Those Truths We Withhold

Characters: Katia Santiago, Dunstan Kordieh

It is only about things which concern us most profoundly that we lie clearly and with profound conviction.

          – Michael Moorcock

Katia exited the lift and leaned against the wall for a second, collecting herself. Kim’s agreement to go with her was more then she could have imagined, but gave her hope that she would soon be with her daughters. Her thoughts seemed so tumultuous at the moment, and she didn’t want to see Dunstan feeling this way. He had enough to deal with on his own. Katia placed some tight controls over herself and stepped up and into Main Security.

In his cell, Kordieh rubbed his eyes, and carefully continued writing. He knew it wouldn’t be long before the Phoenix arrived on Minbar and he would have to leave. It was strange. The cell actually felt safe, and the prospect of leaving it, a little frightening.

The Security officer on duty was G’ren, Darquin’s second, a Narn Katia hadn’t met. He led her down to Kordieh’s cell. Katia stood in front of the door as G’ren opened it to admit her. She smiled slightly at him, and stepped inside as the door shut tightly behind her.

Kordieh looked up from the sheet of paper in front of him, set down the pencil, and shook out his fingers. “Hello, Katia,” he said.

“Dunstan….how are you feeling today?” She leaned back against the door behind her.

“A bit finger and eye-sore. But I’ve had the easy job.”

“What are you writing?” she asked curiously.

He lowered his eyes, back down to the page in front of him. “A memorial,” he said, his voice so soft as to be barely audible.

She glanced down at that, and then back up at him, his sadness washing over her like a shroud. He seemed to be the only person whom she couldn’t close herself off to completely. “To the Phoenix?”

“And to Lucius, and the rest of the White Star 24. They’re all here.”

“How long have you been working on it?”

“A day or two. Getting the information — the roll — was the hardest part. I have to return the crystal as soon as I’m done. Drawing the rose wasn’t easy either. I’m not that great an artist.”

“Can…can I see it?” she asked a bit hesitantly.

“If you like,” he said with a shy schoolchild smile. He turned the paper around for her to see.

Katia looked at it closely, noticing the careful attention and detail given to each stroke. Beneath a white rose, he had written the names of everyone who had perished. He had honestly put his heart into the creating of this memorial, that she could tell.

“It’s beautiful,” she finally managed to breathe out. “What are you planning to do with it?” She finally glanced up at him, looking at him earnestly.

“I had to do something,” he said. “If I can find someone who is returning to Earth, I’ll ask them to put it in the sea for me. Lucius loved the sea.”

Unconsciously, she placed her hand on his arm, “That would be a lovely gesture. I am sure he would have liked that.”

He looked up at her, and gently patted her arm. “Tell me what’s wrong, Katia,” he said abruptly. “You looked sad even before you saw my memorial.”

She glanced down, not wanting to lay all her burdens onto his already heavy laden shoulders. “Nothing…I am just over tired, I think.”

To himself, Kordieh thought of an old insult. You lie like a rug. But who was he to accuse, given what he knew and wasn’t telling? For all he knew, she was trying to shield something from him, even as he was from her. “Then you should rest,” he said aloud. “We’ll be to Minbar soon, and the Phoenix put in dock.”

Katia stepped back slightly, glanced around at the tiny cell that was the exact duplicate of the one she had spent some time in. “We will be arriving at Minbar soon. I can make sure someone I know who is going to Earth can deliver that for you if you like.”

He shook his head slightly. “Thank you, but I’m sure I can find someone. No need to trouble yourself.”

He paused, finding the next words surprisingly difficult to say. Lucius had been his whole life, and he’d done very little to form relationships with anyone else, especially women. Yet, he had to — was going to? — form a relationship of the most intimate kind with this woman. He had to begin somewhere.

“Katia … may I write to you, after you’ve gone? I don’t know how long I will stay in Tuzanor, but it will probably be years, at least.”

She smiled down at him. “I told you I would be with you every step of the way. And, if that means years, then so be it.” At that, she paused and then continued on, happy he would want to continue to stay in contact with her, yet confused at her own feelings of happiness because of this turn of events. What is going on with you, Katia? she asked herself silently. “Yes, I would love it if you wrote to me. Maybe during the refit and repairs I can sneak away and come visit.

“…And, it would really be no trouble to find someone…”

He shook his head again at the offer. “No, really. It may sound strange, but I’d rather hand it over to someone myself. Not a matter of trust, just …. whoever takes it, I want them to know, directly from me, what it means.”

She nodded at that, understanding the sentiment. “I understand. Do you think they will allow you any visitors?” Santiago honestly felt herself hoping that they would allow her to visit him during their time on Minbar.

“I certainly hope so. If they wish me to assist with the rebuilding, I can only hope that it is more than simply hard labor. I have skills that could be of use, I think. But whatever it is, I’ll serve as best I can.”

Katia opened her mouth to reply, stopping short as she heard the Captain’s voice come over the comm. They had arrived at Minbar, and Katia had been so wrapped up in her conversation with Dunstan, she hadn’t even noticed the tell-tale pause as the jump engines opened a jumppoint and disengaged, allowing them to return to normal space.

The Chief Engineer listened intently, her head cocked to one side. She sighed slightly and glanced down at him with a bit of sadness, knowing they were going to be parting ways shortly, for probably quite a while.

“I take it, you’ll be staying with the ship, to oversee the refit.”

She smiled a rather proprietary smile, glancing around them. “Yes, I will be staying. I intend on seeing Phoenix back to health again. It is time to mend her sorrow.”

“I wish I could help you.”

“You need to concentrate on mending your own sorrows, my friend. There will be plenty of time for mending others.”

“As you wish.” He lowered his head. “You’d better go. Take care, Katia.”

She grasped his hand and gave it a small squeeze, trying to convey to him that she would always be with him, supporting him, and then turned and knocked on the door to be let out.

He smiled after her, and picked up his pencil again. The work here wasn’t yet done.

Copyright (C) 1998 Jamie Lawson and Tamara Friese. All rights reserved.


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