Truth and Reconciliation
Mission 2: Heaven On Earth
Location: Gary's quarters
Timeline: A few hours after "Whenever I Close My Eyes"
Lunara stood outside Gary's quarters, checking her PADD one last time to make sure she was in the right place. Satisfied that she was, she straightened out and rang the door chime, subconsciously adjusting her uniform.
Gary was sitting on his couch. His quarters silent, not even the music he loved so much was playing. He was still in his uniform, he hadn't gone to sleep. In fact he hadn't been getting much sleep at all since being rescued from the prison along with Lia, Liselle, Phoenix and Taam. So when the chime on his door rang he was startled. Wondering who could be coming to see him at this hour. Sighing he rose from the couch and went to the door. opening it he was surprised to see an ensign in medical blue at his door. "Ensign." He greeted, "What can I do for you?"
"Hello, sir!" Lunara smiled. She hadn't actually thought this far ahead about what to say, so she just decided to wing it. "I'm Lunara Hol, one of the new counselors. I was hoping I could talk to you?"
Gary didn't answer right away. As he thought of why a junior counselor would want to talk to him. Deciding to just say no wasn't a valid reason to deny her request and he was curious to hear what she wanted. He stepped aside, "Please come in."
Lunara nodded and followed him in. "Thank you, sir. It's good to meet you, by the way." She smiled and extended a hand. Like Liselle's, hers was cold.
Gary grasp the extended hand, his hand almost swallowing her smaller one. He felt the coolness of her skin but said nothing. Instead he gave her a firm but no overly so handshake. "Likewise Ensign please have seat." As he waved her to the couch as he took a seat in the opposite chair, "Now that we've gotten the pleasantries out of the way, what did you want to talk to me about?"
Right down to business, then. "Of course." Lunara nodded and took a seat. "As you know, we've been very busy with the crew lately, for obvious reasons." She cleared her throat. "...Speaking of which, you /have/ met with a counselor, right sir?"
Gary eyed her, "Is that what you came to talk to me about? For the record yes I have. Whether I've met with a counselor? You should know after an incident that just occurred all members of a away team are required to see a counselor."
This guy didn't exactly seem like the most friendly of types. Maybe Liselle's words hit him harder than she thought? "Just making sure. People find creative ways to avoid it." At least, they did in the 23rd century. Jalen did it himself plenty of times. She figured it was probably the same way. "I'm actually here for someone else. You and Commander Qwynn were close before a certain... falling out in captivity, weren't you?"
At the words 'Commander Qwyyn' an inner rigidness or formalness came over Gary. "Yes. Lis.... Commander Qwyyn and I were quite close. Closer than a brother and sister. However that is in the past." He gave a bitter laugh. "Falling out? You have a talent for understatement Ensign. It was a full blown wild fire."
Lunara noticed his demeanor subtly change. Not that anybody couldn't have seen that coming. "Just one of my many gifts." She paused. "Sir... if you had the opportunity to talk to her again... would you take it?"
Gary didn't rush an answer. Conflicting emotions were at work. One wanted to jump up and throw Hol out for coming here and asking questions. Another part wanted to shout YES! and they warred. Finally after several seconds he answered. "Yes." he answered. His glacial façade cracking with the word. "Yes, I would." He repeated.
Lunara saw different emotions cross his face, relief washing over her when he accepted. "You'll get that chance." She smiled warmly. "Liselle asked me to tell you she's sorry. She wants to talk to you again, sir."
He nodded, unable to talk the significance of hearing Hol say Liselle was sorry was like a ray of sunshine, burning away the darkness that had enveloped his soul. He cleared his throat and replied. "Then we shouldn't keep her waiting Ensign."
"You don't know how glad I am to hear you say that." Lunara kept her composure as a friendly, professional counselor on the outside, but on the inside she was jumping for joy. Things were going so much better than she expected. "How does my office sound? Or would you like to do it here?"
A smile split Gary's face. "Glad to hear it Ensign." Then continued, "Wherever you think it would be the most relaxing and least stressful. I would think here but you have the final say."
Lunara nodded. "We'll do it here, then. You know her better than me." She tapped her commbadge, looking at Gary. "Hol to Commander Qwynn, do you read me?"
After an exaggerated silence, her reply came through clearly. "I'm here, Counselor."
"Commander, do you think you could meet with Commander Tailor and myself in his quarters? Things have gone very well."
As Hol contacted Liselle, Gary waited expectantly for her reply. Hoping for the best but dreading the worse.
Immediately the door chimed. Apparently, Qwyyn had placed enough faith in Hol to anticipate this exact outcome.
Gary got walked to the door, looking back at Hol. He pressed the door button and the door slid open and he stood face to face with Liselle. He had wanted this moment prayed for it to come and now that it had he stood speechless looking at her.
"I --" she began. Instantly her eyes fell down to her hands, her fingers intertwined. "I -- I..."
"I know." Gary answered softly. Tears in his eyes. "please come in and lets talk."
With those words, finally Qwyyn was able to stop stammering. But she said nothing more. There was so much more to say, though she found it impossible with how all of her thoughts were tripping over one another. Inwardly, she thanked the Gods that Lunara was here to help her through this -- because more than anything, she felt an overwhelming urge to turn and run. She took a step into the room and the doors closed behind her.
" Please have a seat Liselle." Gary said, thinking * she looks as nervous as I feel* Yet outwardly he asked "Can I get you something to drink Liselle? What about you Ensign?"
Lunara shook her head. "Don't worry about me, you two are the stars of the show here." She looked on with a smile.
"Liselle? Would you like something? Perhaps some Romulan Ale?" Gary asked softly.
"Ah, no, thank you. I've done more than enough drinking lately." She winced as soon as she said it. "I mean...nevermind. Just water maybe?"
Gary had a questioning look on his face but refrained from asking."Certainly. be right back." Gary said as he disappeared into the kitchen only to return a few moments later with a glass of water complete with ice. "Here you go Liselle." As he handed her the glass.
She mouthed a thanks -- for some reason the words wouldn't actually come from her lungs -- and then made busy work of drinking. Slowly. Finally, with her gaze unfocused she said, "I don't know how to process the things that happened in that prison cell."
Gary sat down across from her, his head was lowered then finally it raised and he looked at her with haunted eyes, "I know Liselle. I'm having the same problem. Why don't we start at the beginning so the counselor exactly knows what happened." He suggested.
But Liselle shook her head. Before she knew it she was on her feet and pacing. "Don't you get it? I don't want to relive this anymore. I want it over with. I just want to pretend it never happened," she said. "Why does everyone keep asking me to experience that hell all over again!"
Gary stared up at her, his voice calm. "I most certainly do get it Liselle. I was in that cell with you. Pretending it didn't happen isn't going to make it go away or easier to deal with. You can't move past it if you won't acknowledge it and it won't get rid of the nightmares."
"Oh?" She set her glass down on a nearby table. "So I'm just not trying hard enough, is that it?"
Gary blinked at her, "What? No, I didn't say that Liselle nor did I infer it. I said you can't pretend it never happened. it did. Ignoring it won't make it go away."
Lunara leaned forward from her seat on the other side of the room, ready to jump in if things went south.
"You have no idea!" she spat at him. "You have absolutely no idea what this has done to me!"
"I think I to. I was there with you the entire time. I think I have a very good idea what it has done to you!" Gary's voice raised in anger. "Or do you think your the only one in pain and is suffering?"
There it was. Lunara thought things had been going too easy. "Please, you two!" She stood up from her chair. "Everyone in this room knows what it's like to suffer like that. That's why you're both here, isn't it? To find a way to heal together?"
Gary glared at Hol before his gaze returned to Liselle, His eyes angry and his mouth he was keeping tightly shut.
"It's..." Qwyyn's anger quickly faded. "It's different for me. For joined Trill." Without realising what she was doing Liselle began pacing, her fingers twined and twisting as she squeezed her words out. "This whole trip was about showing the Symbiosis Commission how far I've come in putting my symbiont back on the right track. After several lifetimes of mental trauma, I was going to be the host that finally set things right again. And now...now these memories are going to stay with the Qwyyn line forever. There's no erasing that. Those things that happened -- they are permanently etched in Qwyyn's history now."
Gary heard and saw Liselle's pain and it intensified his guilt over the whole ordeal. "Liselle." He said softly, "I am so, so sorry for what you have gone through. What you, Lia and Phoenix have gone through. If I could undo it I would. I know you can't forgive me as I can't forgive myself but I hope you realize just how sorry I am. As for the memories. isn't it what you make them? I'm not saying make them sweetness and light but rather to show how tough and resilient you are?"
Lunara's voice softened as she stepped forward. "There are some things that will never leave you, no matter how many lives you live. But please, trust me when I tell you that trying to deny it ever happened isn't the way forward. If not as your counselor, then as one of your kind who was once... in your situation." She shifted uncomfortably with that last sentence, crossing her arms above her symbiont.
Qwyyn watched her with astonished eyes. This was exactly what she had thought she would never find in all of those unending mandatory counseling sessions on DS9. Here was another Trill, a joined Trill at that, who was able to understand exactly the terror and the fear that played about in the consciousness of a seemingly infinite being. And it was clear through Lunara's physical reactions that she had more than an academic understanding of what Liselle had been forced to experience.
"You. Went through something like this?" Liselle asked cautiously.
Gary looked between the two woman one his good and close friend (or was) the other a skilled professional. He kept quiet, suddenly feeling like a third wheel and not wanting to say anything that would upset Liselle further.
Lunara nodded, taking a deep breath before she spoke. "It happened... over one hundred years ago. To my first host, Jalen. He was an engineer aboard the USS Legacy." She paused. "It was supposed to be a routine mission, when we were attacked by pirates. He... /I/ was captured, sold to Orion slavers." She shook her head. "I tried to do the same thing as you, you know. Forget the whole thing ever happened. But it just made things worse. So please, trust me when I say this isn't the way forward." She exhaled at the end of her speech, subconsciously taking a step backwards. It clearly wasn't a comfortable topic for her, but it was worth it if it meant someone else didn't have to go through the same thing.
Gary wondered if he was invisible. Liselle nor Hol had commented on what he said. Which just led to further credence in his mind that his opinion didn't really matter. So he continued to sit quietly.
"How...how did you learn to move on?" Qwyyn asked, desperate to grab hold of the answer that was seemingly right there in front of her. Her eyes moved to Gary even as she continued to speak to Lunara. "Was Jalen ever able to get his life back to the way things were before?"
Gary continued to sit quietly as Liselle questioned Lunara. It seemed his presence was needed.
"Eventually." She felt bad for drawing the attention away from Gary, but hopefully it would work out. "With the help of a counselor friend of mine, and some other friends who had gone through the same thing." She nodded at Gary. "You see why I want you two to make up, now?"
Gary could have said a lot of things, like how Liselle acted like she was the only one suffering and in pain. but discretion is the better part of valor and he had no wish to argue with his former friend and that is what hurt the most. However he simply inclined his head and said "Yes."
Liselle looked at him fully now. To her surprise, she allowed herself a sad, self-aware smile. "Those things I said to you in the prison..."
Gary met her gaze, his eyes haunted filled with guilt, asking, hoping for absolution. "Liselle...." He began, "Its, Its," He began stopped and started again. It's okay you were, we were all under unimaginable stress." He said softly.
Lunara smiled, her work seemingly successful, and retreated back to the far corner of the room.
"I have some...things to work out," she said, and she rolled her eyes at the obvious statement. "But I hope, someday, you realize that I was just lashing out. I was...I lost myself while we were in there."
"Liselle." Gary stopped shook his head, "You had undergone terrible abuse and humiliation. I just hope you know how horribly guilty I feel over all of this and even more so at losing you as my best friend."
She found herself scowling as the gravity of the impact this had had on him fully registered. Then the scowl she wore fell away and she was smiling, despite the tears in her eyes. "I lost me, too, you know. But if you're willing, I'd like to...find me...again...together..." She burst suddenly with a laugh. Her eyes rolled in embarrassment, and she sniffled through the tears. "Okay, that was really corny. Even for me."
Gary nodded, "I do know and I am so, so sorry for everything you went through." He said quietly, He saw her scowl turn into a smile. His vision was blurry due to the tears in his eyes. "No, it was corny at all. It was beautiful and I'd like that very much. Maybe we can find me along the way as well. I seem to have lost my way." He added.
Liselle turned to Lunara, and it was only then that she realized she has holding Gary's hands in her own. "Counsellor," she said. "I think you deserve a medal."
Gary turned to look at Lunara, "I agree whole heartedly. Job very well done Counselor you have my sincere thanks." His fingers intertwined with Liselle's afraid to let go less this be a dream and it all disappear if he let go.
"Thank you, you two. That means... that mesnd a lot to me." Lunara tried not to stutter or choke on her words. Up until now, she wasn't entirely sure she was cut out for starship counseling, but looking at this... Things might work out after all. She smiled widely, her eyes twinkling as she gazed at the scene in front of her.