Family - Part 7 "Family"
Posted on Fri Sep 4th, 2015 @ 12:47am by Lieutenant Terri Lee
Edited on on Sat Sep 5th, 2015 @ 2:48am
Episode 3 - The Future That Was
Timeline: Early 2416 (Alpha)
Tags: romance, relationships, funny
[Previously in Parts 5 and 6]
. . . . . .
Meg rolled her eyes and sighed. "Terri. Hon. Just say sorry. Nothing fancy. Don't think about it too much and get nervous, just say, 'I am sorry for slapping you, Gustave' and then wait for him to accept your apology, which he will, then it's all over and forgotten."
Terri grumbled inaudibly as she crammed more ice cream into her mouth. Some moments passed before she licked her bowl clean. Putting it back down, she sighed heavily.
"OK, OK, I'll talk to him." She conceded, if only to stop the twins from making her feel any more guilty.
. . . . . .
Terri was so glad she had stuffed her mouth full of cookies. There was no way she could talk to Gustave now, certainly not in front of his mom. She mumbled a few random syllables that she hoped would pass as greetings to Gustave as she stood up from the couch, doing her best to look and act normal.
"I, uh, hoove t, uh, talk t Meg un Moorian,"
She took a quick glance at Gustave before making her way away from the couch, only to stop a few steps later. Turning back, she mumbled a few more random syllables and took from the plate all the cookies that could fit in her hands. Another furtive glance at Gustave, she hurried out of the living room and disappeared into the hall way.
. . . . . .
Terri had made up her mind. Sort of. OK, maybe not really.
She knew she should just apologize like the twins suggested, but saying "I'm sorry" was always hard for her, really hard. Besides, Gustave probably deserved a few slaps in the face for friend-zoning her all these years, although truth be told, it's probably just his obliviousness, and not intentional. At least she hoped that was the case because otherwise he would deserve not just a few slaps in the face, but a good old-fashioned beatdown or two.
She sighed as she walked into the kitchen, looking for those delicious cookies Theo had made to help her clear up her mind, only to find Gustave, who was apparently also looking for snacks. Her first instinct was to bolt away, but unlike earlier, she had a better hold of herself this time. Besides, unlike earlier, there was no one else around so she might as well just get this over with.
"Hi, Gustave." She said casually and without making eye contact as she walked past him and reached the other end of the kitchen table where a plate of cookies waited to be consumed.
He turned abruptly, startled to hear her. "Oh, hey Terri. Didn't see you there." He pulled a glass out of the cupboard and smiled awkwardly.
There was a moment of silence between them as Terri munched on a piece of orange chocolate chip cookie. Then sheepishly and almost inaudibly, she said, without looking at Gustave, "I'm sorry."
Gustave didn't quite hear. With a look of confusion etched on his face, he replied, "What?"
"Arggh." Terri grunted in frustration. Did he really expect her to apologize twice?! Turning around to look at him in the eyes, she wiped the few cookie crumbs off the corners of her mouth and made her ultimatum. "OK, I'll let you slap me, and then we'll be even. So go ahead. Come on. I can take it." That bit was true. She had been in fights with people twice her size since she was a kid.
"Come on. Are you chicken, or what?" Some taunting surely wouldn't hurt?
Gustave's face went from confused to surprised to horrified and back to confused all in a second. "What?" He said. "Terri, I'm not going to hit you! What is this all about?"
"Why not?!" Terri protested with growing desperation in her voice. "I hit you yesterday, so I'm letting you hit me back. Let's just get this over with already."
"I don't hit people I respect," Gustave said, crossing his arms. "I'm not going to ask why you hit me, I'm sure you had your reasons. I'm over it. I'm not going to hit you."
"No, you can't be over it." The words had already came out when Terri realized how silly and ungraceful they were.
But what's she to do now? Her first plan was to apologize. That didn't work out. Her backup plan was to let Gustave hit her back to even out things. That didn't work out, either. Why did he have to be so oblivious and so understanding at the same time? It didn't make sense to her at all. And it's frustrating.
"Argg" She grumbled. Picking up another cookie, she went back on munching again. She really didn't know what to say.
Now Gustave had no clue about how Terri's mind worked, or the mind of any female for that matter, but he could tell when someone had something on their mind. And this was one of those times. "Terri," He asked, "What's wrong? If you need to get something off your chest, just say it. I'm listening."
Terri mumbled something as she worked on her next cookie. Why should she have to explain to the slowpoke what was going on? Why did he have to be so oblivious, so slow, so big, so strong, so funny, so good-looking . . . wait a second, she was supposed to be mad at him. Yes, she was mad. That was the plan.
Turning back to Gustave, she stared him in the eyes. "I have nothing to say to you. I'm leaving now." With that, she picked up another cookie and munched on it, staying exactly where she was.
Gustave saw her just stand there and tried to suppress a laugh. He failed. Realizing that she might be offended, he said, "I... Sorry. I'm sorry, Terri. Okay. Let's get back on topic. Don't leave, please. We definitely need to talk about something." Though about what, Gustave wasn't quite sure. He needed answers. Why had she hit him? What had she mumbled? What the heck is wrong with the entire female population?
Terri might not like apologizing to others, but she sure loved being apologized to, and heaven knows, Gustave owed her more than a few apologies for all the terrible and terrible friend-zoning she had suffered at his hands over the years.
OK, technically that apology wasn't for the friend-zoning, but hey, he got to start somewhere.
With a sniff that was more proud than contemptuous she said, "Hmm, apology accepted." Another bite of her cookie. "So what do you want to talk about?"
All of a sudden she was feeling a lot better.
"Why did you slap me?" Gustave asked, figuring he might as well not beat about the bush. "What did I do wrong?"
And just like that, Terri was back on square one. It had looked like she might have dodged a bullet there, but Gustave just had to ask the question. With a quiet sigh, she relented.
"I don't know." She said as her eyes drifted away. "It's not you. It's just that I . . . I was . . ." There was a pause. Then she sighed again, but this time more determined. Reconnecting her eyes with his, she spilled the beans in rapid fashion. "I freaked out. OK? I freaked out when your sisters walked in on us. I was embarrassed that they saw us like that. But . . ."
Her breathing quickened as she continued. "But I just wanted to be with someone . . . It was my birthday for heaven's sake! Do you know how hard it was? Everyone else has their birthday cakes, their friends, their families. For everyone else it's a special day, a day to celebrate. What do I have to celebrate? I have never even met the woman that gave birth to me. You know why? Because I killed her! My dad wouldn't even talk to me around my birthday. Why? Because I killed his best friend!"
Pausing to steady herself, she shook her head. "They never meant to have me in the first place, Gustave. They were possessed by the Vorusi. It was not them, and I was never meant to be . . . I was . . ."
"Woah. Slow down," Gustave said. He understood that she needed the company. That was one thing his confused mind could comprehend. "You are in now way a murderer. Don't blame yourself for any of that, you had no control over the circumstances of your birth." He took a deep breath, knowing that he could never understand how she felt, but hoping he could help.
He paused, then continued. "And your dad being distant... that's his problem. To be quite honest, he's missing out. You are an incredible person, and this family loves you. We do what we can to make up for all the love you've missed out on." He looked her dead in the eyes, placed his hands on her shoulders, and said, "But you can't move on until you accept that you are loved and wanted, no matter how much it may seem that you aren't. You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. You've got us; Mom and Dad and Meg and Marion, and me."
Terri blinked her eyes as she processed what Gustave had just said. Those were some of the kindest words she had ever heard. Family, after all, was what she had always wanted, but it had never felt complete, even before her dad and Michaela separated. Of course, Michaela with her unbounded kindness and maternal love had always treated her like one of her own, as did Erin and Alex, but nothing she did could ever elicit the same affection from her dad, who remained to this day aloof and distant. The death of Alex and Erin, however, forever shattered even that family, already incomplete as it was.
So to hear those words from the man she had had a crush on since they were kids was especially meaningful and touching, so much so that she was speechless for a few moments as a plethora of emotions swirled inside her.
She felt something moist in her eyes and fought it. No one had ever seen Terri Cornelia Lee cry, and no one ever would.
Gustave saw her eyes fill with tears, and his heart dropped straight to his shoes. He reached out and held her cheek, stroking tenderly with his thumb. He wasn't sure whether or not he should speak, so he sat there and watched as his childhood friend melted in front of him.
That tender touch. Those warm eyes. Her resolve was faltering.
Suddenly she reached out and clinched him with her arms, burying herself in his chest. No one could ever see her cry.
Gustave wrapped his arms around her, rubbing small circles on her back. He had never seen her like this, but he figured he should just let her cry it out.
Terri didn't know how long they were in each other's embrace, but it felt good. Really good.
Lieutenant Terry C. Lee
Researcher, Starfleet R&D
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant Gustave Dolarian
Fighter Pilot, USS Churchill
(NPC - Theo)