Location: Liam's quarters
Timeline: MD 6/2000
After the Cardassians had invaded her shop with their further threats, and Tera’s pathetic groveling at their feet, begging them to let her help them, if it would just keep her safe, Tera had no desire to return to the quarters she was sharing with Liam. When he called asking when she would be home for dinner, she told him that she wasn’t going to be able to make it. She had to do inventory and would be out late.
That night she had remained curled in a ball on the floor of her back stockroom. She hadn’t opened the shop in the morning, clutching a ceremonial Bajoran knife from her collection in her hands. She was pathetic, a coward, just like her father. She didn’t deserve Liam, she didn’t deserve happiness. She deserved the scorn that every Bajoran on this station heaped upon her, the scorn she’d had for her father, for herself every time she’d gone to one of their beds.
Tera finally wiped at the dry tears from her eyes. She couldn’t go on like this. Eventually Liam would find her. She needed to put on a front, to somehow fool Liam and his damn Betazoid empathy.
Tossing the knife aside, Tera went upstairs to her rooms. She undressed and showered, then wrapped a soft robe around herself and knelt in front of the small shrine to the Prophets she kept. She focused, trying to calm her mind, to center herself.
It was several hours later when Tera rose up. She was as calm and centered as she was going to be. The Prophets hadn’t spoken to her, of course. According to the vedeks, they never would. She was a collaborator. She still held a faint hope. Her father had been faithful, begging the forgiveness of the Prophets. She continued his legacy, as futile as it seemed.
Tera put on something nice, that blue dress Liam liked, and sexy undergarments. She needed to do something to take her mind off her situation. She didn’t want to involve Liam. It might be danger.
On the way to Liam’s quarters, Tera picked up a bottle of Bajoran wine and dessert. She wasn’t even sure if Liam would be home, what his schedule for the day was. If he wasn’t, she would just enjoy the wine and decadent cream puffs while watching the latest Richard Longwood adaptation on the holo-vid. She paused outside the door to take several deep breaths, pushing yesterday’s incident out of her mind, focusing on keeping here in the present.
"Hey," Liam said as the door opened. "I was getting worried about you. You never came back last night. Is everything okay? Get all your inventory done?"
“More or less,” Tera said with a smile, leaning in to kiss Liam. “Sorry to worry you. I brought a little something to say sorry.” She held up the wine and cream puffs. “And if you want to curl up and watch a sexy vid on Stars, I wouldn’t be opposed,” she said teasingly. “There’s a new Richard Longwood adaptation just released.”
"Sure," Liam said slowly. Whatever Tera had been up too, she was eerily calmer than normal, but that still didn't stop the feeling of untruth emanating from her answering his question. He had, of course, picked it up. Considering they had decided to be honest with each other, he was not impressed. He decided not to push it at present, taking the wine and patisserie off her. "You sit down. I'll sort that."
“Okay,” Tera said, giving Liam a smile. She went to the couch and sat down, slipping off her shoes and tucking her legs up under her as she activated the holo-vid and called up The Sweetest Scoundrel.
“How was your day?” Tera asked Liam. “Enjoying not dealing with Cardassians?” she asked. Okay, maybe that was a bit too close to a topic she wanted to avoid. There was a slight spike of anxiety, but she quickly squashed it.
Liam opened the wine and replicated two glasses as she spoke. "Oh, it was good. Lots of crew evaluations conducted. Unfortunately, the Cardassians like to keep running into me when I'm around sickbay. On the plus side though, I was able to determine Ambassador Turvan, although a disgusting weasel of a man, wasn't behind the sick and twisted men who threatened you."
He placed a glass in front of her and a small plate, sensing she was trying to squash emotions, worried he was going to pick up on them. This only confirmed she was keeping something from him. So you managed it a third time, he chided himself inwardly. Got involved with a women who couldn't be fully trusted, it seemed.
He returned back with the box of cream puffs and placed one on her plate, forgoing his, and sat down next to her. "I spent the rest of the day trying to study for the officer exam."
There was another spike of anxiety at the mention of Cardassians. Tera hastily shoved the cream puff in her mouth, barely tasting the sweet. She chewed and gave him a smile, a bit of cream on her full lip.
“You’re going for a promotion?” she asked, glad to get off the topic of her last few days so she wouldn’t have to lie. She didn’t like lying to Liam, but she didn’t want him involved, didn’t want him getting hurt.
"Mon Capitan has ordered it," he sighed. "And I have to pass first time, or she will chew me up and spit me out again. The potential promotion is the only bonus, I guess."
“Do you want me to help?” Tera offered. “I’m not Starfleet, but...I can make flash cards or quiz you or something.” She ran her hand along his chest. “Unless you need time to yourself for the studying. I can leave you be for a week or so.”
"Is that what you want?" he asked suddenly. Perhaps that was it. She was getting round to breaking up with him. "To leave?"
Tera blinked. “What?” she asked, looking at Liam. “No! I don’t want to leave. But...I want to respect your space and need to focus. I...don’t want to be a distraction for you. I wouldn’t want to be the reason you don’t progress in your career. I’m trying to be supportive!” Her lower lip quivered a little, and she realized she didn’t want to lose Liam.
"Maybe you should," Liam said. She was lying to him, and he needed to pass this test first time. "I really need to pass this first time," he told her. "And, well...when you’re around in sexy underwear and...eating cream puffs, it can be difficult to concentrate."
Tera blushed. “I...I understand, Liam,” she said. It hurt a little, being rejected like that. He had asked her to move in with him, after all. “I do miss my apartment.” That was a bit of a lie. It felt dangerous. She slept with the lights on, in case the Cardassians came back.
“I’ll…I’ll go pack my things.” She had been about to tell him about the new visit from the Cardassians. But now it would seem like her being manipulative to be able to stay, playing the helpless female card. She couldn’t tell him now.
Tera stood up and headed to the bedroom.
Liam watched her go and was finally addressing some things he had been ignoring for the last couple of weeks. This wasn't working. Tera was a lovely woman and he so wanted to be in love with her. He had hoped taking their relationship to a higher level - moving in despite the circumstances had of led to that but the truth was he wasn't in love with her. Physically they were amazing. But building a future together? She couldn't even really tell him what had happened last night. If he was honest they were going through the motions having been forced into cohabiting due to the Cardassians.
"I'm sorry. I don't think it’s working, this living together, and we should take a proper break longer than a week." He braced himself for the hurt or anger. Yes, she had been keeping things from him, and lying, but she did genuinely like him.
Tera turned to Liam and stared at him with surprise and shock. “I...how much longer?” she asked. “I mean, if that’s what you want… Did I do something?” Her eyes glistened with tears.
"It’s just it all happened so fast, and I think I asked you to move in for the wrong reasons. It’s my fault, Tera. I am very fond of you, I adore you as a friend, but .... " he braced himself to say the words no person wanted to here. "I don't think I am in love with you."
Tera choked a bit as the words slammed into her. She nodded. Who could love her, anyway? She was a collaborator. No one could love her after the things her father had done. The things she had done.
Tera swallowed and nodded. She stepped back and wiped her eyes, then grabbed up the bag she had just packed and headed for the door, feeling like her world was falling apart once again.
Lieutenant Liam Reynolds
Bajoran shop owner
NPC Caleb Ryan