Previous Next

Inner Strength

Posted on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 11:45pm by Lieutenant Commander Estella Stratton & Commander Jonathan Grayson
Edited on on Fri Jul 24th, 2020 @ 11:48pm

Mission: Tal Shiar
Location: Essie's Office
Timeline: Current

After his meeting with the Captain and Stonebridge, Jon went in search of Essie. He had seen the unease on her face when the subject of Romulans came up. he pushed his own self doubts aside and went to talk to the woman he loved. He thought Essie might go to her quarters but as he walked down the corridors, he thought some more and headed for her office. Essie would throw herself into her work to keep any misgivings, apprehension at bay.

Reaching her office, he rang the chime and awaited admittance. It was his turn to help her.

She stared at the computer screen, skimming over various files as she tried to collect her thoughts. The Counselor scrolled through some of her recent sessions with Jon, some old documents she'd been reading on her studies of unfamiliar species, planets, and religions to what little intel she'd been able to dig up on Ojnas. She didn't bother to look through her messages. Nothing would be there. Any and all efforts she'd made to reconnect with her mother had been met with silence and now with Sachzny gone, only after acknowledging her as a sister and welcoming her as one of her own, Estella couldn't help but feel alone.

Estella sighed as she turned away from the screen and folded her hands into her lap, then lowered her head. A chime. Time to put her game face on. Straightening, the counselor settled back into her chair. "Enter."

Hearing Essie say "Enter" Jon strode into her office with a confidence he didn't feel. He took a seat in front of her desk and got right to the point. "Are you okay?" Then he quickly added "What can I do to help you?" His eyes boring into her, it was clear he wasn't going to be put off.

A small smile touched her lips. "I could ask you the same, Jon." He wasn't fully whole, and she wasn't about to go wounding him. Not so soon after his dealings with the Borg or Sachzny's departure. Now just... wasn't the time. She wasn't ready. She tucked some stray curls behind her ear. Maybe she'd never be ready. "You can do as you always have, just be here."

He sighed, clearing unhappy with her avoiding his question. "You could. The difference is I'd answer you. You keep me at arms length. I'm not a stranger Essie. I love you and I'll do whatever I can to help you. Please don't shut me out." He wasn't angry, he just wanted to help her.

Ouch, the directness of his answer stung. Though it was also a bit encouraging as that was like the Jon she knew. He'd always been direct and upfront with her. She had no doubt in her mind that he wanted to help. She just wasn't sure he could and she wasn't brave enough to let him in. Not with everything that had happened. Not with him still trying to heal from recent wounds both physical and mental.

"I don't doubt you would," she answered, her voice even as she extended a hand to place it on one of his. "Right now though, you need to heal." Her thumb traced slow circles over his knuckles. "You've been through Hell," she sighed. "And I'm not ready or willing to put you back into the flames."

He squeezed her hand gently. "I could heal faster if you'd let me help you, Essie. You go above and beyond in helping me as well as others. Let me help you. I'm not some stranger, you know. We've always been there for each other and I know we always will." He grew quiet for a moment before he began to talk again. "I feel useless, Essie, I know you'r hurting. That this mission as you on edge. Let me help you."

No. He wasn't a stranger. In fact, Jon knew her better than most. That was what made this so hard. The nagging fear his perception of her would change once she told him everything. That was why she couldn't. Not yet. It was too soon.

Her father and twin brother dead, mother estranged and not talking to her, and her other brother having little more than maybe two words for her... it was too much. Especially now that Sachzny had up and left without even saying goodbye. He was the closest thing she had to family. Outside the crew.

So she leveled with him. "You're all I have left," she admitted. Her voice not much more than whisper.

Jon heard Essie's simple statement and the enormity it carried. In an instant he was up and out of his chair and around the desk. He bent down and lifted her to him, his arms encircling her. Then he kissed her as man does the woman he loves. With one kiss he let her know his feelings and that he would never leave her. He broke the kiss after a few seconds and looked into her eyes. "I'll always be here for you Essie, always. You'll never be alone." He stroked her cheek softly and kissed her again. "We'll always have each other."

The weight of her words reduced her voice to the point it was barely audible, yet he'd heard her. Before she could say anything else, he'd drawn her up from her chair and into his arms and for once, she didn't push him away. Her fingers crawled up his back and threaded in his hair. She'd almost lost him during their last mission and that knowledge terrified her. Had he resisted her when she'd held him at gunpoint, she wasn't sure she would've have hesitated like she did then... when... but how could she look Jon in the eyes and tell him that?

Jon continued to hold Essie somehow holding her made him feel secure. "You're my world, Essie Stratton. I'd be lost without you. Your strength, your passion and courage not to mention, your love. I draw strength from you, Essie. I want to give you something in return to help you and not have you go through this alone."

Her fingers loosened and fell away from his hair to clasp at the back his neck. Her head buried in his chest. His passionate professions toward her left her speechless.

Strong, brave? She wasn't either of those things. For her, it had become an act. Something she'd force out of her if the situation called for it. Outwardly she'd be in control, but internally, she was petrified and unsure. Determined, undoubtedly. But where she needed to act, she'd often hesitated and she wasn't blind to that. Much like he'd been after his assimilation and return to the Washington, she'd been exposed and made vulnerable. Only it wasn't by the Borg, but the Tal Shiar.

Jon continued to hold Essie close. He could feel her pain, her suffering and it tore him apart. He so wanted to help her and if he had to stand here forever he would if it gave her any comfort at all. His one hand rubbed her back slowly. No words were spoken, none were needed. What would they say that hadn't already been said? They knew each other so well and what the other needed and right now and forever what they both needed was the support and love of the other.

It killed her, not being able to talk to him. She'd closed herself off to the one person she'd needed most for so long that now she was at a loss of what to say. To admit to him how alone she was and felt hadn't been easy. There was so much still left unsaid and ghosts that she would have to face eventually, for now though, having him there was enough.

Jon continued to hold Essie. Though they were both silent it wasn't awkward. Jon knew Essie was holding back and he also knew if he forced the issue it would only make matters worse for both of them, so for now he didn't push or prod he comforted and supported her as he would do for as long as it took for Essie to open up to him.


Previous Next