The loud rumble sounding in her ear brought her slowly out of a deep slumber to feel the weight of a slight body leaning against her head. Katia reached up and scratched the furry head softly as Kuri bent her head into the rub and flipped her head upside down so she could feel the scratching in the spot she preferred. This elicited a soft smile from the barely awake Chief Engineer as she felt the small body lean further into her head.
“Hey there, Kuri. How are you doing tonight?” she asked quietly so she wouldn’t wake Yoshino sleeping in the other room.
Since moving in with the Operations Officer, the cat had warmed up to her and made this nightly visit an every night occurrence, visiting Katia as she slept for an hour or so before returning to her favorite spot on Yoshino’s bed. It had been a much more comfortable place to be then the cot in her office, and she thanked the other woman for the warm, soft spot to sleep whenever she could. They had actually gotten along quite well since sharing the small quarters, and Katia was feeling she might have made another friend on board the Phoenix.
It was nice to be able to say she actually had friends on the ship. She had closed herself off for so long, and been alone here with no one to talk to, it felt good to have someone she could sit down with and carry on a normal conversation. The changes in herself were coming ever so slightly, but Katia could feel herself loosening up inside, slowly. The anger she had carried with her for so long wasn’t gone, and probably never would be completely, but she was learning to deal with it and focus on the more positive feelings she had inside of her.
She attributed much of that to two people. Kim and Dunstan. The Science officer had confronted her back on Babylon 5 so long ago, it felt like a lifetime. But she had realized it was time to make some changes. Making those changes had been a long time in coming, but with the help of Dunstan she was noticing the changes coming more readily over the past couple weeks. Realizing they were more alike in many ways then she would ever have cared to admit forced her into a discernment about herself that she had wished she had experienced long ago.
The anger and hatred was receding slowly to give her a feeling of fresh, newly discovered emotions and wonder at how she had survived so long with the bitterness of betrayal overshadowing everything she did or felt. Now, finding new, healthier ways of expressing her emotions was the hard part she was just now feeling her way into.
The time she had spent on Minbar with Dunstan earlier that day had been a renewal within herself, and gave her a purpose again. She no longer felt as if she was floundering around in the dark, trying to feel her way into the future she knew was out there, but was beyond her reach.
Katia sat up, finally awake as the small, pathetic looking cat crawled into her lap and curled around her hand as Katia rubbed Kuri’s small, hairless belly. She drifted back in her mind to the time right after Dunstan had revealed to her who had been in her leap forward in time. It was difficult to believe that the one who had been there with her daughters, was one who was here right now…in front of her, waiting for her all along.
“So, you have been here all along, and I was just too blind to allow myself to see it?” Katia had asked quietly as she moved over to sit next to him on the bed. She smiled at her own blindness as she knew she had been working herself into quite a state trying to puzzle out who had kissed her before she had been pulled back to the Phoenix.
Kordieh had nodded as he answered, “I had planned on allowing you to come to the realization yourself. I felt it was not for me to push the issue. If what we both saw was to come to pass, it would come in its own time. But…”
“But, I was working myself into quite a tizzy, and you wanted to take that one worry off of my mind. Like I don’t have enough to be concerned with as it is,” she said in a self-deprecating way, shaking her head at her own single-minded determination to get to the truth.
“Exactly,” he had said quietly glancing over at her next to him out of the corner of his eye.
Katia took a deep breath and reached over, taking Dunstan’s hand into her own, mentally preparing her barriers so she wouldn’t intrude into his mind at the physical contact of skin against skin. “You know, it might help you to make it through these dark days if you can keep in mind what the future holds, and know that I am here for you… will always be here if only in spirit when I am away. You can always lean on me. That is what I am here for,” she said as she glanced into his face as he stared down at the floor in front of them.
“I know. It is probably one of the few things that helps me to make it through days like these. But all those lives weigh me down no matter who I have to lean on. Over a hundred people would be alive if it weren’t for my actions, Katia. I’m obligated for the rest of my life to those I slaughtered. I don’t know if I will ever be able to get beyond that.”
All the sorrow he had been going through since coming out of his coma came out to her in those few words. He looked up searchingly into her eyes, seeing the understanding and concern she felt for all he must bear.
“And, I would never try to minimize the anguish you will have to experience for all you have done. Nor would I want to absolve you of the responsibility you have to pay for the crimes you have committed. Because I have no doubt that you will force yourself to be punished worse then anyone else would have you. But, I have seen the future, Dunstan. As have you.
“And, I know you will one day move beyond this sorrow and lead a halfway normal life. The past is behind you, and once you allow yourself to grieve for that which was lost, you will be able to see that. But, if you can hold on to our future that shines like a beacon in the night, I know you will make it through this darkest of times,” Katia answered his concerns as she squeezed his hand for support, surprised as the words sprang out of her mouth. It was those feelings she had been experiencing for a while now, but had not been able to voice to him. Those feelings that had finally found a way out of the walls she had shielded herself away in. He was the first one she had ever been able to speak freely to, without the other person trying to drag the feelings out of her. That told her all she needed to know right there about their future together.
He smiled slightly as he nodded, realizing that what she said was true. If he could just survive these next few years, it would all be worth it in the end. She was going to wait for him, regardless of how long he served here on Minbar paying his penance for the betrayals. Of that, he was now sure.
Katia stood, still holding on to his hand and leaned in, kissing his cheek softly before moving back and releasing his hand regretfully. The expression of shock that appeared on both of their faces was enough to bring back a small smile to both of them. It was obviously not an action neither of them expected, but it did make them feel better.
“We are going to get through this,” Katia stated assuredly before continuing, “I have to get back to the ship. It is getting late, you need your rest and I have work to get done. I will be back in a few days and maybe we can get out even for a few minutes.”
“Yes, I would like that,” he answered simply.
Katia was pulled back to the present darkness surrounding her as Kuri butted against her hand that had stopped as she became lost in her memories of earlier. She shook her head and realized there was more between Dunstan and herself then she had ever realized or hoped for. She had already opened up to him more then she had ever allowed herself to with anyone else, and that was something that meant a lot to her as she stumbled her way through her emotions.
The purr began again as she lay back down, forcing herself to calm the racing thoughts as they swirled through her head and kept her mind wide awake even though her body yearned for rest. Slowly, as she allowed herself to float away with the rumbling next to her ear, she floated off to slumber yet again, finally finding rest after such a long, chaotic, emotional day.
(C) Copyright 1998 Tamara Friese and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.