CHAPTER 4: HURT
Still sitting on the floor, arms wrapped around her legs, she rested her cheek on her knees. She closed her eyes, feeling the tears come. One by one, they slowly escaped, trailing down her cheeks as a shuddered sigh of relief passed her lips. What do I do now?
"How long before we reach the Citadel?"
[Approximately 1.5 hours.]
She sniffed and rested her chin on her knees contemplating what to do.
"Thank you EDI."
[Is everything alright?]
A small appreciative smile crossed her lips, "I'll be fine EDI. I just need some time to myself, that's all."
[Very well. Do you require anything else?]
"No. Thank you EDI. Please make sure that no one disturbs me until we reach the Citadel. Notify me when we arrive please."
She stretched out her limbs and stood up. Slowly, she undid the clasps of her uniform and took off the jacket, laying it over the chair in front of her desk. She glanced around the room. It felt so empty even with the fish swimming lazily around the tank. The eerie stillness and quiet of the room was disturbing to her the exact opposite of the CIC. Even after spending all of her life in space, she could never tolerate the silence of it.
She walked over to sound system console next to the bed and thumbed through her favorites. She stopped short as she felt the sharp pang in her heart. Crap Garrus' selections were still in there. The Alliance techs had never touched it. She closed her eyes again feeling the tears prick behind her eyelids, willing them not to fall. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes again, purposefully thumbing past Garrus' selections not having the heart to delete them yet. She selected one that reflected her mood and hit play.
The soft notes of a piano filled the room. It was Adam Shepard playing Clair de Lune. Hannah frequently recorded her husband playing, unbeknownst to him. Had he known, he would never have allowed it. Playing the piano was personal for him and a gift he had shared with their daughter. Sera sat very still on the bed and closed her eyes, letting the music calm her erratic nerves. As the soft trills of notes rose and fell, she remembered
"Sera? Are you paying attention?" the firm baritone of his voice diverting her attention from the streaking stars in the window.
"Yes, dad I am," she replied sheepishly, knowing that she'd been caught.
Her dad sat next to her on a bench. His large, slightly rough hands gently guided her much smaller ones over the glowing luminescent keys in front of them. It wasn't the same as the large, elegantly shaped wooden instrument comprised of small felt covered hammers striking finely tuned, taught steel strings that Adam Shepard had often described in his grandmother's house on Earth. Being on an Alliance ship more often than not, the holo of a piano keyboard was the best that he could manage for his daughter. He was determined that she learn how to play. It was important to him that he passed along the Shepard tradition to her.
"Show me again dad," she said standing up to watch.
He closed his eyes and held his breath as he counted the beats holding his hands above the keys and began. His fingers caressed each of the keys with a tender love, completely enraptured within the music, but with well-practiced precision. The delicate Debussy melody was a much loved one by Adam's grandmother Clair de Lune or Moonlight. It was the first one she taught him how to play. Luckily for Sera, she also inherited her father's elongated fingers and finely tuned ear. A few weeks prior, he played the melody for her once and she repeated parts of it back hesitantly. Now, he was showing the finger technique and helping to polish the timing, since her beat count was slightly off.
This time, she did not allow herself to stare out the window and made sure to pay careful attention to his technique. Once he was finished, she took a seat on the bench and a deep breath. She heard music begin in her head and closing her eyes, gently pressed each key rendering each note's fragile tenderness. When she finished, there was silence. She looked to father for approval and found his sky-blue eyes sparkling with pride....
Listening to her father's music made her miss him terribly, but it made her feel safe. Drifting back to the present, she opened her eyes and took a deep breath deciding that a hot shower would help her relax. She took off the rest of her clothes, dropping them in the nearby bin of dirty clothes as she turned on the hot water. Steam started to fill the bathroom slowly pouring out into the bedroom since she hadn't bothered to shut the door. The hot water on her skin felt wonderful. She leaned back against wall, letting the water work its magic on her muscles. Within a few minutes, she could feel the tension ebbing from her body. She turned around and ran her fingers through her hair, helping the water to untangle the knots.
She reached for the soap, lathering it across her body. She paused midway, as she felt the thin scar pass beneath her fingertips. A small, nearly inaudible sob escaped her throat. She immediately rinsed off and turned off the water. Then grabbed a towel, drying herself off, grateful for the steamed mirror in front of her. She didn't want to see herself in the mirror - never wanted to again. Towel wrapped around her, she walked to the closet, and pulled out her favorite N7 t-shirt and slipped it over her head. She left the towel on the floor as she slipped between the bed sheets and closed her eyes. Her father's music still playing as the comforting void of sleep took over.
" the low graveled flange of his voice whispered in her ear.
Her eyes popped open and she awoke with a start sitting straight up in bed. She pulled her legs over the side and sat there for moment; hand on her chest, trying to control her breathing Shit! willing her heart to slow down.
Crap! When was that going to stop?!? If he knew, he could never love me
..Ok, pull it together Sera. You can't think about this now.
She left the bed and walked over to the closet and selected an outfit for the evening. She paired a snug fitting black tank with a deep red, plunging V-neck top. The thin, silky overshirt was a tasteful yet sensual cut that accentuated her curves nicely. It flowed past her hips and had billowing sleeves to match. She chose tight black pants, her favorite comfortable black boots, long thin, sliver earrings and a few bangles to her look. Now, fully dressed she evaluated her reflection and was satisfied with the outfit while she quickly brushed out her hair, deciding not to put on any make up
too much work.
"EDI?" she said as she unlocked and opened her door.
"How much longer?"
[We've just arrived.]
"Good. Thanks EDI."
She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and stepped into the elevator selecting the CIC deck.