|Summary:||Pepper and Isabeau speak again.|
Training Classroom Hera - Deck 4
147 ACH 24438 Souls
This training classroom boasts raised stadium seating for twelve. Each chair has integrated massage system, climate controls, and video emplaced desktop that slides out from the floor, adjustable height and lumbar support. The front of the classroom has a computerized video display with a 120 inch vapor crystallized mini-hyper definition display that can display any training film or data required.
----< Condition Three - Duty Area >----—-
Contents: Isabeau Pepper Wireless 1915
Exits: [O] Out
The guard met Isabeau when she arrived and escorted her to the training classroom, stationing himself outside. Whomever he is, he's not all that talkative, very businesslike. Pepper is waiting in the classroom, in uniform - apparently today's a work day for her. On a small table is a pot of what looks like tea and a small plate of pastries. Social niceties, this can't be all bad, right? When Isabeau comes in, Pep is standing in profile to the door, hand low on her stomach, rubbing absently.
Isabeau is not in a talkative mood, so the guard's disposition is not put to the test. She walks with a cool step with the man and anyone watching might assume the woman knows her way. When they reach the training classroom, she nods to the man, her thanks soft. Entering, she focuses unerringly on the woman, though the apparent tea and definite pastries are noted. One brow lifts briefly, then lowers. Softly clearing her throat, though she is certain that Pepper knows she is here, Isabeau begins softly, "Good afternoon, Ensign." While she has used the other woman's name, she does not wish to presume. Her tone; at least, is warm and pleasant. She even seems pleased to see the other.
Pepper looks over at the door and studies Isabeau for a moment, hand dropping away. "Good afternoon," Pepper says quietly, then gestures to the seats near where the little table has been set up. "Thank you for coming over. Would you care for some tea?" Ahhh, more social niceties. Pepper seems…not necessarily relaxed. There's a tension about her shoulders and spine, a spine that is perfectly straight. It's quite easy to imagine this young woman at home at a cocktail party. "Please, have a seat."
Isabeau tilts her head to one side just a little, curiosity in her gaze. She looks over to the tea once more, then nods, "Thank you for the invitation." Pleasentries. Turning, she walks across to the indicated chair and, one hand smoothing her skirt, she sits. her legs tuck in close to the chair, ankles crossing, "Some tea would be lovely. Thank you." Still, the curiosity lights her eyes, but she does not rush the young woman. Taking a moment to study the young woman before her, she speaks with a quiet dignity and gentle sincerity, "It is good to see you."
Pepper takes her time in pouring the tea, posture - and pour - utterly proper as she perches on the edge of her seat. It's not until both cups have been poured and the pastries offered that she speaks again. "It is good to see you as well, Isabeau," she says quietly, looking up to study the woman. "Strange to say, isn't it?"
Isabeau leans forward to accept the tea, then one of the pastries, "Thank you." Turning a little in the chair, she focuses upon you and her smile warms, "And, thank you for that. I suppose it may seem strange. Perhaps it truly is. But… on the other hand, I have known that you are a wonderful person for months." Lifting the mug, she inhales the scent, "This smells wonderful. Is it your blend?" Social truths blended smoothly with the more important nuggets.
"It is," Pep responds, cradling her mug in both hands. She doesn't, however, settle back against the chair as one might expect. "I find it to be soothing, relaxing." Relaxed is the last thing she is right now. "Why are you doing this, Isabeau," she asks softly after a few moments of silence.
Isabeau lifts the mug to take a slow sip. Her eyes close slowly and she nods, "It is. Soothing." The mug is lowered, though she does not set it on the saucer just yet. Rather, she thinks about the question before trying to answer it. Another sip is claimed, but there is no sense that she is procrastinating. Rather, she seems inwardly focused, considering. Finally, she reaches over to set the mug on the saucer. Then, rather than pick up the pastry, she folds her hands in her lap. "The answer is very selfish, I am afraid. And a bit complicated." Drawing in a breath, she looks toward Pepper and her voice gentles. "The short answer, I suppose, is that I love Salin. I have loved him since I first saw him. There has never been anyone else." She pauses, her smile softening and her eyes refocusing on the memory of the first time he walked into her life. It is there, but only for a moment. Blushing a little, she looks down, then up again at Pepper, "I told you about my friend's visit and the results, so I will not reitterate. What happened, however, jarred me out of a depression that was deep and cloying. It made me realize that my happiness is as important as yours or Salin's. That, my love for him is as important as yours in the long run, and more important to me if to no one else. That… my life is as valid as anyone's and if I am going to be happy, be worthwhile as a human being, I need to be willing to fight for it. Even if it means putting the happiness of someone whom I have come to care very much for at risk."
Pepper listens, the cup cradled in her hands, as if she's getting warmth from it. She listens intently, head tilted to one side slightly. "Even if it means putting Salin's reputation and happiness at risk," she says quietly. "Your happiness is important, Isabeau. I'm the first one to agree with you on that. However, my happiness is not what is most important to me. Salin's is. My happiness is tied in with that, part and parcel, the same way my life is now tied with his because of our child." She takes a sip of her tea and lowers the cup, resting it on her knees, both hands around it. "I've talked with Salin. He answered my question, the question you posed. I believe him, and I believe -in- him." Blue eyes move over Isabeau's face for a time. "He was happy, Isabeau. He was about to marry a woman he loves, a woman he is in love with, the mother of his child. He was about to marry a woman who is deeply in love with him, a woman with whom he had begun building a life. And now that happiness is in jeopardy as he's ripped apart because you decided you couldn't live without him. Because you decided it would be in your best interests, because you decided you needed him." She shakes her head after a moment. "I can't get my head around that, Isabeau. I know you were in a depression, a deep depression. It's why I did everything in my power to help, to make sure you had a support structure, make sure you had people to lean on. Yes, even Salin to lean on. I recognize your relationship with him, and honor it as something special, something I am not a part of. Your life IS valid. Your happiness IS important. But in a year, in five years, will you still be as happy knowing you hurt Salin to get what YOU wanted? Will you still be as happy knowing that you took a father from his child?"
Isabeau listens with a quiet attention. "I understand. Believe me, I do. But, I am doing this for all of us. For Salin, for you and your child." She nods, her smile quiet, "I am not at all surprised that he answered those questions as you would have wished. Not because you wished it, but because he believes that he believes it." She pauses to sound that out again and be sure that it makes sense, then continues. "He was happy? Perhaps he was. Perhaps; however, he was happy because he felt he had no choice and might as well be. But, if he marries you because he believes he is doing the right thing, in those same five years, you would all three be miserable. By then, he would realize he made a mistake and would begin to resent you for trapping him, himself for allowing it and your child for being the instrument of that trap. You would be miserable because you would know you are living a lie that was making the man you love grow to hate his life. Your child would be miserable because he or she would realize that there was something wrong and would feel responsible. If I win him back, in five years time, I will be happy knowing that I saved the man I love, the woman he cares for and his child from that endless pain. I will be happy knowing that his child and the child's mother are equally welcome in our life. That none of us are traped in situations that we do not belong in." She sighs a little, "As for his reputation?" She licks her lips slightly, then looks at the woman more intently, "Perhaps, Pepper, if the two of you had been more careful with birth control, his reputation would be less at risk. Perhaps that knowledge is part of the problem. He knows that; as the one older and wiser, he should have insisted. Regardless… Of course I care about it. I care about his career. But, more than that, I care about the quality of life he is leading. If he ends up unhappy, his life will be wasted. If you end up unhappy, your life will be wasted and the life of your child will be far more difficult than it should be."
Pepper offers Isabeau a small smile and shakes her head slightly. "He didn't answer the questions the way he did because he wanted to believe it or hoped I would," she says softly. "I have more faith in him than that. He answered the questions that way because they are the -truth-. It is the way he feels." She takes another sip of tea and shakes her head a bit, despite her pallor, there's a serene, quiet confidence about her. "He and I have both made sacrifices for this relationship, Isabeau," she continues softly. "We have stood by each other in times both good and bad. He knows, in me, he has a woman who will be by his side always. A woman who understands the position he is in. A woman who loves him with her heart and soul. A woman who is confident enough in herself to be a partner to him and who will be honest with him. A woman who will sit at his bedside when he is ill and will share in his happiness when he is accomplished. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. None of us knows whether or not we will be alive in six days, six weeks, or six months. I am taking the love we have now and building on that, for both of us. For all of us. I don't know how our feelings will change over time, I do know they will. But I am willing to take that chance with him and for him. For my family. I am willing to trust that he knows his own heart and that his heart wishes to honor the commitments we have made to each other." Her eyes move over Isabeau's face as she adds one final, soft comment. "I am a woman who will never walk away from him or his love."
Isabeau half smiles, "Is there a functional difference between what one feels and what one believes they feel? No. They are the truth now, perhaps. But, as time passes, will they remain truth? Or, once the heat of the moment has passed, will he come to realize that he made a grave error? Perhaps. Perhaps not." Then, a brow lifts and she shakes her head, "Pepper… Do not presume to judge me or what passed before between Salin and myself. You were not there. You have no idea what was going on and no possible basis for comparison. I am under no obligation to attempt to explain it to you." Isabeau sighs, her smile slightly sad, "I am sorry, Pepper. I am not going to play the 'I care more than you do' game anymore. It is clear to me that you love him. It is clear that you care about him, his future and the future of your child. It is also clear that our perspectives are different and there is no surprise there." Rising, she continues with the same quiet assurance she began with, "You are not going to guilt me out of this, Pepper. I greatly appreciate your efforts on my behalf and on Salin's. I am sorry that having Salin's baby without having Salin as your husband will make your future difficult and we will do everything we can to ease that. Believe me that I will never ask Salin to forsake his child or his love for you. But, I honestly believe that I am doing the right thing for all of us. I honestly believe that, when the chips are down, Salin and I belong together. Thank you for the tea, Pepper. Good afternoon."
As Isabeau rises, Pepper puts her cup to the side and stands as well. "I meant what I said to you when I told you I would fight for him, Isabeau," she says softly. "And that I would fight for his love. I believe in what he and I share. And I know you believe in what you and he share. But at the end of the day, I will put his happiness and our love above what someone else, as you said, believes." Her color fades a bit more as she speaks, then dips her head. "Have a safe trip back to the Carina, Isabeau. I'm certain we'll be seeing more of each other."
Isabeau walks across the floor, then turns and nods, "I believe you. I will fight for him as well, Pepper. I am sorry that one of us is going to hurt over it, but feel very strongly that his love for me and mine for him is stronger. That it is right for both of us. I only wish that you did not get tangled in this. I wish that his child was not going to be used as a pawn to sway him. I trust in his heart to tell him were it belongs." She watches the other woman, then nods once, "I hope that you have a better day, for I do care about you, Pepper." Inclining her head, she turns and walks out the hatch.