You see her every day. But it's hard, because you see her through glass.
During her shift, you stay cloistered in your sanctuary, keeping the inappropriate thoughts at bay with work and propriety and duty. When she gives you her reports, you suddenly find something pressing to do, reports to read, avoid her eyes. When she speaks, you take notes, eyes on your PADD, but your mind tracks the sensual movements of her body in your peripheral.
But when you see her, it's through the glass. Celebrations, parties in the mess hall or the holodeck, and you drink. You drank before, a glass that you carried around all night, just one, just sipping, passing time. Now you drink, you drink to see her through the glass, because you can't look at her sober.
Because she stays by the wall, like she always did, but now she's no longer alone, and it's not you keeping her company, not you talking with her, not you making her feel accepted. Because it's him, and you want to hate him, but you can't, because you know how he feels, and you know how perfect she is. Because you can't blame him for seeing her, too, and for being able to do what you couldn't.
So you drink, and you watch her, first out of the corner of your eye, but as you drink more, the glass in your gaze gets thicker, and you can look at her fully. Because when you look through the glass you don't see him, just her. Always only her, through the glass.
And the glass gives you courage, so when you look at her, you see what you want to. And when she leaves you follow her. He walks her to her quarters, but you don't see him, because you're still looking through the glass. And they kiss, but she breaks it off, because you're there and you're watching. He asks to come in, but she says no, and the glass shows you that she wants you.
He leaves, but you don't see that, and the doors swish shut behind her. You go to her door and you would enter your command code to open them, but you don't remember it. All you remember is the look she gave you, and what the glass showed you that it meant.
So you ring the chime, but she doesn't answer. You ring it again, knowing that when you see her, she'll want you, and tonight will be the night. But she still doesn't answer and now you're getting upset. You call out to her, tell her to open the door, but she doesn't.
Now you get angry, and order her to open the door. It stays closed, and not even the glass can make you think that it's open. You slide to the floor and lean sideways against the door and you start to cry. You're quiet, because even though the glass doesn't see the four pips on your collar, you can still feel them burning into your skin, and somewhere you still know that you're the captain.
When you wake up, the glass is thin, almost gone, and you don't remember falling asleep. But you know where you are, because you're always here when you see through the glass. You groan as you get up, and stumble your way to Sickbay.
The Doctor gives you a pitying look when you enter, and he already has the hypospray ready and in hand. You don't want to think about what that means, don't want to think about what the look that ensign in the hallways gave you meant. The hypospray takes away the glass, and you're suddenly tired, even though you slept the whole night, but it's almost time for your duty shift, and you have enough time to make it to your quarters and have a shower - on sonic setting, because the glass was thicker last night than before - and dress in a new uniform before you're on the bridge and nobody will look at you.
Nobody ever looks at you the morning after a party, and you suppose they're afraid the glass will still be in your eyes, but you think they know that you were in Sickbay, so you don't really know what they're afraid of. You close yourself in your ready room and order coffee, and he comes in, asking if you're okay.
You try not to look at him, either, but you know from experience that if you don't, he won't leave. He may look better through the glass - or in your case, not show up at all - but he's your first officer and he won't disappear when the glass does. Not like her, you can make her disappear, or at least you fool yourself into thinking that you can.
When his voice changes and he says that you need to talk, that he needs to say something, you start to panic. You escape to your desk, but it's not really an escape, because he just leans over it. Your turn your LCARS terminal to face you and one slender finger turns it on.
You make some excuse about pressing paperwork, and both of you know it's not true, but as good a friend as he's always been, he lets it go and leaves. And you tell the computer to lock your door, because the morning after you see through glass, you always have a steady stream of visitors, but this morning is different, and you want to be alone.
You drink your coffee, ordering more once every hour, and after you've had four, the doors swish open, and you know it's her, because only she would break your command seal. The doors close behind her and you hear her order them sealed with one of her encryption codes, and you know you won't get out of this conversation as easily as the one with him earlier that morning.
She sits in the chair across from you, and you almost point out that she prefers to stand, but you don't, because you don't have the courage that the glass gives you. She relaxes, lacing her fingers together and resting them against her softly rounding stomach.
And it's from your peripheral that you realize the physical change. You're surprised, but don't know why, because you found out a month earlier that she was carrying his baby, but somehow you never thought it was true.
You want to talk to her, to ply her with questions, because she's changed so much and there's so much about her that you don't know anymore, but you're afraid, and she doesn't say anything.
You pick up your coffee mug, but it's empty so you go to the replicator for another. Only when you're there do you realize that you have to speak to her, because you can't just order something for yourself and not offer her anything, so your voice is quiet when you ask if she wants anything.
She thanks you and requests just water and when you bring it to her, her fingers brush yours when she takes the glass, and her features are distorted, and you feel a surge of courage, because you're not looking at her, you're looking through glass, and even if it isn't the same, it still helps.
So you invite her to sit with you on your couch, and she smiles and it takes your breath away and makes your knees shake, but somehow you manage to make it to the couch and you sink down into the welcoming fabric.
She sits beside you and you can feel the heat of her thigh near yours, and she takes a sip of her water, so you can look directly at her again. But then she places the glass on the small table, and you avert your eyes, but you still see her lean back, make herself comfortable beside you.
And you still say nothing, and neither does she.
Finally you can't stand it anymore and you ask her why she's there.
She smiles again and you know you're lost, because your head is swimming and your hands are shaking, but you're not looking through the glass right now, so all you can do is sit there.
And she tells you a story, heartbreak and love and loss and confusion all rolled into one person. Then she tells you that the person is sitting beside you and all you see is her, even though you still can't look at her. Then she tells you another story, almost the same, but with duty and good intentions wrapped into the person as well. Then she tells you that person is you.
You don't understand what she's saying, but you have an idea, you're just too afraid to voice it, even to yourself, but if only she'd pick up that damned glass...
You go to take a drink of your coffee, beginning to wish you had laced it, because you need the glass, but she takes the mug from your hands, and places it next to her water. All you can do is stare at the mug and glass, and wish... wish so many things, but most of all wish that you weren't here and she wasn't there and none of this was happening.
Then she takes your hands in hers and against your will, you look at her, and you're shocked by what you see, because you know there's no glass in sight, but she's giving you that look anyway.
And she tells you another story, this time one of misunderstanding and miscommunication. And she tells you of the night before, she tells you that after you fell asleep at her door she beamed out to his quarters, and you pull your hands from hers, because you don't want to hear this.
But she takes your hands again, and she's using her Borg grip and you can't pull away. So you listen against your will as she keeps talking, and you slowly relax as she tells you what she told him the night before.
When she tells you that she wishes she hadn't had sex with him, that she wishes she didn't carry his baby, that she wishes she had never asked for her own quarters, you become confused. Surely they had a good relationship, you think. You saw them together, before the glass got so thick that he disappeared, and they looked so happy.
Then she tells you that she wishes that it had been you that she had sex with, you whose baby she carried, that it had been you whose quarters she requested when she moved out of that damned cargo bay.
And you wish she wasn't holding your hands, because you feel them shake, and you know she does, too.
She tells you one last story, of one last person, hurt and misplaced love and anger and understanding, wrapped in one, and she tells you that the person is outside your door and is waiting for you to let him in.
So you do, because you're numb and she asked you to. And the doors open and he walks in, and you see the pain on his face that you didn't let yourself see earlier.
She still sits on the couch, but now she's through the glass again as she takes a drink and you have an irrational urge to tell her to put the water down. Then he takes your hand and turns it palm up, resting on his, and your attention turns back to him.
You feel something hit your palm, and you look down. Gold and clear stone shines back at you, and you look up at him. He smiles sadly and tells you that he would give it to her if he thought she'd accept it. He tells you that he knows she'd accept it from you, and she deserves it, so would you please give it to her?
And you know what he's saying, but you can't, because your legs won't move, and you can't think. He smiles one last time and tells you to love her or else, and to treat his baby right, because he can't see her again, so you need to be daddy, at least for a while.
You don't even notice him leave, because suddenly you're looking through a different kind of glass, and although it spills down your cheeks, it's just as thick as last night, but you can see her through the glass, and then her lips are brushing it away, and the glass thins, and by the time her lips touch yours, there's no glass to see her though, so you keep your eyes open, because now you can see her.
Because you won't need the glass again.
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