Enid woke before Narek. The snakeleaf was wearing off and Yumuen was on the surface. It was a good feeling, to just lay there and listen to the sounds of Vashti. Narek was far from being awake. She should let him sleep. Propping herself on one arm she studied his face. He needed a shave. She let her lips tickle the stubble on his neck. This of course rosed him but he didn't open his eyes. It was a sensory thing, he knew. She was seeking touch to help ground herself in the sea of music. He should get up and administer the snakeleaf but he didn't want to. She didn't want it and he missed letting Enid touch him in this way.
That thought removed the veil of sleep from his mind and guilt washed over him. Was he now withholding drugs from his love to suit his needs? What a monster he'd become! He had to put an end to it.
"Enid, I have to tell you something," Narek said. He sat up and took Enid in his arms. "But first, I want you to remember that I love you." The melody of Vashti faded as she focused solely on what was troubling Narek. It was little use though. There was a locked door between them but she sensed that he wanted to open it so she waited.
"I know. You are my heart." Whatever was troubling him, she felt it was more a problem for him that it would be for her. Narek, a true Romulan, excelled at self flagellation. It was a symptom of arrogance.
"Good, remember that." Narek paused then continued, "I asked Yumuen to tweak your snakeleaf."
"I knew that."
"You did? How long?"
"Since we changed it." Enid was loosing the ability to verbalize so the couple went to the beach in Enid's mind. She had known that Narek was behind the change in her medication but had just assumed it was to benefit her in some way, even if she hated it.
"About that," he said, picking up on her thoughts. "I did it because…". He over the ocean. How could he admit to being so cowardly?
"The nightmares." Enid saw it now clearly in her mind. Narek couldn't deal with the nightly parade of grisly images.
"I'm sorry." Narek looked over the ocean.
"Because you couldn't live through hell every night?" He had turned away from her so she encircled him with her arms and pressed her body into his back.
"I don't deserve…"
"Oh stop!" She spun him around now and forced him to look at her.
"You endured those dreams for a decade! I couldn't manage ten months!"
"I'm weak," he said.
"Now I'm going to take offense. You're embarrassed because you think you're weaker than I?" Her smile mocked him, he knew.
"I didn't mean…" He really wanted to fix this.
"I'll tell you a secret…For most of that decade, S'ril obliterated the memory of the dreams. He took them from me." Narek stared blankly. Somehow, he'd forgotten about that. "Some of those dreams are prophetic, you know. About the Synthetic traps."
"I could have endangered our mission."
"Now that is something to feel guilty about," Enid said. She scrunched her face at Narek who looked down. "But don't. I kinda enjoyed the respite." She knew that Narek was no longer having dreams but didn't question it.
"Could have fooled all of us," Narek said with a rueful laugh.
"I've been obnoxious." Enid cringed at the horrid things she'd said and done the last two months. Her crew must hate her!
"The snakeleaf changes your behavior."
"Don't! I knew what I was doing. I just needed to try harder to stop myself."
"Now you're being too hard—"
"No! Rone never blamed me for anything. Even when I…you know. When no one holds you accountable, it's like you don't matter." Narek furrowed his brows. She had so many things working against her: emotional trauma, drugs, as well as legitimate brain damage.
"Fine, my love. You've been a bitch." Narek shrugged.
"Good. So what do we do? S'ril's not around to damage my brain anymore." Enid didn't need to see Narek's face to know her attempted joke fell flat.
"I don't know." Narek took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. She liked that. It always had a calming effect. Probably another sensory thing. "Something different."
"Something different? That's the plan? Not very Narek of you…" Enid had become accustomed to Narek knowing what to do. Their situation was partially her fault. She assigned to him much of her self agency.
"We will figure something else out."
"And if that doesn't work?"
"Then we will try something different again. As long as it takes." A breeze came up from over the ocean. The salt air felt good on his skin. It never ceased to amaze him how real her internal world was. He could breath in the fragrance that Aylin created for her. He really should complement the designer on her choice. It fit Enid. He let his hands move over Enid in the real world.
"Are you sure we have time?" Enid asked with sudden urgency.
"Of course, why?" Narek broke off his exploration of Enid's body.
"I haven't seen Boo lately. Have you?" Enid's voice sounded worried.
"No. Has Boo gone missing before?"
"Once, yes." Enid avoided his regard. This concerned Narek. She was the one who was…ashamed now. What would cause Enid shame? His eyes widened. He knew the answer.
"Missy. When you had the affair with Missy." What did that mean now? He knew she wasn't having an affair. He shook his head. She was always hiding something. But what would cause her shame enough to send Boo packing? "It's Elnor isn't it?"
"Maybe," Enid said. She wasn't sure but supposed that would fit the bill. "There's nothing between us. Really."
"Except that stupid promise you made him keep." Narek knew Enid didn't love Elnor any more than he loved Soji.
"You have to think about Soji?" Enid pulled away.
"You're deflecting," Narek said. His mouth fixed in a stern grimace.
"It was stupid of you to give her your real name."
"I wanted to make sure she trusted me. So I could kill her without activating her self defenses. So she wouldn't kill me." He looked to see what effect his words were having on Enid but couldn't tell how she was feeling. "I thought she was going to be dead!"
"Why bother then? You could have given her any old name. She wouldn't have known." Enid had a point but Narek always assumed that the synth would be able to tell a lie from his physical reactions. On some level, he knew that Soji had seen through him. It was part of her programming to pursue a relationship so that she could tease information out of him.
"Let's not forget, I'm not the one who offended Boo. You need to settle things with Elnor."
"You don't know that. I'll deal with Elnor and you figure out how to get your name back!" Enid thought for a minute and added, "Without killing her. That's cheating." If she were going to have an uncomfortable conversation with Elnor, Narek deserved the same with Soji. Maybe Boo would be satisfied then if they both cleaned house.
"I don't see how she's going to agree to that."
"Oh you are charming. You'll figure it out." They were back in their bedroom and Fank notified them over the comm that the Enterprise had arrived with the equipment from Coppelius. Also that Plutarch was due to arrive the next day with Ni'ael. He had a surprise for Enid.
"I'll handle the thing with the synths," Narek said. "You go take care of Elnor." Narek handed Enid a horgle.
"You don't want Elnor in my mind," Enid signed.
"No, I don't." Enid contacted La Serina to find that Elnor was visiting Zani. Narek transported over to the Enterprise and Enid transported to Vashti.
She meant to stop at the House of Truth but past right by it. The mountain. That is where this all began so that is where she was headed. Elnor watched from the fence as Enid walked past. She would never make it on foot before nightfall. He asked Zani to borrow two of her equines and rode off after her.
"Here!" Elnor caught up to her and circled with the equines. Enid stroked the riderless one on the ear and the beast knelt to allow her to mount. The last time she rode to the mountain, she had been terrified. Some things never changed. Would Boo come back if she settled with Elnor? Now that she had some time to reflect, she didn't think that was the issue.
When they arrived at the cliff, Enid dismounted and surveyed the site. It had been almost two years. The funeral pyre she built for the baboons was a pile of bleached bones. The bodies had been scattered by scavengers but she could make out skulls and some ribs and femurs. The synths had of course removed the bodies of their fallen. Elnor tied up the horses as Enid riffled through the remains.
"What are we doing here Enid?" Elnor asked. Enid bounced on her toes and held up her finger. She retrieved the horgle and took a drag.
After a few minutes she took a deep breath and said, "I release you from your promise." The relief made her a bit dizzy. She turned and found a bolder to sit on.
"What if I refuse to be released?" Elnor asked.
"Elnor, this isn't a qalankhkai. I know this promise causes you pain. You are released." As she said it she looked around, half expecting Boo to step out from the rocks.
"For two years, my pain hasn't concerned you. What has changed?" Elnor took a seat next to her on the bolder. Enid stood and trudged to the stream where she washed the baboon blood from her face and hands. Boo wasn't there.
"What does it matter? You can make peace with the synth." And hopefully she could make peace with her childhood friend. Boo hadn't disappeared when Elnor made the promise but then Enid hadn't been ashamed of it until she brought Elnor into her mind and realized how difficult it had been for him. When exactly did Boo disappear?
"What's with the horgle?" Elnor followed after her. "What are you looking for?" Enid was walking circles now.
"I'm not looking for anything," Enid said.
"The Tal Shiar hasn't taught you to lie very well."
"I'm not Tal Shiar."
"So you've said."
"Shut up, Elnor!" Enid stomped back to the equines. Before she could mount, he caught her and spun her around.
"Enid, all I've wanted is to be your friend. Not a judge, not a lover. Just someone you can talk too." Enid looked near panic now. This was more than being back at the site of the synth attack. Enid was scared. "Talk to me. What is with the horgle? I thought they distilled the snakeleaf."
"We decided it was a bad idea." Enid didn't look at Elnor but searched the horizon.
"You mean Narek—"
"I mean we, Narek and I," Enid said. "What is your problem with Narek?"
Elnor threw up his hands. "How can you have the memories of all the victims of the supernova and not understand hatred for the Tal Shiar?"
"But he's not done anything to you!"
"I know! Seven killed her."
"No. She escaped. My father killed her." Enid put her head on the equine's flank.
"Your life is really messed up." Elnor sighed and rubbed her back.
"You mean more messed up than being a slave to a radical cabal?"
"You're still in a radical cabal," Elnor said.
"No. As far as Romulans go, I'm positively mainstream. You're the radical." Enid couldn't help but laugh at their argument. Elnor pulled her in for a hug.
"You've been searching all for something since we go here. What is it?"
"Nothing…" Enid didn't want to admit that she'd lost Boo.
"A little radical candor would do you good." Elnor kicked at the dirt. This was useless.
"Boo," Enid said. "I can't find Boo."
"Thank you. That had to be hard to admit." Elnor wondered what it took to loose an imaginary friend. "You don't know what Boo's been up to?" Enid shook her head. She explained that she had only lost Boo once before, except when Rynar killed her of course. Elnor told her that Boo had been visiting just about anyone who cared about her. "You had no idea?"
"No. I don't know what this means."
"Neither do we," Elnor said.