Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek. Did you seriously think I did? The OCs, however, are mine, but Sorak is on loan from Fameanon.
A/N: This is one of the sequels to "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger". In it, I explore what happened to Mina after the tragedy. Enjoy.
Sorak looked to his right to the pew in front of him, past Arturo and his wife and child, to Lucy and Strom. The church was quiet as the Earth priest gave a speech about the importance of hope and some concept of another place where the dead go to rest, and it reminded Sorak of the Hall of Katras on Mount Selaya. He was an underground believer in the concept of a soul, and it seemed the humans had a similar concept as well.
Arturo's wife was openly crying, softly whimpering as the priest talked, though Arturo himself looked as if he were trying to be stoic. As Sorak looked around the spacious hall, he saw most of the men were emotionless, and the women were crying. It was an interesting insight into human culture that he had never witnessed before. The men were almost Vulcan in their stoicism, their lips tightly set, their eyes and cheeks dry. The women, in sharp contrast, were almost all weeping, some quietly, one or two in a much more emotional fashion. But even in the whirlpool of grief he felt around him, everyone was subdued.
His eyes slid back to Lucy and Strom. The Vulcan doctor, of course, was stoic as ever, and he was impressed with his control, considering the depth of emotion around him, and his recent Time. But Strom was calm and collected, Sorak suspected for Lucy's sake, and for Mrs. Hardister. Lucy had a few tears on her cheeks, but she was not whimpering like her sister-in-law. The tears that fell from her pained hazel eyes were silent. Gabriel Hardister's last words came back to him, and though he longed to tell Strom that he had Lucy's father's approval to marry his daughter, now was not the time. Lucy needed to heal from her ordeals and get her career started, get her life back together.
Finally, his eyes found the last person in the row. Her graying black hair was pulled back into a loose bun, and around her head, she had tied a sheer red scarf. Her cheeks were free of tears, though her skin was paler than usual. He quickly struck down the beast when it lingered on the pleasing color of her flesh, that lovely tan, but then he reminded himself that there was no shame in observing what was beautiful, in acknowledging aesthetics. But still, she was grieving, and allowing himself to linger on those thoughts would only lead to dangerous things.
Arturo stood and went to the front when the priest asked him to, and Sorak watched attentively as the Hardister son took a folded piece of paper out of his suit jacket and cleared his throat.
He paused, then took a deep breath. "My father...my father was a good man. He loved his wife and kids, and he worked hard in the Inter-species Medical Exchange." Arturo's eyes strayed towards Strom and Lucy. "He loved medicine, and he was probably the best poker player I've ever met," he continued, and small, nostalgic grin slipped over his lips. Sorak leaned back into the pew. "He was revered by his colleagues, respected by his community...my father was always willing to help out anyone in need. He was kind to his patients and made them feel at home around him. I've talked to many of them, and some have come today...from my family to you and yours, thank you for your support."
Arturo took another deep breath, and Sorak watched as Lucy reached across Strom's lap to grip Arturo's wife's hand.
"His last words, in regards to me, at least, were 'be a man'. He said he was proud of us, and that he loved us...and that he was sorry if he ever hurt us or failed to be the best father he could be. Granted, he was a busy man, and didn't always have time to spend with Lucy and me...but he loved us...and that's what matters. He told me to be a man...and I can think of no act manlier than admitting one's faults. Everyone here knows my dad wasn't perfect...but he tried, and he was a man in my eyes...we love you, Dad..."
Tears welled up in Arturo's eyes, and Sorak breathed in deeply.
"And we'll miss you."
The day was cold, clear, and windy as the slow procession trudged up the hill to where they would bury Gabriel. He had been cremated, and there were fewer people her for the actual burial than yesterday at the funeral. Mina (Mrs. Hardister, he corrected himself) was carrying Gabriel's ashes, and she smiled soberly at everyone who greeted her. The mood was less subdued today, he guessed because there was a palpable finality to the proceedings.
The Earth priest said a few words and sprinkled water on the yawning grace where Gabriel's remains would rest. Then the box of his ashes was placed securely in the grave, and after a few moments of silence, Gabriel's two brothers, his sister, his brothers-in-law (there were five of them), his nieces and nephews, and finally his wife, his son, and his daughter cast earth into the grave by hand. Then his son and brothers took shovels and began piling on more earth, until the box could no longer be seen and the grave was half full. Gabriel's brothers-in-law took turns as well, casting dirt into the grave. When it was full (and raised slightly), they laid down their shovels and looked to Mina.
She took a deep breath and put her arm around Lucy, who was clutching Strom's arm as if the wind might carry her away. Arturo put a reassuring hand on Mina's shoulder and grasped his wife's hand with the other. Mina was sheltered, protected...and yet she had never seemed more vulnerable. No tears stained her cheeks today, and her demeanor was calm, frighteningly so.
"Thank you all for coming and supporting us," she began, her eyes still dry. Strom's eyes were on Lucy, but Sorak caught his eyes and frowned at Mina, then glanced meaningfully at Strom. The doctor's expression wasn't very encouraging, and Sorak refocused his attention on Mrs. Hardister.
She was silent for almost a minute before she spoke again. "I'm sure you all know that this is very hard for me...and my children...we'll be just fine for a while, so...you don't have to bring food or flowers...I already have enough of those coming out the kazoo..."
An appreciative laugh rippled through the small crowd, but died quickly.
"You know, something bad happens...but life goes on." He eyes strayed to one of her nieces, who was very pregnant, leaning as if weak on her husband. "People die, we grieve, but life moves on. We'll be ok...we'll be ok."
Sorak rang the doorbell and waited patiently for someone to answer. Their flitter was still in the driveway, so he doubted that they had gone out.
Over the past two weeks, he had attended several services, some with Soval, some without. He had only been to two actual funerals besides Gabriel's; he mostly slipped quietly into vigils to pay his respects to the victims' families. Some of the police officers who had worked on the cases had also come to show respect for Koss' victims. Most had not noticed him, a few had been a little difficult, but most still thanked him for coming. They were probably amazed that a Vulcan had taken the time to see people he didn't even know, and Sorak privately thought that was a shame.
The door opened, bringing him out of his reverie, and he looked down at Lucy, whose eyes were rimmed red from crying, but she raised a shaky ta'al and let him enter.
"You're Soval's aide, aren't you?" she whispered, her voice hoarse.
"Yes, my name is Sorak. I...I was there with your father when he died...and I brought your mother to the house in the mountains. How are you?"
"As well as can be expected, I mean...they're both gone now."
It took him a minute to realize she was talking about Strom. Sorak had protested against Strom's recall, but he did not have enough strength to defy the Council of Physicians, all of whom were on Oratt's side. In his opinion, things could have gotten much uglier between Strom, Koss and Lucy, but in the end, things had worked out quite nicely. Strom had purged the fever through an honorable fight, and the murderer was no longer alive to cause any more damage to the people of Earth.
She led him to the kitchen, and he followed, but pulled her back before they entered the next room. "Strom is not one to abandon what he wants so easily. Do not give up on him, because I believe he will try and fight this recall."
She smiled wanly at him and sighed, then went ahead of him into the kitchen.
"Mom, this is Sorak. You've met," she said simply, fetching a glass of water. He was confused for a moment when she handed it to him, but he understood when she spoke to him in Vulcan. "Welcome to our home, Sorak of Vulcan. You honor us with your presence."
Her accent was almost flawless, and he raised an eyebrow and gave her the proper response, then drank the water and handed the glass back to her. He was impressed with her skills, but he was here to see Mina. Lucy left the two of them alone, and Mrs. Hardister fixed him with a blank stare.
"I told Lucy that I wanted to be left alone. I guess she felt she had to let you in, being the ambassador's aide and everything."
"I do not wish to cause you discomfort, Mrs. Hardister. I simply came to inquire after you. How are you?"
She glanced down at the granite countertop. "I lost my husband to a murderer...how do you think I feel?"
He paused. "I imagine you must be very sad, and perhaps guilty, and angry at the murderer...and me..."
She glared at him. "Is there anything else?"
"Is there anything I can do for you? If you need me to fetch some things for you, or clean, or cook, it can be done."
"Lucy is doing a good job. I don't need another Vulcan in this house."
He bowed his head. "With all due respect, madam...Lucy just lost her father and he who should be her husband...she too is grieving, and though I'm sure staying busy is a good way to cope, you will have to face your grief at some point."
"Don't tell me how to live my life!" she hissed. "I will deal with this my way, the human way, not your oh-so-logical path." She glared at him for a moment, and then her eyes filled with tears. "I'm sorry, I..."
A few tears ran down her cheeks, and Sorak hesitantly moved forward and lightly touched her shoulder. He dared not do more, lest he shame himself or make her angry again.
"You've been nothing but kind, and here I am treating you like...I'm sorry..."
"You are grieving, it is understandable. Is there something I can do for you, Mrs. Hardister?"
She looked up at him, her bright hazel eyes shining with tears. It was amazing how much Lucy resembled her...
"Why are you doing this?"
He paused and thought about it, then swallowed thickly. "A Vulcan killed your husband. I thought it only fitting that a Vulcan be near, in case you have need of him." He took a deep breath and gazed meaningfully at her. "I come to serve, Mrs. Hardister, and whatever you need me to do, I will gladly do for you."
More tears streamed down her cheeks, and her expression was pained, and yet he was relieved to see her displaying emotion again. That deathly calm was...unsettling.
"Well, if you insist on making yourself useful...I'm in no condition to go out shopping. If I write down some things, and maybe send Lucy with you, could you get some things for me?"
He nodded. "Certainly, I will. While you compose your list, may I fetch Lucy?"
She smiled soberly and nodded to him, and he left her alone.
Sorak entered the nearest lane of air traffic and directed his aircar back towards the Hardister household, and he glanced over at Lucy. The ride to the market had been silent, as Lucy looked about ready to talk as ready to give a lecture on particle physics. But he wanted to reach out to her, to help her in some way. He who should be her husband was no longer here to do that, so it was up to him.
"Tell me, Lucy, how did you learn that greeting? When you handed me the water?"
She glared at him as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing, as if she were insulted, and he realized his mistake.
"Forgive me...your accent is flawless, though."
"Thank you," she replied stiffly. He smiled ever so slightly.
"Do you intend to take a course in Vulcan? You would do well."
"It's required. So yes."
He raised an eyebrow. "Where are you going to go to school, Lucy? Do you plan on starting this next semester or are you going to wait until the fall?"
"I'm already behind," she growled. "I'm going as soon as I can. To Berkeley. I go where the Vulcans are."
Sorak smirked slightly. "Well, as your species says, I wish you luck in all your endeavors, Ms. Hardister."
"Luck is not the answer. Hard work will set me free."
Sorak blinked, feeling a chill go down his spine. He knew those words...they were eerily familiar...
"You will need to work hard to excel at Vulcan. It is very different from English."
"I'll learn," she said firmly. She had not looked at him since she began to speak, but he assumed she simply was not in the mood for conversation.
They rode the rest of the way to her home in silence.
Sorak put the last dish away and wiped down the countertop with a damp rag, then handed the rag to Lucy, who put it in the laundry. He turned to Mina, who was staring at the countertop as if she didn't know what to think, and he slowly approached her.
"If that's all, I'll be taking my leave of you. For now. If there's anything you need, just give me a call."
He handed Lucy her PADD, which contained his contact information, and he bowed to Mina, who stared at him with tear-filled eyes.
"I grieve with thee, Mrs. Hardister, but I hope in time you will find some peace. Good night."
Lucy raised the ta'al, and he departed for Sausalito, knowing well that he still had reports to write, and he would not get back to the Consulate until nearly midnight. But still, he owed it to Mina. He owed it to both of them, and to Gabriel Hardister's memory. He would do what had to be done, not matter the cost to himself.