by Sara and Cyanah Kaelyre
The corridors between sickbay and the first officer’s cabin were full of Alpha shifters as they made their ways back to their quarters, or the holodecks, or the lounge. Some of them looked tired, others look as if they were just glad to be off shift, but most of them no matter their moods smiled as they passed Sara. She tried to smile back, but any distressing she’d done before the emergency call to sick bay had vanished hours ago, so most of her fellow crewman’s smiles were simply met with a tired nod of her head.
As she rounded the last corner that would take her home she found her thoughts drifting towards the idea of taking a nap, preferably one spent in Cyanah’s arms. As she entered the cabin her hope was somewhat diminished when she noticed the living room was empty. Sara frowned as she walked over to the couch and unceremoniously fell onto it. With her eyes closed, one arm draped over her forehead, and one foot on the floor, Sara called out and hoped she’d get a reply. “Sweetie? You home?”
Cyanah emerged from their bedroom, a concerned look on her face. “Love... what is this?” she asked, indicating the PADD she held in her hand.
Sara opened her eyes as she rose to her elbows. She took a moment to look at Cyanah’s face, noticing the look, and then let her gaze drift down to what she was holding. A small girlish smile spread across her face as she said, “A PADD.”
“It’s a PADD with research on how to slow aging.” The look on Cyanah’s face never wavered, despite Sara’s attempt at brevity.
The last few moments of what she’d been doing before she’d been called down to sickbay suddenly passed through Sara’s mind - reading over the nanoprobe equations she’d been working on. Sara tried as gracefully as she could, while trying not to look surprised or worried, to get to her feet and reach for the PADD. “It’s nothing.”
Cyanah pulled the PADD back from Sara’s grasp. “It mentions the use of Borg nanoprobes, Sara. That’s far from nothing.”
Sara tried really hard not to scrunch her nose. Not only had Cyanah found the PADD, she’d read it. She couldn’t believe her own carelessness in leaving it out. As she tried to think of a way to avoid having to explain the data, she couldn’t get the EMHs words about assimilating herself out of her mind. Would that be the conclusion Cyanah would jump to? “Really Sweetie, it’s nothing to fuss over,” she said as she reached for the PADD again. “Just a few scribbled down notes.”
“A few scribbled notes about illegal research techniques.” Cyanah again pulled the PADD away. “The topic is quite interesting... when looked at from a non-Delosian perspective. Sara, I can feel your apprehension. What are you up to?”
For a few long moments Sara just stood there looking at her Imzadi. The mix of emotion that she could feel coming from Cyanah was mirrored in her wife’s still sparkling, yet slight shadowed, green eyes. When the look in those green eyes became too much, Sara turned away and quickly walked over to the replicator to order a coffee she really didn’t want. “It’s just something I’ve been working on a little on the side. I’m not up to anything.”
“Illegal research on the side and you’re not up to anything. Tell me, Sara.”
For just a flash of a second Sara thought about changing the topic and picking a fight. It would have been easy to do; she’d just have to make a comment about who was asking, Cy her wife, or Commander Kaelyre, but just as the thought had flashed through her mind, so did the pain she’d feel over hurting Cyanah with such a line. Besides, she was growing tired of the weight her secret was causing. She couldn’t quite form the words to explain, so with her back still turned to Cyanah she said, “Check the subfile named test scans.”
Cyanah hesitated a second, looking into her wife’s eyes, then looked back down to the PADD and did as Sara had asked. When she read the first line of the file that indicated who the test subject was, she gasped and looked back at Sara. “You... why you?” Tears welled up in her eyes as she waited for the response.
“I’m not Delosian, Cy,” Sara said softly as tears rolled down her cheek from hooded eyes. She could see the images from her nightmares as clearly as they first night she‘d had them and it made her cringe. “We’re not going to look like your mothers in fifty years. Well, one of us will. The other one will end up looking like my grandmothers unless I can stop it. I don’t want to burden you with that, with an old hag who’s going to drop dead long before you even get your first gray hair. I need to slow my aging to match yours. I can‘t do it without the nanoprobes. The cells can‘t make it through the re-writing process without them.”
Cyanah’s arm fell to her side and her grip weakened, causing the PADD to drop to the floor, bouncing softly on the carpet. She was touched by the sentiment despite her concern for Sara’s safety, and ran to embrace her wife as tears made their way freely from her eyes. The fleeting thought that Delosians never get gray hair made its way through her mind, but her urge for scientific accuracy was eclipsed, and instead she stammered out, “There’s too much danger to you. I... I would rather you age normally than to lose you early because of a grasp for more time together.”
Sara was quiet until she felt the hug ending. Then she looked up into Cyanah‘s eyes as she shook her head. “You haven’t seen her, Cy. The why she looks, wrinkles and liver spots, gray hair, or the way she’s been slowed down by arthritis. My hands are always shaky and gnarled in the dreams, and my eyes are always so tired looking. I never want you to have to see me like that.”
“I would rather have you like that than to lose you now, Sara. I’m no biologist, but nanoprobe research and rewriting DNA... you’re going to get yourself killed! Please stop this!” Cyanah sobbed, shaking.
Sara felt her body go numb as pulled Cyanah to her. She hadn’t thought about the possibility of losing Cyanah in her attempts to give them more time together in the long run, unable to see past the nightmares and her single mindedness in completing her goal. She didn’t want to think about killing herself any more then she wanted to think about assimilating herself. “Please don’t cry, Sweetie.”
“I can’t help it... you’re doing this to yourself because of me. It’s my fault.” She buried her face in the crook of Sara’s neck and shoulder.
That nearly knocked Sara over. In fact she was pretty sure that she would have stumbled backwards if she weren’t holding Cyanah. “Cy, this isn’t your fault. I just wanted... I was being.. I was so busy being afraid of the things I saw in my dreams, the old woman I was and then seeing you with... It’s my fault, Cy, not yours. It’s me being selfish.”
Cyanah lifted her head and looked into Sara’s eyes, her vision blurred by her tears. “Then... is it selfish of me to hope that you... that you succeed?”
Now Sara was confused. Didn’t Cyanah want her to stop before she killed herself a moment ago? “No. No, that wouldn’t be selfish. But I thought you wanted me to stop?”
“I do... but then...” Her voice choked for a moment before she could continue, “the thought of an extra century and a half with you is hard to ignore, and I hate myself for even thinking about it.” Cyanah brought her hands up to cover her face as her sobs returned to shake her small frame.
Sara moved them both over to the couch and eased down onto it without ever letting go of the hold she had on Cyanah. “It’s that feeling, the one about adding on more years, that’s kept me in the lab. It’s part of the reason I’ve been coming home so late and working so much. I can still work on it, not as much, and I can promise that I won’t try it on myself until I’m sure it won’t kill or assimilate me. It’ll take more time. I might still end up looking... older... by the time it‘s more then theory.”
Cyanah sat quietly a moment, calming herself until she could speak. “It doesn’t matter, as long as there’s no danger to you. That’s my biggest fear.”
“That’s one of the things I was trying to put off, Cy,” Sara said as she reached out to stroke Cyanah’s hair. “leaving you behind that way. I’d never do anything to speed up that moment.”
Cyanah nodded. “I know, love. It just seems so much of a risk to take, even though the payoff would be... well... the best thing I could ever ask for.”
Sara nodded as she wiped tears from Cyanah’s face. “I promise I won’t take any risks and I promise to lose the all the extra long nights working on it, but I‘d like to keep working on it.”
Trusting Sara’s medical and scientific judgement despite her emotional turmoil, she replied, “Alright... I can accept that.” Cyanah kissed her wife, tasting the salt of her tears as they ended up on Sara’s lips. “Thank you. That you would be so driven to do this for... for us, means more to me than anything else you could ever say or do.”
“You’re my heart, Cy. I’d do anything to make sure we have many years to love and laugh and fight and make up and to see the better parts of my dreams come true.” Sara said with a smile as she traced the corner of her lover’s bottom lip with her thumb.
Cyanah smiled and kissed Sara’s thumb. “What were the better parts of your dreams?”
Sara’s face brightened as she shifted on the couch, bringing Cyanah with her so they were lying down, cuddled close together. Sara slipped her arm around Cyanah’s waist and rested her chin on her shoulder as she explained her dreams. She told her about their positions and ranks, and about how she was still fussing at Sara about how much coffee she drank, and about the planet-side house, her gardens, and even about the housekeeper. “But the best things…” Sara said as she was finishing, “were our daughters.”