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Star-Crossed

Chapter Text

It was a long walk from the debriefing room to the cargo bay, and more than half that journey had been made in complete silence.

He glanced to his left where Varo walked half a step ahead of him. She carried the urn carefully in her hands as they moved.

He knew he'd be lying if he said he wasn't still angry. But a part of him also pitied her. It was difficult to reconcile the two opposing feelings.

"Varo," he said, despite his better judgment.

They stopped walking as she turned to look at him.

"Lieutenant."

He searched her face for something. What, he didn't know. But it didn't matter. Her expression was unreadable. So his gaze settled on the urn.

"You should have told us he was sick," he said without meaning to. It was difficult to put aside the feeling that things could have turned out more amicable if she'd only done a few things differently.

She shook her head in annoyance. "Scolding me now, are you?"

"We might have been able to help him."

She turned and faced him fully at this. Her expression became somber. "If you had heard or read Phlox's report, you would know that's not true." She paused, pressing her lips together. "He had months left, if he was lucky..."

She paused for a long moment. "...and they were likely to be painful ones at that."

He didn't know what to say.

"What did he have?" He finally asked. He wanted to understand.

"A neurological disorder," she said. She took a breath and turned from him.

He followed her as she began walking again.

"At first it was the occasional headache. Then he'd misplace things or forget things. Then the headaches became worse - migraines that would last days at a time and..."

She shook her head. "He was a man of science whose brain was destroying itself. He was losing the one thing he felt made him who he was."

Her smug expression softened somewhat into a sad smile. "And I went and stole his life's work… and made him a fool in the eyes of his colleagues."

He remembered Rolik's accusations.

“And in the end…” she trailed off.

He remembered their hushed conversation once he'd surrendered.

"What did he say?" He asked.

"Thank you," she muttered. She shook her head and let out a scoff of a breath. "He thanked me."

She took a breath to recollect herself.

"I know you're angry that I killed those men, Reed," she began. "I understand. But..."

He waited for her to continue.

"People like them, people like Hanar, they take advantage of men like Rolik." She said it with more than a tinge of bile. "They pervert their brilliance. They twist and mangle it for their own selfish, greedy, and ignoble purpose."

It was then that he understood her hatred, but...

“They thought they were saving their people,” he muttered.

“Based on lies,” she responded bitterly.

He nodded. “Yes. Based on lies they don’t know are lies.” He glanced at her.

Her expression turned questioning, unsure. She gazed at the urn in her hands, seeming to hold it a little tighter.

After a moment, she nodded. "You're right," she muttered, then sighed.

“You’d think I’d know better by now,” she chided herself.

She hadn’t taken her eyes off the urn. He wouldn’t know, but he’d heard love could cloud one’s judgment.

"You really did love him, didn't you?"

She looked up at him, pensive, then she shrugged. "I don't know." Her smile was sad. "When you lie for a living... It becomes difficult to tell the difference."

He had hoped what he thought would be the answer would give her some peace.

"And what will you do know?" He asked, hoping to change the subject.

She lifted the urn slightly. "He once told me about a system in Xindi space. Three planets, all absolutely beautiful." She smiled at the thought.

"On one is where he met his late wife. On another is where he took her on their first vacation."

"And on the third?" He asked.

"It's where he proposed to her," she smiled sadly.

"Which are you taking him to?" He asked.

"None of them," she said, "the system's star is where he spread her ashes."

"And you're going to do the same for him."

She nodded. "It's what he would have wanted. What he deserved."

He smiled at this. "Oddly sentimental for someone who isn't sure whether or not she loved him."

She shrugged but smiled all the same.

They reached the cargo bay.

"I'm sure Sor is ready to go," she said.

Reed nodded. "Undoubtedly."

Reed followed her through the doors to where a waiting Sor stood.

"The ship is ready, Captain," Sor said with a teasing smile.

“Sor,” She complained light-heartedly. Reed remembered she had said she didn’t like to be called Captain.

Sor didn’t reply, but the smile didn’t budge from his face as he took the urn from her hands and carried it onto the ship.

Before she boarded, she turned to him once more. "Reed," she nodded her goodbye.

“Cey,” he replied in kind.

A smile crept onto her face.

As they left he realized what it was he'd been searching for on her face: a hint of humanity.