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No Good Deed

Posted on Apr 07, 2016 @ 1:16am by Lieutenant James Barton & Lieutenant Eve Dalziel & Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Apr 07, 2016 @ 1:17am

Mission: Fortress: Earth

“No Good Deed”
(Continued from “The Appointment”)


SD: 2.160327.1100
Scene: Sickbay, Foster’s Office
Time Index: Immediately after Varn is deposited in his quarters, before the events of “The Appointment”

Exactly one second after the office doors swooshed shut on Doctor Foster and his surprise re-guest, the Counsellor let him have it. “What the hell gives you the right to send Varn to his quarters like some redheaded stepchild?” Eve’s hand was still clenched into a fist and her voice was loud and strident.

Cade looked up from his egg sandwich. “Sickbays are for the physically injured. His minor injuries had healed, resolved. It was time for him to go home.”

“We’re supposed to be working as a team. What part of *you* making decisions without consulting with me first relates to teamwork?”

He was so unconcerned he hadn’t even stopped eating. “Well obviously you found out so…” he paused as he chewed. “Wait, how *did* you find out?”

“One of your staff came to their senses and let me know.”

Cade looked like he had smelled something bad. “Who?”

“They’re a client so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. Confidentiality agreement, you know.”

He tried to slough it off but it really bothered him. “Oh, the betrayal,” he deadpanned, turning in the unfinished food to the reclaimer.

“Sure, make jokes. Now you know what it’s like to feel betrayed.”

Foster glared sarcastically. She had no idea.“The picture you’re painting has too much blue in it. I made a decision in the best interest of the other patients.”

“No, it was in your best interest because you couldn’t deal with the idea that a dead man came back. Couldn’t you see he was in emotional distress?”

“That being- is not Thomas Varn. He’s a clone. He’s an abomination.”

“It’s through no fault of his own that he is here. He didn’t ask for this.”

“And neither did I. He’s not my problem.”

“No, you still have a problem all right. Me. I’m not just going to throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

“You keep on working on that bird brain of his. I’m not going to interfere.”

“Dammit Cade, you already did! He’s in a highly charged emotional state now due to being dumped in his empty quarters. He doesn’t even remember everything about how he got here yet, and so you shove more Marines in his face, and then isolate him! And I’m supposed to talk him down from that like it was nothing.” Eve looked at Foster, and instead of empathy, she was met only with a bland, unapologetic stare. She continued, moving closer towards him with each sentence. “What if your precious Phia were returned to you completely restored, only to have you find out the Prometheus device was responsible for her being that way?”

“Stop it.”

“Would your arms not open to wrap her in your tender embrace? Or, knowing you, a quick careless roll in the sheets?”

“You bitch.”

“Would your lips not seek hers in a kiss?”

“That’s enough, dammit!”

“Wouldn’t you love her first, and ask questions later?” Her face was just inches from his and he was convinced he could feel the rush of adrenaline coursing through her.

“I don’t know!”

“Oh, but I do. You’d do everything in your power to find the woman you cared about in that cloned monstrosity. You wouldn’t care what the naysayers were telling you. You would continue to love her until she did or said something to indicate she wasn’t that woman anymore. All the time hoping and wishing that she was, to the detriment of everything else.”

“You’re not a Counsellor. You just play with people’s emotions for your own amusement.”

“Tell me Cade, does it amuse me when Varn didn’t remember attacking me in a psychotic episode? Does it amuse me to hear him screaming and pounding on the walls when I left him in his quarters, at his request, because he didn’t wan’t me to see him break down? Does it amuse me to lose someone that I *thought* was a friend?”

“Wingdupe was your friend?”

Eve raged inside herself, using her anger to grab Cade’s tunic and shove him into the wall of his office, hard. “No, you arrogant asshole. *You* were.”

“Take it easy, Lieutenant,” Cade grunted, trying to free himself from her grasp and realizing his attempt was ridiculously inadequate. What he had in height and girth she easily made up for in youth and strength... and being Cardassian. “I could bring you up on charges.”

Eve gritted her teeth, then tossed him to the floor. “I’ll save you the trouble. I’m leaving.”

“We still have to work together, you know,” he said breathlessly, pulling himself up.

“And you’re going to regret every second of it,” Dalziel said as she paused in the opened doorway. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to start damage control.”


Scene: Corridor

Eve had just finished explaining the Varn situation to Lysander and Owen as they walked through the halls to the Vulgar Tribble for a lunch break. Owen was tut-tutting with the concerned look on his face that had earned him the nickname “Owen Adorable” among a certain admiring segment of the crew, while Lysander’s face drawn into a half glower of deep thought that was, rather amusingly to Eve, the spitting image of his aunt’s expression just before she decided to punch or hit something to solve a problem. His brows creased further as he mulled something over in his head, and then suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks, and turned to Eve.

“Has anyone told Sylvia Warren? Should she even be told? Who is responsible for telling her?” His expression was serious. “And, more importantly in the case of Thomas Varn, how are we going to prepare him for the ramifications if Sylvia Warren should reject him? We clearly can’t spring this on him anytime soon, but we can only postpone it for so long, especially since she is his strongest and most meaningful relationship.”

“Sometimes, when people awaken from a comatose state, they don’t have the same mindset as they did before the circumstances that put them there. Until I can come across anything that suggests otherwise, I’d have to assume death and reanimation was far more detrimental to those behavior patterns than a mere coma.”

Lysander let the realization play out on his face as they all stepped into the lift. “You’re saying Varn might reject *her*?”

“I have to at least consider it. When I spoke to him this morning, he was behaving somewhat uncharacteristically, compared to the Thomas Varn I remember. This man might not have the same feelings for Sylvia. But it’s too soon to tell.” Cade could go to hell for not letting Thomas stay in Sickbay another day or two. It might have made all the difference to his recovery.

“Hold the turbolift.” Barton’s voice rumbled down the hallway. Eve shook off her bad mood and obliged, and the man entered the turbolift, slightly pale, but for the deep purple in his hands, and tired looking, but otherwise seemed to have recovered from moonlighting as a snow cone..

“Cade let you leave already?” Eve asked, eyeing his pinched face.

“Cade ‘let’ me *nothing.* It’s not exactly like he could stop me once I was ready to leave.” Barton snorted, then, as if remembering his manners, he nodded at the others. “Lt. Arion, Ensign…” He trailed off and stared hard at Lysander, who grinned lopsidedly at him in amusement.

“Elgin, you can call me Lysander though. I’m Major Thytos’ nephew, if it weren’t immediately obvious. You must be Lt. Barton, my Aunt has talked a lot about you. I understand we have you to thank for saving her life.” Lysander extended his hand to Barton, who gave him just a moment's sidelong glance, then shook his hand firmly. “We were just going to lunch, and you look like you could use a large bowl of soup. We’re off duty now, so I can solemnly swear we won’t mess with your head… Much.”

Lysander flashed his trademark smile charmingly at Barton once more, but it didn't forestall the flash in the security chief's eye. Then Barton glanced uncertainly at Eve. She smiled and shrugged.

“What he said. And you *do* look like you could use food. How are you feeling?”

He grunted, then realized that wasn't as communicative as he'd hoped. “Glad to be warm, mostly. Not sure as I have time for-”

“Don't be a jackass, Barton. You eat, or I declare you mentally unfit for duty,” Eve interjected with a businesslike smile.

“You wouldn't.”

“Try me.” The doors whooshed open, and they exited, Barton all but being pushed by the ersatz Human counselor. As they rounded the corner they were met by the sight of Kassandra struggling under the weight of a large cargo-cube. Barton started toward the crate, his intent clear.

“I wouldn’t do tha-” Lysander started, but Eve nudged him in the ribs. He looked at her askance, confusion on his face. “You do know that’s going to go over… poorly with her, right?”

“Counting on it.” Eve smiled as Lysander’s eyebrows rose and the larger man lumbered away. “Those two have been having problems adjusting to their new dynamic as MCO and Security. They work perfectly well as a team one on one when the pressure is on, but as soon as it’s day-to-day routines on the ship, all of that falls apart, and they spend most of their time bickering and making things uncomfortable for their departments. Problem is, I haven’t been able to get them to sit down and talk about it, because they’ll both deny it if I ask.”

“So you’re pushing them to a conflict... on purpose.”

“I prefer the term ‘facilitating productive discord’,” she smirked.

“This doesn’t exactly follow the Scientific Method, does it?”

“It doesn’t have to be complicated, chart-and-graph stuff. Let's call this the first lesson of your mentoring. I listen a lot, I observe even more. Then I do everything possible to empower the subject to direct their own recovery. Anyone can boss people around and tell them what to do. But it takes a unique set of skills to get the person to harness their own inner voice, and use it to guide themselves.”

“I can see your point, Eve…in a general kind of sense. Except I don’t think the average hypothesis ever met with the likes of Aunt Kass.”

“Your aunt OR Jim Barton, but my hypotheses are not *average*.”

“I do not need your help, you overgrown popsicle!” Kassandra’s voice boomed suddenly from down the hall, and there was a tussle as she attempted to snatch the box from Barton’s hands. Barton lifted the box out of her reach.

“You know, for once in your life you could just say ‘thank you’ and be gracious about it,” he grumbled, waving the box over her head. “Or is that not in your vocabulary?” Barton twitched the box slightly higher to sit on his shoulder, where her annoyed leaps for it couldn’t reach it.

“Oh, it’s in my vocab, I jus’ don’t use it for nosey so-and-sos who stick their nose in when it’s clear they ain’t wanted or needed!” The petite Marine sniped back. “Ain’t you supposed to be back in sick bay malingerin’, ‘stead of botherin’ me? Give me back the damn crate, you damn ape, an’ I’ll say thank you all pretty like with a smile and everything.”

“Seriously, Thytos. What's your goddamn damage?” Barton was beginning to lose his temper.

Lysander and Owen looked questioningly at Eve.

“So, uh, how long are you going to…” Lysander trailed off and shared an uncertain glance with Owen.

“I have a feeling that we’ll know exactly when is the right time-” Eve began with confidence, but was interrupted by a sudden scuffle. Kassandra, annoyed by him holding the box out of her reach executed a quick maneuver pushing off the walls to gain height and snatch the box out of Barton’s grasp. He, quick as ever, made a grab for the box before she'd landed. It wasn’t enough to get the box, but it was enough to throw off Kassandra’s balance. She went tail over teakettle in a painful sounding roll, and pitched up right at the feet of the three counselors.

“Something like that?” Owen asked dryly, staring down at the Marine.

“Exactly like that.” Eve tried unsuccessfully not to smile as the Marine looked up at them, not attempting to rise, and did her best to act completely innocent.

“Hi Lysander, Spook, Counselor Arion. You guys on your way to the canteen?” Kassandra smiled up at them angelically. “I know at least one of you was raised well enough to help a lady up,” she said, offering a hand.

Owen reached forward, but Elgin knew better. He kept his hands at his sides as his aunt pushed away the older counselor's hand and pushed herself to her feet. “If y'all would pardon me, I've got myself a tree what needs choppin' down.”

“Aunt Kass-”

“Major,” Eve tossed in hastily, reading the Marine's body language and knowing the next statement in the discourse wouldn't be verbal. She needed to sound like she was trying to put the fire out, when she only wanted to prevent it from flaring out of control. She pointed to where Jim had neatly stacked the crate. “It looks like Lieutenant Barton was able to get the crate where it needed to go. What's your concern?”

“My CONCERN, Miss Spook, is that I'm tired of this hairy jackass lumbering in where he's not needed and-”

“-and doing my job,” Barton demanded accusingly.

“That was MY job, Jebediah,” Kass growled.

“What? Now you can tell the DIFFERENCE?” Barton hurled the last word, nearly shouted, at her feet like a gauntlet.

She didn't hesitate to snatch it up. “You wanna say what ya mean, or ya wanna keep teenage-girling around it?” She wasn't matching him in volume. She was quiet. Lysander tensed beside Eve.

The sudden change in his normal languorous bearing would have told Eve that this was not good, even if she hadn’t already smelt the storm in the air. “Maybe we should-”

“What? Tell you what you already know? Fine. Your tits are in a twist because I'm running security on this ship. You and your Marines got used to being the BSD around here and now you're pissed because I'm here,” he faltered. “I mean, because me and my team are here and now you're back to where you're supposed to be.”

Kass turned a shade of red that almost rivaled the flashing crimson of her sensors. “Where I'm *supposed* to be? Where's that, why don'tcha tell me?”

Barton was towering over her now. He thrust forward a meaty hand and pushed her, not gently, in the shoulder. “Sword.” He slapped his own open palm on his chest. “Shield.”

Lysander flushed at the sight of seeing this man lay hands on his aunt. He knew she could handle herself, better than he could if it came to it, but still... “Lieutenant.”

Barton ignored him. “For the better part of a year, you and yours were the only teeth on this ship, and you got yourselves acclimated to being the muscle around here. Now that my team is taking over – doing the job they were assigned by Starfleet to do – you're getting territorial.”

“Shield? Bull. You think you’re a goddamn Andorian army knife! I'M getting territorial?” Kass barked. “Talk about the damn pot callin' the kettle a pot! Listen to your big ugly ass!” She placed her own hand flat against his chest and shoved. Anyone who would say it looked funny to see a man of his size drop back a step against a push from a woman of her size didn't know how strong the PHOENIX's MCO could be when her dander was up. “Ya got them rank pips pinned back on ya' and suddenly your shit smells just like vanilla ice cream, don't it? Ain't got time to listen to anyone else. Ain't got time to hear anyone else. Never you mind that those leathernecks WERE the only thing keepin' these people safe for more'n a year. And that's what it was about, Haystacks: keepin' folks safe. Never mind that we might still have something to offer to keep 'em that way, right?”

Eve watched the explosion unfold. She hoped Elgin and Arion were sensing the same thing. There was healing in catharsis, and catharsis was rarely, if ever, quiet. She resisted the feeling of satisfaction that began to wash over her.

“I've got a whole goddamn crew that can keep them safe! We're staffed now! It's not like when it was when you were first running from Edgerton! You should be prepping your team for the ground assault on Earth, not constantly getting underneath of my security teams.”

“Oh sure, fifty Marines will take over Earth easy peasy! My god, why didn’t we think a’ that before? Eve, Lysander, Mr. Arion, Barton has single-handedly solved the entire Neo-Essentialist problem! What fools we’ve been! Actually, let’s just send old Jimmy B. down instead, since he seems to think he’s worth fifty Marines. Meanwhile, instead of Security and my Marines working in concert, they’ll be falling all over each other because they ain’t done any joint trainin’, and they don’t respect the MCO.”

“Respect?! You're the one who won't back off and get out of our way! My people know what they're doing! And I know what I'm doing. Believe it or not, when it comes to this whole 'keeping people safe' thing, this isn't my first goat fuck. I done this before.”

“Ancient history big-boy. Don't mean you couldn't use some help.” Kass' tone softened, just enough that maybe only Lysander and Barton noticed it. “Why can't you just say ‘thank you’ and be gracious about it?”

He knew she wasn't looking at him. He knew that her sensor nets were telling her where he was, and that was the only reason she was facing him, but that didn't stop him from feeling, just for a moment, like her wide unblinking eyes were staring a hole right into him. “I just-” He tried to hold it back, but the next words escaped him in a thunderous roar. “I JUST NEED TO DO MY JOB!”

His bellow reverberated down the hallway and echoed back to them. It was a moment where they all knew the Security Chief had substituted volume for telling the whole truth, even if what he'd said wasn't a lie. And he knew that they knew. Awkwardness hung in the air like too much perfume. Eve was silent, hopeful, standing as still as she could to hide it. These two were about to have a breakthrough; she had a sense of these things. For the past year, as rumors of their own particular brands of psychoses had percolated through the ship, they had both avoided coming to her for help with an almost religious obstinance. Now, in this hallway, she had stumbled into maneuvering the Rook into the Queen's path and she'd checkmate them both. The others were silent because no one wanted to be the one to say the next wrong thing.

“So do I, Barton. In order to do it, I need yer people to respect me. Maybe that ain’t somethin’ you understand, because lookin’ as you do, people automatically respect you an’ assume you know your business. Meanwhile, I gotta prove myself, because people don’t take me seriously due to my size. That’s why I was runnin’ your people an’ myself ragged, an’ why I need to carry my own damn crates instead a’ having it look like you’re metaphorically and literally carryin’ my weight for me.” Kass said it matter-of-factly. Eve was surprised by her sudden candor and tact. It was a move of uncharacteristic emotionally savvy that should de-escalate the situation. Unfortunately, it was, apparently dumb luck on Kass’s part, because after a long pause she undid all her work in one fell swoop. “So, what are you pissed about this time? You pissed that the Spook pulled my Marines to guard Varn in his quarters instead of yours?”

Barton flushed. “See, that is EXACTLY the kind of- Guarding prisoners is-”

Eve frowned, as Barton paused and thought over Kass' words. They both spoke at the same instant. “Waitaminute...”

Time slowed to a crawl for the Cardassian counselor. As Barton's eyes widened and his head began to rotate eternally towards her, her own emotions flared conflictingly.

*Don't make this about Varn! You two are so CLOSE!*

*What do you mean “prisoner,” asshole?*

*Oh shit, he's gonna be pissed at me now...*

Time resumed its regular pace. Barton leveled her with his furious stare. Suddenly, Eve felt like she'd never really met his eyes before now. Like she was really only finally seeing James Barton for the first time.

Her mouth was suddenly dry. “He's not a-”

“You gave him quarters.” There was no question in Barton's tone. “I knew he wasn't in Sickbay when I woke up, but I figured Kane would have ordered him into...” He trailed off. “You gave him quarters?!” Now he was demanding an answer.

It had been Foster’s decision to release the winged man so quickly. But she never felt Varn was a criminal.“I thought Thomas would do better-”

“That is NOT Thomas Varn.” His voice was becoming low and menacing, like Kass' only moments before she and Barton had exploded.

"We've run tests. You don't know-"

"He's right," Kass tossed in with a casual tone that didn't match the look in her eyes. "Wingboy died. It sucks, but that's the way of it. Yer looking for ghosts where there ain't none."

"And you're leaving us wide open to whatever that thing's gonna do next," Barton interrupted with an uncharacteristic fervor.

Thytos frowned. “Look, Little John, I agree with ya, but my boys are handling lookin' over 'im,” Kass began to sidle herself – subtly, she hoped – between Barton and Dalziel. Maybe no one else could see that the Security Chief's vitals had skyrocketed, but she could, and even a blind woman could tell what direction he was suddenly fixin' to explode in.

“We'll get to that in a goddamn minute,” he said, stepping forward, and blocking Kass' intercept route. “You put whatever that thing is behind a closed door?”

“Oh come off it, Barton. Ain’t like we ain’t monitorin’ his every move. Ain’t got more’n basic access to the computer neither.” Kassandra began hastily, moving to the side of Barton casually, but to Eve could immediately see that it was a tactical move to allow her to knock Eve out of the way, should the need arise. Kassandra nodded slightly at her nephew, who moved himself and Owen carefully out of the way.

Eve's heart was fluttering, but she was almost surprised to hear how steely calm her voice was. Some part of her wasn't scared in the slightest of the giant man's anger, and that gave the rest of her a sense of security. “That 'thing' is Thomas Varn.”

“Is it? You guys found a torpedo casket down on the planet and he crawled out, shook off them wings and said, 'Boy! You guys sure were fooled by my impression of a puddle of radioactive goo!' Is that what happened, Dalziel? Cause that's the ONLY way that's Thomas Varn! So where'd he come from?”

Eve took a breath. She reminded herself that Barton hadn't been there to see Varn's 'resurrection.' Suddenly, she found herself thankful for that. Judging by the expression on his face now, Varn might not have survived his rise from the chamber without a phaser blast to the chest from the PHOENIX's Security Chief. “Conniston. The doctor in charge of that place. He used the transporter logs and the medical records they stole. He...rebuilt him.”

Barton's mouth curled, as if he was trying not to vomit. “Out of what?”

She thought she didn't want to answer, but some part of her must have, because she did. “There was a machine. The Promethean device. He things.”

A vision of the monstrosity who'd frozen to death in front of him flashed in front of Barton's mind's eye. He remembered the scales. He remembered the claws.

He remembered the eyes, clearly once human.

He asked the question. “Out of transporter logs? Out of thin air?”

Dalziel didn't answer, so Kassandra did. Her voice was casually, cruelly accusing in an attempt to redirect his attention back at her. “Out of what was left of Sam Perry. Which you’da known, Mister Shield, if you hadn’t been busy playin’ sword and leavin’ me to parry.”

Barton spun towards Thytos, wide eyed, then back at Dalziel. His face twisted in a hateful grimace. He took a step towards the counselor, and in a flash both Arion and Elgin had stepped in front of her. They didn't raise their hands to him, but that was because everyone suddenly knew they were prepared to.

Barton hissed in a furious breath between his teeth, then allowed himself to veer away from the Counselor a step, before he leveled a finger at her. “Are you that fuckin' stupid, Dalziel?”

It had been a long time since she'd been spoken to like that, and much longer still since she'd allowed it. “Excuse me?”

“I know what this is,” he heaved, as if his breath had gone out of him. The fight to contain his fury was wearing him out.

“What what is?”

“You couldn't get the case out of his basket when Thomas Varn was alive. All your smarm and all your smartass tricks and all your training and you could never quite put Humpty Dumpty back together again, could you? Now you see this...thing...and it's all about your redemption. Your second chance, isn't it? Your fucking ego. Right? A second chance from beyond the grave, and you'll take it without caring that it came from a goddamn madman in a goddamn nightmare-town. Never mind the fact that everything that psycho ever touched was nothing but a killing machine. That's fine by Eve. Some fucking monstrosity walking around wearing your friend's face? No problem, right?”

“Jim,” Kass said warningly.

He continued. “Because Varn wasn't my friend, but he was yours, wasn't he? He was a lot of peoples' friend here – people who came to his funeral and shed tears for him. But whatever, right? What do you owe him? He only died, right? What about that woman carrying Varn's kid right now? The one he died to save? What about her? Who cares, right? What does she matter? And Sam Perry? Well, fuck her too, right, Eve? Who gives a shit about her? She should probably feel privileged so she could die so long as you get your second chance to feel smart enough. To feel good enough. Who cares who has to die next just so you don't feel like such a FUCK UP, right?”

“Slow your roll, Barton.” Kassandra’s voice was quiet again, her accent suddenly gone with the effort of modulating her volume and tone. Her lips were pulled back in what was clearly supposed to be a placating smile, but instead was a slightly unsettling rictus. “Why don’t we just-”

For the second time that day, the rush of adrenaline and exasperation filled Eve’s body. But Barton wasn’t Cade Foster. And she *wasn’t* a fuck up. And she was done being blamed for the situation with Thomas Varn. Her eyes narrowed. Logic indicated she couldn’t overtake the man, but she could physically defend herself if she had to. Meanwhile, she easily detected a classic case of projecting from Jim Barton. She honed in on that with everything she had; she was going to hit him back, and she was going to make him feel it. “I have every professional obligation to examine Thomas Varn, to try and determine *who* or *what* he is before broaching the subject of Sylvia Warren, either with her or with him. In your opinion he's a dangerous quantity, he's not even really Varn, and you want me to involve a pregnant woman who recently saw the man she loved killed right in front of her?"

"Your obligation is to this *crew*. Same as mine. Which he ain't. What about Ensign Perry?” He fumed.

“You weren’t there when she was killed, remember?. None of us could stop it from happening. You think I don’t care that we lost an away team member? Do you want to read the condolence letter I submitted to Kane for her family? Trying to explain her senseless death in a way that had meaning beyond her sacrifice? Something to console the unconsolable?”

"Do I want to read your bullshit instead of listening to it? Not really. If Perry were here-"

“Hey now, fightin’ over the departed ain’t right, the dead ain’t cards to be-” Kassandra’s smile was still in place, but her teeth were subtly gritted.

“What about you, Barton? Aren't you the one whose redemption has to have a body count? How many had to die in the bombing that destroyed that preschool? How many had to die on LIMBO or in Shanty Town for you to rise up from the complete failure that you were to head of Security on the PHOENIX? From here, it sure looks like you're the one standing on a pile of corpses.” Eve pressed on, drowning out Kassandra’s soft wheedling. Kassandra’s ears and cheeks turned red with annoyance, but the smile was still plastered across her face.

“Or are you saying that all genetic freaks aren’t deserving of a second look? So, what're you? Just a faint imitation of James Prophecy Barton, pushing everyone away and hoping to God you won’t be discovered as such by everyone else around you? Kass may not be able to see, but you’re the one who’s blind.” This drew a little squeak of disapproval from Owen, who was quickly shushed by Lysander. "Kass and I were both there in Sickbay when Captain Kane ordered Silsby to provide guards for Varn. So if you're questioning why Marines were sent, I'd start with your Second."

Jim looked at the copper-topped Marine and she nodded, remembering Kane’s visit while their injuries were all being attended to.

"And Cade was the one that released Varn. A day or two early in my opinion, but he didn't allow me that. Which is something I've already addressed with him. But that doesn't mean Thomas belongs in a prison.”

“In your opinion,” Barton groused.

“Yes my *trained* opinion. Do I ever give you suggestions on how to protect this ship? To either of you?”

"No. Seems you're too busy actively jeopardizing it to bother."

Eve bit back her first response and moved a few steps from side to side. “You know something, Jim? I'll admit it, I did make a mistake."

It was the smirk she wore while she said it more than her words that spurred him. "Damn right you did!" Barton shouted, taking another step towards Eve until their noses were touching. Kassandra made the same face Lysander had made earlier and suddenly bodily inserted herself in-between the two of them pushing them bodily apart, using her outstretched arms as a spacer.

“ENOUGH!” Kassandra’s voice was not particularly loud, but the tone of her voice stopped the two of the them dead. It was the sort of tone that suddenly transported them back to childhood and being scolded by their mothers. She gestured at the two Assistant Counselors. “You’re scarin’ the boys.”

The dark-haired woman cast a disparaging look at Jim Barton. "I should have never waited for you to decide it was time to talk. Because you're too stubborn to ever make that choice. I guess if you don't let anyone else in, you never have to let anything unpleasant out." The childish parting shot was satisfying to Eve, completely honest and horribly condescending at the same time. "Contrary to your opinion, I do give a fuck about every person on this ship, crew or not, Mister Barton. But not because of me, or some idea that being here puts a feather in my cap. If I wanted accolades or awards I could go study on Vulcan and write boring research papers for the rest of my life. I care because the ship we all live on- or could die on- works best with well-adjusted personnel who understand their emotions. Unlike *you*, I don't have a death wish that threatens everyone close to me. So it's in my best interests to help. You want people to let you do your job. Well, I just need to do *my* job. The two of you have to be able to work together. Without a constant threat of physical confrontation. Without bickering. Don’t you even notice how much alike the two of you are? You both pulled yourselves up from a series of obstacles that would have destroyed anyone else.”

Barton was stunned into a silence which seemed to stretch into infinity, until, suddenly Kassandra began to laugh.

“An’ that’s why you should never pick a fight with someone who can fuck with your head. Damn Eve, that was cold. Ya ain't wrong, but...cold” Kassandra chuckled, and tapped the larger man’s shoulder in a playful punch, and extended her hand palm up for a handshake.” C’mon, Jebediah, I hope we both know when we’re outclassed and outgunned. Best call a truce, before we get flanked.”

Barton breathed, his cybernetic lungs doing an admirable job at keeping him alive as he fought the urge to bring havoc down on the lot of them. He was still just as angry- no, more angry, than when he found out Varn was innocently tucked in his quarters with a bunch of Marines keeping him company. Dalziel’s gray eyes looked through him in the same way Kass’ had earlier. Her hands were fists and her feet were spaced apart in a stance someone would use when they were ready to fight, even though she held herself still. It would have been foolhardy for her to have picked a fight with him, but that was what she had prepared to do as she launched her verbal assault. You don't roll five unless you're prepared to pay the house.

He looked at Kass, her hand still outstretched for him, waiting for him to, just once, concede a small point.

But it wasn’t small at all, even if only he could see it. It was their security. It was his job, his rediscovered purpose. It was everything. “I’m outta here.” He lumbered away.

Dalziel and the others watched him go. “I don’t care anymore. You both do what you want. I don’t care if you get along. I don’t care if you kill each other. I don’t care if you hate me.” Eve muttered sullenly.

Ensign Elgin began made a clicking noise with his tongue. “Tsk, tsk. You’re lying, Eve.”

“I don’t care that you think I’m lying.”

“I know you are.” The aCns’ eyes had a glint of playfulness in them, but he was completely spot-on in his assessment.

“I haven’t hit anyone yet today, Xander,” Eve said with a clenched jaw. “Please don’t make me spoil my record.”


A Threep by...

Susan Ledbetter
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel

Dale I. Rasmussen
~writing for~
Lt. James Prophecy Barton

Alexandra Fowler
Major Kassandra Thytos


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