A Long Good Bye
Episode 1: A Lesson in Humility
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: En Route
Ian did his best to fight back the emotions he was feeling. When Elias had been on the ship he knew he had fallen for him. Fallen so hard for him in fact that his wandering eye had stopped wandering and he had moved in with him. There had been some ups and downs, as there were in any relationship, but they worked through those. When the Security Officer had been given a temporary assignment elsewhere(Elias hadn't been able to tell Ian where the assignment was) Ian had worried about his partner but had naively believed that the assignment really was just a temporary thing.
But now, through no fault of Elias, that was no longer the case. He'd been reassigned to the USS Repulse. They had just finished speaking with each other over sub-space. By the end of the call, they had decided that trying to maintain a long-distance relationship wasn't going to work.
Not quite prepared to give up on what they had started to build together, Ian headed to the Captain's Ready Room. When he had arrived, he pressed the chime on the door.
The captain was not behind her desk, as was so often the case, but on a small series of cushions arranged under one of the viewports in the semblance of a bench. This being an ‘off day’ for her, she’d assumed a more casual work style than usual, avoiding the desk and opting for the uniform dress instead. She’d been seated there composing a letter when the door rang, complete with padd and stylus. “Enter,” she said, scribbling the last few lines on the digital page before she lost her thought. Looking up, she saw who had entered. “Ah, Lieutenant. Please come in.”
Ian walked in slowly an uncharacteristic frown pulling the corners of his mouth down. Noticing that his commanding officer wasn't at her desk, he said, "Sorry to barge in here unexpectedly like this ma'am. Do you have a minute?"
The frown stuck out to her immediately. She made a welcoming gesture to one of the chairs on her side of the room. “Certainly. Here take a seat. What’s going on?”
"It's about Elias, uh, Lieutenant Lindholm. We were dating, seeing each other. But it was more than that, I had moved in with him. And I just talked to him, he has been permanently reassigned. Had you heard that?"
The woman let out a sigh. “I had heard of the transfer. He’ll be working with Starfleet Intelligence for a bit. Length of the assignment is indefinite. I hadn’t known the extent of your relationship though. I’m very sorry. I’d been hoping we’d be getting Mr. Lindholm back.”
"Starfleet Intel? He told me the Repulse. But then I guess he'd have to say something like that."
"I had really started to love him. I mean, I wasn't even flirting with anyone else. I just can't believe it."
She shook her head at the miscommunication. "He didn't lie to you. His work with Intel is the reason for his posting on the Repulse. But yes, I understand. Having someone you've grown that close to leave could prove to be very difficult. How have you taken it so far?"
"I am still trying to process it honestly. I'm angry with him, I'm angry with Starfleet. Hell, I am even mad at myself. But I know it's not really anybody's fault. It's just the way things are. Have you ever had to deal with this kind of thing ma'am?"
Charlotte tilted her head a little. "What kind of thing? The transfer?"
"Yes," the diplomat replied, "I mean the transfer. You know, of someone you love."
"Oh, I see," Charlotte said, pausing for a moment to think. She'd not been submitted to such a thing necessarily. Losing Alina had been far, far more complicated than that. And her role in it wasn't as straightforward as Ian's was here. But still, she could relate. "I've been through something...similar in some ways. It's not an easy process."
Ian nodded, "I don't know what you went through, but you're right. It's not easy. It's probably not any harder for an Akadian, though it feels that way, because, because our take on intimacy differs from most Federation species. But I have tried to conform to Federation standards and so I have been focused on him exclusively for a couple of months."
"I have no one to move on with."
She sat back a little, looking off while thinking. She hadn't really had anyone to turn to either. Not even friends. "Well, in many Federation cultures, having someone to move on with actually presents a bit of an obstacle. Frequently, we push off dealing with our actual feelings on the loss and seek out some kind of rebound relationship. We go rushing, urgently searching for a replacement of the intimacy we just lost. More often than not, it ends up leading to a relationship where too much was invested too quickly. The new relationship can't sustain the load or was never meant to in the first place, and it fails, leading to further heartbreak. I know it can be difficult, but healing the right way can be a lot better for you than finding a quick way to soothe the pain."
"Your words ring true, Captain. But how do you say it...it's easier to say than to do," Ian replied.
The captain nodded, tilting her head a little in concession. "Never said it was easy. But you also don't have to do that kind of thing alone. The Counselor can help tremendously with that kind of thing. And I know she'd be willing to fit you in if you reach out."
He nodded. "I think that is probably a good idea. I'll set some time to see her. I had come here to ask for a transfer to the Repulse to be with him. But, but he didn't ask and I think this is my home."
Charlotte paused for a moment, trying to figure out what message he was trying to convey there. He'd considered leaving, and that worried her about his commitment to some extent. He was already an exchange officer, who had come to know Defiant as home under a different captain. Now, the man he'd fallen for had been called away and Ian had fewer familiar faces around him. That would loosen even a well-established anchor. "Oh. I didn't know you'd considered a transfer. Is that...something that you want to pursue?"
Ian shook his head slowly back and forth. Then with a shrug of his shoulders said, "No, ma'am. not now. If he had asked me, then I would have, or at least I would have seriously considered it. But he didn't ask. I'm not going to chase him, not if he doesn't want to be caught."
"Like I said, this is my home. If anything, I would apply to become a Starfleet officer."
“I see,” she said, sitting back again. The pendulum of opinions made her a little skeptical of anything he said at the moment. Recent heartbreak could get people to take rash actions. “I’m not sure how much of a choice Elias really had on the matter, so I wouldn’t take that as any kind of slight to your relationship. Sometimes circumstances just get in the way. As for becoming a Starfleet Officer, I think you should consider the consequences heavily. We’d discussed it before, but I want you to be sure that such a thing is what you actually want and not just a reaction to something.”
The diplomat stepped away suppressing a sigh, "I'll grant that he may not have had any say in the matter. As for joining Starfleet, I have been considering it for some time. I'm not quite ready to make that decision, but I'm close. And it has nothing to do with Elias or leaving the ship. I just have a lot to think about now. Maybe the counselor can help with that."
"Well, once you've had some time to think about it if you decide to move forward, let me know," she said, a comforting smile spreading across her face. "And I am sorry you've had to deal with this."
"I believe there is an old Terran saying, 'that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' I'll survive. I'll be better, stronger. Just not right now. Thank you for your time, ma'am," Ian replied as he moved towards the exit. "Permission to leave ma'am?"
She could see he wanted to leave. He'd edged that way a few times already. It probably was an awkward conversation to some extent, even for his culture. The question was a little funny as he'd already begun his departure, but she gave a nod. "Permission granted. I'm here if you need someone to talk to."
He nodded. "Thanks again for your time. I will keep that in mind."