((Earlier that evening))
((Pool – Officer’s Lounge, Astrofori One))
::It was time to exorcise a few demons.::
Blueheart: It’s about Marcus. ::He turned to look at Kelrod directly.:: What have you done to him? Tell me the truth. Please.
Blueheart: Marcus. She said that----
Kelrod: And you believed her?
Blueheart: ::frowning defensively:: What, I shouldn’t have?
Kelrod: I can’t believe this.... ::standing up, dripping wet with the towel lying at his feet:: Are you telling me that someone you’ve known for... what, a year, two years, told you something about me and you believe her?
Blueheart: ::sighing and looking away:: Kelrod, I----
Kelrod: I could have understood that when Marcus told you about me in Atlantis, even after that when I stopped being your FO, but after all this time...
Blueheart: ::shaking his head slightly:: I just need to know, okay?
Kelrod: What have I done to him? First I subjugated him... I made him go against his friends, that was my mission, that was my decision to follow Tantalus as our leader in a life as a ghost. Then he forced me with him, condemned me to live half a life, being an observer... Then I saved his life and mine, I started to knew Marcus and allowed him to know me, I trusted him because I had no choice, but he trusted me because he’s seen what I’ve lived, he remembers what I’ve been and what I’ve done to survive... We began to care for each other and I ended up respecting him. ::He stopped pacing.:: What have I done? I’ve saved him from himself! He’s died when stranded on a planet, experienced dying and then knew that it’s all false, he’s seen his life with his wife torn apart, he’s seen those he cared for dying one time and another. Kitiganzibi, Gardener and others. He even had to tell a junior officer to cut his hand in order to save them because they’re so stubborn as to leave him behind.
::This time Raj turned to face the man squarely. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He opened his mouth to speak but was hindered by another wave of stinging words.::
Kelrod: If it wasn’t for me, he’ll be curled back on betazed, spending the rest of his life maybe being afraid to make decisions. I’m a soldier, I’m used to loose people in battle,... what I haven’t expected is that a counselor saying that I did something he didn’t like, might shatter your confidence in me. I trusted you, you showed me friendship and confidence, we shared trenches and not always because of phaser fire,.... and now this...
Blueheart: ::raising his voice a little:: I just want to hear the whole story from you.. from Marcus!
Kelrod: Marcus is hearing you, Marcus is and always will be here, this is his body, not mine, but he gave me the chance to live. I could have thwarted his life in endless opportunities, making him doubt of an order, openly fighting him for the control of the body, thus, intelligence would have incarcerated maybe for life, I could have done many things, but I didn’t. I don’t know what people will expect from me. Washington put me that “provisional” rank. That’s an humilliation! You imagine how I felt?
::He let his head fall low off his shoulders, and he closed his eyes. His legs were still in the cold water of the pool. Somewhere in the distant he heard the dripping of water.::
Kelrod: Not only that. Despite what they say, I’m a Starfleet Commander with more than thirteen years of service and experience. Yet, what did they do? Put me under a Lt. Jg as a lowly security officer. Hell, there was you, Vetri and T’Lea and yet there was a Lt. Cmdr. as FO. I could accept that, but almost a year on the ship and I didn’t even had the chance to bring up my SAR team and when I have everything ready... reassignment.
Blueheart: ::lifting his head, staring into nothingness:: Are you done? Can I be allowed to say something now?
Blueheart: Let me clear on one thing. ::standing up to face the man, eye to eye:: It has nothing to do with my confidence in you as a Starfleet officer. That has never been, and will never be, compromised. ::pausing to take a step closer, real close, to his former first officer:: I trust you with my life.
Blueheart: Before that.. ::holding up his hand:: You said you saved Marcus from himself? ::An incredulous look was plastered on his face.:: That he had thought that he had died on some planet, that his life with his wife got ripped apart, that he had seen those he cared about die one after the other.. ? Seriously? You think he needed saving from all that?? ::scoffing and jabbing a finger into his chest:: How in the seven hells did you come up with that absurd conclusion?
::It was his turn to prevent the other man from interjecting.::
Blueheart: Oh wait, I know how. ::arms akimbo, voice as cold as ice:: You’re not human. If you were, you’d very well know that we don’t need saving from all that you just said.
::He almost didn’t even stop to inhale.::
Blueheart: All those things you said? Life getting torn apart, watching people that you love die around you, thinking that you yourself are just moments before death.. well guess what, mister.. ::lowering his voice to drive home the importance of what he was about to say next:: it’s what makes us human!
Blueheart: ::interrupting him even before he uttered a complete phrase:: And you know something else, Kelrod? You’re not the only soldier here. How dare you belittle Marcus like that! He’s as much a soldier as you are, if not a greater one! Not only for sacrificing himself to allow you to live, but, as you say, for willingly stepping into the shadows in order for you to shine! Now THAT is a soldier. Heck, that’s even a martyr!
::Finally, Raj caught a moment to inhale a large gulp of air. His heart was beating furiously like a spooked herd of wildebeests.::
Blueheart: ::voice almost a whisper:: All I want to know is.. if Marcus is okay with this. ::looking away:: If Marcus, of his own volition, is okay taking a step back..
::His voice trailed off into silence. Only the distant dripping of water echoed in the vacant pool hall. Eerie shadows rippled across the walls and ceiling like dancing ghosts.
Raj sat back down at the edge of the pool, dangling his legs once again into the frigid water. Then he dropped his face into his hands and wept.::
Captain Raj Blueheart
Chief Medical Officer