A Place Between

The most sacred sabbat. To Moira, it seemed nearly as odd to spend Samhain at the University as it had to spend the day on a starship. Fortunately, both Dr. Vanderkaans and Dr. MacDougal were away at symposia, so she had only her own class to teach at mid-day. The rest of the day was free of any academic responsibilities. While the countryside was considerably farther away from her Dublin apartment than her grandmother's home in County Tipperary, Moira made the effort to go riding that afternoon. The slow ambling of the horse, the bright sunshine and the crisp autumn air was more relaxing than any other activity she could imagine. It was a peaceful, solitary way to reassert her connection with her Deity and contemplate the ever-turning cycle of the year. By the time Moira returned home, full dark had settled over Dublin, and she was feeling more content and serene than she had in a very long time.

Scooping the mail from her bin as she hurried through the building entryway, Moira took no particular notice of the odd-sized envelope at the bottom of the stack. The only mail she was really interested in was personal correspondence from her family or friends, and that all came in much smaller envelopes. Besides, she was more interested in reaching her apartment... looking forward to a long, hot bath.

The lights came on automatically as she entered the living space, and the door closed quietly behind her. She tossed the mail on the sofa, dropped her backpack beside it and kicked off her shoes before checking the vid-console for messages. None... as usual. Moira smiled. Sometimes, it was very nice to live a life of near anonymity. It was, at the very least, soothing to have so few demands on her time and energy. While life in academia was not without its pressures, stress and expectations, it was nothing like the constant attention necessary to keep a starship running. She didn't miss Starfleet in the least.

An hour later, dressed in old jeans and a t-shirt, damp hair cascading down her back, Moira padded barefoot into the kitchen area to pour herself a glass of orange juice before settling down to rummage through the day's mail. It all looked like advertising pieces, but sometimes they were fun to look at. One invited her to join an exclusive new health club near the University. Another announced the opening of a new restaurant, this one with an off-world cuisine theme. Yet another was a promotion for vacation packages to exotic locations like Luna City and Port of Io. Moira chuckled. Having spent several years zipping across the galaxy, and a lovely shore leave on Risa, she didn't think she'd be able to find these destinations the least bit exotic. Truthfully, even San Francisco was more exotic than Luna City.

She puzzled a moment over the last envelope, the odd-sized one. There was no carrier stamp, which meant it had been hand-delivered to her box instead of going through the postal system. That was odd. Usually, anything hand-delivered wound up at her office on campus rather than her home box. Opening the envelope only made her more confused. It appeared to be a subspace message transcript. It was addressed to Moira O'Shaughnessy, in care of Starfleet Command. Well, that would explain the transcript rather than the audio message. It had probably taken Starfleet a couple of weeks to track her down. The sender was Harlon Drake on the USS Saratoga. Moira's eyebrows drew together in puzzlement. Harlon Drake? Did she know a Harlon Drake?

As she began reading the transcript, however, her puzzlement turned to fear... to panic. Harlon Drake was Emerald's father, writing about an accident... space station destroyed... suspect sabotage... Emerald dead.

The flimsy pieces of paper dropped from her nerveless fingers.


How could Emerald be dead? It wasn't possible. Wouldn't she have felt it through the bond they shared? Moira felt herself curling up on the sofa, arms wrapped tightly around her knees, rocking back and forth.


Her chest was throbbing with pain, throat burning and hot tears escaped from tightly closed eyes.

"No, Em..."

A keening wail escaped as she tightly closed her mental shields. The last thing she needed was to set the entire neighborhood on edge with her emotional pain.

"Em... oh, Em..."

She knew deep in her heart that Emerald couldn't be dead. Not really. There was still their bond...

Moira focused on the point in her soul that was her connection to her Imzadi, her soul-sister. It was still there, burning as brightly as any star. Tentatively, she began to follow the thread outward... toward Emerald. At first, there was no indication that anything was wrong, but the farther out Moira traveled, the more bizarre and twisted the psiscape became. Instead of the misty blue-tinged ether that was so familiar to her, tainted colors flashed, odd shapes spun and collided, while the ether itself seems to undulate. Moira began to feel nauseous and a headache began forming behind her eyes.

"Oh, Goddess!"

It was a prayer and an invocation. Even as she tried to move forward in the ether, a soft, warm Presence enfolded her and pulled her back into herself.

No, Daughter. Now is not the time.

Moira wept more freely now. There was no arguing with a Deity. Wherever Emerald was, she wasn't dead. But she certainly was unreachable.

"Oh, Em... what have ye done now? Where have ye gone?"

A week later
"How are ye doin', Sis?" asked the stunning blonde as she slid into the booth across from Moira. "Seanmháthair told us about yer friend. I'm sorry te hear of her passin'."

"She's nae..." Moira started to say. She stopped, and sighed, when she saw the look in her sister's blue eyes.

"Mo... now ye know ye need te let go," the other woman said softly.

Moira glared for a moment. "I do nae need ye patronizin' me, Nora. I know what I know an' th’ fact that common sense’ll say otherwise’ll nae change that fact." She pointedly turned her attention to the diner's menu.

"Moira..." Honora sounded exasperated. "I saw the news story on the vid. No one could have survived the destruction o' that space station. So don' go imagin' yer friend is still around like ye did with Padraig. Honestly, Moira, I don'..."

"Honora..." Moira interrupted.


"Shut yer trap." Moira's green eyes flashed with anger. It was a look that had terrified many people more intelligent than Honora Aoife O'Shaughnessy... and Nora wasn’t exactly a dimwit.

"Well, I only meant..."

"Nora..." Moira's voice was like a knife blade of ice.

"Oh, fer goodness sake, Moira! Lighten up!" Honora tried her famous pout, but realized it was having no effect on her younger sister. "I did nae come here te fight with ye, ye know."

Moira's raised eyebrows and a look of disbelief said all she needed to say.

"Well, I didn't." Honora continued to pout.

Moira sighed. There was no point in trying to have a rational conversation with Honora, especially on any topic relating to psi... or the reality of the Deity... or just about anything Moira found important. Her sister was a bubblehead. A wonderful pediatrician, a lovely person, yes... but a Class A bubblehead.

"Fine, Nora." She punched in her lunch order. "How is Mhari doin'?" Her twin's daughter would be... what? Seven now? Eight, then, come Winter Solstice. Talking about the children was also a good distraction for Nora, even if they were nieces, nephews, children of her friends, or patients.

"Oh, she's fine as a fiddle, though I'm surely disappointed she's given up the figure skatin' fer basketball." Honora rolled her eyes. "Basketball just is nae graceful or pretty."

Moira tried not to smile. Good fer ye, lass, she thought. "An' the other young ones? How are they?"

Honora lit up. She loved nothing more than to talk about their nieces and nephews, Marhi included, of course. Kate herself had enough that Moira lost count sometimes. She was up to six now. Or was it seven?

"Declan...” That was Kate’s oldest boy. “...is doin' well in his studies an' is now the captain of his football team! This month he says he wants te be a doctor." Honora chuckled. Declan was famous for changing his career plans. Since he was only eleven now, it wasn't likely he'd settle on any one profession for a while. "Aisling an' Niamh...” They were Kate’s twin girls. “...are singin' a duet at the Winter Pageant. Áron and Eithne, Caoimhín...” The first two were Kate’s youngest twins, the last was Briget’s – Nora’s own twin – youngest. “are all crawlin' about gettin' inte ev'ery little bit o' trouble they can."

Moira shook her head, smiling. Her sister surely did enjoy children. But she couldn't imagine herself as a mother, let alone mother of as many children as Kate had. One, as Paddy and Gloria had... maybe two, as Briget and Maire each had... but not six.

"And..." Honora paused dramatically. "Kate’s expectin' again!"

Moira's smile froze and her heart seemed to stop. Why was this always so painful to hear?

"Well, Lady bless her, Honora. Give her my congratulations!" She would not let her pain show. She was not going to cry.

Honora, however, was not quite as oblivious as she seemed.

"Ah, Mo... don' let the sadness take ye. Ye'll find the right man one o' these days. Ye will."

Moira shook her head and took a deep breath. "I found him already, Honora... it's just nae workin' out the way it ought."

Honora reached for her sister's hand. "Now don' go sayin' that. Ye know I don' believe all that mumbo jumbo that ye an' Seanmháthair and Katie take stock in, but things will work out for ye, Moira." That was Honora, the perpetual optimist. "Ye deserve happiness, Mo, an' ye'll have it."

Moira smiled, squeezing her sister's hand as their food arrived. "Alright, Nora. I'd like to believe that." She studied her salad as she got her emotions back under control. "So, tell me... how is Ryan takin' the news that he'll be a father again?"

A few days later
"Do you have a few minutes to spare me, Moira?"

Moira looked up from her terminal and the midterm paper she was grading. "Certainly, Dean. Would ye care te hae a seat?" She gestured to the chair just inside the doorway where Dean Stranton was standing.

The old man shook his head. "I'd prefer if you'd come down to my office. I have some files I'd like to share with you." As Moira nodded and turned to switch off the terminal, he added, "And I really wish you'd call me Geoffrey, dear. I've know your grandmother for so long, I think of you as family."

Moira chuckled as she followed the dean down the hall to his office. "An' just as I'd ne'er presume te address Seanmháthair as Fiona, I do nae feel I kin address ye as Geoffrey."

Dean Stranton sighed. "I suppose, dear. I suppose." He lifted a pile of journals from the chair nearest his desk as he ambled by it, dropping them in a haphazard pile beside the desk. "My secretary will be annoyed with me for that," he said with a twinkle in his eye. Moira knew that Marcy, his secretary of 20 years, often chided the Dean about the disarray in his office, but had long ago given up any pretense of imposing order on the chaos. "Well… sit, sit!"

He ran his fingers through his still-thick, snowy white hair as he sat behind the large desk. "I've been hearing only good things about you from the professors, students and the research department. How do you feel you're getting on in your new career?"

Moira smiled as she settled comfortably in the chair. "I'm enjoyin' myself. After the stresses o’ th’ past few years, 'tis rather relaxin’ te be teachin’ again."

"Good, good! Do you think you might be willing to take on yet another challenge?"

Moira couldn't help but be infected by the old man's enthusiasm. "O' course. What sort o' challenge will it be, then?"

He rummaged on the desk for a data chip that he inserted into the reader on his desk. "As you know, we’ve got the most extensive psi program on Earth. In fact, there are few programs in the Federation that can rival it," he said proudly. "Just Vulcan and Betazed, in fact. And the focus of those programs are a bit different from ours. So we do tend to get a lot of referrals." He indicated the reader as he continued. "I've got a couple of new students I'd like you to work with… take them under your wing, so to speak."

"Aye, I kin do that," Moira said, nodding.

"Excellent! Now the first is a young man, Patrick Harris, age 25, from Seattle, Washington. Got into a bit of a boating accident out there. Quite a lot of brain injury, so they sent him off to Vulcan… and now that they've pieced him back together, the Vulcans have referred him to us. It seems the knock on the head rattled loose some latent psi talent and he needs to have some training.

"The second student is a young lady named Jade Tanaka, age 18, from Tokyo, Japan. She had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a highly intoxicated individual attempted to manually maneuver a hovercar." He shook his head sadly. "Nasty stuff, that. Brain injury like young Patrick, also sent off to Vulcan for repair – as it were – and sent back to us because latent psi talent has arisen.

"Now, the romantic part of the story is that they fell madly in love while on Vulcan and are pleased as punch to be here at Trinity College together." He grinned and winked at Moira. "The truth is they’re pleased as punch to be together – they seem to be inseparable. As for being at Trinity, they’re a bit bemused and are more like a couple of fish out of water. Hence, your assignment as guardian angel."

Moira grinned at Stranton's telling of the tale. Although originally from Boston, Massachusetts, he had been in Ireland long enough now to have learned the fine art of storytelling. "An' when would ye like me te meet with our two young lovers?"

"Oh, that’s the spirit!" he said, removing the data chip from the reader and passing it to Moira. "I’ll have them come by your office first thing tomorrow morning."

© Kelly Naylor