Star Trek: Defiant

Pilot Episode 5C

Written by Laine Rael

Rick stepped toward her again, with a confused look on his face. "Honey, Chandra's over with, done. We're no longer together. While I was with her, I realized that I missed you. That it was -you- I really loved. This time I'll stay. I will. It'll be just you and me, just like old times."

His eyes pleaded with her. Rael could only whisper, "No."

He approached her, sensing her weakness. Rael didn't move and hated herself for it. He stood close to her, whispering as he brought one hand up to her arm. Rael flinched, but allowed him to put his hand on her arm. "Please, Rael..."

She hated him, but she still had feelings for him, she realized. And she thought, -Maybe it's true, maybe this time he really will stay... Prophets, I missed him...-

The problem was that Rael really -wanted- to believe it was true. She did still care for him, even after what he had done to her. She wanted to feel safe with him again...

But she couldn't. She was not in love with him....-but you could be again- the voice in her head said. She willed it to be quiet.

"No." she said, stronger this time. "I hate you." Her voice faltered slightly, and he knew she was lying.

His eyes filled with pain, and he sighed. Then smiled. "Come here," he said, grinning.

She looked down. "Rick, I..."

He stepped over to her then, and took her in his arms. She stiffened, but he knew her well, and held her until he felt her loosen to his touch, just a bit. He let go of her then, but stayed standing close to her. He brushed a strand of hair out of her face.

Rael felt confused. She wanted him...she did, but she knew it was impossible. He had hurt her so much, but she wanted to forgive him. It hurt so much to look at him, though. But maybe he was right. Maybe he had changed. Maybe he was telling the truth.

She wanted to believe him. -But Jeffrey...- said the thought that entered her mind sharply, intruding. Jeffrey, who had never hurt her, only loved her...she couldn't have them both, she knew. Without knowing why she did it, exactly, she stepped into Rick's arms.

* * *

Later that day, Rael faced the Captain in his quarters. With Rick at her side. After Jeffrey's door had slid open, she told Rick to wait for her in her quarters. Jeffrey knew, after seeing them. He knew. He looked at Rael, eyes filled with pain and betrayal.

Rael looked down. "I'll be leaving for Starbase 23 with Rick tomorrow." Her eyes filled with tears. "I'm sorry..." she trailed off.

Jeffrey wanted to reach for her, but he couldn't. He didn't speak either. But he didn't need to. His eyes said it all.

"I know you don't understand, but I really think things will be different this time." Tears were falling down her cheeks, but she seemed not to notice them. She finally looked up then, to the Captain's face.

He looked stricken, as if someone he loved had just died. Tears were bright in his eyes, but they hadn't fallen yet. He looked down, then quietly whispered, "How could you?"

"Jeffrey...he's going to be good this time. It will be just him and me again. We're going to be happy. I'm resigning from Starfleet and I'll spend a week on the starbase with him before returning to Bajor." Her voice dropped again. "I love him."

"I thought you loved me, too," he said painfully.

"I do...I did...I don't know. I've always loved him, I guess, I've always hoped he'd come back..."

Rael saw not only pain in Jeffrey's gaze, but also anger. Bitter anger. "Go then," he said, turning to go back into his quarters, then stopping. He turned back to her then, and taking one quick step to her, he put a hand on the side of her face, just below the jaw, and kissed her. Hard.

His tears were flowing freely now, and he looked deep into her eyes, intensely. "I will -always- love you," he said fiercely, and then turned and walked back into his quarters. The door slid shut.

Rael sobbed.

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