The Astounding Adventures of Terri Cornelia Lee - Part 2 "A Father's Love" (Flashback)
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Timeline: 2418, In A Future That Was
::2418, Residence of Commander Theo Dolarian, Oakland, Earth::
Meg and Marion went into the kitchen to grab the stuffed peppers and salad as Theo walked into the dining room with a bowl containing enough spaghetti to feed a small country. She was followed by Nigel, who was carrying two platters of lahmahjoon. As Theo was walking over, she smiled at the young woman sitting at one end of the rectangular dinner table. "I remembered that you liked my homemade noodles and tomato sauce, so I made a little bit for you."
Terri broke into a big smile. "That's my favorite!" Rubbing her hands in anticipation, she impatiently waited for the plate to be set down on the table. Once it was down, she rolled up her sleeves and dug in.
As Terri rolled up her sleeves, Theo noticed a nasty-looking cut on her arm. Her motherly instincts kicked in, and she said, "Oh my! Terri, what happened to you? Let me go get some antiseptic . . ."
"Oh, that's nothing." She dismissed it with a shrug. "I was on my way here, and there were a bunch of people protesting in front of the War Memorial. Some of them had signs that said some stupid stuff about dad, so I introduced them to my best friend." She formed her free hand into a fist and waved it in mid air with a smug grin on her face.
Nigel rolled his eyes. *Kids... always getting into trouble...* he thought, chuckling slightly.
Theo shot him a warning glare and said to Terri, "Honey, don't put yourself in danger like that. Those low-down bullies aren't worth your time or suffering." She put her hand over Terri's injured forearm and frowned in concern. "Are you sure you'll be alright? I don't want you getting an infection or something."
There was not a trace of care on Terri's face as she devoured the pasta. "Really. It's nothing. Dad always says I'm tough like . . ."
"You are tough like your mom." That's what her dad always said.
The grin on Terri's face faded a little before she forced it back. "Nah, I'm fine. I promise."
". . . Alright," Theo replied, skeptically. She trusted that Terri would use her own good judgement. Everyone had already begun eating, so she served herself a small portion of everything. "So tell me, how have things been?"
"Oh, it's fine I guess." Said Terri as she helped herself to a large slice of lahmahjoon. "I have a new project to work on at R&D so that's exciting. Also the landlord finally fixed the replicator at my place last week, but then the sonic shower stopped working so I had to move back in with Michaela. It was great to be back home, but then there was the, you know, anniversary. I tried to cheer her up, but nothing worked, just like last year. Or the year before that. Or the one before that . . ." Her voice trailed off as she began prodding her food aimlessly with her forks.
Looking back up at Theo, she asked, "Have you heard anything from dad? He hasn't responded to my messages in weeks."
Theo was a bit surprised, but she tried to hide it. "I haven't, no," she replied, and then in an attempt to reassure her, she said, "I'm sure he's just busy with work. Being a commander of an entire sector can be pretty time-consuming." She smiled softly, hoping that it would make her feel better. She knew what Terri's birthday meant to the admiral, and she knew that it must be a hard time for him, but Terri was a human being who deserved her father's love, even during hard times.
"That's what Captain Ishikawa said." Said Terri.
Theo smiled sympathetically, "If both of us said it, then it must be right, right?"
Terri nodded, though not entirely convinced.
"Do you think," She asked, this time without looking up from her food. "Do you think that if my mom had not . . . I mean, if she had not . . . If I had not . . ."
Theo quickly got up and moved around the table. She knelt down beside Terri's chair, putting her arms on her shoulders and looking her dead in the eye.
"Don't blame yourself for anything. You couldn't have changed what happened. Nobody could. Your father loves you very much, and even if things get hard for him, just understand that he loves you no matter the circumstances."
She pulled her into a hug. "Don't blame yourself, Terri."
Terri bit her lips and nodded. That was everything she wanted to hear. She only wished she could hear it from her dad. To be sure, in the 25 years of her life her dad was always kind to her and gave her everything she ever wanted, but he indulged others just as much, and she could count with one hand the number of times he actually told her he loved her.
Taking a deep breath, she managed a brave smile. "Thank you."
"Of course," Theo replied quietly, "He'll call. I know it." She ran her thumb over Terri's soft cheek, gave her a small smile, then stood and went back to her seat.
Terri didn't say another word as she turned her attention back to the dinner. Neither did anyone else. Quietly everyone just worked on their own plate for the next few minutes, which seemed a lot longer than they actually were.
Meg broke the silence, clearing her throat. "Uh . . . Mom? Can you pass the salt?" She awkwardly shoved spaghetti into her mouth.
::Later, Kalandra Sector Command HQ, Betazed::
Oliver was going through the latest casualty reports when the voice of his administrative assistant, Petty Officer Sante Khanu, came through the intercomm.
"Sir, Commander Theo Dolarian from Starfleet R&D would like to speak with you."
Oliver's face lit up a little at the mention of Theo's name. The time was perfect. He was in desperate need of distraction, any distraction, from the grim reality of war and death that had been streaming through his terminal all day.
"Thank you, Mr. Khanu. Patch her through." He said. Seconds later, the gloomy casualty reports on the holographic display before him were replaced by the cheerful visage of his former chief science officer.
He smiled. "It has been a while, Theo. How are you? And how's the family?"
Theo smiled. "Everyone's doing great. I've got all the kids on shore leave right now, and we're enjoying the family time." Her expression faltered a little as she proceeded, "And how are you? You'd best be honest, I don't want to have to wrestle an answer out of you."
Oliver fell back into his chair and rubbed his temple. "Well, I just received the latest casualty reports, and they are getting worse by the day. I also had another conversation with Chancellor Elbrun this morning, who for the third time asked me to send in the Marines to deal with the protesters, and for the third time I had to explain to him that I would surrender to the Dominion before I would send in Federation troops against Federation citizens exercising their constitutional rights. Oh, and Starfleet Command still hasn't dispatched the Akira and Normandy squadrons that I requested two months ago, but otherwise I'm doing great." He finished with a wry smile.
Theo smiled sympathetically and shook her head. "That's pretty rough. You need to take a vacation sometime, I swear your grey hairs are growing grey hairs by now." She said it teasingly, but she really did mean it. He was going to work himself to the grave if someone didn't stop him. She didn't want to keep him from doing his job, but she needed to tell him when he was working himself too hard. A person can only handle so much, and he was handling way more than that.
Oliver was pretty sure that his younger self would have said something snappy about "grey hairs growing grey hairs", but all he could manage was a faint smile. "Vacations are for people who have someone to vocation with, Theo." He said, and very much meant it. He loved vacations, of course, but he had never seen the point of vacationing alone, which always seemed rather pathetic to him. Never one to look pathetic, he hadn't gone on a vacation in years.
Theo took a deep breath before making her next recommendation. "Maybe you should take your daughter. It was her birthday, as you know, and she never got a happy birthday wish from her father. She was at my house, crying." She knew he didn't want to hear this from her, but it needs to be said. So she kept going, "Oliver, you need to let her know you love her. She needs to hear it." She pleaded with her eyes, hoping he wouldn't just ignore her. Terri needed him, and it was Theo's job to make him listen.
Oliver looked away. For some moment, he didn't say a word.
"I asked Captain Ishikawa to send Terri something for her birthday." He finally said, still looking away from the screen, as if he was unsure if that was good enough an excuse.
Theo sighed and shook her head, looking down. "Do you really think that's enough? She wants you, Oliver. She wants to talk to you. She wants you to appreciate her. She looks up to you, so give her a good example."
Theo was right, of course, but it didn't make it any easier. Looking back at the screen, Oliver said, "I know I'm not father-of-the-year material, Theo, but for the last 25 years, I've tried. You know I've tried. But every time I look at her, you know who I see? Korra. Every time I see Korra in her. She has her mother's eyes, her smile. I even tried to convince her that she looked better with long hair, but she was as stubborn as her mother, so she kept her hair short, just like her mother."
After a pause he continued. "Frankly I didn't know if I could raise a child whose very birth marked the death . . . but Michaela, the gracious and caring person that she was, made it seem possible, and I thought that maybe together with her I could be a descent enough father . . ."
"And then I sent Erin and Alexander to their death because I . . ." He looked away again. "It's not Terri's fault, of course, but I can't look at her without being reminded of all my failings as a friend, as a commanding officer, and as a husband. I . . ."
Theo wished she could be there to comfort him, but she did her best. "It's not your fault. You've done your best, and even if that wasn't quite enough to prevent awful things from happening, you can't keep blaming yourself. I understand how hard it is to deal with all the . . . the shit that life has thrown at you, but alienating those whom you are closest to will only make it worse."
Theo took a deep breath before continuing, knowing how hard this must be, but it was a conversation that needed to happen. She kept telling herself that as she pressed on, "I know she looks just like Korra, I see it too. But Terri is still around, so love her how you wish you could still love Korra. Love her while you still have the chance."
With his chin resting on his hand, Oliver looked down at his desk. "Michaela hasn't talked to me in years. Without her I don't know if I can do this by myself." He shook his head. "I don't think I can."
Theo used her mom eyes, and said, "Don't you love Terri? Michaela or not, Terri is still your daughter, and you need to be strong for her sake. If you really need a mediator for that conversation, I would be happy to do that for you. Or you can reach out to Michaela. It's really your choice, but things aren't going to get better unless you find peace with your past. Tie up loose ends, make amends."
Oliver looked away to avoid her motherly gaze and considered what she had just said.
"I have made too many promises that I couldn't keep, Theo, so I won't make another one. But," He paused briefly before continuing. "but I'll give Terri a call when I get a chance." Another pause. "That's all I can do."
Theo realized she wasn't going to get any farther if she pushed this subject, so she decided to let it go. "Alright," She said. She hadn't expected this conversation to be easy, but her heart felt heavy. She wished there was something more she could do. She asked, "Is there anything I can do for you? Bake some cookies and send them in a care package?" She just wanted him to be happy, that was the whole point behind this. Anything she could do to help, she would do.
A small smile returned briefly to Oliver's counternance. He used to bake, too, mostly muffins, which he learned only to impress Michaela. Now that he thought about it, he used to do a lot of things simply to impress people. Age had taught him how silly that was, but those were also happier days, days before Korra died, days before Michaela left.
With a shake of his head, he said, "Thanks, Theo, but that's alright. I . . ." He paused and looked away for a moment before looking back at the view screen. "Bake some for Terri. She likes . . . orange chocolate chip cookies. I think."
Theo smiled softly. He was trying. "I will," she replied, then paused before continuing, "I . . . I'll let you get back to your work now. Don't hesitate to call me whenever."
Oliver nodded with an appreciative smile. "Thank you."
[To be continued in Part 3 "Fast and Furious" . . . . . .]
Admiral Oliver A. Lee
Commander, Kalandra Sector
Commander Theo Dolarian
Scientist, Starfleet R&D