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Hellene frowned and then a searing pain overtook her, lancing from the top of her head and down through the soles of her feet. Her knees buckled as she clutched her head, and then she was blinded by a bright light.

When she could open her eyes again the brightness had only barely dimmed. She stood in a field of white, as if it were covered in a light layer of snow, but she was not cold as she would have been were it actually snowing.

She felt a pull from something to her left, walking past a tree that had long since set into its winter resting state as she approached what turned out to be a small building.

The building was created from wood and was clearly old, and the roof had long since been covered in the same snow-but-not-snow that she was walking through now. Hellene paused, confused, when she was at the doorstep. Why had she come here? What was she searching for?

She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to face another who looked exactly like her. “Are we sisters?” she asked, even as she felt it was not the truth.

“No,” the woman responded with a faint smile. “We are one. Or we will be, if you open that door.”

“And if I do not?” Hellene asked, uncertain of what she should do.

“If you don’t open the door, you will spend the rest of your existence with me in this field of snow where we can’t feel a single thing.” It didn’t sound like a threat; that was plainly not what the woman--she, herself?--intended. She was simply stating a fact, and one that she looked like she had lived, for she was faded and muted like the rest of the world around her.

“How long have you been here?” Hellene asked.

“I’ve been here for three years,” the other woman who looked just like her responded, and somehow Hellene knew that that amount of time was the same as the six season-cycles she had spent at the temple.

A million questions floated through her mind, but only one seemed like an appropriate question to ask. “What is your name?”

The woman smiled. “I am Lena McCoy.”

With that release of information, she instantly felt better about moving on to her next question. “If I am you and you are me, have you seen life through my eyes or do you remember nothing of my life as I remember nothing of yours?”

“I know very little,” Lena responded. “There is a pond here, and if I looked through it I could see what was going on in the outside world.” Suddenly she grinned, and Lena’s smile reminded Hellene very much of the wolves she had heard about in the past. “You know, I’d always wondered what Jim was like in bed.”

“Jim?” Hellene asked.

“Jim Kirk. The blond man you ‘worshipped’ with. The one who’s so determined to bring me home.” Lena’s smile softened. “He had quite the reputation, you know. Most of it was undeserved; he had never actually been with a third of the people Starfleet Academy rumors said he had been. He’d always wondered where they got it from, this idea of him that just wasn’t true.”

“You care for him, don’t you?” Hellene asked.

In an instant Lena’s smile faded. “Of course I do,” she replied. “He was my best friend, and damn close to one of my only ones.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Hellene remarked.

“I know it’s not what you meant.” Lena sighed, walking around the house. Hellene followed, confused. “I know exactly what you meant. Even if I do, for him it’s been three years and I was only ever a friend. I’m sure he has someone now; he’s a good man, for all he has his moments of sheer stupidity.”

Hellene frowned. “I would not be so sure.”

Lena’s face closed off entirely at that point. “That’s enough of that,” she said quietly. “Either you open the door, or we stay trapped here forever. It’s your choice.”

Hellene sighed. “I simply believe that you should not give up on him so easily,” she murmured. “I know that if I had loved him, I would not.”

Before Lena could say another word, Hellene marched through the snow she still couldn’t feel, grasping the doorknob and twisting it. She only hesitated another moment before opening it and stepping inside.


~*~

Jim sat in Sickbay, watching Hellene... Lena... fuck it, she was still Hellene until he knew otherwise. He had brought her here as quickly as he could, much to the surprise of his CMO, Geoff M’Benga.

Geoff had sighed and shook his head. “You really do have a strange tendency to find yourself in the middle of trouble.”

“I know,” Jim had replied tersely. “Just... make sure she’ll be all right, okay?”

He had, and there was nothing left to do but sit and wait. That had been two hours beforehand.

Finally, she frowned, and Jim sat up straighter. He opened his mouth to say something, but realized he had no idea who would be waking up and closed it.

Finally her eyelids fluttered and hazel eyes opened, promptly squeezing shut with a flinch. “Too damn bright in here,” she muttered.

“Lena?” Jim asked hesitantly.

“No. I’m your goddamn worst nightmare, or I will be if you don’t turn the lights down.”

Jim let out a startled laugh and complied. “You know, if you’d decide that knocking yourself out for three hours was a bad idea maybe you wouldn’t be blinded when you woke up in Sickbay.”

“Well, maybe if you’d stop dragging me into your misadventures I wouldn’t be waking up in Sickbay.”

“No, maybe if you hadn’t disappeared for three years you wouldn’t be waking up in Sickbay.” The reply was an instant one, but just as quickly Jim could tell it had been the wrong one. The light, cheerful mood from before had instantly vanished, and Jim had to look away.

“About that--” Lena began, but Jim cut her off.

“Not now. Not when you’ve only just gotten back. There’s plenty of time to deal with that later.” She winced and he realized it had come out harder than he’d meant it to. “I’m sorry,” he sighed. “It’s just... never mind. Now’s not the time.”

And with that he walked away, leaving behind a clearly confused Lena. As he passed by Geoff, he muttered, “She’s awake.”

Geoff was up and out of his chair instantly, walking briskly over to the biobed and checking vitals. Jim watched for a moment longer before leaving Sickbay altogether. This was going to be a hell of a report, and he figured it was best to get started on it.

~*~

Three Years Ago

Another restless hour passed as Lena slipped between semi consciousness and restless nightmares. Tossing and turning, she bit her lip to keep in a soft noise as she finally startled into full wakefulness. Sighing, she checked the time.

2 AM. She’d been lying there for three hours. Well, it was better than nothing, she supposed. Or was it? She wasn’t sure anymore.

Suddenly, a beam of moonlight glinted off of something on her desk and she recalled another thing that the light would have glinted on, a vial of a fast-acting sedative in her medkit.

It couldn’t hurt. She knew she needed rest, and if that was what it took to get the one night of sleep that would set her to rights then so be it.

Administering the hypospray, she smiled as she drifted into sleep.


On to part 9

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November 2011

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