On the list of things Suzee Doesn't Do, this is probably ranked somewhere in the top ten, at least, if not actually being the Number One Thing Suzee Never Ever EVER Does. And if anyone ever asked her if she ever did This, she'd smirk, shake her head and answer confidently, "Of course not! I would never!"
So why, you ask, is she doing it now? And it would be a good question, as she's not entirely certain herself. Boredom, maybe? A case of curiosity mortally afflicting the feline? Not really, although there was a Cat involved. One with a rainbow-colored coiffure in fact, who was currently residing in her bedroom back on Yensid, and waiting with baited breath for an answer.
She'd been half asleep when the soft but insistent voice came floating across the empty void between universes. It was past midnight both on Yensid and by the Christa's internal timekeeping. Suzee wasn't unaccustomed to late nights, usually of personal study and experimentation but having just gone to bed an hour earlier she wasn't entirely thrilled at the prospect of a conversation with her "invisible" friend. Catalina had become increasingly distressed since their dimensional switch and while Suzee was sympathetic, her patience with the younger girl's growing neediness was wearing thin.
Perhaps that's why she was doing this - to get a bit of peace and quiet for herself. Not that she'd ever admit to anything so selfish. If you'd asked, and actually gotten her to admit to Doing This, she'd tell you emphatically that this one-time compromise of her ethics was a grand sacrifice for the sake of a close friend. Maybe on some level it was.
"Suzee, I just have to know! Do any of them think about me at all? I mean, they've barely even mentioned me since I left. It's like I was never there at all!"
Suzee didn't stretch her mind to find a visual image of her friend but she didn't need to see Cat to hear the fact that she was on the verge of tears. Though why this mattered so much to Cat, Suzee wasn't sure. The Saturnian girl had never been especially close to her classmates, and had in fact spent much of her time in direct competition with them. But still...
"Please, Suzee, you have to do this! We're friends, right? Right?!?"
And so here she was. Whatever the reason, whatever the excuse, here Suzee was, doing now what she Never Did. She lay back down on her bunk and stretched her mind outward, before settling downward like mist onto another body.
Rosie was where she started, simply by virtue of proximity. The Mercurian was asleep at the moment, deeply, too deeply to even be dreaming. Her subconscious, therefore, was laid open like a book to read.
Suzee hesitated before going deeper. This was wrong. Seriously wrong. There was no good reason to be doing this at all and when she'd first been taught how to use her psychic abilities at the tender age of 11, lesson number one was Never Do This. Not unless it was a life-and-death situation. It Is Wrong. Invasive. Tantamount to mental rape in some circumstances.
But then, Rosie was asleep. She'd never know. So what harm could it do to her, really? She deliberately ignored everything but what pertained to Catalina, shoving aside everything else and trying not to catch a glance at the thorns that stuck out to snag at her mental clothing - disappointments, the death of a grandparent, the sting of a childish betrayal by a grade school friend. Normal things, really, but nothing she had any business seeing.
Suzee tapped into Rosie's memory, fishing for anything connected to Catalina and images of the past appeared like tiny bubbles floating to the surface of a still pool, of laughter, occasionally confusion at her crewmate's behavior and insecurity, an easy friendship, but nothing much more. Rosie was optimistic that eventually she'd see Cat again, and if not, she was sure Cat would make new friends in her new home, and everything would be alright in the end.
Suzee began to withdraw, whizzing past other emotions and memories like billboards along a highway. She caught sight of one in particular, and scoffed. Rosie liked Suzee, much as she liked everyone, but also apparently found Suzee a bit bossy. When had Suzee ever bossed her around, though? That was a bit unfair.
Suzee withdrew abruptly from her bunkmate's mind and shook her head, clearing her thoughts, before moving on.
Radu was asleep as well, and dreaming, apparently, about being asked to pilot the Christa by the commander whilst dressed only in his undergarments. She pushed deeper into his subconscious, trying not to laugh as dream-Radu ran to hide behind a console in his mind's recreation of the command post.
Radu's memories of Cat were not so uncomplicated as Rosie's. He'd liked Cat, as a friend, maybe possibly more, if he'd ever had the guts to pursue it. He didn't think Cat would have ever returned his feelings though, nor did he think he could compete with Harlan for her affections. He was content with cultivating their tenuous friendship (as all of his friendships were) though, for the most part. Did he miss her? Suzee shuffled through the myriad emotions connected to Cat in Radu's mind and... well, yes, he did. Somewhat. But it was a detached sort of emotion, mostly in the form of regret that he'd never had enough confidence in his dealings with her, and lingering feelings of missed opportunity.
Again, withdrawing, Suzee had the misfortune of running past some of Radu's feelings about herself. He was impressed by her, shyly attracted to her, but also rather intimidated. Why on Yensid would he be afraid of her? She was always generous with her knowledge and friendly and helpful with the crew. That was pretty unfair.
Suzee moved on, this time to Bova.
The Uranian was also heavily asleep, unconscious to a depth that logs would envy. Suzee pushed into his memories of Cat and found very little at all. Bova liked her, as much as he liked anybody (except maybe Rosie, who had more than a little emotional as well as physical warmth associated with her), but Catalina leaving was simply an event which occured, just as inevitable as rain and ants at a picnic. He vaguely wished her well, wherever she was, but figured things would probably turn out poorly regardless of where she went, so what difference did it make?
This time Suzee didn't even pretend not to look when she flitted past Bova's emotions regarding herself. Call it morbid curiosity, call it masochism, but she was now determined to find out what the Christa's crew thought of her. Bova apparently found her somewhat condescending, overbearing but (like most negative things in life, which included pretty much everything in Bova's estimation), not worth getting upset over. Now that was really unfair. Of course, Bova thought the worst of everything in life, so what did he know anyway?
Suzee all but yanked herself out of Bova's mind, which would have at least woken a lesser man's sleep, but Bova, a seasoned expert at sleeping through just about anything, merely turned over in his bunk and began snoring.
Suzee moved on to the last of the Christa's crew, one Harlan Band. He, like Radu, was in the middle of a dream, though one of a rather less humiliating variety. He was currently back on the jungle world they'd left a few months ago, valiantly saving the rest of the crew from a fairly generic-looking monster. Typical. She dipped below the surface of the dream into the deeper waters of memory and found what she'd come for. Harlan had had a rather ambivalent relationship with Cat. She was an adversary, a competetor for leadership of the Christa's rag-tag crew and a constant thorn in his side. He admired her though, and wanted more than just friendship with her. His pride and fear had never allowed him to open up to her (or, really, anyone else), and the fiery Saturnian had slipped through his fingers. He had mourned her loss for a few days after her disappearance, but now left in the mental place she'd once inhabited was nothing but an aching regret, like stiff scar tissue covering an old wound. She might as well have died. He'd mostly moved on.
Suzee left Catalina's home in the human's mind and turned to her own puddle, this time making no affectations about it being accidental. Harlan's thoughts on Suzee were also ambivalent, though not exactly in the same way. He didn't feel threatened by her in terms of leadership; he knew the rest of the crew did not see her as a beloved leader and likely never would even if they did occasionally begrudgingly defer to her greater knowledge. He was strongly attracted to her, physically, but also considered her to be a "know-it-all" and someone who constantly undermined his attempts at being impressive and gaining the respect of his classmates. She was a stumbling block in his path to glory and recognition, and, ultimately, his deepest-hidden desire of the acceptance and praise of his step-father. She turned her mind's eye askance but did not flee at some of the ridiculous sexual fantasies he had stored in his mind, most of which were fairly vanilla but some which took on a slightly more violent undertone, born of his strong desire to see the smug expression wiped from her face. He'd never thought such things about Cat, for whom his desires had been far more innocent.
Suzee jerked her consciousness back into her body. She didn't bother looking at the commander or Davenport; Cat wouldn't be interested in their opinion much anyway and she wasn't certain she wished to know any longer herself. The bitter taste of bile had settled in the back of her throat at some point and she swallowed heavily against it.
"Suzee, I'm teaching you to use your gifts because they could one day save your life. But you musn't abuse them. People think a lot of things that they wouldn't ever truly say or do. Those thoughts are private."
"Yes Mother, but aren't we never supposed to hide the truth?"
"Suzee, baby... it's not that simple. You shouldn't tell lies, of course. But not everything is meant to be out in the open. You might see some things you wish you hadn't, and sometimes it changes things in ways you don't really want them to. You can't un-see something once you've seen it."
"Yes, but what if--"
"No, Suzee. No 'What if'. You only use this gift if it is a life-or-death situation. One day you will understand why, I hope. Now I want you to close your eyes and concentrate...
"Suzee? Are you finished yet? What did you find out?"
Cat's anxious voice cut into her thoughts. Suzee had never particularly cared what others thought about her. Suzee doesn't care if people like her the way Cat does. Her friend wanted to know, despirately, if the others missed her. If they had liked her. If they had really been her friends at all. But not everything is meant to be out in the open... You can't un-see something once you've seen it.
"Yes, Cat... they all really miss you, they just don't like to talk about it. You know how it is."