Torrik Nils/Jillian Munro - Just Say Yes

:: Sentinel Shuttlecraft Type 9 ::
:: Megiddo Space ::

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The sleek shuttlecraft slipped in close to Megiddo Station and hung motionless between the Command Module and Space Port Module. Ensign Torrik Nils piloted the small vessel as close to the hull of the station as regulations allowed. There was no need to toe the line of any more regulations considering what he was about to do. Nils caught a glimpse of the Sentinel in port at bearing five-zero mark one five. Viewing the ship from space after being aboard her for so long gave him a strong sense of pride. She was his first real post, and thus far it had been quite the adventure. He may even go so far as to say she’d become like a home to him.

“Computer, hold position,” the Bajoran said rising from the pilot’s seat. He turned to face the transporter pad and straightened his uniform. After taking a deep breath he issued his next command to the ship’s computer. “Lock onto target and energize.”

The air before him sizzled and shimmered as atoms and molecules coalesced from their energy state into solid matter. As soon as she materialized she let out a slight yelp.

“What the hell,” said Jillian catching her balance.

Nils couldn’t help but smile. “Surprise,” he said softly.

The sight of Jillian Munro sent a warm shiver through Nils. It’d been quite some time since he’d laid eyes on her and the fact that she was in the same shuttlecraft with him was exhilarating.

“Nils, what the hell are you doing? I’m pretty sure unauthorized transports are still against regulations and what if I’d been,” she was cut off as Nils wrapped her in his arms and kissed her hard on the mouth.

“Wow,” she said. “Deep space has been good to you.”

“I’ve missed you,” Nils said, refusing to let her go. He kissed her once more and continued. “And you have a tendency not to return my hails. I’ve tried contacting you three times since we docked.”

Jillian looked away feeling slightly ashamed. “I know. I’ve been really busy lately. You can’t imagine the workload of being the station's Chief of Medical.”

“I can imagine,” he said. “And don’t worry about it. I just hope you don’t press charges for me kidnapping you.”

“I ought to,” Jillian chuckled. “What if I’d been in surgery or…worse? What if I’d been showering?”

“I made sure you were off duty…but I suppose I should’ve made sure you were showering as well,” he said with a devilish grin. He squeezed her tighter.

“You’re awful,” Jillian teased as she hit him on the shoulder. “Hey! You’re an ensign,” she exclaimed noticing his pips.

Nils stepped back and saluted. “Yes, sir. Just got the promotion.”

“Pretty soon I’m going to have to be saluting you,” she said proudly.

“Never,” he said feigning shock. “And glad to see you’re keeping up with my career,” he added sarcastically.

“Actually, Mr. Torrik,” Jillian chided, “I do keep up with you. In fact, I’d like to get you onto my examination table.”

Nils smile expanded slowly. “Well, I think we should just have that exam right here. We’re alone after all.” He stepped forward to hold her again but she stepped back and deflected him.

“I’m serious, Nils,” she said holding him at bay. “I had your medical records forwarded before your ship entered system. What’s going on?”

“It’s nothing,” he said settling into one of the shuttle couches.

“Nothing? Fainting spells? Black outs? Disorientation? That doesn’t sound like nothing to me…”

“Well why don’t you sit down here by me and I’ll tell you all about it,” he said with a wink.

“I’m sure,” she said doubtfully, but she sat by him anyway.

“That can wait for later, Jills. I just want to be with you right now. No problems. No Starfleet. Just us.” Nils laid his head back onto the back of the couch and cut his eyes over at Jillian, watching her.

“That sounds nice,” she answered grabbing his hand. “As long as you promise me I can examine you before you leave the station.”

“Oh I can promise you that!” He chuckled naughtily and slid down the couch onto his back, pulling her with him.

“Hmmm…I repeat, deep space has been good to you. You’ve come out of your shell,” she said looking down at the smile in his eyes.

The truth was that it was Jillian’s presence which put Nils at ease. Certainly his time on Sentinel thus far had been a productive time for him both personally and professionally. He had grown and stretched and forced himself out of his self induced isolation to some degree. But it was always Jillian that made him feel like he was coming home. She had a unique and intoxicating effect on him. From the time they’d met her proximity to him altered him somehow. And he liked it.

“Deep space and other things,” he said, brushing her hair from her face with his fingers. “And now we start our date.”

“Looks like you’ve just got this all planned out, huh?”

“I’ve got plans a plenty,” he said gazing up into her eyes. “I’m an Operations Officer for the prophets sake. My plans start with more kissing and progress categorically from there.”

“Who am I to stand in the way of streamlined Operations…” She lowered her head and put her arms around his neck as he wrapped his muscled arms around her perfectly thin waist.

“Engage,” he said laughing.

“You’re ridiculous,” she said, laughing along with him.

“You love it!”

“I know…”

They began kissing again as the shuttlecraft continued its orbit around the station.


:: Space Station Megiddo ::
:: Jillian’s Quarters ::

After returning the shuttlecraft to the Sentinel and beaming back over to the station, Nils and Jillian continued their date. Nils had made arrangements to have a new pink dress delivered to Jillian’s quarters in her size and he quickly picked out a suit for himself for dinner. As Nils buttoned his shirt, Jillian emerged from the lavatory fully dressed and practically sparkling.

“My gods you look good,” said Nils leaning back in his chair.

“Thank you,” said Jillian beaming. “Now finish buttoning your shirt so we can go.”

“If I must…”

Jillian slowly crossed the small span between them and placed her hand on his bare chest. Nils smiled and grabbed her arm, moving closer to her.

“You must,” she said smiling, then she pulled away.

“Bad… Just bad.” Nils finished buttoning up and picked up the long piece of cloth that had come with his new suit. “I have no idea what to do with this,” he said dangling it at Jillian.

“That’s your tie. You spent four years on Earth, surely you saw people wearing ties…” Jillian shook her head and grabbed the tie from him. “Here…” She wrapped it around his neck and made as if she was going to choke him.

“Easy easy… And yes I saw people wearing them. I just have no idea how they get it to look like that. If you could help me out I’d be in your debt,” he said flashing her a toothy grin.

“Oh you’re in my debt alright.” She began tying the tie in the traditional knot. “You should really learn how to do this.”

“Why? It’s an ancient Earth custom and I’m Bajoran. I’m not even much on Bajoran formal wear… Easy that’s to tight.” He put his finger under the knot and tried to loosen it.

“Don’t be a baby, you look nice.” She gave the tie a final tug and backed up to survey her work. “Perfect.”

“Well then, the tie and my date have something in common. What a lucky guy I am.” Again Nils pulled her close to him. He was having problems keeping his hands off of her.

“And don’t you forget it,” she said as she leaned into him. They kissed once more and she took him by the hand, leading him out the door. “Come on, I’m starving.”


:: Brightstar Bar & Grill ::

“This place is new. It opened since you left last time. I think you’ll like it.” Jillian was still leading Nils by the hand as they entered the restaurant.

Nils glanced around casually. He liked the look of the place. Something about the décor and atmosphere was both exciting and elegant at the same time. The music was old and Nils didn’t recognize it, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. Terrans were well known across the galaxy for their wide array of music. Nils noticed a man approaching them with a camera and he tried to steer them in another direction. He may be getting more comfortable on the Sentinel, but he had no intention of needless interaction with just anyone.

“Where are we going?” asked Jillian as Nils took the lead and walked towards the bar.

“Can I take your picture?” asked the man catching up to them.

“No,” said Nils curtly and turned away.

“Oh come on!” Jillian scolded. “Don’t be such a stick in the mud.”

“I don’t want to take a pic…”

“Hush, we’re taking a picture and that’s final.” She spun Nils around moving in close. “Ok we’re ready. Smile Nils.”

“Jillian, I don’t…” Again Jillian cut him off.

“That’s an order, Ensign,” she said grinning broadly. Nils rolled his eyes and the man snapped the photo.

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“We’ll bring you prints to your table,” said the man kindly as he wandered off to snap more unsuspecting guests.

“To the bar?” Jillian said jovially?

“Let’s just get a table,” Nils said, having been trumped by his date.

They settled easily into their table and a hostess handed them a menu. Jillian quickly popped her menu open and perused the choices. Nils, however, was having trouble tearing his eyes off of her. The fact that he was back aboard Megiddo Station and enjoying an actual date with Jillian was surreal. He’d thought of her so often. So many of their other encounters had been marked by awkwardness or by Nils own social ineptitude. This time was different. Nils was at ease and comfortable and very happy. Jillian glanced up and caught him staring at her. Her gorgeous smile lit their corner of the room.

“What are you looking at?” she said softly.

Nils just smiled and shook his head. “Just you.”

“Well, cut it out. You’re making me blush.”

“I’ll try,” he lied.

A waitress approached their table. “Good evening!” she said happily. “What a lovely couple! My name is Adelle and I’ll be serving you tonight. Could I start you two love birds with something from the bar?”

“No!” they both said quickly. Their last encounter with real alcohol had not ended well. In fact, Nils had had to dispose of that Cadet uniform. It wouldn’t come clean.

“Sorry,” said Jillian sheepishly. “We’re not drinking tonight. Are we?” she asked turning to Nils.

He just shook his head quickly with wide eyes.

“We’ll have some tea. Any Bajoran blend will do.”

“Alcohol has a way of making a lasting impression, doesn’t it,” Adelle chuckled. “Either that or it leaves no impression at all and you’re left trying to put a few fuzzy memories in order the next day. I’ll be right back with your tea.”

“Sorry again,” said Jillian remembering the night they met.

Nils just laughed. “At least we can laugh about it now,” he said lightly.

“Maybe you can,” Jillian said hiding her eyes behind her hand.

Nils reached across the table and took her hand from her face. He smiled warmly and held her gaze for a moment. “Thank you for letting me kidnap you,” he said.

“I don’t think I had a choice, did I? I distinctly remember being disintegrated out of my quarters against my will.” She squeezed his hand and leaned in. “Thank you for kidnapping me,” she said softly. “I’d probably be working overtime again in sickbay. I’ve been swamped lately.”

“From what I can tell you’ve been swamped since you came on board,” said Nils.

Jillian nodded. “There is just a lot to do. I love it, but sometimes it’s overwhelming.”

“Well to be honest, Jillian, I had an ulterior motive to bringing you here tonight. I was on board Sentinel thinking…” Nils suddenly felt nervous. Adrenaline shot through his veins and his scalp started to feel hot and itchy. “I mean, out med team over there is good, but maybe a little new blood on the ship would be a good thing. I wasn’t sure about asking you, but seeing you again has made me realize how much I miss you. And I don’t want to be apart anymore. So I was just thinking…”

“What are you asking me, Nils,” said Jillian seriously.

“Transfer to Sentinel,” said the Bajoran intensely.

“What?” answered Jillian pulling her hand back. She sat silent and shocked for a moment. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say yes,” he said nervously. His heart pounded in his chest. His palms began to sweat and he waited eagerly for her answer.


:: Brightstar Bar & Grill ::

The mood of the evening suddenly shifted. The lighthearted dinner took a dark turn and a palpable air of awkwardness blanketed their table. Jillian appeared visibly uncomfortable and shifted her napkin around in her lap nervously. Nils gaze didn’t let up. He fully expected her to pack up her things on the spot. Her reaction scared him.

“It’s not as simple as that, Nils,” she finally said.

“It is simple,” Nils said leaning across the table. “I don’t want to miss you anymore. Being apart is too hard.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I miss you too. But… I just…” Jillian’s words trailed off as she struggled with what she wanted to say.

“It’s a perfect time to transfer, Jillian. Carl Foster has taken command and we’re shuffling the crew,” Nils said excitedly trying to convince her. The thought of losing Captain Marc gave him pause for a moment, but he pressed through it. His sadness over losing the boy captain was eclipsed by his need to be with Jillian.

“Nils, it really isn’t as simple as that,” Jillian repeated.

The young Bajoran suddenly felt as though a dagger pierced his heart. He’d naturally assumed that Jillian felt the same way about him that he felt about her. It was his thought that she wanted to be with him. It only now occurred to him that perhaps she wasn’t thinking the same way about their relationship. Maybe it was much more casual…and circumstantial for her. His initial reaction was to flee. He considered sprinting for the door, or better yet, just pulling his comm badge out of his pocket and requesting a transport back to Sentinel. But he wasn’t quite ready to give up.

“Listen, we’re leaving the station soon and it’s my understanding we won’t be back for a while. The scuttle is that we won’t head back to this system for as long as a year.” Nils felt himself on the verge of loosing emotional control, but he crammed his feelings back down into that dark quiet place inside of him. He’d been doing it for so long it came as second nature.

“I have responsibilities here, Nils,” Jillian said sadly. “Chief of Medical on the station is a big deal and a big opportunity. They don’t just throw those assignments around.”

“I know, but…” Nils suddenly realized how selfish he’d been. He’d only thought about them being together and presumed Jillian would alter and possibly damage her career for him. And he felt foolish. He wanted to apologize or express how he felt about her again. He wanted to reassure her that she was utterly significant to him. “Just drop it,” he said instead. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“No, Nils I’m glad you said…”

“Just drop it,” he said again with a quiet intensity. “What are you going to eat,” he brooded.

They spent the rest of the evening in silence or forced small talk. Anytime Jillian tried to bring the subject up Nils would quickly deflect the conversation. He just wanted to be back in his quarters on his ship.

“I should go,” Nils said after they finished pretending to eat. They’d actually just pushed the food around on their plates a little. “I have a new Captain to try to impress. Those new duty rosters won’t post themselves.” He stood up and made as if he were going to leave. Jillian remained seated. She avoided looking at him.

“Thank you for dinner and the beautiful dress,” she said softly.

Nils only nodded. A lump was rising in his throat and his eyes were starting to burn. He’d had such high hopes for this night. Not just this night… He’d had such high hopes for he and Jillian. The realization that he was a fool and an idiot was crushing. His chest was tight with the urge to scream or sob or plead with her to love him as much as he loved her. He had a crippling desire to just get out of there before he shed a tear. He refused to look weak.

“Contact me before you leave the station,” Jillian said as more of a question than a request.

Again Nils nodded knowing that he wouldn’t. He gave her a shy wave as he turned and left Brightstar’s. He barely made it out the door before the first tear fell.


:: USS Sentinel ::
:: Ensign Torrik’s Quarters ::

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Nils leaned up against the porthole in is quarters watching Megiddo IV spin silently far below. The planets steady and constant rotation was a small comfort to his bruised emotions. Two days had passed since he had left the station and he felt sure Captain Foster would be issuing orders quite soon relating to their new assignment. He’d yet to really meet the man, other than in passing at change of command ceremony, but thus far he seemed nice enough. Nils couldn’t help but feel a sense of sorrow, however, losing Lien from the Sentinel. The child was unique and Nils had only just had the chance to begin to know him. He doubted the sense of protectiveness he felt towards the boy would soon fade.

The primary source of Nils’ melancholy, of course, was Jillian. His request for her to transfer to this ship seemed to be completely out of the question for her. It never occurred to him that maybe she wouldn’t consider his offer. He fully thought she would jump right on board. The young man knew now how foolish that was. Life does not occur in a vacuum. Sometimes loving someone is not enough to build a happily-ever-after.

=/\=Bridge to Ensign Torrik,=/\= said a disembodied voice.

“Torrik, go ahead,” he answered stepping away from his peaceful view of the planet below.

=/\=You have an incoming transmission from the station=/\=

“Put it through to my quarters,” he said casually. He stepped over to his desk and activated his viewscreen. He was dumbfounded to see Jillian’s face bearing a serious expression.

“You’ve got an examination that I’m sure you’re putting off,” she said with no hint of joy.

“Jillian, I don’t need an exam,” he said softly.

“Ensign Torrik, this is not a request. These are official orders. And don’t make me remind you that you agreed to this physical yourself not two days ago,” she said with an official tone he’d not seen from her before. “Although I really don’t need to, I’d be glad to pass these orders on to your Captain and let him give them to you himself, but I thought you’d rather do it this way.”

“When should I report for my exam, sir,” Nils said, knowing he’d been beaten. His tone was not a happy one.

“If you’re off duty now, which judging from your attire I think I can safely assume, then this is a good time for me. I’ll see you in fifteen minutes,” she said. Jillian hesitated as if she was going to say more and her expression softened. For a brief second Nils thought she may say something important, but she didn’t. “Munro out,” she said instead and her image vanished.

Nils sighed deeply and headed out of his quarters to the transporter room.

:: Fifteen minutes later ::

Nils entered the Medical Bay on Megiddo Station as unceremoniously as he could. He resented being there. His humiliation was only compounded by the fact that Jillian had kept her word on examining him. He couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just leave him alone to sulk in peace. There was no rational reason in his mind for them to extend the their contact. He wanted to be anywhere else.

Until she came in the room.

The sight of Jillian was both agony and elation for Nils. Initially the young Bajoran felt as if he wanted to grab her tight and force her to melt into his arms. It was painful to know that that was not an option.

“If you wouldn’t mind stepping back here,” said Dr. Munro pointing to the examination rooms further into the medical complex.

Nils followed her to a biobed and sat down on it. He resolved himself to say nothing unnecessary.

“Go ahead an lie back,” said Jillian. “I’m going to do some pretty extensive neural scans. The Sentinel staff forwarded their own results, but I’d like to double-check some things. Now explain your symptoms if you don’t mind.”

Nils lay back onto the bed and took a deep breath. “It’s nothing serious. I get dizzy spells. It’s like I can’t seem to concentrate and everything around me is trying to get my attention. Eventually I guess it’s too much and I have to take a break. That’s all.”

“When you say take a break you mean…what exactly. The ship logs indicate you passed out on more than one occasion,” she said passing a medical tricorder over his chest and head.

“Yes, I black out,” he conceded.

“How many times,” she asked.

“I’m not sure,” he answered.

“Take an educated guess. You’re a smart boy,” she said without a grin.

“A few,” he retorted.

Jillian switched off the tricorder and set it not so gently on the bed beside Nils. “Look… there is something wrong with you. I know you’re avoidant and cowardly when it comes to actually expressing yourself or making yourself look vulnerable, but you’re being foolish. I want to help. NO,” she added seriously. “I am going to help. We can do this the easy way and you can cooperate or I can take this all the way up to Ethan Corrigan and we can have some official orders come down the pipes for you to remain here on the station while I do a full work up. Your choice.”

Nils sat silently for a moment without responding. He’d never seen her like this. “Five times,” answered Nils. “I can feel the spells coming on and I try to make it to my quarters. But five times I have completely blacked out.”

“What does it feel like when the “spells” are coming on,” said Jillian settling back into a professional tone.

“It’s hard to describe,” started Nils. Jillian arched an eyebrow and shot him a fiery glance. “But I’ll try,” Nils added. “It’s almost like the environment starts getting louder, and more colorful, and more… I guess interesting. I can’t seem to focus on any one thing. Then my head starts to hurt and it progresses until I just sort of…turn off, I guess.”

“Hmmm,” muttered Jillian reviewing her scans. “When was your last experience like this?”

“Before we came back to Megiddo system. Just prior to our final negotiations with the Klingons and Dominion in the Teplan system. I spent a good portion of the voyage back here in sickbay. You’ll of course understand my reluctance to be here in light of that,” Nils said as kindly as he could.

Jillian nodded. Her initial scans were coming in and she was studying them intently.

“Are you doing this to torture me?” asked Nils timidly.

Jillian cut her eyes from her scans and stared incredulously at the Ensign on her biobed. “Why would I do that, Nils? That’s ridiculous. I’m doing it because you need some help here. There is no shame in that, and you would be wise to learn it. I’m doing it because I can. There is the possibility that there is something here that got missed and I’m not willing to take that chance. Not with you. I’m doing it because I care.”

Nils pulled his eyes away and fought off an emotional reaction. If she really cared she had an odd way of showing it.

“You know,” said Jillian setting down her PADD, “you’re avoidant personality probably causes you to miss out on a lot of things. People could really care about you and enrich your life, but you just refuse. You lock yourself up in your tower of emotional isolation and look down your nose at anyone who might give a damn. It’s maddening. I had a lot more to say at dinner the other night. I had things to say that you would like to hear. But because I didn’t fulfill your instant expectations you reacted like a child. You locked me out and completely missed out on a conversation that we really need to have. That’s your fault. I just…I don’t know what to do with you, Torrik Nils.”

She heaved a massive sigh and went back to her scans. Nils only sat feeling ashamed. Everything she said was spot on. He’d pushed her away as soon as there was the possibility that he would feel pain. His reaction was immature and detrimental to his own contentedness. Perhaps they did need to have another talk. He needed to hear her out.

“Wait a minute,” said Jillian pulling her PADD closer to his face. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“What doesn’t,” he asked.

“These scans show some anomalous reactions in your brain chemistry. I can see why anyone else would miss them because they are very discreet. And I’ve only seen them one other place…” Jillian’s brow furrowed in concern. “Have you been assimilated by the Borg recently,” she asked half seriously.

“What? No!” answered Nils in confusion.

“I’ve only seen reading like this in patients who’ve been recently removed from the Borg collective,” said Jillian in concern.

“Jillian, I assure you I have never been assimilated by the Borg. I think I would remember something like that,” Nils said refusing to accept what he thought she was suggesting.

“That isn’t what I said. I only mean the readings are similar.” She spun the computer on her desk around to show him.

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“Look, the scan shows chemical markers that are identical to what we see after the Borg implants are removed from humanoid brains,” she said, slowly sitting on a bedside stool. She gazed through the screen and pondered the possibilities. “You know,” she started as she pulled up several case histories on her monitor. “There are a few documented cases of symptoms similar to what you are experiencing in humanoids recovering from assimilation. Humanoid brains are not generally compatible with the amount of information necessary to maintain a collective consciousness. The Borg, however, have developed a way around this. There is an implant called a neuro-processing adjunct specifically designated to help sort and disseminate information that otherwise would overwhelm their minds.”

“What does this have to do with me,” asked Nils. He couldn’t grasp what she was trying to say.

“Well from what you’ve described, it sounds like your mind is getting overwhelmed. Something similar is happening to you and you’ve got the telltale signs lingering in your brain. Maybe too much stimuli is inundating your consciousness and your brain has no choice but to…to reboot, for lack of a better word.” Jillian’s eyes danced with excitement as she worked through the medical mystery before her.

“Why didn’t they catch these signs on board Sentinel,” asked Nils skeptically.

“I’m sure they did,” answered Dr. Munro assuredly. “But these are all naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. There is nothing out of the ordinary in their presence. It’s only the dispersion pattern that’s unusual. If I hadn’t worked extensively with Borg patients I probably wouldn’t have thought it even remotely remarkable.”

“I was never a Borg!” Nils cried in exasperation.

“No, but you’re brain is reacting the same way to the abundance of external stimuli. Only it isn’t a collective consciousness you’re trying to filter. For some reason the environment around you is flooding you with too much sensory input for you to handle.” Jillian continued tapping her screen pulling up medical research and as many articles on the subject as she could.

“So you’re saying I’m being shut down by pretty lights and shiny things?” Jillian nodded. “Ah damn,” said Nils. “I don’t like where this is going.”

“Here,” she said excitedly pointing to her screen. “I remember hearing a lecture once on low latent inhibition. Latent inhibition is the brain’s ability to filter or shut out the constant stream of incoming stimuli generated by our environment…”

“You mean pretty lights and shiny things?” asked Nils sarcastically.

“Essentially, yes. But it’s even more complex. There is an amazing amount of data that is generated by the world around us. Our minds have to pick and choose what is actually relevant and worthy to be processed. The rest is just blocked. It’s all done subconsciously of course.”

“Oh of course,” said Nils, dreading the turn his visit to the station had taken.

“Well, there is a rare case where individuals actually can not shut out all this stimuli. It’s a low latent inhibition or LLI. It has been linked with mental disability and would completely explain why your brain is causing you to pass out while it reboots,” Jillian said very matter of factly.

“Mental disability,” repeated Nils dryly.

Jillian couldn’t stifle a chuckle.

Nils jaw dropped. “So I’m mentally disabled and this is amusing to you how?”

“Nils, you’ve probably had this all your life and it explains a lot about you,” Jillian’s tone was light and she almost seemed relieved. “People with an above average intelligence are able to channel the input that floods them using their intellect alone. It aids in your ability to learn and also would grant you a large degree of creativity. I’m certain that is why you were able to come straight out of virtual slavery with no formal education and graduate top of your class at both the Bajoran Institute of Science and Starfleet Academy. That never struck you as odd?”

“No,” said Nils defensively. “It didn’t.”

“The point is, you’re not mentally disabled. You learned to cope with the excess stimuli. Until lately that is, and that should be our real question. I’ll have to do a complete neural work up, but I think you have a clean bill of health here. Physiologically anyway. I’ll have to refer you to a psychologist for the…”

“Stop,” bellowed Nils. He jumped off the table and stood over Jillian in a fury. “I knew this was going to happen. I don’t want sit down with more head shrinkers and try to figure myself out! Can’t you just give me a hypospray or something? Or couldn’t I just wear some special eye filters to keep me from getting overwhelmed?”

“Nils, something in you changed. You need to figure out what it is. I can’t begin to guess why your ability to cope has failed you lately. There isn’t a medical reason for it. It is psychological and you need to get to the bottom of it. You can’t function if you keep passing out because of shiny things, as you put it,” she taunted.

Nils got the distinct impression Jillian was enjoying this. It made him angry. “This is stupid,” he vented. “I’m retarded or something and you think everything is just fine and dandy. Well I’ve got some things to say…”

“Well say it,” said Jillian crossing her arms and leaning back in her seat.

Nils didn’t exactly have things to say. He had feelings he wanted to release. And for the life of him he could not form a coherent thought. He stood staring at her with his lips trembling trying to find the words. Finally he gave up and threw his arms in the air with a groan.

“You’re not retarded, stupid,” said Jillian. “The disability would manifest in a psychosis, not in retardation.”

Again Nils only stood with his mouth agape. He managed to mutter something about her trying to make him feel better, but it was unintelligible.

“With your level of intelligence LLI is only going to benefit you, just as it already has. You’ll be open to new information, new ideas. It will greatly enhance your performance if you can relearn how to discriminate the information you’re processing. Either that or you’ll get swamped again and fall over, loopy and bumbling. Is that what you want?”

“What I want is pretty irrelevant, isn’t it Jillian?” he said accusingly.

She knew he was referring to her transfer and not the LLI. “That’s not fair,” she said sadly.

“No, what’s not fair is that I’ve spent the majority of my life holding people at bay and the one time I truly and desperately want to let someone in she has no desire to do it,” he said angrily.

“No desire,” she echoed hotly. “No desire?!” Jillian stood up and stepped closer to Nils, pointing at his face. “You know what… Maybe you are retarded. If you can’t see the way I feel about you and how badly I want to be with you then you do have a REAL problem. I don’t know how to make my feelings more obvious. And you refuse to allow the possibility that our feelings can be valid and important even if we are far apart. You know, it isn’t fair that I’m not there and you’re not here, but it is what it is. And it’s utterly selfish of you to say that if this… this “thing” we have isn’t on your terms then you have no place for it in your life.”

Nils knew she was right. He’d hurt her by pushing her away when she didn’t immediately agree to his plan. Guilt smacked him in the face when he realized how he’d been treating her. He was acting like a child, just like she said.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I really am.”

Jillian turned away from him and took a few steps to the door. Nils wasn’t sure, but he thought she might be crying. Without thinking he came up behind her and wrapped one arm over her shoulder and the other around her waist. He pressed his face into her hair and held her.

“What do we do?” he asked sadly.

“I’m not sure,” said Jillian. They stood quietly for a moment longer until she turned to face him, pushing herself from his arms. “But I am sure of this. I’m referring you to your ship’s counselor with a full report on what we find. You will willingly devote yourself to the counseling and you will get yourself healthy.”

Nils nodded.

Jillian stepped back into his arms and hugged him around the neck. He squeezed her around her middle and whispered in her ear. “I’ll love you no matter where you are.”


:: Space Station Megiddo ::
:: Medical Section ::
:: Two Days Later ::

Jillian worked diligently categorizing some test samples at her desk thinking about the past week. She and Nils had settled into a comfortable rhythm of hesitant happiness. They went on a few dates and spent a good amount of time together when she wasn’t on duty, but it was bittersweet. Neither mentioned the inevitable, but it hovered over every conversation. This time was limited and they both knew it. She was about to move on to a new task when her office chime rang.

“Come on in,” she stated nonchalantly.

The door hissed open and Nils stood smiling in the doorway. In his hand he held a heart shaped box and some flowers.

“I have an organ for you,” he stated with a wry smile.

Jillian laughed remembering their first awkward date. “I’ll assume you’re talking about the candy filled heart.”

“Brilliant assumption,” he said leaning in to kiss her.

“I didn’t know we had a date planned for the middle of my duty shift,” Jillian joked.

“We don’t,” said Nils, his smile fading. Jillian instinctively knew what he was going to say. His orders must have come in.

“You’re leaving,” she said more as a statement of fact than a question.

Nils nodded sadly. “We’re leaving dock before you’re shift is over. And the Sentinel’s been transferred to the command of Jericho-Samaria Outpost.”

Jillian’s expression dropped. A fleet transfer from Megiddo Station meant that Nils would rarely ever make it back to this system. “The Kendrassa System,” she asked sadly.

Again Nils nodded. “I have no idea when I’ll get to see you again. I had to come and say goodbye.”

Jillian forced a smile. “I would have been furious if you hadn’t.”

They stood stock still and silent for what seemed like an eternity. Nils didn’t have words. Neither did Jillian. Memories of the past few days, their first meeting, and their subsequent whirlwind romance surged through Nils mind. He literally felt like his heart was breaking. A physical pain accompanied this emotional one.

“I want you to know something,” he said to her, pulling her close. “Although there will be times when I am half way across the galaxy or further, you will always be close to my heart. You’ve given me something that I lost a long time ago and I won’t ever forget it. When I was a little boy I decided that I was going to be alone for my whole life. It was more than a decision really… It was almost like a death sentence proclaimed over me by the darkness that I grew up in. Since that time, I’ve given myself over to that sentence.”

Nils took Jillian’s chin in his hand and lifted her face to look into her eyes. A single tear ran down her cheek.

“But you healed a broken part of me. You’ve lifted the sentence of isolation and loneliness that I’ve lived under. And there is nothing in the galaxy that can change that. I have to leave, but I leave with hope for the future. That’s something I never really had before. Thank you,” he said and he kissed her gently on the lips.

Nils reached into his pocket and took Jillian’s hand. From his pocket he pulled a golden linked bracelet with Bajoran symbols engraved over the surface. He handed it to Jillian and closed her hand around it.

Bajoran_betrothal_bracelet.jpg

“It’s a Bajoran Pledge Bracelet. It’s a symbol of how I feel about you. It requires nothing from you other than an acceptance of those feelings that I freely offer.”

Nils pulled her close again. For a while they just stood there in the comfort of the moment. They both wished it wouldn’t end. Eventually it did.

“I need to get back to my ship,” said Nils pulling away. He smiled. His smile was neither forced nor for show. It was a genuine reflection of the joy he felt that Jillian was in his life.

“Thank you for the bracelet, Nils,” Jillian said affectionately. “I’ll treasure it.”

“I’ll be in touch,” Nils said backing towards the door. “I’m not sure how far out we’re going, but subspace relays are coming up in this quadrant all the time.”

“You better,” she said threateningly.

Nils turned to leave, but hesitated in the entryway. He spun back to Jillian once more and put both hands on her face, kissing her deeply one more time.

“Goodbye, Dr. Munro,” he said still holding her face close.

“Goodbye, Ensign Torrik,” she answered.

And with that he left sickbay and Megiddo Station.

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