The Astounding Adventures of Terri Cornelia Lee - Part 12 "Heart to Heart" (Flashback)
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Timeline: 2419, In A Future That Was
::Aft Compartment, USS Madeira::
With a dermal regenerator in hand, Alenis treated the contusions on a still fuming Terri. She understood her frustration. Those good people back at Camp Theta were being slaughtered, and there was nothing any of them could do. But Captain Ishikawa was right. They must not allow anything to distract Admiral Lee from putting down Bolanus' coup and restoring the legitimate government. She couldn't imagine how hard it would be for the Admiral if Terry were to be captured. But perhaps equally important, she couldn't imagine how she would feel if Terri got hurt.
Gustave took a deep breath before knocking and walking through the door. He walked over to where Alenis was working on Terri's lacerations. He asked her, "Hey, Alenis, can you give us a minute? I'll finish stitching her up." He put his hand out for Alenis to give him the dermal regenerator. He realized she wouldn't want to leave Terri's side, but he hoped the pleading look in his eyes would convince her.
Alenis hesitated for a moment as she looked at Gustave, then Terri, and then back to Gustave. She wanted to keep Terri's company, but the girl had said some harsh things to Gustave earlier, and they need to talk it over.
"OK. I'll be in the cockpit." Said Alenis as she stood up from the bench. "Let me know if you need anything." Her fingers lingered briefly on Terri's arm before she turned and stepped out.
"What do you want?" Terri asked coldly.
"I . . . I wanted to apologize," Gustave began, lifting the dermal regenerator to a cut on Terri's arm. "I'm . . ." he continued, but was cut off.
Terri grabbed the dermal regenerator from Gustave before he could continue the treatment. "I can do it myself." She said.
Gustave felt the anger begin to boil in his chest, but he took a deep breath and suppressed it, continuing with the carefully worded apology he had written in his head.
"I'm sorry, Terri. I know these last few weeks have been rough, and you probably feel like I've been trying to keep you from doing what you need to do. I know I'm not always the best at taking care of these kinds of crazy situations, but I just wanted you to know that I'm only trying to keep us safe, because I care about you, Terri. If you were to get hurt, or . . . or . . . well, I wouldn't be able to handle it. But I'm sorry. I've been rude and inconsiderate, and I hope you'll forgive me."
He caught his breath when he finished talking, and his face was flushed.
Out of sheer reflexes, Terri was about to say something cold and snappy, but then she finally processed Gustave's words. She looked at him and blinked. He said he cared about her. He said he wouldn't be able to handle it if anything happened to her. And he asked for her forgiveness. Was that his way of saying he loved her? Hmm, not sure. Maybe. Or maybe not. Argh, he's so stupid, couldn't even say three simple words right. Sigh.
So should she forgive him? . . . Nope, she couldn't let him off the hook so easily, or he would get used to it and start to take her forgiveness for granted, or worse, he would start to take her for granted. Hmm, maybe she should ask for more . . . tangible proof of his contrition. Maybe a massage? Or maybe a romantic dinner at Big Belly Burger? She heard they were reintroducing a limited run of hot fudge sundae burger, hot, sweet, juicy, all stuffed in between two slices of fluffy Trillian cheese infused buttermilk buns sprinkled with orange chocolate chips. It's making her mouth watering already . . . hmmmm, orange chocolate chips . . .
But she also really wanted to try the new Redon Burger with its cheese, bacon and something called spam. She didn't know what spam was; she never heard of it - supposedly it's a centuries-old recipe that had just been re-discovered - but she didn't care. All that mattered was that it sounded delicious. Besides you couldn't possibly go wrong with bacon. Terri Cornelia Lee loved bacon . . . hmmm, bacon . . .
Gustave watched Terri as her face went through a series of emotions over the course of almost one minutes. He had an idea to break the silence. He stood up and walked over to the replicator.
"Cheeseburger with bacon and all the toppings," Gustave requested of the replicator, trying to re-create the burger that Terri threw in his face that night at the bowling place. He hoped he'd got it right, and that this gesture might elicit some forgiveness from Terri.
The smell of bacon finally drew Terri out of her burger wonderland. "Hmm." The blonde leaned in and sniffed on the cheeseburger as Gustave brought it to her on a plate. "Cottage bacon?" She looked up with a slightly arched eyebrow. "I like Guanciale bacon with my burger, and the buns have too many Raldy seeds." Taking Gustave's please-forgive-me offering, she took a bite. "Hmm, the patty is not bad."
It took exactly 27 seconds before the entire burger disappeared into her stomach. Looking back up, she said, "Apology accepted."
Gustave smiled, "Phew, I'm glad," then added, "And I'll remember the... Uh... Guancial bacon next time." Some say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but Gustave supposed the same was true of women, too. Well, Terri at least. Did he say to her heart? He meant . . . well . . . never mind.
Gustave then snapped himself out of his stupor and took Terri's plate back to the replicator. He watched it disappear before he walked back, asking Terri, "So, how're you feeling?"
Terri picked up the dermo regenerator and resumed healing the laceration on her upper left arm. With a grumble, she said, "It sucks." Two simple words, but the vexation was palpable.
"I . . . uh, sorry," Gustave replied, trying to be understanding whilst the awkwardness of his situation left him stumbling to find words. "Why's what?" He inquired in an effort to continue the conversation and, hopefully, rebuild their relationship.
"My dad is working day and night to put an end to the coup while others are putting their lives on the line, trying to take the Federation back from Bolanus. And what have I been doing since I left New York? Running away from Bolanus and his thugs, that's what I have been doing. I'm a coward." Her words turned bitter and her head lowered in self-disgust.
"You're not a coward, Terri. You never ran away. I, and the resistance, dragged you out. Literally, like kicking-and-screaming," Gustave replied, "You'll get your chance to fight soon enough, I can feel it." He didn't really want to get in a bloodbath against the Bolanus regime, but he also wanted it to go back to how it had been, peaceful.
Terri looked up at Gustave and blinked her eyes. Yes, Gustave and Alenis did come to her, but the truth was, even if they hadn't, she would have found other ways to join the resistance. After all, with Theo, Nigel, and the twins safely relocated to the Sanctuary Fleet, there was no longer anything that could hold her back from doing what's necessary to take down Bolanus. At least that was what she had thought until tonight. As it turned out, her father's affection for her, the one thing that she had craved for her entire life, was also the one thing that held her back.
Looking down at her laps again, she murmured, "Captain Ishikawa would never let me step out of the camp."
Of course, she knew that it was to prevent her from falling into Bolanus' hands and being used as a bargaining chip against her dad. She knew it was for the greater good. But it didn't make her feel any better.
Gustave shook his head, "She may not be able to stop it, if I'm being honest. We're being attacked, not the other way around. If Bolanus and his friends happen to attack us, wherever we are, we will have to fight back, no matter what Ishikawa has to say about it," he said, a dark tone in his voice. And we will most likely die, he thought, but didn't say aloud, but he knew they were outnumbered and weak. He didn't want a fight, but once again, he didn't have a choice.
Terri looked up again. "But what if they do catch me? I would be a liability to my dad."
"Well, then I guess we'd have to break you out," Gustave replied simply with a smile. "But if we're careful, it won't come to that." He really didn't have an answer for her, and he knew his response wasn't good enough, but he figured it was better than nothing.
"Besides," Gustave continued, "You've got Alenis to protect you. What could possible go wrong?" He had tried to keep the snide tone out of his voice, but he feared the inflection wasn't lost on Terri. He felt bad for bringing this topic up, but he felt he needed a better understanding of Terri and Alenis's relationship. He didn't know why; perhaps it was jealousy, but he couldn't be sure.
Terri broke into a hearty laughter.
"Oh, please. I love Alenis, but, come on, I was the one that saved her back in that alley, and if anyone . . . wait, are you being sarcastic?"
Gustave snorted, "I guess, but just a little bit," he replied with a smile, "But if you tell her I said that, she'll certainly have to protect you . . . from me!" he joked, balling up his fists and making mock punches at Terri's shoulder.
Terri tilted her head with a confused look on her face. "I don't get it. Why would she . . ."
Before the girl could finish her sentence, the door to the aft compartment slid open, and Alenis stepped back inside. "We are about to land. Captain Ishikawa wants us to get ready." Looking at Terry and then Gustave, she asked, "Is everything alright?"
"Just fine, thanks," Gustave replied with a tight smile, "Be out in a sec." He then stood and offered his hand to Terri to help her up.
Terri stood up from the bench and ignored Gustave's offer of hand. She didn't need his help, or anyone's help, for something so simple as getting up from her seat. "Let's go, Alenis." She said, grabbing the Bajoran's hand as she headed out to the cockpit.
[To be continued in Part 13 "Confused Love" . . .]
Lieutenant JG Terri C. Lee
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant JG Laren Alenis
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant Gustave Dolarian
(NPC - Theo)