Home Trials-Part Four
by Rose Kira
 

Disclaimer: All characters herein owned by Paramount Studios and various other entities. No profit made, no copyright infringement intended.

***

"Hurts, doesn't it?" 

At first I took the remark as benign, even hurtful, but a quick glance up dismissed that idea. His eyes were darker than usual, obsidian pools in a frost-paled face, and tired, injured. I do believe I saw Seven in them momentarily. I forced my aching knees to bend, standing, shaking off the informality of home. "Lieutenent, you've been drinking, and not synthenol."

His lips quirked upward, another trait no doubt picked up from Tom Paris and culled for all its worth. "I haven't, Admiral. My job is to take care of you and I couldn't do that drunk..."

"You're...of course." I sat then, temples throbbing. "I won't go willingly to Command, so Command assigns an observer to me. I should have expected it. Thank you, Mr. Kim, but your duties are discharged. Go home. Go eat dinner with your family, its probably what you wanted all along. Damn Fleet."

"Admiral." His voice was alarmed, more clear, eyes worried as he knelt before me. "Fleet didn't assign me, I wouldn't go behind your back like that...listen, I just wanted to make sure you were taken care of, I wanted..."

"Me?" I had been waiting hours to say it, pat, since that first moment in the holodeck. He was so very, very earnest, and so very *damned* obvious, it was catching passion. Far too catching. Torn between skepticism at his reassurance and annoyance at my own thoughts, I moved to stand, brushing past him, too closely for comfort. 

"That's...Admiral!" 

That's ridiculous? Surely not, Mister Kim. Weren't you the one watching me through lidded eyes on that holodeck, brushing fingertips against mine at the console in the shuttle, providing lingering support in stepping onto home soil? Biting the remarks back savagely, I knelt to light the fire again, fingers shakily striking the matches. Damn...

"Let me do that, already, before you burn yourself." He knelt as well, snatching the matchbox away, shoulders knitting with tension as he stirred the embers.

"Harry." Falling back on my heels, I rubbed at my forehead, trying to keep my tones even. "Why don't you just go home?"

"Because I'm finding out that I'm at least half as stubborn as you, and if I'm drunk, you're exhausted. Neither is good for travel or solitude."

"You'll never get the heating up tonight. We can go to San Francisco, take the apartments Starfleet made ready..."

"I thought you didn't want to go to Command." He looked up, grimly. "The fire will warm the living room enough for the rest of the night, if you know where blankets and pillows are, we'll be comfortable enough." Oh, would we? Standing again, I squared off against him. "I will. You leave. I rarely accept being anyone's pet basket case, Lieutenent, and most certainly never the basket case of someone with far more important places to be."

"This isn't Voyager, Admiral." His gaze was intense, unshy for once, free of seven years suppression. "And I'm not taking your orders."

"Thats very brave. Its also very insubordinate."

"And you all thought I could never wear it well." The words were soft, quiet, barely captured. His hand reached out to take the other matchbook, lingering on my fingers, eyes reflecting thoughtful distance. His touch, the bare friction applied, the smooth massaging, was anything but.

"You're drunk. I want you to go, Harry. I won't make it an order, if I did, I might end up keel-hauling you. As a friend, I'm asking. Go home. Go see Paris, Torres, Miral. Hell, go see Seven. Just go. I don't want you here."

"That's what we were talking about." His head dipped in agreement. "Seven. Chakotay too. You haven't talked it out much, have you? Even walked out on your mandated counseling sessions."

"I wasn't in the mood for empathic and emphatic concern."

"Then they offered you the Trill, Dax. You refused her too. Official note in your records on that, right? Refused psychological treatment."

"They still made me an Admiral." I strove to find a pattern to the random interrogation, somehow feeling, very certainly, and horridly, that he wasn't drunk after all. He wasn't drunk, but didn't resemble my Ensign too much either.

"Oh. Yeah. They made you Admiral. Best Christmas present ever, wasn't it?" 

"Harry." I forced his grip from mine, instead placing my own hand on his shoulder in an automatic bid of concern. "What is it you want from me?"

"You." He shrugged it off. "Just you. Seven years worth of wanting you. You're right, I should go see Paris. He's very good with lost causes and stupid ideas." Straightening, he glanced around. "I got you home. Do yourself a favor and don't stay here alone. You'd be surprised at how brutal backlogged angst can be. Take care, Admiral."

"Lieutenent." Grabbing my jacket again, I trailed him too the porch. "Are you in flying condition?"

"I'm not drunk, I told you."

"Thats not what I asked."

"Ma'am." His gaze was magnanimous. "Respectfully, its nothing."

Like Hell in an Indiana winter it was. Watching as he lifted the shuttle into the air, I found myself wondering if I would ever really understand any of them, or they me. Somehow, I thought not. It probably wouldn't validate the pain getting to that level of enlightenment would require.

Hell's Bells, Katie did, you done it again, I thought tiredly, padding inside, past the warm fire, into the cold kitchen. It was shaping up to be a coffee night. A very, very, lonely coffee night.

***

Your Silence Is Your Song- Steve Winwood

Close your eyes and you'll do very well No more lies and no more fairy tales Hanging out, out on the street You have no place left to go If the whole world passes you by Don't you cry Close your eyes and don't feel anything Lullabies are all that I will sing Stay right here, wait for the night Let it come down over you You've seen all you wanted to see Stay with me 

When there's no more right from wrong You still have the night so long And the silence is your song And you know where you belong Close your eyes, the white owl's on the wing Hear her cries, and take the sleep she brings When the clouds fill up the sky And the shadows hide the moon Sleep will give you all that is left - Emptiness
 

TBC