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:: Private Ward, Sickbay, USS Isannah
A soft hum reverberated through the standard federation style ward room. But the sound had a sickly quality, offbeat as though the ship's pulse was more likened to the rasping breath of a dying man. The Isannah had limped home on her last strength, everything held together more by the collective will of those left than by any explanation of mechanical function.
Many had died. Many more were near death in here. But the rush had settled down to the point where only collective prayers of visitors and the routine movements of nurses and doctors was the only thing to be heard. Jesa Callen, currently the second-highest ranking person on this ship sat with her head bowed next to a man unnaturally hooked up to too many monitors for him to be assumed sleeping. She was a Starfleet Officer, Lieutenant Commander in rank, holding some position known as Intelligence Officer, something she was still trying to come to terms with, but at the moment she served as Acting XO. She was publicly known as human, but in actuality she was a changeling, hiding in fear of how people would react based on nothing more than the danger she presented as a member of her race.
There had been a few that stripped that mask away from her, knowing her true self. But very few. This man, in a coma before her, was the only one shipboard to know. And the only one she loved. All her energies were going into figuring out a way to save him... Just to save this one, in the countless that had been lost. Her fear raced with her mind, urging her into more remote possibilities and options. She could not give up.
A dark look prevailed in Jesa's face, though no one, especially her, expected anything less than that. It was late at night now, she had spent the last six hours pouring over all the medical data she could come up with. Every case of Mendroziga's Syndrome ever recorded in Betazoid history, the mysterious condition he had carried all his life, and that was currently the only reasonable cause of his coma. Some resurgence of the Syndrome as a result of the emissions she still didn't completely understand. She had blessed her own medical knowledge as it gave her some way to understand this and possibly find an answer... but after hours of pounding through these reports and every scan she had brought from engineering, the medical databanks and his old files... nothing was coming to light. 'It makes NO sense!' she thought with as much frustration as her weariness allowed her to muster. She set down the padd gently on the edge of the small cart she had brought in. She refused to leave his bedside for even a moment. She had to be here.
Jesa closed her eyes tightly against tears that were threatening to build as she thought about this predicament, pressing her fingertips into her temples and rubbing softly. He had done this for her, rubbed her like this. The thought he would never do so again incapacitated her and she couldn't swim in the drowning hopelessness. Memory struck her quickly as she dropped her hands, opening her eyes and looking at his form, which hadn't moved or changed position ever since she had come in here. Coma. She didn't even know if he could hear her. Jesa reached down and tenderly took his hand in hers, stroking it gently and examining it's every surface lovingly.
Again her heart was grabbed in a painful grip of fear, forcing tears to the surface, even as she held his hand. "Please Buck..." the words came out half-formed, and croaked out beyond her lips. No longer could she hold the tears back, as they softly made their way streaking down her cheeks. They were silent tears, and the only sound that came from her was a brief sniff now and again to clear her nose. What would she do if she lost him? That thought was one she tried very hard not to think about. He was the anchor in her world. The only one who knew her for herself, and accepted her as she was.
"Commander Callen?" a soft voice was heard behind her, she turned and looked into the face of a rather concerned LAURA. LAURA was the ultimate in holoprogramming. She was designed as the perfect resourceful medical assistant. It was the life's work of Buck's sister, Jelandra, and she poured more than just her ideas into this project. The hologram also took her appearance, though with a few changes that Jesa had always guessed Jelandra thought were her own shortcomings. However, holograms always made her feel uneasy, especially ones that seemed so real as this one. Jesa tried to smile slightly, remembering her unpleasant words about LAURA before and regretting them at this moment, but that was too much effort at this time. "Yes?" she inquired. LAURA held out her arm a little, gesturing to the cup she held with some suspiciously dark liquid in it.
"I brought you some coffee, though you might be able to use it." She said softly, her eyes showing more than her words were. "No, I nor---" Jesa began, but then thought better of it, dismissing her own words with a shake of her head. "I'd love to... thanks... that was considerate of you." Jesa said, ending more in politeness than feeling, for all the feeling she could muster right now was sadness and fear. "Please, take a seat." She offered the other chair, taking the cup of coffee from her as she sat down.
LAURA looked at Jesa for a moment, then gestured at Buck. "Any change?"
Jesa breathed deeply and sighed, lifting the cup to her lips. "No... nothing at all."
Looking at Jesa's sad eyes LAURA wished she could truly feel for her and express her grief for Buck's condition. LAURA knew that it wouldn't be long but was afraid to tell Jesa the truth remembering how reticently Jesa regarded her.
The silence fell as Jesa took a sip of the coffee, looking, staring, and contemplating... Buck. She knew that unless a miracle happened, he would die. She knew it, but couldn't accept it. She would find a way... someone would. Someone had to.
LAURA scooted her chair a little closer and put her arm around Jesa in a comforting fashion. "Don't worry, Commander, everything will be alright." She intoned. Any other time, Jesa would have shied away from such a gesture. But right now, she seemed almost oblivious to her physical surroundings.
Jesa's lips moved slowly, speaking the words silently, and then speaking up only when she realized that no words were coming out. "Laura... if he dies, I don't want everything to be alright. I know the truth, but... I can't accept it." She had her eyes fixed on him, distantly... not even looking over at LAURA. Then she broke her gaze and looked over at the hologram, she knew that LAURA was dear to Buck in some way, maybe just as an echo of his sister. She wanted to say something, but the time didn't seem right, so she returned her gaze to the one she loved dearer than her own life.
On the other hand, in silent pondering, LAURA knew that everything wasn't going to be alright. Buck wasn't going to live much longer... but how could she tell Jesa this? Laura wished now that she was human. LAURA at this moment wanted to be human, wanted to be able to understand what Jesa was feeling. Looking beside her at Jesa's sad figure LAURA asked. "Is there anything I can do to help you, Commander?"
Jesa, in a last grasp of humor, she looked over at LAURA and cocked a slight smile. "Not unless you've somehow acquired some god-like powers that you've been hiding from me." LAURA smiled back. The joke was trying to distract Jesa from the reality of the situation, and she knew this, but would never have admitted it.
The Commander looked back at her beloved lying there, feeling hopelessness rise in her, she pushed it down, hiding it from LAURA's view. Helplessness threatened to drown her. No, she would do something. Instead she looked over at her and smiled slightly, "Thanks, LAURA.... And thanks for the coffee... I... should get back to work now." Jesa said, trying to figure out how she could even call this fight---work.
LAURA took the cue admirably; gently rising from the seat and giving Jesa's shoulder a squeeze. "If there is anything else please don't hesitate to ask." Jesa nodded, acknowledging her words. Then spoke again before LAURA left. "Laura?" she intoned, halting the image of the young woman. Jesa turned in her chair to face her. "I am sorry if what I had said earlier offended you in any way. I know... that you have been dear to Buck throughout his career here. I really don't know how he regarded you, I'm afraid, but it was more than just... some program he kept around."
She drew a deep breath, praying for the strength to finish. "I thought you should know that, and hear it from me. I also want to say this to you... trying to deny what you are, you deny everything about you. That is something that he..." she said, glancing over at Buck. "...taught me." It was more Jesa speaking about herself than to LAURA, she was too numb to really understand. "You have to work with what you have, for as soon as you deny what you are... you deny who you are." Jesa finished, looking directly into LAURA's eyes. Jesa was more talking about herself, but that was all she knew right now.
Then she turned and looked at Buck. "The nice thing is... sometimes you can change who you are..." she said, then sighed, turning and lifting the padd she had been working on. Utilizing her hearing, she noted that LAURA stood there a moment longer, pondering Jesa's words, then left silently.
Again Jesa was alone with Buck, and she retook his hand. She let her eyes close as she squeezed his hand, a wave of pain passed over her; she shook it off, knowing immediately what it was. It was fear. It was exhaustion, emotional as well as physical. It was hopelessness. It was loss. And she refused to bow to it, she refused to let it take hold or... take him. At the same time, the advances of time refused to yield to her stubbornness as his life signs slowly faded.
Her face twitched, fighting as a contortion of pain slipped through her features. 'What if he dies...' a quiet whisper of fear tickled her consciousness. 'NO! I will not yield to that! Until he no longer draws breath, I REFUSE to write him off!' she thought, pushing those thoughts from her mind and returning to reading the padd she was compiling. 'Hm, the cells are breaking down in a specific pattern, if we can somehow stimulate these portions of his brain... or maybe DNA manipulation would... no, that would take months... he doesn't have months...' she thought pausing for a long while 'I don't have months.'
Jesa let the padd fall from her hands, as she covered her mouth to silence sobs, as her body contorted with her weeping. She shut her eyes tight, tears flowing down her cheeks. There she sat by his bedside, taking his hand in hers and sobbing into his chest, as he had held her many times before. 'You can't leave me!' she thought desperately at him. But this time his arms didn't hold her strongly, as she had always counted on. This time, he didn't murmur comfortingly in her ear, or tease her with words that always brightened her day. This time, he didn't even breathe a word, nor hear her distress and come to the rescue. This time, he only lay there silently, unmoving. And there Jesa fell asleep, exhausted in all ways imaginable... somehow she knew the worst was yet to come.
"There comes a time in life, when separations, changes, and challenges are made, forcing one off of the path they have traveled. Some embrace these changes, even in their pain; some refuse them. But always, pain comes with change. For only in discomfort, can the boundaries of experience be widened."
¤ Reload Frames ¤
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