The Astounding Adventures of Terri Cornelia Lee - Part 13 "Confused Love" (Flashback)
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Timeline: 2419, In A Future That Was
::Resistance Camp Hippolyta, Somewhere in the Amazon Forest::
Alenis dithered in front of Terri's tent as the occasional broken branches and fallen leaves on the cleared ground crackled under her steps. She had just come back from a briefing with Captain Ishikawa, who had asked her to join an intel retrieval mission in Cairo. It would be a dangerous mission, infiltrating a high security Starfleet R&D facility, but she couldn't say no. It was either her or Terri. They were the only ones with the necessary knowledge of the facility. At least that's what the Captain told her.
Of course, she couldn't let Terri go. The girl was too important to the resistance to be sent on such a risky mission. She was too important to her. She had sensed there was something between Terri and Gustave, not to mention the two of them had been best friends since childhood, so she had mostly kept her own feelings to herself. But what if she didn't make it back from the mission? She couldn't let this be their last goodbye without at least . . .
"What's up, Alenis?"
The Bajoran was nearly startled by the sudden question and turned around to find Terri standing behind her with a half eaten banana in one hand and a still untouched Chee'lash fruit in the other.
"What's going on?" The blonde asked again as she bit into the Chee'lash fruit.
"Oh, nothing." Alenis responded instinctively before clearing her throat. "Actually, uh, can we talk inside?"
"Sure thing." Said Terri as she walked into her tent while finishing up her banana.
Alenis looked left and right before following Terri into the tent. Once inside, she closed the flaps behind her and sat down on the bed next to the other woman. "So . . ." She dithered again.
Having swallowed the last bit of her fruits, Terri was still hungry from all that sparring with some of the resistance fighters earlier. One banana and one Chee'lash fruit simply wouldn't cut it. She needed more food, so she began ransacking her own small food pantry next to the bed while listening to what Alenis was saying.
"So . . . I was talking to Captain Ishikawa earlier." Said the Bajoran. "She wanted T'Las, Anderson and me to retrieve some data from R&D Cairo. We are leaving at 2100 tomorrow."
"What?!" Terri abruptly turned around with an energy bar in her mouth. "Why didn't she tell me about it? I worked there for two years. I know the place inside and out."
Crossing her fingers with Terri's, Alenis said softly. "It's a dangerous mission. We can't risk losing you."
Terri groaned in frustration and smashed the energy bar on the bed, having already fished nearly half of it. "I knew it! She will never let me do anything important!"
"Terri . . ."
"She will probably never let me leave the camp ever, not until the whole war is over and Bolanus is rotting in his cell. That's not fair!"
"Terri, if I don't come back . . ."
"I'm a certified level 3 Mok'bara adept. I can beat the crap out of Bolanus' underlings blindfolded. Why would she keep me locked up?!"
"Terri, I wanted to tell you . . ."
"This is not fair! I'm gonna talk to her. She can't just lock me up in here. I'm gonn . . ." Before Terri could finish her ranting, she suddenly found a pair of warm and throbbing lips on hers.
Caught off guard and her eyes wide open, Terri instinctively wanted to push Alenis away, but it felt so good. She had only kissed once before, and that consisted of a hasty slapping of lips together with Gustave and nothing more. But Alenis, she knew what she was doing. She was so gentle and yet so warm. She made her feel warm. She made her feel . . . wanted.
With a soft and contented sigh Terri closed her eyes and let Alenis worked her magic with her lips and then her tongue.
She liked it. She liked her. She liked being wanted.
Gustave strolled up to Terri's tent, just back from eating with some of the other guys at the camp. The funniest thing had just happened, and he couldn't wait to tell. He was almost laughing out loud just thinking about it. He unzipped the flap of the tent before announcing his presence, saying, "Hey, Terri, you won't believe what ju-"
Gustave's voice jolted Terri out of the mesmerizing bliss that was Alenis' kiss and into the awkward reality of her kissing the best friend of the man she had had a crush on since childhood and a man to whom she had confessed her love, albeit not so romantically as Alenis had just done.
Pushing Alenis away, Terri sprang up from her bed. "Gustave, I . . . uh, we . . . I can explain." Could she really?
Gustave froze, startled at the scene he walked in on. He didn't know whether to be angry or embarrassed, so he just muttered some gibberish and backed out of the tent, not zipping it shut. He turned and walked away, towards the trees, walking mindlessly as he tried to comprehend what he'd just seen.
Terri and Alenis? Kissing? What is going on? I thought she liked me, not my best friend. Was I imagining it? No, that can't be . . . but then what? A million thoughts raced through his head as he leaned back against a tree. He didn't even notice the footsteps approaching him.
Alenis watched as Terri dashed out of the tent after Gustave. She felt guilty, not for kissing Terri. She need to let her know how she felt, in case she didn't make it back tomorrow. She had to. But she never intended for Gustave to see it. She never did. With a sigh, the Bajoran lay down on the bed and draped Terri's blanket over herself. This could be the last time she ever felt her warmth.
Catching sight of Gustave leaning against one of those ancient trees several meters away, Terri slowed down her pace and contemplated what she should say to him, but nothing came to her. By the time she got to Gustave, she could only manage an awkward "Hi."
Gustave turned to acknowledge her, a contemplative look on his face. He turned back to look at the little bird he saw on a high branch in a tree just a few yards away. "So, you and Alenis," he commented, phrasing it like a statement, but really asking for an explanation.
"Yeah, about that." Terri mumbled. "We . . . I mean . . . I didn't mean for it to happen. It just, it just happened." That much was the truth.
"That's nice," Gustave replied, the words coming out more sharply that he'd intended. He once again wondered if it was jealousy, but instead of repressing the anger, he just let it sit and burn, making his face heat up. He crossed his arms as he leaned back, still staring at that bird.
Terri followed Gustave's gaze to the bird on the branch. It was pretty. She had no idea what it was, but it was pretty.
She turned back to the man to whom she was desperately trying to explain something she didn't even know how to explain to herself. She stumbled on her words again. She hated stumbling on her words.
"We . . . Alenis said she was going on a mission to Cairo, and . . . and I got upset because Captain Ishikawa wouldn't let me go with her, so . . . then, then it just happened. Before I know it, Alenis was kissing me. I wanted to push her away, but . . . but it felt good."
Looking down at her boots, Terri let out a sigh. "She wanted me, and . . . it felt good."
As the words came out of her mouth, she felt guilty, and then anger crept in. Why should she feel guilty? She hadn't done anything wrong.
Gustave felt guilty, too. He hadn't made Terri, one of his oldest and closest friends, feel wanted. He knew she put up a tough front, but also wanted love, too. He tried to carefully pick his words, but they probably weren't very polite, seeing as he was in such a strange state of mind. "I'm glad she can be that for you," he said, deadpan, not trying to come of as snide, but unable to pretend to be happy for her.
Terri scowled. He didn't care. Gustave didn't care at all. "That's all you have to say?!"
Gustave glared at her, "What do you want me to say?" He raised his voice, "That I'm furious that my best friend, Alenis, would go behind my back to be with you? How I'm confused that you took only a week to go from loving me to loving her? What else am I supposed to say? If you're happy with her, be with her. It's not my job to tell you what to do, you're an adult." He, by this point, was towering over her, the betrayal and fury burning in his eyes.
He took a deep breath and leaned back against the tree. He looked back at the bird as it fluttered its wings a little, looking like it was about to fly away. It didn't, but he watched anyways.
Now it was Terri's turn to raise her voice. "That's complete B.S.! You were the one that pushed me away, literally. Remember? Back in Ontario? Ever since you have been keeping me at arm's length, and now you are accusing me of cheating on you? I didn't even know we were in a relationship! Yeah, I like Alenis, and we kissed. So what? At least she wants me, and she tells me. What have you been doing? Hur? How do I even know you like me?! You . . ."
"I never said we were in a relationship. What I said is that you are being wishy-washy. And of course I like you Terri, you're just too charming to resist," Gustave replied sarcastically. He wasn't even tentative about it anymore as he kept looking at the bird, not willing to give her the satisfaction of his eye contact. His arms were crossed again, shutting her out. He felt stupid for ever liking her, two people like them were practically destined to end up in fights like this.
Terri had half a mind to just slap Gustave in the face. She had beat the crap out of people for causing her far less grief. But she would not give him the satisfaction of knowing that she cared about their relationship - that she cared about him - enough to want to beat some sense out of him. Terri Cornelia Lee was not a weakling that grovelled for other people's attention and love. She was strong, just like her mom.
But that didn't mean she had to let him off the hook so easily. In fact, she's not gonna to let him off the hook at all, not until he apologized and told her he loved her. She knew he did, and it vexed her to no end that he was too cowardly to admit it and instead blamed her for everything.
She took one step closer, her eyes glaring with fire. "I am wishy-washy? How do you figure? You were the one that said you wanted to talk about what happened in Ontario. But what haven you done since then? Nothing. Zero. Nil! Every time it comes up, you change the subject. Every. Single. Time! And would you just look at me for once when I talk to you?! Don't you pretend I'm not here!"
Gustave glanced over to her, made eye contact, then looked back at the bird. "I'm not the one avoiding the conversation, whenever we almost talk about it, Alenis is always there. Always. It's like she never leaves your side! She's either doting on you, staring deep into your eyes, or kissing you. How am I supposed to talk about anything with you when you two are constantly lost in each others eyes?" He kept his voice level, but the undertone of anger was impossible to miss.
"So now you are blaming Alenis?!" Terri bellowed. "Leave her out of this, Gustave. It's between you and me. And would you stop looking at that stupid bird!!"
Gustave rolled his eyes, "Alenis kissed you. So she's definitely a part of this," he retorted. "I can't talk about anything personal with you when she's constantly following you like a lost puppy. You're either leading her on or me, so I'd really appreciate it if you'd choose," he concluded, never once taking his eyes off the bird.
For a brief moment that felt all too long Terri was lost for words. Was she leading Gustave on? And Alenis? . . . No, it couldn't be. She didn't even know what the heck had just happened ten minutes ago. No, she had done nothing wrong. No, she had no apology to make.
"Screw this!" She roared. "Screw you! And screw your stupid bird!" At that, she picked up a piece of rock lying next to her feet and hurled it at that innocent little bird on the branch, scaring it away.
"Screw you!" She roared one last time before turning and marching away, to where, she didn't know. As her pace picked up, she cursed under her breath. "Screw you, stupid tears! Screw you!"
Gustave muttered to Terri's back as she stormed away, "Nice talk, glad we had it." He sighed, then sat with his back to the tree. He looked to the tree branch where the tiny bird sat just moments ago, and he felt a little empty inside. Like some part of him flew away with the bird.
[To be continued . . .]
Lieutenant JG Terri C. Lee
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant JG Alenis Laren
(NPC - Oliver)
Lieutenant Gustave Dolarian
(NPC - Theo)