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JL | Danielle Atarah, Kalina Zett | Earth Syndicate | Reconstruction, Pt VI: "When The Walls Crumble"

Posted on 241709.03 @ 5:01am by Danielle Atarah

Mission: Non-Plot Log
Location: Earth

Dani walked into the office -- the real office, her guards peeling off at the entrance. Dani wasn't happy at all that she even had guards to begin with, but that was a problem for another day.

Zett stood facing the vast window, watching the view towards the San Francisco bay, her arms folded across her chest. Remnants of smoke still rose from below where the doors had been blown out by the attacking force.

Dani walked towards her and stopped a few feet away, giving the woman some room, looking at her carefully. They just faced the lion, and won. Dani expected a celebration. Instead, the woman seemed preoccupied. Concerned.

Zett stirred, but didn’t turn; instead, she tilted her head, slightly sideways, as if to talk to Dani without looking at her directly.

“I am not going to apologize.”

Dani blinked, but said nothing. The memory of Jorin’s terrified dead face surfaced in her mind. She pushed it away.

Zett paused, letting the words sink in, then finally turned. Her eyes were still fire, but it dimmed slightly, burning in the back, lighter, as if all that remained were the embers, whispering quietly, threatening to reignite the flames with the smallest gust of wind. Dani came closer, raising her head to face the taller woman.

“I’m not sorry, Dani.”

Dani nodded. “I know.”

“I won’t apologize.”

“I know--”

“You…” Zett started, interrupting, then took a breath; the words, clearly, burning through her chest like acid, making it hard to breath. “Dani.” She settled on that word, allowing that, at least, to escape with a sigh, closing her eyes.

Dani opened her mouth but Zett cleared her throat, opening her eyes again, looking at the smaller woman directly. “We did it. We are safe now.”

Dani nodded, trying to decipher Zett's expression, the trouble she was facing, trying to read beyond the walls that guarded her eyes. “You can do what you want now,” the Trill whispered, raising an arm to push rogue strands of hair off of Dani's bewildered face.

“You can take the ship, roam around the quadrant, raise hell,” she smiled softly, her eyes softening, but not enough to crush the wall that was erected there. “You can be free… And.. away from… this.”

Dan stared, her eyes boring into the Trill’s blue eyes, bewildered, confused, almost offended. She saw it, far and small and well hidden - the fear, hiding behind cracks in the thick wall the woman insisted on maintaining. Dani breathed.

Years of training under Cardello’s wing did this, she thought, as she watched Zett battle to keep her emotions behind thick impenetrable walls, as she fought to deny what her heart surely already knew.

Cardello demanded such coldness, such detached brutality, that Zett didn't seem to know how to allow others in anymore. It wasn't even that she didn't trust her, Dani realized. It was that she didn't know how to. She didn't even realize she was doing it to begin with.

One small thing challenges the constant agreement in their relationship, and Zett was expecting Dani to leave. To run.

Maybe that wasn't too far from what Dani did in the past. Maybe Zett wasn't the only one who was affected by Cardello's view of the world. Maybe they were both screwed up.

But Dani didn't need to check deep inside herself to know what to do. Not anymore. If Cardello was the destroyer, Starfleet was the equalizer, showing Dani that people who care do exist, and do care, for real.

“Kal,” she started again, her eyes focusing on Zett's, relentlessly, her finger tapping the taller woman's cheek lightly, not letting her shift her gaze. Not letting her run away.

The blue eyes finally rested on hers, the wall cracking, wetness surrounding an expression that was almost a plea for an escape. “Just go now, Dani. Don't stretch it too long. Please.”

It was so soft, so broken, so resolved to the fact of abandonment, that Dani wondered if she would even have a choice at all. Her voice cracked with a sigh. She's not going to let this fear win, she decided. This isn't Zett. This is Cardello speaking. And Cardello is fucking dead.

“Stop it. I'm not going anywhere.” Dani shook her head, pursing her lips. “Don't you tell me you don't already know that, Kal, because you're not that stupid, and Cardello didn't ruin you that badly.” she was angry. Why was she angry? Was it anger, or her own fear… she didn't know, and didn't care to check.

Zett smiled sadly. “Dani, you weren't meant for these things. You weren't meant for these wars, and deaths, and blood. You came here because you had to, to save your friends. You stayed because you had to, to save me. You don't have save anyone anymore.” Especially after what happened today, was the ending of that sentence that went unsaid.

Dani shook her head, but Zett moved, pushing herself away, breaking the closeness, spreading her arms to the sides in a silent plea. Go.

Dani stood, silent, speechless, her mouth moving but no words coming out, her eyes wet, blurring her vision.

“You… You called me an idiot. For leaving. Remember? When we met again on the Bristol.”

Zett nodded with a sad smile. “We were both idiots when we were kids.”

“You still are.” Dani spat. Zett blinked, her brows furrowing, slightly, imperceptibly, her eyes letting the surprise come through.

“What.” Dani continued, mercilessly, her eyes fixed on the Trill, melting the walls, her anger flowing, unchecked, releasing the flood of emotions she couldn't even name. “What did you think? You think I'm that weak willed that I stayed because I was scared of losing my life? That I was here at your side as charity? As investment, so I'll have you as a source when I go out there exploring the galaxy, using your fucking money. You think I stayed just to make you queen bee?”

Zett stared, not moving a muscle, her expression frozen on confusion, doubt, and fear. She was so still, it seemed like she was no longer breathing.

“You think I didn't know Jorin was going to die? The minute I saw his brutality, the second I saw what he did, I knew he'd leave us no choice.” The pause was short, less than a breath, “You think I saw you plunge that knife into his chest and it magically changed everything I feel about you? About us? Do you think I'm that much of an ignorant child that I can't make the difference between a worthless death and a worthy kill? Do you really think I’d let this…” her voice broke, and so did the wetness in her eyes, as a big round tear slipped out, frustrated, marking a path down her face.

“I am not here because I am afraid of you, Kal. I'm not here to protect you and run. I'm here because I love you. For better. For worse. For fucking ever.”

The tall woman swallowed, her chest letting go of the breath that seemed to have been trapped there for years.

Dani moved closer again. Her eyes streaming angry tears now. Zett moved back, almost recoiling, her lips trembling, her eyes wide and wet. The walls were crumbling, and the woman wasn’t entirely sure what to do with that.

Dani didn’t care. She didn’t stop, plowing ahead, moving forward, her arms reaching to wrap around the woman’s waist, pulling her close, her eyes, wet and intense and unrelenting, pushing through the last remaining shadow of Zett’s emotional walls.

“I’m not leaving.” Dani declared, her voice much more stable than she expected, her breath abrupt and short, fighting tears and anger and frustration. “I’m not leaving. You understand?”

Zett struggled for a moment, recoiling from the wave that approached, uncertain, her insides flailing like a drowning man reaching for the surface, panicked and scared. Her eyes, soft and broken and pure now, stared at Dani with the intensity of a child who just realized a deep incredible truth about the universe.

“I…” she managed, and Dani, seeing the transformation, her heart breaking, melting, and rebuilding, managed a smile.

“I’m not going anywhere without you, Kal. I love you.”

Kalina Zett, Cardello’s ruthless assassin, the new head of the Earth Syndicate, the undenyingly unstoppable growing power in the Sol system and sector… crumbled. She shook her head once, as if that would get rid of the emotions she clearly had no control over and very little idea what to do with.

It didn't work. And it did work.

With a final sigh, Zett, finally, broke down, and surrendered herself into Dani’s embrace, sobbing.

Dani embraced her, completely, lowering them both to the floor, letting gravity take hold of the bodies, and let their hearts melt, into a puddle, into a pond, into one big endless ocean.

- - -

Kalina Zett
The Boss
Earth Syndicate

Danielle Atarah
Earth Syndicate


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