Chapter 1
The Beginning. The End.
Terah Callen
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:: Just a Little Tucked-Away Bistro, SB120

Ethan had waited twenty minutes. He silently cursed himself for arriving ten minutes earlier but he was paranoid that Jesa would arrive early and find no one to greet her. For twenty minutes Ethan had nursed his drink, out of the corner of his eye he could see the combination waiter barman hovering. Turning to face the barman, "Same again please." The tension on the barman's face seemed to fade as he hurried off to refill the empty glass.

Jesa paused just outside the doorway in the shadows taking a deep breath. She was feeling extremely unstable, like anything would make her go off half-cocked, or explode. Though as to her appearance, it contradicted that impression entirely. She was dressed in a quiet gray-blue dress, with an over-jacket of white that came just past her hips. It was nearly the color of her eyes, and she had her hair partially put up, letting the longer portions hang down over her shoulder gracefully. The message there was quite a shocking one to anyone who knew her only in an official capacity. When she wanted to, she could look quite attractive. Jesa didn't even know why she had chosen this dress, but figured she'd at least show Ethan the courtesy of not showing up as one huge mess.

Quietly she walked through the doors of the Bistro; an Italian restaurant tucked away in one of the station's less frequented areas. It was one of the only places that she and Buck had never come to, and she didn't want to add any more chance she'd break down during the dinner, she owed poor Ethan that much. Spotting him at the bar as she walked in, she strode over, her demeanor appearing dramatically different from earlier in the day. Quickly she took a stool beside him. "Hi." She said, managing a slight smile.

Ethan had just picked up his fresh drink from the bar when Jesa announced her arrival. "Good Evening Commander" Ethan said with a gentle smile, continuing, "I'm so glad you decided to come, can I get you a drink before we eat?"

She chuckled slightly. "You didn't give me much choice in the matter... sir." She added quietly, teasingly. "And no, thanks... I'll wait until the meal."

Relieved at Jesa slight chuckle, the tension in Ethan's shoulders evaporated. Jesa couldn't help but notice his tension, and cursed herself for it, realizing the stress she was putting him though. "I've reserved a table... over there" Ethan said, gesturing to a vacant table away from the open entrance of the restaurant. "May I escort you to our table?" She thanked him silently and stood, waiting for him to stand. "Yes, you may." She spoke softly, trying not to think of anything else but here, for she knew where that always led.

Quietly, Jesa reached out and took Ethan's arm, surprising him. But he recovered admirably and didn't flinch. Ethan led the way through the half empty restaurant to their table. Once Jesa had seated, Ethan sat in the chair opposite. "I'm glad you've decided to come Jesa, I'll can only imagine how you're feeling right now... I just want to make sure you understand that you're not alone, you have friends who care about you." Ethan's voice trailed off as a waiter began to approach.

Jesa felt her heart lurch slightly in knowing and thought of what he was talking about. Then the waiter stopped and offered them two menus. "Can I get you two anything, right off?" In a deep breath, Jesa looked up to the waiter. "If you could just give us a couple of minutes." She said softly, willing her mind to remain on the present. The waiter nodded and left, then Jesa spoke, reaching out and patting Ethan's hand gently. "I know... I am grateful for your kindness..." she breathed carefully, closing her eyes briefly. "This is... difficult for me, but I suppose it is needed."

Unsure what to say or do next Ethan felt himself trapped in an emotional mine field. Picking up one menu, he offered the other to Jesa. She took it gently, trying to figure out how to defuse the situation. The last thing she needed was him walking on eggshells around her. "Thank you..." a slight smile came to her lips. "I won't blow up, y'know... well, I take that back, I might, but I promise I won't kill anyone."

Despite his best intentions Ethan's face cracked, a grinning smile surfaced. "Well I'm sure the restaurant manager will be glad to hear that... No, come on Jesa, enough avoidance, what would you like?" gesturing towards the menu. "I'll have the vegetable cannelloni and the house red wine." She said, enjoying Ethan's smile and returning it slightly. The weight in her heart was still there, but she didn't need everyone else echoing it... or hoping they wouldn't say the wrong thing and she'd break down on them. 'Must keep appearances up...' she thought.

Ethan glanced once more at the menu as the waiter returned to take there order. "Two Vegetable Cannelloni... and a bottle of red wine please." The waiter nodded, and raced away in the direction of the kitchen. Ethan remained quiet, it was obvious to see and understand that Jesa was putting up a front. Silently he decided he would let Jesa display her emotions at her own time.

She sat in silence for a few minutes, simply because she needed it, no other reason. She wasn't that uncomfortable, but quiet. Then she spoke in a serious and tired tone. "Everyone was watching me... as I left the Isannah." She shook her head slightly. "I knew what they were thinking... they were asking themselves if they should say something or not... but they just stayed silent, and stared..."

Ethan paused before answering, "They... It was difficult, they... we all knew about your relationship with Buck and no one really knew what they should say." Silently cursing, Ethan continued "You were the senior officer on the ship, they just did not know how to react."

Jesa sighed slightly. "I... understand why... I mean... Buck." Her voice faltered on his name. "... and I, weren't very public about it, in a social way..." her voice broke off again, then when it returned it was barely a whisper. "God, I miss him..."

Ethan hesitated before his reply, "I know, Jesa, I know..."

She closed her eyes for a moment and breathed deeply, opening them with the slightest hint of a smile on her face. She willed herself to remain tearless this night, for she didn't need to put him through more than she already was. Jesa met his eyes again, as the food came. "Well... I did get through some of the reports for the Isannah this afternoon... Part of me is sorry for deserting everyone at the moment..."

"Yeah, I read those same reports... The Izzie is down, but not out for the count. She'll be ready soon, and as for you deserting... well, that's not much need for the Command staff when the ship is inactive." Partly relieved about Jesa's interest in work Ethan continued. "So what's the latest from the top brass?"

Jesa picked at her food with her head lowered slightly. Obviously Ethan had heard of her storming through the ship in hunt of an Admiral's head... on a sliver platter, as she was muttering about it fairly loudly. "They want me to take command of the Isannah..." she said in a low and cautious tone. After a moment of silence, she looked up to see his reaction.

Ethan averted his gaze to avoid eye contact as Jesa looked up. "Yes, I heard you had been offered command. I was sorry to hear about the Captain." Ethan's attention returned to Jesa. "I'm so glad they've offered you the position, but are you sure that's what you want..."

"What I want?!" she asked aloud, her voice showing raised hackles immediately. "Since when has any sentient being in the universe cared what the hell I want?! Nothing has EVER gone as I want! This universe is simply against any semblance of a decent existence for me!" she became very loud, seething in anger, then quieted down suddenly when she realized how horrible she sounded. "I'm sorry, Ethan. That was not called for..." she spoke extremely softly, looking down.

Quickly scanning the restaurant, Ethan lay down his cutlery. "Listen to me... you have no reason to apologize."

Jesa locked eyes with Ethan for a long moment, sorrow in her eyes. She smiled slightly... "But I did to the Admiral, after my ranting and raving..." she looked down again. "It's not a choice, Ethan, they want me in that position, and I don't even know why... they won't tell me." She shook her head slightly, looking back at him. "If they could think of a better torture... I have no idea... What I was really asking was how you feel about this," she said softly, surprisingly rationally.

Shocked and surprised Ethan struggled to answer this most simple question. "Jesa, I was forced into assuming temporary command. I'm relieved that Starfleet still wants me, and surprised that I was not suspended for my actions. I have no problem with you in the big chair."

Jesa nodded slightly. "Yes... but what about me in my... current mental state? You know better than anyone what that entails." She said, looking at him, not letting him break eye contact with her, by just willing it.

Trapped with nowhere to run, Ethan answered honesty, "Starfleet thinks you're ready, I think the Izzie crew believes you're ready, and I think perhaps you should... learn to live with your loss. Jesa, I think you'll be fine, you need time and support to recover. At least on-board the Izzie you'll be amongst friends."

"Thank you." She spoke softly, and then proceeded to take a bite of her food. Looking down, she realized she had only eaten two bites during this entire time. And something about trying to eat now, was just too hard. She laid her fork down and sighed slightly, saying nothing.

Briefly looking down at his plate Ethan decided he'd lost his appetite. "A glass of wine?" He picked the bottle up and gestured towards Jesa's empty glass. Jesa smiled slightly and gestured towards it. "Please."

Hands shaking slightly Ethan filled her glass and then filled his own glass. Putting the bottle down, Ethan briefly looked around the room and then returned his attention to Jesa. "It's funny, when I used to fly my nerves were rock steady, now pouring wine I get the shakes."

The seemingly young woman reached out and took a sip of the red liquid, holding it over her tongue for a moment before swallowing, as if swallowing was something only vaguely remembered and something of supreme effort. She smiled slightly at him, and spoke softly. "It's okay... I'm not the... easiest person to be around at the moment. Sorry." Sorry, she seemed to be saying that a lot. Jesa sighed softly and placed the glass back down, running her finger around the lip of the glass absently.

"I propose a toast." Ethan, looking directly at Jesa, lifted his glass, "To Starfleet, who finally realize what good officers they actually have, to the new CO of the Izzie, may her reign be as successful as those she follows, and finally to our comrades, those present... and those who we will never forget."

Jesa tried to speak, her lips twitched slightly. But his words brought back a load of memories, from the first day she was assigned to this ship, to some only a few hours old. She lifted her chin slightly, willing tears to stay where they were trying to gather, in her eyes. She clinked her glass softly against his, and forced a smile, finally able to speak without her voice cracking. "Thanks."

Ethan, could see the tears swelling, deeply regretting his toast, words stuck in his throat. "No, thank you Jesa, Your actions saved us all." Taking a sip from his glass Ethan's eyes dipped towards the table.

She knew his regret, it was clearly written in his body language, clearer than if he had shouted it. Jesa wished she could control her reactions better, but she couldn't... She looked at Ethan, hoping to draw his eyes towards her. "You needn't be sorry, or regretful... you can't help it, and neither can I. You are going to stumble across things that will cause me to react like this... it can't be helped." She said, a single tear finally breaking free from her strong grasp on her emotions. It traced down her cheek slowly. She wiped it away surreptitiously.

Ethan tensed, her kind words hurt like a knife. He had tried so hard not to let his body language betray him, "I'm sorry... Let it go... your not an android... you're a... human." Ethan cursed himself for the pause; it was purely an emotional reaction to the events he had seen earlier. He knew Jesa's secret, but deep in his soul he still imagined Jesa to be normal, a human.

Again she made a misstep, trying to make the situation better, she had made it worse. Closing her eyes for a moment she gained composure, or regained it temporarily, as it all was a struggle between control and lack thereof at this point. She reached out to take his hand, she needed some kind of contact, maybe some part of her thought he would understand better with contact. He saw what she was doing and allowed her.

"Ethan... No, I'm not human... and..." she breathed softly. "I've spent many years learning how to read others. It's very difficult, even in my current state of mind, to mask that." She breathed softly, almost clutching his hand. "I can't... just can't let it out..." she laughed softly, slightly bitterly. "As if I start crying again, I won't stop... please try and understand... And I appreciate greatly that you're trying to help, don't curse yourself for what you see as hurting me. For it's not you... it's not you." She ended softly, repeating.

"I'm sorry, I just want to help." After a slight pause while Ethan took another sip from his glass, "I guess I never lost anyone that close to me before."

Jesa nodded, releasing his hand and putting hers in her lap. "Neither had I... in all the time I've been alive. It's... part of what made him so special to me... so dangerous to me." She ended absently, musing and then abruptly trying to not think about what she was saying, instead downing another sip of wine. Then she blinked, and looked shocked, focusing her eyes across the room at someone who had just come around the corner.

Ethan couldn't see her, as she was standing behind him, but he could see the look on Jesa's face. "Jesa, what's wrong?" putting two and two together Ethan rephrased his question, without turning around, "Who is it?" he almost whispered.

"Terah." She said softly, not taking her eyes off of the woman. Terah scanned the room and caught Jesa's eyes, then walked over quickly, waving slightly at Jesa with a smile. Now Ethan could see this woman clearly. She was slightly shorter than Jesa, but with the same red hair, though her eyes were black, they were somehow soft and kind looking. It was very unusual coloring, and something that made him wonder for a moment what race she was.

The rest of their features weren't very similar, but they weren't opposing ends of the spectrum either. She was dressed fashionably; in a slightly businesses-like looking suit, long pants, shirt and a Josephet. Terah smiled widely and spoke. "JESA!" Ethan's pulse relaxed as Terah smiled at Jesa. Looking almost pleading towards Jesa, Ethan turned to Terah and began to rise from his chair, but Terah's motion stopped him.

Terah leaned over the table and hugged Jesa with one arm, and then stood and smiled. "It's SO good to see you again." Normally Jesa would have stood up and hugged this woman, but between her already precarious emotional state, plunged her into another state of shock. This didn't stop Terah, who was too exuberant at the moment to notice Jesa's strange demeanor. Then she turned her attention to the man at the table, holding her hand out in a very friendly fashion. "Hi! And you must be the infamous Buck Gear, right?"

Jesa closed her eyes for a moment, and in the silence that followed Terah realized something was far wrong. "Oh, god..." Jesa said softly, feeling like she was going to just fall apart into a million pieces right there. 'She never even got to meet him...' Jesa thought bitterly, tears flowing from beneath her closed eyelids, her fingers in a white-knuckled grasp of the edge of the table. In shock and panic Ethan introduced himself, it was far better for Jesa to explain to her sister the mistake. "No I afraid not, Lt. Ethan Lysander, at your service Miss..."

The young woman's eyes looked immediately pained as she looked from Jesa's pain-ridden face, to Lysander's. "Terah... Terah Callen." She said softly, uncertain as to what was going on here. Jesa spoke up in a deep voice, breaking through pain that was obviously present in it. "She's my sister, Ethan."

Struggling to find the right words for the occasion Ethan glanced from Jesa to Terah, and then back again. "I sorry Miss Callen, may I get you a seat?" Ethan winced at his choice of words. 'Miss Callen, how cold did that sound?' Pushing the thought to the back of his mind Ethan continued his gentle smile awaiting Terah's reply.

Terah only smiled slightly at Ethan, her main concern was her sister at the moment. "Yes, please... and just call me Terah."

"No problem." Leaving the two sisters alone for a few minutes Ethan passed out of earshot.

Watching him go Terah laid a hand on her sister's shoulder and squeezed gently. "Jes... what is wrong?" she asked tenderly. Jesa stopped staring into space and looked over and up at Terah... she had to know sometime. "Terah... Buck is dead, he died... four days ago." Jesa said, feeling herself begin to shake again, as sobs fought their way up her throat.

Terah gasped slightly, turning pale. "Oh my... Oh, Jes, I'm so sorry..." she said, looking like her legs would no longer support her. She took Ethan's chair and brought it over closer to Jesa, sitting down in it. She took her sister's hand and just held it gently, wishing she had brought some tissues. It took a long while for Jesa to regain any sense of composure, as she was trying hard not to break into audible sobs.

The young black-eyed woman moved closer and put her arm around Jesa's shoulders, stroking gently. It was all she could do at the moment. Part of her wanted to know how, what happened... as from what she heard from her mother; they were quite in love... but DEAD? How could that be? 'Poor Jesa.' She just kept thinking, softly.

Jesa sniffed rather loudly, straightening up with a deep breath. She looked at Terah kindly and hugged her sister back. "I am glad you are here." she said softly, then looked over her sister's shoulder, at Ethan, who was trying to look unobtrusive in the corner. "But you might want to call back Ethan before he is accused of lurking."

Terah smiled softly and looked over at where Ethan was standing. Almost as if on cue, Ethan saw Jesa signal and returned with the spare chair. "I'm sorry about taking so long," he lied, seating down in the vacant chair glancing between Jesa and Terah. Terah looked at Ethan, who didn't seem willing to start any conversation, and Jesa, who seemed unable. She looked over the table and her stomach growled. "I'm sorry for interrupting your dinner, which, by the way, looks quite good, but I was trying to find you Jesa, and the computer said you were here." She was looking at the plates hungrily.

Ethan quickly glanced at his plate and then at Jesa's. Both were hardly touched. "You didn't interrupt... Terah, we had just finished, and to be honest I don't think either of use were too interested in eating." gesturing towards the plates.

Jesa stifled a slight chuckle, the first sincere one Ethan had heard out of her this evening. Then she lifted her plate and set it in front of her habitually starving sister. "I declare, Terah, you'll never change."

She looked at Jesa and shook her head. "No...I couldn't, this is your dinner."

The changeling only smiled slightly and gestured to Ethan. "You heard the man." She said softly. It took no more urging to get Terah to lift some cutlery from her sister and start on the cannelloni.

Ethan smiled; it was good to see Jesa smiling, if only slightly, and at the expense of her sister. But at least it was a start. "Some wine, perhaps Miss... sorry... Terah?"

Between bites, she tried to carry on a conversation. "Oh, yes please... not too much though. Well... anyway, Lieutenant, I guess you're on the ship with Jesa, right?" she shoveled another bite and chewed, swallowing. The oddest thing about this whole situation, was that Jesa's mood seemed to have improved three notches, as she watched her sister shovel down the food most unceremoniously.

"Yes, that's correct. Please call me Ethan." Waiting for Terah to finish sipping her wine Ethan continued, "So what brings you here to Starbase 120?"

Terah smiled, and then pointed her thumb over at Jesa. "I came to visit, because Jesa has been a naughty girl, and didn't come home since she graduated." She smiled at Jesa to let her know she was teasing, but of course, her sister already knew that. Right now Jesa was just enjoying someone acting normally around her, and listening to the conversation, playing a little mental guessing game with herself about where it would lead.

Ethan grinned; it was good to see Jesa smiling, even if it looked a little false. Ethan paused for a second, he had a thousand and one questions he wanted to ask Terah, and felt a little guilty about loosing interest in Jesa, "So tell me, Terah, is this a flying visit or are you going to be staying here a little while?"

Terah cast a sideways glance at Jesa, asking her that question with sheer body language. The conversation between them went as followed, but only took a brief instant.

'Well, I can if I'm welcome.'

'You're always welcome.'

'I have the time...'

'We'll find a place.'

She looked at Ethan and smiled. "As long as I can find a place to stay, I have the time and the inclination..." she wanted to say something else, but only mentally added. 'I think Jesa could use me... too.'

Ethan could almost sense telepathy between then. For a second he imagined Jesa in her true form, a changeling. But changelings couldn't communicate using telepathy and Terah was human, not Betazoid... was she? But Ethan relaxed. "So tell me Terah, Jesa hasn't talked about her family, what do you do?"

Terah's smile became broad; she really enjoyed talking about her work. "Actually, my work spans many aspects of botany, paleontology, biology, and zoology. The first and the last being my favorite. There has been a theory roaming around, at least in my field, that much of the similarities between the races in this region, meaning the alpha and beta quadrant, are attributed to some older race, who actually seeded the rest of our worlds with genetic material." She got a rather dreamy look in her eye as she contemplated it.

"It actually throws most of the more accepted theories of natural evolution into chaos, for it brings the question of, where did *those* people come from... and if we were shaped after them, what became of them? Currently, I'm engaged in a cataloging aspect of it, recording and tracing the genetic development in the habitable worlds with the most similarities, in hopes that we'll find something of value. The team is quite diverse as it really is an effort spanning many disciplines, though it's not really secret... but zoology, and animal behavior has always been my favorite."

"As we always knew from the way you'd bring home various animals out of the reserves. Though how you managed to befriend that Vernarian Tree Monkey is beyond me." Jesa added with a shake of her head, though the smile which should have been there, was simply absent.

Ethan smile turned into a grin as he glanced between Jesa and Terah, listening to the banter that seemed so natural to them. "I'm sorry ladies, I'm going to have to leave you. I've got a meeting at oh eight hundred tomorrow with the fleet engineers. Like I said... I am sorry." Turning to Terah, "It was very nice to meet you. I hope we can meet again soon. Have a good night." She smiled back at him. "I'm certain we will, and it was nice meeting you too."

Ethan pushed his chair back a got up. "Don't worry about the bill Jesa, this was my treat. I'll see you tomorrow." Terah giggled a little. "Except I ate most of it. Sorry about that, I was on an 'economy' transport... and really, the reason it was so easy to book on, is the captain didn't feed his guests." Then a thought crossed her mind, and she looked back at Jesa.

The changeling shook her head a little and shrugged, knowing exactly what was on her sister's mind. Then she looked at Lysander. "Ethan... do you mind if I walk with you?" Terah intoned, a barely veiled attempt at saying 'I'd really like to talk to you about something, please.'

Ethan tried not to act surprised, "Sure, I think I can just about walk and talk at the same time." Ethan quickly rose from his chair and waited for Terah, a quick pleading glance at Jesa provided no indication as to what this conversation would be about. Jesa's eyes only met his blankly, seeming a thousand light-years away, if in this space-time continuum at all. Terah leaned over and squeezed her sister's arm, drawing the barest of smiles from Jesa. 'I'm here.' the silent meaning passed between them again. Jesa acknowledged with a nod.

Then Terah turned her attention to Ethan, walking beside him, only pausing at the door to look back at her sister, whose sadness seemed to be coming outward again. Terah felt badly for Jesa, and showed so with a slight shake of her head and a sigh. Ethan winced. Starfleet had taught him how to handle dangerous situations, hazardous away missions and delicate negations, but never this type of situation, "So, Terah, how can I help? What's on your mind?"

Terah nodded back at Jesa, as they slowly moved down the thoroughfare, dodging the people as they went. "It's not really what's on my mind, but what's on hers that is the problem... I have some questions to ask, and I didn't think she could take them right now... about Buck. Specifically, how he died..." she said in a sad tone, fully serious about the moment.

Ethan winced at the mention of the name he had tried to avoid for the entire evening. "Well, officially the situation is still classified, but I can tell you I had dispatched your sister on an away mission, whilst she was away the Isannah suffered severe internal damage. We lost a number of crew. Buck was found unconscious. He never regained consciousness before we lost him. The official coroners report specified Mendroziga's Syndrome as the cause of death."

Terah shook her head slightly and sighed. "So nothing all that suspicious..."

Ethan paused in mid-step, and turned to face Terah, "Suspicious, why? No, there was nothing. Buck... the others, we all knew the risks when we joined Starfleet."

Terah simply nodded. "No real reason..." she said, then moved to walk past him, but something in her face betrayed what she just said as false.

Ethan refused to move. "Terah, that's a very strange question to ask... why? There must be some reason."

Her eyes met him, and she sighed, shaking her head and looking rather noncommittal. "It's just... when you live in a family like mine, things aren't... always as they appear." She spoke softly. "Jesa, myself, and our siblings, were all adopted... my parents have no naturally born children, and... well, we're just not all as we appear to be." Terah said with a slight smile realizing she was being redundant and cryptic at that. "And now... with Buck gone, it's just a rather... suspicious thing." She ended, then looked at him, debating something mentally. "And there's something about Jesa you should know..."

Ethan quickly took a step forward to be level with Terah. "I know Jesa told me... well she actually provided a rather unpleasant graphic demonstration. I know she's a changeling." After a slight pause Ethan continued. "...What about you? Are you a changeling too?"

Terah smiled slightly, just a little too somber to laugh right now. "No... I'm not. I'm actually Betazoid, and our adoptive parents are Human. And that wasn't what I was going to say, but it's good you know... I wanted to say that, she's showing a lot of trust for you, and from Jesa, that's not... an easy, or a light thing." she trailed off, letting him contemplate his words and looking over at Ethan "I am glad she told you... I wish I had waited until she told me. I only found out two weeks ago." Another pause prevailed "How'd you take it?"

Ethan quickly explained the graphic method Jesa had chosen to reveal her true identity to him earlier that day, straying light on some of the details. Terah cringed slightly as he retold what had happened. 'Well, she's nothing if not dramatic' she thought.

"So how did she tell you, and how did you take it?" Ethan asked.

"She didn't... my mother told me; it also came with the news that she was engaged to Buck. It took me two weeks to clear out my schedule, finish the cataloging I was doing, and get over here, as I managed to find out the Isannah was coming in... it was just... two weeks too late..." she breathed deeply, falling into a deep silence.

When Ethan didn't respond, similarly lost in thought, she continued. "As for how I took it... I'm still not even sure. I was engaged to a man on Earth, Mark Warner, a few years ago... he was killed by a changeling infiltrator." She spoke softly, looking distant. "He was at the Academy while I was studying at the San Francisco University, and provided security during the night shift, after there wasn't supposed to be any threat anymore."

This time it was Ethan who cringed, he had spent the entire evening walking through an emotional mine field with Jesa, desperately trying not to upset her whilst offering her any support and assistance she might require. Now have been introduced to Jesa's sister, Terah, it had taken him less than thirty minutes to stroll into another emotional mine field. "I'm sorry about your loss... it must have been difficult." Ethan spoke quietly.

She felt his recoil and turned to look at him. "I'm alright, Ethan... you needn't worry about upsetting me." She spoke honestly, keeping a genuine smile, then continued. "I guess, with Jesa... what it came down to, is I've known her for about twenty years, she helped me so much when I was a child... as I came from an abusive home, you see. We grew together, and she and I have a special bond. I was just not going to let that slip away because of what race she is." Terah finished quietly, then breathed deeply. "I guess it was a large matter of trust, because once someone lies to you... you're never sure."

Ethan simply nodded his agreement; there was no need to say anything. He trusted Jesa with his life, without question, without a second thought. It was not some Starfleet mantra, "thou shall trust thy fellow officers," it was real trust; trust that had formed through mutual respect, and friendship. Terah walked quietly next to Ethan for a long moment, stealing a glance at him from time to time, just letting him mull things over.

She thought about how he must be, dealing with Jesa, the ship, which looked quite damaged in and of itself. Terah didn't say anything, and just reached over to pat him on the arm gently, trying to provide some comfort. Ethan stopped and looked at her, wondering if she had wanted to say something. She met his eyes for a moment and smiled slightly. "I should be letting you get back to your own business. As I'm sure you have more work to do than I can imagine." She ended with a bright smile.

"Thank you... I'm just sorry the circumstances could not be better." Ethan's voice turned to little more than a whisper, "Please look after Jesa. If you need anything, anything at all, just call. I shall see you tomorrow, I trust."

"Yes, I'll be around... probably bugging some of your officers about getting some quarters, but I'll manage." She smiled; something in her smile told him she wouldn't need assistance with that task. "I... did want to thank you, though." She spoke.

"For what?" he asked, a little quizzically.

She simply looked at him for a minute then smiled. "For caring about her..." she said softly, putting a hand on his arm briefly. "Goodnight, Ethan." She said, turning and walking quietly away. He watched her go, and then headed back to the ship, to face his duties. This certainly had been a day of surprises.

Loaded: 03.10.2004

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