The following is a work of fan-fiction based on characters and situations created by Rockne S. O'Bannon for the 1990s television series, seaQuest DSV. The seaQuest name and concept are registered trademarks of Amblin Entertainment and Universal Television. I claim no rights to their intellectual or commercial property. This work is offered for entertainment only and in sincere tribute to their much-beloved creation.
Timeline: This should directly follow "Dagger Redux" (season 2, episode 18) and overlap "The Siamese Dream" (season 2, episode 19).
by C.F. Vici
Lt. J.G. Timothy O'Neill drew a deep breath before rapping twice on the ward room hatch. Dr. Wendy Smith had waited until his physical pain had subsided before recommending he come see her 'just to chat', she said. But Tim knew this wasn't going to be some friendly exchange of crew gossip or even a casual check on his health. If she'd intended to give him a physical, she'd have asked him to see her in Medbay. Dr. Smith was more than just the head physician aboard seaQuest. She was also a psychologist and counselor.
Although generally uncomfortable with shrinks, Tim hadn't had much luck with his previous confidante: Darwin, the dolphin. No doubt, Captain Bridger had relayed to Smith all the reasons Tim had given for attempting to resign. He hadn't been secretive about it with any of his friends either. If any of them had given his forced shore leave any thought at all, it wouldn't have been hard for a skilled telepath like Dr. Smith to pick up their surface thoughts. He'd pretty much burned all his bridges by announcing his personal insecurities before running away to reinvent himself.
There was no point to denying his feelings and truthfully, he found himself relieved that he didn't have to any more. Everything was already out in the open and maybe Dr. Smith could help him. It certainly couldn't be any less successful than his own floundering attempts.
"Come in," her soft voice beckoned.
Tim rotated the wheel and pushed the steel door open. He pushed his glasses toward the top of his nose and swallowed. "Am I late?"
Dr. Smith stood and extended her hand in a welcome gesture. "Not at all. I'm glad you decided to come."
Tim shrugged and forced a nervous smile. "I figured if anyone can help me, you can."
Dr. Smith silently directed him to a comfortable chair. He waited for her to find a seat of her own, then sat as she did. When he looked up again, her brows were raised. "Really? Then why didn't you come to me before you tried to resign?"
He looked away. "Because it's embarrassing. Because I didn't want to look any stupider than I already felt."
"Tim, this session isn't going on your record. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to talk to me as a counselor, then just talk to me as a friend."
And here he'd thought he was being so cool. "Is my discomfort that obvious?"
"I wasn't scanning you."
He shook his head vigorously. "No, I wasn't accusing you, Doctor."
"How about 'Wendy'?"
"Why won't you look at me?"
He sighed. Just a moment ago, he'd thought the hard part was over and he wouldn't have any trouble talking about this. It had been easier with the captain. He'd just rehearsed his reasons fifty times and then recited them calmly, answering his expected questions with more rehearsed answers. Bridger only caught him off guard when he brought up his spelling error on the resignation. Why did I do this to myself?
He forced himself to face her, but he stared at her clavicle rather than look her in the eyes. "I'm not sure I belong on seaQuest."
"I overheard you tell the captain that you were glad to be back. Have you changed your mind?"
"No. I think I proved to myself that I'm worthless as a painter and I'm more awkward with beautiful women in bikinis than with beautiful women in seaQuest jumpsuits."
She smiled. "I think that was a compliment."
He nodded quickly, but hurried on. "It isn't that I don't want to be here. I realize now that I fit in better here than anywhere else. I just can't help feeling I don't deserve to be here."
"The captain never accepted your resignation. Doesn't that tell you something?"
"That was before. But I betrayed him… and you… and everyone aboard. I gave Mariah the codes to blow seaQuest out of the water."
"And Mariah didn't first immobilize you with a Zapper, kidnap you against your will, and then torture you?"
Tim sat silent. Torture was no excuse. Neither Ford nor Brody would have caved to torture. Even Piccolo would have lasted longer than he did.
"Did you know I felt that first energy pulse she sent through you? That Zapper knocked me nearly unconscious. I couldn't get up without help."
Tim's jaw dropped. No, he hadn't known. He'd pulled her down like a drowning man standing atop his rescuer. "I'm sorry."
"You didn't do anything wrong! I think you may have latent psychic abilities, or I never could have connected with you so well."
"I've only ever connected with Darwin before."
"Darwin? Why haven't you ever mentioned this?"
He shrugged. "I figured it was Darwin, not me."
"For all we know, all dolphins are psychic, but there's got to be a reason he connected with you."
"Oh, it wasn't just me. Well, when he was sick, it was just me and the captain. But lots of the crew shared a dream about him."
"I think we should explore this more, but not right now. Let's get back to Mariah. When you were Zapped, I felt great pain and I knew it had something to do with you."
He scoffed lightly. "Great. I have psychic ability that's only purpose is to hurt innocent people by projecting my pain." He felt the heat rise in his cheeks.
"You didn't hurt me, Tim. Mariah did. By what she did to you."
He pushed his glasses up even though they hadn't moved since the last time he adjusted them. "But it was all my fault. I fell for her act—hook, line, and sinker." He winced inwardly at the last word. It was only Mariah's inexperience and Commander Ford's tactical skill that had kept seaQuest from sinking quite literally.
Wendy leaned forward. "So now you're beating yourself up for being human?"
The compassion in her voice forced him to look up at her eyes again. He waggled his head in a shake that became a nod, then looked away again.
No! She wasn't going to sweet-talk her way out of this one. He balled his fists and pounded them on the arms of his chair. "Don't you get it? None of the other officers would have betrayed seaQuest. They'd have died before they gave any enemy the stealth codes. If that makes them super-human and me just merely human, then doesn't it follow logically that I feel inadequate here?"
The doctor chuckled. "So you think Miguel could have absorbed six thousand mendels of genome-wave-energy without any ill effects?"
"The Zapper was stolen when Mariah escaped. It uses an advanced type of DNA-disruption energy developed to control GELFs in maximum security. By the look of your bio-readings, I suspect she used the same kind of energy in that electrocution chair. Tim, not even Dagwood could have resisted it."
Could it be true? Was it possible he'd really been as strong as anyone could have been? Or was this just an easy way to mollify him? He stared at her, incredulous.
"I wouldn't lie to you, Tim."
He sighed softly. "It doesn't change what I did. How can I show my face here when everyone knows I betrayed them?"
Dr. Smith was quiet for a moment. "Is this about what they think, or what you think?"
"W-well, both." He shrugged. "I guess." He wasn't even sure anymore.
"I can assure you that no one felt anything but relief when you came back aboard."
Sarcasm filled his voice as he smirked. "Right. You scanned everyone against their will." He knew Wendy would never do such a thing. That was the point. She couldn't know how everyone else felt.
"I didn't have to scan anyone. The relief was so palpable I couldn't block it if I wanted to. Is it so hard to believe that people care about you?"
His mouth opened, but no words escaped. He nodded some more.
"Then this really is about your perception of yourself, isn't it?"
"That's what I told the captain."
Her voice lowered. "Yes, you did."
She sighed softly and he couldn't help but feel she was exasperated or at least impatient with him. "You're more honest than most people, Tim."
He chuckled nervously. "Is there any point in trying to deceive you?"
She wrinkled her nose. It was cute in a kid-sister kind of way. "You mean because I'm psychic?"
Tim adjusted his glasses again. "Yeah, there's that too. But why subject myself to all this if I didn't hope you could help me?" It seemed absurd that hiding the problem would be productive. He almost asked if she actually could help him, but decided against it. He wasn't ready to hear it if she couldn't.
"You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You wouldn't believe how much mental energy most people devote to erecting façades. I can't tell what they're hiding unless I scan them, but I can tell that the vast majority of people are hiding something."
"Maybe I just don't have any secrets worth hiding."
She shook her head and her eyebrows furrowed. "Don't belittle yourself like that." There was no doubt from her tone that she was scolding him now. "I've had too many people lie to me to take honesty for granted and I don't pay compliments lightly."
His gaze dropped to the floor. He gulped. "You're right. Sorry."
He didn't look up to see her face, but her voice returned to its gentle softness. "Let's go back to this betrayal. What do you remember about it?"
He swallowed and shook his head. "I think I hate myself so much that I've blocked it from memory. I remember the pain and I remember not being able to breathe. My jaw still hurts from all the clenching, but I don't remember telling her the codes." He picked at an imaginary speck of dust on his shirt. Would he ever be able to get past the horror of his own weakness?
"How do you know you did, then?"
"Mariah told me I gave them to her, and right after that, she started the attack." And I begged her not to. It hurt so much to think about what could have happened.
"Is it possible you gave her false codes?"
He shook his head. "I can't pull off a bluff. You know that."
"Yes, I know it and you know it, but Mariah wouldn't have known it. And she's a GELF, so she has very little experience with human behavior. You're smart enough to have realized this."
Tim shifted positions in his chair. "I don't think I had the presence of mind to think rationally. My spinal column was on fire and my head was about to explode. All I wanted was to die as quickly as possible."
Wendy's voice crept to a whisper. "But she wouldn't let you die, would she?"
He shook his head without comment. He could feel the tears behind his eyes and a frog filling up his throat.
"It's okay, Tim."
He couldn't keep his voice from faltering with emotion. "Easy for you to say."
"No. No, it's not easy at all. I felt that weapon, remember? I only felt it once before I blocked it, so I could function here. I know I would have said anything to make the torture stop."
"Why wouldn't she just kill me?"
Wendy crossed the room and crouched by his chair, facing him, but at his side. She placed her hand over his on the chair arm. "Because you were nothing more than a tool to her."
He drew a breath, trying to hide a sniffle, but failed. "I deserved to die."
Silence reigned for a long time. He wasn't sure if she was just giving him time to collect himself or if she had no argument against what he'd said. His self-pronouncement hung in the silence, echoing and reverberating in his mind.
After what seemed an eternity, Wendy broke the silence. "You're Catholic, aren't you, Tim?"
Not trusting his voice, he nodded without looking up.
"I don't think I can help you until you see a priest."
"Yes. Go to confession. Get your guilt absolved. Isn't that what priests do?"
Guilt. Of course. It was so obvious he wanted to bang his head against the wall. But he already had a major headache and wasn't keen on increasing his pain. He felt so stupid for having made such a scene, stupid for having come at all. He pulled his hand from under hers and stood, backing away from her sideways. "Yes. A priest. You're right. I'll do that. Thank you, Doctor."
She held the crouched position by his chair but made no motion to stop him. "It's still 'Wendy'. You need to see your priest first, but after that, will you come back? Please?"
The pleading in her voice clinched it. He couldn't let anyone as beautiful as Wendy beg. "If you want me to, I'll come back." She reached for him and clasped his hand. Tim expected a brief squeeze and then he'd be free to run.
But she held on and pulled herself to stand. Then she grabbed both his shoulders, forcing him to face her. "I want you to."
Tim only looked in her eyes for a second, but regretted doing it. Somehow, he couldn't escape the fact that she cared, and not just because he was a "valuable crew member", either. The concern in her voice and the pleading in her eyes would make it impossible to make excuses later. No matter how uncomfortable he'd feel, he'd endure more sessions because she'd asked him to.
But right now, he had to escape—fast. Moments later, he was in his quarters with his back against the door, his glasses in his hands, mopping his brow with his sleeve and panting heavily. He couldn't remember whether he'd trampled anyone on the way.