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Out of the Frying Pan

Posted on Mon Nov 20th, 2023 @ 1:06pm by Dr. Izriel "Jaxx" Lonn & Jeassaho Kea (*)

Mission: Fractures
Location: Future
Timeline: Post followed "The Fallen Queen Part 2"
2659 words - 5.3 OF Standard Post Measure

The starship's corridor echoed with the distant hum of machinery as Jeassaho navigated her way back to her quarters. Exhaustion weighed heavily on her shoulders, the burden intensified by the life growing within her as well as the weird day thanks to the appearance of past friends. The dim lights flickered, casting eerie shadows that mirrored the complexities of her emotions as she turned as the faint foot steps. “Hey…” she called out as she saw the familiar person coming into the light. “Weird day huh?” She said not having yet told him about Liha and Cassie appearing by to her since she had left him on the bridge.

Disorientation had been instantaneous, not at all aided by the elevation in adrenaline caused by his intention to flee. It had taken several seconds for Izriel to realise that his hand was empty and that Nollel, who certainly did not need him to protect her but for whom he felt inexplicably responsible for in any case, was no where in sight. He had stopped himself from calling out, an instinctive caution as his senses caught up and he realised that, whilst this was a far more intact version of home, there was something still off about it. Never, in his whole time on board, had the Mary Rose been this dark and there was a lingering smell he couldn't quite place.

Movement ahead made him tense.

He didn't even need to see her to realise that he wasn't where he'd hoped to be. Far more ready to analyse his surroundings for discrepancies, it took only the slightest of psionic caresses to confirm his suspicions; it was Jeassaho, but it wasn't his Jeassaho. Given everything he'd just witnessed, that seemed like a minor detail and he had to stop himself from pulling her into a vicious hug. Consideration of her swollen belly reinforced the need for composure though Jaxx found himself staring, blinking, trying to process. Somewhere amidst his confusion, he became aware of her own realisation. Somehow, she didn't seem shocked.

"Weirder than usual, I'd say."

It took a little moment longer than Jeassaho liked for her brain to catch up and for her to realise that this was not her fiancée. “Certainly. Past Jeassaho. Past Izriel” She sighed a little to herself. The weight of command, coupled with the impending responsibility of motherhood, settled on her like a shroud. The captain's eyes, once filled with determination, now reflected a vulnerability that only a select few knew and one of them stood in front of her. The worries that her Jax had felt earlier about 2 versions of her now switched to her about him.

There had, for a long time now, been a certain amount of emotional distance that Izriel had deliberately employed, at least on a telepathic level, when dealing with his childhood friend. Being typically more reserved than most of his kind had made it easier to get away with, or at the very least had not aroused any suspicion that it was more than just 'Jaxx being Jaxx'. It did not sit easily with him, therefore, that this Jeassaho seemed to have the immediate capacity to stare right through him.

The silence settled and Jeassaho took in the man who looked more unsettled than she had seen him in a long time. “Are you okay?” she finally asked.

An exhaled breath, released as a putter through lips, preceded a faint huff of weary laughter. "This is going to sound crazy but I seem to be having a slight problem staying where I'm meant to." His distinctive eyes watched her, trying to decipher the sense that she already knew what he was about to say before he said it. "I'm... I don't think I'm quite who you think I am."

Jeassaho let the silence settle before she laughed loudly and nearly doubled over before she calmed down. “Oh I know who you are, Izriel. You are 2398 Izriel. I have met Cassie, Past me and Liha today so you are just the icing on the cake as the humans say.” If it had been anyone else she might not have found it as funny but the way he was just so young made it funnier.

A raised eyebrow conveyed an age-old wry humour, having been on the receiving end of this amount of amusement at his expense more than a few times throughout their long friendship. "I didn't realise I'd stumbled into this week's hottest pocket dimension, you've been popular by the sounds of it." He scrutinised her as he spoke, finding it difficult to reconcile the sight of her so close to motherhood with the grim reality he'd just left behind. "I don't suppose any of them had a working theory on what the hell is actually going on."

“We are not a pocket dimension but we have been popular.” Jeassaho replied sobering as she realised this was not funny to him and she was truly exhausted after a long day. “Not really. It was their first or second time shift. But it seems to be effecting them and not anyone who they are visiting.”

"We had been experiencing some...difficulties." It seemed like an understatement given the current situation but Jaxx hadn't been entirely briefed on Burnie's health issues before these temporal infractions had started. Shrewd as ever, even under duress, the Betazoid regarded his now-older friend thoughtfully for a moment and proved the quirkiness of his inner-monologue by asking, of all available options, "This isn't something you experienced previously?" It stood to reason, after all, that if this was a future version of events, that she might have some answers.

Jeassaho shook her head as she waited for him to speak aloud instead of just in his head. It was strange to speak aloud to him but they had grown at that stage of his life into talking aloud so surrounded by non telepathic species. “Afraid not. I remember nothing about this. Sorry. Um… this is awkward and I really need to sit down.” She indicated for him to follow her.

"Yeah, of course."

Jaxx followed because there wasn't really anything else he could do, but also because the passage of time and several dimensions to the left weren't enough to keep him from concern over her welfare. As they moved through the ship, it became more and more obvious that it had seen better days, which lead him to question whether she had adequate medical care for her condition, which was approach full gestation if he had to guess from outward appearances.

"When are you due?" It was a gentle question, already veering towards the wrong conclusion.

“About 3 weeks or so.” Jeassaho answered as she slipped into the quarters that was still hers. It was different in that it held less items and looked like it had been recently moved around from the way the furniture was half moved to new locations. “I got caught moving stuff.” She said sitting down heavily on the half turned sofa.

"By yourself? I bet that went down well." If there was one thing that had always affectionately amused Izriel from his lofty vantage, it was Rueben's attempts to navigate his wife's stubbornness. Jaxx himself had never been any help, a lifetime of experience hadn't gifted him any magic tricks in that regard.

“Course it went down well. Better than expected and then something broke so I got let off.” She grinned and watched him. “I am not married to Reuben anymore, so it was not him..” She said for the first time venturing there from his stray thoughts.

Once upon a time, she had taken great joy in giving his equilibrium a run for its money. Izriel, she had always argued, brought in on himself by being such an emotional recluse, far too calm and conservative for his own good. The fact that he seemed to covet these personality traits made the contest even more fierce, and the victory all the sweeter, and if there was one thing that time could not change, it was that dynamic specifically. She had a knack for knocking the wind out of him.

He blinked, a blinked again. For once, it took him a moment to settle on a response.

"I'm...sorry." It seemed inadequate, but given the powerful wave of empathy emanating from the Betazoid, it was clear the sentiment was entirely genuine even if spoken word wasn't enough. Out of habit, and respect, he opened himself enough to communicate as best suited them. Are you safe? To anyone else, it might have been a strange place to start, but not being able to imagine what would have driven a wedge between the pair other than the fatally obvious, it instantly became his primary concern.

Jeassaho inclined her head to the side slightly at his apology and nodded. This was the man who knew her better than she knew herself sometimes and he knew what it would be when he said she was no longer married. Reuben was dead, it was the only logical course of action. Are you safe? She questioned rolling the words around in her head. I am. What killed him is long gone and I have a good doctor on side.

Any other person, in any other context, might have been left wondering if she was being cryptic on purpose. Izriel, however, had no use for further explanation when the sentiment that sat behind Jeassaho's reassurance was so blatant. He fidgeted, a slow shift of weight from foot to foot, and lifted his chin to consider the information. The more the situation revealed itself, the more he was starting to piece together just how this narrative was likely to have unfolded. For a start, she knew more about him than he'd had a chance to explain to his version.

Good. It was a simple response but he didn't trust himself to elaborate. Pre-emptive disappointment in myself doesn't sound like it would iron out easily with therapy.

"It would not." She said aloud feeling uncomfortable again as the baby shifted. "And you should never be disappointed in yourself. You are brilliant." She praised. "A worrier but brilliant." She tried to soothe hoping it would be helpful before her fiancee finally decided to show himself and make this situation so much more complicated.

There were times when being an astute interpreter of available data worked against him. Jaxx considered this to be perhaps the worst example of such, though he wasn't entirely sure putting a negative spin on it was honest. Complicated was a little closer to the mark. Though he'd been trying to avoid the temptation, his eyes drifted downwards to her pronounced bump and he stood in silence, processing, his brow furrowed with a look of deep introspection that the years wouldn't end up improving.

Eventually, he squeezed his eyes closed and shook his head.

"Not remembering these temporal events in your own timeline doesn't mean we should be cavalier with information." He swallowed, an attempt to ease his parched throat. "Did you have to do anything to get the others to leave?"

Jeassaho laughed softly as he rationalised everything just like he did now. If he had been here he would be the same. It was something that never changed about him. “Me telling you that you are brilliant and a worrier is nothing new here, Izriel.” She laughed again. “I did nothing to make them leave other than blink and they were gone. So why don’t you sit down for a moment. You look stressed and it will not do you any good.”

"There's a lot to take in." A very faint smile that almost didn't qualify except for the fact his eye softened didn't last long. "But in the absence of any understanding of what's going on, it doesn't seem foolish to be careful with what we share." Once again, his eyes drifted downwards briefly. "I've seen enough already that I'm going to have to do my best not to repeat." He sat, however, because she'd told him to and there were some arguments he'd conceded years ago.

Jeassaho nodded and stayed quiet for a long moment before she ventured into something that was him and not her. “Why did you never tell me about you and Mae and the … “ she did not want to call it a lie but she did want to call it something strong. “Fakeness of it all.” She finally summed up.

Almost instantly, Izriel looked defeated. "I'd kind of hoped you'd already had that conversation." A brief glance at her face corrected him and, with a resigned huff of laughter, he realised that of course she'd fact check him against himself. "It was what she wanted," he answered, gentle and almost sad. Without knowing what she'd already been told, he was left feeling like it almost wasn't his place to disclose specific details and yet he knew well enough she probably wasn't going to let him get away with just that. "She suggested we marry, I said there was no rush. It went back and forth like that until she realised I wasn't going to hold her to it like some sort of sacrifice she had to make just for Oryn's sake. You know how she is." He exhaled softly. "Unconditional happiness doesn't come easily to her."

“Of course I have had the conversation with him but I want to hear it from you in the midst. He did not tell me anything until after it was all said and done. I was the last person to know anything had happened or not happened.” Jeassaho winced but said nothing around it. “I do know how she is but I also know how you are.” She finished.

"If it's any consolation, arriving on the Mary Rose was the first step to 'fessing up'." He had a tendency, he knew, to not put up enough resistance, a little too inclined to take the peacemaker's route. It had frustrated her when they were children since it was very hard to argue with someone who quietly agreed with you just to maintain order. Allowing himself to be dragged along in a secret un-marriage seemed a natural progression, for all it was ridiculously extreme. "I can't speak for what happened here but I hope, at least, that it won't be too much longer before I have an opportunity to speak it. I don't like keeping secrets from you," he added quietly.

Jeassaho raised an eyebrow before her gaze softened as she realised just how much he was trying to tell her everything but it was hard. “I cannot speak for her but she will be cross. I was cross. Still am that you lied like that.” She rolled her eyes remembering the moment he had fessed up.

"Wouldn't feel right if one of the women in my life wasn't furious with me." It was a half-hearted jest, made as a mixture of relief and weariness. He had, if he was being entirely honest, put off telling Jeassaho because it had been easy to claim that there just hadn't been a good time. That was an excuse though, particularly as both he and Mae had spoken after the two women had chatted via subspace and agreed that further pretence just wasn't fair.

Well was not that the honest truth there and then. With that out of the way afforded by the time incident Jeassaho really needed to concentrate on the other issue she had - the baby. “Good but you are about to be really furious with me. I need you to get yourself from this time as I think I am in labour.” Jeassaho commented softly as she let the twinge of real pain cross her face.


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