STF

Nash's Quarters, Late Night Talks

Posted Jan. 16, 2021, 1:10 a.m. by Lieutenant Revna Edman (Counselor) (Jennifer Ward)

Posted by Lieutenant Revna Edman (Counselor) in Nash’s Quarters, Late Night Talks

Posted by Lieutenant Commander Ethan Nash (Chief Tactical Officer) in Nash’s Quarters, Late Night Talks

After dinner Revna headed back to her quarters, which, luckily for her, were just down the corridor. She entered and sat down at her desk and leaned back. She breathed slowly forcing the air. Her hands were cold, but not tingling yet. But her chest was tight and the sensation made her feel like she couldn’t breath as deep as she really could. She checked the time, and she should have left dinner much earlier, at least for a few minutes, to do this. Rather than lean forward, she swiveled her chair so she could reach the small medical box on her desk. She placed it in her lap and opened it. She pulled out the hypospray the doctor had given her. She did another evaluation of the amount of pain and difficulty she was having, adjusted the dosage according the doctor’s instructions. She unbuttoned the top of her collar and pressing the hypo to the side of her neck, hit the button to administer the medicine. She replaced the hypo to the box and put it back on her desk. She closed her eyes as she waited for the medicine to start working. That was the beauty of hyposprays, they worked fast. It would only take a moment, and not minutes.

Now to decide if she was going back out. Of course if she asked Runa, Runa would send her to bed like a sick child. She smiled, it was a blessing to have her here, but really, it was curse too. Runa was bossy and nosy. Well, if Revna was honest, so was she when it came to her sister. While she waited for the medicine to kick in, Revna let the tighter braids out of her hair and wove them again into loser holds, simply to give herself something to do while she thought. Well the invitation was one she didn’t want to turn down, so now that the medicine was working, “Computer, Where is Lt. Cmdr. Nash?”

LT. CMDR. NASH IS IN HIS QUARTERS. Revna got the location and then headed out of her quarters, down the corridor and got on the turbolift. Once it stopped at the designated deck, she stepped out and down to her destination. She pressed the chime. When the door opened, with a michevious glint to her copper colored eyes, and half grin, “You said something about talking?”
Lt. Edman, Counselor

“I lied,” Nash admitted, but he smiled. Not a smirk or a grin, but a small, genuine smile. “I hate talking, but come in and take a seat. I’ll get you a drink, you look like you could use something mellow.”

“Of course you did,” she tossed over her shoulder with a small smile as she walked into his quarters. “If you give me more cookie dough ice cream, I’ll forgive you.” It was a half hearted attempt at banter, something was on her mind, or bothering her. She took in the wide open windows, it making the room feel bigger than it was. She moved around to the couch to sit, leaning back into the corner taking in the room. Something mellow. That was accurate. So either she was wearing her thoughts on her sleeve, which she rarely did, or he was very good at reading people, or maybe just her.

He turned for a cabinet that was off to one side, an old thing with wooden doors framed by glass that opened to reveal a selection of real alcohol from across the galaxy, and a number of tumblers and glasses of various shapes and sizes to go with them. It showed a person with an eye for detail, rather than someone who simply drank for the sake of drinking. A purpose to what he did that showed thought rather than reaction. “I’m glad you accepted my invite though,” Nash told her, “I enjoyed our short stint in the nebula. Is there anything you fancy to drink in particular?”

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

She watched him open the cabinet and whistled short and low in appreciation of the contents. “That is a cabinet worth plundering, Nash.” She contemplated the question. She usually had a strict two drink limit, which she hit during dinner, but they weren’t particularly strong drinks, and Revna could drink most people under the table. Well she did before, anyway. “Something smooth with a subtle kick, or,” she shrugged not really having a preference. She smiled though, “I will never look at a nebula the same way again.” She glanced out the window remembering the colors dancing around the inside of the unique shuttle. “I’m glad you offered the invite,” she remarked turning her gaze back to him. “So if you don’t talk, what are going to do other than drink?”

Lt. Edman, Counselor

Nash laughed, a short and quiet sound as he took two glass tumblers from the cabinet and placed them on a small shelf that he had pulled out once the doors were opened. They were cold, the shelf they were kept on chilled with cool air from a small fan he had fitted into the cabinet. “That makes it sound like there is something else worth doing other than drinking. There usually isn’t,” he glanced at Revna, and his eyes spoke of the humor in his words. “Something smooth with a subtle kick, an after dinner drink that I can do.” He took a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream from the shelf and poured a measure into each glass, those measures being at least a finger more than what was considered correct. He was practical at least, and the Baileys substituted well for Ice Cream in his opinion.

Picking up both glasses, Nash turned back to Revna and the couch. “Computer, play some music, quietly,” he said, and walked over to join her as words started to gently sound from the sound system in his room. There were words only, and the voice was female and in the quiet, sounded haunting. The effect larger because of the low lighting that Nash kept in his room naturally.

They came for him, one winter’s night. Arrested he was bound.
They said there’d been a robbery, his pistol had been found.

Handing the cool tumbler to Revna, Nash sat down beside her. He was close to her, he made no effort to sit at the other end of the couch and he sat back and visibly relaxed while music began to join the woman’s words. The sound wasn’t a common one and it was an instrument that wouldn’t be placed by a casual listener but sounded exotic, invoking the feeling of times long past. “Does the light bother you?” Nash asked, meaning the lack of bright light in his room and the view of the stars unimpeded by curtains in his quarters. “I keep it low, it suits me better but I can make it brighter if you like.”

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

Revna smiled softly, so not only did Nash smile, he laughed too. “If drinking is the only activity then there are two ways to do it. Knock back shots, or savor the finer choices.” She glanced at the cabinet, and then back at his eyes, “Savoring a collection like that, could take all night.” Obviously what he had was not for getting stupid. Many people often expected Revna to sip wine or even tea, but this, well not Bailey’s exactly, was the type of drink that Revna grew up with. “I could kick the Solo habit for this.”

“Good, terrible stuff that.” Nash teased her.

Her gold-flecked copper eyes twinkled as he teased her. Revna grinned and tapped him playfully on the back of his hand as he passed by her to sit, “You didn’t even try it.” Of course she left out the fact she hadn’t either. She’d been too busy enjoying the delicacy that was chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream. And Solo and ice-cream did not mix well. She knew that, and either he did too, or he’d never tried Solo.

She took the glass from him as he sat down next to her and sipped it. Bailey’s was one of her favorite’s if she was having something more desert oriented. “Almost as good as cookie dough ice cream,” she joked unknowingly reflecting his thoughts. The smooth drink was what she’d wanted, and she also knew she’d better sip slowly too. The kick of Bailey’s could sneak up on you. “No, low lights don’t bother me. The lights are fine.” The only time her own lights were every bright was when she was working. Not usually this low, but lower. “I prefer natural light, don’t get a lot of that on a space ship. Unless you know someone who can get a ship maneuvered to take advantage of a passing nebula.” The gold in her eyes danced in amusement. She still didn’t know how he’d managed that.

“A rare skill that one,” he said absently as if it was something that was almost unheard of. “I mean that kind of thing would be pretty special. I can’t imagine someone redirecting a Star Ship for just any old purpose.”

“It would certainly have to be someone with a specific set of skills and unique influence. I can’t imagine what would motivate such a person to create such an opportunity.” Revna wasn’t one to fish for compliments, in fact it never crossed her mind, she was simply enjoying the conversation and the company of the man sitting next to her. Her expression turned softly serious for a moment, “ ‘Pretty special’ doesn’t cover it. A better phrase would be spectacularly unparalleled.”

They marched to the station house, He waited for the dawn
And as they led him to the dock, He knew that he’d been wronged
“You stand accused of robbery,” He heard the bailiff say
He knew without an alibi, Tomorrow’s light would mourn his freedom

She took another sip listening to the music. A flash of recognition went across her face. She rested the chilled glass on the arm of the couch, her fingers on her empty hand began to tap out the rhythm before the instrument began to play. As the chorus began, Revna began to sing very softly. Her voice obviously had a similar haunting quality as the singer. But it neither had the volume or strength it used to.

Over the hills and far away, For ten long years he’ll count the days
Over the mountains and blue seas, A prisoner’s life for him there’ll be

She stopped mid-word. She just couldn’t manage it yet. She took a sip of her drink again. It was obvious she used to sing a lot. “A Hurdy Gurdy. Music from my homeland.” She shook her head, staring into the glass a moment. Nash was full of surprises.
Lt Edman, Counselor

He knew that it would cost him dear, But yet he dare not say
Just where he’d been that fateful night, A secret it must stay
He had to fight back tears of rage, His heart beat like a drum
For with the wife of his best friend, He spent his final night of freedom

As Revna listened to the words, while catching her breath, the similarity between the man in the song and Nash occurred to her. Not down to the specifics of course, but enough. He was the kind of man who would give up a lot for someone he loved. And then the little details almost filled in the blanks. The PaDD that looked like it was attached to the table next to the singular chair, with the not quite there scuff marks where the PaDD had been dragged repeatedly across the surface. The reputation with the women, who attested to the fact he never asked their names, and the iron wall to keep the world away. The bottle of very fine drink, barely empty but a seal that had long ago been broken. And Revna stopped there. She was a naturally observant person, it had nothing to do with being a counselor, but she only wanted to know if he wanted to tell her. Revna wasn’t sure what was going on between them, if there even was anything, but no matter what it was the details didn’t concern her and they wouldn’t change her opinion.

“Not many people know that one these days,” Nash said, impressed at both the fact she knew the song and the instrument. “Fewer can sing like that. Pity your lungs are taking their time to heal. It shows when you struggle to breath a bit how hard it is. It looked like you were struggling a little at dinner as well, how did it go?”

Sitting back in the chair next to her, Nash sipped his drink. Unlike his whiskey and hard spirits, he didn’t throw this one back with abandon but took a small sip, his other hand along the back of the sofa so that he could face her and talk without having to turn his head constantly.

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

Revna turned on the couch, reflecting his posture, her arm resting on the back of the couch still tapping out the rhythm of the music. This position was actually easier, letting her recline just a fraction and easing the pressure. “Well then, when my lungs are better, I’ll sing the whole thing for you.” Revna didn’t say ‘if,’ even though that was the more accurate word. She surprised herself with the offer though. She sang a lot, on her own and in her little village. She’d organized a lot of karaoke events on Centurion, but unless backed to a corner had never actually sang in them. But for her, it was a very personal thing. The offer was genuine though, she would like to sing it for him, but it felt like a rather intimate gesture, and she flushed slightly.

Over the hills and far away, He swears he will return one day
Far from the mountains and the seas, Back in her arms again he’ll be
Over the hills and over the hills, and Over the hills
and Over the hills and Over the hills and far away

She sipped at her drink, enjoying the smooth flavor and then let the subtle kick ease the tightness in her chest. His question caught her off guard. “I thought you didn’t like to talk?” She swirled her drink slightly and took another sip. “What was it you said? Oh yes ‘I talked this time so next time it’s your turn.’ And I talked last time.” Her voice said she was teasing him. And then she answered his question, “Some days are easier than others. Today was harder.” She shrugs slightly, “A consequence I have to learn to live with.” She flexed her fingers slightly. To the touch they would be ice cold and were that slightly white, not yet blue color, that showed how hard of a day she’d actually had. “Especially when I spend the day with very active children. As for dinner, I must have made some impression on Mardusk because he wanted me to meet his girl friend.”

“Hopefully it was a friendly impression and not a professional one,” Nash grinned. “Nothing worse than talking about work over dinner, right?” He was half teasing, that was basically exactly what the two of them had done on their first meeting. “And yes, I hate talking, drink some more.” Nash laughed softly then, sipping his drink but he watched her and let her continue speaking.

Revna started to comment that most people don’t know the difference between the counselor on duty and the person off duty, but Nash most certainly did, or was making the effort. And she was more interested in being here with him than contemplating how her work affected her social life. Her eyes danced at him as he decreed that they drink more. She raised her glass to her lips and took a long draw off the glass. The Bailey’s was still cold and smooth. She caught his gaze and she wondered if he was aware how much his eyes gave away. At his teasing her whole demeanor shifted subtly and she raised the glass to contemplate it a moment and then she took another sip. Something in her eyes told him she was about to call him out on something, and there was more there, she was teasing him, full out flirtatious teasing. “Well at least neither of them asked me on a date to avoid having to complete their fitness for duty eval. I only know one person who can successfully pull that off.” Yes, he kept her off balance, but she also had figured out what he had been up to. After she’d stopped trying to figure out what he meant about not dating on a first date.

Each night within his prison cell, He looks out through the bars
He reads the letters that she wrote, One day he’ll know the taste of freedom

She knew in the end she’d been there because Mardusk was deeply worried about Lera, but that crossed over the line into work, so there wasn’t much she could say about that. “It was a nice dinner anyway, until” She sighs takes a long sip of her drink, and then she carefully placed the glass on the nearby table. “two crewman decided to start a shouting match and almost come to blows.” She forces the breath slowly. The sudden stress of the situation easily remembered, and she recognizes she’s expecting more of herself than she would someone else in her place. She stares out the window briefly and then meets his gaze. “Apparently I’m not handling my own recovery as well as I thought.” She flexes her fingers again.
Lt Edman, Counselor

“Well by the looks of your recovery, it’s not something that is going well or quickly. I’m surprised you are back at work really,” he told her and watched as she flexed her fingers. Nash enjoyed her company, but he was still wary and inside him he felt like keeping his distance. She was doing her own healing, both inside and out and Nash knew he wasn’t exactly the best influence for someone doing their own healing. He wasn’t even the best influence for his own healing, but he knew he was kidding himself, he hadn’t healed inside and still had walls up that he had a huge amount of sandbags ready to reinforce.

Sipping his drink again, he watched her. Her eyes, beads in her hair and the way her face moved lightly when she spoke or when a thought surfaced, the twitch of her cheek before she spoke revealing she was about to voice something she had been thinking of and wasn’t impromptu. Normally, Nash might have flirted more or made a pass at her on their first meeting, instead he had tried to talk, the horror! Knowing that sat well with him however, he had his own set of morals and he knew that at this point, Revna needed to heal more than she needed to be hit on. Even normal activity brought on difficulty breathing for her, Nash briefly considered the effect anything else might have on those lungs, and it wasn’t something he wanted her to struggle with, if she even had thought about the possibility of something going on between them. Heck even Nash didn’t know if he had considered the possibility really, he had his walls and nobody wanted to deal with that baggage.

And there it was, in the depths of those ice blue eyes. A flash of attraction, slight humor and then concern and doubt, and refusal. Revna had never wanted to walk out of a room so much in her life, but that wasn’t her way. She hadn’t considered how her injuries would affect her intimate relationship with someone. She’d been too busy recovering and learning to manage. Until he’d taken her out on that shuttle and then said good night at her door. But what had really got her, was Kai and then Vash, and his nosey self, asking who’d she’d kissed last if there was someone important in her life. And she’d wondered what it would be like for that person to be Ethan Nash. And then D’Vash was joking about her sister’s butt dimple, and Nash had simple looked at her. To everyone else he’d appeared curiously bored, but she’d seen the laughter in his eyes. Being totally honest with herself, she enjoyed the banter, the teasing laughter in his eyes, and his calm. She never felt like she had to expect more of herself than she was willing to offer around him. She was drawn to that soft laughter, that she knew no one else heard, and the way he teased her. But that look, the doubt, told her what he was thinking. She’d thought about it in passing, in a distant way. They hadn’t been to that point and she hadn’t dwelled on it. She’d been enjoying his company in the moment and not really considering anything more in a serious manner. But his look told her maybe she should have. There was an old saying about a man taking a woman’s breath away. It was meant to be romantic. But in her case, it really wasn’t. The fact that it could really happen, and it could be deadly, wasn’t an attractive thing to consider. What man would want take that on? And she wouldn’t ask it of anyone.

Over the hills and far away, She prays he will return one day
As sure as the rivers reach the seas, Back in his arms she swears she’ll be
Over the hills and far away, He swears he will return one day
As sure as the rivers reach the seas, Back in his arms is where she’ll be
Over the hills and over the hills, Over the hills over the hills, Over the the hills and far away

“To me it looks like you are trying to do too much, push yourself harder than you can handle. You seem to be trying to prove to yourself that you are strong, expecting yourself to get back into the swing of things because that’s your job.” His hand moved and he tapped a finger against hers, the fingers she was flexing. “To prove to yourself that you aren’t hurt.”

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

She sipped her drink slowly, watching those eyes. Eyes that hid a deep burning fire. A passion for life that he tried to keep hidden. She saw it anyway. His brooding personality that wasn’t really him. It was a wall, as surely as that bulkhead protected them from the vacuum of space. “Speaking from experience?” she wasn’t calling him out, or prying. His words seemed to reflect her own uncertainty and sense of being lost. She contemplated his words and then grinned slightly teasingly, “Are you trying to be my counselor, Mr. Nash?” His hand was warm against her cold one, but more she remembered how it felt as he held hers as he showed her the nebula from her window. Absently, she laced her fingers through his. “Maybe I am.” The corner of her mouth quirked almost in a smile correcting herself. “Not maybe, I am. Compared to what I used to do though, my work load here is a vacation. But I have no doubt I’m hurt.” She was reminded of that painfully, every time she woke up unable to breathe and her vision went dark, while she tried to find the hypo. “No, Nash, if I’m honest, it’s because I’m afraid I’m on stolen time.” She takes several long sips of her drink, finishing it and then putting the glass down. “You’re right, the healing isn’t going well. My body has stopped responding. Now I’m faced with a decision: a half life the way I am and the consequences, or dangerous surgery. So, yeah, I’m probably working more than I should.”
Lt. Edman, Counselor

“We’re all on stolen time,” he said quietly. A slight sigh and a look that gave away that his mind was light years away in that short moment, before returning to the room they were in. “Every day we use time that isn’t ours. Our choice is simply what we do with it and yeah, I am speaking from experience.” He grinned slightly and pushed himself to his feet, taking her glass again to refill.

“You’re physically injured, and with that is the stuff up here,” he said tapping a finger to his head, “that wants you to push yourself to be better before your body is ready. For me, it’s here,” he said this while tapping a finger to his chest, and then walked towards the drinks. “I haven’t healed on the inside, but I still push myself. Why, I have no idea. Maybe I think I owe it to the crew I killed trying to do what I believed was right. To carry on in their place when I took away their stolen time. If you have the choice, Revna, don’t live a half life. If you do, you get what I have become, a shadow of what I used to be and a bitterness inside against exactly that.”

She was not expecting that admission. Nash was honest, not like an open book, but he was not deceitful. But he had parts of himself he kept close to the chest and secure from prying eyes. She respected that, but his words tugged at her in a very personal way. Nash wasn’t broken, just lost. Revna was lost too and she knew it, she just couldn’t find her way out of it. Out of the shadows that her life had become. She’d helped so many out of these very shadows, but she had no idea how to help herself. “You might be in the shadows, Nash, but you are not a shadow. You are no more broken than I am. You’re just lost in the shadows, like me.” It was said softly, but she honestly believed it.

Having refilled her glass, he turned and walked back to Revna on the couch and handed her the glass again. This time he didn’t sit down straight away, just took a drink and looked out the window. “I’ll tell you about my old crew sometime, another night. Tonight isn’t about them though.” Now, he moved to sit down beside her, but he did something unexpected first. He leaned down and gave her a light kiss on the forehead, then sat down beside her. He offered no explanation for the light, brief kiss on her forehead, he just looked at her and asked a question. “So tell me about the dangerous surgery Princess.”

Lt Cmdr Nash

She took the glass sipping it slowly; being a silent companion to his introspection of what he saw outside his window. His words surprised her in a way. Just minutes before there had been that sadly mutual understanding that anything more than a drink was uncertain. But his words indicated more, a continuation of their time together. The building of whatever this was. He said he was hurt, in his heart, in his soul. She understood the trust he was offering her by telling her, at some point, about the crew and the wound so close to his soul, but some things required quiet acknowledgment and not words. But the kiss surprised her even more, and she stilled at the touch. She looked up at him, watching his eyes as slight color flushed her cheeks. He didn’t offer an explanation and she didn’t ask. But a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

Princess? Again with that word. Unwilling to dispel the moment they had created in the air around them, she held back her tongue. But one brow raised slightly and her eyes flashed gold in challenge at the word. The term riled her and he knew it. She could certainly be princess of the room if that’s what he wanted, and that meant she could do what she wanted, right? She moved, it was subtle, but now she was sitting next to him, her back to his chest, reclined against him, comfortable and relaxed despite the topic of his question.

Nash didn’t flinch as she moved, he had expected some kind of non-verbal reaction to his impromptu peck on the head and now he had it. It was better than a slap, sometimes. He let her lean into him, he even leaned back slightly himself meaning that she was further reclined and pressing into him harder. It was a little, slight thing, but it built an air of closer intimacy and trust in a sense. If he moved away now, she would fall backwards before she could mostly stop herself whereas before, she could of sat up easily with no effort. Moving his drink to his far hand, he let his free arm lie along the couch beside her. Not around her, but close enough at this angle that it increased the feeling of closeness.

It never occurred to Revna to refuse to answer him. To not lay this baggage at his door when he had asked. She drinks slowly from her glass, searching for the answer to his question. “My body has healed enough to start healing on its own. But now instead of healing smoothly there is a lot of scar tissue.” She starts to sip her drink again, but stops and lowers it back down to her lap. “There are a few options, as I understand it. The first being artificial lungs. But for that to work the primary bronchi have to be undamaged, or a large enough section of them have to be undamaged so the artificial lungs can attach. And from what I’ve read it’s better if the pulmonary artery and vein don’t need replacing as well. And I don’t even know if anyone in engineering can build them. It’s not as simple as having the replicator make them.”

“On a ship the size and capability of the Atlantis, made for long range multi-mission operations I would be surprised if there isn’t that capability. This place is almost a factory ship and military space station all in one.” He spoke quietly, not interrupting or arguing in any way but clearly just adding his two cents as to whether the ship may or may not be capable of that function.

Revna simply nodded softly in agreement. She’d made that same observation when she had first arrived on board. And it had been pointed out to her on several occasions by the crew. Intellectually she knew that someone on board would be able to do it even if they had no previous experience. She knew the senior staff on board had a reputation for getting things done that other could not. In the months since her transfer she had found the scuttlebutt about them amusing and absurd, now though she found herself hoping that at least half those stories were true.

This time she did drink from her glass. “There’s cloning, but they would remove each of my lungs to scan and grow each one. I barely can breath with two lungs, I wouldn’t do well with just one, even under sedation. And that option would require finding a facility that has the equipment to clone them.” She pauses for a deep breath she can’t take. “The last option, is not so hopeful. The concept is similar to rebreaking a leg that hasn’t set correctly. The doctor would go in and…cut the wound open again to remove the scar tissue and we’d try again, to let it heal. But most likely I’d be right back at this point again. And removing the tissue removes lung capacity as well. And that option would take a large amount of time, and the longer it takes the greater the risk.” She fell silent forcing the trepidation of the choice and the consequences away. She knows the fear does her no good. She will have to make a choice. He asked her not to choose a half life, and that meant surgery. She stayed silent, the somberness of her choice weighing heavily in the air.
Lt Edman, Counselor

“What are your thoughts as to which direction you might go in?” It wasn’t Nash’s place to have an opinion or preference, it wasn’t him going under the knife and he didn’t know her well enough yet to have a meaningful one, it was her choice if she did or not. “You’re not comfortable like you are now, I can see the struggle every time we meet.” He took a sip of his drink, from here he could smell the scent of her hair, see the coppery blond of her hair close up and the beads threaded into the braids. Absently, with one finger of the hand he was holding the drink in, he began to play with one of the beads threaded through a braid.

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

She took small sips of her drink, staring out the window at the stars. The low lights creating a shadowed twilight within the room; creating a stillness between life in the light or fear in the darkness. But there in the shadow was only a half life. There was a choice or inaction, and Revna had never been one to not make a choice until now. She felt lost and afraid of making the wrong choice. She didn’t like that’s how she felt, but still she was stuck, lost in the shadows. Not shadows of her physical life, but shadows of who she had been. But by making a choice she had no idea if she would end up in the light or the dark and so she had been staying there in the stillness of the shadows unable to see the way out. If he could have seen her face he would have seen the options and consequences chasing across her eyes. Instead he heard the half sigh she was only capable of; more he would feel it shudder through her, as she was pressed against him. Another deep swallow of her drink. “It’s not really a choice, Nash. I…I can’t stay like this now that the scar tissue is creating problems rather than helping me heal. If I had my preference?” Another drink, “I would prefer a transplant, clone or artificial. But that probably isn’t up to me. The doctors will have to decide if the conditions are right for either of those options. My choice is simply to let them operate or to not make a choice.” And then softly, barely whispered, “And warrior princesses don’t choose inaction in the face of fear, do they.”

“Nope, warrior princesses get off their butts and do what needs to be done,” Nash smirked slightly but took a drink of his own before resuming fiddling absently with a bead. His tone was light, but voice quiet. It didn’t make light of how serious her decision was, simply moved to lighten the moment a little.

The levity of his tone brought made Revna smile just a little. The memory of their first conversation brightening her smile. He’d said he liked princess descended from pirates. She just needed to figure out what needed to be done.

The beads in her hair were antiqued copper, making them darker than her copper blonde hair. They were all the same design but with subtle differences showing the handmade craftmanship of them. Each had a different symbol on it. If Nash was familiar with them, he would recognize them as the Old Nordic alphabet. His touch on her hair as he played with one of them very personal as it seemed to increase the close intimacy they were building. She hadn’t been expecting it, but she realized he’d been doing it the whole time she’d been talking. Rather than flinch away it was soothing. “Which one is it?” she asked of the bead that had caught his attention.

Lt Edman, Counselor

“Sowilo,” Nash replied. “We learned the names of these in school, part of our history classes. I haven’t seen them for years but there is a handful I remember. Like this one, looks like a lightning bolt or an S, only with angles instead of curves.” He continued playing with it, this time turning it over slightly to see it better.

“Do the individual beads have meaning to you, or together to they make something? I know that the Vikings used to use them to do readings and foretelling.”

Lt Cmdr Nash

Revna was surprised he actually knew the name of the rune. Very very few, outside of those with ancestry among the Nordic peoples knew what runes were much less could identify them. She turned her head slightly to look back at him as he talked, careful to not remove the bead from his grasp. Then she settled more firmly against him again. She was quiet for several moments, gathering the threads of the tales to her like an expert weaver gathers the spun yarn to her to create intricate tapestries.
“According to our mythology there are 24 runes of the Elder Futhark. The story goes that the god Odin had great power and magic within his being. He wandered the worlds, traveling up and down the trunk of Yggdrasill, the world tree, visiting all the realms contained within the branches.” Her voice drops containing a lilting quality of a practiced story teller. It had been years since she’d told the stories around the bonfires of her home. But the story flowed easily from her lips but slowly out of necessity to breath. Despite having to stop several times to just breath she brought the tale to life. Her voice and words brining the story to life. At the end of the story, “Odin hung from the lowest branches of Yggdrasill, above Mimir’s well, to gain the wisdom of the runes. In the end, he also sacrificed one of his eyes to Mimir to gain the knowledge. According to the story the runes held great magical power. They are not only able to impart great knowledge but help clarify the future, and to see into a person’s soul.”

Her voice contained a hint of laughter, “I don’t believe that a man hung upside down, bleeding out of an empty eye socket for three days to learn about writing. But I do believe in the power of the story. It teaches us that knowledge is a worthy pursuit, but it also requires sacrifices. This was an important lesson for a war like people. That not just the skilled in battle were of worth to the village but those with knowledge, learning, and wisdom as well. I think that in a way the runes hold power, much like any book holds power. Each rune represents some concept, or several. It was believed that you could, through ritual, pull on the magic of the runes, by selecting stones with their images on them. That whichever runes appeared when you cast them, was a message from the gods. I know there are people who believe that still, but for me the magic, as it were is in the self discovery. To study and consider the meaning of each rune and what those concepts mean for your self is much more powerful than any divine message.”

“Sowilo is the rune of the sun. It’s meaning implies good health, happiness, clarity, enlightenment, success. Fitting considering the choice I have to make. Some would call that magic, that Sowilo grabbed your attention.” She sips her drink savoring it for a moment. “For me, I use them as a type of meditative focus. Together they remind me there is always more to learn and much in existence to respect. And specifically selected it can help you focus. I don’t believe that invoking them will, in the case of Sowilo, cure me, but it will focus my efforts on making informed choices and taking care of myself.” She lifts her head slightly moving her hair to one side, now no longer trapped be hind her, the entirety of the beads are within his reach.
Lt. Edman, counselor

Nash listened, and smiled as she told the story and he heard her thoughts on the runes. Sipping his drink, he let her speak and let the other runes fall about his hands as she moved her hair.

“The old tales have always held a bit of mystery,” he said, as he randomly picked through other beads in her hair. “Especially once you get out here amongst the stars and realize a lot of these stories were told by men and women sitting around a fire, looking up at these very stars.”

Revna nodded quietly. “And then, what holds a bigger mystery to me, is there are other worlds at those stars, and the people there they tell their own stories. And Sol is a part of their stories and the stars that they stared up at sitting around a fire. It’s amazing we find it so hard to find common ground.” Revna had no delusions that it was hard, she’d worked on a hospital ship on the edge of the fighting for years. But for all the commonalities of how societies developed it always amazed her that fighting was the first instinct. The deep rooted instinct to protect oneself and those considered ‘family’ was strong.

Revna was never one of those ‘don’t touch my hair’ types, but she also never encouraged anyone to do so either. Another reason the man confused her. He had an attention for detail so she wasn’t surprised that he noticed them, but at the same time she was surprised he was playing with them. She didn’t mind though, it was…soothing. Another way he kept her off balance.

Smiling, Nash picked out a few beads at random. “Mind you, for as much as we learnt about the runes at school, most of us still used the rune stones to play knucklebones with at recess.”

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

She was silent a moment, his words sinking in. He would feel it as a gentle shaking that started in her core, before bubbling out to laugh. It was the type of laugh that would eventually lead to tears for the joy found in whatever had caused it. It filled the room. But quicker than it started it was gone. In it’s place was sudden silence as she struggled to breath, not even to catch her breath, simply to breath. With the struggle came the body’s automatic panic response, making her chest hurt more than it already did and the tingle down her arms and into her hands. She gripped her glass dangerously tight to keep from dropping it. She knew better than try to get up yet. Short breaths, even if they hurt.

Lt Edman, Counselor

“Easy,” Nash said quietly. “Just breathe, take it easy and breathe.” Reaching forward, he put his hand under hers and supported the glass in her hand, holding both her hand and the glass. He made no move to take the glass, it was up to her to let him take it, but his hand indicated a silent support. Of not walking away when things got tough.

She didn’t nod, but instead forced herself to relax in response to his words. It wasn’t that she was panicking, this happened more often than she liked, but the body’s response to being unable to breathe was to create panic for survival. She relaxed against him, laying her head back, eyes closed and breathed. Forcing herself to breathe slowly. She breathed, deeper than her normal, creating a hitch as it hurt to push the air into the damaged tissue, but getting more air. The slower and longer the breath, the more it forced her heart rate back down. Another breath, and that painful hitch at the end, but she kept it up anyway. Normally she’d use the hypospray, and she started to get up, to get it, but it wasn’t in the room with her. Getting up wasn’t a good idea, and the feel of his hand on hers kept her in place, and his words reminding her to breath and relax.

Her fingers tapped, slowly counting, 1, 1..2, 1..2..3,.1..2..3..4, 1..2..3..4..5 as she focused on a grounding technique. One she taught her patients, to focus the mind so it would stop producing adrenaline and triggering the fight or flight response. One - the taste of lightly toasted caramel and warming vanilla with the sharp burn of whisky of the Baily’s.

Two - the distinctive aromatic scent of smoke-dried Earth tobacco and the subtle hint of lingering smoke that hung in the room from his cigars, and the elusive hint of oak and good liquor coming from the cabinet. Reminding her of the barrel rooms of her uncle’s distillery back home. She inhaled, too deeply, through her nose picking up the scents. Wincing noticeably when she breathed too deeply.

Three - the feel of her back against him and the warmth there; the tingle, pins and needles, in her hands and the realization she was holding the glass too hard. She relaxed her grip allowing him to take the glass from her. And then the feel of his hand, warm and steady, as it returned to hers. She flexed her fingers gently in his hand, silent acceptance of the support he was giving her.

Four - The music playing softly, low in the background, slowly filling the space around them. The thrumming of his heart as it beat under her ear as she rested against him. The harsh rasp of her breath in and out. His voice, his voice soft and even. Nothing seemingly ruffled him, outwardly. She listened to his voice as he continued to talk to her, it soothing her more than anything else in the room. And why was that? It’s not like they had known each other for that long. He hated talking, and he had this horrible habit of keeping her off balance. So why was it so soothing? It made no sense. And with the tumble of questions she forgot to breathe slowly and tensed against the strain.

Five - The black behind her eyelids scattered with dots of light. She opened her eyes and first noticed the low light so similar to the glow of a distant bonfire. The frosted glass half filled with the light brown cream of Bailey’s. His jacket, half folded and draped across the back of the chair. She liked that jacket and the way it fit him, the way it fit across his shoulders. Then, letting her eyes move around the room, the stars. The vast black broken only by pinpricks of light. Stars that story tellers stared up at for millennia finding solace and legends in the patterns. “Nebula…’s.....better,” the words coming out softly between breaths.

“Sorry,” he said gently. “No more making you laugh, I promise.” He said it softly and easily, it was light and meant to make her smile in a moment that needed a smile.

Lt Cmdr Nash, CTO

She made a face at his apology. She didn’t want him to apologize; he hadn’t done anything wrong. She missed laughing even though she knew she shouldn’t laugh. The promise was so absurd it made her smile. She turned her hand in his, lacing her fingers with his and shook her head. “Don’t,” a breath, “promise.”

She was silent after that, for awhile, simply focusing on breathing and eventually there was no painful hitch as she forced deeper breaths. And after a few more minutes her breath was normal again, or normal for her. “I’m better now,” she wouldn’t say she was okay. It was obvious that she wasn’t. She also didn’t offer an apology. There was nothing she could do to stop the episodes, it was who she was now, and she wouldn’t apologize for that. She didn’t think Nash expected her to either; he’d watched her struggle before, not like this, but he knew when he asked her there, so it didn’t matter to him, right?

She squeezed his hand softly; it was more like a slight flexing of her fingers though. “Thank you.” It was said softly and encompassed a number of things. He hadn’t panicked; he hadn’t left her alone. He’d stayed; he’d talked to her; he hadn’t withdrew, left her alone, when the moment suddenly become difficult.
Lt. Edman, Counselor

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