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Broken Pieces Shine

Posted on Sat Nov 4th, 2023 @ 9:33pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Warrant Officer Laena ben-Avram

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Villa 17 | Temtibi Lagoon, Risa
Timeline: ID 7

Wasn't shore leave supposed to be relaxing? If anything, Akiva felt more tense now than when they'd first arrived several days ago. He'd given the order that shore leave would continue for another day and then they'd have to return back to Overwatch Station to await a mystery mission. For Akiva, that was just as well. While still beautiful as ever, the paradise of Risa still left a bitter taste in many a mouth. One more day to wash the taste out was one thing, but sticking out another week was quite another. No rest for the weary, it would seem.

There was one thing Akiva could do to lighten the load of his overweight burdens. He could finally give Laena the heart-to-heart talk that he had promised--the one she deserved.

Searching for Laena proved to be a little more involved than expected. She had climbed to the top of the villa and sat cross-legged on the pitched rooftop facing the ocean. It took Akiva a moment to figure out how she'd managed to get up there, as it didn't seem to be meant for seating. No ladder or stool was in sight. It took an unwieldy parkour attempt to scale the side of the villa before Akiva hefted himself over the edge of the tiled roof. By the time he did so, he was breathing a little heavy. When he looked at Laena, he had two reasons to catch his breath.

Arms folded over her lap, eyes squinting against the sun, hair softly bouncing in the light sea breeze, she was a silent siren, an emerald beauty with stark raven features that made him forget himself. Except...

"Hey." It wasn't much of a greeting, but he still felt the need to announce himself.

Laena gave him a glance and then turned back to the horizon. Whatever she was looking at, her thoughts were clearly elsewhere. "Hey." Well, at least that was something.

"Can we talk?" Akiva asked, then immediately kicked himself for phrasing it as a question. "We need to talk."

The only response he got was a shrug.

"Alright, then..." Now that he had the opportunity, Akiva felt like the cat had his tongue. How could he say what needed to be said? "Laena... we have some serious problems."

Deadpan. Laena said nothing.

"I'm sorry that..." He fought for words, for clarity to even form ideas to put into words. "I wish things had been different. I wish you really were pregnant. I wish... I wish a number of things..."

"I wish that you loved me."

It had been her first sentence, and had Akiva not trailed off, he might have missed hearing it. Once he had, he wondered if she'd been bold enough to say so. "What... what are you talking about?"

"You loved me once," Laena said, her voice rigid and monotone. "It's plain now that you don't. I want to be mad at you. Honestly, I am. But... just like this baby, I realized I was holding onto something that didn't exist." Her head swiveled and leveled a penetrating stare deep inside him. "You made love to me, Akiva. You fucked me and then went back on it. I thought you were better than that." Turning her head back to the sea, she said softly, "I was wrong."

Akiva felt disemboweled. How could she say these things, much less believe them? "I cried over you, Laena. You ripped my heart out and then came back, telling me everything I prayed to HaShem you would say. Why am I the villain here? I am broken and I don't know how to come back together!"

"I know." Laena nodded. "You're right. When I realized what I had done, I tried to fix it." Head wavering ever so slightly, she kept talking while avoiding his sightline. "I did you wrong. I've owned that, so I don't blame you." A soft tear slid her down her cheek. There was a time when his finger would wipe it away. "All I can do... is wish."

Silence fell between them. What could he do? Laena had grievances against him but took the blame on herself. Both were opposite of what he wanted. Akiva wanted to alleviate her grief and own up for his own mistakes. Instead she had all but given him a free pass for everything, letting him leave her in misery that she had identified as self-inflicted.

"Laena..." Akiva scooted over the tiles as best he could in order to sit next to her. "Laena, I..." He had reached for her hand, but she pulled it away.

"No, Kiv..." Laena shook her head and tried not to cry. "Whatever you want to say, just don't say it. Please. You always want to fix everything and spout out promises and good intentions and feelings... but they never seem to add up to anything. It's bullshit!" She couldn't believe her own ears and covered her face with her hands as she started weeping. "It's all bullshit!"

Akiva was stunned. If this was what honesty looked like, then he wanted to be glad for it. But truthfully he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Is that what you really think?"

More weeping. Hands still covering her face, Laena shook her head wildly.

"Are we going to keep pretending that I didn't overhear your conversation with Commander Frost yesterday morning?"

The question came out of nowhere. Or, maybe, enough was enough.

"That was private," Laena whispered through her hands.

"I'm still owed an explanation," Akiva said. "You do owe me that."

Laena shook her head. "No. Not anymore. If we aren't going to be together, Akiva, then I don't owe you a thing."

"I heard you tell another woman that you would 'let her have me' if she would do what you wanted." Akiva dropped his next words like a sledgehammer. "You wouldn't fight for me. That's what you said."

When Laena pulled her wet hands away from her face, the puffiness around her eyes did nothing to soften the outrage that burned there. If anything, it transformed her beauty into a visage of wrath. "I was trying to protect you! If you weren't sniffing your nose up that leggy blonde's asshole every chance you get, you might've figured that out!"

Akiva shifted his weight away from the angry woman, unsure of what she might do on the very precarious sloped roof. "You are the only woman I have ever been with!" he managed to retort.

"I saw you!" Laena stuck a gnarled finger at Akiva as he face twisted in bitter rage. "You snuck out to the beach to meet her! You kissed her! Had a roll in the dirt together!" Her eyes bulged all the wider. "THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!!!"

Turning away from the sting of her outburst, Akiva processed her accusation as well as the flashback from their argument on DS9. How was it that the roles had been completely reversed? The encounter between Akiva and Ari had been positively chaste, allowing them both to come to a place where they could admire one another without compromising themselves in any way. Would Laena believe that? No, probably not any more than Akiva did when she denied his wrong accusations.

"Arianna and I are more than friends," Akiva finally said, "but not like you think. She was there for me, gave support without taking, like family." He fought to quell his trembling voice, lest her respond to her angry outburst in kind. "We both know the scarcity of family, Laena. I apologized for my hateful accusations about you and Apaxi. I'd ask for the same from you here and now."

At first, Laena's jaw dropped. The audacity of Akiva's comparison was disgusting on the face of it. But, while she fought to rekindle her resentment, it was plain that reason had dumped a bucket of water on it. "I see," she said at length. The fire had gone out of her eyes, but the pain remained all the same.

"All of that is beside the point." Akiva's tone softened along with hers.

"I guess I owe her an apology too." Whether or not it was sincere, no one could say. Laena looked downright hollowed out.

"Also beside the point," Akiva interjected.

"Then what is the point?" Laena asked tersely. There wasn't enough energy for it to be an angry barb. Perhaps if she had had the strength, she would have snapped the question. As it was, she just didn't have anything left.

"That I'm not throwing you away either!" Akiva gasped, shaking his head in disbelief. How could she not see? "I am doing my level best to be honest and real with you, Laena. You are as important to me as can be. You have to know that."

Laena's jaw stiffened. "And if I want more, then that's on me." Her entire body bristled as her muscles flexed and tensed, readying for action. "I don't think so." She stood to her feet, pulled off her flowy pullover blouse that had hung just below her hips and tossed it to the wind. Standing in naught but a bikini, she looked down at Akiva whose face was full of shock and awe. "If you want me, Akiva, then you'll have to come and get me. And, from here on out, I'm not going to make it easy because I have no more expectations. Go do you. I'll do the same." With a shake of her hips that was more taunting than flirtatious, Laena dove off the rooftop into the surf and began swimming away.

As Akiva sat there, stunned once more, he watched Laena swim out of sight without so much as a look back over her shoulder. Were they over? Yes. And no. There was no clear label to put on their relationship. But, perhaps for the first time ever, they had been real with one another. Part of Akiva wanted to be devastated. Another part of him wanted to be relieved. In truth, he didn't know what he felt. What he knew, though, was that the limbo was over. Que sera sera--whatever would be would be. In HaShem's will, that was perhaps that was for the best.


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