Mission: Mistaken Honor
As soon as the meeting ended, Jenni and Arivek made their way to the nearest turbolift, each with their own destination. "Engineering," she told the computer. It waited for Arivek's input.
Arivek raised an eyebrow as he looked over at the woman he knew as his best friend. He could read her like a book, and this was one time that he knew exactly what she was going to say. "Go ahead," he said to her, waiting for her to get her feelings out.
Jenni waited for the lift to move, and gave it a couple of seconds to run before abruptly turning to her blue-skinned friend and said, "You... have a daughter. With Andy and Maica? What... How... When!?"
With a sigh, Arivek turned to her and leaned against the turbolift. "It happened last night, actually. Ferenia was intoxicated and asked the Computer for a Science Officer. There's been a glitch in the Computer's matrix that I can't figure out and it took her request literally. So it took my program, Maica's program and Andy's augments and created a very sentient hologram that has attached itself to me as a child."
Though he only said a few sentences, Jenni just had a whirlwind of visual images. "Oy..." she said at last, blinking and shaking her head. If anything, it just confirmed for her how much Katana had changed in recent months. "So, a Bolian/Trill/hologram/Orion/android hybrid. That's... that's just... wow." An amused smile appeared on her face as she looked back up at the Executive Officer. "How are you holding up with all of this?"
"Not very well," he said as he slumped against the turbolift wall. "Honestly, having children wasn't always my plan. And with me being a hologram, I somewhat threw that thought out of a window years ago. But now, this..." He became quiet. "I didn't ask for this, I didn't want this. I..." He looked at Jenni with tears welling up in his eyes, "I don't think I want her."
Jenni's eyes widened, shocked and nearly horrified by Arivek's confession. To be fair, she'd thrown the concept of children far from her mind as well, somewhere around the time her mother had been killed in that explosion. The pain she went through... she couldn't bear the thought of even one child of hers having to go down that same road.
But the thought of Akira... was that her name... being unwanted. That was more painful than anything she ever experienced. "Ari," she said gently, reaching out and brushing away a holographic tear. "She didn't ask for this either."
"I know," he said, quietly. "But...this isn't fair."
Nothing was really fair, at least nothing that happened to either of them over the last few years. Between the destruction of her Katana and the space/time displacement Ari had experienced, life wasn't nearly as they'd expected it to turn out. "I know," she assured him. "But, you're not alone. We've... we've got us."
Arivek leaned his had on Jenni's shoulder. "I don't know how I ever survived with you not on board," he said as he snaked his arm around his companion's.
She held him tight, just letting him feel the warm of a loving touch. "Ari..." she gently replied. Her reasons for leaving were her own, wanting to get away from the Katana and the Captain she'd accidentally married. Never once had she considered what it would do to her friends, or that they wouldn't be here when she returned. Even now, she wished she hadn't have left, but she could only have wondered what more would have changed around her. "I'm here now. We'll get you through this, just like how you helped me get through things a year ago."
"Thank you," Arivek said, thinking back on all the times they had together. "I'm so glad you're back."
"Me too," she said with a smile. "So..." she said, avoiding pressing a button to getting the turbolift move again. "When do I get to meet her?"
"I'm not sure just yet," Arivek stated. "She's still getting used to a lot of things."
"As are you, it seems," she pointed out. "How much time are you spending with her now, helping her adjust?"
"I've seen her a few times..." he said, his voice trailing off as he looked away. There was one thing that could never change, Ari couldn't lie while looking into Jenni's eyes. It just wasn't possible.
"Arivek..." Jenni said gently yet sternly, turning her head sharply towards him.
"Alright, twice," he said, sheepishly.
Jenni fought a sigh, not wanting to offend or set Ari off. Instead, she stood beside him and slid her arm around his shoulders. "You don't have to do this alone," she assured him. "I don't know the Captain, or the Intel Chief, but seeing you banter with them... I can tell they're part of the family now. Let the Katana family help you. Let me help."
"They could never replace you," Arivek said, wrapping his arms around his best friend.
She could only smile at that. "It's good to be home, if only to keep you from floundering."