Disclaimer: No, you're not imagining my girls' resemblance to a certain Bard and Warrior who are property of RenPics. But, Dr. Eleni Sirtis and Nurse Selene are mine, mine, mine. Also, this story does involve a love/romantic relationship between two women, so if you're underage or that kind of thing isn't for you, this might not be the story for you.


The black haired woman glanced at a nurse passing by outside the clear shield that acted as a window out of and into her office. Then she turned her attention, and ice-blue eyes, back to the comm screen in front of her. Displayed was the face of a woman with curly blonde hair and the black eyes typical of her Betazoid heritage. She’d also, apparently, inherited a sometimes aggravating aura of omniscience.

"Chandra, I’ve heard this all before,", she stated, with a tug at her uniform as she relaxed against the back of her chair. The black eyes held hers a moment in challenge, before the blonde responded.

"Eleni, you may be hearing but you’re not listening. Selene…" Eleni cut in.

"Selene is inexperienced, and what’s more, she’s been genetically altered. I don’t know how you got this approved, anyway. Plus, I don’t need a new nurse." Chandra knew that from anyone else those words would have sounded grumpy, or at least snippy. From Eleni though, they were neat daggers to cut through argument. It was the voice, Chandra decided. It was cool, calm, and instinctively obeyed.

However, Chandra had known Eleni too long to give up that fast.

"Selene may be inexperienced, but she’s a very fast learner. Top 5% of her class." Chandra settled back in her chair, lightyears away. "As for her genetic status, she was made as part of a Starfleet experiment. But, you knew that already. As for why it was approved, the researchers made Selene and the others nonviolent, and with other personality traits to keep them from being a threat. Starfleet Command agreed, after I called in a few favors."

"I still don’t see why I should take on one of your projects, Chandra. Especially when I don’t need a nurse in the first place." While Eleni agreed that mental health care should be sought when necessary, being under the care of Counselor Chandra Stro for any length of time implied to her that the person was a serious case. Chandra sighed.

She’s not my ‘project’, Eleni. We’ve kept in touch, but she hasn’t been under my care in over a year. She wants to be a nurse on a starship, and she knew I could probably help her achieve that. As for needing a nurse, it can’t be helping your patients to not have one." That one hit home, sliding neatly into one of the few vulnerable areas Eleni had left.

"Are you calling into question my ability to care for my patients?" Chandra backed off, knowing her barb had done the trick.

"No, Eleni. Everyone knows you’re a miracle worker. It just might help to have someone to lighten the load a bit."

That… was very hard to argue with. What was she going to do? Whine that she’d just rather be left alone, knowing all the mistakes and breakthroughs were hers alone? Nope. That 3 to 4 hours of sleep in every 24 was perfectly healthy and normal? Chandra’d laugh so hard she’d fall out of her seat and roll her way right out of her office, through Starfleet Medical, then out through San Francisco.

In fact, there was a certain logic to getting some help. She was getting older, and it was getting harder and harder to run on just her reserves. Also, getting her own equipment and hypospray canisters was losing its appeal.

"Maybe you’re right. But, how’re you going to guarantee I won’t want to space her after a week?" Eleni asked reasonably. The nurses who were on staff worked with the 3 other doctors, having found sickbay much more pleasant when its mercurial commander was left alone as much as possible. It had suited her just fine, as well.

"I can’t guarantee anything… but I’ve never seen a person Selene couldn’t get along with if given a chance. Remember Dr. Linaa’?" A faint grin grew on Chandra’s face.

Eleni remembered him. He was a tyrant, and almost as much of a perfectionist as she was. The two strong personalities had collided more than once, and only excElenit grades on her work and tests kept him from giving her a near-failing grade in Medical History.

"Yes… the ogre in the McCoy building who liked to eat medical students as an appetizer before faculty luncheons." The grin on Chandra’s face widened.

"Selene kept up with the coursework, and managed to befriend him. Last few months, they were eating lunches together in the cafeteria while debating."

Eleni blinked. That was impressive.

"So you think she’ll be able to handle another mean old doctor?" Eleni drawled. Chandra just smiled.

"I wouldn’t put it that way, and you know it. Let’s just say she’s easy to get along with, and she won’t get on your nerves by asking you the same thing 5 times." Having to repeat herself was, indeed, one of Eleni’s pet peeves.

Do I feel lucky? … Guess maybe I do.

"OK Chandra. I’ll give her a shot. She’s got two weeks on a trial basis, during which I can send her back anytime. At two weeks, I’ll decide if she stays on the ship or you have to find her another post." It satisfied Eleni’s need to keep her options open, but it was also fair.

"Alright." Chandra glanced down, at what Eleni suspected was a PADD. "You’ll be on Starbase 107 in a week and a half. We can have Selene join the ship then. There’s a transport headed there from Earth, on its way to Kimara."

"Makes sense to me. I’ll get things set up with the Captain, since I’m here," Eleni offered. Chandra nodded acceptance.

"Thanks. It would be a hassle to do it from here." Eleni sat up a bit straighter.

"I need to be going…"

"Alright… keep in touch. Counselor Stro out." Both women cut the comm signal, and Eleni closed her eyes a moment with a deep breath. What had she gotten herself into? Oh well. She’d find out soon enough.

Eleni stood, and watched sickbay for a moment. Her staff was working steadily and well, and at the moment things were rather quiet. That was rare, and made her wonder what would happen next. An attack from a Dominion ship they’d missed back at the assault on Cardassia? That was all too likely in this post-war universe, when the war itself had called doctors to pick up phaser rifles.

She shook those thoughts off, and exited her office. The door whispered shut behind her, and she gave a slight smile at the plate on it.

Dr. Eleni Sirtis.

Chief Medical Officer, USS Destiny

It was the product of 4 years at the Academy, 4 years at Starfleet Medical, and 10 years aboard a starship. More importantly, it was what she was now. She’d done too much evil to ever be absolved of it, but her responsibility to Starfleet, and more specifically to her captain, was enough to keep her dips back into it minor. She wasn’t sure why that mattered though.


10 Days Later.

The small blonde woman sipped at an icy pink drink, seemingly oblivious to the glances of others in the Starbase Replimat. She was somewhat unusual, not wearing a Starfleet uniform or communicator. Also, she seemed very young. She wasn’t more than 5’ 6", and her legs were swinging gently under the table as she devoured the drink with a rather childlike expression of pure pleasure. However… once one got a good look at her, they could see the intelligence behind her green eyes. It was, if nothing else, a rather intriguing combination.

Selene glanced idly at her wrist chrono, only to find it was a good 20 minutes later than she’d believed. The blond blinked, as if that might alter the readout, reacting with dismay. How stupid was she, to lose track of time that way? Especially when it meant she stood a chance of being late for an important meeting. Now she only had 10 minutes to get to sickbay, to meet a woman Chandra had told her was difficult at best to impress.

Her glass was quickly taken care of by dumping it in a reclamator, and then she was off. Only her basic empathy and telepathic abilities kept her from knocking people over in her haste. She did stumble once or twice though herself, to put on the brakes.

The Destiny’s corridors, once she reached them, were mostly clear. She surmised that most of the crew was taking the opportunity for shoreleave. Selene paused only once, when she lost her conviction that she was headed the right way. A quick query of the computer had gotten her back on track, and she arrived at sickbay one minute before she had to.

She stopped, knowing she couldn’t go in in her present unsettled state. She smoothed her hands over the fabric of her tunic and leggings, then began to take deep breaths. They had the desired effect of settling her heartrate and thoughts, and calming her. Feeling nervous, but more centered, she ran a hand through her short-cropped hair. Then, she took another breath and stepped into the sensor field that would open the doors. She noted, idly, that there was a white caduceus on each one. A reference to the healing arts, and the ancient Greek god Asclepius who had presided over them. Selene liked it – she’d always been fascinated by myth.

Sickbay was also largely deserted. There were a few doctors and nurses, and just two or three patients it simply wasn’t wise to move yet. After this initial appraisal, she found herself caught by the sight of a uniformed woman with black hair and positively piercing blue eyes. She was tall, but radiated a command and presence that had little to do with her height. There were also dark undercurrents running off her Selene didn’t need her telepathy to sense. Selene’s mind must have kept working, however, because she had identified the woman as the formidable Dr. Sirtis. She stepped forward.

"I’m Nurse Selene reporting for duty, Doctor," she announced herself, easing into the relaxed attention she’d been taught. She caught the slight flicker of amusement in the CMO’s blue eyes as the tall woman navigated her way around the biobeds.

Eleni’s mind went through an evaluation of her own. Selene barely appeared twenty, at the oldest. It was an impression reinforced by the absolutely guileless manner the younger woman had taken her surroundings in with. She was also undeniably… cute. Overeagerness and all.

"Welcome to sickbay. You’ll usually find it a bit more chaotic. I’m not used to having people who aren’t part of Starfleet working in my department, but I will give you a fair shot," Eleni stated. Selene knew she was telling the truth. However difficult a person to deal with, there was a principle of fairness Eleni held very dear. She nodded.

"That’s all I want. Thank you."

"Well I… guess it’s time to meet the rest of the staff, and get a tour." Eleni was vaguely disgusted with herself. Where’d that come from? I meant to have one of the nurses show her around. She didn’t have the time or the inclination to ponder that at the moment, and steered the younger woman toward the rest of the staff, who had begun to form a clump.

"Dr. Aebi… Nurse Minna… Dr. T’Salen… Nurse Aian… Selene", Eleni introduced. Selene had nodded to a middle aged Betazoid man, a brown haired human woman, a Vulcan female, and a tiny woman with a jewel set in her forehead, in turn.

Dr. Aebi nodded back, with a smile and projection of welcome. Nurse Minna also nodded, and T’Salen gave a dignified Vulcan nod. Aian smiled and took a few steps forward, hugging Selene and kissing her on the cheek.

"Welcome." Selene was positive the room had gotten hotter, and she knew she was blushing. Dr. Sirtis had that vaguely amused look in her eyes again, and explained,

"Aian’s Risan, so that’s a typical welcome." Selene turned her gaze back to Aian, and asked what she thought was a perfectly innocent, rational thing.

"Are there many Risans in Starfleet?" It was too much. The only people who didn’t laugh were the Vulcan, and Eleni – who managed only by biting the inside of her lip. What startled her more though was the slight pang of jealousy, and she knew she had to decide something then and there. Selene was off limits. She was a kid, and not a grown woman despite her age.

The tour ensued, with enough behavior from Aian for Eleni to make a mental note to talk with the irrepressibly vivacious woman. Aian, however well meaning, was only succeeding in making Selene more uncomfortable. The kid had handled it remarkably well, setting Aian’s comments aside and focusing on learning about her new workplace. She’d also managed to get along well with everyone on the staff, and in most cases very well.

Returning to her quarters that night, Eleni realized she’d actually found the time pleasant. Selene was easy to get along with, and very very intelligent. Chandra’d been right when she’d said Selene wouldn’t ask her things 5 times. She’d remember them the first time, which would make Eleni’s life much easier. With uncommon optimism she thought, as she pulled her boots off, This just might work out…


Chapter 1

One Year Later

er Her h

Shuttle Log – Shuttlecraft Clothos

Recorded by Chief Medical Officer Sirtis. We are currently en route to the mining colony on Devor VII, to assist the colony’s medical personnel following an accident there that has caused some of the cave system to collapse. Accompanying me is Nurse Selene, at the request of the captain. It is the first time she has been on an away team to a disaster site, and I do have my concerns about her presence given her telepathic abilities. In the past, she has had difficulty handling so much raw pain and emotion at once. However, she is willing to take that risk and another pair of hands certainly can’t hurt.

Upon landing, we will be briefed further by the colonists, and then begin work.

Their first glimpses of Devor VII were inconsistent with a disaster site. Eleni had landed the shuttle just outside the settlement, and all that was visible were a group of buildings, and wilderness. The trees and vegetation were somewhat similar to Earth’s, but taller and tending toward red tones instead of green. It was beautiful, though, Selene thought. She’d been so used to the station she grew up on, and the barren planet outside, and then shipboard life, that any time outdoors felt wonderful.

Her appreciation was broken by a sharp bolt of pain running through her mind. It wasn’t hers. It reminded her of just why they had come, and she quickly brought up her mental shielding to protect herself.

"You alright?" Eleni asked, concerned. She wasn’t sure if she’d picked it up from the small woman’s features, or if it had been something deeper, but there had been something wrong.

"Yes... I’m fine. Just got a bit of a shock." That seemed to satisfy the doctor, and she nodded.

"Grab a medkit or two, and let’s get moving." Selene complied.

The colonists were very happy to see them. Eleni groaned inwardly though when she realized that some of the residents had a very personal stake in the rescue effort, and could be trouble, or at least a nuisance. She could work with distractions, but she’d be much happier and more effective without them. Selene found she enjoyed the attention to some degree, but she knew Eleni would rather get to work. She managed to get them through the crowd and heading for the mine entrance as fast as possible.

Her dark companion was quieter than usual, and when Selene skimmed her thoughts she found herself amused. Unable to help it, she smiled.

"Bet you wanted to give them a bunch of those glares that melt duranium, huh?" That got a half smile out of the doctor.

"It was that or tossing them aside… and Captain Walker would have my head for either." Selene sensed a vague sadness from the tall woman she’d sensed a few times before – like when someone turned away with an ‘I’m sorry…’ after Eleni had yelled at them. It was the loss of another little strand connecting her to the people she worked with.

"Well, it would have been interesting…" Selene glanced around. "Is that the entrance, over there?" She lifted an arm, medkit in hand, in the direction she meant. Eleni glanced over at the large hole bored into a cliff face.

"Looks like." Selene wished she could get more than a few words out of the doctor at a time. She loved the sound of her voice.

"Alright… probably mostly some deep cuts… broken bones… things like that, Doctor?"

"You can call me Eleni… we’ve been working together for a year. And, that sounds about right. Probably some internal damage as well, from crushing injuries."

They continued on into the caves. The air smelled almost metallic to Selene’s sensitive nose from all the dust in it, and the ore. There was also a faint dampness she couldn’t quite identify. Eleni on the other hand knew caves well.

She ran, only barely aware of the others behind her. The boots on her feet were too thin for comfort, but she’d long since gotten used to them and trusted the feel of the terrain under her feet. She could see the small cave mouth, hidden by brush and rock outcroppings, 100 meters ahead. It was a good place. Even if the Skera managed to track them there, the entrance was small enough to prevent them from entering. And, by the time they managed to blast through, Eleni and her resistance group would have disappeared.

She pushed some of the brush aside, and slipped through the break in the rocks. Lana was there, as scheduled, to pull them through, and Eleni recognized her touch on her hands. Inside the cave was pure blackness, and Eleni gave up on her eyes adjusting. There was the distinct musty scent that spoke of water existing in this cavern system, but no hint of dust.

"Fiat," Lana began, and Eleni felt the cold tickle of steel at her neck.

"Lux," she answered. The Latin codes had been her idea. They could quickly identify people, without giving the Skera their names. She was 15.

They met first with the colony’s medical chief, which had contacted Captain Walker in the first place. After a more thorough briefing on what exactly had happened, and who was taking care of what, the two women from the Destiny were able to start. Their conversation had rarely gone beyond work, but both felt most comfortable working with each other. They were able to anticipate each other’s moves, and had a certain simpatico that allowed treatment or surgery to be an efficient and relatively easy thing.

Surgical nursing prior to Selene’s arrival had been determined by lottery. While Eleni was typically able to get along well enough during surgery, there had always been tension in the room that made it more exhausting than it already was. But, with a little blond, she’d found someone eminently compatible to work with. It had amazed her at first, but it was welcome.

Selene, however, was called on to search for survivors once her telepathy was known. Eleni had wanted to protest, knowing how difficult such use of her abilities was for Selene. She’d seen the woman come in the morning after a rough day with dark circles under her eyes and missing some of the spark in her green eyes that made her seem so… alive. It had hurt.

Eleni continued treating the patients that were being brought out with the assistance of one of the colony’s medics. The young man was good, and reasonably easy to work with. She could put up with him for a few hours, until he tired.

Eleni finally gave in to her exhaustion many hours later, and remembered dimly that Selene had left for food and rest a few hours before. She walked to the makeshift infirmary that had two cots set up in a corner for them. Selene was indeed asleep, arms wrapped around her pillow and looking even more innocent than she did awake. It was a good thing to come back to after a day spent dealing with blood and pain.

Eleni quietly moved to her cot, and pulled off her boots. Her plans were to get a few hours of sleep in, and then go back to the caves and continue the rescue. She set the neat black boots by the side of her cot, in case she had to get up quickly, and lay down. Her eyes closed soon after, and she lost herself in her dreams.

Selene awoke to intense emotional pain, and loss. Her sleepy mind took a few moments to come online, and then she determined that the source was very near – in fact, less than 3 feet away. It wasn’t a waking mind… but one consumed by nightmares.

Her eyes slowly adjusted to the extremely low light, and she could make out the lines of Eleni’s cot and its occupant. The dark haired woman was still, and her jaw muscles clenched. She almost seemed a creature of darkness herself, without the blue eyes that gave her some humanity.

Selene gathered her blanket around herself and nudged Eleni’s shoulder with a free hand. In retrospect, she realized, she should have expected Eleni’s reaction. Still apparently asleep, Eleni grabbed her wrist tightly and was about to react when she realized who it was. The blue eyes were open, now.

"What is it?" Eleni asked, her voice still slightly hoarse. There had to be some good reason for waking her up. She was not going to be a very happy doctor if there wasn’t.

"You were having a nightmare," Selene explained, moving closer. "Seemed like a pretty bad one, too."

"I don’t call out," Eleni said firmly, as her eyes hardened. She couldn’t have gotten that soft or relaxed, right?

"You didn’t," Selene nodded. "At least not with your voice anyway. And, how do you know you don’t yell or make noise during nightmares, anyway?" So, the kid had sensed something. Eleni recognized the diversionary tactic of the blonde’s last statement, but let it pass.

"Because I trained myself not to. Selene… it’s late. And we need as much rest as we can get before going back to the caves." There. Perfectly reasonable.

"You’re right… but sometimes it helps to talk about it. I’m here, if you want to." After waiting a few seconds for Eleni to talk, or not, Selene curled back up on her cot and closed her eyes. Eleni followed only a few seconds after.

Selene didn’t get much sleep that night. Waking Eleni up was apparently against the ‘rules’, but she didn’t know what else to do. When she did manage to drift off, she was woken up soon after by Eleni’s nightmares.

She told herself though that she was not going to let Eleni know she’d been kept awake. She didn’t believe Eleni would send her back after a year, but… Eleni was so strong, and able to work through discomfort that Selene felt she had to at least try to live up to her standards. Selene also didn’t want to slow her down, or be a burden. So, when the nightmares tapered off as Eleni began to awaken, Selene pretended to be asleep. She waited, until finally she sensed Eleni’s mind coming back to full consciousness and heard little noises as Eleni rubbed at her face, and sat up.

Selene realized that her body was exhausted after the long hours, and all she wanted to do was go back to sleep. No way to wrangle that though without admitting her sleep had been disturbed. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder, then Eleni’s voice.

"Come on, Selene… time to get back to work." Selene let herself roll over, eyes still closed, and mumble.

"Too early…"

"I don’t care. We need to get back to the caves." Selene opened her eyes, and did her best to look as if she was just waking up. Eleni wasn’t fooled though. The dullness in Selene’s eyes was enough to tell her the young woman had been up most of the night. The doctor felt suddenly guilty for the nightmares that had kept Selene awake. She wasn’t sure if talking would help, and hoped it never got to that point. Maybe if she tried to control it a bit more? That might work.

Once fed and dressed, they’d returned to the caves. It was slow, agonizing work and every time they thought they’d found all of the survivors, Selene would feel another faint consciousness tug at the back of her mind. She wondered how many would not be found in time to be saved. That thought made an unwelcome chill run up her spine, and she turned her attention back to the search.

There… it was very faint… the person had to be barely alive. She knew that too because the mind had lost its distinctiveness, and was simply human. Tracking people telepathically was difficult, and she began to narrow the area down. That pile of rock on the far side of this ‘room’…. Yes…

"Eleni…" The dark woman turned to face her.

"Yes?" Eleni was searching her expression. For any cue.

"Another one… over there, under that rock…" she pointed.

"Alright… Mason, Larsen, gimme some help here." Eleni had turned back around momentarily, to fix her ‘volunteers’ with her eyes. Mason and Larsen, two medics who also apparently spent time in strength training, trotted over.

Selene watched as they moved away the rock, feeling the mind slip away bit by bit. She cursed at herself. Sure, she could find the injured and assist in their treatment once they’d been retrieved. But she couldn’t save them on her own. Her body wouldn’t allow it. Eleni’s didn’t seem to have any such problems though. The tall woman had rolled her sleeves up to work, and now Selene could see the shifting of powerful muscle in her forearms. Eleni obviously spent some time keeping herself in shape. Selene hadn’t the faintest idea of how to get started, and made a mental note to ask the doctor about it once they were back on the Destiny.

Her musings were interrupted by a call for a medkit and assistance, and Selene jogged over with both. The man they’d uncovered appeared unconscious, and was heavily bruised. There were also signs of internal injuries. Eleni was silent as she worked to stop the bleeding, concentrating on her patient. Selene helped as necessary, and noted that some of Eleni’s methods were not exactly standard. They relied more on her strength and intimate knowledge of anatomy than modern technology. It was effective though, and the man was soon stable enough to move.

Eleni sighed, resting in her crouched position. * Come on… snap out of this… * She’d gotten a decent amount of sleep the night before, and was very irritated at her body for disobeying her. * Maybe I’m just coming down with something. *

A small noise came to her ears. She gave a slight frown. It had almost sounded like a very low moan. There had to be someone else trapped under the rock and rubble. She stood, scanning the area for places that hadn’t been checked yet.

"What is it, Eleni?", Selene asked.

"Thought I heard something… Someone moaning." With that, Eleni took off. Selene tried to follow, but there were meters between them when Eleni stopped in a room farther back in the caverns. There was rubble, but she didn’t hear anything now. She was also realizing that running off like that had been incredibly stupid, and it was almost pitch-black. If there was someone here, she couldn’t see enough to find them. She’d have to feel her way back out, and bring a light.

Selene reached the entrance to the room Eleni had found, sensing her presence. She didn’t go further into the dark. After a moment she could make out some movement, and a flash of white teeth. She didn’t sense anyone else in the area – injured or otherwise. Eleni seemed fine – just disgusted with herself.


"Yes, it’s me… There’s not anyone here Eleni. Alive, at least." The nurse heard a sigh, and shuffle of boots on what seemed to be gravel. Eleni was making her way back out.

Eleni carefully inched her way along in the dark, feeling for rubble before setting her foot down. It was rapidly becoming apparent that the floor was absolutely covered in loose rock. Another reason to berate herself. She was surprised she hadn’t tripped and broken her neck in that absolutely insane rush down here. The toe of her boot caught on a rock she hadn’t felt out, and she lost her balance. Eleni landed hard on a rock wall, letting out an ‘oomph’ against her will.

"Are you alright?" It was Selene’s voice, and it somehow allowed Eleni to focus her thoughts again.

"Fine. Lost my damn balance." She heard a slow trickle nearby, and guessed it was water. The scent of the caves told her it was present. Why hadn’t she heard it before though? Then the rocks ripped loose from their moorings with a roar.

She felt herself hit by heavy, edged weights. Eleni made an attempt to get out of the way, but her legs had been the first casualties of the assault. They were exploding in pain, and wouldn’t move right. Another large rock knocked her over, and then the heaviest weight yet hit her. Eleni didn’t have time to locate where she’d been hit before passing out.

Selene had been startled into stillness by the sound of the rockslide and Eleni’s pain. Once the dust had settled though, two things came to the front of her mind. The first was that Eleni was under all that, and not doing well. The second was a sense of aching familiarity that only made it harder. She forced herself to calm down. She tapped at her communicator pin.

"Selene to Mason and Larsen. I’m down the north tunnel, and there’s been another rockslide. Eleni’s under it. We need a medkit, and light." She had no light, but started from where she was, clearing away rock. Her sense of Eleni got fainter, and Selene refused to let her go. She moved away rock as fast as she could, and didn’t care when sharp edges cut into her palms.

"No… come on… fight…" It was the best way to keep from crying.

Larsen and Mason arrived an eternity later bearing palm beacons and a medkit. They stood, dumbfounded, at the sight of little Selene tugging rather large stones out of her way. She turned, to look at them.

"Don’t just stand there. Let’s get her out," she snapped. They just blinked, looked at each other, and mutually agreed it would be best to get moving.

15 minutes of hard labor later, they had Eleni uncovered. It had taken all three of them to move the largest stone – one that was uncomfortably close to the injured doctor. The woman looked pale, and bruises were already starting to form. Selene also didn’t like the angle certain limbs were at, or the fact that Eleni was still unconscious. Her breathing was steady, if shallow, and her heartrate was all right for now and Selene took some hope from that. Selene took a deep breath, and the fatigue of her muscles made itself known. She wasn’t used to work like that.

Mason had a medical tricorder in hand, and was scanning the unconscious doctor. Selene came just behind him, looking over his shoulder at the readings. Broken bones… internal bleeding… and, most worrisome, indications of damage to Eleni’s spine. The area itself was swelling and reacting enough to make more detailed readings impossible. Selene felt a coolness on her cheeks, and put a hand up to test it. They were wet. She’d been crying.

"Uh… miss?" Mason had turned around to tell her something, and seen her. "Are you okay?"

"I’ll be fine… Dr. Sirtis is just so much in control it’s strange to see her…" * Almost looking like she’s dead. * She swallowed. Mason nodded.

"She’s almost stable enough to move. She’ll be alright… though it’s probably going to take time for this to heal, if it does." What would that do to Eleni, though? The dark woman needed activity and the knowledge that her body was under her control like plants needed sunlight. She’d survive, for a while at least, but would be a weakened and washed-out version of herself. Selene swore to herself that she’d do whatever she could to keep Eleni whole.

"I… I’m going to notify our captain, and the colony’s medical chief." She stood, knowing that was the proper thing to do. They were of no assistance now to the already overloaded medical staff, and Selene knew Eleni’s chances were better back on the Destiny. Part of her simply wanted to go to the unconscious woman, and beg her to wake up.

Selene headed out of the cavern, but not before catching a snippet of conversation.

"Think she’s really okay?"

"I don’t know… you should have seen the look on her face, buddy."

"Well… at least the good doctor’s got a friend."

That didn’t make the hurt go away, but it did warm her heart. Yes, she decided, Eleni was a friend. With that came the realization that they had been for awhile, but never spoken it. Selene continued out of the cavern, and quickly told the medical chief Dr. Sirtis had been injured. She extricated herself from that as soon as possible, and headed for the permanent infirmary in the settlement. There had to be a subspace comm station there.

Selene was right, and it was also not in use. She initialized a commlink to the USS Destiny, for Captain Walker, and tagged it urgent. She stood, and paced the infirmary as she waited. Finally – actually it had only been 10 minutes – Captain Walker’s face appeared on the screen.

He was in his mid to late forties, with sandy brown hair and kind blue eyes. Selene had liked him immediately. She could see that he was in his ready room, and that the blue eyes were concerned. The comm’s origin had been unusual enough to catch his attention.

"Captain Walker…"

"Selene…what’s going on there on Devor?" She bundled up what courage she had left, and spoke.

"Eleni… I mean, Dr. Sirtis… got caught in a rockslide during the rescue effort." The blue eyes were shocked. Eleni Sirtis was an old friend, one he’d first known by the name of Night, and he pitied the accident that tried to happen to her. Apparently, one had caught up to her.

"How is she?"

"It only happened about 20 minutes ago, sir. But, the preliminary scans don’t look good. The broken bones and bruises are easy enough to fix, but there’s internal bleeding and a good chance she damaged her spine." The captain could see that it was difficult, but Selene was managing to be professional and strong as she spoke. He decided he might need to reconsider how he thought of the little blond nurse.

"What are her survival chances?" he asked.

"They think good… but, nothing yet on the spine injury. Whether it can be fixed, or…" Selene trailed off. Walker had to agree that the image of Eleni in a hoverchair was such a contradiction that it seemed so fundamentally wrong as to throw the universe itself off kilter.

"If anyone can get past an injury like this, it’s Dr Sirtis," he reassured her. "We’re almost done with repairs here, and then we’ll head to Devor to pick the two of you up. After that… we’ll see."

Selene turned her head a moment towards a group coming in, and saw that it was a medical team with Eleni on a stretcher. She turned back to the screen.

"They’re just bringing her into the infirmary. I’m going to go now, but I’ll give you an update once we know a bit more." Captain Walker nodded.

"Alright. Walker out." He cut the comm, and the Federation seal replaced his face on the screen.

Eleni didn’t fight her way to consciousness. It was more like trying to swim through cooled, and very viscous, molasses. The more she came to, she realized, the more dulled pain she felt. Also, her stomach seemed like it was preparing to get rid of whatever was in it. Not a good sign. They also had her on painkillers, from the fuzzy feeling in her head. Funny that her legs didn’t hurt though.

She took a deep breath before opening her eyes. There was a doctor she vaguely remembered, and Selene. They both looked concerned – though the doctor was doing a better job of hiding it.

"How’re you feeling, Eleni?" Eleni blinked her eyes a few times so that her vision would stay in focus.

"Hurts… but, what did you give me?" Selene had looked… almost encouraged when she said she was hurting. What was going on here?

"Painkillers… a few other things. Where do you hurt?" the doctor asked. Eleni would have shot him a look if she were capable. It was bad enough that she’d been stupid enough to get hurt. She wasn’t going to have her nose rubbed in it. The rational side of her overruled that hatred of weakness, knowing keeping things from doctors didn’t help. Hadn’t she told her patients as much?

"Just kind of… all over. Head, shoulders… guess you’ve been working on my legs though. They don’t hurt."

Even in her drugged state, Eleni didn’t miss the look that passed between Selene and the doctor. That hadn’t been what they hoped to hear. The doctor moved down to the foot of the biobed, taking out a slightly blunted but still potentially painful needle. He watched Eleni’s face as he pressed it into the soles of her feet… then tried it on her calves… Eleni realized that she should be hurting. But, she couldn’t feel the needle at all. And, when he was done and rested a hand on her ankle a moment, she realized she couldn’t feel that either. It was like her legs were just numb.

She hoped that perhaps she’d just been lying still too long, and tried to wiggle her toes. She could see them, poking out at the bottom of the bed. They wouldn’t obey her. She tried again. They remained still. No… gods, no…

Selene was there in a heartbeat. She’d seen the woman handle boardings on the Destiny, violent patients, and any other number of crises. None of them had provoked the pure panic she could feel now from her commanding officer as the woman realized she was paralyzed.

"Eleni… this isn’t over yet. It’s early, and there’s still a reasonable chance you could recover completely and a good one you’ll get at least partial mobility back. The Destiny’s on its way." The voice was soothing at a very basic level. Eleni knew it was part of what made her blonde assistant such a good nurse. Damned if she was going to give into it though.

"When’re they going to pick us up?", Eleni asked, feeling the drugs begin to drag her back down into sleep.

"Another two hours. C’mon… get some rest…" Eleni drifted off, heavily medicated. Surely, though, that wasn’t Selene’s gentle hand stroking her hair, and soothing her back to sleep…

Eleni woke up again back on the Destiny, feeling less drugged. However, she felt disoriented by not knowing what time, or even what day it was – though the distinct scent and low hum of engines confirmed her location. More than that, she felt so damned stupid. What had gotten into her that day? She deserved to be paralyzed and useless for that kind of stunt. Eleni had no doubt that Captain Walker would be down here berating her once he knew she was up.

She opened her eyes. A few moments later, green eyes set in a face that reflected both relief and worry moved into view. Selene.

"Good to see you’re awake again, Eleni... it’s been 3 days." The doctor tried to respond, but found her mouth was dry enough to keep her from speaking. Sandpaper would seem smooth by comparison. Selene guessed correctly, and brought over a glass of water. She tipped it to Eleni’s lips, not trusting the older woman’s muscles to do as they were told. Eleni swallowed a few gulps of water, then pushed the cup away as gently as she could.

"Thanks…" Part of her rebelled at being treated like a child.

"How much do you remember?" Selene asked, retaking her seat by Eleni’s biobed.

"Going down into that damn cave for no reason… getting hurt… I think I woke up once and…" Part of her hoped it had just been a dream. Oh, she might have woken up alright, but she might not be remembering clearly. The all-over ache felt pretty familiar though. She ran a hand down over her covered thigh, feeling only the faintest sensation of pressure from her leg. It was true then… only difference was that she’d recovered some feeling. She attempted to wiggle her toes, which were again visible. No luck there.


"Dr. Aebi’s been doing what he can… the damage has been repaired, but it’ll take time to see if it was effective. How’re you feeling?" Eleni thought that had to be Selene’s favorite sentence these days.

"Not good… but, better than I should. I’ve got some feeling back in my legs… even if I can’t move them." Selene nodded in response, with a smile.

"I don’t have to tell you, but that’s a good sign. Think you’re up to seeing the Captain for a bit?"

Eleni sighed. She really didn’t want to – especially with the lecture she knew was coming her way. But, in a way, she owed it to him. She wouldn’t be here without his help.

"Alright. Send him in." Selene gave a slight smile, and moved out of Eleni’s field of vision. The first thing that struck the injured woman was the stillness. She couldn’t move properly, and there was no other noise. Boredom set in almost immediately. Was this how her life was going to be from now on? Gods, she hoped not. That would be unbearable. She heard footfalls, muffled by carpet, and turned her head to the sound. Selene had returned, and was escorting Captain Walker in.

"Hey there… how’s my favorite doctor?" She gave a slight smile, and joined in the game.

"Oh, alright for being paralyzed. Didn’t know you cared." Selene watched the interaction with some initial concern, but realized that it was good-humored teasing.

"Well, I’ll be with Dr. Aebi if you need anything Eleni…" she excused herself. Eleni nodded acknowledgement as Selene turned and exited what Eleni could now identify as one of the private suites. So, that’s where they’d set her up. Her eyes stayed fixed on the door for several moments after the little blonde left. She blinked, and turned her attention back to her visitor. The Captain had apparently helped himself to a seat.

"Eleni, Dr. Aebi’s been keeping me up to date on your condition and prognosis. The general consensus… is that you’d stand a better chance of recovering back on Earth, at Starfleet Medical. So, I want you there once you can be moved."

"Brian…" the voice became a low growl, and he saw the eyes turn to ice. It was enough to make him consider letting her stay - just for the moment.

"No arguments. You’re going."

"Would you treat Night this way?" He remembered Eleni, when she was Night – the toughest challenge to their rule the Skera would encounter. Night had been a creature both of a cold, ruthless cunning and a rage unleashed in battle to devastating effect. The junior lieutenant he’d been was in awe of the Resistance leader… even when he’d realized that she was a good 10 years younger than him.

"No… but, Night would have dropped me on my ass the moment I told her what to do."

Eleni had to admit that he was right. She would have, in a heartbeat. Her cell had run on order and obedience – a fact she believed kept them alive and effective. Discipline had been… strict.

"I still would, if you gave me the opportunity."

"I beat you at hand to hand once… and you’re at a disadvantage now. Eleni, look at this logically. What kind of setup do you have down in that sickbay of yours?" She sighed.

"8 biobeds… medical replicator and computer… surgical suite…" Brian cut in.

"And, for long-term treatment of spinal injuries?" Eleni closed her eyes, knowing she couldn’t weasel her way out of this. Whatever else, Brian’s research was impeccable.

"Nothing… the Destiny’s sickbay is designed to handle emergencies, and routine care." Her mind was starting to wake up, and free itself of the medication. Good. Being doped like that was not going to help her think.


"Mind telling me how I’m going to live there then? You know if I was in a hospital setting I’d get a bit… edgy." The slight growl implied she’d be more than that, but was too well behaved to say so at the moment. Brian gave a soft snort.

"You’re the one person I’d believe could still be a threat paralyzed from the waist down. As for living arrangements, you’d have an apartment nearby. A nurse would live there to give any assistance you needed, and Selene’s already volunteered for the job."

That floored her. Sure, she and Selene worked well together. It was a different matter though to be sharing an apartment full-time, and Eleni wondered if Selene realized that. The blonde had grown up in her year on the Destiny, but there were still areas where she was incredibly naïve. Eleni guessed though that it was better to go with someone she knew she could tolerate, rather than taking her chances. For a moment, the sensation of Selene smoothing her hair to soothe her back into a healing sleep came back with complete clarity. She also remembered how much she’d liked it.

"She has?" Brian nodded.

"Yes. Did as soon as we brought up the possibility of putting you in an apartment with a nurse." Well, this was terrific. Was Selene acting out of some misguided sense of duty, or pity? Either one was not what Eleni wanted coming her way. She frowned. Maybe a little more time around Selene would give her a better handle on what was running through that genetically enhanced mind of hers.

"We’ll see. About how much longer do I have on the Destiny?"

"I’m keeping your position held for you, until you get back. Dr. Aebi thinks another week to week and a half here, before going to Earth."

Eleni nodded, calculating how much could be done in that time.

"Alright." It came out more caustic than she would have liked, drawing a look from the Captain.

"I know you’re not happy with this Eleni. But if you take it out on that nurse, who I might add helped rescue you, you haven’t changed much from when you were Night." Eleni blinked, startled even by the idea. She wanted to protect Selene – how could she hurt her? Then, grimly, she realized Night would have if it had suited her interests.

"Brian… don’t worry. I’ll get upset, but Selene won’t be a target for it." The captain took her statement in, and knew it to be true. Whatever else, Eleni was a woman of her word – bending it only for the Skera.

"That’s good enough for me. Now, I’d best get going before I get chased out of here by an irate nursing staff." He stood, straightening his uniform. Eleni gave him a half grin.

"It’d take more than my nurses to run you out if you didn’t want them to."

"Maybe. But, that sets such a bad example." He jogged out the doors, wagging his brows at her. Eleni rolled her eyes, but couldn’t supress a smile either. Brian was a good friend, and the banter seemed to help her feel more normal.

Selene spotted the captain jogging out of Eleni’s suite, apparently in a fairly good mood, and wondered how the conversation had gone. Oh, the information was so close… right inside his mind. Bad telepath… She would have to satisfy her curiosity another way, and it was time for her to return to Eleni anyway.

She turned to Aian, who was working beside her.

"Do you need me to stay? If I can, I should be heading back to Dr. Sirtis."

The small woman shook her head, letting the light glint off her forehead jewel and light brown hair.

"No… I can handle this. Go on."

"Thanks Aian…"

"You’re welcome." Aian gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, which Selene returned. Aian’s Risan nature hadn’t lessened in a year, and Selene found no harm in touch herself. It tended to be a way to connect on a different level than her telepathy, and Aian was a friend. "Now, go see to the doc."

Selene headed off, skirting biobeds. Aian looked up, with a smile, then dropped her eyes back down to her work. She didn’t understand it, given the violence she knew lurked just under Eleni’s uniform, but if it suited Selene to stick around the doctor, who was she to judge? Eleni did seem to be easier to get along with since Selene had arrived.

The blonde let herself back into Eleni’s suite. The woman was, apparently, counting the holes in the ceiling. Selene smiled, and announced herself.

"I can’t believe that’s really that interesting, Eleni." Eleni gave her a rueful look, with the barest hint of a smile.

"It’s not. The Captain said you volunteered to go to Earth with me. Why?"
Selene ambled over, considering her answer.

"Well… you shouldn’t go through this alone… and, I’d like to think we’re friends." It was a perfectly reasonable answer, and definitely not what the injured woman expected. She’d always assumed Selene had been forced into spending time and working with her by necessity since the little blond was the only one who could put up with her. The only question was whether or not to accept Selene’s implicit offer of friendship, with the accompanying potential hurt.

She decided it was worth it.

"I usually consider people who save my life friends Selene. My memory’s a little fuzzy, either from the injury or the drugs, but I do remember that you followed me down, and had to have been the one to call for help." Selene glanced down at the floor a moment, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. Eleni suspected, for the first time, there was more to the story than Brian had told her – or knew.

"Um… just lucky. Someone would have picked up on the slide or that you were missing pretty quickly." The blonde looked back to the older woman’s blue eyes, and swore she could see the wheels turning behind them.

"Probably," Eleni agreed. "But, back to the topic. Why go? You have your job here, and most likely your friends and interests…"

"My job is to be a nurse. It doesn’t much matter if that’s here on the Destiny, or back on Earth. As to the others…" She frowned slightly, thinking of how best to express herself. "The more I learn, the more I know how far I still have to go. I hope going to Earth, and just… seeing more might help that process along. I don’t fit here – now, anyway."

Part of her was startled by Selene’s candor. The other, deeper voice inside almost expected it. She rationalized that away with her knowledge that Selene was unfailingly honest – even to counting omission a sin.

"You were kind of tossed into shipboard life, and Starfleet." She sighed. "Part of that’s my fault. How’s this for a deal? You can come, but you tell me the moment you want to leave." Eleni had no doubt that Selene would go, sooner or later.

Selene nodded agreement quickly, still smiling. Eleni’s response had been better than she’d let herself hope for. It wouldn’t have been odd for Eleni to have simply ordered her to stay on the Destiny, and end the discussion there.

"It’s a deal. Now, do you want anything?"

Eleni took an inventory of her condition, noting the slight grumble from her stomach and the slightly matted feel of her hair. She stretched, arms over her head, to see how that felt.

"I could probably use something to eat… and a bath." Selene nodded.

"Ok. I’ll see what I can do. Be back in a few." She patted Eleni’s hand briefly, and headed back out of the suite.

By the time she got back, Eleni had counted exactly 217 holes in the ceiling. Selene pushed the hoverchair in with one hand, while the other held a steaming mug of something with a rich, meaty smell. It brought Eleni’s hunger to the fore. Selene brought it over, explaining as she handed it over.

"You haven’t eaten real food in 3 days… it seemed like a good idea to start you off with some broth." Eleni gave a nod as she sipped. It was – to just go right back to solids could shock her injured body. Selene waited quietly. For about 15 seconds.

"It’ll be fun to be back on Earth. There’s a great little coffee shop not far away… a few of my friends and I went there to congratulate ourselves after tests. We’ll have to go sometime – I’m sure you’ll like it. Then, there’s…" She stopped, at the look blue eyes were giving her over a mug of broth. "Sorry. I tend to ramble sometimes."

Eleni swallowed what broth was still in her mouth, and responded.

"It’s okay… don’t worry about it." She went back to sipping her broth, which had a very pleasant warming feeling as it went down. "Um… and the coffee shop sounds interesting." Might as well play tourist she added drolly.

Selene smiled back, and managed to hold her tongue until Eleni finished off the broth.

"Alright… ready for that bath now?", she asked, taking the empty mug from Eleni and dumping it in the reclamator. Eleni’s brow furrowed. This could be a problem. Selene was considerably smaller than her, and didn’t appear to have the muscle to make up for it. How could she be moved then?

"Yeah… just not sure how you’re going to get me into that chair." Selene took a few steps forward and answered, simply.

"I’m going to lift you. But, please, don’t fight."

Eleni knew, from the look of concentration on Selene’s face, that the blonde was responsible for the change. But it was the strangest sensation - like being picked up in a giant hand. Selene had asked her not to fight – well, she was too stunned to. The image of a sword flashing her way, blade first, came and went in an instant. Definitely too many drugs in my system… She was settled gently into the hoverchair, legs and feet in their proper position. It was the first time she’d seen Selene’s telekinetic abilities in action.

"Are you alright?" Selene’s concerned voice snapped her back into the moment.

"Yeah, fine… just thinking. I’d prefer to go back to my quarters for this." Selene nodded understanding, and headed for the door. Eleni saw the control mechanism placed at her left hand, and figured it out quickly. She maneuvered the chair out after Selene, gradually picking up how to smooth its operation.

Then, she was back in sickbay, and most eyes turned her way. Eleni was suddenly conscious of the fact that she was dressed in a rather thin shirt and drawstring trousers, quickly identifying her as an inmate of sickbay. She avoided their eyes, and followed Selene out. The nurse also seemed to be moving out quickly, for which Eleni was grateful.

They made it back to Eleni’s quarters without incident, and Selene disappeared into the bathroom to get things ready. The doctor, however, looked around her quarters, which were exactly as she’d left them 5 days ago. The only difference was that duffel bag she’d taken to Devor now sat neatly on top of her bed, jarring against the minimalist lines of the space. She had no time to deal with or appreciate knick-knacks, and so chose not to accumulate them.

Selene, returning to the room, had a different opinion. It was stark, and seemed the occupant was merely visiting. No, she reconsidered, it was more than that. In a hotel room, at least, one would leave a bag or two laying around… a padd with an itinerary, maybe. It seemed that whoever lived here, though no visible clue was given to prove the room was occupied, was either so used to living like this they couldn’t change or afraid to claim any ownership of it.

"Um… the bath’s about ready. I know you’ll need help in, but are you going to need help to undress?" Selene asked with a blush. Eleni considered the question a moment, while noting that the situation was uncomfortable for Selene. She decided Selene would have to get used to it if she was going to follow her to Earth. The doctor hadn’t grown up with the luxury of modesty.

"I can undress myself… just have to do this." The dark woman lifted herself off the seat with one arm, and knew she could manage from there as long as there was nothing on her feet. Selene nodded.

"Well, it’s probably ready now. I’ve got towels and all that waiting."

The two women headed into the bathroom, and Eleni striped down as Selene studied everything else in the room in an attempt to give Eleni some privacy. Part of Eleni found it almost amusing.

"It’s alright… I’m not going to bite if you turn around, Selene." There was a soft thump as Eleni’s clothing was dropped onto the floor beside her chair. "There – I’m done."

Selene turned around, slowly, fighting her body’s urge to let her eyes linger in what she knew were inappropriate areas… like the full breasts shamelessly displayed at the moment. But, she forced herself to concentrate, and lifted Eleni’s body out of the hoverchair and deposited it gently in the tub. Then she noticed the older woman’s back.

The skin was cris-crossed by taut white bands of scar tissue, line after line after line forming a map of pain that covered almost the entire surface. Some of them had not healed properly, and the skin was pulled in ways it shouldn’t be or raised. Selene had never seen anything like it in her textbooks, or in her time as a nurse. Eleni seemed to read her mind, and responded in a hollow tone.

"I was born a slave, Selene. Just never accepted I’d stay one."

"What are the marks from?" Selene asked quietly. Eleni gave a slight wince, in remembered pain.

"Whippings. The Skera hoped they’d make me a nice, docile little human."

"It didn’t work," the blonde deadpanned.

"Guess not," Eleni said, with a small chuckle. She was human, all right, but nice or docile? They barely registered in her vocabulary. She heard Selene’s footfalls, and turned her head to see the small woman exiting the bathroom. She assumed Selene was still having an attack of modesty. "You don’t need to leave… it doesn’t bug me – honest."

The blonde turned back around, pondering her response. Hmm… tell her I don’t think I can keep my hands off if I do, and I have absolutely no idea why? Mmm…. Nope. She settled for another, equally honest answer.

"I know. But, if I stay, I’m not sure I can keep myself from wanting to drag your past out of you. And, that’s something I sense you’re really not willing to do right now."

Eleni blinked, hand frozen in the middle of reaching for the soap. Selene certainly seemed to be surprising her a lot today, and she wondered why this hadn't happened before. The answer, she realized, was deceptively simple. There hadn't been opportunity. They'd danced around anything remotely resembling a personal issue, and circumstances were making that more difficult by the minute.

"Well... all right then. I shouldn't take long." Selene nodded acknowledgement, and exited the bathroom to wait elsewhere. Eleni sighed, and began to lather herself up with the clean-smelling soap. It felt wonderful, after three days. The quiet gave her time to realize though that what she was feeling wasn't surprise - at least not completely. There was some element of it, sure, but more than that it was a sense of rediscovery. As if she'd known how Selene would react, on some level. She dismissed that as ridiculous.

Selene leaned back against the nearest wall, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. That had been… intense. She sighed, and twitched at her bangs. The marks on Eleni’s back had been awful. How could one sentient being inflict those wounds on another, and – to top it off – not even see that they healed properly? She’d never even suspected that kind of cruelty existed.

The blond dabbed at a bit of wetness just under her eye.

Selene inspected the apartment, and decided she liked it. The place was a decent size, and on the ground floor to make it easier for Eleni to get around. There were two bedrooms, a fully stocked bathroom, and what was best termed a great room. It held a pair of desks, seating, a replicator, and, to Selene’s delight, a cooking area. When she exclaimed over it, Eleni simply grumbled something about not expecting her to use it when there was a perfectly good replicator available.

"Oh, but that’s no fun. It’s not the same," Selene responded, with a tolerant smile. To her surprise, that got a faint grin out of the dark doctor.

"Maybe not. I just know I was put in charge of breakfast once, and after that no one ever asked me to cook again." Selene stifled a laugh, and the blue eyes looking back at her showed amusement. "Go on… I know, that’s pretty pathetic."

"It’s just…" a laugh escaped. "Breakfast?"

"Yes. I was able to ruin breakfast." Selene allowed herself a few more laughs, but otherwise handled herself with enviable control. She knew too much laughter would seem to be at Eleni’s expense. Not a good thing.

"Well, there had to be something difficult for you." The blonde put her hands on her hips, and surveyed the few bags of possessions they’d brought. "We ought to get unpacked. Have you decided which bedroom you want?" The hoverchair-bound woman just shrugged.

"Doesn’t matter. They’re basically identical."

"Let’s get things split up then. Are you going to need any help?"

Most certainly not. Eleni had sworn to herself that if she could do something on her own, she would. Whatever independence she had, she intended to use.

"No. I’ll do it myself." She maneuvered her chair over to the pile, and lifted the two bags that were hers onto her lap. Satisfied that would work, she felt a small surge of pride at overcoming the minor obstacle of not being able to sling things over her shoulders.

Selene picked up her bags, which loaded down her small form. She could handle them, obviously, but it was difficult. Eleni quirked a brow.

"Selene… you lift me in and out of the tub with your mind. Why not just move those to your room the same way?" Selene looked down a moment, then back up. She tried, but the nurse knew her eyes showed how startled she was.

"I… it’s just easier to fit in if I don’t use my abilities when I don’t need to." Still, she realized, that wasn’t all of it. Aside from a bit of shock the first time, Eleni had simply accepted her telekinesis. It didn’t make her strange or somehow less than human in the dark woman’s eyes. That was so different from the reaction she was used to that Selene was deeply grateful.

"It’s a gift just like being very intelligent, or the way you’re able to comfort people. A lot of people just don’t have the open mind to appreciate it for what it is," Eleni responded.

Selene looked down at her feet a moment, with a bashful smile. How can someone with such a reputation for being difficult know the right thing to say so often? She attributed it to Eleni being less stressed, and a growing comfortableness between them.

"That’s the first time I’ve heard that. I’m going to go put this stuff away." Selene headed for the short hall that led to the other rooms, trailed closely by the doctor. She went into one, and unloaded her bags onto the bed. After a momentary break to stretch, she began to unpack.

An hour later, she was done with the room. Her clothes were neatly tucked away in the closet and dresser, and the other items had been put away or arranged around the room. Most of the latter were items picked up on shoreleaves on various planets. There was a translucent blue crystal from Betazed, and a wood figure that seemed to have been carved out of a circular piece of wood and retained its flowing lines, among other objects. The crystal was a favorite, simply for its color, and the figure was another for its calmness. She’d found it a great meditation aid.

Selene gave a nod of satisfaction, and went to check up on Eleni. She found the woman in the great room, her hoverchair pulled up to the front window. The blonde stepped closer, observing that the scene that scene holding Eleni captive was a group of children playing outside. They were laughing, and totally innocent.

Perceiving that sneaking up on Eleni, or startling her, wouldn’t be well received Selene let her feet drag slightly on the carpet. Eleni didn’t move – just said,

"Hi, Selene… your room set up?" The blond walked closer, taking in the sight of the kids as well.

"Yes. You know, you got done with yours pretty quick," Selene added casually, wanting to bolster Eleni’s confidence. The doctor was hiding it well, but Selene knew she just felt… broken. Her abilities had been the part of her wanted so long, she doubted she had much worth without them.

"Thanks. I just thought I’d come out here when I was done, and…." Selene interrupted.

"Oh, wow – did you see that catch?" The green eyes had widened slightly, at an impressive play by a boy with hair so blond it was more accurately called white. Eleni felt a small smile drift across her face at Selene’s enthusiasm, and looked up at her nurse. The perspective was certainly something new.

"Yeah, barely," she nodded. "That was a tough one."

"Mmhm. So, what were you thinking about, before I got here?"

"Nothing much. Just kind of… adjusting." The sight outside her window was so different. Laughing children, fresh air, grass… Space had suited her better, with its size and coldness. It was a perpetual night, and wasn’t that what she was too? It was part of why she’d chosen Starfleet, after leaving Skera territory.

Selene seemed to take her words to mean ‘adjusting to being in the chair’, and nodded.

"It’s got to be rough. But, if you want to talk, I’m here."

Eleni sighed, as part of her welled up with the desire to do just that. No… not tonight.

Dinner ended up a rather somber affair, though Eleni admitted she enjoyed the food. Selene’s skill, however out of date, did produce a better meal than the replicator. There was the actual variation the age of the ingredients gave, and a bit of Selene’s own flair with the seasonings thrown in. Not one to normally admit she even cared, she felt the need to acknowledge Selene’s effort and made a point of complimenting the nurse on it.

The problem of what to do after dinner was solved by the fact that they were both exhausted by then. The transport had left so early, and they’d both been too wound up during the flight to sleep at all. The fact that the time in San Francisco was two hours earlier than their usual schedule wasn’t helping much either. Unable to fight it off too much longer, both women retreated to their rooms with mumbled ‘good nights’.

Selene made a quick change out of her tunic and leggings outfit and into a nightshirt with the Academy logo emblazoned on the front. She knew she really ought to brush her teeth, but skipping one night wouldn’t hurt and her body craved sleep. The blonde snuggled under the covers, letting her head burrow a comfortable depression into the pillow. The sea-green eyes closed, and she let herself drift off to sleep, aware Eleni was doing the same in the next room.

Once again, Selene was brought out of sleep by Eleni’s nightmares. Whatever was happening in it, Eleni felt trapped and restrained. Still very tired, Selene grumpily shoved the covers aside and got out of bed. She padded into Eleni’s room, determined that this was going to stop. It was one thing to not sleep well for a few days, and another to expect to for weeks or even months, Eleni’s ‘rules’ aside. Fraud. You know you can nap while she’s away, or awake. You just don’t want her hurting any more.

Remembering the near-attack the last time she tried to wake Eleni, the blonde kept out of range, and used her voice.

"Eleni, come on… it’s a dream… wake up." The dark woman’s outline, all Selene could really see, shifted. The blonde could sense she was awake, and becoming more conscious of her surroundings. "It’s me, Selene…"

"Selene, it’s the middle of the night."

"I know. But, you were having another nightmare, and it woke me up. Eleni… this needs to stop." Selene walked over, confident Eleni was awake enough not to think her an enemy, and sat on the edge of the bed close enough she could see the older woman’s features.

Eleni sighed. Selene was right. The nightmares needed to stop – or at least become less intense. They weren’t fun for her, and they kept Selene from getting much-needed rest. There were moments, she mused, when logic was very inconvenient.

"You’re right. But I’m not sure what good talking tonight is going to do."

"I’m not going to be doing anything else", Selene responded pointedly. She regretted the manipulation, but knew it was for Eleni’s own good.

"I don’t even know where to start." Eleni paused, frustrated by her prone position. "I’ve got to get another pillow or two under my head", she muttered to herself. Selene quietly lifted her torso up, and got her companion propped up a bit so talking was more natural. Eleni noticed that Selene never really asked for anything in return for what she did. Helping for its own sake was too ingrained in her.

"Well… let’s not talk about the nightmares right off then. Let’s just talk. I mean, we are going to be spending the next few months here together – might as well get to know one another," Selene suggested. "How did you end up in Starfleet?"

Eleni considered the question.

"After I left the planet I grew up on for the Federation, I had to decide what to do with myself. Brian - Captain Walker – convinced me to consider the possibility of going into Starfleet. I’d been a good healer, and I found I liked being out in space. Becoming a doctor, and joining up, seemed to fit me."

"The Captain is important to you, isn’t he?" Selene asked, quietly. She knew the answer, but wanted to hear Eleni’s response.

"Yes. He… was the first… argh." Eleni’s eyes darted around the room in frustration. There was no way to get out of telling Selene the whole story without diminishing what Brian had done for her. Or, diminishing what she had been. "I spent my teen years in a Resistance cell… and led it by the time I was 17. I ordered whatever I thought was necessary to get my people out from under the Skera. Some of it was raids – just trying to demoralize them, and take away supplies. But, we’d torture Skera soldiers we caught for information… kidnap officials’ children to make their parents free cell members from prison. Of course, sometimes we just assassinated officials. I was just known to them as Night – L’ma’e in their language. We were creating some damage… limiting their power."

"Then, a squad of ‘Fleeters lands, with orders to reconnoiter the planet, and coordinate a Federation takeover. Seems some genius had just noticed there hadn’t been any response from the colony placed there in 60 years. Well, Brian was on that team of ‘Fleeters that landed. His group came to work with my cell, since it was the most widespread. The attack succeeded, and the planet was put back in Federation hands. A lot of good people died, though. I was… a very angry kid. But, slowly, he started to make me believe I could change what I was. I decided to join Starfleet, and healing seemed like a good way to make up for all the pain and death I’d caused."

Selene had remained silent through Eleni’s speech, just listening to Eleni’s story. It explained a lot to her, like Eleni’s strength and unconventional first aid methods. She also knew she wouldn’t want that powerful mind turned against her, and guessed Eleni’s intelligence and knack for organization had been at least as much trouble as her physical abilities.

"Eleni, I can’t say I don’t have a problem with torturing people or killing them. I mean, I was programmed to have an aversion to causing harm. But, can I understand it as a means to breaking down slavery and as perhaps unavoidable if you were going to be effective? Sure. I may not like it, but I do understand."

The doctor realized, in that instant, how close to the edge she’d been when Selene had walked into sickbay a year ago. It would have taken so little for her to just go renegade – go back to what she’d learned so well. But, add one little blonde telepath to the equation, and suddenly the result was different. Somehow, Selene had managed to be a moral center for her commanding officer, even through the strictly professional conversation. It was just… part of the way she was. Eleni wondered why she wasn’t running for the hills.

"I don’t think you can really comprehend what I’ve done, Selene. You’ve lived your life too far from that kind of… disregard for others." Selene looked at her a moment, features outlined in moonlight, then relaxed next to her in a gesture designed to prove she didn’t think Eleni was evil , or totally rotten. She gave a slight shrug, and responded.

"Maybe. Still, that doesn’t change the way you’re living your life now. You’re doing good, Eleni. There are a lot of people alive today because of you, and the way you just… get in there and don’t give up. Even when it looks hopeless."

"Whole lot of good I’m doing anyone right now…" Eleni answered darkly. She hated feeling so damnably useless. That and the inactivity were already a serious stretch on her patience, and what passed for good humor.

"I know it’s rough, Eleni. But, they’re going to be doing everything they can, and chances are this is a temporary thing. In a few months, you’ll probably just be using motor assist bands."

Selene looked to see Eleni’s reaction, and knew from the closed eyes and slumping position that the doctor was asleep. That was progress, anyway, Selene thought. Before, Eleni wouldn’t have allowed herself to fall asleep like that. The blonde stifled a yawn, and felt the time catch up to her. Not much point in going back to my bed… she thought drowsily, as she drifted off too.

Eleni’s initial reaction to the weight she felt on her shoulder as she awakened was to bolt. However, the injury had left her legs unable to respond. She calmed her reaction, and took in the feeling of hair against her neck and a warm body next to her. Selene had apparently fallen asleep too. Eleni would have expected Selene to awaken at her earlier movement, but the small blonde was still sleeping soundly. The doctor sighed. The fact Selene hadn’t stirred told her the nurse was still deep in sleep – likely the result of the late night. All Eleni remembered though was talking – too much – then falling into a restful oblivion until she woke up just now. She frowned. Had she really made it through a night without revisiting Tr’a’vi? Strange as it seemed… she just might have.

Still, there was the problem of Selene’s presence. She didn’t want to wake the woman up, but if she wanted to move it would be unavoidable. Hmm… her hair really is as soft as it looks… Eleni could have slapped herself, or more specifically the disobedient fingers that had found their way to Selene’s short blond locks. She put her hands safely on her lap, and gave Selene a slight nudge with the shoulder the smaller woman was using as a pillow.

"Selene… wake up."

"Mrmph…" Selene shifted, getting the message to awaken but really not wanting to listen. Scamp. I knew she was awake on Devor. If this was a typical morning, and Eleni had no evidence to suspect otherwise, Selene was not an up-and-at-‘em gal.

"Selene…" The velvet voice led her toward awareness. Suddenly, her semiconscious decision to stay right where she was last night seemed horribly rash. Selene scrambled off the bed, knowing that she’d overstepped some definite boundaries Eleni had set up.

"I’m sorry, it was just so late last night, and I was in a bed already…" the words tumbled out. Eleni looked back at her, her expression a strange blend of bemusement, decision, and barely hidden fear. Selene couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

"Um… it’s alright. I don’t think I had another nightmare, after that first one."

Selene let out a breath she hadn’t recalled holding. Eleni was fine with it. She’d shared a bed before with younger brothers and sisters when they were afraid or had nightmares, but this was different. Some element of the whole situation had changed. She just wished she knew what it was… her instincts were telling her it was important.


"You didn’t, that you can remember?" There was a shake of a dark head.

"No. And, if I didn’t wake you up with one…", blue eyes looked for an answer, and got it in another headshake. "…I guess I didn’t have any." Selene looked pleasantly surprised.

"Well, good." She noticed the almost painful stillness of Eleni’s legs. The doctor’s torso had twisted, and her arms had moved normally, and she had a full range of head movement and facial expression. None of that would allow her to move her legs even a centimeter. It reminded Selene of why they were there. "It’s probably time to get moving. They wanted you in at 0900 hours, right?"

Eleni nodded, and pushed herself to sitting with her arms. The movement sent dark locks into her face, and Selene couldn’t help but watch. Until she realized she was staring, anyway.

"Alright. I’ll start a bath for you, then get going on breakfast." Selene exited, anxious for a little space to process. Eleni quirked a brow briefly, then maneuvered herself into the hoverchair. Day one of therapy was off to a hell of a start.


Eleni waited impatiently for Selene to return from her errands. The nurse was already half an hour beyond when she expected to return. It wasn’t as if she’d had a lot to do. Still, Eleni rationalized, the unusually wet and stormy weather they’d had the past few days could have delayed the transports. 24th century or not, it was still wise to go more slowly when the weather turned nasty. She left her vigil of looking out at the brooding gray clouds with a sigh of disgust at herself, and turned her chair away from the sight.

She decided that she might as well keep up to date, and brought the latest issue of her favorite medical journal up on a padd. There were in fact some very interesting and useful studies presented, but Eleni found herself unable to concentrate on them. Where is she? Certainly they’d have commed me if she got hurt or something… Stop it, she told herself firmly. Selene doesn’t need you to worry about her – if anything you’d probably get her in more trouble, you gimp. She sighed again as her mind disobeyed a direct order.

She heard the door open, and looked to see who was entering the apartment. It was indeed Selene, and she was soaked to the bone. Eleni wondered how long she’d been out in the elements, and then noticed the large, lumpy bulge under Selene’s light jacket that the nurse had a forearm under to support.

"Selene…" she maneuvered over, now able to see distress in the drenched blonde’s eyes and a tinge of blue to her lips. The nurse shrugged off her own discomfort, and headed for the table. She carefully unzipped her jacket and began taking what Eleni could only describe as wet balls of fur from the pouch she’d created. Eleni followed behind.

"Please… they need your help… I don’t know what to do besides dry them off…" Eleni was now able to see six distinct furballs, and a much larger version she could at least identify as a cat.

Gods… she expects me to know how to save them? Eleni knew a comment about animals needing to be good for food or labor wouldn’t be appreciated. C’mon… think here.

"Selene… go get dry and warm yourself… I’ll take care of them till you’re alright." The blonde shook her head decisively.

"I’ll go get out of these wet clothes, then I’m coming back." She darted off for her room, as Eleni went over to the replicator and had it make her towels and a heating pad. Those were the first things that needed to be taken care of. She returned to the family of felines, and picked up one kitten to dry first and examine. It was shivering, and its little heart was beating so fast she thought it would burst if it kept up. She rubbed it briskly but gently with the towel, getting as much water off of the tiny animal as she could. Eleni was no expert on cats, but these she knew were only about a week old. She wrapped it in a dry section of the towel, and set it on the heating pad.

Two others had received the same treatment by the time Selene returned in dry clothes. Selene grabbed another towel and a kitten, and got to work drying it. Eleni’s manner had been businesslike, but Selene talked to her little charge, reassuring it that it would be alright, and cared for. She wrapped it up gently, and set it with its siblings. Eleni had dried another kitten, but had also been watching Selene and her real caring for beings Eleni didn’t think were worth noticing, much less helping.

Eleni took another kitten to dry, and Selene took the mother onto her shoulder as she rubbed at the feline’s damp fur.

"It’s going to be alright… see your babies? They’re getting all nice and warm. You will be too, in a minute. Oh, you’re a pretty one, aren’t you? Nice tabby markings…" The mother actually purred as Selene dried her and her mind began to piece together that these were helpful beings. They were helping her babies, and taking care of them. Selene set her on the heating pad, and smiled. She sensed the mother understood what they were trying to do.

The two women watched for the next several minutes as the tiny bodies’ shivering slowed, then stopped. The immediate threat had been averted. Selene headed over to the replicator, and came back with a bowl of moist food and one of a thick milky substance with an eyedropper.

"The computer recommended these…" Selene said, handing the bowls over. Eleni took them, and set them down on the table that was quickly being taken over by the family of felines. She’d noticed Selene was still shivering, and her hair was still hanging in wet clumps.

"I’ll take care of feeding. Go on… you’re as drenched as they were." Selene stood her ground, and stepped forward.

"I need to know if they’re going to be okay." Well, Selene’s protective instincts were certainly aroused… Eleni could see it in her eyes. The meaning behind it had the doctor in awe. Her nurse was someone who could and would go to the defense of tiny creatures she herself dismissed as worthless. She also reasoned from just how soaked Selene was that the blonde had spent some time out in the elements rescuing the felines now resting on their table.

"Selene… they’re dry and they’re getting warm. I can feed them. That’s as much as we can do for now. You need to take care of yourself, before you get sick," Eleni insisted. Finally Selene gave her a look that said she'd do as Eleni asked, but wasn’t happy with it. She turned, and trudged back toward the bedrooms and bathroom.

Selene couldn’t explain why she’d felt the need to save them. She’d only known that she couldn’t allow them to suffer like that. The numbness she’d sensed taking over tiny bodies, and the confusing but dangerous feeling of the early stages of shock made her shudder, even just as a memory. It was that that had driven her to stop the transport, then follow what she sensed to find the family trapped in what would have been a fairly decent shelter before the downpour. She’d pulled them out one by one, stuffing them in her jacket in an attempt to give them some shelter and warmth.

Selene stripped off her clothing and pulled a shower shield around the tub. Dimly aware that she was shivering, she turned the shower temperature up a little higher than normal and got in. Wow… I guess Eleni was right… she thought, as the warm water began to bring feeling back to her fingers and toes. It felt so good, she simply let it wash over her until she’d stopped shaking. That done, she finished the rest of her shower with her usual efficiency.

She stepped out and wrapped a towel around herself. Though the composition of the mirror kept it from fogging over, she could still feel the steam in the air and moist heat. Whew… just what she needed. Drying her hair took only a minute or two, and then she was dressing again. Selene admitted to herself that she felt much better dry and warm. With that came admitting that Eleni had been right.

She walked back out to the great room and found Eleni turned alongside the table, eyedropper in hand and a kitten on her lap. The dark woman’s face was beginning to frown in frustration.

"Come on… you’ve got to be hungry," she told the gray ball of fur that didn’t seem to have any interest in the eyedropper. It opened its mouth, exposing needle-sharp little teeth in an attempt to mew.

Selene bit her mouth in an attempt not to grin. Her stoic, powerful friend had been foiled by less than a pound of gray fur. She walked over, again careful to drag her feet a little so she didn’t startle Eleni.

"Not wanting its meal?"

Eleni sighed.

"Doesn’t seem to. Not sure what’s wrong though…" Selene pulled a chair over, ready to do her part of the work, and sat.

"Want to let me have a try?" Eleni shrugged in response.

"Might as well." She handed the little kitten – small enough she could just hold it on one hand – over to Selene, who took it gently. It was amazing. The little gray kitten was so tiny, but definitely alive and with its own opinions. It would end up with a very definite personality, she knew. She held it on her lap on its stomach. Eleni had been attempting to feed the kitten while holding it on its back, and something made Selene suspect that that was the problem.

Eleni handed over the bowl of milk replacement and the eyedropper next, watching the smaller woman intently. The kitten already seemed calmer, with Selene’s touch. Selene used one hand to fill the eyedropper, then brought it close to the kitten’s mouth and squeezed the bulb slightly to release a few drops of fluid. As she hoped it would, the kitten licked the stuff off, and most of it got where it needed to.

"Ha! Not so bad after all, is it, kitten?" Selene chortled, with a touch of triumph. She dropped some more of the milk replacement on the kitten’s face, and it was licked off too. Now more comfortable with the dropper, and the strange human holding it, the kitten accepted the tip of the eyedropper into its mouth for a proper feeding.

"There… that going to keep you for a bit?", she smiled at the tiny gray being. It opened its mouth again in complaint, trying to mew. "Hey… you go back with your brothers and sisters for a bit… keep nice and warm. They need some food in their tummies too." She set it back inside the half-unwrapped towel Eleni had taken it from, and looked over at the wheelchair-bound doctor.

"I guess you’ve got the technique figured out…" Eleni said, cautiously.

"It’s not that hard. I think they just don’t like being on their backs, and need a little time to get used to the eyedropper. They can’t see it." Selene picked up another kitten, turning its face in Eleni’s direction. "Their eyes are still closed, see?"

Eleni looked, and the eyes were indeed sealed shut. In fact, this one’s had a discharge she didn’t think was good. She wasn’t a cat expert, by any stretch. Still, some things were generally signs of trouble, even across species.

"Yeah… I see. I’m not sure I like this bit of discharge though." She reached over, and picked a bit of it off. Part of it, she felt, was crusted over. Some of it was still liquid though. Gross. Selene moved the kitten back around, taking a look at its eyes herself.

"Me either. Think we ought to take it to a veterinarian?" Eleni opened her mouth to protest. It was just an animal, and should be subject to the same natural processes every other animal was – not protected this way. If they kept it, it would also be a drain on resources. No… she forced that line of thought off, as a relic of her Resistance days. Starfleet provided well for its officers. They didn’t live in luxury, and indeed Eleni would have been contemptuous if they had, but she knew that the family of cats would not be a strain.

"Well… how about if we watch it a day or two, and see if it goes away on its own?", she suggested, a compromise between the part of her that wanted to put them back out in the elements and the part that was perfectly willing to immerse itself in following Selene’s example of care. The blonde nodded.

"Sounds reasonable. Alright… your turn, baby," Selene said, filling the dropper again and preparing to feed the brown tabby kitten who seemed to be the runt of the litter. For an insane moment, Eleni almost thought the last comment was directed at her. She got control of herself, and cleared her throat.

"I’ll try to see if there’s anything else to take care of, since you seem to have feeding worked out." She obviously had no knack at all for handling felines, so she might as well make herself useful. Eleni maneuvered her chair over to the desk, intent on learning whatever was needed to care for the cats for whatever amount of time they’d be with them. She reminded herself to stay away from anything remotely connected to the Ferengi. She’d end up buying twice what she needed and paying 10 times what she should.

Eleni tapped at the computer screen, entering her query. The database quickly produced the information she’d asked for. She looked the list of supplies over, attempting to see what use each one had. A scratching post? What use would those kittens have for something to scratch on? They can’t really even move. She dismissed that. Hm… maybe I ought to be a little more specific. She sent another query back out into the system, giving the further information that the cats in question were less than 2 weeks old.

Ah… that’s better… she told herself, looking over the new supply list. Listed was the milk replacement Selene was feeding the kittens, and also suggested was a comfortably sized box with a towel in the bottom. She saw no point in pampering animals so much, but guessed there had to be some reason, however illogical. Her eyes continued to scan the list, satisfied.

She glanced back over at her nurse, who was murmuring at yet another kitten in tones that were soothing to any ear. It seemed to be working, since the baby was taking its meal without protest. The blonde woman was so intent, she didn’t even notice Eleni’s eyes on her. Then, Selene laughed and looked up when the kitten licked her.

"It’s so funny. It feels kind of rough, but good too," she explained.

"I’ll take your word on that." Eleni had no intention of letting one of those furballs slobber on her. "I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they need. I just need to replicate the stuff." She manipulated the controls and brought herself over to the replicator. Long fingers began punching in what she wanted.


I’m reaching out to a higher ground

To a warm and peaceful place

I can rest my weary face

Crazy Maze, Des’ree

Selene woke up in the middle of the night, yet again, in a decidedly grumpy mood. Eleni was having another nightmare, and she realized her expectations had been unrealistic. There was no way their short conversation last night could have exorcised years of abuse. She threw the covers aside, and put her legs over the side before sliding off. Selene headed towards her door, with a pause to check on the kittens who were snugged down in their box in her room.

She smiled at the six little bodies, and picked up the one that was awake. It was a little black cat who had shown itself to have a very sweet demeanor. It was tucked into an elbow, and protected by Selene’s other hand.

"Let’s go see that big lady with hair your color, okay?" The kitten snuggled in response, and Selene headed for Eleni’s room.

The scene was much as it had been the night before, with a sleeping figure barely outlined by moonlight.

"Eleni… please, wake up…" Selene said, in a normal volume.

Eleni complied, with an ease Selene envied. She knew she tended to sleep until absolutely forced awake. The dark head turned, and very cool blue eyes found hers.

"Another nightmare wake-up call?"

Selene nodded, honestly.

"This one didn’t seem as intense though, so I guess that’s good," the nurse offered. Eleni looked her over, eyes stopping on the barely visible form of the kitten.

"Who’ve you got there?"

"The black kitten. She was awake when I got up, so I figured she could use a little attention." Selene sat on the edge of Eleni’s bed, giving the kitten’s head a gentle pet. Eleni nodded, not in a particularly talkative mood. "She’s not protesting, anyway. So, what’s the question for tonight?" Selene plowed forward, hoping her apparent assumption that Eleni would talk would encourage her to comply.

"Well, I’d like to know a bit about how you got into being a Starfleet nurse. Only fair, since you asked me why I chose what I did last night." Turnabout’s fair play, Sel. Eleni didn’t expected the flash of fear she saw in Selene’s eyes, even in the dim light.

"How… much do you know about how I grew up?" Selene asked.

"Well…" Eleni fiddled with the hem of her blanket. "I know you grew up on Gagarin IV, in the Darwin Genetic Research Station, since that’s in your records. But, not any more than that." Selene guessed that Chandra must have kept her mouth shut on the subject. For once.

"I’ve never gotten the entire story, but we were quarantined there – just us kids. The researchers left. Something from us was aging them very fast. So, for ten years after that, it was just us. I was one of the older kids, and we had to take care of the younger ones. Some of them were too small at first to even reach the replicator. I studied the database, and learned to treat any wounds that came up." Selene’s usually expressive voice had become monotone, and she wasn’t keeping eye contact. Eleni thought she deserved a slap, right across the jaw and hard, for bringing up that kind of pain. The blue eyes took on a milder look.

"You don’t have to go on, unless you want to."

"I don’t." Selene swallowed. It wasn’t often she let herself remember – her mind was more focused on her present and the future, and needed to stay that way. Eleni, she guessed, would have the strength to talk about anything, but Selene knew that wasn’t her. "I’m sorry… but I just don’t." Eleni seemed willing enough to let the subject go.

"It’s alright… what’s that little thing up to?" Eleni asked, eyeing the kitten. It had its nose up, apparently interested in something it smelled or in acting like a princess. Its little legs were still too wobbly to be much use, especially on as soft a surface as Selene’s forearm, so it stayed on its belly.

"Not sure… certainly seems to be in an inquisitive mood though." Eleni shifted onto her side, with some effort, and reached out towards the kitten. It gave a more serious sniff, then sneezed.

"Thanks, furball… I was just pondering how much fun getting sneezed on by a feline would be," Eleni groused, wiping her hand off. Selene bit her lip. The sight, however dim, had been unquestionably cute. Eleni would never agree, though. Eleni reached over again, and this time the kitten allowed her to scratch the top of its head.

"Alright… gods, it’s tiny," Eleni remarked.

"Mm. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you, but haven’t really gotten a chance," Selene said, glancing over at Eleni a moment.

"Oh? What is it?"

"Well, I noticed on Devor that you’re in good shape… you were able to keep going a lot longer than me, and you moved stones just as large as those two medics did. They weren’t weaklings. I was hoping you’d help me. I’d like to get in better shape, but I don’t even know where to start," Selene answered.

Eleni considered the request. Selene was soft, and a bit on the thin side, but there was some physical potential there. Her maybe-instructor had no idea how coordinated the nurse might be. The fine work Eleni usually saw Selene at wasn’t much of an indicator of a talent, or lack of it, for controlling her body. It couldn’t hurt to give Selene the chance to learn, and one never knew when a bit of extra strength or cardiovascular fitness might come in handy. Still, Eleni had no idea how she’d teach certain things from a hoverchair, or show Selene what she was doing wrong. The hopeful look on the blonde’s face made the decision.

"I’ll teach you, but with the understanding that I’m not going into anything I can’t teach you to do properly." Selene gave her a smile.

"I accept. When do you want to start?" The excitement in her voice was obvious. I think I may have just created a monster… Eleni thought wryly.

"How about after the doctors are done with me tomorrow? We can use one of the exercise holosuites at Starfleet Medical."

"Oh, that sounds good. I hadn’t even thought of using those," Selene said, continuing to cuddle the black kitten unconsciously. The little furry body just felt so good to hold. Eleni gave a noncommital noise in response, then arched an eyebrow and gave Selene a half grin.

"Hey, the doctors owe me something for putting up with them," she stated. Selene laughed.

"I know you are one… but you don’t like doctors much, do you?"

"No. I just…" she gave a slight sigh. "I just really hate being told what to do. And, doctors do have a tendency to be bossy."

"When they think they know best…" Selene let her voice trail off, in agreement.

"And when do we not?" Eleni retorted. Selene grinned, and let herself laugh a bit.

"Very good point, Eleni." She patted Eleni’s hand without thinking about it, and though Eleni noticed… for some reason it didn’t trigger the almost itchy and ire-provoking feeling unnecessary touching usually did. And this is a revelation, Doc? You who ended up twining her hair around your fingers yesterday as she slept? Damn.

"Well, I’d hope it was. I’ll probably be back to sleep pretty soon." The dark woman allowed herself to yawn to emphasize her point. Selene watched her a moment, taking in the washes of emotion that were becoming very familiar. Eleni wasn’t as tired as she made herself out to be, and was using it as a way to ask Selene, obliquely, to leave. The confusing part was that Selene didn’t sense that she’d offended Eleni, or made her uncomfortable. Still, Eleni’s mind was very disciplined, and capable of giving her a false impression on the surface as long as it wasn’t too far from the truth. She spared a thought to question the wisdom of allowing nontelepaths to develop such mental control without the honesty imposed by telepathy, then stood.

"Alright… I’ll see you in the morning. ‘Night, Eleni." She padded out of the room, the kitten in her arms blissfully oblivious to the tension between her humans. Selene’s mind was storming, and she made no effort to stop it.

What is going on with her? I get sent off with a lie and absolutely no explanation. I know she doesn’t have to give me one, but I thought we were getting along better than that. I know we were – I got her to train me, right? She let out a breath, annoyed. She even made a joke. There’s something I’m missing here… just a small thread, but one whose absence is throwing off the whole pattern.

She set the kitten gently back in its box, and walked to the side of her bed distractedly. I wish I knew what it was… She crawled back in, pulling the covers up to her chest. It wouldn’t matter if Eleni had more nightmares; getting back to sleep already promised to be difficult.

A matter out of time

In the reaches of space

Caught up in the patterns

In the light of a life

Lead Me On, Teena Marie

Selene glanced around the waiting room for the 50th time in as many minutes. She was starting to feel tired, and that wasn’t doing her mood any good. Eleni’s therapy for the day had been scheduled to finish 40 minutes ago, and when she’d asked a nurse what was going on she’d gotten a tense smile and the explanation that there were still things on the schedule for today. Selene turned her head when she heard a yell, recognizing the voice.

"No!" The voice got quieter, and much more dangerous. "You will let me go now, or you’ll see how much damage I can do even from this chair." Selene hoped whoever was trying to hold Eleni was wise enough not to test her. The doors opened, admitting a scowling Eleni who was testing the limits of her hoverchair’s speed. A washed-out looking doctor who had apparently given up on controlling his recalcitrant patient followed her.

Selene stood.

"Doctor Sirtis you know…" Eleni whipped her head around to look at the man, interrupting.

"I am leaving, whether you’ve checked off all the little boxes on your list or not."


"Eleni, which way is the exercise holosuite we’re going to be using?" Selene broke in, innocently. She had no doubt Eleni could handle the man, but a little help might make it faster. Eleni glanced over, the blue eyes lightening slightly as she caught on to Selene’s plan.

"Not too far. Follow me," Eleni answered, already aiming her hoverchair out the door. Oh, this Foil the Doctor game had the potential to be fun… She was careful not to show it, but she couldn’t help an inward chuckle at the poor man’s predicament. Served him right.

Selene trotted after her, catching up. When Eleni glanced over, the blonde was biting her lip to keep from laughing, and her chest was shaking in silent laughter. Uh… better not go there, El.

"So, did you dress like I suggested?", Eleni asked, thinking it best to get some form of conversation going. All she had to do was start it, than Selene would talk enough for both of them.

"Yes. The replicator files had some really interesting options. I didn’t think anything with sleeves would be good. It’s hot enough without them." Selene made a face, obviously unimpressed by the weather after spending most of her life under climate-control.

"Probably, since you’re just starting. Your body will adjust though." Eleni brought herself up to the holosuite control panel, and started tapping in search of a favorite program. She found it, and told the computer to bring it up. "There… Computer, run program."

The nearby doors opened up, allowing them to enter. The two women found themselves in what appeared to be a large clearing in the woods furnished incongruously with a variety of equipment. There were various weight machines, a rack of approved weaponry, and a large mirror with space in front. Selene took the space in, then headed straight for the weapons rack.

"What’s this?" she asked, holding up a wooden dagger with its edges rounded off for safety. Eleni’s heart sank to her stomach, then went up to her throat in a sickening wave. The bard was killing so many Romans, glancing over at her with each kill and her green eyes begged her to stand. To allow her to stop.

"It’s a dagger. Put it back now." The last word turned itself into a growl, and Selene put the practice dagger back. She gave Eleni a quizzical look. Eleni berated herself, again, and forced herself to come up with some coherent explanation. "You don’t so much as touch a weapon or a piece of equipment until I say. There are safeties on in here, but they won’t be there in the real world and you could get hurt if you forget that."

"Alright…" It was obvious Selene was only half buying it. The blonde decided to let the matter drop, and stripped off her top, leaving her in track shorts and a sports bra. She’d found the outfit comfortable, though she was less than secure with the amount of skin showing.

Eleni found herself swallowing.

"Why don’t you warm up by running two laps around the path… head towards the woods there, and you’ll see it," Eleni told her. Selene nodded, and took off at a jog.

An hour later, the two women left the holosuite. Selene had enjoyed the time, and found her body filled with a pleasant exhaustion. Eleni felt satisfied with Selene’s ability to correct mistakes, and her tenacity. The only problem she had was with how the activity had stimulated her own need to move and use her body. It was a bone-deep need to be active that hadn’t been a problem until she suddenly found her body uncooperative. Eleni muttered to herself as they left Starfleet Medical, wanting to swing a staff or a sword or anything else she came across – anything to ease what was going on.

"Something wrong?" Selene asked.

"Nothing you can help."

"How can you be so sure of that when you haven’t even told me what’s going on?" She eased the challenge in her words with a smile. Considering, Eleni had to admit the nurse had a point about her assumption. Still, what was Selene supposed to do to restore nerve function?

"Because I am. I just feel kind of… punchy. Old fighters tend to get that way, if they can’t exercise." Selene considered the problem a moment, as she kept up a steady stride to keep up with Eleni.

"The hoverchair wasn’t always around, was it? They didn’t have the technology beyond about 200 years ago."

"Right…" Eleni confirmed, not entirely certain of where Selene’s mind was headed.

"So, what was used before?"

"Motorized wheelchairs."

"And before that?"

"Manual ones the person had to… push themselves…" Now she caught on. It wouldn’t be real exercise for her, but it might take some of the edge off and keep her arms from weakening. It was a smart idea, and one she wouldn’t have found as quickly on her own.

"Well, that would help a bit, wouldn’t it? At least until you can do some more regular exercise?" Selene asked. She only hoped that her idea, if accepted, would work. Eleni nodded.

"Just might. It’s not a bad idea Selene… and definitely worth a try."

A week later…

"Eleni, I know you like tormenting that doctor, but I think you’re going to give the poor man a heart attack," Selene stated, glancing over at a street vendor. Eleni was right beside her, moving under her own power again. The manual wheelchair had its faults, but Eleni felt the relief from the stillness was more than enough of a benefit to keep it around.

"Says the woman who assists me almost every time," Eleni retorted. Selene grinned. She knew it was bad, but there was something so fun about foiling him. She suspected it was the exercise of her wit, and ability to work with Eleni. Still, that didn’t make the issue any less serious.

"I know I do… it’s amusing. But, Eleni… I don’t think you want to keep missing part of your treatment. You know as well as I do the longer you’re paralyzed the harder it’s going to be to recover." Selene’s eyes scanned the street quickly, taking in the crowd of pedestrians and the shops. She heard a sigh from beside her.

"Yeah. In my case though I’m wondering if the cure isn’t worse than the injury."

"Oh, I know where we are now… " Selene said, looking up at a sign and then to her companion. "That coffee place I told you about is around here, if you want to go."

Ah, might as well. It’s not like I’ve got anything more pressing to do.

"Sure. Lead on, Sel." The blonde glanced over at the nickname, and Eleni decided she liked the way Selene’s face lit up at it. She guessed the younger woman wasn’t used to that familiarity.

5 minutes later, they reached the unimposing façade of Presidio Coffee. The café was designed to be a gathering place for students, artists, and musicians in a very old tradition. The building was much as Selene remembered it – well-kept, with a group inside that was about 10 decibels from being too noisy.

The doctor and nurse entered. Selene took a deep breath of the rich coffee smell she loved, and Eleni’s eyes scanned the room out of habit.

"The counter’s over there," Selene said, pointing a discreet finger in the general direction of the register. She made her way over, Eleni trailing a few steps behind. The blonde looked over the menu displayed on the wall before smiling at the man behind the counter and ordering her usual.

"I’d like a double latte with vanilla syrup, and could you make it with raktajino beans please?" He nodded slightly as he tapped in her order, then glanced over at a noise from the kitchen.

"I’d know that voice and coffee preference anywhere, Selene, so don’t you think of leaving without saying hello." Another voice, female this time, and affectionate despite the scold to her words. Selene found herself smiling in response. A moment later, a woman in her sixties came out of the kitchen, drying her hands off on a towel. Despite her age she was still tall and had a good amount of brown mixed with the silver of her hair, which combined with few wrinkles on her face made her look younger.

"This is Rena, Eleni. She owns this… place." Her smile dropped, and voice trailed off, at the silence and the looks Eleni and Rena were exchanging. They didn’t seem all that friendly.

"Hello, Mother." Rena took in the wheelchair her daughter was in, missing the flinch Eleni gave at the once over.

"What did you get yourself into now, L’ma’e?" Eleni’s head drooped slightly, having no defense since the accident had been her fault. Selene entered the fray, sensing that Eleni wouldn’t defend herself.

"She got hurt in a rockslide, trying to help someone."

"Which no doubt served her interests more than theirs," Rena came back, disapprovingly. Selene felt a protective anger start to grow, and pulled the older woman aside, unwilling to accept more attacks on her friend.

"She isn’t Night anymore. She got that injury putting herself on the line for someone else, selflessly. And, in case you didn’t know, which I’d bet on, your daughter has spent the last 10 years as a doctor in Starfleet." Selene noticed that at some point during her tirade she’d started poking the woman in the chest, and let herself keep doing it. "I’ve worked with her for the last year, and seen her heal patients nobody thought would live. Not having the use of her legs for a while is hard on her, so I’d thank you to leave…" Harder poke. "Off…" Poke. "On the…" Poke. "Nastiness."

Uh… think I might have taken that a little too far… She could see the surprise, however well-hidden, in Rena’s eyes. I don’t think I care though. I can’t believe she’d say things like that about Eleni. I may never have had them, but aren’t parents supposed to be good to their children?

"Selene… I think you’ve terrorized my mother enough." Eleni’s voice was low, and Selene thought there was a note to it that sounded like the purr she sometimes got out of the kittens. Selene glanced over. She knew a command when she heard it. "Let’s go."

Selene jogged to catch up to Eleni, who’d taken off the moment she was outside.

"Eleni, wait…"

Eleni stopped, tension written in every line of her body. Selene’s defense of her had been unexpected, and complete. To Eleni’s mind, it had also been misguided. She guessed it was time to knock a bit more gloss off Selene’s image of her.


"What is between you and your mother? I may not know much about family, but I know they don’t usually treat one another like that." Selene’s anger was largely spent, but it threatened to spark again if given the opportunity. She had her hands on her hips, and the look on her face forced Eleni to meet her eyes.

"She doesn’t approve of me… some decisions I’ve made."

"Any specific ones?" Selene asked relentlessly. Remind me never to hide things from this woman… she could be an enemy interrogator, and in 20 minutes she’d have gotten all the information she wanted and made you want to thank her for her time.

"Selene, I really don’t want to talk about this now."

"Eleni, I don’t like it when a friend of mine is just plain nasty to another friend. Especially when I don’t know why."

"Selene, let it go. It’s complicated."

"No." The two strong women stared each other down, each waiting for the other to fold. Eventually, Eleni sighed. She’ll find it out anyway.

"She got off Tr’a’vi a year before I left, with the Resistance’s help. I could have left then too, but I turned it down to keep leading my cell." Selene considered the implications. Eleni had chosen to remain Night, a decision that likely was not well received by her mother. In the course of that, Night had continued the activities Eleni expressed regret over. Selene didn’t like what Eleni had done, but when she considered the circumstances – and the mass of scar tissue that was Eleni’s back – she could hardly condemn the dark woman.

"You did what you thought you needed to. And, after seeing their handiwork…"

Gods, I never wanted to… to be the one to… Eleni never finished the thought, deciding it was best that way. Besides, Selene needed a response.

"Selene, don’t finish that sentence. You’re right… I thought what I was doing was necessary. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t… I still don’t know. But, Mother didn’t like it. She thought I should have taken the opportunity to go. We haven’t spoken since."

"Eleni, is it possible she was just trying to protect herself? That she was trying to sever contact because she thought that would help her not care as much if she heard you’d died or been captured?" Selene asked reasonably.

"Selene… just drop it." Selene frowned, not feeling right about prying further but her curiosity too much to allow her to just put it out of mind. This confusion was becoming more and more common, she noticed, as her relationships with people – and particularly a certain dark haired doctor – grew more complex. She set that observation aside to ponder later, and shook her head a moment to clear it.

"Alright, for now. Let’s head back to the apartment… the kittens will be ready for a meal." The mother’s physical condition had been bad enough that even now she wasn’t producing enough to sustain 6 kittens who were growing daily.

Eleni nodded acceptance, and the two women wove through the bustling streets of a thoroughly modern city silently. Silently, that is, until Selene found something to comment on.

Eleni studied a medical journal to continue calming her mind, with occasional glances in Selene’s direction. The nurse was currently sprawled on the floor, playing with the kittens after their meal. As far as they were concerned, she was one of them – though, admittedly, a lot bigger. She watched them work to walk on all fours, hindered by distended bellies and a decidedly lagging coordination of their hind legs. The blond smiled, glad to see them doing so well.

Wow… not to long ago, I wasn’t sure these babies would live. But they’re healthy and safe… even the brown tabby we were worried about. So… now I’ve got her… the black one, the grey baby, the two tiger cat twins, and the odd white one. Plus a big momma.

She pushed a kitten over gently, getting a token protest when it regained its footing. In all honesty though, it had reached the limit for how far it could pull itself along and needed ‘resetting’.

She watched, amazed, as it managed to bring its back legs into temporary concert with its front ones. After a few steps it was dragging itself along again, but even those few steps had been a big accomplishment. Selene laughed.


The sound made Eleni look over questioningly. Selene turned her head slightly, to make eye contact.

"One of the kittens managed to take a few steps," Selene explained, unable to keep a touch of pride out of her voice. Ordinarily, Eleni’s response to such sentimentality was at least an eyeroll but she found herself able to muster no more than a tolerant smile.

"They do seem to be doing pretty well... " Eleni admitted. Selene patted one of the kittens on the head, and looked up at Eleni.

"Do people typically give their pets names?", she asked. Eleni wasn't sure how to respond. Naming an animal gave it more of an emotional hold, she knew, but she doubted Selene would consider that a bad thing.

"Well, yes. Do you really plan on keeping all of them though? Seven cats are a lot." Selene considered a moment, watching the babies play.

"I'm not sure I'd want to break them up... but, with the care and space they require now, a starship's quarters wouldn't be best for them. Especially if they weren't allowed outside them." Eleni watched the emotions play across the younger woman's face. While Selene had grown up in a year, she was still physically incapable of hiding her feelings. She would give them up, for their own good, but she would miss them.

"One or two would be able to handle it just fine. It's just a question of deciding," Eleni stated. One that's too hard to make... Selene mentally protested.

"I think I'll name all of them, for now... then pick which ones to keep later on." Selene brought her legs under her and sat up. She picked up the brown tabby, looking it over. "Hm... you know what this one reminds me of?"

"No." A simple answer, with vague amusement.

"Wood grain, or a wild cat," Selene said decidedly. "How about... Oak?"

"Oak works..." Eleni was distracted by a beeping. "What in... oh, gods..." She scanned the message on her padd.

"What is it?" Selene asked, sitting up straighter.

"I'm invited to some damned reception tomorrow night... All it will be is a bunch of stuffed-shirt Admirals parading around in dress uniform congratulating themselves on their own wonderfulness," Eleni answered glumly. She had always hated social functions, but they were especially bad when they lacked any real purpose. Don't suppose I can run over someone's toes there with my chair, and say it was an accident, huh? That might at least make it somewhat interesting. Selene smiled from her position on the floor.

"Is it too rational to ask why you need to go, when you’d obviously rather have teeth pulled without anesthetic?", she jibed.

"No… just a bit too optimistic. Because I’m not one of those stuffed shirt admirals, or at least the captain of a large vessel, I’m supposed to jump at the chance. I’d still turn it down if I didn’t know that it would get back to Brian. He’s had to talk to me about my antisocial tendencies before." Selene looked at the situation. Stay home with the felines and find something to do, or follow Eleni to the reception. While it didn’t sound especially appealing, going to the reception did have one bonus. She wasn’t sure what to make of it herself, but being with Eleni – particularly through a situation the older woman hated – was enough to tip her mental scales.

"Well, how about if I tag along? At least then you’d have some excuse to leave a boring conversation, or something," the blond shrugged, doing her best to keep it casual. Eleni noticed how it always sounded more right to her when Selene’s voice lost its hint of formality. It was more in line with Selene’s open and bright personality, and Eleni surmised the more careful speech had been acquired at some point.

"You may have a point there…not sure how I’d feel about subjecting you to an official function though." Eleni raised a brow in mock seriousness. Selene attempted to stifle a laugh, but it tumbled out anyway.

"I think I’ll be able to manage, Eleni," the younger woman grinned. Oh, I hope so, or there’s no way I’ll keep from being a very naughty doctor Eleni muttered to herself, visions of trippings and lambastings dancing through her head.

The dark haired woman noticed that another message, from Betazed, was also listed on her queue. The blue eyes softened a moment in response and she filed it away to view in private.

Headin’ into twilight

Spreadin’ out her wings tonight

She got you jumpin’ off the deck

And shovin’ into overdrive

Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins

Upon entering, Selene was glad she’d taken Eleni’s advice and dressed up a bit. The simple empire-waist blue dress had a uniform’s clean lines and didn’t look too out of place among the dress uniforms of most of the other attendees. Eleni had donned her dress uniform for the occasion, and looked distinctly uncomfortable. She kept tugging at the neck of the jacket, convinced the replicators always subtracted half an inch or so from that measurement.

"Wow… that’s Admiral Miller, right?" Selene asked, nodding her head toward a graying man holding court. He was obviously very respected. "I read about his work on the Mateas Treaty."

Eleni nodded an affirmation, more interested in cataloguing the attendees. She didn’t notice the slight frown that formed on Selene’s face.

"I’m not sure what it is, Eleni, but I don’t like him for some reason." Eleni looked up, meeting Selene’s eyes. Her own instincts had told her there was something dark in the man, and more specifically in his need for command. She’d guessed it was just a matter of one blackness knowing another.

"Selene, neither do I." The doctor left it at that, and moved deeper into the crowd. Appetizers were being passed around, and she helped herself to a couple. Selene followed her lead, continuing to take in the crowd as she munched. It was one of the few times she’d seen so many people together for the sole purpose of socializing, and she found it intriguing. There were the divisions into small groups she’d noted before, though this time she was unable to identify what commonality there was since she was unfamiliar with the people. That brought a brief pain, as she contrasted her anonymity here with the way she knew the crew of the Destiny.

Captain Walker would be riding herd, and seeing that everyone had a good time. Aian would be observing the crowd, making funny – though sometimes unflattering – evaluations of people, or dancing. Dr. Aebi, who she’d come to know as well, would be patiently identifying different crewmembers and their relatives for her. To help her remember, he often told a story about the person – that they had a bad shoulder they refused to let be, or had been on a certain mission.

That memory gave her an idea. Why don’t I just make up stories for these people, to keep my mind busy? She set herself to that while keeping an eye on Eleni. An easy-going woman she identified as a Captain Selene imagined was the descendant of explorers and bore their need to discover. She’d had a very good friend though as a child who still kept her in balance, and enabled her to keep both her power and her humanity… An unlikely friend, Selene decided. There would be a bit more dramatic tension that way. She was so caught up in her flight of fancy it took a nudge from Eleni’s wheelchair to bring her out. The dark haired woman looked up at her with a raised brow, to which Selene could only blush.

"Now that you’re back in the Alpha Quadrant… it’s time to sit down for dinner." The tone was vaguely amused, and Selene was glad Eleni had elected not to make a big deal out of her distraction. Now that she was actually looking, she could see people filing into a second room and taking their places around a pair of very long tables.

"I can see that now. Guess we’d better go."

Soon, they were seated. Large baskets of breadsticks were placed liberally on the table, and Selene indulged in a deep breath of their scent. There was a slight yeasty smell, and one of garlic. It was a good combination.

"Mm. That smells good." She glanced up the table, and saw that people were already getting breadsticks. She helped herself to one, munching on an end. "Tastes good too." Selene polished the treat off quickly, then saw that Eleni hadn’t so much as leaned toward the basket. The blonde grabbed two breadsticks on her next reach, setting one on each of their plates.

Eleni picked it up, finding herself eating it for no other reason than that Selene had put it on her plate. She gave an inward sigh. Great move, El. Brava. Selene had started talking again, and Eleni gave the appropriate nods and murmurs when necessary. When Eleni finished the first breadstick, she found another on her plate. Again, her hand went out and picked it up, then brought it to her mouth.

"Why are you putting breadsticks on my plate?" Eleni asked, even as the taste prompted her to want more.

"Because," Selene grinned at her, taking a bite and laying another breadstick on Eleni’s plate. The black haired woman gamely grabbed it up, deciding to see just how far her dinner companion was willing to take this. She gave Selene a saucily raised eyebrow in challenge, and got to work on the food.

Ugh.. Eleni grumbled to herself. She’d definitely underestimated Selene’s willingness to play. She wasn’t sure exactly how many breadsticks she’d eaten; she’d lost count around 5. Next had been a very large dinner that had been addictive enough she’d almost finished it. Selene had cleaned her plate and then some, and Eleni found herself impressed by the small woman’s appetite. Selene had made normal amounts of food for their meals before, but it seemed that once given the opportunity she could put away a surprising amount.

She glanced over at the object of those musings, finding the nurse in an animated conversation with a small group of junior officers. She was laughing, and gave a gentle jab to the upper arm of the man standing next to her. This is what she ought to be doing… enjoying herself. Not stuck playing nurse for an old witch like me. Eleni let out an inconspicuous and soundless sigh. What is she, anyway? Some things about her seem so young, and then there are others that seem millenia old. She lost herself briefly in the image of those green eyes. While typically bright and alive, there was a certain calmness and awareness behind them that was ancient. Wonder what Grandmother would’ve thought of her.

Selene glanced over, picking up on the general subject of Eleni’s musings. The doctor was alone, as usual, in a room filled with people. The corners of the nurse’s mouth drooped slightly. She really didn’t think that kind of isolation was healthy, and she knew it bothered Eleni more than the dark haired woman would ever admit. The nurse brought her smile back up easily, and caught Eleni’s eye. She motioned the wheelchairbound woman over.

There was really no reasonably polite reason to refuse, and Eleni found she wasn’t interested in formulating one anyway. She wheeled herself over, forcing a moderately pleasant look onto her face.

"Hi… guys, this is Dr. Sirtis, my commanding officer and friend. Eleni, these are Ensign T’Pana, Lt. jg. Jazri Marah, and Ensign Manuel Guevarra," Selene smiled, motioning around the small knot of people. Even without the motions Selene would have guessed that the calm Vulcan woman was T’Pana, the Trill Marah, and the young man of Hispanic descent was Manuel. She gave a polite nod to each of Selene’s new friends in turn.

Glad the initial exchange had gone well, Selene continued, summarizing the current jobs and plans of each junior officer. The news that Ensign Guevarra was also planning on being a nurse gave Eleni’s already over-full stomach a twist. The rapport she could see between Selene and the swarthy young man wasn’t helping either. She identified her feelings as twinges of jealousy – something she thought she’d rid her mind of Selene’s first day on the Destiny. That done, she ruthlessly pushed the unwarranted and unwelcome feelings back down.

As the night wound on, Eleni watched Selene charm every person she came in contact with. The blonde woman wasn’t even conscious of it, but Eleni knew first hand how difficult it was to resist the aura of simple goodness that seemed to be knit into every fiber of Selene’s body. Eleni had certainly never been able to. The bunch of resident furballs at the apartment were proof of that much. Even though she’s a telepath, she has no idea the kind of power just her smile has.

Selene had enjoyed the evening, but her body was protesting at being forced to be out so late. She wanted to be back in the apartment, snuggled down in soft, warm covers and dozing. A yawn escaped her, and Eleni looked up from the position she’d taken at her side.

"Getting tired?"

"A bit, yeah," Selene admitted.

"It is getting a bit late. I’m starting to feel like getting back to the apartment myself," Eleni agreed, though her reasons for heading back had little to do with being tired. Part of her was just uncomfortable with being around so many people at once, any of whom could have a stiletto aimed at her back. Selene was the only one she trusted, and even that she didn’t understand.

Leaving took longer than either woman expected. Once they began moving toward the exit, people began to come up to say goodnight. Selene had talked with most of them, and she was the one they made contact with first. They never stopped there though, and gave at least some brief salutation to Eleni. Selene knew Eleni was convinced they did it just out of politeness, but she sensed a genuine concern for the older woman, and in many cases a feeling of gratitude. It wasn’t that far a leap to piece together that Eleni had been able to work a healing that should have been impossible around them, but found the woman herself too difficult to approach directly.

Selene decided it wasn’t worth bringing up then, when it could likely start an argument, but placed the observation alongside others, waiting for the proper time. They finally made their way out of the crowded space and to the street. It was quiet, most people having gone home for the night. Selene craned her neck, looking upward.

"Wow… it’s interesting to see the stars from this perspective again," Selene stated, a slight smile growing on her face. She loved the combination and contrast of the black sky with the pinpoints of light. The blonde had no reason to believe in spirits, or gods, or even that she had a soul, but the night sky made her feel in tune with… something. She pointed towards a cluster of stars. "Eleni, don’t you think that star group looks like a horse?"

Eleni glanced up, feeling the same sensation of déjà vu she’d had before. She steeled herself for it to turn unpleasant, but it never did. There was no Selene doppelganger killing Romans, no flying swords… only a childlike part of her bouncing with glee.

"Maybe… I’d say it looks more like a dragon though," she answered, vaguely surprising herself. Selene grinned at her, and then was interrupted by the low hum of a transport’s engine. Eleni raised a hand to signal the transport to stop, feeling vaguely annoyed.



"Argh… Selene, please…" Eleni pleaded. The blonde just gave her a tolerant look, and gently bent Eleni’s left leg towards her chest again. The doctor had made no fewer than 6 similar pleas, and though Selene was sympathetic she’d given no indication she’d stop before this session of physical therapy was complete. That being the case, she deduced that Eleni’s purpose in continuing was to give herself something to do. Perhaps she did deserve an explanation though… or at least a threat.

"Eleni, you can do this with me in the comfort of the apartment, or with the doctor at Starfleet Medical on a lovely biobed. Your choice." The dark haired woman gave herself a mental kick. She’s doing this as a favor to make your life a little easier. Don’t make a total ass of yourself, alright?

"I know, I know… sorry," Eleni apologized. Selene glanced up at the older woman’s face. What she found there caused a smile to grow. The big bad commander had the most adorable look of contrition on her face Selene had ever seen. She seemed to remember a comparison often used… that a humbled person looked like a spanked puppy. It certainly seemed to fit Eleni’s expression.

"There’s no problem with feeling that way," Selene said, keeping up her manipulations of Eleni’s legs. "I mean, this whole situation has got to be pretty rough for you. What I’m having a hard time with is why physical therapy is such an issue. It’s going to stimulate healing, and help keep your muscles up for when you need them again." Eleni, though with some grumbling, had accepted the rest of the program… mostly.

"Trying to engage in psychoanalysis again, Selene?" Eleni asked, hoping to derail Selene’s thoughts.

"No… though if I had my guess, you don’t like physical therapy for two reasons. The first is that it means giving up some physical control to whoever’s working with you. The second, just as scary, reason is likely to be the fact that it emphasizes just how not right your body is. That’s a very hard thought for you Eleni," Selene stated, glancing over. Her expression showed she understood, even if she didn’t accept being a target for Eleni’s bad mood.

The doctor had to admit she was probably right. There was no logical reason for her to dislike the therapy, so it had to come from her disturbed mind. It figured that Selene would be the one to untangle impulses she wasn’t even aware of. That ability was also a potential danger… Eleni refused to let herself carry that thought to its conclusion.
"I guess it is. I’ll… try to keep my mouth shut," Eleni said. Selene realized she’d given the wrong impression, and set about trying to clarify what she meant.

"Eleni, part of the reason I’m here is so you have someone to talk to when this gets difficult. I knew it would be hard for you to deal with, and you’d need a friend. So, can we talk about what you’re feeling and work through it, not just get annoyed at one another? We’ll get this over with faster too." Selene’s patience had only been a bit strained, but she didn’t want to give that the chance to escalate if it didn’t have to. It wouldn’t do Eleni, or her, any good. There was a barely audible sigh.

"I’m just no good at talking about this kind of thing, Selene," Eleni replied quietly. She’d never developed that ability, and doubted one could learn at her age.

"Well, practice is only going to help," Selene prodded gently. The blonde knew she was pushing Eleni’s boundaries, but part of her thought the dark woman could use a good cry – some release. She hadn’t been the same since the accident. Outwardly she’d shown all her usual confidence, but there was something out of balance in the doctor, like a bone that hadn’t been knit together properly after being broken. When that happened, she knew, the only treatment was to break the bone again and give it a second chance to heal.

Eleni didn’t answer for a long time. There was too much going on in her mind for her to make sense of it quickly, so she let her mind work while Selene continued stretching and stimulating her currently useless legs. The nurse talked about a comm she’d received from Aian catching her up on all the gossip and events aboard ship. Eleni only half listened, in case a response was asked for. Finally, she made her decision.

"I’ll talk… but I think I’d be most comfortable just before going to sleep. I get kind of tired, and it makes it a bit easier to ramble on." Selene looked up, some surprise evident in her green eyes.

"Alright… makes some sense." The nurse found herself hoping the arrangement would give her an excuse to have Eleni close again, and wondered where that had come from.


And I’ll go on to bring you home
All because I’m
All because I’m
And I’ll become
What you became to me

-Black Balloon, The Goo Goo Dolls


Selene gave a gentle rap on the door to Eleni’s bedroom, electing to let the injured doctor run this experiment. It only took a moment for Eleni to call back that it was alright for her to enter. Selene opened the door, and gave a bit of a smile.

"Alright… guess we have an appointment?" she joked lightly, wanting to get Eleni comfortable before starting a difficult conversation. The doctor was propped up in bed, dressed in nightclothes similar to Selene’s. Her sculpted face gave a wisp of a smile in response.

"Yeah…" Selene padded over, and sat in the bit of room on the bed Eleni’d left next to her. She wasn’t a counselor, she knew, but she hoped she would be able to help the woman who was rapidly becoming her best friend.

"Eleni, do you remember the accident at all?" Selene asked, figuring the best place to start this talk was the beginning. Eleni shifted next to her, formulating a response.

"Yes… I remember I ran down to that damn cavern, like an idiot. Then I heard you, and realized there was no one there to help. I started to walk back out, and hit a wall. That must’ve triggered the rockslide. After that all I remember is getting beaten up by some rocks." An old question came back to mind, one she’d wanted an answer to since Selene’s blush while discussing the rescue. "Selene, Brian made it pretty clear I wouldn’t be alive without you. I’d really like to know what you did that made him say that."

Remembering those first moments after the accident proved more painful than Selene expected. During the event, Selene had needed to focus on the moment, and doing. Now, of course, she could reflect and knew the outcome – a wheelchair and brokenness.

"I called for help with my communicator, and then started trying to move the rocks. You were so buried I was concerned that you wouldn’t have enough air before long, either from the rocks pressing down on you or there being very little air trapped with you." The words were detached, as if Selene was writing a report, but the green eyes told a different story. She’d been worried, afraid of losing something she hadn’t even recognized until an offhand comment. Eleni nodded, then asked another question.

"So, you did that until more help arrived?" Selene’s blond head bobbed a nod in response.

"Larsen and Mason… remember them?" Selene asked. Eleni gave a rare half grin, deciding that she wasn’t going to let Selene stay in quite so serious a mood. That was her job.

"The Muscle Twins? Yeah." Selene let out a short laugh, then clapped a hand over her mouth. Eleni’s sense of humor had been an unexpected discovery, and it seemed to show itself at the strangest times.

"I’m sorry…" Selene said helplessly. "It was just too perfect."

"That was the intent," Eleni retorted. The conversation paused a moment, as Selene decided how to get the conversation back on topic.

"You’ve said that running to the cavern was a stupid thing to do. Why?" The blonde knew Eleni didn’t have appreciable psi ability, and needed to trust those other senses she had. It was hardly her fault if she made a mistake once. Eleni bristled, thinking for a moment Selene was baiting her.

That behavior, though, would be entirely too nasty for Selene. Still, the other option was that somehow Selene was unable to comprehend why Eleni saw her actions so negatively.

"It was… I start hearing things, and run to an unstable area without any backup. Then, since I was brainless enough to forget a palm beacon, I start a rockslide that could have killed me. I’d say that was pretty dumb, Selene." The nurse had to admit that framed that way, it did seem pretty ridiculous. Still, she saw it differently.

"You heard a noise you thought was an injured person… how else could you have decided if there was someone there or not?"

Eleni found she couldn’t answer. Ordinarily she could have scanned for life signs, but the caverns had been high in kelvinite. The mineral had a nasty habit of producing blank or inaccurate scans, and its presence had been the reason for Selene being called into duty as a psionic tricorder.

"I could have waited a moment to be sure I wasn’t hearing things and gone down prepared," Eleni finally answered.

"You could have waited… done it ‘by the book’. But, what if someone had been down there Eleni? Someone who would have died if you’d waited," Selene argued. The doctor felt her mood worsen, and answered shortly,

"There wasn’t anyone in the cavern. And if there had been, it’d hardly be the first blood on my hands." She’d killed Skera when given the opportunity, the occasional fellow human who got in her way or betrayed…

Eleni slipped into the caverns with her team, keeping her 18 year old body taut and light. Her blood was still singing in her ears from the raid. She knew they’d been set up. The Skeran soldiers had known far too well how to place their forces, and other small betrayals gave her proof. Still, they’d managed to win without too much loss. She flipped part of the black cloak she’d taken to wearing to match her body armor. This was another victory, which would help purge the last resistance to her command.

There was still an errand to take care of though. She kept a good ten feet in front of her fighters, making sure she went down the chute first. A quick ride later, she was in darkness. Over the years it had become a friend, hiding her and her people. As it had been for years, a female pair of hands was waiting.

Lana… who had been an early supporter and occasional bedwarmer. Who couldn’t be a fighter, but made use of incredible night vision. Who Eleni had trusted to guard the entrance to Elysia – the human settlement hidden in the caverns. Who thought that hadn’t been enough. There was the familiar touch of steel at Eleni’s neck, and a familiar voice.

"Fiat." Reflexes took over the rest of the job, and before Lana’s mind had even registered what was happening Eleni had turned the dagger and buried it in her chest. While Lana was still alive, Eleni finished the phrase.


Fiat Nox - Let there be Night.

"Eleni, that’s not a surprise to me," Selene said calmly. She thought that perhaps it was part of the naivete she knew she possessed, but she had always been unable to reconcile the monster Eleni saw herself as with the person she knew. Eleni had a definite darkness, but Selene knew it would never be turned on her. Selene had never felt afraid of her, though a few members of the medical staff admitted they had.

"I know I’ve told you, but…" Eleni wiped a hand over her face in frustration. "But it’s like you don’t listen… or at least you don’t completely understand." Selene, still seated on the side of the bed, looked at her earnestly.

"Maybe I don’t. I’m perfectly willing to admit that, since I’ve been sheltered from a lot of violence. I do know though that you’ve managed to become a very good friend, regardless. Those times on the Destiny when things have gotten bad, I’ve usually felt very safe if you’re there." Selene had no idea where the words were coming from, but they were true and it felt right.

Eleni swallowed, and tugged at the standardized bedding. Selene didn’t lie, and there was no way she’d earned that kind of trust.

"I thought we were supposed to be dealing with my issues over being paralyzed," Eleni finally challenged, not meeting Selene’s eyes.

Oh yeah… definitely stepped all over something there Selene chastised herself. I’ve really got to watch that. She forced herself to back off mentally, and get back to the conversation.

"That was the intent, yes. Eleni, when was the last time you actually cried?" Selene asked. It had been so long; it took Eleni a moment to produce an answer.

"When I was six or seven." She’d had no way then to keep the Skera from beating her physically, but she’d learned that her mind was her own. Not letting it be controlled was the best revenge she could think of.

"Gods…" she said, borrowing one of Eleni’s expressions. "It’s been a long time then."

"I guess. Is this the part where you tell me a good cry is healthy, and I bawl like a baby, and everything’s just rosy in the morning?" Eleni asked, a little more sarcastic tone to her voice than she would have liked. Selene shook her head, giving a slight smile.

"I wish it was that easy, but I think we both know it’s not. Still, El…," she met ice-chip eyes, " I do think sometimes you need to feel things before you can handle them. And, sometimes those things are so tough you just need to cry," she shrugged.

Eleni could feel herself tensing up, just at the mention. There went the muscles… the slightly itchy feeling to her fingertips… Selene watched her a moment, then set a hand on a shoulder that seemed suddenly fight-ready.

"If you don’t want to, that’s fine. But, if you need to, it’s alright," Selene finished calmly. Working with Eleni was kind of like gaining the mother cat’s trust, she decided. She’d gotten the lesson that she wasn’t a threat out of the way quickly with the mother by helping her kittens. Then she’d handled the feline very carefully, doing her best not to force anything but show that she was available anyway. Eleni, however, was turning out to be more resistant than the cat.

The dark haired woman was unaccustomed to the insistent gentleness Selene had turned on her. It had been easy to think of Selene as weak at first, but there was duranium just under the surface. Part of her was tempted to go along with Selene’s idea… to just spill every thought, every feeling going through her head. It didn’t win.

"Selene, I… no. Not tonight." Selene had pretty much expected that response, and shifted her weight on the bed.

She glanced around the room, finding exactly what she had in Eleni’s quarters on the Destiny. There was nothing out on any surface, and the only sign of occupancy was the mussed bedclothes from sitting on the bed. She wasn’t sure how a woman paralyzed from the waist down managed to keep her space so immaculate. She also wasn’t sure what had made Eleni so unwilling to lay claim to her space. The blonde had noted that while Starfleet officers might be moved often and were not allowed to make major renovations to their quarters, they made a habit of picking up small items while on missions or shoreleaves to display. Eleni didn’t.

"Alright…", Selene said, bringing a pajamaed knee up to her chest. "Anything special happening tomorrow? You know I can’t get the doctors to tell me anything I don’t absolutely need to know." She gave a wry smile.

"Ah, you just haven’t tried hard enough… they’ll crack," Eleni gave a wicked little grin. "As for tomorrow, the only thing unusual going on is they’re going to do some tests to see how much progress I’ve made." Eleni had spent years schooling her features, and only familiarity allowed Selene to read the minute betrayals to know the doctor was more concerned about it than she let on.

"I hope it goes well, El. You’ve been through enough." Selene picked a little at the bedclothes. A growing weariness allowed a yawn to escape Eleni.

"Guess I’m more tired than I thought", she apologized. Instead of having excess energy, her body seemed to have decided it was no longer necessary and she was tired more often than before.

"Sounds like it," Selene agreed. "I’m not tired yet… would you like me to stay till you fall asleep?" Eleni gave her a vaguely confused look.

"Why would you do that?"

"It’s been a kind of emotional night. Um. When I was on Darwin Station quarantined, when a kid had a bad day it helped sometimes to just be with them until they could fall asleep. I guess just knowing someone cared enough to be there was a big part of why it worked." Selene had never talked about the station and what her life there was like openly, and Eleni knew that was significant. She also knew she didn’t want to respond in a way that would make Selene clam back up. Part of her also had to admit that she liked being around the young woman, and the circumstances didn’t seem to matter.

"That makes some sense. Selene, I’m very used to being alone. Still, it might be kind of nice to try," Eleni compromised. Selene briefly had the urge to roll her eyes – of course Eleni was alone a lot – but it passed.

Next, Eleni needed to get herself under the covers. Her useless legs made the task more difficult, and she needed to maneuver with her arms. The doctor refused firmly any offer of help, holding to the vow she’d made to herself that she would do any task she was physically capable of on her own. Selene wisely stood by after the first refusal, though she itched to help.

Once settled, Eleni turned down the lights and closed her eyes. Selene retook her seat on the edge of the bed, intending to simply sit there until a little after she sensed the dark woman fall asleep. Eleni rolled a bit, so her back was to Selene. Only partly conscious, one of the nurse’s hands moved to the spot where Eleni’s neck met her shoulders to begin a firm massage. The muscles she felt were hard and knotted, no doubt from their conversation.

"Selene, what are you doing?" a slightly drowsy voice asked. Eleni turned her head so she could see Selene’s face. Her natural instincts against letting people in her space seemed to have been short-circuited, leaving only a pleasure that made a long dormant part of herself awaken with a lazy stretch.

"You just seemed kind of tense… so far I’d say your muscles have backed that much up," Selene observed, thumbs centering on one spot to release a knot. It was slightly painful, but when the pressure let up the relief was more than worth it. It took a moment for Eleni to remember that she hadn’t responded, and another for her suddenly stubborn mind to come up with something.

"Guess so. I didn’t realize how bad it was," she admitted. Selene smiled, a wonderfully odd image coming into her head.

"I bet I know what noise you’d be making if you were a cat."


Selene let out a perfect imitation of a kitten sound that was meant to be a complaint but had too much tease for that interpretation to hold up. It took a moment for it to hit Eleni, but the absolute absurdity forced out a low chuckle. Selene joined in laughing, and it just seemed to build on itself until they were both helpless with it. What tension had remained drained out through the floorboards, leaving both women exhausted but feeling worlds better. The feeling lasted even as Selene returned to her room, and the two women fell asleep.

Selene became aware that she was standing on a beach, the blue of the water nearby a perfect match for her crystal. Under her feet she felt small, smooth stones. She found they were white, and intriguingly luminous. She knew she was dreaming – an unsettling feeling since her dreams weren’t usually this lucid.

A mist came up, and coalesced into a female figure. It grew solid and took on color and definition until standing right in front of the nurse was a tall young woman. The woman was dressed in green leather, and the rest of her was brown tones. She wore a crescent on a necklace, and had another worked into her hair. The woman also bore a bow and a quiver of arrows on her back.

"Who are you?" Selene asked, but she wasn’t certain if she’d said it aloud or simply thought it. The enigmatic woman gave a smile.

"I forget you don’t recall me every time. It is interesting though to speak with a mortal mind-to-mind this way. I am Artemis, the one you were named for. Indirectly," she sighed. "The Romans always kept dividing us up – so, you’re named for the aspect of me that rules the moon."

"I got the name because I liked to watch the sky at night when I was younger," Selene countered. "My brothers and sisters chose it." Artemis’ smile dropped slightly, taking on more compassion.

"They were pulled to give you the proper name. Selene, I know the time on the station was difficult for you. Even now you don’t like to think about it, do you?"

"No." Artemis took a step forward.

"Chosen, this time it was necessary. I’m sorry for the distress it’s caused though." She placed a hand on Selene’s upper arm, and the nurse was surprised to find it felt warm. Somehow, she’d expected the cool marble of a statue.

"Why do you call me Chosen?" Selene wasn’t sure whether to be more disturbed by the fact that her mind had come up with this, or that part of her was starting to believe it. Still, there wasn’t any harm in playing it out.

"Because it is what you are, Selene. Your personality is yours, but your soul is special – one I’ve had an interest for a long time. I will help and guide you, if you allow it." Selene felt all the insecurities and her own sense that she was somehow a fake human boil up in response.

"I’m just a genetic construct… designed and programmed. I don’t have a soul."

"You do, and it’s a beautiful one." Selene felt a pair of fingertips under her chin, gently making her look up to meet the goddess’ serious brown eyes. If this was just a dream, it was certainly the most real one Selene remembered having. She felt her breath pick up slightly at the touch.

"I’m not sure if I can believe you Artemis, but it’s a really nice thought."

"For now, that will be sufficient. But before I go, I have one gift to give you," the goddess stated, a slight smile on her face.

"What’s that?" Selene asked.

For an answer, Artemis leaned in closer and placed a somewhat tentative kiss on Selene’s lips. Selene was stunned enough that she didn’t fight the contact. The slight heartrate increase from before picked up speed, and she was aware of other sensations starting to run up and down her spine. Instinctively, she responded by returning the kiss…

"Selene…" The lyrical voice entered her consciousness, and Selene awoke with a start. She sat up quickly, still very conscious of the effect her dream had had. Eleni had wheeled herself to the side of the bed, and was currently wearing a somewhat startled look. Selene was difficult to wake up on the best of mornings, and had never gone from sleep to full consciousness that fast before.

Satisfied that the blond woman wasn’t somehow injured or in deep distress, Eleni’s expression shifted to one of concern. The best explanation she could formulate was that Selene had had a bad dream – one Eleni had inadvertently brought her straight out of.

"Are you alright?’

"Just fine…" Selene said, running a hand through her short locks to give them some semblance of order. "It was just a dream… not a bad one… just kind of intense." Gradually she’d felt herself settle back down, and was confident she could keep up a conversation. Still, she hoped Eleni wouldn’t ask for details.

"Mmm. It’s 800 hours," Eleni told her, wheeling back slightly in preparation to leave. She knew Selene would make breakfast for both of them without being asked, and reminded herself to do something nice for her roommate soon.

"Oh… guess I’d better get moving then." Selene pushed the covers off, and slid out of bed. Eleni left as Selene gave her sleep-stiffened body an allover stretch. "Yow…" She looked toward the box the cats slept in. "Guess I need to stretch a little more after my sessions with Eleni, guys. I’ll be back with your breakfast after I shower." Even that pause allowed images from the dream to intrude. "And, call Chandra."


Before Selene could press the doorchime to Chandra’s office, the psychologist contacted her mentally. The Betazoid had probably been scanning for her, given that it was the time they’d scheduled to meet. Selene’s call had been simply to give an outline of the dream and see if Chandra had some time free that day.

~Selene – come in. It’s good to talk to you again.~ Selene shook her head and smiled, then let herself in. It was rude to communicate mentally in the presence of nontelepaths, but since it was just the two of them all bets were off. Chandra liked to make use of that.

Selene found Chandra sitting in a chair, padd in hand. The office was separated into a desk area and another where counseling actually took place. The Betazoid had decorated the space to make people comfortable with its light tones and relaxed seating. For Selene, it had usually worked.

Chandra hadn’t changed all that much, even to the way she strode over quickly and gave her former patient a hug. Somehow, the smaller blonde found that reassuring. Then Chandra held her just at arm’s length, looking her over. The hair was the same boyish cut Selene had gotten soon after her arrival, and there was still the warm aura Chandra remembered so well. At the same time, the green eyes seemed older than Chandra remembered. That brought a feeling of some sadness, but Chandra knew that change was inevitable. In Selene’s case, she was happy it seemed to represent growth.

"Great Fire… what a difference a year makes," she observed. Selene gave a wide smile.

"It’s been a big one, with going to the Destiny. The starships certainly run into more interesting situations than you do planet-bound." The tone was lightly teasing, and reminiscent of their old arguments. Chandra felt she had plenty to do on planet, thank you very much, and only boarded a ship when required. Selene, on the other hand, had been fascinated by the records of various missions and dreamed of seeing for herself all the places she saw holos of in the databases. It had made Selene’s return to planetary life all the more intriguing to Chandra.

"More dangerous, maybe… but, there are challenges here too," Chandra defended. "Still, I’d hope you didn’t come to start that whole discussion up again." She released the younger woman, and took a seat on an overstuffed chair.

Selene shook her head, trying to bring her thoughts into some coherent order. She chose the couch, musing idly that the design was very similar to the one in the apartment.

"No, it’s not… I still haven’t gotten that dream out of my head." Much more explanation than that wasn’t necessary. She’d already explained most of the dream to Chandra over the phone, though she’d left a few details for this face to face discussion.

"Well, you’ve told me what happened in it, mostly. The dream felt very real… an ancient Greek goddess was there, and you talked… she said you were some kind of chosen person, and you argued about that a little… then she said she was giving you a gift…" Chandra summarized, pulling out a padd with the brief notes she’d taken during their conversation. "And, that’s where we stopped, because you needed to be going." She looked up, expecting Selene to continue.

Selene just nodded confirmation that Chandra had the story right so far. Chandra was mildly surprised that the usually chatty nurse didn’t pick up her story immediately. She took it as a sign of how unsettling the dream had been to her former patient. After a long pause, Selene spoke.

"Uh… she leaned in a little, and she kissed me. Then Eleni woke me up. I think I startled her a bit I sat up so fast. She certainly had a surprised look at first," Selene said, smiling at the end. The small woman pushed a bit of hair back behind an ear. Chandra recognized one of Selene’s old tactics – steamrolling over the real issue with talk.

"Mmm. Now, back up just a little… you said the goddess kissed you. How did that make you feel?" That, Selene decided, was the tough question. There had been some reverence… but, she didn’t know how to define the other things she’d felt – the way her heart had picked up and the nerve sensitivity she’d felt even after the dream was over.

"I’m really not sure. It was very intense, whatever it was. Kind of like getting a hypo of adrenaline. I didn’t want it to stop either… part of me was kind of disappointed when I woke up."

Chandra took the wisps of remembered emotion rolling off her former patient, and the conclusion she came to made her bite the inside of her lip. Selene was, apparently, unaware of the significance of the feelings the dream had brought up. Chandra had never dealt with Selene’s sexuality while the younger woman was a patient, expecting that Selene would work out that part of her life gradually and naturally, as she was around normal adults more. She certainly hadn’t expected a dream about an ancient Greek goddess of the hunt. Of course, that conclusion lead to the issue of how to handle this with Selene.

"Have you felt that way before?" Chandra asked, wanting more information and time to think.

"Hmm… in bits, maybe. But, never just this… rush," Selene said, the answer sounding lame to her own ears. I really, really need to work on getting my feelings communicated better… I’m not as bad as I was, but it’s still so hard to get across all of what I feel. Maybe I ought to start keeping a journal, like I did when I was first released. Why did I stop? Oh, yeah… intense nursing training. That’ll do it.

Chandra’s curly blonde head bobbed understanding, and she asked another question.

‘Have you felt this, even in bits, in other people?" Selene shuffled through almost two years of memories, finding hints of it in other interactions she’d been part of and observed.

"Yes… now that I’m thinking about it. Usually between men and women, but I’ve sensed it between two women or two men too. Whatever ‘it’ is." Selene gave the Betazoid a pointed look, resenting her lack of knowledge.

Chandra accepted the annoyance turned her way, but still thought she’d been right. If Selene had been curious or asked her about things she’d seen, Chandra would have known it was time to talk. As far as Chandra knew though, Selene had breezed through her life so far without so much as a double take at an attractive member of either sex.

"Selene… it’s a lot more complicated than just saying, ‘These feelings mean this, and you handle them this way’. What you’ve described is sexual attraction. But, there’s a lot of things that come with that… and some that don’t necessarily." She paused. "You need to understand that, first. Ideally, attraction comes with a special kind of love for the other person, and it’s returned." Chandra remembered Selene’s fondness for reading, and headed for her desk. She started tapping at the screen, searching the database for a novel a friend had asked her to read years ago. The nurse looked on, knowing there had to be a point to Chandra’s behavior even if she didn’t know it yet.

"Looking for something?" she asked. The curly blonde head bobbed a nod.

"Yes… There was a novel I read a while ago. I didn’t like it all that much personally, but I think you’d get a lot out of it." The counselor gave a command, transferring the data from the database to a nearby PADD. She picked up the new ‘book’, and walked back over to where Selene sat on the couch, waiting. The younger woman took the PADD, scanning the first screen. It was the modern equivalent of a title page, with title, author, and year it was published glowing a muted yellow on a black background.

"Degrees, by Jori Walters…" Selene read off. She looked back up to Chandra.

"Just read it," Chandra grumbled, giving her former patient a wry grin. Selene smiled back.

"I’m not convinced, but it’s worth a try. Chandra, thank you. For your time, for trying to help…" Selene’s green eyes were earnest.

"It’s what I do, Selene. Part of it’s my job, and part of it is because you’re a friend. I just hope this works. Now, I want to hear all about what you and that dour doctor have been up to here in San Francisco." The counselor sat back down again, and leaned in slightly – ready to hear all the gossip. The animated voice Selene had developed was such a contrast…

Chandra had studied the file for her new patient repeatedly. Selene was mentally stable and had no history of hallucinations or any other aberrant psychology, making her a definite minority in the facility dedicated to cases that could not function in normal society. Her prognosis was good, and only required time for her to adjust and to learn to speak fluently again.

The girl – Chandra found no other word fit, even though she was 21 years old – entered. The straight blond hair that reached her waist was a bit tousled, and parts fell in her face. Chandra guessed she probably hadn’t brushed it since the morning. Selene didn’t speak, just walked to the spot on the couch she’d taken the last time and sat down.

~This couch is nice… I like the color.~ Selene thoughtcast. Telepathic speech, largely composed of images and feelings, had none of the structure of a written or spoken language. Selene was adept with it, but needed to relearn speaking too.

"Selene, can you please speak aloud?" Chandra coaxed. Selene’s brow furrowed slightly, as she went about the task of formulating speech.

" Like… couch…" The voice was very rusty, and unused to pronouncing the distinct sounds properly. "The color… good." Chandra nodded, making her way through the incomplete, clipped sentences.

"You like the color of the couch?"


From that rather awkward beginning, Selene had slowly grown more natural in her speech and in the way she interacted with people. Still, even on the day the young woman had been released to enter Starfleet’s nursing program Chandra knew she saw the world through the eyes of a preternaturally intelligent child.

Selene sensed Eleni before she heard her or saw evidence of her. The wheelchair-bound doctor was sending off very definite signals that something was very wrong, but she was also keeping a very tight rein on herself. When the dark woman did appear, Selene saw no evidence that her escort – a young man in a technician’s coat – had picked up on anything out of the ordinary. Eleni’s face didn’t give anything away, and only a familiarity with the woman allowed Selene to read a slight slump to the usually proud shoulders.

The nurse stood and made her way over to Eleni, who was politely taking leave of the technician. Somehow, Eleni not fighting was more unsettling than the glimpses she’d gotten of the older woman’s potential for brutality. She forced a smile onto her face, and asked lightly,

"Ready to go?" Eleni nodded, and wheeled herself towards the door.

"Very. How’d the day go?" she asked, planning to keep the conversation on Selene.

"Oh… pretty well. I visited Chandra. Has she always liked gossip so much, or is that something new?" Selene questioned wryly.

"She’s always had a taste for it… says it’s the only way to really keep informed," Eleni answered. They exited the vestibule and headed left, down the hallway. Selene found that Eleni’s typically brisk pace seemed to have been increased slightly, and forced her strides to lengthen to keep up.

"I thought gossip was usually just considered exaggerations and half-truths." The nurse failed to see how such bad information could be of any use, especially when Chandra dealt so much in the nuances of situations and emotions. Those things were easily lost in the retelling.

"Yes, but there’s usually a grain of truth… and, you can get a reading on how a person is thought of by the people around them. Sometimes, that can be useful," Eleni explained absently. Selene found she still couldn’t understand, but her attention was drawn more to what she sensed from Eleni. Skillfully stowed emotion, most likely fear. The most likely explanation Selene saw was that Eleni had gotten some bad news.

"I’m still not sure I understand, but that’s okay." She let a hand drop to Eleni’s shoulder in support as they walked.

"Mmm. Anything new going on in Chandra’s life?"

"She was a lot more interested in hearing about what was going on with us. I don’t think she ever expected to see me back on Earth – or you, for that matter. When you met her on Starbase 27… did you really slam that Klingon who harassed her into a wall?" She remembered the relish Chandra had told the story with. A slight grin flitted at the corners of Eleni’s eyes at the memory.

"Yeah… I doubt Chandra mentioned though the he caught up to me after I left the bar, and said he’d deserved it. Then we went out for bloodwine." Selene felt a laugh start to rise up, and let it.

"Oh my… I’d guess that’s better than a bar brawl," Selene said.

"Got me in less trouble, anyway," Eleni answered, picking up the pace again.

Selene’s curiosity was still piqued, but she forced herself not to question Eleni. The doctor, if she was going to speak about whatever had occurred at all, would not choose to do so on the streets of San Francisco only a few feet away. They exited the building and were thrust right into the streets of a bustling city.

It’s strange to be writing in a journal again. I’ve put this file under ‘Akritian Counseling Strategies in Nursing’. It sounds sufficiently boring and academic to keep it from being read by someone looking through the computer casually, don’t you think? I doubt anyone would even care to see this, but what’s written here are my thoughts. If I feel like being a little paranoid… I will be. Wow – that was harsh.

I started reading the book Chandra gave me. So far, it seems to center on two women who meet while applying for a doctoral program. What I’m supposed to learn from this story, I can’t even guess! They don’t even seem to like each other. Still, I’m not very far along yet. The conflict does make me want to keep reading, I admit. That’s probably the reason the author put it in.

Eleni still hasn’t spoken a word about whatever happened today at Medical. She’s holding it together, but that just makes me think that when she does break they’re going to feel the shockwaves as far north as Alaska. Right now she’s just sitting by the window. The courtyard is beautiful, but from the look on her face I don’t think she even sees it. When I sense her, all I feel is the repeated attempts to calm her mind by just not thinking at all. My best guess, and it is a guess, is that someone told her she’s not healing like she should.

She liked that chicken dish I made a few nights ago. Maybe that and some time with the kittens will put her in a better mood.

How can someone who hates inactivity as much as Eleni does stay so perfectly still when upset? It’s almost like she’s in some sort of trance state.

Wonderful, upbeat way to start my journal, huh? Oh well. I can’t help worrying. It sounds like time for me to end this day’s entry, and get back to my doctor.

Selene stored the entry, and put the display back to default. It had felt good to get her thoughts down in a concrete form, and after a while the words had just seemed to become a river. The only hard part had been getting her fingers to keep up with her mind.

As she stood, she moved the white kitten that had taken up residence on her lap to a shoulder. A tiny paw batted at her in protest, but a gentle head scratch was quickly accepted as a peace offering. The nurse made her way over to the quiet figure by the window.


The dark head whipped around, and Selene knew the doctor hadn’t registered her presence until she’d spoken. That was a bit of a shock, and she wasn’t sure whether to attribute Eleni’s distraction to the mental turmoil she sensed or the fact that she’d forgotten not to sneak up. At some point she’d just known that Eleni wouldn’t harm her.

Eleni settled her old reflexes, noting grimly that almost 20 years after Tr’a’vi, they were still quite present. Of all people, the young blonde with a slight questioning look and a tiny kitten perched on her was too good to see that part of her.

"Didn’t hear you… everything all right?"

I ought to be asking you that Selene retorted, but stopped herself from speaking it aloud. Starting out like that would only put Eleni on the defensive.

"Oh, fine… I was just taking care of a couple things. I don’t remember seeing those red flowers before. Did they just bloom?" Selene asked, casually. Eleni shrugged – if the truth be known, she hadn’t even noticed the flowers until Selene had pointed them out.

"I guess." Eleni forced a breath, feeling the full weight of a thousand thoughts she couldn’t let herself define. "Selene… what are you still doing here?" Selene’s green eyes studied her a moment.

"Here as in here talking to you when you’re upset, or here as in on Earth?"

"Both," came the answer, low enough Selene almost had trouble understanding. The doctor had looked away, but Selene could see her eyes had darkened in a trick of the light. She also sensed the war being fought inside Eleni’s mind – one the older woman had clamped down on any consciousness of.

"There’s not a totally simple answer to either one of those, Eleni… I’m going to sit on the couch, and give you the best one I can. C’mon." Selene bobbed her head in the direction of the couch, then turned to walk over.

Selene moved the kitten to her lap once she was seated. She knew she was likely to touch Eleni out of habit, but right now she wasn’t sure that would really help the woman pushing herself over in the old-fashioned manual wheelchair. The chair combined with the simple civilian clothing to make Eleni appear more human than Selene had seen her before – at least while conscious.

"El… I was talking to you when you were upset, because then maybe you’d end up talking about whatever is bothering you. I can tell something is. If I can do something to help – even if it’s just to listen – I’d like to. That’s what friends do. As for why I’m still here on Earth, it’s because I want to be." Her own emotional state was steadily spiraling upwards, with a frustration not entirely her own. "Don’t you believe that?"

Eleni remained silent by default, not sure how to answer truthfully without setting Selene off.

"Don’t you?" The second plea was quieter and somehow tugged at whatever heartstrings Eleni hadn’t severed over the years even more.

"I believe it, but I don’t understand it. Selene, wouldn’t you be better off back on the Destiny learning than here taking care of a cripple?"

"Eleni, do you want me to go back to the Destiny?" Selene asked, more than a little challenge in her voice. Eleni realized that the answer to that was a definite ‘no’. The little blonde had slipped into her life, bringing a light her eyes were still adjusting to. The plunge into darkness would be worse the second time around. But, was having her stay fair?

"You’ve been a help. More than you know. But, I can’t ask you to stay here. I’m not an easy person to be around, and you sure didn’t sign on for this." Especially when it looks like I’m not going to be leaving anytime soon.

"Eleni, what’s going on? And if you say it’s nothing, or now’s not the time, I swear I’ll smack you." Selene knew she’d never be able to, but saying it satisfied her grouchy side.

The doctor looked anywhere but at her, tapping her fingers on the arms of her wheelchair. The planed face was drawn tight as she swallowed.

"The tests… didn’t go so good." Most of the anger or frustration Selene felt drained out of her and into the floor. She had hoped, even though it was likely, that it wasn’t bad news about Eleni’s back, knowing the older woman would take it as prophecy about whether or not she’d recover.

"Oh… It’s still early, Eleni. You could still walk again, easy…" Selene said, feeling the need to at least attempt to raise Eleni’s mood. She still wondered how Eleni could annoy her to no end at one moment, and the next make her want to hold the dark woman close and simply… share some of whatever weight was burdening her.

"You don’t know that," Eleni shot back. Spinal injuries, even now, were notoriously unpredictable. She refused to set herself up for disappointment by hoping for a good outcome.

"No I don’t… for sure. But all the studies show…"

"Selene, don’t," Eleni growled. There was very little of the housecat, and a lot of the panther, in the sound. The nurse eyed her, green orbs searching for anything more to be read from Eleni’s expression. Whatever she saw there didn’t meet her approval, as Eleni knew it wouldn’t, expressed by the slight drop in the corners of the younger woman’s mouth and the darkening of the usually bright eyes.

"Alright. Sometimes I wonder though if you even want to be healed at all."

They stared off, until Eleni noticed that a PADD on a nearby table was rattling, threatening to lift off and fly. It was, she recognized, the telekinetic offshoot of Selene’s emotions.

"C’mon… if you’re going to hit me, at least use your fists – not some mind trick," Eleni challenged. Selene glared back for a moment, then closed her eyes. A few moments later, the PADD dropped back to the table with a small crash.

"Eleni, I think we could both use some time to cool off," Selene said quietly, setting the kitten aside on the couch, and standing slowly. She walked to the door, picking up a small bag before stepping into range of the sensor. The door opened, and Selene left, with only a brief glance back.


Part 2

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