Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: WAYSTATION
“Wherever You Will Go”
By Alan Decker
Commander Walter Morales -
Is it possible to feel pain, real physical pain, at the mere sight of someone?
Is it possible for a longing to fill you so thoroughly that you actually ache?
Is it possible to be in a place surrounded by thousands of people and yet feel utterly alone?
I live it every day. Every time I see Lisa Beck. And how can I not see her when we work so closely together?
Would I want to go through a day without seeing her?
So I live with the pain.
Everyday I am with her. I’m watching her walk around Ops. I’m watching that long red hair sway across her back. I’m listening to her voice giving orders or telling a joke. I’m seeing that smile and those eyes, and the pain worsens.
Sometimes she steps over to my console to check on some station matter or another. There she’ll be, right beside me, just a few centimeters away. I can feel the heat radiating off of her. I can smell her hair, the slightly floral fragrance of her shampoo. I can smell her perfumes, ranging day to day from the botanical to the musky. Her presence is overwhelming.
All I want to do is reach out and touch her.
But I can’t.
She’s not mine to touch.
We are Captain and First Officer. Nothing more.
And day by day I learn to live with the pain.
Lieutenant Sean Russell -
He glares at me from inside of his cell, smarting from his wounded pride and the solid right I gave to his jaw. Kerakik thought he had the perfect plan, the perfect way to smuggle contraband right under our noses.
Not on this station, pal.
We’re a community here, and when station residents catch wind of something, they report it to me. We don’t need your kind here, bud. Our residents want a clean, safe station, free of your element.
If only the residents had picked up on that casino deck a few weeks ago. Oh well. No sense dredging that up. Better to focus on the here and now. Kerakik is in a cell, and his shipment of chikigo powder is locked away in the evidence room until he and it can be shipped off to a Federation Legal Affairs Facility.
I should be proud. Wait, I am proud. It’s hard to keep the smug grin off my face as Kerakik snarls at me, but there’s the nagging thought at the back of my head.
What’s it going to matter?
That third pip won’t be any closer.
Sometimes I think I could go outside with nothing more than a spacesuit and a hand phaser and hold off a Borg cube, and I still wouldn’t see my name on a promotion list.
What’s a guy got to do to make Lieutenant Commander around here anyway?
Yeoman Tina Jones -
Another satisfied customer leaves my office. At least I hope he was satisfied. He seemed to be anyway. It’s hard to tell with Vulcans. Klingons may be a bit scary when you first meet them, but they’ll generally give you a big toothy smile and a loud laugh when you’ve given them what they want. I actually think I kind of like them.
I meet a lot of different people doing what I do. Ships come in all the time, and I’m the one who welcomes them, gets them oriented, and helps them find what they need. I guess I’m the station’s ambassador, which is pretty neat, especially considering I had no idea what “liaison officer” meant when I first heard it.
I’ve been lucky. Very lucky. I didn’t know what I was in for when I left home and enlisted in Starfleet. They could have put me anywhere. Instead I got assigned to the Secondprize. Sure it wasn’t anything fancy or high-profile, but I didn’t need that. Really, the Secondprize was…nurturing. I even got to sit in the command chair once.
Waystation is…well…it’s home now. It’s like a town, Captain Beck’s the mayor, Walt’s her deputy mayor, Sean is the Chief of Police, Dr. Nelson is the town doctor, Craig keeps everything running, and Colonel Lazlo…I don’t know what he is, but I’m the Chamber of Commerce. New in town, come see me. I’ll get you information about whatever you need.
Everyday, I help people from all over the quadrant. These folks have been more places than I can even dream of, yet they’re coming to me when they need something.
Not too shabby for a girl from Odala Two.
Joan Redding -
Is this a general man thing or just specific to him?
I’ve talked to him. I’ve been to the food court with him. I’ve invited him to have a drink. I just don’t know how much more plain I can make things.
When the hell is Craig Porter going to ask me out?
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I didn’t come to Waystation looking to fall in love with my commanding officer. What a ridiculous statement to make. Of course, I didn’t expect it. I didn’t even want to come here. I was in charge of a shuttlebay. How did that make me qualified to be first officer of a space station? Yet here I am.
And here she is.
The funny thing is that we were on the Secondprize together for years before Waystation even existed, and I didn’t give her a second thought.
Now she’s almost all I think about.
Back on the Secondprize, we lived in different worlds. She was a bridge officer and associated with the command crew. My friends were shuttle pilots and the Operations staff. I knew who she was, of course, but romantic notions never crossed my mind.
Now I would do anything for her, not that it would matter. There’s already a man in her life, and I’m not him. I’m not even close.
She has Phillip Harper.
Honestly, as much as I want to, I can’t hate him. He’s a good guy. It’d be easier if he was some kind of slimy bastard, but Lisa wouldn’t put up with someone like that. Lisa would kick him straight out the nearest airlock.
No, Phillip Harper is a good guy. He’s rich, he runs his own business, he’s charismatic, he’s a snappy dresser, he’s intelligent, and a great conversationalist. As I said, it’s hard to hate him. It’s even harder to compete against him.
Compete? Ha! How can I compete with that? How could anyone compete with someone like that? Of course, Lisa doesn’t even consider me to be in the competition. There is only Phillip. He’s everything she ever wanted.
Worst (or best) of all he makes Lisa happy.
You should see the grin she breaks into whenever he comms her in Ops. It’s breathtaking. I don’t usually get to see her that happy when she’s dealing with command. But the sound of his voice is all it takes to bring out that amazing smile.
I love seeing her smile. Who wouldn’t?
But I know it’s all because of him.
Lisa has finally found the man for her.
I should be pleased. I want her to be happy, right?
Yes. I do. And part of me is happy for her.
It’s the other 95% of me that’s the problem.
She looks so content as she and Phillip stroll through the mall together or eat dinner together. She practically glows.
Whenever I see them, I can’t take my eyes off of her. So beautiful. So happy. Positively radiant.
Meanwhile, I ache.
Captain Lisa Beck -
Phillip lays beside me in bed, fast asleep, a contented half- smile on his face. Unconsciously I reach out for him. I run my hand along his naked arm, feeling the contours of his flesh. He’s here, really here, and not just a dream.
Sleep hasn’t exactly been my friend lately. The Selvan first approached me in my dreams. It took Morales in his. Then we had that bastard using us as free labor for his casino while we thought were snug in our beds. Maybe all that’s why I’m having trouble sleeping now.
Sure. You keep on telling yourself that, Lisa.
You got me.
Truth is, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid I’m going to wake up tomorrow, and Phillip will be gone.
I already lost him once. I don’t think I can do it again.
But a part of me feels it’s inevitable. Mom and Dad died. My sister hasn’t spoken to me in years. And then Phillip…
It doesn’t matter. I got him back.
How long until he leaves, one way or another? How long until he decides that running his network from Waystation isn’t what he wants to do? How long until he decides he’d be far better off on Earth or Alpha Centauri?
It’s going to happen, part of me warns. Someday he’s going to leave.
Will he ask me to come with him?
Will I go?
I kissed her once.
Looking back on it, I almost can’t believe it happened. She wasn’t responsive to me at all, but still I remember the feel of my lips against hers, the feel of my body pushed against her for those few moments.
It was as far as our relationship will ever go.
I don’t know exactly what I was thinking at that moment. Did I think she would suddenly melt into my arms in the realization that I was who she’d wanted all of her life?
Partially. I’ve read too many books and seen too many holovids not to have had that somewhere in the back of my mind.
More likely, though, I was just scared. Scared that she would be killed by the Multeks and I would never see her again. It was my last chance to be close to her.
The words ‘pathetic desperation’ spring to mind.
I guess it was all I had left. She wouldn’t let me beam down in her place. Once again the ‘you’re the best pilot’ curse came back to smack me. I would have gone. I would have gladly taken on all of Multos Prime if it would have kept her safe. But that’s not how Lisa Beck works. She didn’t want to die, but she wasn’t about to send me down there instead.
Lisa does things her way, and, right or wrong, I follow her.
Whether she loves me or not, I follow her.
Even if it hurts me, I follow her.
I can’t imagine it being any other way.
Most days Odala Two feels like it was in another life. Someone else’s life. Or maybe a past life like the Yynsians have. It certainly wasn’t me there, not the me I am now anyway.
The only reason there is still a colony on Odala Two is that the people who live there are too stubborn to admit that the place is a miserable wasteland. That’s my family for you.
The story, and boy did I hear this one a lot growing up, was that my great-grandfather had brought his brothers, sisters, and a few friends along with all of their families to Odala Two because he was convinced that it a gold mine just waiting for some enterprising folks to stake their claim. Well, not a gold mine really. Who would want a gold mine now?
Odala Two actually had hucaricite and tons of it. My family mined and continues to mine the stuff. The only downside is that almost no one wants it. The Axanarans use it in some of their factories for something…I have no idea what, so they’re really our only customers.
So now you’ve got a colony of just over 200 people, most of whom I’m related to, mining some rocks nobody wants just because my great-grandfather thought it was a good idea.
If Mom and Dad ever heard me say that, they’d be crushed. But it’s true. I couldn’t stay there. I just couldn’t. Mom gave me the whole family tradition, legacy, and roots talk when I told her I wanted to join Starfleet. As bad as this sounds, I just didn’t care. Sometimes family traditions are stupid! And eighteen years on that rock was enough for me.
Honestly, I think Dad understood. He may even have wanted me to go, not that he’d ever say so. He couldn’t if he wanted a happy life on Odala Two. The others would rip him apart if he openly supported someone who was leaving the colony.
So I left alone, without a big send-off or anything. I didn’t care. I was just excited to be going somewhere, anywhere different.
That was almost six years ago.
I haven’t been back.
Mom and Dad, mainly Dad, send comms every once in a while, and I’ve invited them to the station. So far, they haven’t come. I doubt they will. Visiting me would be like admitting that they support my decision to leave. I’d like them to see my home, though.
It’s big, a bit crazy, and sometimes I think I’m in way over my head, but Waystation is where I want to be. It’s where my life is and where my friends are.
Now if only a certain friend could stop fixating on what he can’t have and realize what’s right in front of him.
Lieutenant Commander Craig Porter -
Did you ever get the feeling that the universe was trying to tell you something?
Everywhere I turn now, I seem to see her. If I were a more paranoid guy, I’d think Joan Redding was stalking me.
She’s just as abrasive and snappish as ever, but at least I don’t think she’s out to kill me anymore. We’re civil, and, on occasion, I actually find myself enjoying talking to her. How scary is that?
Actually, I suppose it’s a good thing, since I see her all over the station. The mall, the turbolifts, the corridors. She’s officially hit omnipresent status.
I’m actually starting to look forward to running into her. Sure she’s got that driven journalist thing going on most of the time, but when she relaxes and lets her guard down a bit she’s really very…pretty.
You’ve got to be kidding me?
Am I attracted to her? To Joan Redding, AWN’s chief pain in our collective asses?
Nah. It’s ridiculous. I refuse to believe it.
I wonder what she’d say if I asked her to dinner…
I never really thought it would turn out this way, not that I gave it much thought at all. Still, when I made Lieutenant at McKinley Station, I just kind of assumed I’d hit Lieutenant Commander in no time.
That was eight years ago.
I guess it could be worse. I could still be an Ensign. Can you imagine that? Head of an entire department and still an Ensign? That’d be enough to make you want to reach for a phaser and blow your own brains out.
So being Lieutenant Russell isn’t quite that bad, but it’s enough to get me down sometimes. All I want is that third pip. Is that so much to ask? What’s the problem here?
I think I know the answer.
I’m the problem.
Every time I do something that could get me that pip I almost immediately turn around and do something to screw it up.
Case in point, I’m now looking at an empty cell. Kerakik is gone. Turned out that one of his cufflinks was an emergency transport beacon. As soon as we lowered the cell forcefield to take him for his arraignment comm, he activated the beacon and vanished. Craig was able to figure out what departing ship he beamed to, and we put an alert out. As usual, he’s looking out for me.
But I’m still looking at an empty cell.
I should have scanned him more thoroughly when I booked him. Sure I found the blaster and his personal comm unit, but I didn’t even think that he might have something else on him.
At least we still have the chikigo in the evidence room. If we’d lost that, I probably would be an Ensign again.
It wasn’t so bad on McKinley Station or the Secondprize because I just didn’t care that much. I did my job, but I never let it get in the way of the rest of my life. When I wanted to have fun, I had fun. I probably developed a bit of a reputation, and it’s followed me from assignment to assignment. I’ve been on Waystation for almost five years now, and it’s still with me.
That’s it! From this moment on, I am going to be Mister Security. No more mistakes. Not a single screw-up.
Captain Beck is going to be breaking down my office door to give me my third pip.
I’m going to live this job morning, noon, and night.
I’ve got a date tonight.
Jealousy is an ugly emotion.
There’s nothing very deep in that statement. Of course it’s ugly. It’s raw. It’s mean. It takes us to dark places within ourselves that we’re rather not believe exist.
I was no exception. I ignored my jealousy of Phillip Harper for as long as I could, pretended I wasn’t feeling it. Tina saw it, though. She told me to get help before I did anything I’d regret. Before I did anything beyond attack a simple paint canvas.
Unfortunately the Selvan got to me before I could get to Counselor Miller, and Lisa, Phillip, and I almost died as a result.
Lisa’s never indicated that she blames me, but I know the truth. I watched those security tapes. I heard the Selvan’s words. It got in because I let it take control of me. I let it take control because of my longing for Lisa. I was weak. I couldn’t face facts. I couldn’t deal with life without her.
And because of that, people almost died.
Who am I kidding? Phillip Harper did die. The only reason he’s walking around today is because the Q intervened. The Q gave Phillip back to Lisa.
I thank and curse them every single night.
But even if he were gone, it wouldn’t make a difference. Lisa had no interest in me before Phillip entered her life. What would change if he left?
More than that, though, I could never put her through that kind of pain.
Funny, isn’t it? For a brief time, I was willing to let the Selvan use her for its needs in return for a Lisa Beck that loved me. I was willing to destroy the woman she is just to possess a pale copy. It would have been her body, but the woman herself wouldn’t be there.
To have her I was willing to betray her.
That’s been the hardest thing to live with. Forget the aches of longing. Forget the desires that will never be fulfilled. I lay awake at night, night after night, tortured with the knowledge that I betrayed her.
Lisa doesn’t know about my betrayal, but she hasn’t been the same towards me since the Selvan was destroyed. She says she doesn’t blame me, but she watched the Selvan use me to kill Phillip Harper. We were never exactly what you would call close, but whatever friendliness once existed in our relationship has been replaced by a cool professionalism.
Frankly, it’s more than I deserve.
I’ve been able to deal with the new distance between us. Our lives were separate to begin with. Now I just try to stay away from her unless station business demands otherwise. It’s for the best. Both of us have things that we’d rather not be reminded of.
It works fine on the station.
But soon we won’t be on Waystation. She’s summoned me to the Wayward for a trip to Earth. All that way with the two of us together in the Wayward’s cockpit. All that way, and I doubt we’ll exchange a single word beyond what the mission requires.
I’ve come to believe there truly is an organizing force to the universe, and it has separated us all into two groups. One group suffers and strives and does whatever it can physically or emotionally to make it through the day while the other group has everything it could possibly want fall into its lap.
Bradley Dillon is definitely in the latter group. I’m a bit fuzzy on all the details, but somehow the Ferengi took possession of Earth. Then Bradley bought it back from them in exchange for being made President of the Federation.
Bradley Dillon is going to be President of the Federation, and I’m going to fly him to his inauguration. I should be screaming to the stars in protest.
It hardly matters to me, though.
All it means is that I’m going to spend the trip close to Lisa Beck.
She’ll be close enough to touch.
Yet farther away than ever.