David guy -- are you happy when you're around him?

SHELLEY: I don't... I just... Reggie, I...

REGINA: Fiona, I'm not judging. :: beat :: The other night, when we were talking, when you were telling me about the things you've done in Starfleet, the things that involved David... you were happy. You were smiling -- the kind of smile I remember seeing on the OLD Fiona. I haven't seen you smile like that -- I haven't seen you HAPPY -- since Anna died.

:: Reaching up, Regina smiled sadly as she brushed a windblown strand of hair from her sister's face. ::

REGINA: Fi, that means I haven't seen my sister happy in eight years. :: beat :: When you joined Starfleet, I thought you were an idiot, giving up a great job here on Earth to live in one of those space-faring tin cans. But now? I think it was the best decision you could have made.

:: Shelley swallowed heavily. She knew there were tears welling up in her eyes. ::

SHELLEY: I'm just scared, Reg. I just... I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know which way is up, I don't know which way to turn...

REGINA: That's how I spent my twenties. Dont' worry, Fi, you'll figure it out. You always do -- that's why you're such a great big sister.

:: Shelley closed her eyes for a moment, then downed the rest of her coffee. ::

SHELLEY: I hope so.

(( PRESENT ))

(( Risa - Zuriah Beach ))

:: But the fact was, Shelley still had no idea what she was doing. She hadn't figured it out -- she was flying by the seat of her pants and every time she spoke with Whale she felt the butterflies of near-panic doing their aerial acrobatics in her stomach. ::

SHELLEY: I followed you.

:: The pair stopped walking and faced each other for the first time. The fact was,Whale had never even really considered what Shelley's reasons had been for transferring to the Constitution. In fact, he wasn't even sure he'd ever considered that the transfer was at her own request. That... that changed everything. She had followed him. ::

SHELLEY: I followed you because I wasn't ready to give up on what we have.

:: Quickly stepping forward, Whale leaned down and caught the doctor in a kiss, his hands resting on her hips. He felt her hands pressed against his chest, slowly forming into fists grasping the front of his shirt as all hesitancy flew away on the ocean breeze. It was several long moments before Shelley pulled away. She released her grip on Whale's shirt, but her trembling hands remained against his chest. There were tears in her eyes. ::

SHELLEY: And what we have...

:: She choked momentarily as a tear rolled down her cheek. ::

SHELLEY: ...is a very, very good friendship.

:: His face going slack, Whale felt like he'd been kicked in the chest by a horse. Friendship...? But... but she had followed him... ::

SHELLEY: I'm sorry.

:: Her voice was little more than a whisper and tears were flowing freely as he took her hands from Whale's chest and stuffed them into her pockets -- almost as if she didn't trust them anymore. ::

WHALE: I don't... Fiona, please.

SHELLEY: This is hard enough already, David. If...

:: No. Don't leave that door open. ::

SHELLEY: I'm sorry. We're friends, David. That's what we are. Okay? Can... can you please try to be okay with that? I don't want to lose you as a friend, I just can't give you what you want. Can you understand that?

:: No, he couldn't. All he could understand was that of all the things he'd earned or been given in this, his second chance at life, there was only one thing he'd ever truly wanted. And now she was just going to walk away and he was expected to be fine with it. ::

WHALE: Is it Richard? Did he find out?

:: Richard Souray. Her husband of nearly fourteen years and current first officer of the USS Hormigonera. Shelley shook her head. ::

SHELLEY: No, Richard has nothing to do with this.

WHALE: Okay. I guess there's nothing else to say, then.

:: He turned away to watch the surf, mostly so Shelley wouldn't see the tears in his eyes. ::

SHELLEY: I'll write up my transfer request in the morning. I haven't looked at the fleet openings yet, but I'm sure I can get a new placement before shore leave is over.

WHALE: No, don't.

SHELLEY: What?

WHALE: Don't transfer. As hard as it will be seeing you on a regular basis, knowing that we can't... As hard as that will be, it would be harder to never see you again.

:: As she stared at Whale's back, Shelley wiped away fresh tears. It felt like there was gaping hole in her chest. She'd said the exact same thing to Doctor Zhou when she'd told him of her intention to follow Whale to the Constitution. ::

WHALE: And speaking as the XO, you're an asset to the medical department.

SHELLEY: All right. I'll... we'll see how it goes. :: pause :: Are you okay?

:: Whale chuckled, but there was no humour in it. He shrugged. ::

WHALE: I'll survive. That's what I do.

:: For moment, Whale and Shelley stood side by side, watching the waves breaking on the shore, knowing that the waves weren't the only things breaking. ::

SHELLEY: I should get back.

:: Whale nodded, but didn't say anything. Glancing down the beach, Shelley saw the jogging girl was heading back their way. ::

SHELLEY: She's coming back. I think you should give her a fitness test.

:: It almost made her sick to think of him... and that girl... but it's not like she had any claim on him. Shelley had made that clear and now she was going to have to live with that decision. Whale forced a smile. ::

WHALE: I'll give it some thought.

:: Forcing a smile of her own, Shelley headed back up the beach, leaving Whale alone with the surf and his thoughts, neither of which were giving him any comfort. As the jogging girl passed by, she gave Whale a smile. It was the kind of smile he knew well -- the kind that promised all kind of interesting and possibly naked adventure if he followed her. ::

:: So he sat down on the beach to watch the sun set and think about how much he hated the frelling universe. ::

====================

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