The young lieutenant stepped into the foyer of St Alms after having spent an hour or so at the Paradiso talking to Tyr. She had meant to get back out to patrols but her heart wasn't in it. She was restless, edgy, unable to concentrate.
She wanted to speak to him, to yell at him. Something. Anything.
She needed to come to terms with what he had told her, and so far she had failed miserably at it.
She couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, could barely function, and she knew she had to somehow resolve this, to find some way of dealing with it so she could get her mind back on her duty. It was impossible for her to fly now.
She stood there, staring out at the moonlit stained glass windows, just taking it all in, letting the memories of them flow across her mind, trying to find some solace in them.
But instead of comfort, they brought her misery.
"Why did you want to be with me? You barely could tolerate me before, so why did you pursue me? Why?"
He stood there silent for the longest of moments, looking at her, then he turned to face the alter. "Why, Raphael? Tell me. You want answers from me, well I want them from you too."
He closed his eyes. "You...you reminded me of someone."
Her heart sank. "Oh..." Breathe. Just breathe. "Who?"
He let out a long sigh. "Nephanie. You look nothing like her, but your hair...it's a similar color. That night in here, when you were sitting on my lap, I tried not to focus on you, to preserve some modesty. I thought about Nephanie. She had died only a week or two prior, and during my reverie I noticed your hair. Suddenly the two of you were linked...I never got to touch her, feel her, love her. And since I had linked the two of you in that moment...."
She sucked in her breath feeling as if the floor was pulled out from under her.
She became dizzy, nausated. So she was just a fill in for someone else he had loved and lost? "Nephanie..." She grabbed the end of the pew and wrapped her hand around it, holding it so tightly her fingers were turning white.
"But I stopped thinking that way long ago. After the Commander's order, I started to see you, Shalee. You. The night I first told you I loved you. I was talking to you. I was talking to Shalee Lianne. Nephanie had passed from my thoughts weeks ago.
She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall "At what point did you see me? When I first kissed you, was it me you felt or her you wanted? That first dance, were you dancing with me or her? The first time we made love, was that me..? Or were you with her in your mind?" God, she was a fool.
He looked away.
"Say it. Tell me the truth."
He turned to face her, his gaze intent upon her face. "Her."
"I'm positive that wall can hold itself up.."
She jumped, startled out of her reverie. "Oh. You."
The imposter monk flashed her a smile "Yes, me. Are you not here to see me?"
"Ah. I thought maybe you needed to talk, after all that's happened..."
She widened her eyes. "What?"
He smirked, though his expression was kind. "You do know we have this place under surveillance."
She turned a bright shade of red "Oh god...you didn't...you saw...you know...?"
He had the decency to wipe the smirk off of his face and take on a more reverent somber pose "Mmm, well, yes. But don't worry. I erased most of it before sending it on the my superiors. Not like they need to know everything thats happened."
"I can't believe this is happening. It was humiliating enough hearing it the first time, I certainly don't want to talk to you about it."
"Might do you some good..."
"You're not even a real priest, are you?"
"Not so much, no. But I am a good listener."
She sighed, "Fine."
He lead her to the first pew and sat down, motioning for her to start talking."I don't know what to say really, you already know everything."
"Hmm, well you can start by telling me how you feel about what he said."
"How am I supposed to feel? It's all been a big fat lie. He was in love with someone else and pretended it was me. I was just a nothing to him. He used me."
"But he loves you now, surely that means something? Surely that matters."
"You had your own secrets from him."
"Thats different. They had nothing to do with him. I may have misrepresented my past somewhat but I have never been dishonest about how I felt about him. I have never pretended he was someone else." She shook her head, still having a hard time comprehending it all.
"You have a valid point. But that doesn't change the fact that he loves you now."
"But it's based on a lie..."
He took her hands "Lieutenant Lianne...isn't your career based on a lie and yet it is a core part of who you are now."
She sighed, resigned to the truth."You're right. You're absolutely right...I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I held it against him..."
"Shalee...I just want you to know, that I love you more then I ever loved her. Even if she was on my mind then, she isn't now. As far as I am concerned, it was always you I was touching, loving, before I even knew how much you would come to mean to me. I know there's nothing I can do to ease your pain, to make you forgive me. I don't expect forgiveness. What I did then is unforgivable. But I love you, Shalee. I love you. I love you more than I could ever express. I love you more than there are stars in the sky, more than there is ISK in the world...."
"How can you say that and expect me to believe it? Everything we are is based on you wanting another woman. How can I even compete with that? Shes a fucking ghost who has consumed you to the point you would...." She was trembling she was so angry "...you would fuck me to be with her. Everything was for *her*." She couldn't stop shaking "And you let me give myself to you and you didn't even want me, you let me humiliate myself, you let me believe that I could trust you." Their whole relationship flashed through her mind, all of those firsts with him, all of those new experiences and none of it was even real. It was for another woman. But it made sense, perfect sense now. She could never understand before why he had suddenly wanted her but now everything was vividly clear.
"I wish I could make it all better, Shalee. I don't want to lose you."
She said nothing in response. What could she say to it? Tears dripped down her cheeks and she couldn't stop them. Helpless. Broken. She stared at the stained glass window.
"Shalee, you know, when I look back at those times, I see you, not Nephanie. I only see you anymore. You're the only one I see. There are days where I notice no one else, when I just drift through the day, waiting for when I run into you again. I'll never love anyone else, Shalee. No one will be able to live up to you."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I don't know. I love him and hate him at the same time. I hate him for doing this to me, to us."
"You hate him for being honest with you?"
She shrugged, "I wish I didn't know. I wish...I wish I could just erase it all."
He gave her a long look. "Well. You can, you know."
She blinked, startled. "What? No...no. I couldn't ...die."
"You'd only lose a certain amount of time."
"But still." She shook her head, "I couldn't. And it wouldn't change anything...would it? It would still be the truth of us, even if I didn't know it."
"How were you before you knew?"
"I loved him with my whole heart."
"So there is your answer."
"It seems like cheating."
He shrugged. "Like you said, I am no priest. But that is what I would do."
"I'll think about it."
"It's either that or forgive him." He quirked a brow as he looked at her "Or lose him."
She paled at the thought of losing him."I can't lose him...I can't. He is already leaving next month...I just can't.."
"Think about it. You know I will be here, I could help you with it..."
She wrinkled up her nose. "You'd help kill me? Oh, what are great friend you are."
He laughed, "I don't mean it like that, but, if you do decide to take that route, it'd be best to have someone there you trust."
She nodded, "You said you'd tell me about Michael..." She tried to change the subject.
"Well...?" she prodded.
"He is still alive. Barely, but he is still alive. Remarkable really. His objective is not yet complete, theres a twenty-eight day cycle, the time should be nearing soon. Once he completes his task, all will be well. He will be allowed to return."
"But he told me theres no way off of the planet..."
"Mmm that is unfortunate."
"Well where is he!"
"I cannot tell you that."
"God damn you, don't tell me I can trust you and you hold something like that out on me. Tell me."
Still holding her hands, he smiled and gave a wink. "I cannot." He flipped her hand over as he pulled something from his pocket and started to write on her palm. A system name. A planet. Coordinates. "Do you understand why I cannot tell you?"
She glanced down and quickly closed her hand as she pulled it away "Yes...I think so."
"Another thing. One of the agents offered me a deal once. I might take it...for a price."
He looked curious "Oh? And what is your price?"
"Implants. For Ensign Atfal Al'Nudjum, to correct his vision. If something can be arranged..." she shrugged. "Well. Maybe I'll do some sidework."
"I'll pass it along."
She stood "Thank you...by the way....I don't even know your name."
She nodded "Micah. I am glad to have met you."
"As I am you, child." He gave a mischievous grin as he took on his priestly voice once more. "I will walk you out."
He stood and started down the asile with her.
A figure stepped out of the shadows of the foyer.
"Kathetel...let her go. She means no one any harm."
"Tsk tsk tsk. You too, Micah? Falling for her charms? Have you forgotten your task?"
Shalee tried to brush past Kathetel but he stopped her, snaking his arm out to clothesline her "Ah ah ah, you're not going anywhere."
"You can't keep me here!"
"I can and will."
"Let her go." Micah stepped towards Kathetel. "She knows nothing."
"Are you so certain of that, brother." He grabbed Shalee by the hand and held it out "You call this nothing?" Squeezing her wrist, he yanked her closer while he pulled a weapon from his belt with the other, aiming it at Micah.
"Please...please, I'll erase it. I didn't even look at it! Just let me go!"
"Micah lunged forward to grab Shalee. She screamed as she was torn from Kathetel's grasp and pushed down the aisle behind him to safety.
The agents moved so quickly she could barely tell where one began and the other ended. It was a swirl of brown robes and streaks of light and the sounds of combat.
And then there was blood splattering her.
He fell at her feet, dead, his blood spreading out across the aisle.
She screamed as Kathetel yanked her by the hair and forced her towards the alter "Start walking..."
She was in shock, "Oh god... you killed him!"
"I did, didn't I. Mmm, unfortunate really, but it had to be done." He shoved her forward "Not that you need to be worrying about him, I should think you'd be more worried over whats about to happen to you.."