Shadows And Lights
Location: SB80, O'Shea's Quarters
Timeline: Direct continuance of Three Views To A Secret
"I'm devoutly hoping it's your time on Baku, otherwise we have an entirely different new mystery to deal with." He picked up the tricorder and tapped his commbadge. "Matheson to Commodore O'Shea. Commander O'Donnell has just shown me something of great interest potentially related to her recent mission. She says she needs to see you; I agree. ETA about as long as it takes my staff to set up a site-to-site transport and a short walk. Matheson out."
He tapped his commbadge again. "Matheson to Diplomatic Transporter Alpha. Requesting a site-to-site transport for the two people currently in my quarters. Destination is the nearest transport dropoff to Commodore O'Shea's quarters. Authorization Matheson Gamma Beta Six Three Omega." The security code would be high enough access to actually get him into that part of the starbase via teleporter; he'd figure out how to deal with the related questions later. He stepped next to Rosaleen and waited for the transporter lock.
A few moments later the world dissolved into a bright light.
As the world shimmered back into view, Andrew got his bearings. The transporter tech on duty had taken him at his word and dropped them at a junction reasonably near the commodore's quarters. He looked to make sure Rosaleen was still with him. "This way, I'm pretty sure."
Rosaleen simply shook her head and followed Andrew as he led them to Kathleen's quarters. The corridor was darkened for the night cycle, but she realized that she could see everything as clearly as full light. The air chilled as she pondered the things that had occurred during the last thirty minutes or so.
When they approached the door to Kathleen's quarters, it opened before Andrew could ring the visitors chime. Kathleen came to the door wearing a dressing gown. "What is it?" She asked, the concern evident in her voice as she looked from one to the other.
Andrew shepherded Rosaleen through the door and made sure it was securely closed before answering. "Sorry to bother you so late, Commodore. Rosaleen was thirsty after returning from Ba'ku, so she summoned a glass from my as yet un-announced bar collection and filled it with ice water from... Well, I still haven't figured that out." He rubbed his temples. "This rather disconcerted her, and she said she needed to see you, so here we are."
Kathleen studied Rosaleen as she walked through the door and silently took a seat on the couch. The lighting was still very dim, making her eyes really noticeable. "What is going on with her eyes?" Kathleen whispered to Andrew.
Andrew whispered back, "So much for my hoping this was a Ka'Bu thing. I don't know, honestly. I'm guessing it's an unexpected reaction to the metaphasics in the Briar Patch, but I'm not a doctor and I've been told I can't consult with one on this." He held up the tricorder. "Barring a direct order from you, I'm turning this on to see if I can shed some light on that subject - " His hand flew to his temple as he said that. There may or may not have been a flash in Rosaleen's eyes at the same moment, the spike of pain was very distracting in that regard.
In the blink of an eye, Rosaleen was standing directly in front of Andrew. The air around him turned ice cold. "You have been many things to me, but you have never treated me like a lab rat. Please do not do so now." Although the glow in her eyes remained, the hurt there was just as evident.
Andrew felt a spike of pure, unadulterated rage go through him at that comment. His mouth opened to say something before his brain realized how potentially unwise that was. He closed it again and took a few deep breaths, forcing himself to look at Rosaleen the entire time. Once he'd pulled himself together, he tried again.
"I have no intention whatsoever of treating you like a lab rat. The implications behind that revolt me to the core, quite frankly. But we seem to be in the middle of a situation where you have no idea what's going on, I have no idea what's going on, Kathleen has no idea what's going on - " he turned to Kathleen " - please correct me if I misinterpreted that, ma'am - " back to Rosaleen " - and you'd rather I not bring anyone else in on this, which I can understand on a few different levels. I was proposing the use of the tricorder to see if it could detect anything that you or Kathleen could identify as decidedly out of the norm; I certainly had no intentions, and frankly no capability whatsoever, of using the data to force anything on you."
He snorted. "You're right in that I should have asked you directly before I announced my intent to turn this on - which, please note, it's still off - and for that I apologize. But how you could think I'd ever willingly do anything to hurt or marginalize you like you just suggested, given everything we've been through recently and everything you've seen in my mind... If you're going to damn me, at least damn me for good intentions instead of bad ones."
He handed the tricorder to Rosaleen and tried to think about a potential next step. A few seconds down that line of thought, another spike of pain brought both hands to his temples and sent his knees wobbly as he staggered to retain his balance.
Kathleen was immediately at his side, holding him to help his balance. "What the hell is going on here? Andrew, are you alright?"
Andrew pulled himself together, though his eyes were still a little unfocused. "I'm beginning to think the captain may have been serious about neural trauma from our recent experience. The last few times I've gotten headaches like this I've been trying to plan what I or we need to do next, though it's never been anything like this severe before."
He looked at Rosaleen before looking back at Kathleen. "I'll consider it an order to hold myself together until we help Rosaleen out, ma'am. I've been going crazy for 20 years as it is; this may just be that catching up with me." He tried to sell it with a confident grin, but anyone in the room who was at least halfway there would see right through it.
Kathleen started to speak, but before she could utter a word Rosaleen had moved to stand directly in front of Andrew. She silently placed a hand on the back of his neck, and pulled him to her...her lips meeting his...
The effect was like nothing Andrew had ever experienced. It was like he was standing in the middle of an Ion storm, naked and exposed to the effect. Electric pulses flowed through his body from head to toe. Time seemed to stand still...no, that wasn't quite right I was as if time didn't exist. There was only the two of them...lost in a cloud......
When there lips parted, the disorientation was almost overpowering. But one thing was immediately apparent. The pain was gone.
Andrew was visibly staggered on his feet as their lips parted. He tried to pull his thoughts together as his arms came up around her, more for balance than for any conscious reason. "Leave it to you to come up with alternatives to conventional medicine on short notice."
Once his brain came down from the short-circuit trip it had been on, he realized that they still needed solutions for whatever was going on with Rosaleen. His thinking of potential outcomes didn't cripple him this time, but he still wasn't able to come up with any ideas that seemed relevant. The only thing that flitted through his mind were the stories of exposure to the galactic barrier, which somehow didn't seem relevant to the situation at hand.
After a minute or so when he seemed reasonably sure he could stand unassisted, he released his grasp on Rosaleen and looked between the two women. "Well, that's the less important half of the situation at hand addressed."
"I'm sorry, Andrew. I don't honestly know what got into me." Rosaleen looked from Andrew to Kathleen. "Maybe I need to stay away from Ba'ku for a while. The effects of the radiation...well, they feel too good. Addicting might be a better word."
"Well, it won't hurt for Andrew to take some baseline readings at least, wouldn't you agree?" Rosaleen did not speak, but nodded her head. "Ok then...Andrew?"
"It's already forgotten, Rosaleen." No, he'd never be forgetting that sensation - but nothing was very rational at the moment so he was completely prepared to forgive acting on impulses at the moment. He turned the tricorder on and proceeded to start the baseline data. "I'll admit I didn't handle your revelation very well at all." There were definitely some aberrant readings on the tricorder - no kidding, Matheson - but there was no way for him to tell what the normal readings should have looked like.
Fortunately, since Picard's dealings with the Magnians, there were records on file with regards to what exposure to the galactic barrier did to humanoid psychic centers - and the telltale markers for that were nowhere to be found, as far as he could tell or remember.
He waited for the scan to finish and held out the tricorder for either of the women to take. "One fresh helping of biodata that I have no idea how to interpret, ma'ams. Who wants to start?"
"Don't look at me...I have no idea what to look for." Rosaleen stated as she walked across the room and sat on the couch. "This isn't exactly my area of expertise. Well, that is if you don't count me being the actual subject."
Kathleen shook her head as well. "Same here, Commander. I'd say that we are going to need a specialist. Somebody with medical training at least. Maybe we should call Jeh in on this. But...your thoughts on that Andrew...are you comfortable with that?"
Andrew thought about that for a minute. "The worst that happens to me in this is that the specialist runs a scan on me, finds something they don't like, and then I have to either pull rank on them or have YOU pull rank on them, depending on the pips involved, to keep me out of sickbay until I can get some of the regional diplomatic matters more sorted than they currently are - which is to say somewhere between not at all and less than I like, depending on the matter at hand. That's pretty much the same scenario that happens to you, with the added problems that since you're keeping a lot more secrets than I am, you have a potentially larger scale of problems to deal with than I do if they find something they don't like."
He rubbed his temples, more because it was pushing oh-dark-thirty than because of pain. "That said, if you choose to bring anyone in on this, it probably should be the captain. She's more exposed to this than anyone else on staff, and given the last time Rosaleen and I were in sickbay together, I'd say the two of them have either come to an understanding or have established that one has blackmail over the other. I'm really not sure which - neither one of you was throwing clear body language after that conversation."
He looked over to Rosaleen. "You're going to be the one with the most obvious secrets laid bare depending on which way this goes. I'll support which ever direction you and Kathleen go on this one. I can also see what I can dig up from the Enterprise reports on the Briar Patch, but if they're not already on station I probably won't be able to get at them."
Rosaleen simply nodded as she glanced at Kathleen, who then walked over to the closest comm panel on the wall...then realized the time yet again. "Hmmm...unless you think it is that emergent, perhaps we should wait til morning to continue this? I don't want to wake Jeh up unnecessarily."
Andrew shrugged. "I have no idea what constitutes normal or urgent in this case; if I did, frankly, we wouldn't need to talk to the captain. It's probably wiser not to irritate her if we don't need to, though." He looked over to Rosaleen. "It's your power. Do you think it's controllable for the time being?"
Rosaleen still looked visibly shaken, but nodded her head. "I'll manage somehow. I don't believe that I will accidentally blow up the station at least." She walked back over to Andrew and wrapped her arms around his right one. "Will you walk me to my quarters, please?" Her touch was ice cold, but her words were warm.
Andrew nodded. "Certainly. We should probably avoid any heavily populated corridors; I think your eyes are lovely regardless but they are definitely not what others are expecting." He turned to Kathleen. "Is the tricorder better off with you or with me at the moment, ma'am?"
"Probably best to keep it locked in my safe for now. Who knows...perhaps we will all wake in the morning to discover that this was just all a dream"
Andrew handed over the tricorder. "If this was a dream, there are depths to my imagination that I never even suspected before. But this wouldn't be the first time I've had to come to that conclusion, so who knows?"
A cold hand tugged at his arm. "Please...let's go." Rosaleen looked up at him with pleading eyes. "I need to rest."
Andrew looked at Kathleen long enough to make sure that they weren't going to be ordered to stay before guiding Rosaleen to the door. On the way out, he turned to Kathleen over his shoulder. "Assuming nothing blows up in my department overnight, I'll check in after alpha shift briefing. That should give me time to meditate on all this..."
Kathleen smiled. "Trust me...you will not be disturbed."
Andrew thought about asking "How do you know that?" Then he remembered all the other abilities the Ka'Bu he knew about had demonstrated recently, and found that he was either prepared to take Kathleen on faith about that or that he didn't want to know how Kathleen knew that. It was one of the two. Rather than inconvenience Rosaleen any further, he nodded to his CO and got back to walking out the door.
Kathleen caught the errant thought from Andrew and smiled as he exited the room. He was making it much too complex...
"Kathleen to Security" She said after activating the comm unit on her desk. "I want to place a couple of people outside of Commander Matheson's quarters. No one is to disturb them. And...block the comms as well." She closed the channel after receiving an acknowledgement.
I was nice being the boss at times.
Commodore Kathleen O'Shea
Lt Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell
Chief of Staff
Commander Andrew Matheson
Chief Diplomatic Officer