Devoid of Regret
Posted on August 4th, 2004 by Jack Leirone
By Ensign Jack Leirone and Lt. JG Nicole Weis
That tingling sensation overtook his skin once more, the strange world dissolving around him in an instant, the face of the young man wishing him adieu the last thing to disappear in the flush of white waves only seen by him. A sheer chill came over him and he arched his back and urged to scream in pain but was muzzled by temporal distortions to the mind.
It ceased and he now stared at a floor, and shadows and dull reflections greeted him. “Mr. Leirone?” said one. Someone knew his name and that lifted his heart. Jack was back in the engineering department of the USS Constitution, an entire month after he left the Atlantis. He wondered if the others wondered where he went. He wondered about Nicole. Wonder he would no longer, for now he speedily walked to find her.
Nicole looked around her new quarters, they were nice, though she liked the ones on the Atlantis better, she figured that these would be good enough for now. The living room she stood in was large but didn’t feel quite as homey, of course she planned on changing that. Sighing, she tied her hair back and began unpacking her few belongings and trying to make this new place home enough for her to be comfortable in.
Jack burst out of engineering, frantically, and realized it was very different. Where the hell am I, he thought? Nervously he looked up as if to God and asked him something. “Computer?”
There was a long silence. “Please continue command.”
A wave of relief came over him that an answer came. “Where the hell am I?” he asked.
“Please rephrase the question.”
“Where am I?” He realized the Computer was something he didn’t miss all that much.
“You are on the engineering deck of the USS Constitution…” and it continued for a moment until he cut it off, asking where Nicole Weis was. “She is in her quarters on deck (??), number (??).” And off he ran.
The music was playing kind of loud over the speakers and Nicole was singing along just as loud. That was something that always made her feel good, to be singing along with music at the top of her lungs. She was in her bedroom, putting her clothes away, she was glad that her stuff had all just been transported over to the new ship, it made her life so much easier, she just wished that someone else could do the work of putting the stuff away for her too, Nicole just wanted to sit and be lazy.
Jack approached the door, tiresome, longing for some form of real human contact, from someone real, and to lie down for a prolonged period of time. The rectangle was a passageway to sanctity, immaculate energy emanating profusely, channeling into his heart. Everything in his body seemed to melt with comfort and that was just at the door. A weak finger trembled to the button of the chime, and it was depressed. Faintly from within, he heard the bell, even over Nicole’s loud music, some eclectic sound he didn’t recognize.
The sound of her door bell startled Nicole. Jumping up from her seat on the floor, she commanded the music to lower the volume as she yelled for who ever was outside her door to come in as she picked up another box from the living room and moved into her bedroom, trying to blow the piece hair that had fallen, out of her face.
Hissing, and the doors flung open. Nearly collapsing, he laid eyes on the only person he’s ever opened up to, staring at her somewhat astounded expression and beholding it and taking it in. “Nicole?” he muttered, worn out, each syllable limping out of his lips.
“Jack?” Nicole asked, not believing her eyes. He had been gone for a month, with no word, not even a goodbye when he left, now there he was, standing just in her doorway, looking like the world had run him over. Nicole took a step forward before stopping, “What? How?” she sighed “Hi Jack.” was all that she seemed to be able to say that would make sense at the moment.
Nicole’s voice was his reassurance. She was real. She was from now. He felt like he floated to her; his legs didn’t feel like they moved but his body did. Wrapping his arms around her in an embrace as strong as love he held her close and felt her body’s warmth, smelled her hair, inhaled her life. “I’ve missed you so much, Nic. I’ve missed you so, so much…”
“Jack, what are you doing here? What happened to you? I was worried about you, you left without saying goodbye,” Nicole said into his chest as she hugged him back. It felt so wonderful to have his arms around her again, to feel his body against her, she had missed him, no matter how much she forced herself not to dwell on what happened, she had missed him. Nicole wondered if she was going to be able to open herself up fully to this man again, it had hurt her so badly when he left, but for right then, it felt so good to be with him, she didn’t care for a moment at the pain he caused her.
“I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye. I had no choice. I wish I hadn’t gone in the first place. I wish a myriad things didn’t happen, but I want this right now to matter. I want this right here to be devoid of regret. Please, Nicole.” He wouldn’t let go. But mostly he wouldn’t grab onto his self-control. Jack Leirone stood there near tears begging some romantic shit out of a woman. Somehow it all seemed right. Somehow nothing was missing.
Nicole stood there, looking into the watery eyes of her boyfriend. Part of her wanted to turn him away, to not accept his apology but another part of her, the dominate part, the part that always seemed to know what was best, wanted to take Jack into her arms and never let him go. “You look so tired,” she said, placing a hand on the side of his face. “Come with me,” Nicole grabbed Jack’s hand and pulled him along with her. “I’m going to run you a hot bath, then I want you to sleep, you look like you haven’t slept or bathed in weeks.” Nicole sat Jack down on a chair that was in her bathroom and turned on the faucet, letting her bath slowly fill with hot water. “Lets get you out of these clothes,” she said, turning back to him.
He pierced her mind. “You don’t believe me that I had no choice, do you?”
Sighing Nicole dropped her arms to her side. “I don’t know what to believe Jack. You haven’t told me anything,” she lowered her eyes for a minute before raising them to meet his. “It hurt really bad when I found out you were gone but youre back now, and if you tell me that you had no choice, then I’ll believe that you had no choice. I’m happy your back, I missed you Jack and I don’t want to fight with you, I want to get you cleaned and relaxed.” Nicole moved forward and knelt in front of where Jack was sitting. With shaking hands, she began to slowly undo his shirt for him.
As she disrobed him, he looked at her sternly and said, “Let me tell you what happened. But you must swear to me that you’re the only one to know. Swear to me, Nic. You’ll understand when I’m done.”
Nicole looked straight into his eyes. “I swear to you Jack that whatever you tell me will never leave this room, nor will I, in anyway ever mention it again,” she said, swearing complete silence on the topic as she got him fully undressed and forced him to climb into her bath tub.
Jack sat in the bathtub, reciting the story to her, droning, each string of the tale coming out like a smooth stream. He watched her face change with every part of the story, every unbelievable part. And when he was nearing the end something terrible grappled him: She probably doesn’t believe me, he thought. Once the end of the tale had been told, he looked at her as if to ask if she believed the whole thing. He hoped she would, because it was the truth.
Nicole listened as Jack told her where he had been and what had happened to him. She didn’t know if she believed the story he told her but Nicole felt in her heart that what he was saying had to be the truth. Even though it was hard for her to do, she knew that she would believe it all, she would fully accept Jack. “I believe you, Jack,” Nicole said, as she placed the washcloth she was using to bath him aside and picked up her shampoo, beginning to wash his hair. She was trying to use her acts as a way to show Jack that she was accepting him and that she believed him, Nicole wanted him to know that she wanted him in her life.
Trying to use his neck he exhaled sharply. His nervous system gave out to fatigue. “Thank you,” he said. Had she not been there, he would have drowned. Moving his eyes as best he could he looked at her and said, “Nic, if you don’t mind…I can’t really move so…would you kiss me?”
A small smile played on her lips and she moved, so that she was sitting on the side of the tub, facing him. With her hands still in his hair, massaging and washing, Nicole leaned forward and lightly placed her lips on Jack’s, savoring his taste. “I missed you so much,” she whispered against his lips.
A solitary tear of joy disappeared in the dampness of his washing skin. Nothing felt so good in his life. “You were the only part of this time I could think about.” And he then had another thought. “Say, you don’t think I could sleep here for a while? I don’t imagine I was accommodated in my absence on this new ship…” Jack’s facial muscles allowed him to smirk.
Nicole smiled at him, “I was already planning on giving you my bed to sleep on, now close your eyes for a moment.” Nicole placed her hand under Jack’s head and moved it so that it tilted back and she poured water over his head, washing away the shampoo. “Wait here for a moment,” she said, getting up and moving into her bedroom in search of something for Jack to wear.
“I don’t think I have a choice, Nic, I can’t move.” He said, coughing out a laugh. Jack hollered into the next room. “Nic, do me a favor and never travel through independent sources of temporal waves, okay?”
“I don’t even know what that is,” she said as she came back into the bedroom, carrying a pair of sweat pants that were too big for her, she only hoped they would fit him. Getting Jack to help her a little bit, she got him standing and leaning against the wall. Taking out one of her towels she began to dry him off and get him into the pants which seemed to just barely fit him. “Umm, you don’t have to wear them if you don’t, I wasn’t sure if they would fit or not,” Nicole said, looking at him in the tight sweat pants.
“No these are fine…I’ll replicate a uniform tomorrow.” He tried to walk but lost footing and fell to the floor. Unhurt.
Moving quickly, Nicole was by his side and helped him stand. Wrapping an arm around his waist and bringing his around her shoulder, she helped him out of her bathroom and into her bedroom. “Here, sit down,” Nicole lead him over to the bed and with some fancy moves, got the covers pulled back and sat him down on the edge. “I hope this bed is comfortable enough for you, I haven’t had time to try it out for myself yet,” she smiled at him and helped him to lay down and pulled the covers up about his shoulders before moving back to the bathroom to get his clothes. “What do you want me to do with these?” she asked, holding up what he had been wearing when he appeared at her door.
“I don’t care. Throw them away. Nic, come here.”
Laying the clothes on a chair, she moved forward and sat down next to him on the bed, using her fingers to lightly comb the hair away from his face. Nicole looked down into Jack’s eyes, feeling like she was home and wondering if the reason she had felt so lost, so homeless before was because he wasn’t here with her.
“Lie down. Lie in my arms.”
Taking a moment to change out of her uniform and into her pajamas, Nicole climbed in bed and under the covers with Jack. She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head against his chest, breathing deeply his scent. “I’m glad you came back Jack.”