<USS Banshee> "End of the Innocence"

  • From: "Brad Ruder" <GroundZero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ussbanshee@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 03:11:11 -0800

?End of the Innocence?
by Lieutenant Joshua Asper
& Lieutenant Sara Crusher

It had just been one of those weeks.

Rubbing his temples as the information flashed and moved around on the screen, Josh finally found himself able to rest back down within the chair and relax for a few fleeting moments. The week had spiraled uncontrollably downward and he was at its mercy. Without the ability to sit and reflect, Josh had been thrown into the lion's den and facing more and more challenges. Challenges that, mentally, he wasn't ready to accept or solve.

Cracking his neck and standing up, Josh turned away from his assign - almost complete - and took a few quick steps to the door and into the illuminated hallway on the other side. He needed to relax, that was the only thing on his mind. Ever since the academy, so many years ago, he'd found that by working up a sweat and pushing himself to the max would calm down and unwind. To the gymnasium, Josh thought as he rounded a corner to the turbolift.

The designer of the Banshee must have been a work out freak because the ship's Gym was simply amazing. It had everything a person could ask for to tone, shape, train, and vent. The crewmembers that occupied the main area where all the machines were kept were all clueless to the presence of the little irate redhead who had sealed herself off in the racket ball court.

Sara had been in there since the Captain and Cyanah had left sick bay. She needed to think and to work off her slight irritation at the mid mornings events. "Why out of all the people on this stupid ship did she chose me to let lose on!?? She shouted as she hit the ball. The ball bounced off the far wall with a cracking noise. Each time she hit it another thought was knocked into oblivion. She was such a baby. Why didn't she stand up for herself?

She had let herself get so freaked out that her girlfriend had to come save her. Whose side was Cyanah on anyway? And what in the hell was going on in the freakin' science lab!? With the last thought the ball hit the back wall with a sickening sound and in protest to being hit so hard came back and nailed Sara in side. Sara dropped her racket and screamed out every curse she could think of.

The doors hissed open as Josh emerged in a white tank top and his black nylon shorts. The gym was a tad crowded, but nothing that he wasn't used to. The machines were being used, the free weights were being used, and nothing seemed available to him but pain and frustration. His eyes roamed the occupancy of the racquet ball courts, the basketball courts, and the squash courts. "Racquetball sounds fun, I wonder if whoever is in there could use an opponent." Josh smiled to himself as he trudged off in the direction of the sport.

Don't kill this person, Josh, it just wouldn't be right. Josh thought to himself as the doors opened and the redheaded doctor stood in his foresight cursing and holding her side in what looked like pain. She's beautiful, Josh, and you let her get away. Why don't you tell her how you really feel? Josh shook the romantic thoughts of apology and reconciliation from his mind as he realized it wasn't possible.

Snagging a racquet off the rack and moving into the center of the court, Josh smiled and raised his voice. "Lose again, Sara?" Smiling, Josh picked up the ball that he had assumed struck her. "How are you?"

It was a good thing Sara had dropped her racquet or Josh would have been out for the count. Not because it was him; only because she wasn't expecting anyone and he had scared her to death. She stood there in her gray sweat pants and matching gray tank top holding her side and trying to suck in air. She nodded to let Josh know she was all right while she caught her breath.

"Damn thing hit me back." She finally managed to get out. She shivered a bit. Her skin was soaked with sweat and when Josh opened the door he had let in a rush of cold air.

"Weren't you ever told as a child that it wouldn't bite you? Well - they lied." Josh smiled as he tossed her the ball back and walked a bit around her. She looked even more attractive when she was angry. Again, Josh pushed the ideas out of his mind and focused on the game. "Wanna play?" Josh let a maniacal smile creep across his lips as he twirled his racquet mischievously in his hands, all the while keeping eyes on Sara.

Sara watched Josh circled her. She wasn't in the mood for this, but maybe a real game would take her mind off things. Plus she would enjoy beating Josh. "Sure, Josh." She said with a wicked little grin. "Just keep in mind?I don't play nice."

As impure thoughts danced evilly through his head at her last statement, Josh assumed an offensive position. Like a dog, his eyes locked on the ball as Sara cradled it in her small hands. "Throw it, or are you afraid?"

Sara sneered at Josh and then threw the ball up into the air and smacked it with her racquet. It bounced off the wall and towards Josh. He returned the hit and Sara watched both the ball and him. They went back and forth for a while.

Sara's heart pounded in her chest as she pounded the ball each time it came her way. She had nearly caused it to hit Josh twice since they started and on the third time it barely missed his head.

Swinging violently he missed it wide left and it bounced harmlessly into a corner. His chest heaving, his brow drenched, and his fist aching in agony from clenching the racquet with such power and strength, Josh bent over exhausted. "If I didn't know any better," he breathed, "I'd think you were intentionally trying to hit me every time the ball came to you." Smiling he managed to lift his head and look at her.

"I wasn't trying to hit you, Josh." She really hadn't been. She just couldn't stop hitting the ball in frustration. Sara smiled at Josh a bit as she walked over to the bench she had placed her towel and water bottle on. She tossed the racquet harshly to the floor and winced as the sound it made echoed though the tiny humid room. She sighed as she felt the muscles in her arms and legs burn from over use.

Sara picked up her towel and started to wipe the sweat from her face. She then moved on to her arms and chest before trading the towel for her water. Sara took a few ginger sips from the bottle despite the urge to down the whole thing. She really didn't need to deal when cramps at the moment.

Running a hand across his sweating forehead, Josh took a seat next to Sara to calm down. He eyed the racquet she had thrown carefully before setting his down carefully and without sound next to the bench.
"You seem distracted, or upset, or something. You aren't normally this aggressive - with anything." He took a sip of his own water that he replicated from the replicator just feet away. "What's up?"

Josh realized, at first, that his question might be construed as personal and rude. After analyzing his own intentions, and hoping that Sara would understand that they were only good, he looked at her waiting for a response.

"It's nothing new. Same old guff?different day." She said as she stared into space. Her mind wondered all over the place and it was starting to get on her nerves. She then smiled a bit. "You mean to tell me you couldn't smell the barbecue sauce from where you were?"

Josh looked at her puzzled, then realized her innuendo, "Ah, apparently you've met the Captain in another run-in." He ran a hand over his neck and stretched it both ways, "Was it about Tramp and Gypsy again?"

Being fully aware of the Captain and Sara's altercations from the past, he figured he'd lay low and wait for her to spill her guts about the situation, what happened, and who ended up on the grill. Which, he assumed, was Sara.

"No. That's the funny part. I didn't do a damn thing!" Sara stood and kicked her racquet across the room. "She just needed to blow off steam and I happened to be the one she picked off the menu." She slowly started to realize that it wasn't just being the Captain's whipping girl that bugging was her. It had to do with other things. Mostly the fact that she couldn't stand up to Morrigan. What was going to happen when Morrigan found out about her and Cy? Would she be able to stand her ground? "I mean you know how we are, Josh. The woman could order me to dress in a French maid outfit and clean her quarters and I'd do it." She suddenly laughed at the image of her in French maid's out and saying ?Yes, Captain. What would you like me to do, Ma'am??

"You need confidence, Sara. Talk to Cy, she has more than she needs. I'm sure she'll give you some." Josh shook his head as he remembered their little encounter in the Science Labs. He wasn't upset; just more hurt that Cyanah didn't respect the rank difference. Josh had blown off steam, but he still found it annoying and eating at his subconscious.

The first four words of Josh's reply were said rather sweetly. The rest of it stung and Sara didn't like the tone he was using. "What the hell was the suppose to mean?" She asked.

Getting hit with a verbal brick as her words pierced him like a shuttlecraft, Josh turned to look at her. "I didn't mean anything, I was just stating that Cy is sometimes overconfident." Josh wanted to lay it to rest, but he couldn't stop himself. "And, she's a little cocky."

Sara blinked a few times as she tried to process the fact that Josh was being arrogant enough to sit there and badmouth Cyanah in front of her. "Overconfident and cocky." Her voice was level and calm. "Overconfident and cocky!" Her voice began to rise. "I can't believe that you of all people have the never to call anyone overconfident and cocky!" She was not shouting.

"I have the nerve?" Josh's gaze turned more hostile than he would have liked, but she was pushing his buttons. He took a couple breaths as he stared into her eyes, emerald green eyes that were on fire. He looked around and to the ceiling, channeling his emotions and anger in a more positive direction. Then again, he knew that he wasn't going to let Sara berate him. "Do you want to know what your charming, and disrespectful, girlfriend did the other day?"

Fighting the urge to wrap a racquet around his throat Sara looked at him coldly. The anger she had been there to work off in the first place now seemed like a drop in the bucket compared to the rage that was building up. Sara took a few steps away from Josh. Not because she was scared by what she saw flickering in his eyes, but because she didn't want to push his head though the wall. Head injuries were a pain to treat.

"First off; don't you EVER call Cyanah overconfident, cocky and most of all disrespectful again! Second! If you are referring to YOUR childish behavior in HER lab last week! Save your breath! I heard all about it!"

Josh snapped to attention, his eyes glaring upon her with an intense heat that was edging towards total hatred. "Don't raise your voice to me EVER! I was trying to have a civil talk with Cyanah, and she ignored me COMPLETELY! If it weren?t for the fact that I was in a good mood, I would have told the Captain and Commander of her insubordination. NORMAL people show respect to ranks, especially when it's CIVIL conversation!"

Josh glowered at her as she stepped away; his nostrils flared a bit as his eyes dived into the abyss of Sara's eyes. His gaze intensified as he ended his sentence and he could feel his chest heaving heavily.

That was it. Sara was gone and there was no coming back. One of them wasn't leaving the room with the ability to stand upright; and, since he had the height advantage to make that possible, she knew it wouldn't be her. "Look here you ARROGANT little boy! Don't tell me NOT to raise my voice. I'll DO what EVER I WANT! You can't play the rank game with me! We're the SAME rank!"

Sara?s face flushed red and her hands started to tremble and she continued on her tirade. "And trust me! Cyanah could care less about your whole HALF a pip more! She's not rank driven like SOME people!" Sara laughed but it wasn't her normal laugh. This one was darker somehow. "And go ahead. Tell Morrigan! You'll be the one on the BBQ and I'll be there with the pitchfork!" She paused a moment. She was done. She just needed to breathe. "And for your information, of course she COMPLETELY ignored you! You?re only a male and are not wroth her attention!"

"You blinded jezebel! Listen here, princess; I don't give a damn about your flirtations with every member of the crew. To let it bias your views is your fault, not mine. As for rank driven, it's called being Starfleet!" Josh took a weary step in her direction, his face turning a bright shade of red.

"Just because Cyanah doesn't give a damn about other people besides herself and you, and apparently the Captain as far as gossip goes, is another reason she's dangerous and needs to be set straight." Josh's heart pounded. "And, as for being a man, that shouldn't have any precedent! It makes her look even worse, as if that's possible, because she's sexist!" Turning his back on her, he ran his hands over his face, then turned to Sara again.

Sara didn't move as Josh came towards her. She kind of wished he would hit her. She'd have him up on charges so fast his head would spin. "Jezebel! God Josh! GET OVER IT! And who in the hell do you think you are!? My Flirtations!? Good heaven! You've tried to bed EVERY woman on this ship! Including Cy!" Sara was breathing heavy and taking in way to much air. She was becoming light headed but she pushed the feeling out of the way.

"You?re the biggest playboy on the whole ship!" Sara stood there looking at Josh as if the mere act could kill him. "You don't know a damn thing! You have no idea who she cares about or how! Mostly because it's NONE of your business! But also because if something or someone doesn't match with the center of the universe attitude you have about yourself then it's nothing worth your attention!"

She started to pace as she tried to clear her mind. "And she's not sexist you little TWIT!"

"Ensign Castillo, Ensign Hayes, Me, Cyanah, D'nalls, the Captain for crying out loud. Gossip travels like word that you haven't gotten any coffee!" Josh stepped forward again, without his knowledge he was less then three feet away from Sara. "And, for me, I tried to talk to Cyanah - civilly of course - and she stormed out. End of story."

Josh rested his hands on his hips - volatility consuming his posture. "She didn't give me a chance, Thank God! There are more women on this ship, more than I care to go into. Most aren't even worth the time of day, like Cyanah, and some I regret having been involved with." Josh let his words drift obviously to himself and Sara.

Taking another step, Josh towered over Sara.

"As far as Heather goes, we're building a relationship. One that surpasses your lead on by far! I would trade our relationship in for a used hydrospanner!" Looking almost directly down upon her, Josh muttered almost inaudibly the easiest and the hardest words he'd ever spoken. "We were a mistake." He looked at her, his eyes meeting hers, and they stood there.

Sara stood toe to toe with Josh and never flinched. She didn't even blink as she looked up at him. She let the list of names of people she was suppose to have flirted with roll through her mind.

Castillo and Hayes flirted with her ? not the other way around.

Josh! He asked her out!

D'nalls. She didn't even like him at first!

The Captain! Hello! She was scared to death of her!

As for Josh and their relationship ? at the time it meant something. Now, standing there looking up at him, looking at the way he looked at her and the words he was saying to her - it was a mistake. "You?re right, Josh, we were a mistake." Sara stood there for a moment and looked at the man she once cared about. But the words he had said about Cyanah, about herself, they were just too much. She wouldn't allow him to continue to degrade the people she loved.

Sara walked over and collected her things. "I'm done fighting with you, Josh."

Josh shook his head. "You've changed, Sara. You use to be perfect."

Sara threw the strap of her gym bag over her shoulder and looked at him as she opened the court door. "No ones perfect, Josh."

Josh waited until Sara had rounded the corner out of his sight; his mind reliving the argument that they?d just faced. He shook his head; "You were perfect, Sara, more than you?ll ever know."

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