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EPILOGUE

Earth, Sector 001
San Francisco
Fort Point

EIGHT MONTHS LATER…


He thought the catharsis would be the hardest part, but he was wrong.

Actually feeling some sort of guilt for his role in injecting Nekrit with the memories had been the hardest part to stomach. The conflicted feelings of guilt tore at the very heart of his satisfaction over it. He found himself getting angry with himself, then Nekrit, then himself, then Toni, then Nekrit, then himself once more. He wasn’t sure the anger would ever stop; he had been assured that it would – he just had to be patient.

But the catharsis? The catharsis had just been hard.

It took weeks for it to work its way out and then days to drain away. At one point he was sure that he would never stop crying. Suicide became a serious option but the counselors were ever-watchful and the opportunity never presented itself.

They had poked and prodded and needled their way into his mind. No matter how hard he had tried to hide his pain, they found their way through and forced him to deal with it head-on until he could no longer plug the widening cracks in the dikes he had built against the rising pressure of his inner catastrophe. It all just came crashing down and the tidal wave of grief, pain, sorrow, remorse, anger, fury and desolation came roaring out of him. From every pore, from every duct and from every filament of him the hate and the guilt and the anguish flowed.

Even though people were surrounding him at every moment – all telling him that he wasn’t alone – he had never felt so isolated in all his life. Not even when he was truly isolated on Nervala IV for all those years did he feel so unreservedly alone and abandoned.

He had let her go and it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

Laren was gone. He had said goodbye and the moment he meant it, he literally fell apart.

It had been weeks since then.

It had been months since the hearings.

The counselors had been telling him that it was a good sign to feel like an empty shell. It was a good sign to feel alone. It was a good sign to feel…

They said it was an even better sign that he actually felt regret for his part in the attack on Nekrit. The hate surged through him; then rage then the guilt once more. Another circle of emotion he could no longer control.

He sighed and shifted his position on the old bench by the decaying fortress. He continued to watch as wave after wave of seawater crashed over the ancient, rusted guard-rail tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge.

He fingered the ID bracelet attached around his wrist – the ever-present reminder that he was ill. This was his first extended expedition outside the confines of the Starfleet psychiatric facility since his catharsis. He knew his chaperone was watching from close by, just to make sure he wouldn’t jump into the frigid waters of the bay; but he didn’t feel like jumping anymore. He just wanted to sit and watch the waves.

Usually people milled about the old site. Tourists normally came in packs to see the old fort from the 19th Century built under the historic bridge; but it was far too cold for tourists today. The ruins were deserted. The bite in the air reminded him that he was alive and for once he wasn’t utterly repulsed by the very idea of it.

He still felt alone. He still felt isolated.

They still called him Thomas.

He had resigned himself to it, but he still didn’t like it. They said it was a healthy thing – for him to still resent having his name assumed by his duplicate – to still feel like Fate had handed him the short end of the stick and gave Will…the other Will…every chance at opportunity. They said it was good for him to feel angry. They said it was a good thing to deal with those pent-up animosities and jealousies.

He was just so tired of it.

He still felt like no one would understand what he had endured, but in a sense he felt somehow victorious too.

He had kept his promise to Laren. He had survived. He had overcome and he had lived through it all. He had chosen to live in order to keep her memory alive. Even though he had said goodbye, he took comfort in his memories of her. The good memories – the memories of her soft caresses, the memories of her smile and her loud, mischievous laugh; the memories of her gorgeous body as he made love to her – all of them – he grasped onto all of them. They had said that it was a healthy thing to do, so he allowed himself to remember her. It’s what had caused the catharsis. It’s what allowed the healing to begin. He actually allowed himself a small smirk as he watched the waves crash over the ancient, rusted guard-rail.

And then once more, the feeling of loneliness swept over him.

They said it would be constant battle for a long time. Two steps forward. One step back…sometimes all within a few seconds of each other. He hated it, but he was too tired to fight it anymore. It had been that way since the catharsis.

He brought his jacket tight around him. The cold wind bit at his ears and nose but it felt good. It was a strange, comforting pain – the kind of pain that reminded him that he was alive and that somehow there still might be purpose to his life. It was the kind of reminder that there might still actually be a place for him somewhere, even if it meant that place was right here, right now – staring at the waves crashing over the ancient, rusted guard-rail.

He just wished he didn’t feel so isolated.

He was due to be relocated to the social ward the next day. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to move. As much as he hated feeling isolated, the thought of talking to others about his feelings revolted him – or maybe it just frightened him. Of all the things to be frightened of…after everything I’ve been through…to fear talking to strangers about my feelings? How ridiculous!

And yet…talking about it means having to relive it all…again and again…and again.


He swallowed hard and let the wave of fear roll through him just as another wave of sea-water sprayed over the decrepit iron chains that lined the retaining wall of the site. He wasn’t sure he was even ready for the move. He had finally gotten to the point of being comfortable in his own room and now they wanted him to socialize? He rubbed his eyes and his face with frustration. I can’t believe I’m worried about living with other people!

His mind wandered with the imaginings of his new neighbors…all psychologically disturbed, all of them…broken somehow.

Broken…like me.

The thought provided him no comfort.

It saddened him.

Once again the feeling of isolation and hate and resentment rolled over him.

He heard the crunching sound of approaching footfalls on the graveled surface behind him. He sighed and continued to watch the waves pound the retaining wall and crash over the ancient, rusted guard-rail. He didn’t want to go back yet. He just wanted to sit here and watch the waves and feel…feel…the cold air bite at his ears.

“Will?”

Nothing could have prepared him for the velvet of her voice.

Nothing could have prepared him for the sound of his real name uttered by the velvet of her voice.

He hadn’t seen her since…then.

He slowly turned to see a warm, dark, woolen coat. Her hands were inserted into the two large pockets on the coat’s front but he was astonished to see that her exposed wrist bore a band identical to the one he wore on his own arm. Under the fabric of the pockets, he could tell her hands were trembling softly. He could also tell she wasn’t trembling because of the cold.

His heart started to churn in his chest and he forced himself to look upwards. Her dark hair fluttered away from her face in thin wisps. Her porcelain cheeks were flushed from the sting of the cold breeze; but he finally forced himself to look into her eyes – those incredible, jade, understanding eyes.

Oh God…

Oh God I’m not…I’m not alone...


He shifted his body quietly down the small bench and she moved in slowly and gently to sit next to him. He leaned back and raised his arm and rested it over her shoulders, drawing her closer, feeling her tremors, letting her know…

…letting her know she wasn’t alone either.

He felt her take a deep, cleansing breath and she settled into the crevice of his arm. He rested his cheek on the silk of her hair.

Together they turned their gaze and watched silently as wave after wave crashed over the ancient, rusted guard-rail.


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