Harry Finn - Through A Glass Darkly

This story, written in June - July 2007, took place on Megiddo Colony and detail's Harry's arrival to the quadrant and first meeting with T'Shaini. Several of the posts have been lost in the past year, but for the most part, the tale is in tact.


Harry contemplated the baleful reflection of one sepia-toned eye, made overlarge by the curving shot glass he held up to the light. The amber of the Scotch was a lovely thing, absorbing the bar’s scanty light and then releasing it again as a slow, seductive glow.

“Are you gonna drink that, Fleet?” the bartender asked. This was third time he’d passed the human in twenty minutes and the guy had yet to take even a sip.

“I’m undecided,” Harry said, his voice distant.

Then his past caught up with him.

“I know who you are… Cadet.”

Carefully, Harry lowered the glass before turning to face a belligerent and ludicrously young Ensign.

“You’re Harry Finn, aren’t you?” The kid actually bristled. Behind him and to the right was a young Klingon Cadet, also in uniform.

Great: Junior had a one person posse.

“Which is it,” Harry asked, his voice threadbare with resignation.

“What?” The question had thrown the aggressor but, Harry was remotely pleased to see, amused his companion.

Harry sighed, “Which is it? Either you know who I am or you don’t know and you need to ask.” Deep inside, buried behind his mildly curious expression, he had to wonder how, how, how he could possibly have run into someone who knew his face. The Anarasi Maru incident (how clean that sounded, incident) had barely been a blip on the Federation radar; cosmic dust swept quickly under the galactic rug.

But here was Junior, all testosteroned up and ready to start something in the name of…

“Ah, hell with it,” he sighed, “Tell me, who’d you lose?”

And that brought the kid up short, once more. “I.. ah.. what?”

“On the Anarasi,” Harry clarified, “who died?”

The young man’s eyes narrowed, “Carson,” he practically spat out, “Esther Carson… my cousin.”

“Throw the punch,” Harry said, his voice very level.

The other man could only stare.

“It’s what you want, isn’t it? Something.. some kind of payback for what’s gone?” He rose from the bar stool and, seeing his height, the kid shifted, as if he might step back. “Come on!” Harry was goading him now, oblivious to the hovering attention of the bartender, of the growing silhouettes of the other customers, “I’m giving you one free shot… just throw the damn…”

Harry’s head snapped to the right and his elbow cracked on the bar as he tried to keep himself from careening into the burnished alloy. He raised a hand to brush the blood from the corner of his mouth.

“Good hook,” he said, mildly surprised.

Junior was shaking the sting from his knuckles. “It’s not enough,” he said, his voice close to breaking, refusing even to look at Harry, now.

No shit, Harry thought. “No, it’s not,” he said and, reaching over to the still-full shot glass, upended it onto the gleaming bar. “The answer’s ‘no’,” he told the bartender, and tossed a handful of credits at him. “Keep the change,” he said, before easing his way past the kid, his friend, and the silent shadowy witnesses.

On the bar, the Scotch spread out like rumor, painted full of tongues.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


Harry stepped out onto the littered walkway, so mired in the past that he couldn’t even begin to see a future.

That is, not until it broad-sided him at the perfect angle and with just the right amount of force to send him sprawling back onto the disconcertingly squishy pavement (don’t think about the goo under your hand, don’t think about the goo under your hand…).

Finn experienced a disturbingly visceral flashback to those days, after the Anarasi and before rehab, when he’d practically been paying rent on a patch of mucky sidewalk outside a seedy bar in Frisco; days he’d thought over and done.

Then he became aware of the three apologetic faces hovering over his debased frame.

Everything in his head went sizzle… POP, and the cognizant vacuum was left with only one word.

“Wowza,” Harry said.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


It was hard to say who was most surprised by the sudden collision: a collision which likely would not have occurred had Tanner, Pev and T’Shaini not been engrossed in the strange magazine which Tanner had appropriated from a youth in a nearby alley.

T’Shaini, in particular, was quite intrigued by the concept of achieving a certain physiological state simply by viewing the glossy photographs of which the printed matter was largely made.

So taken by the pictures and the discussion of their relative emotional merits, the three made unfortunately short work of the lone human as he stepped onto the sidewalk directly in front of them.

“Oh! I do apologize… we do apologize…” T’Shaini immediately stepped forward to offer their victim a hand up. In the sudden rush to help the fallen man, she had forgotten that her hand was full of porn.

Originally Posted by T'Shaini


Heaven and hell, angels and demons… where had he landed?

One of the angels was saying something but he was still coming to terms with both his current humiliating position and the very odd trio who were floating above his face. Part of his brain was knocking on the door, pointing out that one of the angels was a Vulcan and the demon… well, not that he’d ever seen one in person, but he’d read something…

The Vulcan seraph was offering him something, he saw. Probably a citation for taking up oxygen. Nothing for it, Harry reached out and accepted the item.

He looked at the glossy paper, so recently touched by an angel. He blinked. A thousand synaptic fuses surged and he sprang to his feet, holding the magazine back to the tall cool Vulcan in a black… uniform. “Thanks for the offer,” he said, eyes running over the three, gaze dropping some to take in the, ah, St’i’ach, that was it, while images that should never cross the mind of human male danced merrily across the insides of his eyeballs, “but I’m really, really not ah.. I mean, it’s just not my… here. I’m ah, sorry about the… slime…”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


Leaning over the man sprawled along the promenade, Tanner considered the option of…what was that saying? poking him with a long stick. He didn't look so great, lying there with his hand stuck in what could be anything from a melted ice to the aftereffect of…

“OH! I do apologize…we do apologize.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m really, really not ah.. I mean, it’s just not my… here. I'm ah, sorry about the… slime…"

Tanner smiled, and patted T'Shaini on the back. "I don't apologize. And there's likely already any number of slimy concoctions sticking the pages of that thing together."

“Could we assist you an any way sir? Forgive my lack of manners, I am T’Shaini of the USS Hawking. This is Pev, also of the Hawking and this, is Tanner Willeg of the USS Sentinel.”

She stuck her hand out in turn, "unlike T'Shaini, I haven't any manners, but it's nice to meet you, nonetheless." Raising a brow at Pev, who was still laughing unabashedly, Tanner asked quietly, "what's a seraph?"

"What? Oh, from the ancient Earth religious book known as the Old Testament, from the Hebrew derivative seraphim. A celestial being in human form."

"An angel? But that's just a m…ah." Tanner nodded and bit her lip to keep from laughing, "we should invite the man with the slimy hands for a drink. It's the least we could do after shoving him down." She slung an arm across his shoulder to keep him from escaping and all but shoved him along with the group. "So tell us, person with no name, what's brought you to Megiddo?"

Originally Posted by Tanner Willeg


Harry was suffering from the sudden shift between extremes. He’d gone from Pariah to Pal in a matter of moments and now the smaller of the two women, Tanner, had even gone the extra thirty centimeters by stretching up to fling an arm over his shoulder before tip-toeing him vigorously along the walk.

It felt… nice. Well, except for the unnamed substance coating his left hand… and the swelling in his jaw… and the offer of… he realized, belatedly, that the three were still waiting for him to disclose his name and, worse, his reasons for being here.

And that would be the end of the niceness. He came to an abrupt halt, gently disengaging from Tanner’s peremptory lever in preparation for making some lame-ass excuse or another.

“Oh, you are injured,” T’Shaini reached towards his face, a look of genuine concern crossing her features while Pev, the St’i’ach, narrowed his huge black eyes (though he could well have been repressing another laugh).

Harry flinched away, keeping his own expression carefully still, “That wasn’t your fault, he assured her, he hoped, casually, “that was… that was something else.” Three identically curious expressions waited expectantly but just then, ‘something else’ strode out of the bar and caught up short. Apparently Junior hadn’t been in much of a mood for a society.

Harry couldn’t say he blamed him.

Blind to the three superior officers currently surrounding Finn, the Ensign who, as far as Harry was concerned, had every reason to despise the older man, held his ground and and just… looked at him.

It was a look that had a lot to say and Harry didn’t even need a universal translator to decipher it: “How dare you be alive” it said, “when so many good people; your people, Mr. Finn, are not. And, by the way,” the virulent stare continued, “if you must display the bad manners to have survived, do at least have the common courtesy to refrain from taking any joy in your continued, aimless existence.”

The silent lecture ended, and Junior turned and walked away.

Harry’s own expression closed faster than a blast door and he turned to the waiting trio. “Sirs, I’m sorry,” he said, formally, falling back on protocol, “but it would be best if I returned to my quarters. I need to ” break something, “clean up. If you would excuse me?”

Without waiting for an answer, Harry stepped around the three shocked officers and strode purposefully away from the promise of friendship and life and light, to which he had no right.

Originally posted by Harry Finn


Harry felt like an idiot. He’d completely incinerated the first bridge to humanity he’d been offered since arriving in the Gamma Quadrant and now, on top of that, he was lost. And worse still, he was starting to emit a certain… odor. Other pedestrians were beginning to give him a wide berth.

After passing the same series of retail establishments for the fourth time, Harry changed his objective and slunk his odiferous way into the first public head he could find.

Fortunately, it was empty. Alone in the sanitized space, he realized just how redolent he had become and immediately thrust his hands under the nearest faucet. Hot water, liberal amounts of soap and three scrubbings in, the smell was still there. Okay.

A quick inspection in the mirror was in order. Ignoring the purpling jaw, he turned for the rear view which, while less than regulation, what with the dirt and scuffs and all, sported no maloderous substances. Frustrated, he ran his hands through his hair…

Ah….

Same goo… in the hair. And now on his hand. Again.

Some days, he thought, you’re the bug. Well, hell, not like he had anywhere important to be. Harry closed up the sink, added yet more antiseptic cleanser and, with a quick glance towards the bathroom’s entrance, ducked his head fully in the steaming water.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


Submerged, Harry felt the grip on his uniform but had no time to process the meaning of the peremptory hold. In the space of a heartbeat, he was hauled from the water, rendered airborne and, finally, impacted against a very slick and, most importantly, solid surface.

As the pain fire-crackered across his entire being, he had one, brief, incongruous vision. "Angel?" he asked, before sliding down and down and down, into the dark.

"T-uh…but…" Cocking her head to stare down at the man they'd collectively knocked over twice in a span of less than an hour, Tanner sighed, shook her head, leaned against one of the stalls. "Well…that was a grand idea." She huffed it out and shoved her hair behind an ear, "let's just yank out people's arms and throw them across the room." Crouching down to get a better look at the man, Tanner lifted one of his eyelids.

"What are you doing?"

"I don't know. Isn't that what people do when somebody's been knocked unconscious by an overzealous vulcan who doesn't know her strength? I know I've seen it done someplace." Nonetheless, Tanner took the warning and stepped back, "you're the medical type. I'm just an engineer. Fix him."

"I'm a counselor."

"Counselor's are doctors too, aren't they?"

"Technically, but the psychology is a different field. Even if I were qualified to help this gentleman, I do not have the proper equipment."

Now standing at the sink, hands cupped beneath the faucet, Tanner spun around and threw the pittance of water that hadn't drained between her fingers onto the man who still hadn't a name. When T'Shaini gave her a look that told her she was crazy, Tanner shrugged and repeated the process. "When people faint you dump water on them."

"He didn't faint."

"Right." Tanner pouted, bit her lip, and interrupted the water tossing to stare at the new person again, "but it was something."

"He may require medical assistance."

"I just told you that. You said…" Tanner cleared her throat, straightened her posture as much as she could, let her eyes drift to half mast and continued in a voice of little inflection, "pschology is a different field. Even if I were qualified to help this gentleman, I do not have the proper equipment."

"You're mocking me."
"Yeah."
"Do you have some problem with me?"
"No."
"Then why would you mock me?"
"Because it's easy and you react so very…vulcany."
"That isn't a word."
"Sure it is."
"No, it is not. Vulcans are vulcans."
"And some are more vulcany than others."
"Some are more vulcan." T'Shaini lifted a brow as she considered this comment. It wasn't possible to be more or less of a vulcan than another vulcan.

Tanner nodded, "see, now you get it." She bent down to stare at the goopy, and now slightly damp man on the floor. "Maybe he's just temporarily knocked out. Think we should wait or call somebody more medical-ish?"

JP with T'Shaini
Originally Posted by Tanner Willeg
______

Don’t pity the dead, Harry; they’re past suffering.

Through the black he fell, an uncontrollable spin into the cold, gaping maw of memory…

“Ready to deliver the package, Commander?” Lieutenant Willet greeted his superior officer, and friend, with the kind of exuberance usually reserved for leave. Newly vetted Lt. Commander Finn merely offered up an expression that might, under the scope of a magnifying glass, in full daylight, be considered a smile.

“Not as ready as I am for it to be delivered,” he replied, forcing his shoulders to relax.

The ‘package’ in question was a respirating blot on the universe by the name of Shaun Ryan Acker: an Orion Syndicate mole who, in his years in Starfleet Bureau of Information, had managed to collect and sell intelligence from every branch of the Fleet. It had been the work of two long years for Finn, who with his team had been placed in the unique position of working under the united aegis of Strategic Ops and DIA, with all their funding drawn from Material Supply Command.

Two years Finn had spent digging through data files, following leads through two quadrants, tracking down the deaths that inevitably accompanied the bartered secrets.

Two years to work with Ensign Sara Laslow. His eyes scanned the cargo bay, now, and locked onto her face. In uniform, on the job, neither did more than nod. He glanced over her deep brown eyes and autumn hair as if they meant nothing; felt her dry chuckle wash over his skin as if she were just one of his officers, just another member of the team.

But, of course, that wasn’t so.

Could never have been so.

Don’t pity the dead, Harry; they’re more Vulcany than others.

What?

"Some are more vulcan."

Finn’s internal brow wrinkled. The external brow hurt too much to even consider the concept.

"see, now you get it."

No, Harry thought. I don’t. I don’t pity the dead, Harry.

“Think we should wait or call somebody more medical-ish?"

Self-preservation kicked in at Warp 7.

Harry opened his eyes to the unfortunate sensation of lying on a cold tile floor, covered in bruises and being treated to the shocked gazes of two exceptionally beautiful women.

Again.

“Are you actually trying to kill me?” he demanded.

Originally posted by Harry Finn


He speaks. The sound of it had Tanner jerking back in surprise before the meaning of it struck home and had a smile spreading, "you're awake! Hey, T'Shaini, he's…" She trailed off, noting that T'Shaini could probably figure that out for herself. The smile slipped away again as her brows knit, staring down to inspect the stranger. A bit of a mess, likely sore, a little pale perhaps, or maybe it was just the contrast brought on by the bruise, and clearly irritated, but otherwise he seemed to be alright. And she was still bent over, her face barely six inches from his. "We weren't trying to kill you." Tanner straightened again and considered, "we were trying…to help."

A toxic combination of adrenaline, anger and lingering bitterness brought Harry, stumblingly, to his feet. Two pairs of hands reached out to steady him but the livid growl which emanated from the damp and filthy cadet staved off the anxious officers.

“Please, oh, oh, oh, please, tell me,” Finn invited, while trying to see past the haze of dizziness and ire, “in what language does the word ‘help’ translate to, ‘knocking some poor schmuck on his ass…” he shook two, he was pretty sure it was two, fingers at his personal gremlins, “… twice!”

“You were not trying to drown yourself?” At the bewildered look on the Stranger’s face T'Shaini realized she had completely misread the situation.

*wince*

T’Shaini closed her eyes in acknowledgement. Gesturing to Tanner to step back to give the man some room as if he were a cornered dog, Well, the analogy is not far off. she took several steps back as well. “Once again, I apologize. Could we possibly No, no, do not say help. aa…aa…assist you in some manner?” Her eyes once again settling on where he had clearly been hit and wishing she knew more of the story behind it. She could not recall ever meeting someone with the weight of their past more clearly written on their features. “Or at the very least, may I ask your name?”

Tags between Tanner, T'Shaini and Harry, posting in turn


It took significant effort to stem the raging tide enough that he could actually hear what the more distressed of the two was saying.

“You were not trying to drown yourself?”

Once, maybe, in a series of variously shaped bottles, though Harry didn’t think it prudent to announce that fact. He merely stood back, fighting to even out his breathing and allowed the cool words to work their way past the walls he’d so carefully built over the past fifteen months.

“… at the very least, may I ask your name?”

And here it was: the chance to take a step, finally, across the chasm of guilt; to find out if he still had anything left but the darkness, anything beyond the hunt.

His eyes flowed from the elegant vessel of serenity before him to the barely contained zephyr who’s eyes sparkled with possibility.

“Okay, Butch… Sundance,” he almost grinned at their shared incomprehension, “as long as we’re clear: no… more…” he looked pointedly at the ground from whence he’d recently risen, “helping.” Waiting until they acquiesced, Butch with a regal nod and Sundance with an enthusiastic thumbs up, he let out a carefully held breath and stepped forward.

“Alright, then,” he said, and held out his hand, “I’m Harry…”

~~~

“…Finn!” Ensign Walt Carson raised his most recently delivered drink in a toast, “and the Anarasi Maru… the Federation’s best-kept huuuumiliation!” Then he tossed back the Yridian ale like it was root beer. He even wiped some imaginary foam off his upper lip.

“Look, kid,” the bartender leaned over to Carson, “try and tone it down, okay? People come in here for a good time and frankly, you’re kind of a buzz kill.”

Walt was insulted. Any second now, he’d get around to telling this…. this… fawning Ferengi ale-slinger just how insulted he was but first…

… first he had to figure out which one of the three wavering images was the bartender. Didn’t wanna insult the wrong guy.. alien… thingee… might start an incident.

“Let the kid be, Keralk,” someone said. Walt looked around owlishly, wondering if he’d said that. Nah, couldnna been him… he’d have heard himself. Right?

“After all,” the not-Walt continued, “It’s obvious he’s going through some pretty deep stuff, here. Be inhumane to deny him the chance to get it out of his system.”

The three Ferengi tilted their heads at someone to Walt’s left, “I’m not human,” he pointed out, “It’s in my genes to be inhumane.”

Walt squinted to his left where, he now realized, another human, well probably human, was drinking. Not a Fleeter, though. Nope… this was a civilian… and he looked like he might’ve seen better days.

“Funny,” the stranger commented. Then the skinny little man passed some creds to the bartender, “Look, I’ll take him to the corner, let him vent a little, no one’ll even notice.” He grinned Carson’s way, revealing teeth that had never seen the orthodontist’s chair.

Must be a Colonial.

“How about it, Ensign, mind if I stand you a drink? You can tell me your story… ah…?”

The lonely Ensign felt a warm sense of gratitude wash over him. Ever since confronting Finn, who’s quiet reserve hadn’t covered a very palpable regret, he’d felt the tiniest pricks of self-doubt piercing the coveted box of his own carefully-nurtured resentment.

“Carson,” he filled the expectant gap, “Walt Carson, Ensign.” He felt himself being assisted to his feet and led with deliberate firmness to a small two-top in the corner nearest the head. “Thanks, man… this is…”

“Don’t mention it, Walt.” His new best friend waved away the feeble attempt at gratitude. “Always consider it a duty to look after our kids in Starfleet,” and he plunked two new glasses on the table, before taking the seat, opposite.

“So,” faded blue eyes pierced the alcoholic fog, “Tell me all about the… what was it? Anasazi Mother?”

Walt had to choke back a bitter laugh before answering, “Anarasi Maru,” he corrected, very specifically.

“Yeah, that’s it,” and leaning further into the table, the weasel-faced stranger radiated nothing more than normal curiosity, “Tell me all about it, Walt. I’m here for you.”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


“Harry, I am sure it is a far greater pleasure for us to meet you than it has been for you to meet us.” Seeing the opportunity for her to indulge her curiosity regarding this man and his past as well as a possible chance to let him release some of whatever it was she could see seething beneath the surface, T’Shaini looked for a reason to bring Harry along wherever they may be going.

Glancing to Tanner in the hopes that she would be able to read the raising of her brows as an indication to follow her lead with regards to any invitation she may proffer. Unsure of how to gauge the extent to which she should manipulate her features in order to deliver a message she just hoped it was clear.

“Perhaps we could offer reparation for our abuse to your person in the form of libation?”

At the pause that followed her question she looked to Tanner for assistance.

Shaking her head at the Vulcan, Tanner stepped in and treated Harry to a dazzling smile. “I think what she is trying to say is ‘would you like to go for a drink?”

Originally Posted by T'Shaini


Then

“Why are you looking at me that way?” Sara asked, leaning her chin on her crossed arms, hair spilling over the pillow: Harry’s pillow; on Harry’s bed.

He reached out a hand and touched that hair, the copper of it that burned with its own, internal flame. “Because you’re not real,” he said, then backtracked when he saw the flash of hurt spark across her features. “Not like… I mean, you couldn’t.. you shouldn’t… be here… not with me… gah!” he flung himself on his back and stared at the ceiling, searching for the words, “I’m just saying… there are probably more… you know… interesting men out there.”

It’s okay, Harry, I get it… I’m ‘too good to be true,’” She laughed at that, smoke and velvet in the night. “You know, that’s just the afterglow talking; eventually you’ll wake up and see the average.” Before he could protest, she propped herself up on one elbow and began to trace her fingers along the line of his jaw; slowly, carefully, as if she were an artist and his face her pallet, “But, because it’s you and you always need a reason, let’s just say… nature abhors a vacuum.”

Ah, well, yes, that explained everything. Not. “So, what, I sucked you in?” he asked though, in truth, he was starting to lose the thread of the conversation.

Her smile went a little sad, then. “You have a big empty space, Finn,” she told him, “that’s the kind of thing that makes women go all soft and gooey, inside.” Then she leaned closer, her warm lips brushing his neck, then his cheek, until they reached his ear where she could whisper, “Makes us want to fill up all the lonely.”

~~~

Now

“I think what she is trying to say is ‘would you like to go for a drink?”

There were now two very distinct pairs of brown eyes looking expectantly at him and Harry was finding the second step on the road to humanity as daunting as the first.

Sundance… Tanner, he corrected himself, was apparently able to read him like a cheap holonovel. “You can run, but you can’t hide,” she told him, and Harry new she was only half-joking.

So, “Okay,” he agreed, perhaps a little too brightly, “a drink sounds… good.” Gesturing to the door, he followed his two self-appointed guardians to the street, “I’ve got to warn you, though, I’m a really cheap date.”

That earned a classic raised eyebrow from, ah, T’Shaini, and a wry glance from Tanner who responded with the ease of a long-time straight man, “How cheap?”

Harry shrugged, “Dunno, how much is a glass of water in this burg?”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


“I’m here for you,” Walt Carson heard his new buddy say.

“I know, it’s just hard to know where to start,” the ensign explained, toying with the glass before him.

The figure opposite (man, he really did kind of look like a weasel, ‘cept for his skin was too shiny) nodded in understanding, “I can see that,” he said, “I can see how upset you are. Tell me,” he cocked his head to one side and Walt felt the rodent-quotient go up another five notches, “did this happen recently… I mean, did, whatever happened on the Anarasi…”

Walt shook his head vigorously, which was a mistake, “Noooo,” he protested through the wooz, “No. It was a while back…’most two years, now. but,” he snarled down at the table as he recalled the cool, superior way Finn had. .. had… brushed off his pain.

It’s not enough.

No, it’s not.

“He’s here… the one who did it… he’s here, walkin’ around like nothin’ ever happened!”

Because he was glaring at the alcohol, Walt missed the sudden darkening of his compatriot’s scarred expression. By the time he looked up, anger and grief commingled in his own eyes, there was nothing more than empathy flowing in his direction.

"Who’s here?” the stranger asked, concerned, “And what did he do? I mean, do we need to notify the authorities?”

Carson had to laugh at that, “Authorities!” he spat, “It’s the… damn’ ‘thorities who let him off,” the kid grumbled. “They knocked him down some,” he recalled with satisfaction, missing the impatient tapping of fingers on the table, “Cadet Finn… hah!” Walt took a slug of his drink, at that one, “Lieutenant Commander to Cadet and they call it justice.”

Beneath the skimpy mustache, thin lips twitched. “Finn?” he asked, remembering the name from the earlier outburst, by the bar, “He a bad guy?”

“Bad officer,” judged the kid, “so, yeah, bad enough. Do you know,” he asked, wide-eyed and eager to impress this strange little person, “he let one of the most-wanted spies in the Federation ‘scape? S’true… and, and, and… the escape took out nine Starfleet officers… m’cousin, too, she was there… she got burned,” his voice cracked with the hurt of it, “an it gets worse,” he continued, dripping with ale-enhanced bitterness, “… it happened because Finn… he was,” and now the ensign’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, “he was sleeping with the enemy!”

That made his audience sit back. “Finn was sleeping with Acker?” he asked, amused.

Carson waved that aside, “Noooo,” he laughed at that, himself. “He was having an affair with one of his subordinanininates…. that’s fraternization, you know…”

“I’ve heard.”

“Anyway, he was sleeping with this Sara Lazarus person…”

Laslow the other man thought, but kept his features still.

“And next thing you know… she’s a spy, too. For the Orion Syndicate… just like, like…”

“Acker.”

“Yup.” Walt was about to take another drink, realized his cup was empty. “Huh,” he said, staring blankly at the void.

“Here,” a hand pushed another, full, container towards him. “I’ve hit my limit,” he heard but Walt was staring at the hand… at the vivid rippling of scars which covered the back, from fingers to where the stranger’s coat met the wrist. Walt raised his eyes, noted how the ripples crawled up the thin man’s neck until they became the overly-smooth skin on his benefactor’s face.

“Mining accident,” he was told, calmly. “Haven’t gotten around to regenerating, yet.”

“Aw, geez, that’s too bad… Hey!” Walt had just realized something… important, “I don’t even know your name,” and that seemed, wrong. Very wrong. Should know a guy’s name, ‘specially when he’s buying you a drink. He lifted the new glass… two drinks.

A smile twitched across the man’s lower features, “Just call me…”

But now, at the thought of names, Walt was coming further out of the fog, "I told you his name was Acker?" he asked, blearily.

“WALT!” A thunderous bass imploded over the table and both men looked up. Then they looked further up.

Walt grinned, “Toq!” exclaimed, “I’d like you to meet a frien’ of mine,” he gestured to the chair opposite but it was empty. He blinked, “Hey… where’d he go?”

Toq suppressed his agitation. “I imagine he escaped when the opportunity presented itself,” the Klingon suggested. “You are drunk, Walt,” he then informed his bunkmate, “it would be best to return to our berth, before you find more trouble.”

“What trouble?” Walt protested, but allowed himself to be guided out of the bar and into the nearest transport.

Behind the two young officers, Trouble stepped out of the shadows and joined the flow of traffic on the busy street. The time was now propitious to pay his newest friends a visit, to collect on their many promises, first among which was a new face.

Harry Finn.

An unpleasant grin tattooed itself across the ruined features of Shaun Ryan Acker as he contemplated that name, and with it the pain which had been his own constant companion for nearly two years. Once he’d taken care of business, he and old Harry would have to have a reunion.

A very… private reunion.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


THEN

They were getting close. Harry could feel it, vibrating in his bones: the end of the chase was in sight and he’d called in the entire team as they waited for the fallout. Sara and Willet had, with almost brutal efficiency, cut off the funds of, so far, A. James Prufrock, Thomas Appolinax and, of all things, Bella Sosostros.

“I don’t get it,” Carson commented, leaning over a data screen as it flashed the successful hits, which Lt. Tim Willet was monitoring for attempted withdrawals, while Sara continued the data scan for accounts matching the search parameters, “Why would he be so obvious?”

Harry stood still, arms crossed over his chest as his eyes darted from screen to screen.

“Not that obvious,” Chief Anderson replied, from where he’d leaned one of the chairs back against the wall, “Still took us sixteen months to follow the money.”

“Well, yeah,” Esther glanced, up at the still-silent Finn, “But… using aliases from some ancient poetry?”

“Not just any poetry,” Harry said, “It’s all Eliot.” Now he leaned forward, as well: the search screen had popped another account, this one under ‘Helen Slingsby’. “Our boy’s really into T.S. Eliot.”

“What’s that from?” Willet asked, glancing over at Sara’s station.

“‘Aunt Helen’,” Harry told him, absently, “and as to the ‘why’” he continued, without taking his eyes off the screens, “He’s showing off.”

“But,” Esther shared a glance with Sara, “He’s a spy… I mean, isn’t it sort of.. against the spy code to announce yourself…”

Harry straightened to his full height, “Yeah, but he’s human and humans are practically hard-wired to strut their stuff.” He looked at the Cadet, now, blue eyes sparking with a kind of unholy glee in the fallibility of humankind, “Think about it, kids,” he addressed them all, “There you are, the mole to end all moles. You’re digging out the kind of intell that the Romulan Star Empire only dreams about and the Syndicate’s making you rich enough to buy your own planet but…” he wagged his finger at them, “you can’t tell anyone about it. Can’t even spend too much of the credit because that’s just another way of telling.

“So what do you do?” he asked, beginning to pace the floor in a pattern he’d followed so often the nap on the carpet was wearing thin where he tread. “You scream what you’re doing in a way you think only you will ever understand.”

“Got another,” Sara reported, coolly, eyes locked on her screen, “Edward Chamberlayne,” she added.

Harry returned to his post, “That’s from a play,” he said, recalling the tedious hours he’d spent reading up on the 20th century writer, “Ahhh…”

“The Cocktail Party,” Chief Anderson piped up, from the depths of his chair. When the stocky CPO felt the entire team’s eyes boring into him he raised his hands, “What? A guy can’t enjoy a little ancient lit?”

“Hit,” Sara said “Tyresias,” she clarified, a bit wearily, Harry thought.

“That’s two for ‘The Wasteland,” Anderson supplied.

“Okay, now you’re scaring me,” Willet told him.

Under the cover of friendly banter, Finn leaned over Sara’s chair, “How are you?” he asked, keeping the tone professional; concerned superior to over-worked staff member.

Unaccountably, her shoulders tensed, “Fine,” she assured him, “it’s just… this program was a bitch to write.” She cracked her neck, which made Harry jerk back, “Sorry, sir,” she apologized.

“Almost there, Ensign,” he assured her.

Another name popped on her screen, “Albert Porter,” she said. Everyone looked at Anderson, who slammed his chair down, “Wasteland,” he said.

Finn closed his eyes, “Where does old Albert do his banking?” he asked.

It was Willet who answered, a tone of mild surprise, “Here,” he said… “In San Francisco, I mean… Magnus Banking.”

“Leave that one alone,” Finn ordered. “We’ll watch it, see if he panics.” Still closed, he saw again the words of their quarry’s favorite poem, “‘I had not thought death had undone so many…’” he quoted, under his breath.

Sara Laslow had looked up at that. “Don’t pity the dead, Harry,” she’d said, protocol forgotten in her weariness, “they’re past suffering.”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


NOW

"… how much is a glass of water in this burg?"

T'Shaini tipped her head to the side as she contemplated the question. "I do not believe they will deduct credits for water. However if credit use is the issue I had hoped you would allow me," She noticed Tanner taking in breath. "us, to purchase you whatever you care to drink, I am unfamiliar with most alcoholic libations, however I am sure Tanner…"

"NO!" Harry stomped on his fervid response before continuing, more calmly, "No, thanks for the offer but, it's not…" aaah how to explain a condition that was close to extinct in the universe of synthehol and mental conditioning? "It's not about the credits… it's… it's the nature of the beast." He found his hand reaching into his pocket, grabbing the reassuring semi-dome shape of his personal touchstone and wondered how these fine ladies would respond to a middle-aged man playing with his yo-yo in public.

Instantly comprehending the situation T'Shaini nodded at the man. Ah,the tip of the iceburg "Perhaps coffee? I do know of a fine place where we could sit and learn more about Do not say 'learn about you' as if he were a lab experiment each other?"

"Tell you what," Harry countered, desperate to get past his almost pathological inability to live in a peopled world, "let's just," he scanned the street as they walked along and unconsciously adjusted his pace so that Tanner, the shorter of the two, was no longer quite so pressed to keep up, "let's just go in here." Here being and almost dead ringer for the dive where he'd first 'met' Tanner and T'Shaini (and if that didn't sound like a sister act…). "I'll be fine," he yanked his hand out of his pocket, forgetting he still held the yo-yo before adding, "Ah, Scout's honor?"

Quirking one eyebrow T'Shaini looked up at Harry then down at the contraption he held in his hand. "Who is Scout? And could you elucidate the function of the contraption you have in your hand?"

Harry grinned at the naked curiosity that danced across T'Shaini's face, "What, this?" he dropped the yo-yo in a simple gravity pull, then hauled it up and employed both hands to perform the only recently-perfected Man on the Flying Trapeze; then, as the sidewalk wasn't too littered, he ended with his classic, Walking the Dog. "This," he said, catching the wooden bauble and handing it to the Vulcan with a flourish, "is called a yo-yo.” His hand lingered a moment over the incongruous object before he stuffed his hands in his pockets, once more.

T'Shaini had to stand to receive the device as she had dropped down to a squat to observe it at eye level. Turning it over in her hands, she saw that it had a central core which the sting was wrapped around. Ah, that must be how the apparatus is propelled, Holding the string and releasing it the way she believed Harry had, the Vulcan was disappointed to see the disc fall, like a dull dead thing, to the ground.

Taking the wooden toy in her hand, Tanner twisted the pieces about, and when they neither moved nor made any indication of being able to, stuck her finger between the parts, unwinding the string as she went and then stared at the center piece. "It's non-mechanical?" Her brows drew down, lips parted as she inspected the instrument. There were plenty of antique recreations out there, but this appeared to be the genuine article. Interesting. She spun the yo-yo back manually, let it drop and gave a surprised jump when it rolled back into her hand before passing it back to T'Shaini, "I think it's something to do with the wrist. And timing. Pull at the moment it reaches it's most extended arc." She nodded and titled her head, inclining it toward…Harry, who she still considered, in some part of her mind, the unnamed man. "Where'd you get it?"

JP with Harry Finn
Originally Posted by T'Shaini


Watching as T’Shaini made a second, successful, attempt at the basic Gravity Pull, Harry’s mouth twitched in memory. "My brother gave it to me," he explained, losing himself in the gentle up and down spin of the toy, "sort of a get-well thing." Memories tugged at him, not unlike the string which constantly pulled the yo-yo back up to T’Shaini’s waiting hand.

And it seemed to be a kind of theme almost, that yo-yo. Tanner nodded, "wonder where he found it." It seemed the best comment for the time. Last time she'd asked a direct question, last few times, actually, Harry had ended up on the floor or running away, or maybe it was just once and it resulted in both, or a chain of events that led to both. Hard to say. That was usually the way of things when it came to strings. "Maybe we should step in though," she nodded toward the bar they were in front of, "rather than blocking the doorway."

Entranced by the movement of the yo-yo T'Shaini was unaware of her surroundings. At least not until Tanner made her aware of them. "Oh, yes…perhaps we should enter." Reluctantly returning the yo-yo to its owner she stepped through the doorway and wrinkled her nose as the stale smell of alcohol and the unwashed inhabitants of the bar hit her. Perching on a stool at the end of the bar she turned to Harry. "I would dearly love to aquire one of these devices, you say it has therapeutic purposes?"

For Harry, walking through the door of that bar, any bar, was like a slap in the face; a reminder of the addiction that had nearly cost him his career. Hearing T’Shaini’s interest in the toy, he latched onto her curiosity as one would a lifeline when lost at sea.

“Woodwork is a hobby in my family,” he told her, “well, my siblings, anyway. Probably I could arrange for one to be delivered… take while, though.” And he shot a wicked glance at Tanner before adding, “Of course, you’d have to be willing to call it by name, first.” Seeing the Vulcan's confusion, he elaborated, "It's easy, really, just say it slowly after me… 'yo - yo'."

T'Shaini raised one eyebrow while pondering if there were some nuance of humor that she had not picked up on. Raising one shoulder in a slight shrug, she decided that she was far more concerned with the story that may be illuminated by following along. "Yo-yo." She nodded at the toy as if she were addressing it then looked back to Harry. "Correct? Where did the name originate? Your brother made this for you? For an occasion? And if so, for what occasion, may I ask?"

And this woman was a counselor? Tanner blinked at the oblivious vulcan. "Get well occassion." Tanner nodded and waved the bartender in, "ah, a water, bloodwine and…" She wasn't sure whether to order for T'Shaini or wait for her to fill the gap herself. When the woman just stared at her looking slightly miffed she went the safe route and tacked on, "and a vulcan port, I would think."

The bartender took the small female's order with a grimace. Harry thought that if 'dour cheerfulness' were an art form, this guy would be the Michelangelo of the movement. "Don't panic," he told the Ferengi, "what I lack in tab, I make up for in tips."

Keralk's sharp smile honed itself to a finer point, "We always appreciate an understanding customer," he replied, before shuffling off to fill the order. Harry watched the oddly sidling retreat, then leaned his back against the bar, the better to watch the comings and goings in the little space. He'd been surprised too many times, tonight and that was bad. He couldn't afford to lose his edge. In faaaact, "So," he addressed his shadows with a sidelong glance, "I've shown you my yo-yo; who's next for show-and-tell?"

Tanner made a move to reach into the pockets she didn't have, and coming up empty, shrugged. "I suppose that depends on what you mean by show and tell, though I daresay there wasn't much telling going on with your showing." With a sidelong glance at their mysterious new friend, she spun around on her stool and looked out into the bar, wondering what Harry could possibly be staring at, as the patrons were still rather sparse. "Unless you find pocket lint interesting, I've got nothing, and this place…" her gaze skimmed over the dark figures, grimy floors and flickering lighting, "doesn't exactly make me jump up and think it's a good place for…well…nevermind." She waved a hand in the air as though there were some other definition of show and tell she'd been thinking of, but it was sorely out of place.

T'Shaini opened her mouth to ask Tanner what it was not a good place for, and then quickly shut it again realizing she probably did not want to witness her explaining it in public. "Hmm, well neither do have anything to show, and I very much doubt anyone wants to hear a Vulcan tell stories, so perhaps it is your turn again?"

Tanner pouted. While she didn't have anything on hand, it did seem unfair that he'd shared his yo-yo and yet knew very little about the two of them aside from their names and ships. Granted, they didn't know much about Harry either, but still… they ought to tell him something about themselves, shouldn't they? She battled a moment between curiosity and a sense of fair-play before seeming to blurt out, "my communicator plays [i]Joy to the World[/i] instead of chiming properly." She nodded, as though this was a sensible piece of information, no more obscure or interesting than had she just stated it was a nice day out.

Wondering if this were pertinent to the rules of show and tell T'Shaini scanned her memory for something to add, similarly random. "OH, we have a dinosaur on our ship" Feeling as thought she had once again passed the entrance exam to the acadamy, T'Shaini smiled at Harry, awaiting his volley.

Before Harry could respond, the drinks arrived, with a side of irritable. As the three claimed their glasses, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, Harry delved through his synapses for a worthy contribution to this exercise in the absurd. "Okay," he aid, then took a drink. Then he put the glass down. “I got nothing,” he admitted, tasting defeat. “I might have matched the the communicator but… a…” he looked at the Vulcan who, indeed, was brimming with honesty, “A dinosaur?” He shook his head, "There is nothing in the history of Harry Finn to match that."

"Well then perhaps just a bit about the History of Harry Finn…" T'Shaini knew very well she was treading on thin ice so she kept her tone light, well light for a Vulcan, and hoped it read as simple curiosity…which it was, mostly.

He’d met less determined terriers. This was going to be a challenge but, hey, he could keep up…”Well,” he began, in an exaggerated drawl, “I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania….” When he fielded a cocktail napkin from Tanner's direction, it was with a laugh, "No? How about some knock knock jokes?" But he could see his avoidances were wearing thin so he settled back into his seat and offered up a small piece of himself, “I’m just waiting for my shake-down tour,” he said as lightly as he could manage. Hopefully, that would be enough to stave off the hunger for information that practically leaked from the two officers. Officers with whom he might someday serve… if he were lucky. If he survived the tour. If he kept the uniform.

JP with Tanner and T'Shaini
Originally Posted by Harry Finn


The phrase was spoken so off-handedly it took her moment, but once it sunk in, her eyes widened, sharpened, then landed on the nameless friend called Harry with an abrupt sort of suspicion before Tanner jabbed T'Shaini in the side with an elbow and shifted in her seat. "Shakedown tour?" While she might not have been familiar with the colloquialism, she knew what a tour was and understood what a shakedown implied. "Are you…" She turned back to the bar and her drink, wondering whether it was best to drop the subject and forget it'd ever been mentioned, letting it pass in an awkward kind of way by staring into her glass or to continue with the question on the tip of her tongue.

Unfortunately, awkwardness didn't sit well with Tanner, and it didn't take more than a few spare moments before she gave in and spat out the response, "are you a con or something? A fugitive? I was a fugitive once…." The words spilled out before she thought to censor herself, and the dishonesty of the statement glared at her until she tacked on, "more than once, actually, but it was really just a misunderstanding, after all and…" Maybe this really wasn't the best conversation to be having with somebody you didn't really know and who didn't know the circumstances. "And, well…it all worked out in the end…" While she'd chosen that second route, she suddenly found herself stuck in the first, staring into her drink, unsure what to say, and amidst a stagnant sense of unease thick enough to spread. "But still…shaking somebody down in a card game or something…" She glanced over her shoulder at T'Shaini as though awaiting approval of some kind, "that's nothing, in the scheme of things. Shaking down…well…"

Reverting back to her glass as though the meaning of life and the universe itself was hidden at the bottom of her half-drunk bloodwine, Tanner pouted and considered. "Maybe if you just explained it wouldn't be so bad." She blinked, then turned back toward Harry, "and maybe…well…" Maybe it was best to leave well enough alone, to leave him well enough alone as he'd already made quite clear he didn't particularly want to talk about it. Then again, it'd seemed he didn't particularly want to talk to them either, and he was still sitting at a bar in their company. "Maybe…it just wouldn't be so bad."

Originally Posted by Tanner Willeg


Harry felt the haze of confusion settling in as Tanner made her sudden confession. When she displayed her complete misapprehension of the term ‘shake down’, his lips twitched but, before he could explain the old Earth terminology for ‘test’, she’d moved on.

"Maybe…it just wouldn't be so bad."

The sentence hit him like a fist in the gut because, of course… of course it could. His eyes darted over the two attendant women, then again over the rest of the room, which was, against all reason, filling up. But before he could frame any reasonable reply…

“Harry Finn?”

Three pairs of eyes trained on the bartender, who had stealth-sidled his way back to their location. “Yes,” Harry replied, his tone wary. Then, “Have we met?”

There was a shrug and one hand pointed to the notoriously famous Ferengi ears, “Nah, just heard about you,” again, and again, and… “But, I have to say, I thought you’d be, well not taller, but, you know, more…. intimidating.” Keralk had started polishing a glass, at that point. “I mean, killing some kid’s cousin? And having an” eye ridges waggled suggestively, “illicit affair with a Syndicate spy…”

Harry felt the blood draining from his face. Was there a memo?
As if from a great distance, he heard the Ferengi’s words falling through space.

“… responsible for losing one the Federation’s most wanted,” the grocery list of Finn’s follies continued, “How many people died in the escape?” Keralk narrowed his eyes, trying to remember what he’d heard the drunk puppy spouting to Eliot.

“Nine,” Harry supplied tonelessly.

“Right, yeah, nine,” the bartender shrugged as he continued to buff the glass in his hands, “Anyway, after hearing all that, I was expecting someone… more… ah….” his words trailed off as he finally looked at his audience.

Keralk made a quick reassessment of how dangerous this hu-mahn might be. “Not that I believed any of that, mind you… I just thought… hearing your name… I thought you should know,” he swallowed, “Better watch your back, is all I’m saying.”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


Oh my, and there is the rest of the iceburg T’Shaini watched as Harry’s emotional armor slammed into place like a shuttle bay door. Not only did she know better than to take what a Ferrengi said at face value, the mere fact that she witnessed the need for defense as well as the struggle to conceal himself told her there was more than one side to this story. Thinking back to the image of a cornered dog that she had had of him in the men’s room she thought it might be more apt than she had at first realized. She waited until the bartender walked away and almost under her breath as if she said it softy enough it would drift into his consciousness and release the truth.

“How did they die?”

Originally Posted by T'Shaini


Tanner's jaw dropped as the bartender rattled off the list of indiscretions as though he were checking things off a to-do list. After the initial shock wore off, she leaned forward on the bar, glared at the man and slapped a hand down on the bar. "That's just not true."

She hated Ferengi's. Really really hated them. They were greedy, conniving, cowardly, manipulative and dishonest. And when Keralk turned at her abrupt banging to sneer at her she merely glowered back, "just not true." Her brows drew together as she considered the situation. Granted, she'd only met Harry…however long ago, and didn't really know anything about him aside from his affinity for yo-yo's, but he just didn't seem to Tanner the type to have done all those things. It was wrong, and it was wrong for somebody to go around spreading nasty rumors…and lies. They were lies, right? She nearly growled at the barkeep, "take it back."

Originally Posted by Tanner Willeg


As the bartender kept talking, Harry felt the self-loathing rise like bile: occluding reason; smothering his senses.

Most of them, anyway. He could still smell, horrifically inviting, the stale seduction of the cheap-ass booze this joint offered. He could almost taste it, almost feel it washing away the heat of memory.

“Better watch your back, is all I’m saying.”

Through the roaring in his ears, past the cheap catcalls of the liquor, he realized Tanner was trying to defend his honor. He should speak up, he thought, save her the trouble. Then he heard the soft and oh, so understanding question.

“How did they die?”

Snapping back into the moment, the one in which two relative strangers were looking at him with something too close to pity, he almost laughed. “How did they die?” he repeated, his voice dripping disdain for the absolute inanity of the question and so lost in images of fire that he didn’t even notice the recoil his anger caused.

“I’ll tell you how they died,” he asserted harshly as he rose from his seat, “they died badly. In pain and fear and looking…” to me “looking…” he faltered now, seeing the explosion, feeling the heat, smelling the burning, now mixed with the taint of blood wine from Tanner’s glass and it was too much, too much because now it was Harry who was going to explode…

The world then became silent as everyone looked at the bar where Harry’s glass, which had been in Harry’s hand, had shattered into a thousand splinters.

“I’ll tell you,” he said, into the void, “I’ll tell you everything,” his blue eyes, now dark with the tides of memory, rested on Tanner, then T’Shaini. “But not here,” he stepped away from the bar, hand clutched over the bleeding. “Outside. I won’t run away,” he promised, reading the apprehension in their expressions. “I can’t.”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


Shooting a look to the Ferrengi warning him not to interfere, T’Shaini leaned over the bar to grab a rag and soak it with vodka. It will have to do. She took Harry’s hand turned it over checking for any remaining glass shards then wrapped the alcohol soaked cloth around it. Ignoring his hiss of pain she tied it neatly over the back of his hand. With a nod to Tanner she spun on her heel and strode out of the bar, expecting the others to follow her. She found that if she behaved as if no one would argue with her, for the most part no one did. Pausing a moment to look around she recognized the Japanese tea house that she had frequented when first on the colony. Perfect. Without a backward glance she crossed the street and at once she felt herself enveloped in the familiar soothing environment. After quietly exchanging a few words with the host, they found themselves ushered into a private room near the back where Eichu silently and efficiently set up some refreshment for his guest and with a polite bow began to back out the door.

“Domo Eichu.” The silence finally broken T’Shaini poured tea for Tanner, then for Harry. “I thought this would be more suitable for a quiet discussion, I hope you do not mind.”

*Originally Posted by T'Shaini**


Staring at the cooling tea, Harry continued to flex his roughly bandaged hand, encouraging the simplicity of the purely physical pain. Another avoidance technique, another way to not think….

=^=Lt. Commander Finn=^=

Harry tapped his combadge, =^=Finn, here=^=

=^=Acker has just left the brig=^=

=^=Copy that=^=

Harry glanced at Willet, “It’s showtime,” he said.

… “Ever hear of a guy named Acker?”

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


But of course they hadn’t. Heard of him, that is. No one had. Shaun Ryan Acker: dealer in secrets was, himself, a ghost.

So he told them. He told them about Acker’s digging; his steady supply of information to a contact in the Orion Syndicate who, playing no favorites, sold the intell to the highest bidder.

As a result of these sales, treaty negotiations went sour; tactical operations were scuttled, usually with significant loss of Starfleet personnel; medical research reappeared, twisted and and deformed into new narcotics or bio-toxins and, everywhere, undercover operatives for the Federation were found out and eliminated.

It had been the task of Harry’s small five-member team to smoke the traitor out.

“And we did,” he said, reaching for the cold tea, jaw tightening as the makeshift bandage brushed the delicate cup. “We found him in DS-9, trying to rabbit out of the Quadrant.”

“You are one stubborn pain in the ass, Finn,” Acker had told him, as the restraints were locked on, “but I can respect that, so I’ll do you a solid.” Cold, empty eyes which made him seem taller than he was, “You should kill me, now.”

“Tempting,” Harry had responded, ice for ice, “but then there’s the paperwork.” and he’d handed the prisoner over to CPO Anderson and the DS-9 Security Chief.

Acker had winked at Sara, as he’d been led away, “Here is Belladonna,” he’d crooned, “…the lady of…” he’d thrown another, leering, look at Finn, “… situations.”

Carson had shivered, “Creepy.”

Harry, remembering, saw again how Sara’s face had revealed nothing. Not then. Not ever.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


“Bit of advice,” Harry continued, with a slight twitch of the head, “If a sociopathic megalomaniac tells you to kill him: do it. It’ll save everyone a lot of grief.”

He gave in and looked up, then, at the calm face of T’Shaini and the rapt, wide-eyed Tanner. “But that would have been all illegal and stuff, so I didn’t. I did the job, followed regs, requested transport and, hey, I even got a promotion out of the deal: Lt. Commander,” another jerk, porcelain cup raised in a mocking toast, “pride of the Judge Advocate General.”

Harry ignored the shared glance of the officers as he drank the bitter brew. Cadet, 4th class, that’s what he was, now. But he still wore the uniform.

“We hitched a ride on the Anarasi Maru, and she got us to McKinley Station in record time, ” he continued, compelled to spill out the entire pathetic tale. It was as if the words which poured out now would, if halted, back up into his throat, and so cause him to drown.

“It’s showtime.”

Earth, McKinley Station and time to move the prisoner to a thus-far undisclosed facility, to await Court Martial. Not even Harry knew the location. All he knew was there were no transporters allowed and the shuttle pilot would receive the coordinates upon approach to Earth.

One of the shuttle pilots. There would be two shuttles departing the Anarasi: one for Acker and one…

The secrecy, which normally was the sort of thing Harry liked to make fun of, had been at his suggestion. They’d come very, very close to losing the prize when Harry had discovered, after a second data search, one last account under the name of Thomas Stearns. By the time they’d put a trace on it, the account had been emptied, but thanks to Willet, they’d followed the cash. All the way to Bajor and DS-9 and a hotel room let to one Eliot Thomas.

Harry had often wondered, since, if Acker regretted not reading any Yeats.

“Harry!” A particularly snide voice echoed across the shuttle bay. Escorted by two of the Anarasi Security crew, along with Anderson, who’d been pretty much glued to the traitor since his apprehension, Acker entered the vaulted chamber as if he owned the place. Even with his hands cuffed in front of him, he wore the world like an overpriced jacket and, when Harry and Tim crossed the room to join him, favored the officers with a sneer. “Congratulations on the promotion, Finn,” the little man said.

Harry ignored the weasel and looked at the ship’s officers, “Permission to remove the prisoner?” he asked, formally.

The two stepped back a pace, “Permission granted,” the senior officer replied. “Good sailing,”

Willet, drawing his sidearm, had taken his place opposite Anderson, and with Harry in the lead, the quartet had crossed the bay to the shuttles, where Esther Carson and Sara were consulting with a handful of pilots and engineers.

“Sir,” Sara had greeted him, eyes passing over Acker as if he didn’t exist. “Time to choose the shuttle.”

Harry studied the two, virtually identical vessels for a moment. Behind him, he could feel the impatient ire dripping off of the prisoner. “But it’s so hard to choose,” he said lightly, “They’re both just so… spiffy.” Everyone was looking at him as if he’d come unhinged. In a way, he had.

“Tell you what,” he spun around, scanning the room while his team waited, wide -eyed with shock, “Let’s just take that one!” and he pointed to a completely different shuttle, huddled behind a stack of receptacles bearing the handling code for explosives, which the Anarasi had been delivering to the Gamma Quadrant before being re-assed to prisoner transport.

“But,” Sara protested, “we haven’t given it a pre-flight,” she checked her PADD, comparing registration numbers, “It’s not even a passenger transport,” she looked up, “That’s a cargo shuttle.”

“Cargo!” Acker choked out. “Hey, if you think I’m sitting on the floor…”

“So much the better!” Harry cut him off, reaching out and wrapping a friendly arm around Acker’s skinny neck, the better to herd the sputtering little criminal away from the prepped shuttles.

“You don’t know what you’re messing with, Finn,” Acker hissed as they crossed the floor.

“I don’t?” at that Harry snagged Acker by the prison greys and thrust him backwards, against a mountain of crates, “Then why don’t you tell me?”

“Put him down, Harry.”

He turned, Acker still dangling against the cargo, to face Ensign Sara Laslow.

And Sara’s phaser.

Which was pointed at Harry.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


Suddenly, unable to remain still any longer, Harry pushed away from the low table, rising to pace the tiny, elegant room as the ugly chronicle of betrayal continued.

“Put him down, and hand him over to me,” she said again.

Harry’s eyes scanned the area. He’d pushed Acker into a maze of cargo pallets and, presently, they were out of view. He had a notion the rest of the team were giving him a moment of privacy with the arrogant traitor but where had all the sensors gone?

“Why?” he asked, stalling for time and noting that, indeed, her phaser was on the maximum setting, “where are you going to take him?” His voice was soft, as always, with her, “There’s nowhere to go.”

//“What makes you think I’m taking him anywhere?” she’d asked, and re-adjusted her aim. //

“What?” Acker started to struggle harder as he found himself looking up the business end of a lethally charged weapon, “This was the plan?”

//“No, you little freak, the plan was to get in one of the rigged shuttles and transport you.” She flicked a glance at Harry, “This is Plan B,” she said, as she squeezed the trigger. //

Nothing happened.

“Plan B always sucks,” Harry told her.

//Sarah’s eyes darted from the still furiously struggling and - more to the point - alive, spook, to Harry’s sidearm, now pointed in her own direction. “You knew,” she accused, dropping her own, defunct weapon; the weapon Harry had made sure was disabled before it had been issued. //

“Suspected,” Harry told T’Shaini, who was leaning forward, hands clasped together on the table. “The incomplete data scan, some… changes in behavior… the fact that Acker’d been warned of our arrival on the space station: he almost made it out on a freighter… too many oddities, too many close calls…” but in the end, it had all boiled down to gut instinct, and…

“… you really were too good to be true.” He watched the pain blossoming in her eyes, forced himself to ignore it.

“This is all very touching,” Acker snapped, “But I’m a little unclear on the part where killing me was ever on the table.”

//“Shut up,” Harry and Sara had snapped, simultaneously, eyes locked on one another. //

More pacing, a tight non-smile: “Apparently there wasn’t any room in his ego for the concept that his partners would prefer him out of the picture, rather than risk having him talk to us.”

//“Get him out or take him out,” Finn shifted his grip so that he now held the man by one arm, “those were your orders.” //

It wasn’t a question.

//She didn’t bother to answer. //

//Fine, he could swing that way. //

Indicating that she should lead, he began the drill, dragging the incensed Acker alongside, “Ensign Sara Laslow, I am placing you in custody for conspiracy to commit treason; for attempting to aid one Shaun Ryan Acker, also accused of conspiracy…” he got no further as she spun inside the range of his raised phaser; shocking him first with the tears in her eyes, second with the hand she lay over his heart and third…

//Harry heard the telltale hiss, felt the rush of pressure and then the sudden juddering sensation of his own heart stabbing him from within. //

//Falling, he realized they were still hidden, no one in the bay was looking for them, yet. //

//“Damn it, Harry,” Sara was saying as he dropped straight down to his knees, “Just once, just once, could you have not been sharp enough to cut yourself?” //

//He couldn’t answer, he could barely breathe. Sara had his phaser, now and he heard a quick burst, felt some sparks burning into his skin as he dropped the rest of the way, convulsing, onto the deck. //

“So, she knew that you knew?” Tanner looked incensed, as if the plot had been written incorrectly. Harry knew how she felt.

“Apparently, but that’s also as far as the comedy routine goes,” he replied, bitterly. “I didn’t… I wasn’t expecting anything else, and when she hit me with the hyposyringe…” there was a moment necessary to breathe through the phantom pain which sliced through his chest, “One thing about Sara,” he told them, “she really dug the classics: Gershwin; Berlin; digitalis.”

“I’m sorry,” she was telling him, as she grabbed Acker, who was more than willing to roll with any punch that didn’t feature himself as so much meat.

Harry was struggling, now, pushing himself stupidly against the poison boiling through his heart. “Why?” he croaked out, before she was gone, before…

Suddenly she loomed before him, once more, “Always need a reason, don’t you?” she asked and, amazingly, the tears were still there, hovering, as though she hadn’t just betrayed him and everything she’d sworn to uphold. One hand touched his cheek, “Just… look in the mirror,” she’d whispered, brushing a kiss over his bluing lips…

Which was no answer at all. But what came next.

“Ensign Laslow to Sickbay I have a man down, repeat, Commander Harry Finn is down, request immediate assistance.”

What the…?

“Finn?” Willet was racing into the narrow alley between pallets. “What happened? Did Acker…?”

“Not that I can tell,” Sara was walking and talking, moving Acker out of the way, “He collapsed… it was sudden. You get him out of here, in case there’s some biohazard. I’ll get Acker back to the others.

Already there were shouts from the bay entrance; the medical team had arrived. “Right,” the Lieutenant hauled his twitching, suffocating superior up and ducked a shoulder beneath him. Then a medic was there, too, beneath the other shoulder and in moments they had him out in the open and across the floor. He was almost to the entrance of the bay when Harry managed to gasp out against the blackness, clutching at Tim so hard he heard the younger man hiss.

//“Bent,” he said, very deliberately, making sure Willet was looking at him, then, “Sara… Acker,” //

Willet was quick - hell, he worked for Finn - in seconds he was halfway across the deck, weapon at the ready, gathering up crew as he went.

//“Ensign Laslow, I am ordering you to stand down!” his voice echoed through the vaulted space. Harry could hear it, past the concerned calls for ECG monitoring and digoxin antibodies. //

//Well-trained, his team. //

“Oh, come on, Tim,” Sara was protesting, as Harry’s heart began to resume a normal rhythm.

“Stand down, now and move away from the hatch.” Harry’s Crew, his people. They’d done him proud, and he’d….

“Sir,” the doctor who’d administered the antidote put a hand on his chest, “You have to stay down…”

Harry’s response was a snarl as he used the man’s shoulder to haul himself to standing.

Taller than most of the medics hovering protectively about him, Harry saw that Sara had indeed made it to one of the shuttles and that the hatch was open. He tried to move forward, stumbled, was held in place by several hands.

They were all there: solid Anderson; Willet, standing firm and Carson, looking confused but following the team… along with a half dozen of the Anarasi crew, all armed, all aiming at the prisoner and one of their own. One of his own. His…

He could see Acker was sliding behind Sara and that made everyone nervous. Harry leaned forward against the restraining hands: Sara had kept her phaser down until then but when it became clear that this was the endgame he watched everything about her go still, up until the moment she raised the weapon…

//The returning fire was immediate. Several beams, set, Harry knew, to stun, struck her at once. //

That should have ended it.

It would have ended it, had Sara not, while Harry was suffering from an induced heart attack, been breaking into one of the crates of thermolyte piled haphazard throughout the bay.

“Didn’t take much,” he told them, “only a gram, tops, but even that, excited by multiple phaser strikes…” he had to stop, finally, for a moment, at least.

“When she detonated,” he continued, carefully ignoring the small hiss of breath from Tanner, “the explosion was enough to throw Acker back into the shuttle.” His eyes were hard, cold, “He was on fire, at the time. Managed to shut the hatch, though, our Shaun did.

“Which was lucky for him, since it turns out she’d left a trail.”

There was no time to assimilate the horror. No time to recognize Willet’s shock or Carson’s naked grief or the look that Anderson sent Harry’s way because even as the medical team began to desert Finn for more damaged pastures, the entire bay went up. The blast zone, originating from Sara’s damaged crate, threw Harry, along with three medics, completely out of the bay. Landing hard, it took precious moments to crawl back but by then it was sealed. The ship’s safety protocols had been enacted, blast doors shut, shields dropped to contain the cascading explosions.

“It wasn’t enough,” he explained, “Flame retardant, shields, nothing could stop the domino effect… in order to save the ship, they had to vent the bay.

“But the transporter crew was good,” he admitted, muscles working in his jaw, “they pulled out everyone they could find.

“Everyone still alive,” he amended.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


It was a shock. A shock to realize she was wrong, that the Ferengi gossip was right. That she'd been about to box the bartender about his over-large ears over the incident and move on without an ounce of guilt, without hesitation, and without any regret. Still, there was the explanation she'd half-asked for. Maybe it wasn't this explanation. She glanced at the man called Harry before following out the door. But she ask for one. But now it all seemed wrong. She wasn't sure whether she was to blame for it, whether or not she ought to be sorry for that, and still she considered boxing the Ferengi about the ears. Manipulative, gossiping, good for nothing… She did hate Ferengis. It might be stereotypical, might be xenophobic, might be flat out wrong, but she did. Anybody would. The innate dislike for the race extended far beyond Betazed and Betazoids. Tanner comforted herself with this reminder. Hell, when it came down to it there were plenty of people who didn't like Betazoids. Intruding, over-analytical, over-emotional, pervasive….think they're better than everyone else. Not just better, more adept, more important, more powerful. Tanner rolled her eyes as the door slid closed behind her. People wouldn't care nearly so much what others thought of them if they knew how little they did. Who was it who'd said that?

Ever heard of a man named Acker?

The question came once things were settled, which seemed ironic, considering the question itself was quite unsettling. Had she heard of the man? Thinking back, Tanner let her eyes flutter closed and considered. Not directly. Not really. Not at all. "No."

Tanner couldn't quite figure out which was worse, feeling as though you'd let down your crew, missed out on your duty, betraying a kind of honor-bound oath, or being betrayed by it. Granted, he admitted he'd suspected…but had he not cared for the woman would the same situation have come to pass? There wasn't anything wrong with thinking it wouldn't have and knowing it had. A contradiction, perhaps, but life was full of them, people were full of them, humanoid or otherwise.

She blinked as the words sunk in. "Of course…" And paused when she thought she'd interrupted. After he'd finished the story she continued., "of course it's not enough. It never is, is it?' She asked the question as though it were normal, not at all to do with the matters of life and death but rather simplicity. "Nobody can ever do enough."

Originally Posted by Tanner Willeg


T’Shaini felt all the pieces fall into place one by one as she listened to Harry’s story. The palpable pain mixed with grief and a healthy dose of anger. Yes, she did believe the anger was healthy, it meant he was moving forward. Not that Harry seemed the type to wallow; nevertheless she was focusing on the progress as she tuned in to what he was telling them. Such an incredible load to bear. She shook her head as she found herself trying to imagine what any leader in a potentially life threatening situation must be prepared and take responsibility for. T’Shaini’s responsibility was quite the opposite, she needed to look at the individual and, if she could, guide their steps in whatever way she could. Which was, she found, was by asking questions they would have to answer themselves.

“So you are following Acker’s trail?” At his curt nod she continued. “What happens when you find him? What will happen if you do not?”

Originally Posted by T'Shaini


"Nobody can ever do enough."

Well, he sure hadn’t, was Harry’s thought as he struggled back from the smoke and the claxons and his fists pounding against the immovable blast shield; the lacerated elbow from smashing the bay door control panel and the final, soporific despair after one of the medics got it in her head that the crazy man needed to be sedated.

Finally hearing Tanner’s words, he had to give her due for not wasting time on unwarranted sympathy. At the same time, and feel free to insert laugh here, the very phrase was, also, not enough. As she’d said, it never could be enough. Not enough to fill the void which Acker had so perfectly created.

What, in all the universe, could take the place of Esther Carson who, despite being an engineer so proficient she could create a portable shield emitter out of a phaser and two paperclips, was nonetheless completely stumped by the four-ingredient recipe for popovers?

Answer: nothing.

You have a big empty space, Finn.

And that was before. Carrying so much more empty, what of Harry Finn remained?

Seeing Carson, petite, blonde, carrying in another batch of inedible popovers, he thought, I should have let her cousin hit me again.

I should have told the team what I suspected.

I should have killed him.

“So you are following Acker’s trail?”

Harry felt his head jerk in a nod.

I should not have affirmed that statement.

“What happens when you find him? What will happen if you do not?”

He looked down at T’Shaini, serene, cool, assessing: need to know, he reminded himself.

“Let’s remember,” he told her, easily, “I’m not the only one looking for the walking disease and, since one of his last ventures tied him closely with the Gamma Quadrant, there are… parties in the region who need to know what I know about him.” Solid, professional, had the benefit of being based in truth.

Looking away, clenching the bandaged hand, Harry continued, “He’s been laying low since he got himself beamed off that shuttle but that can’t last forever. He can’t… his compulsion to control, to manipulate information and… situations… will get the best of him and he’ll start operating, again.” A shrug, “He’s going to get caught, one way or another.” By me.

He cast a quick glimpse at T’Shaini, then Tanner.

Were they buying it?

Then: Did it matter?

Originally Posted by Harry Finn


"Karmany evadhikaras te
ma phalesu kadacana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango ’stv akarmani."

Three heads looked down. Standing on the floor was the blue form of Pev, who gazed up at Finn with his huge black eyes. It was uncanny. Had he been standing there silently all along?

"I don't speak your language," Harry said with a slight shake of his head.

"I brought porn," Pev said happily as he climbed into a seat next to Tanner. "They did not have any more printed magazines, which is probably for the best. But they did sell holovids! Perhaps we can watch some later and you can explain what Humans find exciting about them? I purchased 'Hard Wood FloOrions,' see? She's green! 'Bang Bang Beaver,' which I guess is about a group of female spies who hide out in a girl's school or something because there appear to be no males in the cast, and "The Wrath of C**k," which I gather is a parody." The S'ti'ach looked at his companions, who continued to stare.

"Pev," asked T'Shaini calmly, "What were you saying before? Is that your native language?"

"No," replied Pev, putting the bag of videos on the table. "Sanskrit."

Tanner was next. "Why are you quoting Sanskrit?"

"Because of how well it translates."

After a pause, T"Shaini bit the bullet. "Pev, could you translate that poem for us?"

"Not a poem," said Pev, "But a passage. From the Bhagavad-Gita:

"Karmany evadhikaras te
ma phalesu kadacana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango ’stv akarmani.

""You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty." Pev nodded once.

"Can we talk about porn now?"

Originally Posted by Pev


Harry was impressed. Poetry and porn in one small, stealthy, package. The verse, well, Harry figured he’d file that for when he was ready to seek enlightenment; for now, he’d keep pursuing the fruits of his actions… all the way to the core.

On the other hand…

“Wrath is overrated,” he offered, peering into the bag on the table.

Pev blinked, “Not enough plot?”

“Too much. But FloOrions was just as good as advertised. Haven’t seen Beaver… yet…but,” he tilted his head to better view the packaging… "wow, that’s a position I’ve… never… ah…” his words tapered off as he recalled the room’s distaff occupants. “Bachelor parties,” he explained, seriously, “lot’s and lot’s of bachelor parties.”

One eye roll and one raised eyebrow.

He threw up his hands in surrender, “ “Okay, okay, I’m male… and human… and… male….”

Just then his combadge chimed.

Ah, saved by the ‘boop’.

=^= This is Megiddo Starfleet Admissions to Cadet Harry Finn=^=

Harry tapped his combadge with an apologetic shrug to the other male in the room, =^= Finn, here. =^=

He felt his eyes drawn inexorably back to the contents of Pev’s bag of wonders.

=^= Cadet, you are ordered to report to barracks in preparation for shipping out on your training cruise. =^=

=^=Acknowledged. Porn out.=^= Shit!

=^= Say again? =^=

=^= Finn… out. Finn.. yes… thanks, ah, bye? =^=

Once the com line was closed, the barely contained snorts of amusement burst forth full throttle. Pev’s harmonic cachinnation was a unique counterpoint to Tanner’s full-bodied laugh.

Harry huffed out an embarrassed breath, before exhaustedly scrubbing at his face and then hissing at the double affliction of the lacerated hand putting pressure on his swollen jaw. Crap.

T’Shaini, who had not gone over the deep end, tilted her head, “Will your injuries cause you any difficulty in your posting?”

At that Harry smiled, “What, this?” he indicated the accumulated injuries, “Hell, T’Shaini, this is what we in Starfleet call a successful shore leave!”

Her wrinkled brow indicated her doubts, but she didn’t press the matter.

“I have to go,” he told them, now, moving towards the sliding door, which he noted was, in fact, slightly ajar from Pev’s entrance. “I’d say it’s been a pleasure but,” he offered up a rueful grin, “that would be lying.”

For a moment, he thought they might protest, Oh, no, Harry, it’s been great fun… next time let’s rehash the battle of Thermopylae, did those Spartans know how to party, or what? Fortunately, these people knew when to embrace the suck. “Thanks,” he said, “I think,” before turning away.

The three remaining had only barely become accustomed to the space left behind when Harry came back, “Just, one more thing,…” and to T’Shaini’s great surprise, Finn carefully withdrew the yo-yo from his pocket, “…I think you should hang onto this,” he said, reaching for her hand and carefully laying that small piece of history in her palm. “For safekeeping.” Again, the shockingly piercing blue of his eyes scanned the three before settling on T’Shaini, “I’ll be back for it,” he promised, before disappearing once again.

“But,” she looked down, then up, then at her friends, “How will he know where to find me?”

No one had an answer.

~~~

A soft rain had begun to fall, muting the streetlights and sheeting the pavement to a mirror finish. Harry spared the glistening sidewalk one look: enough to see his own fore-shortened image, before he strode off into the night, repeatedly shattering his reflection with each, deliberate step.

Originally Posted by Harry Finn

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.