Freya rubbed her head again, hoping to rub away the headache forming. The words on the screen were starting to blur as it stretched into the third hour of her research. The lights were dim in her quarters and for a moment, she envied her roommate, who was sound asleep. Freya glanced at the clock and sighed; oh four hundred. She had to be on duty in a few short hours. And yet every time she tried to lay down and sleep, she found herself tossing and turning as she thought about Julian.
Freya jumped as the sound echoed around the otherwise silent room. After a moment, she looked around for the source and spotted her comm unit. She picked it up and activated it. "Ryan." she said simply.
"Can you meet me in the gym Doctor?" Freya recognized Captain Hunt's voice instantly. Her brow furrowed and she found herself looking at the clock again even though she'd just checked it.
"Um, yes sir." she said finally. "I'll be right there." she said. She looked down at her slightly wrinkled pants and shrugged, he would just have to understand. She arrived in the gym five minutes later, disturbed only slightly by the complete lack of people on the deck. On first glance, the gym appeared empty but after a second she recognized the familiar sound of someone running and the gentle turning sound of the machine. She looked over toward the running machines and saw Captain Hunt. "You wanted to see me Captain?" she asked approaching him. She looked quizzically at the monitor where an old history clip was playing before returning her attention to Hunt.
"Yes." Captain Hunt said, not stopping his work out. "Sorry for the early call, did I wake you?"
Freya shook her head. "No, I wasn't sleeping."
Hunt nodded. "I figured as much." he said. "I wanted to talk somewhere we weren't likely to have....company." he said.
"Umm, okay." Freya said hoping she didn't look as confused as she felt.
Hunt continued to run and punched a few buttons as he spoke. "I received a message, from the Sons of Liberty. They want to talk."
"Well that's good right?" Freya asked, although for a moment, anger flickered inside her. They were the reason Julian was paralyzed.
"Mhmm." Hunt said. "They are naturally hesitant to come out in the open; for all they know we might have security waiting and simply be done with it."
Freya nodded, that made sense to her. Part of her would love to see them stuck under Bonwick's spiteful glare but she knew that wouldn't be the end of it, it would probably just escalate things.
"They've requested a mediator." Hunt continued. "A neutral party, so to speak." he stopped talking but didn't stop jogging as Freya accepted what he said. "They've requested you."
"What? Me? Why?" Freya asked shocked.
"I suspect they feel you are the only person who can see both sides." Hunt said. "I can see the logic in their choice. You are an embryotic, you have something to gain should this movement effect change but on the other hand, you are already a prominent member of the crew, you are outside the rules so to speak."
"But I don't have any power to make change." Freya argued. "The Council would never listen to me, if they even granted me an audience."
"They didn't ask for power, they asked for you. I'd like you to do this Doctor, but I won't order you to." Hunt said as he turned off the running machine and steady his gaze on her.
"Why not? Why won't you order me to do it?" Freya asked.
"Because I can't offer you any back up, I can't protect you. I may not even be able to find you - they have proven that they know this ship better than our security forces do. I don't think they mean anyone any harm but...." Hunt shrugged as he trailed off.
"But you don't know for sure." Freya concluded and Hunt nodded. "What would I have to do?"
"Talk to them, make them trust you and hopefully at least me. I am a member of the Council - I may just be one but I am a member. But the violence has to stop." Hunt said.
Freya's brow furrowed again as she thought about it. "What about the medical ward?" she said thinking about Julian lying in that bed still. He'd been quiet since she'd told him the extent of his injuries.
"Doctor Hapsberg will be back on duty in a few days so there will be someone available." Hunt said.
Freya bit her lower lip considering and then sighed heavily, shaking her head. "Captain, I'm a doctor, not a diplomat - I don't see how..."
Hunt smiled and held up his hand. "Just think about it. I don't need to give them an answer right now. Consider it, talk to someone - discreetly - if you need to." Hunt put a hand on her shoulder and then picked up a hand towel to wipe his face and left her standing there.
Freya turned to ask him a question but he was already gone. Freya started walking back to her quarters, considering the Captain's request, and then stopped and turned toward the medical ward. She wanted to check on Julian and hoped being near him might help clear her head. But when she got there and looked down on his sleeping, broken body; all she wanted was for the Sons of Liberty to take a walk out the nearest airlock.
Freya's thoughts tumbled around as she stood over Julian. She reached out and touched his leg; even though he couldn't feel it. She choked back tears. "I'm sorry." she whispered. "I'm sorry I couldn't fix you." she knew he wouldn't hear her, not really. He was deep in sleep, a place she wished she could reach right about now.
She jumped back when she heard the door to the ward swish open. She turned toward the wall and wiped away tears and then turned to see Andy standing there with a huge grin on her face. "What?" Freya asked softly. She heard Julian shuffle slightly and took Andy's arm and led her out onto the deck. Across the way she could see the dim early lights on in the mess hall and thought she saw Ash moving around. "Let's get some coffee." she said.
Andy practically bounced along next to her, clearly eager to tell her something but she waited until Ash handed them each hot, fresh cups of coffee and they were seated. "The exo-skeleton! We can do it!" Andy finally exclaimed.
Freya was in the middle of taking a drink and nearly spit the coffee out at Andy in surprise. "What?"
"I found that archive you were talking about! It took some digging since you didn't give me too many details but after reading through it, I ran it by Dex and he thinking the engineering side at least can be done!" Andy said clearly pleased with herself.
Freya just stared at Andy. She'd read over the archive several times and had no doubt in her friend's ability to build the exo-skeleton; she doubted the medical side. But it was worth a try right?
"Freya? Come on Freya - this is awesome news, Julian will be able to walk again! I admit it will be heavy and bulky and he probably won't get around too quickly but at least he'll be walking!" Andy said happily, in spite of Freya's obvious hesitations. Freya was lost in thought, which was irritating Andy, "Earth to Freya..." she said as Ash walked up.
"You two need anything else?" Ash asked.
His voice jarred Freya from her thoughts and she turned her gaze on him. Ash raised his eyebrows and looked back at her. "What was that?" Freya said feigning deafness.
"Do you need anything?" Ash repeated looking at her curiously.
Freya closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to capture a fleeting thought. She finally shook her head and opened her eyes. "No thanks." she looked over at Andy who was looking at her like she was crazy. "You?" Andy just shook her head and Ash walked away slowly, he turned back and locked eyes with Freya for just a second before he turned away and headed into the kitchen to work on breakfast.
"Okay what was that about?" Andy asked.
"Nothing." Freya said. She tried to focus on Andy as her thoughts tumbled through her mind again. She was sure Andy was talking about something but Freya interrupted. "The Sons....they've requested me as a mediator." Freya leaned forward and whispered, throwing a few glances around the empty hall. She quickly recounted the few things the captain had said watched as Andy went from surprised to curious to upset.
"Are you actually considering this?" Andy hissed.
Freya nodded and then shrugged. "I don't know. I think so."
"It would be crazy." Andy said clutching Freya's arm. "They are terrorists, all their talk of not wanting to hurt people didn't stop them from blowing up a console on the bridge...on your boyfriends legs!" Andy said trying not to attracted Ash's attention as she navigated Freya out of the mess hall.
"I know what they did." Freya said back coldly. "Trust me, I know. But I don't want to have to operate on someone else because of this, I want it to stop." Freya yanked her arm from Andy's grip and backed away. "I need to go get a couple hours of sleep. I'll look over the exo-skeleton research and get back to you."
Freya turned on her heel and walked quickly away from Andy. After a moment, Andy called after her. "Freya wait!" Freya didn't stop or turn. Freya could hear the click of Andy's heels on the metal deck and knew Andy was going to catch up with her soon. "Freya!"
Freya stopped and turned, the two almost collided. "Sleep, Andy, I need sleep."
"Just...just be careful." Andy said. "And I think you should talk to Julian about it first."
Freya swallowed back a lump in her throat, she knew what Julian would say and didn't want to hear it again. "I will." she lied. "On both counts." she added with a faint smile. Freya didn't get the sleep she needed. She laid in bed thinking about Julian, about Captain Hunt, about the Sons of Liberty. As angry as she was with them for what had happened to Julian - did their cause have merit? More than that - could they actually effect change if given a chance? The violence had to stop, that much she agreed with Captain Hunt on. The ship wasn't big enough for a civil war to be fought right on the decks.
As she got dressed for her duty shift, she told herself that she would simply tell the Captain no, he would have to find another diplomat or whatever for these people. Julian needed her right now, he would be dismissed from the medical ward soon and it would take him time to get adjusted to life. Even if the exo-skeleton thing worked out - he would still have to make adjustments and she was his girlfriend, his best friend. She had to be there for him.
She reminded herself of her decision the entire walk to the medical ward and even as she stood over his bed to do a quick exam.
Julian looked over the book he was reading as she did the exam and tried to catch her eye but she'd been avoiding looking at his face because it made her want to cry. "Freya." Julian finally said catching her hand.
Freya turned her eyes toward him finally. He closed the book and put it on the table by the side of his bed.
"Am I going to live?" he said with a teasing smile. It was the first time he'd attempted a joke since she'd told him and Freya wondered why the change of attitude.
"Yes." Freya said. "Yes you will. How are you feeling?"
"Optimistic." Julian said. "Andy stopped by, told me about the exo-skeleton."
Freya frowned. "She shouldn't have done that."
"I'm wondering why you didn't tell me actually." Julian said, the smile slowly leaving his face.
"Because I haven't figured out if it's possible, if it will work." Freya said. "I didn't want to get your hopes up and then have to crush them if it turned out not to be feasible."
Julian nodded. "Okay, I get that." he said. "But I'm still optimistic."
Freya merely nodded and resumed the exam. Still no feeling, no surprise there and yet every time she hoped it would be different, like he would miraculously recover. Freya pulled up his chart to give herself something to do and somewhere to look. "You'll be discharged in a couple days. We'll have to make a few arrangements for your quarters, to make things easier for you. I'll talk to Andy and Dex about it." she closed the chart and turned from him.
"You know that's not very fair." Julian said to her back.
"What?" Freya said, not turning to look at him. She wanted to tell him about the Sons, or maybe find out if Andy had told him but she didn't want to argue with him.
"Walking away from me when I can't come after you." Julian said.
Freya swallowed and blinked several times. "I have to work Julian." she said finally. "I'm not walking away."
"Are you sure?" Julian persisted. "I think you're holding back actually. And walking away is the easiest way not to face it."
Freya turned around and faced him. "Holding back what exactly?"
"You're still mad at me. For what I said, before..." Julian said. "Or you're hurt. And you're using my injuries as an excuse to avoid the issue."
"I'm not mad. Or hurt." Freya said and realized as she said it that she was lying again. She had been hurt by what he'd said that day. If she weren't, if she believed he was sincerely sorry and had just been saying the wrong thing, she would have told him about the Sons of Liberty and the request. "I have to work Julian, we can talk about it later." she turned away from him again and heard him sigh just as her eyes locked on a visitor.
"Aunt Theresa." Julian said, with little enthusiasm in his voice.
Freya looked at the Council member and Julian's aunt. She'd been raised to respect the Council members and the Council and the rules but here, in this moment, she felt nothing but anger toward the elder woman. Freya nodded to her and scooted past her to escape.
Freya sat at the computer looking over the archive on the exo-skeleton and tried to tune out the conversation she could hear between Julian and his aunt but words such as "unacceptable", "inappropriate" and "low-bred" trickled out from the back of the ward. As soon as Nurse White arrived for her shift, Freya stepped out of the ward to put a thick wall between her and the disapproval of the visitor.
Without realizing she'd made the decision, she walked toward the primary bridge. As she waited for the lift to reach the top of the ship, she thought about what she was planning and almost changed her mind but at that moment the doors opened. Her eyes landed on the scalded center console where a trio of engineers were working around the feet of Rob Jamison, who was piloting from a make shift panel. Bonwick was standing by with a familiar scowl on her face. Freya could feel Bonwick and Andy's eyes following her as she moved to the Captain's side. "Ah Doctor Ryan, what a surprise." Captain Hunt said although he didn't sound surprised.
Freya steeled herself. "I wanted to give you an update on Mr. Ice." she lied quickly, realizing that the people here probably didn't know about the Sons' request. "He's doing well, probably won't be back on duty for a few days yet but his spirits are improved..." she turned to look at Andy disapprovingly for a second.
"I'm glad to hear it." Hunt said.
Freya caught his gaze and nodded, hoping he'd understand. "I'm going ahead with it." she said with another nodded. "With his discharge. I'll need to talk to you later about certain arrangements" she added for the others.
"Very good Doctor." Captain Hunt said with an understanding nod. "We'll work out those arrangements as soon as possible." he said.
"Right." Freya said with another quick nod. Andy watched her curiously as Freya left the bridge. She was sure the Captain, at least, had understood what she was trying to say. She leaned against the back wall of the lift as the doors closed and it slowly began it's descent.