SIM:Whale: Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith
- Something has changed within me
- Something is not the same
- I'm through with playing by the rules
- Of someone else's game
- Too late for second-guessing
- Too late to go back to sleep
- It's time to trust my instincts
- Close my eyes... and leap
- - “Defying Gravity,” from the broadway musical WICKED.
(( USS Constitution - Outside Doctor Shelley’s Quarters ))
:: For the third time in an hour, Whale found himself outside the door to Shelley’s quarters. He’d been walking the corridors of the ship -- aimlessly, so he thought -- trying to clear his head, trying to walk out the tension of the past several days, but he hadn’t been having much luck. It was probably naive of him to think that all he needed was a long walk, but it had been worth a try. But now, as he stood once more before Shelley’s quarters, he realised that the walk hadn’t been aimless and hadn’t just been about clearing his head. Whale had stopped by sickbay almost immediately upon arriving back on the ship, but the doctor had still been unconscious. He badly wanted to talk to her, to see how she was coping, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to do it in sickbay. Now that she’d been released to rest in her quarters... With a some mild hesitation, he hit the chime and he heard a muffled voice from within ordering the doors open. He stepped in. ::
SHELLEY: David. Hi.
:: She was sitting in an armchair, dressed casually, her strawberry blond hair loose about her shoulders. She looked exhausted and Whale did his best not to stare too long at the stump of her left arm. ::
WHALE: Fiona... how are you?
:: It sounded like such a stupid question, but it was all he could think of. ::
SHELLEY: I’m okay. Mostly. I know I should be getting more sleep, but...
:: She shrugged. Whale nodded. He’d found it difficult to get to sleep himself, so he couldn’t imagine what Shelley kept seeing when she closed her eyes. ::
WHALE: Can I get you anything? Water? Something to eat?
:: Shelley smiled slightly, touched at his worry, but shook her head. ::
SHELLEY: No, I’m okay. Thank you, though. :: pause :: I heard that Quon’s daughter was aboard the Nimitz.
WHALE: Yeah. She’s a little shaken, but physically she’s okay.
:: The doctor just nodded in response, and stared out the window for a few moments, then stood and approached the window, leaning against the bulkhead and watching the stars streak by as the Constitution made its way to Bajor. ::
SHELLEY: David, we need to talk.
:: He frowned and stepped up beside her at the window. ::
WHALE: Okay. About what?
:: She continued looking out the window as she tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. ::
:: Us...? The confusion must have been evident on his face, given everything she’d said back on Risa, because when she turned to face him, she smiled apologetically and continued without waiting for a response. ::
SHELLEY: Our conversation on Risa... that was very difficult for me. I was doing what I thought had to be done. I didn’t want to hurt you, David -- you’re the last person I’d ever want to hurt -- but I had to....
:: There were tears in her eyes, and her put his hands on her shoulders. ::
WHALE: It’s okay, Fiona. Yeah, it hurt, but I really value our friendship, so if that’s all we have, then I’ll be okay with it.
:: She looked up at him and there almost, but not quite, anger in her eyes. ::
SHELLEY: But it’s not okay. I lied. I lied because I was scared. Terrified. I had to... I had to find a way out because I was just so, so scared of what was happening.
:: Wait... what was she-? ::
SHELLEY: I was just afraid of what I was feeling and afraid of what that meant.
:: He just stared for a moment as incoherent thoughts flew through his head at warp sixty-two. His mouth moved several times, like it was trying to force out some words, but neither his brain nor his vocal chords were cooperating. When he was finally able speak, his response was both eloquent and heartfelt. ::
SHELLEY: It’s just... all THIS...
:: She lifted the remains of her left arm. Doctor Stone had sealed the stump with biogel that would promote rapid healing. ::
SHELLEY: It makes you think. It makes you think about your life, your decisions. Regrets. Things you wished you’d done differently and... and things you wished you’d told people. :: pause :: You know what I’m saying.
:: Still frowning, he shook his head. He was, in all honesty, confused as hell. ::
SHELLEY: When I said what we had was just friendship.
SHELLEY: I was lying.
WHALE: You... were lying.
SHELLEY: I was lying.
:: Though there were still tears in her eyes, she was smirking at him, but the smirk turned into a smile as a grin slowly spread across Whale’s face. ::
WHALE: You were LYING.
SHELLEY: God, you’re thick sometimes. :: beat :: I love you, David.
:: Wrapping her good arm around his neck, she pulled him close and kissed him, hard. And unlike their last kiss -- the kiss Shelley had initially intended as a goodbye kiss -- there was absolutely no hesitancy and no attempt to break the embrace for a good long time. It was quite some time before they reluctantly separated. Shelley patted him on the chest. She was flushed a bright crimson. ::
SHELLEY: That... um... yeah. Okay.
:: She fanned herself with her hand. ::
:: Shelley’s smile slowly disappeared. ::
SHELLEY: But now I have to leave.
SHELLEY: I need an arm, David. I mean, I know it’s a long shot that I’ll ever be able to perform surgery again, but I can still be doctor -- I just don’t think I can manage one-handed. :: beat :: Starbase 94 has one of the most advanced cybernetics labs in the sector.
:: He nodded. ::
WHALE: So when we get to Deep Space Nine, you’re going to hitch a ride with Major Quon back to 94.
:: Now it was her turn to nod, looking at him with sadness, but also hope. He assumed it was hope that he’d understand her decision to leave, hope that- ::
SHELLEY: Come with me.
:: That... wasn’t at all what he was expecting. Apparently it showed in his face and Shelley took his hand. ::
SHELLEY: Just come with me. We need some time away from everything and I think we both know that you need the break. And I’m not just speaking as your... your whatever. But also as your doctor -- you’ve been on a ridiculous roller coaster for so long-
WHALE: That I just need some time where I can relax, with no responsibilities weighing on me.
:: Her smile widening, she nodded. And he knew she was right -- it had been something that had been in the back of his mind for a while and it had been made clear by the Duster’s Range mission that he needed... something. He was tired and not just physically. It was the kind of exhaustion a good night’s sleep didn’t cure, assuming one could even get a good night’s sleep. It was mental exhaustion. He was, now that he thought about it, probably not too far from burnout. ::
:: There was a momentary pause, which told Whale that Shelley had been unsure of what his reaction would be. Which was fair -- Starfleet had been the only thing in his life since the Ackerman Event, the only constant, the only anchor. Not long ago, the idea of taking a break from the service would have been ludicrous. ::
WHALE: Okay. I’ll go. I’ll take a leave of absence.
:: Shelley looked as happy as Whale had ever seen her. He was feeling pretty happy himself. ::
SHELLEY: I’m so glad... I just-
:: He held up a hand to stop her. ::
WHALE: We’ll have plenty of time to talk. Right now, I need to submit my LOA paperwork and pack -- we’ll be arriving at DS9 in less than 24 hours.
:: As she nodded, he kissed the doctor’s forehead then headed back to his quarters. He threw a few things into a satchel -- not much, but enough to get him through the trip to Starbase 94 -- and then filled out the paperwork that would allow him to take his leave of absence. As with most paperwork, it took longer than it should have, especially now that Anna Cortez had left the Constitution to return to her studies at Starfleet Academy, but he eventually finished it, sending copies to both Captain Perkins and the fleet personnel department. ::
:: Standing and slinging the satchel over his shoulder, Whale took one last look around his quarters. He wasn’t sure when he’d see them again, but there was no question in his mind that he needed the break. As he was about to leave, his eyes settled on the framed photo of Gianna Dacosta and he paused to pick it up. He touched a finger lightly to the face in the photograph, all kinds of memories swirling through his mind. But for the first time in a long time, those memories made him smile, rather than depressing him. ::
WHALE: I hope you were able to move on.
:: Setting the photo back on his desk, Whale left his quarters and headed off to rendezvous with Major Quon and his daughter -- and Fiona Shelley -- for the trip to Starbase 94. ::