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Hellene smiled as she rolled onto her side to face the strange man who had brought her here. “That was... strange,” she murmured, taking a moment to decide on a word that still did not fully describe what she was feeling.

He grinned, pulling her closer. “Mm, I don’t think I would say ‘strange’,” he replied.

“But it is,” she insisted. “I am away from the place I have called home for six season-cycles for the first time that I can remember. I am with a man whose name I do not even know, who does not seem to believe in the deity I serve at all, and I have been so for most of the day. This is all most unusual for me, so I would argue that ‘strange’ is apt in this scenario.”

“And I would argue that it isn’t strange at all for a man and a woman who clearly enjoy each other’s company to spend time together,” he retorted.

Hellene sighed. “But I have responsibilities that I am currently ignoring. I have never done so in the past; I do not understand why I feel I should now.”

He smiled. “Well, for one, I’m flattered that you’re ignoring them on my account. Secondly, you’ve been working there for how long?”

“Six season-cycles,” Hellene replied with a hint of pride. “Only one priestess has been there longer.”

“And you’ve never had a day off?” he asked. “Never had time to yourself?”

“Not unless I was ill, and that only happened once. I have no need of time away from my Mother.” Hellene felt the first hints of doubt creeping into her, though. Six season-cycles, and almost never leaving the temple? Surely that was at least a little excessive?

“Then I’d definitely say it isn’t strange at all,” he decided. “Everyone needs a little time away, no matter how much they love what they’re doing. That includes Head Priestesses to any god.”

“That is not true,” she protested, though the protest sounded empty even before it passed her lips.

“But it is,” he murmured against her jaw as he drew her close once more. “And you know it is, too. You’re not ready to admit it to yourself, yet, but the idea and the question are already there.”

They were, and Hellene was not certain who she hated more in that moment: herself for having such ideas in the first place, or he for being right about it.

Frowning, she looked away, her gaze finding the horizon. She leapt to her feet when she realized that the sun was alarmingly close to the line of mountains in the distance. “The worship!” she exclaimed. “I will be late.”

He tugged her back down. “Well, you’re not going anywhere the way you are right now,” he smirked.

Uncertain of what he meant, she looked down and realized she was still entirely unclothed. She was unable to help her sudden blush, grabbing at her chiton and fastening the brooch at the shoulder. She reached for the cord, only to find that he had taken it.

“Not so fast,” he murmured into her ear as he stood behind her. “Surely you can stay a few more moments?”

“I am afraid I cannot,” she replied, turning and reaching for the cord, which he held out of her reach. “I need that.”

“Let me put it on for you, at least?” he asked, and she found she could not refuse him.

“I suppose,” she finally replied.

He smiled, once more stepping behind her, and reached around her to fasten the cord around her waist. She shivered and glared as his hands teasingly slipped beneath it for a moment before withdrawing. “I have to leave,” she snapped.

“Easy,” he replied. “We’re going back now.”

I am going back,” she countered.

Suddenly she frowned as the world began to spin around them. “What have you done?” she demanded.

“I haven’t done anything!” he defended.

“Then why is everything spinning?” she asked.

“Because you’re--”

But she did not hear the rest of his reply, for at that moment the world went black.

~*~

Jim stared, barely managing to catch the priestess before she could hit the ground. Concerned, he gently laid her out on the grassy ground and attempted to find out what had caused her to faint.

Also causing the gears in his brain to whirl on overtime was the last thing she had said.

“Because you’re swaying,” he had replied. It was true; Hellene had been swaying like someone had given her Romulan ale for the first time just to see what would happen.

For a brief moment she had stopped, staring straight at him. Before she fell, she’d snarled in a voice that had sounded much less like the priestess he had met and much more like someone else he’d once known. “Dammit, Jim, what the
fuck is going on?!” she’d demanded.

That had instantly caused him to freeze. Not only had her voice changed, but she had spoken in Standard without the correction of the universal translator. In addition to all of that, Jim was pretty sure that he’d never actually given Hellene his name.

All of the information was pointing to one conclusion. Clearly, Hellene was not the person she’d originally appeared to be. In fact, in those last moments she hadn’t acted anything like the priestess he’d come to know. She’d acted more like...

More like Bones.

He froze once more, floored by the realization. Could it really be that the woman who’d disappeared from his life three years ago was in front of him right now? She hadn’t appeared to remember anything from that life, but there were any number of explanations he could think of for that and most likely a few he hadn’t thought of as well.

Before he could reach any conclusions about that, though, he needed to get help for her. Gently lifting her into his arms, he started to walk back into the town.

He didn’t manage to make it very far into Korinthos before a woman dressed much like Hellene--Bones?--stopped him. “We have been searching for Hellene,” she stated.

“Well, she’s right here, and she just fainted,” he said.

“This way. She will be attended to,” the woman replied before leading him in a direction that he now realized led to the street all of the temples were located at.

“What’s your name?” Jim asked as they entered the temple once more.

“Dianthe,” the priestess responded. “It might be said that I am the Head Priestess’ right hand.”

They passed through the sanctuary, walking past several priestesses who were cleaning it out, presumably for the night’s worship. “So what’s wrong with Hellene?” he asked.

“She will be well momentarily,” Dianthe replied, gesturing toward a room.

Jim frowned as he stepped inside and laid her on the bed, realizing instantly that instead of answering his question Dianthe had neatly sidestepped it. Stepping back, he allowed the priestess to approach Hellene with a small cup of water. Dipping a fingertip into it, Dianthe smeared it across Hellene’s lips.

Jim’s eyes widened slightly as Hellene shifted and frowned slightly. Dianthe assisted her in sitting up and then drinking the rest of the water, and finally she smiled at him. “I apologize for the trouble I must have caused you, losing consciousness as I did,” she murmured.

“It’s quite all right,” Jim replied. “You’re clearly feeling better now, and it wasn’t hard to bring you back here.”

“You strayed from the temple too long,” Dianthe admonished. “You of all people should remember that our Mother’s water causes us to thrive and without it we weaken.”

The phrasing caused Jim to frown. Our Mother’s water?

“Indeed,” Hellene murmured. “Now, if you will excuse me, sir, I really must prepare for evening worship.”

“You were completely unconscious not five minutes ago, and now you want to go about your business as normal?” Jim asked skeptically.

“Five minutes?” Both priestesses looked at him, puzzled.

“A unit of time from where I am from,” Jim explained. “A rather short unit of time.”

“I do intend to carry out my duties,” Hellene responded--for she was Hellene, now, and a personality almost completely different from that which had flashed just before she fainted.

“Are you sure you shouldn’t lie down for a little while longer?” Jim asked, a bit concerned still.

“I am perfectly capable of doing that which my Mother Calls me to do,” Hellene snapped, and there was the Bones he remembered, snarling at any suggestion that she needed to take a break whether or not she actually did.

“All right,” Jim said, and within moments Hellene had stood up and whisked by him, the tail ends of the cord that wrapped around her waist flying behind her.

Jim started to walk toward the door as well, only to be stopped by Dianthe. “What is it?” he asked, uncertain of what the priestess wanted with him.

“I wish to speak with you,” Dianthe replied.

“About what?” He had a fair idea of exactly what she wanted to say, though, from her tone alone.

Sure enough, her next words fulfilled his expectations. “I wish to speak to you about how you must never see Hellene again.”

~*~

Three Years Ago

Jim stared as the door to Bones’ room opened.

The first thing that came to Jim’s attention was that the room was an absolute wreck, as if a tornado had selectively decided to land in that room and no other. There was a scattering of PADDs and various things that had probably once been food at the desk, clothes all over the floor, and a fine layer of dust coated most of the flat surfaces and several of the knick-knacks Bones had insisted on collecting over the years.

That wasn’t like her. She was almost obsessive about keeping the room clean and would never have allowed so much as the desk getting cluttered, much less everything else.

Stepping inside, Jim paused at the clink of glass connecting with his boot. Looking down, he saw an empty hypospray vial. He frowned and picked it up, attempting to decipher what had been in it when it was full.

Of course, that attempt failed, but now that it had been brought to Jim’s attention he cast a sharper gaze about the room. As he looked, he saw more of the telltale glimmers strewn in with the clothes, with a small pile of them just beside her bedside table. Opening the drawer, he saw even more of them inside.

A month. It had been a month since he’d stepped into this room. How had all of this happened in that time?

The scattering of PADDs he could understand, he guessed. Bones was nothing if not busy, and the past month had been no exception on either of them. During lulls in their schedule if he didn’t drag her out of her room Bones sought out more work, one of the reasons he had started to hang out with her in the first place. Maybe she had just taken too much on herself, which had certainly happened before, and neglected to put the PADDs away when she was done.

The clothes, too, could be explained by that. He could definitely picture an exhausted Bones stripping out of her clothes and just leaving them on the floor, saying to herself that she’d deal with them the next day before pulling pajamas on and passing out as soon as her head made contact with her pillow. For once he didn’t need to banish the mental image usually associated with such imaginings, his worry doing that for him all on its own.

He could come up with no explanation, though, for the empty hypospray vials. He had never seen anything like them in Bones’ room before, and he had no idea what had even been in them, or if they’d all even held the same thing.

Frowning, he picked a few of them up and began the short walk to the clinic, locking the door with his own code on the way out.


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