“What the hell were you thinking, Mayfield? Of all the stupid things I’ve seen on this ship, I never expected you to act the way you did down there!”
Brian stood ram-rod straight in front of Harrison’s desk while the captain continued his barrage. His face, however, displayed none of the apathy he felt at the moment.
“You’ve got an angel or something watching your ass. If any of the hostages had been hurt…” Harrison left the threat open, turning his chair to the side and leaning back in it, catching his breath.
“Is that all you can say? ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir.’” Harrison squeezed the bridge of his nose. “One of the refugees, the ones you had to rescue from that pit, had to get you out of there. You! My chief of security!”
“Sir, if I may speak.”
“Please, say something!”
“I can assure you, sir, it will not happen again.”
Harrison paused, then sat back up, turning to face Brian again. “Brian, sit.”
Mayfield didn’t move at first, not sure what the captain’s change in tone meant. He eventually sat down, like he had been drilled to at the academy his first year; front edge of the chair, back straight, eyes forward, feet planted, hands on your knees.
Harrison shook his head. “I’m done reprimanding you. Sit.”
Brian repositioned to accommodate him, though in truth he was more comfortable sitting on the edge of his chair.
The two sat in the small office for a moment in silence. Brian took the opportunity to stare at Harrison’s desk and his reflection in the well-oiled surface of the old wood.
“I’m sorry about sh’Aleen, Brian. I know how…” Harrison searched for his words carefully, unaccustomed to this part of his job. The Whiston had never been so thick in the action as it had been for the past week. Losing crew members due to crew transfers was common enough, but death was a rarity. Death in the line of duty was even more so. “She was special.”
Brian couldn’t help but scoff. “She was much more than that, sir.”
“I didn’t know her too well. She was one of your officers, right?”
It didn’t matter anymore who knew, Brian decided. They had done their best to keep their relationship hidden and professional, especially in the company of the rest of the security section on the ship. But, now that everyone had seen his reaction on the planet, there wasn’t much sense keeping it hidden.
“She was, sir. She was a solid security officer. Stubborn as hell.” Brian laughed a little, remembering. His eyes stung as the flood of memories threatened to overcome him again. “She always managed to surprise me, even in the end.”
“Brian, I’m glad you made it.”
Mayfield smiled at the doctor. “How are you, Abuela?”
She smiled back, beckoning him deeper into sickbay. “Someone requested a visitor. I hope you don’t mind.”
His heart raced for a moment, but he quickly quelled the excitement; he knew better than to think anything had been done for his dead love. But then, he couldn’t think of anyone else on the ship that would want to see him in sickbay.
They turned a corner to a more private area of the infirmary. There was a small gathering of refugees, and Brian immediately recognized the priestess who had come aboard from the Horizon; she was wearing a blood-red robe adorned with gold and unpolished gems. There was another woman lying on the bed, covered by a blanket; Brian recognized her as the pregnant woman his team had rescued on the planet. A Vulcan man was at her side, and Brian could see he was holding her hand, though his face showed no concern.
The priestess turned as they walked in and nodded to them. “Lieutenant Mayfield,” she addressed him, slowly and deliberately. “Saakiv wishes to speak with you.” She motioned towards the woman lying in the bed; instantly, the gathering of Vulcan attendants parted to allow Brian through to her. The woman’s husband, Brian decided, stood straighter as he approached, and Mayfield couldn’t help but feel like he had invaded a very private event.
The woman’s eyes opened, and she turned her head to the side to look at him. Her mouth twitched slightly at the corner, and then, to Brian’s surprise, a small smile spread out. “Mayfield. Your presence is appreciated.” She moved the blanket, and Brian gasped.
The woman was cradling a small baby wrapped up in blankets.
“Doctor de la Reina believes the…stress…from the neurolytic inhibitors your team removed caused me to enter labor earlier than anticipated.” The woman stared down at the child, then looked back at Brian. The small, private smile was still there, and Brian could see in his peripheral that the priestess and her attendants stiffened at the display of emotion. “We must name her.”
Brian wasn’t sure how to respond to the statement. “That would be…a good thing, certainly.”
“The woman, the Andorian. She died at the slave market.”
Brian winced, but did his best to keep his emotions in check. He swallowed the lump in his throat and coughed, causing the infant to stir a little, but she didn’t wake, so Brian continued. “Her name was sh’Aleen; she was a good friend of mine.”
“She was your lover.” Saakiv tilted her head to look up at her husband, who nodded once. “I wish to name my daughter for her.” Saakiv turned back to Brian. “It is not uncommon for our people to give names to our children to honor those who have stood out in history. I feel this is only appropriate.”
Mayfield looked from the woman to her husband. The man simply continued to stare at his wife, taking deep, even breaths. He turned back to Saakiv. “I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Lieutenant Mayfield, say yes. We must name her, and soon.” She looked past Brian at the waiting priestess, then looked back at him, locking her eyes on his. Brian could see them searching him, hoping for his answer.
Mayfield wiped his eyes, biting his bottom lip hard to keep from crying again today. He nodded. “It’s a very…beautiful name. sh’Aleen would be…” He paused, not sure of his next words.
For as much venom as she had for the Vulcans, her final sacrifice - protecting Saakiv and this child - surely negated everything. Didn’t it?
“She would be honored,” he said, hoping in his heart that somewhere, she was.
Saakiv nodded, then looked again at the priestess. “We choose to name her sh’Aleen.”
“So be it.” There was a firm hand on Brian’s shoulder, the priestess’, pulling him away. “You will leave now, so that the ceremony can continue.”
“I wish for him to be here,” the husband spoke suddenly, his voice deep and calm. “He will remain.”
The electronic beeps filled the room. Brian rolled over to quell the noise. When his first two attempts failed, he realized it wasn’t his alarm that was waking him up. His own chronometer showed 0445; much too early for him to wake up.
The door to the head opened quickly, and Carl raced out to turn off his alarm, cursing under his breath. He smacked the console, then turned quickly to see if Brian was awake. His eyes went wide when he saw Brian sitting up groggily, a frown plastered firmly on his face.
“Brian, I’m sorry. I forgot…”
Brian waved him quiet; he didn’t care anymore. It didn’t matter. He grumbled a little, turning over and pulling his blanket further up and over him. After the previous week’s events, nothing mattered anymore. There hadn’t been a reason worth getting up for; he simply did.
Carl was doing his best to stay quiet for his roommate, but every little noise he made resounded in the uncomfortable silence that had taken root in their quarters.
Brian had found his thoughts travelling to darker and darker places since the death of sh’Aleen. If he had been able to, he’d sleep forever. The Vulcans’ show of gratitude had been beautiful, but now Brian purposefully tried to block even that from his memory. A selfish part of him thought it would have been worth losing a hostage or two, if it had meant his lover would still be alive. Those thoughts made him feel even more depressed and reclusive, and he wished he could find real alcohol somewhere on the ship to drown his sorrows. There wasn’t any on the ship, of course, so he had resigned himself to his quarters when he wasn’t on duty. When he was on duty, he focused only on the task at hand, trying to occupy his mind with less guilt-inducing lines of thought.
This is a hell of a way to live. Alone.
The thought shook him to the core. He had come to that question numerous times, why he was allowing this to affect him in this manner, so that the once shining example of the Starfleet officers on the Whiston was in jeopardy of a formal reprimand for dereliction of duty.
But this time was different, because the voice that asked him wasn’t his.
Why are you doing this? Is this how you honor my memory, by wishing to drown your sorrows and be angry at everyone including yourself?
It was sh’Aleen’s.
I made my choice, and I’ll be damned before you throw your life away because of it. I knew my job. I did it. Do yours.
The door to the quarters opened, bringing Brian out of his thoughts. Carl was standing in the doorway, looking back at his roommate for a second. He turned around to walk out.
“Carl, wait.” Brian swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood slowly. He stretched, and he heard and felt a pop in his lower back, sending waves of relief through his body. “Come on. I’ll join you in the gym.”