The feeling of Landon's heartbeats drowning out his thoughts was an uncomfortable relief from the nauseating worry he felt about seeing Rob. The briefing had been a telltale sign that while Lansine was outwardly recovering from his time on Carida, it was also still eating him away a little. Although Landon was no counselor or therapist, he strode down the corridors of the Quantum Fury towards where he'd been told his friend's quarters were. The trip was short enough to make it a quick stroll, but long enough to give Landon time to think about the things they would need to talk about. What had he been through? Who else made it off Carida? How did he escape? The questions racked and raced through his mind. The shock alone, of finding out Rob was alive and assigned to the same vessel as himself, was enough to give him a headache.
When he finally arrived at the door, Landon took a breath and tried to bring his composure back into focus. He sighed and rang the chime.
Rob was at the doorway, about to leave for the mess hall after an afternoon of studying duty reports and command briefings about the Charon's latest assignment when he heard the chime. The door opened and revealed the Trill engineer.
Neyes smiled a little and stretched his head forward, peering into the small cabin where Lansine was staying. "They really know how to treat war veterans don't they. I think my room is half this size."
Rob frowned and looked back into the room, "I'll be happy when we're on the Charon," he frowned. "These are too big, too empty." His statement sort of drowned off as he caught himself thinking of Carida. "At least they're not on Deck 10..." Rob looked back at Landon and smiled, hoping the insert of humor would help them avoid talking about the past six months.
"I am not the flyboy anymore, Robby. I'm a respectable Engineer." He did a little bow, teasing. "And Engineering is in the belly of the beast. Naturally I'll want to be near where the action is gonna be. Who wants to be on the bridge these days?" Landon playfully scoffed.
Landon stopped talking as he saw Rob looking at him with a little bit of a vacant stare. His heart sank as he realized that something awful had happened back on that planet, and his friend was trying so incredibly hard to keep it all at bay. In a way, he could understand. They'd both been there when the Cardassians massacred hundreds of the Caridan colonists. Children, women, anyone they could get their hands on. Landon remembered how vivid his dreams had been about the people who'd been vaporized by a plasma charge that went off right next to him. Out of some sort of sickened restraint, he'd never told anyone that he could hear their twisted, split-second screams in his head. Truthfully he wasn't sure if they'd actually made a sound, or if it was possible to hear over the explosion, but he heard them all the same. It was haunting. Landon could see that Rob wasn't the same, even though he tried his best to hide it.
Every part of Neyes wanted to make it better. To get the old Rob back. To grab him and take his place, to be the one who'd been captured and left to rot by the very Federation he'd risked his life for. Neyes sighed and couldn't help but take a look at his shoes. Even at 750 years old, he still couldn't get a grip on how to handle a rough situation. They both stood in the doorway for a moment, just thinking about what to do. To be the carefree and listless pilot that had guided Rob into taking his footholds as an exemplary officer would have been preferable, but Landon felt anything but carefree as their common dark cloud hung over their heads.
"It should have been me, Robby." He finally whispered. His voice struggling to keep constant.
Rob sighed deeply. "Can we not talk about it?" The situations, possibilities and probabilities had been constantly running through his head for the past seven months. He did not want to go over this all over again.
"Can't you at least give me a clue what happened? Have you spoken to your family?" Landon made his way into the room, careful to maintain his supportive disposition. The last thing he needed was for this to become some kind of fight. "After... well I got a hold of the ones I could find. I suppose they know you're alright now. If you don't want to talk about it, that's perfectly alright." He was more concerned about Rob now that he'd returned from the front line. It couldn't have been more than a couple months, and he'd already returned to an active duty assignment on a tactically stressful vessel? Landon worried it was going to take it's toll, and he wanted to be there to make sure it didn't escalate into an entirely new issue for his friend.
"It doesn't matter what happened Landon," Rob pinched his nose. "What happened, happened. It doesn't matter." He was avoiding the problem now rather than confronting the tough topic with the man who had once saved his life. "It's in the past."
"It matters. I just wanted to let you know that I'm here." Neyes tilted his head down and smiled a little, meeting Lansine's lowered gaze. "You're back."
Rob had dealt with it, just in his own way and while some of his methods had been less than healthy, he was just now beginning to feel like he could live his old life again. Confronting an emotional Landon was not helping. "I'm fine," it wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the truth either. Landon didn't understand and at this point Rob didn't think he needed to.
"You're not alright. And don't bullshit me about it." Neyes was careful not to sound angry, but his words sent his message perfectly. Rob was going to play the tough and strong security officer who didn't need to talk about anything, but they both knew better. To let Lansine sink into some kind of pit of despair or self-loathing wasn't going to get him anywhere. "At the very least you're not telling me something. You tell me things."
The pain in Rob's forehead was beginning to tighten. "I said, I don't want to talk about it Landon." His words more punctuated than before.
Landon tried to bite his tongue. The urge to simply tell his friend he was shutting himself down was overwhelming. Telling him something he already knew seemed pointless though. "I tried twice to get you out of there. I tried to steal a runabout to come get you. I would have personally cut down every Cardassian on that planet if I thought I could have saved you." He felt the back of his throat start to tighten. It was just as difficult to remember failing to rescue Rob as it was to live it. The entire experience had taken a massive effort to overcome and Landon was already over that hill, but Rob seemed to have simply pushed it aside. "You think it was easy to just accept that you were rotting down there? Cardassians hunting you? I read the reports from Innovindil after the first wave of recovery efforts by Beta Fleet. She was more than willing to share what she knew, and it wasn't pretty." Landon did his best to keep his voice down. "So why the game?"
Rob paused before answering. Part of him desperately wanted to confide in Landon. The had been his only real emotional connection since leaving the academy and it hurt to see him so distraught. "I don't need you to worry about me Landon." He was careful not to sound vulnerable. The last thing he wanted was more pity.
"What do you want me to say, Rob?" Landon threw his hands into the air. " 'Gosh it was balls you were left behind, but it's ok now'? Try again because it's not going to happen. It's too much, and it's all of a sudden. This time you popped out of nowhere and we're on the same ship again. Stop the twisted 'we're friends; nothing's wrong' act and let me in." Neyes' brows pressed up together, showing a man who couldn't contain his worry.
"No matter what you say, it matters." Landon said.
There little conversation was gathering attention in the corridor and Rob didn't like it. "Keep your voice down," the pain in his head was radiating down his neck now, today was not going well. "I want you to act like someone who knows me Landon," Rob paused and took a deep breath. "I need you to behave like someone I can trust, behave like an adult and most importantly behave like someone who is my friend," Rob looked around and noticed two enlisted crew who looked to be listening in. He gave them a glare and the left. Rob looked back to Landon, "There are things about Carida I doubt even want to think about right now Landon, there are things I don't even fully realize yet and most frightening of all I'm not quite sure I'll ever get the full story. We will talk about it, I will tell you, all I'm asking for is time."
His words weren't getting through. In truth, Landon was a little hurt that Rob refused to come out of his shell. They'd been through a lot, and for him to turn it around on Landon and say he wanted him to start acting like an adult? Neyes' brow straightened, his jaw clenched, and his face cleared of his worry. It was up to Rob to decide when he wanted to start letting his guard down, and Landon couldn't force it.
"I said what I came here to say." Landon stepped past Rob and out the door, stopping just outside, but keeping his back turned. "See you 'round."
=/\= End Log =/\=
Ensign Landon Neyes