Chapter 15 Lt. Comdr. Calavicci was having trouble sleeping. Despite medical orders from Verbina Beeks to take the sedatives that she had given him, he had refused to take them. Not that he didn't trust her. Over the past few hours, he found that he trusted her a great deal, at least far more than he had ever trusted any psychiatrist. Perhaps it was because she seemed honest in her concern for him, that she really did want to help him the way a good friend wants to help. No, Comdr. Calavicci did trust Verbina Beeks and the sedatives she had given him. He just didn't like sedatives in general. They meant losing control, something he didn't want. He needed control. The last time he had lost control, it had nearly destroyed him. The VC had nearly won. Besides, in his experience, all that sedatives did was delay the inevitable: sleepless nights with nightmares too realistic for comfort. A night without those nightmares was a pleasant thought but he knew that the nightmares would return stronger than ever once he stopped taking the sedatives. It was better for him not to take them in the first place. "Can't sleep?" Al jumped at the voice despite being used to it. "Sorry," Verbina told him, walking closer to him slowly. She noticed the small paper cup in which she had placed the sedatives, the two pills still in their place. "You didn't take the pills," she said matter-of-factly. "You don't sound surprised," Al commented, sitting on the table in the room. Verbina smiled at him. "I'm not. But I had hoped that you would take them. I know you've been having trouble sleeping." Al huffed a bit. "There's an understatement." He rubbed his hands through his hair, trying to block the memories. Verbina gently took his hands, knowing what his actions meant. "Don't, Al. Please." He looked at her with question. "Don't what?" "Blocking them isn't going to help you heal," she told him gently. "How did you…" "I know you, remember?" she pointed out. "Certainly the Al I know is older but he's still you. And I know that, if you don't deal with this now, it will haunt you for years." He pulled his hand away. "They're going to haunt me anyway. There is no way you, me, or anyone else can make the memories disappear forever. They are just some things you can't forget, even if you want to." Verbina nodded. "I understand." Al shook his head. "No, you don't. And I pray to God, if He even cares, that you never do." "You have no faith in God," she surmised. "He's given me no reason to have faith in Him. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm being heroic of cowardly by not committing suicide." His frank statement startled her. Of all the things she imagined Al Calavicci to have been when he was younger, suicidal had not even occurred to her. "You've thought about it, though," she said for confirmation. Al frowned at her. "You're starting to sound like a shrink again." Verbina gave him a small smile meant to reassure. "It's a tough habit to break when you make your living that way. I hope you don't think it means that I'm being cold and inconsiderate." Al stood up and began to pace. "You're just asking me…" He exhaled. "I'm just not ready to talk about it, that's all." Verbina nodded slowly. "Then how about talking about Susan Chambers?" "Who?" he questioned with a frown. "She owns the delicatessen you order lunch from every day." He still looked a bit confused. Verbina cringed internally at what she was about to say. "She bears a striking resemblance to Beth." Al froze in his spot, turning his head slowly towards her with an intense glare. "Get out," he growled after a moment. Verbina stood her ground. "Al, I think we should talk about this." He stormed towards her. "I said, get the hell out! Leave me alone!" His voice was fierce but not anyway as fierce as the once of his older, more experienced self. Therefore, the loud, harsh order didn't phase her in the least. She stood up nose to nose with him. "No," she said calmly. "We are going to discuss this, Commander, whether you like it or not because, whether you like it or not, this discussion may affect the rest of your life! Now, sit down, calm down, and start talking!" Al stared at her, surprised by her firmness. "Sit," Verbina repeated her order firmly. Al obeyed reluctantly, exhaling in frustration and surrender. "What do you want to know?" "You know her," Verbina stated more than asked. Al shook his head. "I wouldn't say that." "Then what would you say?" He took a thoughtful moment. "I know of her. I know enough about her to…" He trailed off, afraid to go further. "To know that you love her?" Verbina suggested. Al glared at her. "It isn't love." She smiled at him, seeing the truth in his dark eyes. "Yes, it is. You're in love with her but you're afraid." He laughed. It was a mirthless laugh, more scared than amused. Could she really read him that easily? "Afraid?" he questioned, trying to sound incredulous. She nodded. "Afraid. You're afraid that, if you have a relationship with her, it would be based on her resemblance to your ex-wife." "Was it?" Al asked. "You tell me," Verbina replied. He glared at her. "You know I don't have an answer to that. How can I? I haven't even asked her out!" "Yet." "Yet?" Verbina nodded. Al frowned. "You're going to have that guy ask her out for me, aren't you?" "Yes," she answered bluntly. Al exhaled in frustration and resignation. "Guess I don't have a choice in the matter, do I?" Verbina gave him a gentle smile. "We're only doing what you would have done anyway." "So, I did ask her out," he concluded. She nodded again. "Yes." He looked at her with curiosity. "Then what is he doing in my life if he's doing exactly what I did in the first place." "He's there to keep you from making a serious mistake," she told him. "And that is?" "You left her." He exhaled. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe we weren't meant to be together?" Verbina smiled. "Yes." "And?" "As far as we can tell, things would have turned out worse." He laughed sickly. "How worse can it get?" Verbina shook her head. "You don't want to know."