A Mess of Personal Entanglements
Location: Aboard Proxima Centauri Compound
Timeline: Following Shuttle Ride Prep
The bottle landed with a clink on the table, spinning slightly until it landed securely on its base. Charlotte watched the way it spun, noting the way it maintained its balance even as it seemed to verge on tipping. And yet, it didn’t fall. There was something admirable in that. The thought was comforting in a way, as she idealized the glass container. It only took another moment before she realized that the contents of the bottle must have had some effect on her.
Giving the room some attention, she looked around again. To help facilitate their efforts, the station commander had awarded what would usually be an apartment suite. Each of the Defiant officers had the comfort of their own guest rooms, and a large common area between them. They’d spent the last few hours here, combing through the pile of evidence handed over as part of discovery. Maralen and Dante were a short distance away, discussing the details of the Admiral’s potential witness tampering. But they may as well have been across the system.
Charlotte found herself circling the same thoughts, similar to the bottle but with less grace. She was incredibly angry at Alina, an anger which helped cover the wound the woman had left on her. And that cloak of anger stretched to encompass Charlotte’s father as well, theoretically a man who was supposed to be an advocate for her. Or if nothing else, someone she could reach out to for support. But their relationship hadn’t looked that way for a long time. And the anger she felt toward him cloaked a sadness there as well. Longing for the relationship that had ceased years ago. Longing for the better times. Longing for her mother.
And that was when the metaphorical emotional bottle spun off of its even rotation. Unlike her beer bottle, her mind hit the speed bump of her mother’s death and just crashed. That one fateful day had cost so much. She’d lost the person she cared most for in the world.
Had that only happened once, it would have been too much. She’d overcome that one. But she’d lost the person she cared most for again last summer. It hadn’t been quite the same this time. There was no Romulan Attack. There was no mourning. Instead there was the stinging pain in her back from a double betrayal. Alina, the woman she loved, who’d lied to her through their entire relationship. And her father, the only parent she had left, who’d decided to make it his mission to destroy her out of some deranged attempt to cover his own sense of loss.
With a sigh, she rested her face in her hands. “I don’t know if I can go in there tomorrow,” she said, mostly involuntarily. She hadn’t been planning on showing that vulnerability to her crew, but she’d been briefly overcome with dread at the idea of facing them tomorrow. Even seeing Alina’s face on the comm had messed her up for days last time. Only the parasite invasion proved to be a big enough distraction.
Looking at the other man with a slightly embarrassed look on his face, not embarrassment for himself, but for their captain, and how hard this was hitting her, Dante cleared his throat. "I"m not sure you have much of a choice anymore. Now that we are here, if you tried to leave, I imagine your father would have station security stop you.", he said, knowing it wouldn't be a helpful answer, but also knowing it was more than likely an understatement in regards to how the man would react.
“No, of course not. I just...” Charlotte thought about how much she wanted to share. “It’s the first I’ll have seen her in person since all this started.”
Maralen studied the look in her eyes, the way she held her posture. All the tiny details that told him about a person. And what her details said was that she was worried, trying not to be, and definitely wishing she could be anywhere but here and conflicted about that. He imagined if he were sitting closer, he would be able to smell these things on her too.
He wished that he could put an arm around her and purr, giving her some form of small comfort, but that would be inappropriate, so he put all of his feelings away and tried to speak from a place of calm neutrality. He didn't quite succeed. "It isn't so much that you want to leave as it is that you aren't sure how you'll feel when you see her again?" he queried gently.
"I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive," Charlotte said. "I don't want to have to look at her. I don't want to have to look at him either. Or the people in the courtroom watching. I don't like that my personal life is on full display, something I actively work to avoid. And I don't like that I even need to do this at all. I don't want to be here, in some luxury suite on a penal colony. I want to be back on Defiant, or enjoying my Sedona cabin. Or hell, even in a briefing at Starfleet HQ."
She'd always felt far more comfortable in the uniform than outside it. In uniform, she was a Starfleet Captain. Respected, sought out for advice, and authoritative. Out of uniform...she wasn't really sure. It'd been some time before she had a firm answer there. At that thought, something in her mind clicked.
"That's it. I've been looking at everything here wrong. I'm looking at court files which spill my personal business everywhere. But that's not what's important here. There's a Starfleet officer who committed a crime and an Admiral who has crossed the line in investigating this. I need to stop viewing this is Alina and my father. It's a case of Lt. Commander Soyka and Admiral Reynolds. Both of which are out of accordance with Starfleet ideals." Charlotte stood up at the realization. Thoughts were beginning to fly through her mind and she wanted to get them down before they left her. "Um...please excuse me, both of you. I think I know what I'm going to do. But I need some time to prepare myself. I'll see you both in the morning."
She felt bad, but she didn't wait for a reply. She turned and was off into her private room, the fingers on her right hand wiggling slightly as she thought through the ideas in her mind.
Her reaction was rather sudden, and it made Maralen blink a few times as she disappeared from the room. He frowned ever so slightly, but that lasted only a moment before it was pushed behind his normal calm facade. He was pleased that they had apparently helped her, and he hoped that whatever her plan was, it worked. Ether way, he would back her up when the time came. For now, he returned to watching the sensor screens.