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"The BS about Wild Animals" (JL)

SS Nigala Lounge

by Nadja DeChevalier & Maxx
[Stardate ]

The BS about Wild Animals

Nadja DeChevalier and Cadet Maxx

    Repairs to the station from the siege two weeks prior had been coming along.  Maxx had been juggling Academy classwork and actual duty shifts all during that time.  He had also been doing extensive studied and computations on the ablative armor project, Lt. Commander Trent had assigned him.  He strolled into the quarters he was once again sharing with Nadja.
    The door to Nadja's bedroom swished open as if on cue. She stepped into the door frame. Unbeknownst to Maxx, she had been waiting for him. With heavy heart, she watched him for a few moments. He had matured so much since she had first met him down on the promenade. In many ways it was heartwarming that she had had a part in this change in his life, but that same warm feeling also clutched her by the throat and wanted to suffocate her time and again.
    Maxx looked over to Nadja and smiled broadly.  No matter how tired he was, it was always nice to see her.  His smile quickly faded. "What's wrong, Nadja?"
    She averted her eyes to the floor for just a moment, then looked back at him. "Maxx, I need to tell you something. Something important."
    "Okay..." Maxx said with much trepidation.  His eye were now fixed on Nadja.
    She walked over to him, gently grasping his arm and directing him to sit on the couch. He sat down obediently, though sitting was the last thing he wanted to do. For the longest of moments, she regarded him, looking for the right way to start this conversation. She wasn't about to present it as blunt as she had to Rylan.

    "Maxx... on many worlds there are some wild animals that... if you capture them and try to confine them, they eventually die. They're just not made to live in captivity. They have to be free. Be able to roam wherever they wish to go," she started.
    "You're leaving, aren't you?" Maxx asked.  His voice held no emotion.  His eyes were now locked on the H-PADD Mk8, which he turned over and over again in his hand.
    She let out a prolonged sigh. Maybe she should have figured he had a hunch. After all, he knew she had been seeing Vinn for the past week now, and he probably also knew that Vinn was scheduled to depart soon.
    Everything she could think of saying in reply seemed stupid and insincere to her, so she simply said, "I am."
    The H-PADD flipped over and over in his hand.  He didn't say a word, and he didn't look at her.  She had been the closest he had ever had to knowing what having a mother was like.  He thought he had lost her, when she had been injured from the shuttle explosion and the fire in the arboretum.  And then she was back, but now she was leaving, again.
    He had wanted to ask her, so many weeks ago, if he could officially use her last name.  When she had returned to some normalcy, he was wanting to ask again, and then along came Vinn.   
    Maxx brought his free hand up, and wiped the tear that had formed from his left eye.  He would not let anyone see that.  After a long moment, he said, again without emotion,  "Okay."
    "Maxx." The name came from her mouth like a heavy sigh. She wished he would cry, scream, pout, run off, anything but sit there and take it the way he was. It was rending her heart in two. "I can't stay. I've never been able to stay anywhere for long. It's in my blood to move about. Please, understand that," she pleaded.
    "I understand," Maxx said, though he really didn't.  All he had wanted to do was find a home.  "There is nothing to keep you here."  The H-PADD flipping increased.
    "That is not true." She reached out and halted him flipping the device by laying her hand on his. "I don't know how to explain it, but I feel like I will suffocate if I don't get to run about sometime soon." She suddenly thought of how Maxx might have perceived Vinn. "It has nothing to do with Vinn. Honest. But all with myself. Vinn is just the means that will help me to get what I need." Tears welled up in her eyes. "It doesn't mean I don't care about you, Maxx. Please believe me."
    Believe you?!? He wanted to shout.  All I can believe is you want to leave me!  He heard the pleading in her voice, and that brought on more emotion in him.   He, again, wiped away the tears.  "When will you be leaving?"
    She squeezed his hand. A tear fell from her eye. "In two days," she replied quietly.
    Maxx nodded, and kept his eyes on the now-still H-PADD.  He wanted so bad to start turning it again. 

    He took a long moment, then turned to Nadja, brought his arms up and hugged her. "Thank you for all you have done for me, and good luck."
    It was all it took to make the tears flow from her eyes freely. She pulled him close in the embrace, weeping. "Sometimes people's destinies are... entwined, but not... locked together, Maxx."
    It took all he had, not to break down.  He merely nodded to her comment.  After a long moment, Maxx broke the embrace and rose.  "I.... uh, have to go back down to engineering.  I... forgot to turn in a report to the commander."
    Nadja stood, her brow tense. "You have everything here, Maxx," she noted, "a career, great friends, a cute girlfriend, and so much to discover. And I will miss you." She wiped the tears from her cheeks. "And just remember, even comets, despite their long journeys, return... eventually."
    "I will miss you, too," Maxx told Nadja.  That was really the only thing he heard her say.  "I l...." He stopped short, and kissed her on the cheek, then quickly left the cabin.

    He walked briskly down the corridor and around the corner.  He continued past the turbo-lift, not really headed for engineering.  Maxx wasn't sure WHERE he was going.  Finding a dark corner, he slammed his back to the bulkhead and slid to the deck.  He buried his head in his hands, and wept.

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