Story [Star Trek Into Darkness] The Scars On Our Hearts (John Harrison/OFC) - Completed 26 July!

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Dantana Skywalker, May 29, 2013.

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  1. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

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  2. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

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    Love your wedding and after the wedding things. There is real love between the characters.
  3. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
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    --Chapter Nine--

    They honeymooned for a few days, enjoying the pleasantly warm beaches of a nearby lake, but eventually, reality intruded. They left the Betazed homeworld for Darona.

    John was all business as they approached the research facility. "It's likely to be boring."

    "I've sat through plenty of boring meetings in my time, even before you showed up," Anthea said. "I'll manage."

    It was mind-numbingly boring. Anthea followed John through the facility and took notes on her PADD as needed. She didn't understand most of what he and the scientists discussed. Still, there was nowhere else she'd rather be. Except maybe on a tropical beach somewhere, drinking fruity concoctions.

    All they really got out of the trip to the colony was some ideas on how to improve shielding. Since the Betazoids weren't aggressive, they had focused more on defense than offense.

    "That was largely disappointing," John commented as they left for the Sol system and home.

    "The research part, yes. The rest of it I quite enjoyed."

    She'd picked up a few trinkets for Lindy and her mother, and a few dresses of Betazed-make she hadn't been able to resist. Still, her favourite souvenir was the photograph of her and John on their wedding day.

    It was another six days back to Earth. Anthea had never been more glad to be on solid ground than when they landed in London. It pained her that they had to go back to the pretense of separate residences. It had been so nice to be together. Still, John was at her place more than ever.

    ". . . What have you done to my study?!"

    John looked up from where he was hooking a power supply into a terminal. "I have some things to work on that I want to keep Marcus in the dark about. If you mind, I can move the equipment to another location."

    Anthea stared at the makeshift lab that had been her study, and sighed. "No, it's fine. I'd rather you be here, tinkering away, instead of off in some . . . At least I can keep you fed here. You scientists."

    "I knew you would understand." He shot her a smug smile from where he lay on his back on the rug, doing something with wires and cords. "I promise, it's temporary."

    She shivered. "Your equipment won't explode if I light a fire, will it? I was planning on reading by the fireplace."

    He indicated the untouched area by the fireplace, where her reading chair still sat. "I didn't take over all of it."

    "I don't know why I'm surprised. It makes sense you'd need something here, so you don't need to rush back across town if you get an idea in the middle of the night."

    He came over to where she stood by the door, and hooked an arm around her waist, drawing her in for a kiss. "I knew you would understand."

    "Just try not to blow anything up, I don't think the neighbours would appreciate it."

    ----------

    The following weeks passed much the same as they had previously. Then, towards the start of winter, when they'd been married three months, John announced that he had to make a trip out to Romulus.

    "Why now?"

    "Because I'm the best at what I do. There are rumours that the Empire is . . . dissatisfied with the Federation's explanation of Nero's destruction of Vulcan, and Marcus wants me to see how serious the threat is."

    She didn't have to say she didn't like it; they both knew it was dangerous.

    "Just try not to get hurt. Or worse."

    He kissed her forehead. "I will do my utmost, Thea, to return in one piece. I don't anticipate this will take long. It's two days out, two back, plus a few days to poke around."

    "You'll be undercover, right?"

    "Mm. Yes. Arms dealer, I think. I'm not certain how one of those dresses, however."

    She considered it. "Leather pants, definitely."

    He arched a brow. "You know how arms dealers dress?"

    "No, I just want to see you in them."

    That amused him enough that he agreed to let her drag him shopping for an appropriate disguise. He ended up with leather leggings that had slightly padded knees, in black, and a long, black coat with an unusual pleated design on the lapels. The coat was his choice. The cowled sweater of an incredibly soft, nubbly knit was Anthea's.

    "I'm not certain this will work," he said of the ensemble.

    "Trust me, you'll look very dangerous in it."

    "I am dangerous."

    "But you don't look it," she countered. "This way, you will."

    He seemed skeptical, but decided to trust her judgement in the end.

    ----------

    It was difficult to let John go. It wasn't the first time he'd gone intelligence gathering since she'd known him, and it likely wasn't the last. Still, Anthea didn't like it, because it was the first such trip since their marriage and she had more reason to worry.

    She wanted work to occupy her; in his absence, she oversaw what she could of the projects underway. Though it wasn't difficult work, it was a huge reminder that he wasn't there.

    Since she wasn't really needed in the basement, she wandered upstairs to where Lindy was working. Her friend had been moved from the central desk to an office, where she worked filing various reports for Starfleet Intelligence.

    Anthea stuck her head into Lindy's little office. "I'm bored out of my skull. You have time for lunch?"

    Lindy checked the clock. "Sure, I'm due for a break."

    They found a little place near the archive and indulged in pizza. It wasn't something Anthea often had, since John didn't like it.

    "So, Commander Tight Pants is off-planet, huh?"

    Anthea plucked a piece of soy-based pepperoni off her slice and ate it. "Yeah. Not sure how long he's going to be gone. I'm hoping he'll be back soon, since Christmas is next week."

    "You still celebrate that?"

    "It's Christmas, Lin. The Federation may have technically abolished religion, but c'mon. Christmas."

    Her friend shrugged. "My family isn't big into that stuff. All we do is Unification Day and the birthdays."

    "You should come over Christmas Eve. I want to have a party. Might be antiquated, but whatever."

    "You gonna have the commander there?"

    Anthea shrugged. "Hopefully. If he's back."

    "Where'd he go?"

    "Can't say."

    "Can't or won't?"

    "Little bit of both. Not allowed."

    Lindy finished her slice and concentrated on her drink. "Must be stressful, being you. Top secret job, top secret relationship. You ever honest with anyone, completely?"

    Sighing, Anthea pushed her plate aside. All that was left was the crust, anyway. "With John, as much as can be. I know there are things he deals with that he can't tell me, even though I'm his assistant. But I'd like to think that he wouldn't keep anything really huge from me. I keep nothing from him. Then again, he's got higher clearance than I do and I couldn't keep a secret if I tried."

    Lindy gave a laugh. "I think you're better than you give yourself credit for."

    "Not with him."

    Her communicator chirped. She fished it out of her pocket. "Gotta go. Marcus is on his way and he wants an in-person report."

    ----------

    She hadn't liked Alexander Marcus before John had come into her life, but her husband's animosity towards the admiral had only served to make her dislike the man even more. Still, she was the epitome of civility when she met the admiral arrived and she met him just beyond security.

    "Admiral, good to see you," she said, offering her hand.

    He shook it as briefly as possible. "Let's get this over with."

    "Certainly, Admiral. Right this way, sir."

    Anthea took him through the various areas where the projects John had designed were being built. So far, they had fifty-seven torpedoes built, and were working on another twenty-four, to round out the initial order of eighty that John had put through.

    "And when the Vengeance is completed, which should be early next year, they'll be transported out to the Jupiter shipyard," she told the admiral. "Until then, they're stored here. We might move them to another holding facility as they're completed, because they're rather large and take up valuable space."

    The admiral nodded. "How's work going on the portable transwarp device?"

    "That one Commander Harrison is working on personally, sir, and as he's currently off-planet, it's on hiatus until he returns."

    "Any word from him?" The admiral's piercing blue eyes were sharp and keen on her. She felt like squirming, but held her ground.

    "No, sir. Not yet. Given the nature of his trip, I don't expect to hear from him until he's left Romulus."

    Marcus nodded. "He's supposed to report to me, too, when he can. What are these?"

    "Those are prototypes for a multi-powered phaser rifle with sniper capabilities, sir. Right now they're attempting to fine-tune the more powerful outputs, since those, at present, have a tendency to scatter more than we'd like."

    He looked impressed. "And Harrison said something about a matter-disruptor weapon?"

    Anthea thought about the weapon sitting in her study. "Still in development, Admiral. It's supposed to act as an instant flashpoint with a very small area, perhaps one square metre, in which it should, in theory, vaporise or immolate a biological subject. Use against a mechanical subject, such as aircraft, is purely speculative. As it's not yet in the prototype phase, sir, I can't offer more on the subject. You'll need to ask Commander Harrison about it when he returns."

    "Good, good. I'll be sure to. Thank you, Agent Mackintosh, you've been very helpful. Keep up the good work."

    The admiral left. Anthea shut herself in John's office and very quietly had a panic attack.
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  4. RX_Sith C&G Game Host

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    I wonder if she is now realizing how violent these type of weapons are and that they can only be used for destructive purposes rather than stunning or incapacitating ones. [face_worried]
  5. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

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    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    Oh, she's known from the start. It's just that the more involved/responsible she is, the more it weighs on her.
  6. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Nice to see her dressing him for the mission but those weapons[face_nail_biting]
  7. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

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    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    The cannon that's been discussed several times in this is the nasty thing he used in the movie against the Klingons and took the top half of one of them off.
  8. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    --Chapter Ten--

    John returned from Romulus two days before Christmas. He showed up at Anthea's brownstone in the middle of the night, weary and dirty, waking her from a restless slumber by turning on her bedside lamp.

    "You're a mess!" she said, upon seeing him in the light.

    "I need your help."

    He struggled out of his coat and sweater. Anthea gasped when she saw the six-inch wound on his right shoulderblade, angry and red though it seemed to be half-healed.

    "What happened?" she asked, as she fished the first aid kit out from under the bathroom sink.

    She popped it open and fetched a hypospray of anesthetic, some gauze, and some antiseptic.

    "A Romulan caught me by surprise and stabbed me in the back. It didn't do him much good, as I killed him about five seconds later. But I think there's part of his blade still in it, which is why it won't heal."

    "When did this happen?"

    "Three days ago."

    Anthea stared at his reflection in the mirror. "Three days? This looks like it happened two weeks ago."

    "I heal quickly. I can't go to a Starfleet hospital for this, they'd ask too many questions. Can you get the metal out?"

    "I'll do what I can. Sit down, darling, I'll be right back."

    She ran down to the study and fetched the long tweezers on his worktable. Back upstairs, she sterilised them, then set about cleaning the mess he'd made of his shoulder.

    He was right; the tip of the blade was embedded deep in the wound. It looked like the blow had dug a furrow the bone of his shoulderblade, as well. She had to pull the metal shard out of the bone.

    John sat stoicly through it all, not even wincing when she had to use a small scalpel and cut at the worst part to get at the splinter. She was the one who shook, horrified by the sight of it all.

    Finally, Anthea had it cleaned and used a skin sealant spray to hold the raw edges together. She bandaged his shoulder and pressed a kiss to the back of his neck.

    "All done," she whispered. "You should probably lie down, you've lost a bit of blood from all that."

    Without a word, he went into the bedroom and stretched out on his stomach on the bed. Anthea finished cleaning up in the bathroom and then joined him, lying on her side so she could stroke his hair.

    "I'm so glad you're back," she told him. "I missed you."

    "I missed you," he replied. His words were getting slower as the anesthetic she'd given him did its work. "At least it paid off. I made my report to Marcus on the way back from the spaceport. Came straight here. Needed to see you. Needed you."

    "Sleep, my love. We can talk about it in the morning."

    He closed his eyes and, for the first time in nearly seventy-two hours, slept.

    ----------

    His wound didn't get infected, miraculously, but the healing process made John somewhat grumpy. Anthea had to cancel Lindy coming over for Christmas, but she didn't mind.

    Her mother called Christmas Eve. "Are you coming up?" was the first thing she asked when Anthea answered.

    "Sorry, Mum, I've come down with something and I'm not feeling at all well."

    "Oh, that's a shame. I hope you can come up soon, when you're better."

    "I hope so, too. Merry Christmas, Mum. Give my love to Daddy."

    Anthea felt bad lying to her mother, but she'd just got John back after nearly three weeks apart, and he was injured. She didn't want to leave him alone to try and change the dressing on his back by himself.

    Thus, they spent Christmas with just the two of them, exchanging presents in the parlour. There was no tree, but she'd managed to scrounge up a string of lights to put up around the window.

    "I admit, I'm rubbish at gift-giving," she told John as she handed him his present. It was about as long as her forearm and narrow, neatly wrapped, one skill she did possess.

    He held the box in his hands, staring at it in an unfocused way. Anthea frowned, wondering if she'd upset him somehow.

    "Everything alright?"

    "Yes," he said, voice a little rough. "It's only . . . No one has given me a gift in a long time."

    She reached up to run her fingers through his hair. "I'll fix that. I will."

    When she touched his cheek, he close his eyes.

    "So, go on, open it!"

    Obediently, he tore open the wrapping. Inside the wrapped box was a very, very old toy replica of a lightsaber. The plastic was cracked a little in places, some of the paint rubbed off.

    "A red one," he said, on a startled laugh.

    Anthea watched him carefully. "I got it off some collector in America. It's from the early twenty-first century. I'm afraid it doesn't work, but . . . You said you liked 'Star Wars'."

    The collapsible blade was a little bent and scarred, the plastic brittle with extreme age. He held it carefully in his hands. "I'm not sure what to say, Anthea."

    "Do you like it?"

    "Very much, yes. Thank you."

    John carefully put the toy back in the box. "I am astonished you managed to find that."

    She shrugged, but was pleased he liked it. "It's not *useful*, but . . ."

    "It means a lot, my dear."

    He handed her a box that wasn't wrapped. Inside, Anthea found a brand-new PADD, larger than her current one but lighter in weight.

    "I'm not one for giving jewellery," he explained. "You mentioned that the PADD Starfleet issued you was slow and buggy. This one has four times the processing power and a larger display, for more complicated tasks. And this part, here, folds out into a keyboard you can type on so that you don't need to use that ridiculous stylus. It's also a touchscreen interface, of course."

    "Wow. This is . . . actually very nice."

    He showed her a few of its functions. "It operates exactly like your current one, with a few tweaks. Like this here. Press this and you can block all Starfleet signals from interfacing, specifically for Intelligence. They can't read what you are doing, but you can still wirelessly network."

    ". . . That is devious. I love it."

    "And, it is virtually indestructible. You can drop it from a height of forty metres and it'll survive."

    Anthea grinned. "Knowing me . . ."

    "Knowing you, yes."

    ----------

    "I know you said you heal fast, but this is insane."

    Anthea studied the faint scar on John's back, where, just three days before, she'd dug a chunk of metal out. "This looks months old."

    He plucked a shirt out of the closet and shrugged into it. "As I said, I'm blessed with good genes."

    "I'll say."

    She finished dressing and pinned up her hair. "Marcus was asking about some of the projects you've been working on. He seemed particularly interested in the transwarp device."

    "It's finished, in theory, but I'm not sure I want the good admiral to have it."

    "I wouldn't. He just seems so . . . eager to start something. I don't like the look on his face when we get something going."

    John gave a terse nod. "He has an agenda. He wants to militarize Starfleet and stop most of the explorations."

    Her grey eyes widened. "That is a bad idea. More advanced weaponry, in case one of our ships runs into something like the Narada again, is one thing, but . . ."

    Her husband was silent, lost in his own thoughts. Anthea retrieved her things and put them in her work bag.

    "I'm going to make a quick stop in for my monthly birth control shot," she said. "I'll see you at work?"

    "Why monthly?" he asked. "I know there are annual ones."

    She shrugged. "The annual ones are harder on the system, and make it more difficult to get pregnant when that's desired."

    "We haven't discussed that, by the way."

    "Discussed . . . children?"

    His eyes searched her face. "Yes."

    "Well, um, that would be for a time when I'm not about to rush out the door."

    Seeing she was nervous about the subject, he chuckled briefly. "Go. I shall see you at work."

    ----------

    The whole day, Anthea was distracted, thoughts constantly bouncing back to the subject John had raised. Did he want children? Was that what he had been trying to get at?

    They'd only been married a couple of months, and the thought of having a baby this soon was nerve-wracking. She wanted them . . . eventually. It was always "eventually". But when that was, she'd never been sure. Her relationships had never been serious enough to consider it. Until now.

    "I'm going to work late," he told her as she readied to leave at the end of the day. "I have things to catch up on."

    "I'll see you at home, then?"

    "It might be quite late." He gave her a brief kiss. "I hope I did not alarm you this morning."

    Anthea chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. "Well . . . it is something we need to discuss eventually."

    "All I need to know right now is if you do, some day, want children. With me."

    "Of course," she answered, with no hesitation. "I'm just not sure if now is the time."

    "Now is probably not a good time at all," he told her. "But some day."

    "Okay. Glad we . . . got that settled. You sure you don't need me to stay?"

    "I should be fine, but thank you. I will see you at home."

    ----------

    He waited until she'd left, then he rose from his desk and fetched his tools. Just that morning, he had seen to it that all the torpedoes that had been completed were moved off-site, just as Anthea had told Marcus they were planning on doing.

    They weren't, however, the only things that needed moving.

    It had taken him until this afternoon to figure out where Marcus had hidden his leverage. Now that he had, his patience was thin.

    Very carefully, he went through and removed any mention of the torpedoes from official record. Those here at the facility knew of them, obviously, as did Marcus, but in order for his plan to work, he needed as few eyes as possible on what he was doing.

    Time, too, was of the essence.

    He sent a message to Anthea in the wee hours, knowing that she would likely have waited up, telling her that he wouldn't be by that night and would see her in the morning.

    It took all night to execute this stage of his plan.

    When Anthea returned in the morning, she was the picture of concern for his well-being. Any annoyance shown was for Marcus, for putting demands on them that were difficult to reach. He assured her that he'd caught a few hours' sleep on the sofa in his office.

    Pacified, she went to her desk.

    At his own, he deleted any mention of seventy-three cryotubes from all records, and he smiled.
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  9. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    A nice chapter.
    The two gifts were great.
    But what is he planning?
  10. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

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    star 5
    You've seen the movie, yes?
  11. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    It isn't out in theatres near my place yet.
  12. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

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    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    Ohhhh. You should see the movie before reading this!
  13. RX_Sith C&G Game Host

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    A great Christmas followed by Harrison starting to erase the torpedoes from existence. =D=
  14. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    --Chapter Eleven--

    She insisted on dragging him out for New Year's Eve. Dressed for battle in a metallic gold mini-dress, it was easy to win him over. She wore her hair down, loose over her shoulders, and ridiculously high heels covered in gold sequins.

    John took one look at her, leaned in the doorway in her short skirt, the expanse of her long legs covered in barely-there, gold-shimmer hose, and he agreed to do anything she wanted.

    Anthea insisted he wear his black leather pants, so he did. She delighted in having him, at least for the night, having him wrapped around her finger. She took him to a nightclub not too far from her place that catered to a more sophisticated clientele. It wasn't a place for the bump-n-grind set.

    There was a relatively quiet area off the main dance area where they had dinner. Afterwards, when she'd made sure he'd had enough wine to loosen up, Anthea pulled John out to the dance floor, as she'd insisted months before she'd do.

    He wasn't much of a dancer, it just wasn't in his nature, but when she did get him to pull a few moves, he was graceful and confident. John did better with the slow dances than the fast ones.

    Towards the end of the evening, Anthea drew him into one of the private lounges for drinks. It was just the two of them and some music. In the seclusion, she got him to try some more racy dance moves, and laughed when he got a little flustered.

    "What's the matter, baby? Getting hot under the collar?"

    In answer, he stopped dancing, pulled her flush against him, and kissed her fiercely. His hands told her precisely what he was thinking.

    "We're in public-" she began.

    "Technically, we're not. My dear Anthea, what did you think these rooms are for?"

    ----------

    New Year's Day was a Saturday, so they had the whole weekend off. They spent the entirety of it in bed, with breaks only for nourishment and other absolute necessities. For Anthea, going back to work on Monday felt like drudgery.

    Nothing eventful happened at the archive complex over the next few weeks. John went out to inspect the Vengeance, as it was nearly completion, and Anthea stayed to oversee transport of the latest batch of torpedoes off-site. John had been very adamant, now that they had most of them done, only six left to finish of the initial 80, that all the weapons they'd finished needed to be moved to the bunker where the first sixty were stored. He would, he'd told her, do it himself, but he had to go with Marcus to Jupiter.

    He seemed obsessed with the highly-advanced weapons, and he began to spend more and more time working late, sometimes all night, with no sleep. If he wasn't there, he was shut in the study, working on who knew what.

    In mid-February, Anthea had had enough. She knocked on the study door until he opened it, looking distracted and put out.

    "What?"

    "You've been in there for hours."

    "I'm working."

    She crossed her arms. "And I'm your wife and you've been neglecting me. It's Valentine's, if you hadn't noticed. I'm not expecting flowers or anything, but your company would be nice."

    John sighed and raked his hands through his hair. "I'm almost done with this. Another hour, Anthea, and then we'll . . . go to dinner, or something."

    She seemed skeptical, but agreed.

    ----------

    She was afraid the effort might be wasted, but Anthea was determined to try anyway. She wanted John to relax. He seemed to be pulling away, and it frightened her. He was under a lot of stress, Marcus constantly asking for status updates on everything, so she did understand. She just wished she could help somehow, do more for him than take calls and send memos.

    Reminding him that he wasn't solitary anymore and dragging him out to eat was about all she could think to do. So she put on a pretty red dress, one with a black damask pattern, and some makeup. When the promised hour was up, she pestered him into putting something nice on, instead of his black, long-sleeved Starfleet shirt.

    That he put on the shirt he'd married her in said he was at least making an effort of his own.

    They went to the Chinese place from their first unofficial date. John relaxed a little, but was clearly preoccupied.

    Anthea reached across the table to clasp his hand. "Tell me what's wrong. I know something's bothering you."

    He shook his head and gave her hand a squeeze. "I feel I'm working against the clock. I want to finish and be done with this, but Admiral Marcus keeps adding one more demand. I finish one project and he has another waiting. Will it never end?"

    "Oh, darling, I'm sorry. I wish I knew what to do, how to help."

    His grey-blue eyes were bleak, and a little red-rimmed. "Just be here for me, Anthea. You help me by being here."

    She felt guilty for nagging at him. "Surely, when the ship is finished, and he has his toy to play with, he'll ease off."

    "I fervently hope so."

    "It'll be okay."

    He gave her a brief smile, and she smiled back.

    ----------

    Anthea had just finished brewing tea when the buzzer at the front door went off. She padded on bare feet to it, wondering if it was John. He was very late. He'd said hours ago that he was on his way over.

    It was, indeed, her husband at the door. He looked frazzled and tired, a state she'd never seen him in. And he had a duffle bag with him.

    "Where have you been? Did something happen?"

    "In a manner of speaking. Let us say that I am . . . taking an impromptu leave of absence."

    "Marcus won't be happy with that."

    "Marcus is the reason for it. And I'd prefer he did not know where I am."

    She blinked. "Sure. I was thinking you should officially move in, anyway. Are those your things?"

    "Yes. I don't own much." He scanned the room, then strode up the stairs and into her bedroom to put his things there.

    Anthea followed, tea forgotten. "What happened, exactly?"

    "Remember when I said we had a difference of opinion on a few things? The torpedoes are one of them. I think he wants to use them to start a war with the Klingons. I made some modifications he didn't approve of, and he set some of his goons after me."

    Her mouth dropped open. "Admiral Marcus did that?!"

    His bleak look confirmed it. "I may need to go away for a bit, my love, and I am sorry. I cannot drag you into this right now."

    "Go take a shower, darling, I'll fix you something to eat. You look a wreck."

    He gave a terse nod and headed for the bathroom.

    It was a sad commentary, she reflected as she began to add the rest of his clothes to the ones already in her closet, that he had so little. It didn't take long at all to put his things away.

    The shower was still going, so she went down to the kitchen. Anthea discarded the now-cold tea and started boiling more hot water. She fixed John something simple, a sandwich and some carrot sticks, and waited for him to come down to join her.

    When he did, he was slow-moving, as if in pain. His face was expressionless as he sat down at the table.

    "Tell me what happened," she said.

    He picked up a carrot stick and stared at it. "Marcus's daughter, Carol, has been poking around into the torpedo project. The man is an idiot, he's let her run all over everything for quite some time. When we decided to make the torpedoes eyes-only, she took offense and began hounding Marcus to be included. Somehow, she got him to take another look at a few changes I'd made, and he . . . went ballistic. He is in California right now, so he sent some of his henchmen after me. They ambushed me outside my apartment."

    Anthea shook her head. "That's . . . horrific. Are you alright?"

    "Fine. They aren't, but I will deal with that later. I, ah, disposed of them, and then waited a while to get my things. I'm hoping Marcus will cool down and see reason, but I am afraid he won't."

    John's hand trembled and he pressed it flat on the table.

    "What, exactly, did you do?"

    "I modified the fuel compartment a bit. They aren't quite as long-range as he'd hoped. I'm afraid he's planning to attack Qo'noS, or trick some other fool into doing it for him. If they cannot make it to Qo'noS from the edge of the neutral zone, he cannot provoke the Klingons. At least, that is my hope."

    "The man is evil," Anthea whispered.

    "Evil is a matter of perspective," her husband said. "I'm sure he believes he is doing what is right."

    "Don't all terrorists and dictators?"

    She got up to fetch him some tea, and missed his grimace. When she set the tea by his hand, she lightly rubbed his shoulder.

    "Eat, then get some rest. At least this means you don't have to work around the clock to do his bidding."

    "Yes," he said slowly. "There is that."
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  15. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Admiral Marcus sure is acting.

    A great update[face_dancing]
  16. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
  17. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    --Chapter Twelve--

    When Anthea arrived at work the next morning, leaving John to putter around the house and do his thing, she found Admiral Alexander Marcus waiting for her.

    Without any greeting, he said, "Commander Harrison has left this division. Since he's gone, you'll go back to assisting everyone else." Marcus pointed at Anthea. "Might as well keep your clearances, since you'll need 'em to help us sort out his files, but if you hear from Harrison, let me know immediately."

    "Yes, sir," she said, and smartly saluted.

    Obviously, the admiral didn't have a high opinion of the intelligence of women, for all that his daughter had a doctorate in advanced weaponry. Anthea watched him walk away, wondering what on earth was happening.

    "You're not gonna tattle on him, are ya?" Lindy inquired. "Seeing as you've been getting it on with him for, what, four months now?"

    "Five," Anthea corrected, "and hell, no. 'Scuse me, I've got a whole bunch of adjustments to make downstairs."

    It was chaos on B10. Anthea had to delegate the projects out to others who probably weren't as qualified as John to handle them. That wasn't her problem. If Marcus wanted John to keep working for him, he shouldn't have been such an unholy git.

    Marcus called her communicator three times, demanding to know if she'd heard from John. She told him know, and finally had to shut the thing off so she could get some work done.

    It was a long, tiring day, and the new project heads kept asking her questions they should have already known the answers to. It wasn't as if any of the projects were brand new.

    The next two days weren't any better. It didn't help that Marcus had brought in a new hire, transferred from the base outside London. His name was Thomas Harewood. He was a soft-spoken black man, very polite, who had pain in his eyes. Anthea didn't know what he was dealing with, but it made her jumpy. She found herself his mentor, which was beyond odd as he was several years older than she and higher-ranked. Technically speaking, anyway. Her real rank, as an Intelligence agent, was higher than the one he'd had as a normal Starfleet officer.

    She had lunch with Harewood on the third day, and he told her that he'd taken the position with Section 31 because his daughter was ill.

    "She's very, very sick," the man said, and there were tears in his eyes. "She's been in a coma for months, and the doctors don't know what's wrong. I was hoping that . . . working here might help somehow."

    "It's mostly weapons research and development," she told him, "but there are a few people in medical research on B9. I'll talk to them, see if maybe they could take a look."

    He looked shocked. "You would do that?"

    "Sure. If there's something we can do for her, I'm all for it. I'm not overly fond of making things that go boom, anyway. Doing something constructive would be good for a change."

    The rest of the day went better, though she wasn't sure she'd actually be able to deliver on that promise to Harewood. The "people in medical research" she'd mentioned were involved in biological weaponry and might not be interested in the plight of one little girl.

    Unless they figured out what was wrong, cured her, and managed to weaponise her illness. The very idea made Anthea shudder.

    "They recruited someone new," she told John over dinner. "A Thomas Harewood. Seems competent. He was in engineering over at Smith-Tennant Airbase before coming aboard."

    "Was it Marcus who recruited him?"

    "I thought so at first, but, I believe it was Vice Admiral Brody? That's what I think he said, anyway. Poor guy has a daughter in hospital, dying of some unknown illness that's got her in a coma. Apparently, she's all of eight years old, and last summer, all of her nerves started doing something odd, putting her in pain all the time." Anthea frowned and poked at her food. "She's been comatose since September."

    John gazed at her over his glass. "What are you doing in this line of work, Anthea? Really? You're too soft-hearted for killing people."

    Before she could respond, he held up a hand. "I do not mean that in a bad way, my love. I think it makes you so much *more* that you're concerned like this for a virtual stranger's child."

    She shrugged. "When I was talking to him today, about Lucille--that's her name, Lucille--I found myself wondering what if it was our daughter, suffering like that? How would I handle it?"

    "It won't happen," he promised her. "And you are strong. Even if it were to happen--which it won't--you would be strong for our child."

    "How can you know it won't?" she countered. "They don't know what's wrong with her. There's no way to guard against an unknown illness."

    John put down his glass and leaned his forearms on the table. "There is also no reason to worry about a hypothetical. Besides, any child of ours would have the greatest advantage in a situation like that."

    "And what is that?"

    "Me."

    He said it with such simple truth, she found herself gaping at him. But then, she realised, he was the most brilliant mind in Starfleet. If anyone could figure out something like that, it would be him.

    "John . . . Would you, since you're not working on the weapons project anymore, be willing to talk to Harewood?"

    He seemed to consider it. "I will think about it."

    ----------

    "No, sir," Anthea was saying into her communicator as she got out of the cab. She paid and entered the house, still talking to the irate admiral. "I haven't heard from him. When I do hear something worth reporting, sir, rather than wild speculation, I will let you know. The speculation? Someone theorised he'd defected to the Romulans, but as Commander Harrison hates them, I don't think that would be remotely likely."

    John was in the study, and he raised an eyebrow but not his gaze at her words.

    Finally, she managed to hang up. "Marcus is hunting for you."

    John didn't look up. He was still fiddling with his disruptor cannon. "I would imagine he is. Your mother called while you were out."

    "Did you answer it?"

    "And leave her to wonder who the strange man is, answering her daughter's home communicator in the middle of the day? Hardly. She left a message."

    Anthea went to the message centre and called up her mother's voicemail.

    "Anthea, dear, it's Mum. I know it's short notice, but as it's your dad's birthday Monday--you know how he is about parties, just hates them. Anyway, I was hoping you could come up for a visit, and stay a few days. We haven't seen you in so long, sweetheart, it's like you've dropped off the earth. I really don't see how working as an office assistant at that archive can keep you so busy. Do call me, Anthea! Bye!"

    She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and pressed "delete". She loved her mum, she really did, but the constant criticism about her "lowly" job was annoying.

    "You should go."

    "Pardon?"

    She glance over to see John watching her, his tools set aside. "You should go and see them. In the nearly six months we've been together, you haven't once visited."

    Anthea sighed. "I feel like I'm leading two lives. Or . . . three, really. I've got this with you, then I'm pretending at work that I don't know where you are and we aren't involved, and then there's my parents, who haven't a clue about anything that's really going on in my life. I feel like I have a secret identity."

    He held out his hand and gestured for her. Anthea went over and took his hand.

    "In time, I'm sure, things will resolve themselves. With this stress I've inadvertently put you in, landing you right in the middle between Marcus and myself, perhaps it would be good for you to take a few days off. You haven't had any time off since we went to Betazed, and I know you're not a tireless workhorse like myself."

    She bent and kissed the top of his head. "I made my choice, you know. I'll always choose you over everything else."

    He smiled, but she couldn't see it. If she had, she would have wondered why it was so dark. "Besides," he said, "if you're in Scotland on holiday, Marcus might be less likely to harass you about me."

    "Alright," she said, with another sigh. "It's just a few days, right?"

    "Precisely. Though I'm not certain how recuperative Scotland will be in February."

    "Yeah, I won't have you to keep me warm."

    He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it. "Think warm thoughts, and share them with me when you return."
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  18. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Slowly slowly catching up; I finished Chapter 5. Really excellent! I feel quite bad for her, knowing how this ends, but it's nice that they get some happiness for a while (well, she does; he gets ... a little comfort?). Loving their relationship :D
  19. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    Thanks! I don't even have the most recent stuff posted here; I've posted through chapter 16 over on ff.net. [face_laugh]
  20. RX_Sith C&G Game Host

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    Some very precious time spent before the events that happen from "Into Darkness" occur. =D=
  21. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    --Chapter Thirteen--

    2259.56

    Anthea woke feeling unsettled and run-down. She'd grown used to sleeping with John beside her, and staying in the single bed from her childhood just wasn't restful for her. She'd woken every hour or so, unused to the cool and empty space beside her.

    She rose and dressed, her movements slow, brain fuzzy and lagging. Her stomach was queasy and her head hurt. A nice, soothing cup of tea sounded like just the thing.

    As she set a tea bag to steep, she found her thoughts drifting to John. She'd have to call him, see how he was faring without her. It really seemed odd, now that she thought about it, that he'd been so complacent about her coming up to visit. He'd been on edge, tense and cranky, since his falling out with Marcus, and yet, he'd seemed happy for her to go. What had happened to her being his solace?

    She shook her head, then clapped a hand to her forehead as the room spun. What was wrong with her? She hardly ever got sick, save for the occasional reaction to her birth control-

    Anthea blinked, realised that with all the stress John had been under the past few weeks, and her resultant worry, she hadn't gone in for this month's as she should have.

    Her mother's cry brought her out of her daze. Anthea set down her tea cup and went into the parlour, where her parents stood, watching the screen.

    "-repeat, we've just learned there's been a bombing in London. Not much is known at present, and it's too early to speculate about terrorist attacks, but we're told the explosion was at the site of Starfleet's archives."

    Anthea clapped a hand to her mouth. If she'd stayed in London, if she'd gone to work- "Oh. Oh, I have to call someone. I have to-"

    She fumbled in her pocket for her communicator and stepped outside, to the terrace that overlooked the back garden. Her fingers shook as she punched in numbers.

    "Anthea," John answered, on the second trill, and she immediately sagged with relief.

    The pounding of her heart slowed a little on hearing his deep voice. "Oh. You're alright. I was afraid- I just heard about London. What happened?"

    "Apparently, that new hire you mentioned, Harewood, blew the place up. I've got to go, Thea, I need to reach Admiral Marcus."

    "I thought you were hiding from him?"

    "Yes, well, this may be connected and-" He paused and his voice went rough. "I hate to think what would have happened if you'd been here. Nearly the entire complex is gone. I think I saw your friend Lindy, though, I believe she's alright. Stay in Edinburgh. I need to know you're safe. I'll come for you when I can."

    "Yes, alright. I- Be careful, darling. I love you."

    "And I love you, Thea. I need to go now."

    His end went dead, and she slowly put the communicator down. Her hands shook, and she balled them into fists, trying to calm herself.

    "Anthea?" Her mother appeared in the doorway. "Wasn't that where you worked?"

    "Yes, yes, it was. I need to contact a few more people, let them know I'm fine and wasn't there."

    "Have some tea first, sweetheart, you're shaking like a leaf!"

    ----------

    She made the calls, even managed to reach Lindy and assure herself that her best friend was fine. Shaken up, but fine. Her friend had been a few blocks away, in the other direction of the explosion, running late on her way to work.

    But she hadn't heard another word from John, and he wasn't answering his communicator. She was worried about him, worried about the friends and coworkers she hadn't been able to reach. She had to wonder why Harewood had done it, what he'd had to gain that would be worth so much. Just days before, he'd been hoping they could help his daughter. Why would he sabotage that?

    Shortly before lunch, two officers from Starfleet appeared at her parents' door, armed and looking very serious.

    "Anthea Mackintosh?" the one on the left demanded.

    "Yes, that's me."

    The one on the right grabbed her arms and hauled her outside, holding her at phaser-point.

    "What- I beg your pardon!"

    "Where is John Harrison?" Goon 1 asked.

    "Not here," she snapped. "Why would he be here?"

    Goon 1 nodded to Goon 2 and went into the house. A few moments later, her parents emerged, also threatened with phasers.

    "Hold them," Goon 1 ordered to Goon 2. "I'm going to search the house."

    Her mother clung to her father. "What's going on, Anthea?" she whispered tremulously. "Who are these people and what do they want?"

    "They're Starfleet," she said, feeling hollow and confused. "They're looking for my supervisor from work."

    "Why would he be here?" her father asked.

    "Dunno, Dad."

    Goon 2 finally spoke. "John Harrison is wanted for conspiracy, acts of terrorism, and the murders of Admiral Christopher Pike and Captain Frank Abbott."

    "And what evidence do you have of this?" Anthea demanded.

    Goon 2 produced a PADD and brought up images of John, clearly at the explosion site in London, carrying two bags and taking possession of a jumpship. Then he said, "Witnesses, including Commander James Kirk of the USS Enterprise, testify to Harrison's attack on the Daystrom Institute two hours ago, which resulted in the deaths of Pike, Abbott, and three other officers during an emergency session."

    Why hadn't she heard about this before now? Was this why John wasn't answering when she called? Spots appeared before her eyes, Anthea's vision greyed, and she swayed, only Goon 2's grip on her arm keeping her upright. Nausea welled.

    "No, you're wrong, you have to be wrong!"

    Then her knees gave out, and she fell, landing on all fours on the cold, damp grass. There, she was quite thoroughly sick. Her mother knelt beside her, stroking her hair.

    Goon 1 appeared in the open door. "Nothing. He's not here."

    Goon 2 put his phaser away, but gave them all stern looks. "If Harrison shows up here, contact Starfleet immediately."

    She clenched the grass of the front garden between her fingers, the little green blades crushing in her grip. It would be a cold day in hell that she told them anything, even if John had done what they said.

    ----------

    Anthea knew it was dangerous, but she needed to get to London. They had to be wrong about John, they had to.

    "No, Anthea, you are not going," her father shouted.

    "Dad, I'm one of the only people who worked at that facility that's still alive. I need to see what I can do, if I can help." Silently, she added, I need to find John. "I'll be gone a few hours, a day at most. And I'll keep my communicator on and check in frequently, I promise."

    Her mother looked very worried. "But what if he finds you?"

    "I hope he does," Anthea replied fervently. "I really hope he does."

    "He could hurt you!"

    She shook her head. "No. John wouldn't- I may not know what's going on right now, but John would never hurt me. He loves me."

    But did he really?

    ----------

    The question haunted her the entire shuttle flight to London. The trip only took twenty minutes, but seemed to last a lifetime.

    Lindy met her at the landing platform. "You're dating a psychopath, you know," was the first thing her friend said.

    "We're not dating," she said heavily.

    "Oh, right. Because he's gone on a murder spree. Good riddance. I never liked him."

    "Shut up, Lin, alright? I'm having a hard enough time without you ripping on me, too. A couple of Marcus's men tore my parents' house apart this morning, hunting for John."

    "Why would he go to Scotland?" Lindy paused. "For that matter, why would anyone go to Scotland?"

    "Oh, shut up." Anthea headed towards the taxis, but had to stop and lean against a support pillar when another bout of nausea hit.

    Lindy put a hand on her shoulder. "You alright, Thee?"

    The nausea was only momentary, fortunately. "Just not feeling well."

    "Yeah, it's a bad time for us all."

    Understatement of the century.
  22. RX_Sith C&G Game Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2006
    star 5
    So the unraveling events start to occur and Anthea still supports John no matter what has occurred. [face_nail_biting]
  23. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    --Chapter Fourteen--

    She wasn't exactly sure what she'd hoped to gain from her trip, but even visiting the explosion site offered nothing. Most of the afternoon was taken up with meetings with local Starfleet officers, all of whom wanted to know why she had been away and if she, as Harrison's assistant, had known anything.

    Her throat was sore from her repeated denials by the time they let her go in the late evening. Anthea had nothing to offer, no insights into John's activities. She was bone-tired and soul-sick, worried for John. And, if she were truly honest, beginning to feel scared of him.

    Lindy took her home to her little, old brownstone. The place had been left alone so far by Marcus's goons. Anthea left the study locked; no need to let her friend know about John's home lab.

    She tried to make tea, but her hands shook. Lindy took over, making Anthea sit at the kitchen table.

    "Seriously, Thea, you need to see a doctor. I know you've had a shock, but you keep going as green as an Orion and you've walked into more people today than I've ever seen." Lindy frowned. "I may be beyond angry at your boyfriend, but I'm worried about you."

    Anthea covered her face with her hands. "I don't need to see a doctor, and John Harrison isn't my boyfriend."

    "Then what's wrong with you?" Lindy demanded.

    Her friend had to take several deep breaths before tears stopped threatening. "John isn't my boyfriend, Lin. He's my husband. And I'm not sick. I'm pregnant."

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. What do you mean, you're married?"

    "John and I eloped four months ago. Almost five, actually. You're the first person I've told. Remember when I went with him to Betazed?"

    ". . . You got married in one of those kinky naked weddings?"

    "No, Lin. We had clothes on. John's been staying with me since he quit working for Admiral Marcus. He's been agitated since it happened, but . . . I just can't see him doing this. I can't."

    "All evidence points to him," her friend told her quietly. "And there's a lot of it."

    "I know," Anthea whispered. "I know. I'd hoped that if I came down here, I could . . . prove it wasn't him, but how can I keep denying what's staring me in the face? How can I even think these things? He's my husband!"

    "Spouses do horrible things all the time. It happens. But let's discuss the more important of your statements. You're pregnant."

    Anthea dragged her fingers through her hair. "Most definitely. Visited a doctor in Scotland while I waited for word from . . . anyone."

    "Wow. What are you doing to do?"

    "I've no idea, Lin. No idea at all."

    ----------

    She spent the night at home, surrounded by John's things. She kept calling him, but he never answered. She wanted to talk to him, find out from him what was going on. Where was he? Why had he left her like this?

    The next morning, she went back to Edinburgh. It was common knowledge that someone had attacked Starfleet Headquarters, but no one was sure who. No one outside of Starfleet Intelligence or Anthea's immediate family, that was.

    She drifted listlessly around the house, communicator in hand, waiting for a call that she was beginning to suspect would never come.

    Then, as evening fell, the device chirped. Excitedly, she flipped it open. The little screen held two words.

    I'M SORRY

    She checked, but the sender was a signal she didn't know. She could only assume it was from John, but what was he sorry for? For London, for the attack on Headquarters that had killed Admiral Pike? For leaving her here to deal with this on her own?

    She called the communicator that had sent the message, but got a signal telling her the channel was offline. Then she tried to call John yet again. Still nothing. Where was he?

    "Anthea!" her father bellowed.

    She pounded down the stairs and into the parlour. Her father pointed wordlessly to the viewscreen.

    "We have breaking news out of San Francisco, California, location of Starfleet Headquarters. We are told that an in-development ship has crashed in the city of San Francisco. There is no word yet on why, or what the ship is, but as you can see from the images, the devastation is catastrophic."

    On screen, they showed images of an immense black ship crashing into the city. There was no mistaking the USS Vengeance. It was baffling and heartbreaking. Such destruction!

    "How big is that thing?" her father asked, as the view panned over the massive ship lying in ruins amongst toppled skyscrapers.

    Anthea licked dry lips. "It's about three, three and a half times the size of the Enterprise," she whispered. "Nearly 1500 meters in length, a little over half as wide."

    Her father twisted in his seat to look at her. "How d'ye know that?"

    "Because John designed it."

    She had to sit on the sofa. So far, her parents hadn't said anything regarding her revelation that she'd been involved with the most wanted man in the galaxy.

    Once again, she fished out her communicator and this time, tried contacting Admiral Marcus. There was no response. None from John, either, yet again.

    She pressed a hand to her belly, tears flooding her eyes and falling unheeded down her cheeks. How could this have happened? Where was John, and why hadn't he contacted her again?

    What if he was dead?

    Anthea tossed the communicator on the floor and stared at the news report, her heart breaking, as she realised she could no longer deny the truth.

    ----------

    Aboard the USS Enterprise, one of the security officers glanced over at the bin of items confiscated from Harrison upon his capture. One of them was a communicator. It periodically chirped, had been doing so off and on for the last couple days. The display always read "Thea".

    It wasn't his place to answer it, and anyway, who cared if this Khan guy had some girl trying to reach him?
    The security officer silenced the communicator, then closed the lid of the bin. There. No more annoyances.

    ----------

    In the aftermath of the disaster in San Francisco, it came to light that John Harrison had killed Admiral Alexander Marcus, adding the head of Starfleet to the long, long list of people whose lives had been lost because of one man's short and violent rampage.

    Of course, the official story was that the ship had been on a shakedown flight and had experienced a massive malfunction that had crippled the guidance systems. It had operated under a skeleton crew, which had jettisoned in escape pods before the crash. Admiral Alexander Marcus and an unnamed Starfleet commander had sacrificed themselves in the attempt to keep the ship from plowing into the city. They had, according to the news reports, managed to land in the bay, instead of on the city itself, but had died in the crash.

    Within Starfleet, it was known that John Harrison had hijacked the Vengeance and crashed it in an attempt to take out Headquarters. None of the reports stated whether John had survived or not. Unofficial reports and news outlets talked about a chase through San Francisco involving an unnamed Starfleet officer and another unknown male, but that was as far as it went. She didn't see how he could have lived through it, and with the mention of an "unknown Starfleet commander" perishing, she was afraid it was her husband. Anthea didn't have the heart to dig deeper.

    Anthea found herself lost in the shuffle. No one came to talk to her or question her. She was on leave due to the bombing of the archive, and hadn't been slotted into a position somewhere else.

    After a few days, she went back to London, and the house she'd briefly shared with John. The place felt sickeningly empty without him. She walked in, remembered he was gone, and spent an hour sobbing on the floor of the foyer.

    Eventually, Anthea rose and trudged up the stairs to the study. The equipment John had installed was all turned off and unplugged. An old notebook he'd dug up from somewhere lay open on the table, filled with incomprehensible notes in his scrawling hand. She ran her fingers over the scribbles, as if she could get some sense of him from it. But it was just paper, nothing more.

    One page had a list, that seemed to be names, tightly packed on the page. Otto, Kati, Rodriguez, Joaquin, Chin, Yves . . . She didn't know who they were, but Kati- Could that have been his lost sister? She wondered.

    One of his sweaters hung off the back of the chair. She picked it up, pressed her face into it, breathing in his scent. Choking back a sob, she left the study, locking it once more. In her bedroom, she crawled into bed with the sweater and fell into a fitful, uneasy sleep that was plagued by images of John.
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  24. RX_Sith C&G Game Host

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    Sad circumstances for Anthea as she realizes John's involvement. :(
  25. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    --Chapter Fifteen--

    Eventually, Starfleet officials reassigned her to an administrative position at Smith-Tennant Airbase just outside London. She was still technically an intelligence officer, but no one really trusted her, given her previous position. No one, it seemed, but the London division head of Starfleet Intelligence.

    The DH was a distinguished older woman, her blonde hair turning silver, named Winter Brody. An American, she held the rank of Vice Admiral. Anthea was nervous meeting with her on her first day. Her life had been a mess since John had gone rogue, and she didn't have the faintest idea what was going to happen now.

    "You may be wondering," Brody said, as Anthea took a seat directly opposite her at the woman's desk, "why I chose you, of all people, as my assistant. It's only known to some within Intelligence that you were, in fact, John Harrison's assistant, and while a few of those disagree with your continued employ by Starfleet, I don't happen to be one of them."

    "You . . . aren't?"

    "No. I also happen to be one of the only ranking officials within Section 31. With Marcus's death, it falls to me to handle operations. I'm aware of your work with Harrison on several projects for us, and while the regular Intelligence division isn't thrilled I'm keeping you on, I know not to waste a resource."

    Anthea gulped. "Um. Thank you?"

    "Don't be so timid, Agent Mackintosh. I know the past couple of months must have been very difficult, but I'm not out to coddle you. We need someone who's familiar with Harrison's work. As you were closest to him, thus the natural suspicion regarding you, we need you. Otherwise, you would likely be out of Starfleet by now."

    She clenched her hands in her lap. Four years of loyal service, and this is what she had to show for it. Damn John for putting her in this position!

    "I understand perfectly, sir. I'll do what I can to assist, though all I can speak to are the things I discussed with him. If there were things he was working on without informing me, I'm afraid I won't be much help in those quarters."

    "You knew the man best of us, so you might be able to give insight anyway."

    Anthea scoffed before she could stop herself. "Did I? I highly doubt that, sir."

    The woman's dark eyes turned sympathetic. "For what it's worth, Agent, I don't believe you were involved with Harrison's attacks in London and San Francisco. I've read your statements and I know that you were in Scotland at the time. I also know your service record."

    Anthea said nothing, merely let the other woman continue.

    "I am also aware of your . . . condition. Since you've been seeing a Starfleet doctor, it's a matter of record now." Brody's expression was concerned, rather than pitying. "Am I correct in presuming that Commander Harrison is the father?"

    Her throat closed up and tears immediately sprang to her eyes. Anthea squeezed them shut, willing herself not to cry. Everything made her emotional these days, and just the reminder that John hadn't known was enough to get to her. Even though she was furious with him, she couldn't help but wonder. If he'd known, would he have done it?

    "It was a momentary indiscretion," she said once she'd got herself under control again. "I didn't know until shortly after . . . everything. I don't intend to blame the child for the sins of the father, but others might. I would appreciate it if . . ."

    "Don't worry," Brody assured her. "It will never leave this office. But in future, I'd advise against workplace romances. It's against protocol, even for us, for a reason. After all, you never really know what we're capable of."

    "I am more aware than most on that count, sir," Anthea replied tightly.

    "Yes, I'm sure you are."

    ----------

    Since many of the torpedoes had been elsewhere at the time of the London bombing, and the plans were stored on Starfleet's servers, those weren't much of an issue and Anthea had no involvement in their continued production. She did wonder, vaguely, why John had been so fixated on them, but she couldn't ask him now.

    There were a lot of things she wished she'd asked him, but she didn't know if he would have given her an honest answer if she had. It gutted her, not knowing what had been a lie, or if anything he'd said to her had been the truth. Had he loved her at all?

    When she wasn't handling things for Vice Admiral Brody, she spent her days pouring over what records they'd been able to salvage from the archive facility. She never told them that John had a copy of nearly everything stored on his computer in her study, that she had blueprints and drafts of everything from his disruptor cannon to the USS Vengeance stored in a cabinet there. That would lead to more questions than she was prepared for.

    There were no trips off-planet for her. Brody didn't want her straying far, which was understandable given Anthea's rapidly advancing pregnancy. For the most part, no one commented on the matter. When pressed, she said she'd had a drunken one-nighter with one of the now-deceased security guards at the archive, and decided after his death to keep the child.

    But in private, she mourned John.

    ----------

    The days blurred. She woke in the morning, and thought of John.

    She showered and dressed, and thought of John.

    She ate breakfast, drove to work. Thought of John.

    Consulted with engineers. Went to meetings with Vice Admiral Brody.

    Always, always, thought of John.

    Anthea had moved past the shock of San Francisco and into a sort of numb form of grief. She lived for the baby only. The first time she felt her child move was the first time she had really felt anything in months. Anthea took care of herself, but nothing mattered anymore.

    Nothing except the child she carried, that grew day by day and swelled her belly until she could no longer see her feet. The random sobbing had stopped, though the nightmares had not, and during her waking hours, she just . . . existed.

    ----------

    Even though its primary facility had been lost, Section 31 continued without pause. A memorial was planned for the site, and under it, naturally, they had to shore up the damage done by the explosion. Anthea wasn't at all surprised to find that they rebuilt the facility there, since they already had the hole and one of the terminals had suffered only slight damage. It was still under construction at the end of summer, the entire site blocked off from prying eyes by a hastily-erected structure that had no windows.

    "I really don't like this idea," Anthea told Brody, as they surveyed the construction. "If you're going to bother rebuilding it, do it somewhere else where casualties will be less if something happens."

    "You mean if one of our own goes off the rails and blows it up again?" Brody asked mildly. "Maybe, but I didn't make that decision."

    "Who did?"

    The woman just gave her a look and turned back to her inspection.

    It unsettled her to know that there were still people in charge who cared that little for the lives of those in service with them. She had theories about why John had done what he did, but she'd never have expected him to do so in such a large-scale manner. In retrospect, she would have thought him to be more like an assassin.

    Then again, if John had been right about Marcus's intentions to start a war, he couldn't have been alone in that. Section 31 was too-well organised and funded for all of Starfleet's leaders to be oblivious. Marcus felt, to Anthea, like a personal vendetta of John's. The rest of it, she couldn't be sure about, but as she stood by Brody and watched the sheer number of construction workers crawling over the lattice-like frame of the new complex, she had to wonder if the corruption Marcus had engendered went further than she'd thought.

    -----------

    Her first wedding anniversary passed with no fanfare. If Anthea could have drunk herself stupid that day, she would have. But she had her child to think of.

    She still had the photo from Betazed on her nightstand, still looked at it every morning when she woke and every night before she slept. She couldn't make herself put it away. She missed him, and even though he'd been gone longer than they'd been together, she couldn't help still needing him with ever fibre of her being.

    Curled in the chair by the fireplace in her study, Anthea sipped a glass of juice, pretending it was wine.

    "I wish you were here," she said aloud, to her absent husband. "So I could ask you why you did it. Why did you leave me, leave us? What was so important to you, that you could get from killing Marcus and the others, that you'd leave me?"

    The bell rang, interrupting her thoughts. For one heart-stopping moment, she wondered if it was John come home to her.

    Anthea levered herself out of the chair--nothing was easy these days--and padded down the stairs in her slippers to the door.

    It was only Lindy, though, come to cheer her up. She smiled and let her friend in, but inside, she wished she could be alone with the ghost of her husband.

    ----------

    Her mother came to visit in late September, when Anthea was closing in on the final days of her pregnancy. She didn't want the visit, didn't want her mother's criticisms and questions. But as a dutiful daughter, she welcomed the woman who had given birth to her with open arms.

    Tea was her mother's answer to everything. As they drank the brew--non-caffeinated for Anthea, because of the baby--and ate stupid little finger sandwiches, Martha Mackintosh waxed on about baby showers, what she thought her grandchild should be named, and what Anthea should do with her life now.

    "All I'm saying is, sweetheart, that you need to think about what's best for you and your baby. I know this is the twenty-third century, but call me old-fashioned. I think a child should have two parents."

    Anthea's hands shook. It took her a second to realise that she was feeling rage. Rage at her mother, rage at John. Rage at herself. She let out a ragged cry and threw the tea cup. It smashed against the wall, showering ceramic everywhere.

    Sobbing, she sank to the floor, her arms wrapped around the bulk of her belly. After a moment, her mother knelt beside her and pulled her into her lap like she had when Anthea was a child.

    "He's gone, Mum! He left me with such a mess, and I'll never know if any of what we had was real! And I can't talk about it because- because then I have to admit that I-"

    "That you loved a man who hurt you and betrayed you?" her mother asked in a very soft voice.

    Anthea shook her head. Tears poured unheeded down her cheeks. "I didn't- We didn't tell anyone. I only told Lindy,
    because- He'd just attacked Starfleet, I'd just found out about the baby."

    "Didn't tell anyone what?"

    "John and I were married a year ago. I'm the wife- or maybe the widow, of the second-worst terrorist this century." Granted, John hadn't destroyed an entire planet. He hadn't been that insane. "I don't know if he's even still alive, or if he is, where he is. I don't know why he did it. And I can't ask. I have to protect the baby."

    "You really think the baby could be in danger?"

    "Mum, my husband crashed a starship into San Francisco and killed twelve thousand people."

    ". . . Oh. Yes, I see."

    Anthea ran her hands over her belly. She pressed lightly, and the baby kicked in response. She had to smile. Even though she'd lost John, even though he'd betrayed her and everyone and done unthinkably horrible things, the child she carried was her one spot of joy in a very dark universe.

    "Do you know what it is yet?" her mother asked.

    "Not yet. I know the baby is healthy, but I want to be surprised."
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