"And the walls came tumbling down" By Ensign Heather Mclouson and Lt. Sara Crusher Heather knew that the computer wouldn't be able to turn anything up on its scans but it was one of her options and she had to try them all. Her next one was Sara. Sara was a telepath, she had to feel something weird, if there was anything. But Sara could be the one causing it. Heather had thought about that. But Sara didn't have any real reason to attack her. And she would feel the walls and maybe back off if she was the one attacking. But Heather had to know who or what was getting her. So she pushed away from her desk and walked into Sara's office. She saw on her way in that Sara was still busy with that Ensign but she decided to wait for her to finish. She sat down in one of the chairs and tried to act calm and collected but she couldn't mask her fright or nervousness. Sick bay once again was quite after Joe left and Sara took a moment to look around. Her conversation with him had brought up a lot of her own personal questions again. She stomped her foot as she shook off the self-doubt. Yes she was young, but that had nothing to do with her ability to be a good CMO. She took one last look around at the nurses who were picking up the mess the Captain and her new toy caused and then headed towards her office. She really wanted a cup of coffee. When she stepped into the room she was surprised to see Heather sitting there. "Heather? Is there something I can do for you?" The young woman look worried about something and Sara decided to forgo her cup of coffee and instead headed for her chair. Heather knew Sara could tell she was worried. After all that's part of her telepathic gig and even if she wasn't using her powers it was practically written on her face. "Well I'm a little preoccupied about something." She wasn't sure exactly how to approach this so she decided to be straightforward about it. "Sara, I read in your file that you are a telepath, and I've been feeling some strange things, and I was wondering if you felt it too?" "I have some telepathic abilities, mostly my skills lie in empathy." Sara sat back in her chair and crossed her legs. She hadn't really opened her mind to read anything or anyone all day so she hadn't felt anything strange. "What exactly do you mean by strange?" She wondered if maybe there was something going on that could affect the ship. She remembered once that Jvan had told her something about telepathic spoon heads… She slowly started to lower her shields to see if anything caught her attention right off the bat. Heather swallowed hard trying to think of a way to explain without bringing out her newfound memories, "Well I have a few walls that were built for me...." She hadn't really wanted to say that but if Sara was any kind of empath with training she would tell that they were there, "And just today while I was fixing Josh's head they were being pressed, like someone was trying to push them down. And memories that were sealed away are coming back to me in dreams...." She had said too much she shouldn't have talked about the dreams but she needed some kind of help. Sara allowed herself to sweep quietly across Heather's mind. She was impressed. Heather indeed had some very remarkable shielding techniques. There was also a lot of fear, confusion, pain. The curiosity that she had about her AMO was now doubled. "Are you Betazed at all?" She looked at the woman who sat across from her and smiled a little. "Urllian maybe?" Heather tried to calm down but she couldn't, even though Sara had made a light sweep barely even there Heather had felt it. She had also been able to see in that brief touch that Sara could be very powerful if she wanted to be. "Um, no. I'm human. They think. It was never really very official. But why?" For some reason speech was becoming harder for her, but she put that to her nerves, she was very on edge. "Just asking… That shielding of yours is impressive. I've only seen it used by a few betaziods in my time. Lt. Dnalls being one of them." She smiled again. There had been another person with that shielding and for the life of her she couldn't recall who. Heather had said something about memories and dreams and Josh. "I'll help in any why I can, Heather, but I need you to be a little more clear on some things." Heather took a deep breath, she had a feeling that it wasn't going to be easy, "Okay, what do you need to know? I've been trying to figure it out myself but I can't do it, so I have to ask for help." Sara stood and walked over to the replactor. She ordered two herbal teas and brought them back to the desk, placing one in front of Heather. "Well I guess start at the beginning. You said you had teachers who taught you how to use the shielding. What were they and why did they show you this?" Heather took the mug and looked down into it trying to remember, "There was a lot of pain....it's kinda fuzzy and stuff, and there was light....I can't really help you on who they were. I never got to see them, they just destroyed my head....they would drag their minds through mine until I could feel even the lightest touch. Then they boxed up all my memories inside the walls they built...... I couldn't remember anything until they started to leak out recently." She stopped for a moment looking at Sara, "Is this helping?" "Honestly… No… I've heard of some telepathic counselors using blocking shields to suppress memory but nothing like what you have." Sara wasn't sure what was going on with Heather but something inside was telling her that it's nothing good. She took a sip from the mug that she held in her hands and for a moment let her mind drift. "So you felt me just now, when I read you?" "Yeah..." she looked back down into the cup, "You have a very gentle touch, but from what I can tell you can push a lot of power through your links." She swirled the cup around feeling hopeless again. Sara was more then a little surprised that Heather was able to tell that. She worked hard to hide the extent of her powers from everyone, even Jvan and that wasn't easy. Sara took another sip of her tea and she shifted a little in her chair. "The strange feeling. I'm not sensing it as something surrounding the whole ship. Could it be something linked to your memories? An after thought?" "But it started before my memories came back....I think it caused a hole in those walls around my memories....and it keeps widening I think." She took a sip of the tea. "And they all come in dreams. But they're starting to invade my waking thoughts now." She put the cup on the edge of the desk, "And they're so vivid. Like I'm there again...even the smells are real to me." She looked at Sara with clouded eyes that couldn't reveal her true emotions, "Do you think.....maybe? I mean, the dre---memories can't be described.....maybe if you can handle it.....you could open the walls and let them all out....." "Well before we go there can you pin point when this all stated?" Sara had a funny feeling. "And have you ever been around telepaths like you are now, with me and Lt. Dnalls?" "I've been around them before but I was taught by those people how to put forth fake emotions to hide my walls, so they never noticed me. And I can tell you exactly when all this started....I think. It was two weeks ago yesterday, nothing unusual, just a sort of pressing feeling." Sara nodded as she tried to think of what was going on then. "What happened two weeks ago yesterday?" She tried to remember, "It was normal...not a lot of people, just you, Jvan, and some nurses....and then it started and when I went to bed they came." Suddenly at least a part of this was making sense. Two weeks ago would have been when the away team first came back and between Jvan and the Captain, and Cyanah and herself there was a lot of telepathic activity in the area. "I think I know what started the break down in your shields and you might not have even known it was going on." Heather looked up startled, "You know? How? What?.....How did I not notice?" "Jvan and I have been very telepathically active in the last few weeks with people who are not telepaths. There's normally some type of bounce back from that, I think that maybe that psi-residue might have affected your shields." Sara leaned forward in her chair. "If we had known we would have been more careful. I am so sorry." Heather let that sink in, "You're what?" She finally managed to ask alittle confused. "I'm sorry." Sara repeated. "I know to be more careful but with everything that's happened… I should have been more careful around here, it's just other then Jvan I had no idea anyone else was shielding." Heather seemed surprised by Sara's action. It was almost as if no one had ever said that to her before. "Sorry," she mumbled, the words seeming strange to her, then she realized that she was supposed to say something back, "I-i--it-t-'s oookay....S-s---s-sara." Something had flipped inside her head, she had felt it go. Whatever it was it was making it hard for her to talk now. She looked up at Sara again, "T---t--tt-tthank youu." She didn't really know what to say, she just sat there as things seemed to swim in her head making it start to hurt and forcing her hands up over her eyes to support and comfort her aching head. On pure instinct Sara sprung to her feet. Only this time she didn't reach for her tri-corder. This time she reached out to Heather in her mind taking hold of her with her own in hopes to settle her. Sara crouched down next to Heather, her eyes closed and her hand on her assistant's arm. She didn't invade her memories or touch the shields; she simply helped her to regain control. Heather could feel Sara's strength and mind inside hers and she could feel that she was helping her brain not to overload. And she could feel the pain ebb as she fought against it finally managing to hold her own but she still felt Sara's mind there, ready to add alittle support if she faltered. "S-sara thanks. But I t-t-think the walls need to come down....they aren't doing their job anymore, and s-since I've seen alittle it will bug me until I reme-mber it all." She took a deep breath, "Can you do it?" Sara's words were no longer spoken out loud so she spoke them soft so she wouldn't scare Heather. "I can. But if I do there's no going back. Before I touch anything you need to be sure. I can either repair them or tear them down. But you have to be 100% sure." She had shifted her posture a little and was now sitting on her knees but her eyes were still closed and her hand still on Heather's arm. She could fell the other woman tremble. Heather knew what it would mean for her....she'd have to cope with having these memories, whatever they were of, but what she had said had been the truth she needed to know now. She needed to see what had happened to her that had always been shrouded, "Yeah Sara.....I'm sure. Tear them down..." Sara began to raise her own shields. She didn't want to be invasive and she didn't want Heather to worry about her seeing too much. She also wanted to protect Cyanah from what ever was about to come flooding out once the damn had broken. "Ready?" She felt the walls go up and was glad that Sara was protecting herself, Heather didn't know what these memories were of and she didn't want her to get nailed with them, "Ready." After taking a deep breath and steadying herself, Sara began to go deeper into Heather's mind. It was easy at first but as she started to make contact with the shields it became harder. She reached out and placed her other hand on Heather's arm. One of the major limits of her abilities is the need to be physically near the person she was reading or communicating with unless there's a link built between them like with her Imzadi. The shields were amazing. Sara had never encountered any like them before. They forced her to refocus quite a few times which allowed a memory or two to pass between them. Sara got images of a small dark room, a stick, yelling, and three people who seemed to hover over Heather. Heather in return got images of the Captain when she was beamed aboard after her rescue, snow capped mountains, and Sara's pets. Heather tried to stay as relaxed as possible, she knew that if she regretted her decision while Sara was tearing he walls down it would make that job very much harder, catching the glimpses from Sara's mind was like a fresh breeze and while they weren't her memories she clung to them to stay calm. She did see the dark flashes that were her own memories and she couldn't imagine what they were doing to Sara's mind, but like she had said, no turning back, Heather focused and would hold on until Sara gave her the all clear to let the memories come flooding into her consciousness. The shields seemed to be an inter-lacing of techniques. Some she knew others she worked around till they fell as well. She stopped when she reached the last bit of shielding. Heather was calm and she knew this is what she wanted so she began to tear it down. Once all the walls were down she kept the protective shield she had placed in Heather's mind intact and slowly started to back out. She was physically and mentally wiped out but she'd never let Heather see that. She paused, took a deep breath and then on the edge of Heather's mind backed all the way out. Heather felt Sara leave but she still felt one shield and analyzing it Heather knew it was Sara's, probably her safety net incase Heather's mind decided to get overwhelmed, she wouldn't want to get stuck. "Thanks Sara, that was a lot of work." She took a deep breath, "You have no idea how much this means to me." Heather looked into Sara's eyes and for the first time she could feel they were showing her emotions like everyone else's did. She smiled slightly and gave her a nod, "Last one between me and my life.....if you're safe, take it down." "Here or would you rather wait till you were alone?" Her words were spoken out loud again. She stood slowly since she was a little dizzy and didn't fell like meeting the floor. Heather thought a moment really not wanting to get up at the moment, "Actually how long can you keep it in place? Does it tax on your reserves? Cause I know you have to be close to dead after those walls......." She looked critically at Sara, feeling slightly free for the moment, "I have to have dinner with Josh and I don't think it would be good if I went to his place to talk about his mom only to have me be a basket case all my own." Sara thought about it. Yes she was tired but she could hold it a while longer. "I can hold it for now." Heather knew it had taken a tremendous amount of Sara's strength to perform the feat she just accomplished, "Don't press yourself. I can always cut it short. You just let me know when you need to let go and I'll be at my quarters sealed off so I'll be safe. You just have to promise to let me know. If you can't hold it and are lying to me you can take 'em down here and just lock your office." "I have a dinner date of my own later, but until then I can hold out." Sara smiled at Heather and sat herself down on the edge of her desk. "I know how much Josh is hurting and your kind to help him out. I can give you an hour maybe 90 mins." Heather nodded, "An hour then, and don't be afraid to call it early. I don't need a Chief who can't function; I don't want to run this zoo." She smiled, " I have to say, at this moment I have never felt better, so for an hour I get to be this way. And even if my memories drive me insane, I'll always hold on to this hour you're giving me Sara. It's the nicest thing anyone's done for me. And I will make it up to you." Sara simply nodded and smiled at Heather as she watched her stand up from the chair. "Don't worry about it. I'm a sucker for making new friends." Heather flashed a real genuine smile and gave Sara a great big hug, "Well your a magic maker Sara Crusher. Nothing short of a miracle. And I think we both a have a new friend." She let go of Sara and squared her shoulders, "I'm off to a dinner, to make some small attempt to give to someone else what you've given to me. And Sara, I can't say thank you enough." "You just did." Sara said with a smile. Sara watched as Heather left her office. She could see the difference in her right away. Heather would be facing a lot and Sara would be there again for her if she was needed. But for now she had a shield to keep. She walked over to her couch and closed her eyes allowing herself to drift to a state where she could do it with out collapsing, and where she could block out what was going to happen at dinner. The last thing she wanted was to be the third wheel on that date.