Neutral Corners

Posted on Thu Sep 16th, 2021 @ 12:22am by Captain Luc Deschaine & Charlotte ("Charlie") Adams

Mission: 2384
Location: First Half - VIP Quarters/ Second Half - Holodeck
Timeline: 4.9.2384 - 2230 Hours

VIP Quarters

"Computer, lock door," she said.

"Door locked," the computer responded in that dry, monotone voice that was somehow reassuring in its uncomplicated, unemotional predictability.

She used pulled off her heels and left them where they fell. The start of a trail leading directly to the bathroom. Earrings. Necklace. Bangle bracelets. Her little black dress. Camisole. Abbreviated panties. Hair clips. By the time she reached the bathroom she was naked, freed from every piece of the outfit she would never wear again.

That's where the ritual began. Fill the tub with hot water and scented bubble bath. Turn off the overheads and light the cluster of fat candles that sat on a low stool near the tub so that room was enveloped in a muted, warm glow. Start the music but not loud. Soft. And no words. Just music. Tonight, that composer she'd found her last time back to Risa.

Every step completed. Always the same.

She stepped into the tub, sat down, and began to relax, muscle my muscle, until she was anchored by her head resting on a rolled up towel on one end of the tub.

And let the tears fall.

She couldn't close her eyes. Every time she did, see saw his face. It was waiting for her. Love and hope all but falling out of his eyes with every incoherent word she uttered. Why? Why did he have to go that one step too many. Why couldn't it what they had be enough? Because it was never enough, was it? What she could give, was never enough.

"I didn't want hurt to you," she said softly, slipping in her native tongue as she often did when the emotions ran too close to the surface. "I thought you understood about me." She closed her eyes deliberately, because she wasn't a coward, and there he was. Hope turning to pain … again. "I never lied to you. You did this. I was just the one that had to deliver the words."

The music wound about her and she drifted, bouncing between memories and thoughts. He needs more than I can give. I'm glad he waited until the last night. Tomorrow, I'll be gone and that, as they say, will be that."


"Computer, end program and begin, Deschaine Three." He sat down at once and as the scene shifted, he sat on the deck of a boat anchored over one of his favorite reefs. He stripped out of his clothes, dressed in a midnight blue wetsuit, and with the help of the deckhand the program's designer insisted be there for this part, put on his tanks, fins, and mask. When he was ready, he fell backward into the water.

He dove deep, heading toward the shipwreck, maybe twenty yards from the nearest end of the reef. Big it was and from its construction, old. Wooden construction with gun ports above the waterline intended for artillery pieces. He moved along the outer hull, looking for the name of the ship, and trying so very hard not to think about anything else but the task at hand.

Because he'd been stupid.

Because he knew better.

Because he should have known better.

He swam along the hull and found her name obscured by vegetation that fell easily to the knife he carried in a secured sheath. The holodeck was safe, he knew that, but the habit was too deeply ingrained for him to change. Sometimes even knowing better isn't enough. The Queen Anne's Revenge.

Before he went further, he would research the name. Find out what history had to say about the ship.

As good an excuse as any. Truth was, it was closing in on him again. The sharp pain of her face and how it had closed down. Just like that. he sad pity he could see in her eyes as she slammed the door to a future together shut and ran out. He swam to the surface and got back to the boat with five minutes left in the tank.

He stripped on the deck and shrugged into a robe then found dropped into a deck chair. The deck hand returned with a bottle of his favorite scotch and a glass. "Thanks," he said because his mama insisted on a standard of politeness that was so ingrained, even virtual deck hands benefitted.

But that was the only word he had in him. Instead, he sat on the deck, wrapped in a robe, and watched the water while he drank his scotch.